Rayak Nor, the gul’s private quarters
Toral and Jarol had just finished dinner and were taking dirty dishes to the kitchen to wash them, when the gul’s wristcomm activated.
“Korel to Toral
Hatinn rolled his eyes. “Toral here.”
“Sir, Gul Brenok wishes to speak with you. He says it’s urgent. Visual contact necessary
“You can talk in Laran’s room.” Jarol nodded toward her son’s room. “He’s at work now.”
“Acknowledged,” the gul confirmed. “I’ll take it from Rayak Nor.”
Hatinn went to the other room and activated the terminal over there, while she returned to the kitchen to finish washing the dishes.
Hatinn, however, didn’t close the door behind him, so she could hear every single word.
“In three hours a team of medics will arrive to Rayak Nor. You’ll take them to Mazita
,” Arenn said.
“Have they found the cure?”
“It appears so. It seems to be working only in early stages of the disease, but better that than nothing. There’s still another team on Cardassia that is working on improving the medicine.
“Send someone else.”
” The surprise in Arenn’s voice was apparent, even without seeing his face.
“Send someone else,” Hatinn repeated. “Send the Marritza
; after all these weeks of repairs they are in a good shape. I can’t leave her now.”
Brenok was silent for a short moment. Then he said, “Toral, you started this mission and you will bring it to an end. The colonists know you
“You can send Zamarran. I have to stay here with her.”
,” Arenn insisted in a voice that allowed no refusal.
Jarol was astonished. Hatinn was refusing a direct order and for what? No reason!
Not really realising what she was doing, she went toward her son’s room and stood in the doorway.
“I won’t,” Hatinn said. “Any gul can do this; not anyone can be with her.”
She could see that Arenn was getting angry. “Gul Toral, you will follow my order, or you’ll face severe consequences.
“I will stay with her.”
Arenn pressed his lips. A moment later he signed off.
“How could you do it?” Jarol whispered. Hatinn rose from the chair that he had sat on and approached her.
“I can’t leave you alone,” he said.
“You just refused a direct order,” she shouted, pointing at the blank screen. “You cannot do that!”
“There are more important things than duty,” he said softly.
“There is such a thing like responsibility. You just abandoned yours. You...you...” She searched for words to express her feelings.
“Atira, you need me.”
“Don’t flatter yourself! I don’t need someone who cannot follow rules!”
“Get out!” she hissed, stretching her hand and pointing at the door. “Get out of my house!” He stared at her with disbelief, not moving. “Get out or I’ll call security.” She started to lose patience.
He looked at her flabbergasted for a moment longer and then left without a word.
She was furious and disappointed. He had not only refused an order; he had refused a good
order. He had refused it for some ridiculous personal reason. Arenn had told him to do something and Toral had felt that he was allowed to ignore his superior’s instructions. That wasn’t just wrong; that was beyond wrong. Did Toral think that he could break the rules because he dated his superior’s friend? Was it some kind of abuse of personal relationship? The thought appalled her.
Breaking rules, even apparently insignificant ones, was unacceptable, as it usually led to serious abuses and mistakes. The thought that Toral had just used the situation to do something unthinkable in the Cardassian Guard made her sick.
Rules should not be broken. Rules were to be followed. She, of all people, knew the best how terrible breaking rules was. How severe consequences followed acting at will and ignoring the order.
She was so disappointed in Toral, but then she thought that she shouldn’t be surprised—he was as guilty of some particular crimes as she was, therefore he was no better than she. And she was sure Fatret would be the first one to tell her that. Jarol knew she should avoid people like herself, not to return to the path of crime and violating the order. Gul Toral and his evilness had to disappear from her life.
She opened the channel. “Jarol to Borad.”
“I think Gul Brenok is going to ask you if the Marritza
is in the shape to take a new assignment, or if there are any other ships in vicinity. If there aren’t any, send some of our vessels, if possible.”
” the glinn asked.
“Gul Toral has just revoked all shore leaves that his crew had and his ship is leaving the station right now. Toral’s going to meet with the transport that the medics are aboard on and take them directly to the colony. He said it should speed things up
“Good,” she said. “Thank you.”
She only wished Toral had done that because it was the right thing to do, not because she had just broken up with him and he wanted to be as far from her as possible.
Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the mess hall
Docked at Rayak Nor
“I’m talking to you, dammit.” Kapoor poked Aladar in the arm, causing him to drop his fork.
“Ah? What?” He blinked at her.
“What are you staring at?” She looked in the same direction. “Ah, the Snow Queen.”
“The Snow Queen. She’s so cold and unavailable.”
Aladar frowned. “Don’t talk about her like that.”
Kapoor gave him an attentive look and he expected a mean comment, but she only grinned. “I won’t,” she promised.
“She came to observe the training today. Again.” He picked up the fork and wiped it in a tissue. “And...it will sound stupid...but I am not sure why she controls me. Doesn’t she trust me?”
“I don’t think she goes there to observe the training.”
He looked at his human friend. “So what for?”
“That look you had on your face a moment ago; she sometimes has the same look.”
He frowned. “What look?”
