Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the engineering
Kapoor was on her way to another console to take its readings, when Yassel entered the engineering.
“What is our condition?” the glinn asked, following the human, who was in an uninterrupted movement.
“I must say this ship has been built to last,” Kapoor replied. “We’re in much better shape than it seemed at first. We need a dry dock, but we should be able to get there ourselves. A few patches here, a few patches there and we’ll be as good as new.” She flashed a smile at Yassel.
Kapoor got serious. “Do you have casualty report?” Yassel only nodded. “How many?”
“It would be much more if not the Gorgor.”
“I’m surprised to hear that they helped. From what we know, they don’t interfere unless something is directly related to them.”
“I don’t understand the Gorgor. I’m not even sure I want to understand them. They are a combination of extremes: on one hand they care about life, on the other their disregard for life is unbelievable.” Yassel shrugged. “I hope they stay away from us.”
Kapoor sighed and was just about to say something, when some kind of alarm activated.
Both women went to the console that sounded the signal.
“What’s going on?” the glinn asked.
“It seems that our sensors detected Cardassian life signs on Rathosia.”
“Beam them up, now!” Yassel almost shouted.
The engineer operated the controls. “This is strange. There are five life signals, not three.” She inclined her head a bit. “Not all Cardassian, though.”
“Beam them all up. Before they disappear again.”
“Yes, Glinn.” Kapoor followed the order, although she wasn’t sure it was a clever one. She decided to beam them directly to the engineering, using the equipment transporter padd.
As she expected, Aladar and his team materialised on the padd. From the corner of her eye she noticed that Yassel started toward the group, but stopped herself in time. Oh, Kapoor knew that Yassel hadn’t just fought an urge to hug them all—only Aladar would be granted that privilege.
Damn Cardassian stiffness! Kapoor wouldn’t blame Yassel for acting on her urge; she would cheer.
“Welcome back,” the glinn said and then her attention went to two unexpected guests. She gave Aladar a questioning look. “And they are...?”
“They helped us escape from the Federation brig,” the garesh explained. “I had to take them with us.”
Yassel looked at him sceptically. “You will have to discuss the details with Gul Zamarran. He is currently unavailable.” She hesitated. “I will arrange for the guests to return to the Federation ship and you refresh yourselves and prepare for debriefing.”
“About their return...” Aladar started and silenced. Then he added, “If I may be so bold...” Yassel nodded, so he continued, “Until we clear their situation with their superiors, I think they should stay with us. I will explain everything during the debriefing.”
“Very well.” The glinn looked at both Federation officers. “You will be escorted to the wardroom. I’m afraid we are not in a shape for extended hospitality.” She swayed her hand to indicate damaged engineering. “We barely survived a battle.”
“That’s all right,” the woman answered. Kapoor immediately recognised a thick French accent.
The engineer approached them. “I’ll take care of them,” she volunteered.
Yassel nodded. “Fine. Garesh Aladar, be in the wardroom in fifteen minutes. I’ll get Gul Zamarran.”
“Yes, Glinn!” Aladar dutifully confirmed and left the engineering, followed by his two men.
“Kara Erpan,” Kapoor called one of engineers, “please take over.”
“Yes, Gil.” He took the padd from her and resumed collecting damage reports.
The human looked at the Federation officers, who stared at her without saying anything. “All right. My name is Gil Kapoor. I’ll take you to the wardroom. If you’d like a glass of water or something, please let me know—we could stop by the mess hall. Replicators aren’t operational, I’m afraid.”
“You’re a human,” the red-head said finally.
“Yes, I know that,” Kapoor smiled.
“Is this where you are assigned? This Cardassian ship?”
“Actually, this is a temporary assignment.”
“An exchange program of some sort?” the Chandir asked. “Never heard of an exchange program with the Cardassian Union.”
“Well, you’d have to go back about...” She paused, thinking. “About twenty years.”
“I don’t understand,” he said, stepping off the padd. “By the way, my name is Lieutenant Pemutruch and this is Ensign Tibaut.”
“Nice to meet you.” Kapoor nodded and then said to Pemutruch, “I volunteered to an exchange program and that’s how I ended up here, but it was over twenty years ago.”
“Did you get stuck on Cardassia when they closed their borders?” Tibaut asked.
“No. I had enough time to return home, but I didn’t want to. Now this is my home.” She headed for the exit and they followed her.
“So, what’s going to happen to us?” the Chandir asked, clearly not interested in Kapoor’s life history any more.
“I don’t know what exactly you’ve done,” the engineer replied.
“We helped three Cardassian prisoners escape,” Tibaut said quietly.
Kapoor glanced at her. She wanted to ask ‘why?’ but she knew she would know soon enough—if she were allowed to stay in the wardroom.
Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the wardroom
Zamarran felt every muscle in his body. He was under impression that every single organ ached—and he knew there was no chance for any rest. On the Petrona
he had gone through a quick medical check up and after that he returned to work.
He had made sure that his crew was safe and taken care of on the Federation starship and then invited Captain Ram to the debriefing that Yassel had planned. He had tried not to show it, as he believed it would look awfully unprofessional, but his relief upon finding out that Aladar and his men were alive and fine was enormous.
Ram accompanied him alone; she had decided not to bring her aide or anyone else from her ship. Zamarran was not naïve—he was aware that she had acted against her orders when she had come to help him and that she was facing some trouble now. He wished he had a way to help her.
He had been informed that there were two Federation officers in the wardroom, but still—the view was so unusual that it stopped him for a moment. Then he invited Ram to sit next to Yassel.
He looked at everyone present. His aide, his engineer, his gareshes and three alien officers. His people deserved commendations and he made a mental note to take care of that later. The Federation people, on the other hand, were all in trouble, as each of them had gone against their orders or worse.
First he listened to Aladar’s report: about the visit in the city on the planet, about the inhabitants and about being kidnapped by the Federation. Then about bad treatment the Cardassians had to suffer to be finally helped by two present in the room officers.
Then he listened to Captain Ram, who told him about the Federation’s policy regarding such situations and their Prime Directive. And finally he listened to the youngest Federation officer, who informed him of the planned tribunal and how it was supposed to be used against Cardassians.
He shared with Ram details of his conversations with the First Siadatch and she promised to make sure that the Federation officials would remind the Gorgor once more that the Federation didn’t condone genocide, or other extreme actions against people.
When everything was explained and all information shared, they arrived to the next stage of their briefing.
Finding answers and solutions.
Ram said that she would take care of her problem and deal with her superiors, regarding joining the battle and helping the Cardassians. She also planned to clear the misinformation and accuse the commander from Rathosia of providing false information in her report. She worried about two young officers, though, as their charges were much more serious than what she had to deal with.
“They must answer for their action, but I think that doing it in the heat of the moment is not a good idea; and I’m sure Paris and Starfleet Headquarters are boiling right now.”
“What do you propose?” Zamarran asked.
“I would like you to take them to a safe place beyond Federation reach, Gul Zamarran. I would then officially ask for sending a JAG team over there. Only professionals and lawyers, without crowds and admirals. I hope that they would look at the events without emotional attitude and take under consideration all factors, including the ridiculous trial that the Cardassians were supposed to face.”
“And you think this is the best idea?” Zamarran wasn’t convinced.
She shrugged. “It’s the best I have.” She looked at both young people. “Would you agree to such a solution?”
They looked at each other uncertainly. Pemutruch looked back at Ram. “Where would we go? Stay on this ship?”
Ram turned to Zamarran. “I was thinking about Rayak Nor,” she said. “There is Federation presence there, it’s Cardassian territory and it’s close to our borders.”
“I cannot make such a decision myself,” the gul replied. “I must discuss it with my superiors.”
Ram nodded. “Of course, I understand that.”
The door opened and Seltan entered the wardroom. “Sir, I have some...information,” she said.
“Can’t it wait?”
“I’m not sure, sir. I thought it would be better for you to decide if it can wait.”
“You could have notified me by the comm, instead of leaving your post on the bridge.”
“The communication system is still down, sir.”
Zamarran felt like a fool. Here she was, doing more than her duty called for and he was looking for excuses to chastise her for her creativity. It seemed that he was that kind of guls he called ‘old pricks.’ “I see. So, what is it?”
“A probe was launched from Rathosia. It is a kind of communication device and constantly transmits only one message.”
Aladar’s head popped. “What message?” he asked, although it was not his place to do so.
Seltan looked at him and then at Zamarran, not sure if she should answer the garesh’s question.
“What message?” the gul asked.
“Please come back
Everyone in the room looked at Zamarran, while he looked at Ram. “Will you try to stop us from officially contacting the Rathosians?” he asked her.
She shook her head. “Considering what Mr. Aladar said, I think that you have already established that contact. I will not interfere...but I can’t vouch for the scientists on the planet.”
“They will attempt to stop you,” the orange—red? Zamarran had no idea such colour was possible in nature and he had problems with describing it—haired woman said.
“I will wait for my Order’s gul and discuss it with him.”
Ram smiled. “Can I have your promise that you won’t abandon them?”
“Captain Ram, my crew and I almost died in the attempt of protecting them. There’s no way I’d let seventeen of my people die in vain and abandon our mission. My instructions are clear—fix their sun and save them.” He looked at Aladar. “Which brings us to the information you have brought.” His eyes went to the Federation officers. “While you are aboard, would you be so kind to help our team in solving the problem? We could test if your theory has a chance of success.”
“Certainly,” the man with trunks on his head said.
Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the gul’s office
Daro walked through the ruined bridge toward the office. All stations were manned and the bridge was filled with additional personnel of repair teams. It seemed that contrary to Gul Zamarran’s fears, the vessel was no only salvageable, but its engineer had already started repairs.
Daro thought that Zamarran had to be proud of his crew. He not only hadn’t abandoned their ship, but had also asked Daro to beam aboard and discuss the important matters on the Marritza
. Daro didn’t mind. It not only let him see for himself the science vessel’s condition, but he also had no problems with respecting someone’s pride of his crew’s accomplishments. Zamarran wanted to show everyone that the Marritza
was still able to continue its service and Daro had no intention of ridding the gul of this little proof.
He entered the office and greeted Zamarran.
“I’m sorry for the condition of this place,” the other gul smiled apologetically.
“Do not worry about it,” Daro returned the smile. “You just fought a battle; I didn’t expect to see a shiny ship looking like it just left a dry dock.”
“I’m still collecting data for my report.”
“I understand. Please, take care of the urgent things first; reports can wait.”
Zamarran nodded. He invited Daro to sit on a sofa in the corner of his office and took a chair opposite it himself. “There is one thing that cannot wait, though,” he said.
“The repairs are in progress and don’t require any special attention. What I’m talking about are the Federation officers.” Zamarran then explained what Tibaut and Pemutruch had done and how they had helped the three gareshes.
Daro listened attentively to the report, assigning all information a priority and then filing it away. “Gul Zamarran,” he said after the other man had finished. “I am not sure how to deal with the Federation officers’ situation, so I’m inclined to follow Captain Ram’s suggestion and take them to Rayak Nor. Federation presence and a Cardassian archon might be helpful in this matter. I also would like you to take the Marritza
to the station. They would perform basic repairs and then the ship would proceed to Cardassia or Adarak III for a full maintenance.”
Daro had no doubts that Zamarran, an engineer, would understand the logic of such a solution. With limited warp capability and extensive damage, the Marritza
couldn’t go to high warp velocities or it would fall apart. The station was much closer than any other Cardassian repair facility, so reaching it would take less time. And after patching up the most needy sections, the vessel could proceed to a dry dock at normal speed.
Daro noticed that Zamarran seemed to be down. Was he that worried about the ship?
“Anything I can do for you?” he asked.
The younger gul shook his head. “No, sir, thank you.”
“But there is something...” He didn’t want to pry, so he decided not to insist if Zamarran refused to talk, but he wanted to make sure that the other man knew that Daro was there to help and that it was welcome to ask for it.
“I failed,” Zamarran whispered. “In fact, I double failed. I failed as a commanding officer of the ship; I can live with that. It’s not the end of the world, even if I’m booted from the military.” He raised his head and looked at Daro. “But I failed the Rathosians and for them it is
the end of the world.”
Daro shook his head gently. “This is not entirely correct, Gul Zamarran. First of all, I do not think you failed as a gul and I certainly will not write that in my report. Second, the Rathosian situation is still not solved, but if what you’ve told me about the Federation data is the truth, you might have found the solution. It doesn’t matter that it weren’t your scientists. The result matters. Your people brought that information and that is what counts.
“This isn’t the most successful mission, but it is far from failure. You did well under very difficult circumstances and I praise you for that.”
Daro raised his hand. “This was a very difficult task that you had to deal with it. And you did well.”
“We did not repair the star,” Zamarran said flatly.
“No, you did not. Someone else will have to come and finish the job, but
you would, if your ship weren’t in such a bad shape.” Daro thought that he had worded it badly and that Zamarran probably heard a criticism, so the ranking gul decided to explain himself. “You did everything you could to protect the locals and you paid a high price, but it doesn’t mean it all was in vain. You gathered important information and you sent a clear message to the Talarians. Whoever is assigned to finish this mission, they will walk the easy path that you have paved with your blood. I don’t see it as a failure.”
But Zamarran didn’t seem convinced. Was there something else that bothered him? Daro observed him for a long moment and then rose. The other gul stood up, too.
“I’ll leave one ship as an escort,” Daro said, “And recall the others back to their region.”
“If there is anything you need, don’t hesitate to contact me.”
“Yes, sir,” Zamarran replied, but Daro was sure that he’d never receive such a request. Zamarran was one of those men who always tried to solve their problems themselves without asking anyone for help.
The Order Gul returned to his ship and assigned warship Revtal
to accompany the science vessel to Rayak Nor.