“The same I see on my husband’s face...when we don’t argue.”
Aladar lowered his eyes. “I just...She’s beautiful.”
Kapoor grinned. “So are you.”
The garesh chuckled. A moment later he was serious again. “I can only look, not touch.”
“She is unavailable for me. I’m not good enough.”
“Oh, boy. Twenty years after leaving India and living among the Cardassians and I still hear about a caste system.” She rolled her eyes. “Listen to me, you stupid garesh.” She leaned her bent arms on the table and neared her face to Aladar’s. “You are a man. She is a woman. You dream about her. My guess would be that she dreams about you. That’s all that counts. That’s all that’s important. Stranger things have happened. Look at me. My children have ridges.”
He shook his head. “Can you imagine how her family would react?”
“As the matter of fact, yes, I can. In India’s past, she might be disowned, or horribly punished. But we’re not in India. We’re on a warship. Her family is not here.”
“But they would know. You, Indians, value your family too, so you should know how hard it is to turn your back on them.”
“You know something, Aladar. Let her
decide. Maybe she’d be willing to risk her family’s anger for you.”
Kapoor sighed. “You’re hopeless.”
“What could I offer her? What could I give her? I’m not educated. I’m an idiot!”
“I wouldn’t be friends with an idiot, so please be so kind and don’t insult my friends.” Aladar only glared at her. “Look, Garesh Idiot, you are nice, clever and caring. That’s what girls look for.”
“She is going to marry some high-ranking gul. There’s probably one already chosen for her.”
“One hundred years older than she, no doubt,” Kapoor muttered. “No surprise she’s always so sad.”
Yassel glanced at them and her and Aladar’s eyes met for a moment. Then, they both looked away. He felt like he had just done something indecent. “Let’s change the subject.”
“All right,” the human agreed. “But there’s just one thing I want to add. Give it a try. The worst thing you can hear is ‘no,’ but you’ll never know if you don’t try. Think about it.”
“You want to start a revolution in Cardassian society rules?”
“I didn’t start it. Zamarran is an aristocrat but none of his children are married to any high-born person.”
“Her father isn’t Zamarran.”
“No. But maybe she thinks more like the Zamarrans than like her father, if
he wouldn’t like you around his baby-girl.”
Aladar grunted. On one hand Kapoor was right—the worst thing that could happen would be refusal. But what would happen after
that refusal? Would she demand his transfer? Would she tell him to stay away from her? Would she order his execution for insolence? He couldn’t imagine her doing any of these terrible and cruel things, but maybe she would be forced? Her social status demanded a lot from her and she wouldn’t have any choice but to do what was expected of her.
He looked at her and her eyes, which were on him, looked away. His stayed on her face, though. A moment later hers returned to him. She looked away again but shortly after gazed at him again. This time she didn’t look away. He smiled. A tiny grin appeared on her face in response.
Kapoor shot a glance at Aladar. “Did she smile back?” she asked.
“Uhm,” he confirmed.
“See? I told you—she likes you.”
He looked at her. “It’s not against the rules to smile to people.”
“Really? Some Cardassians could have fooled me.”
Aladar resumed eating.
He would never dare to approach Yassel, never. It was out of the question.
Kapoor slid her finger along the golden seam of his armour. “Did I congratulate you on this honour?” she asked.
“Like...” He quickly counted. “Seventeen times.”
“That Cardassian memory,” she sighed and then smiled. “Here’s eighteenth. You deserved it, Aladar. From all gareshes I know, I don’t know anyone who would deserve to become a member of the Damar Guard more than you.”
He smiled. He was proud too, but would never say that out loud. That would be arrogant and rude. “Thanks.”
Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, lower decks
Docked at Rayak Nor
“One, two, one, two!” Aladar was shouting. Heavily breathing officers, non-coms and scientists ran in a circle, trying to keep up with the pace Aladar had chosen. “Stop!” A few of them bumped onto people in front of them. “Stretch hands! Left, right, left right! Hands on hips! Left, right, left, right!” He neared to one of scientists. “You either twist your body as far as you can to the right, or I’ll do it for you!” he boomed. The young woman’s hands and plaits flew around her head; the longest braid almost hit Aladar in the face, as he stood so close. “Whoa!” he shouted jumping back. “And I, in my naivety, had thought that Gul Brenok has this thing because of some silly rumours about an ear. This is a weapon
Everyone started to laugh and just then Aladar noticed Yassel standing by the entrance. He didn’t know she had come to watch again, but he was glad she was here now, as he could see—for the first time—her smile. No, not a smile; she was laughing. She laughed at his joke.
She was beautiful when laughing. Pearls of her laughter reached his ears and he would give everything to keep this minute for a while longer. He knew he would revisit this moment in his memory many, many times.
But he had a job to do. “No giggling! Left, right, left, right!”
After the training he decided to finally do what he had been planning for the last few days. He hadn’t told anyone about this, not even Kapoor, as he hadn’t been sure if he’d ever find courage to do that...and he didn’t want to make a fool of himself.
But today he felt like it was now or never. The Marritza
had been brought back to some usable condition and was scheduled to leave Rayak Nor in a few days.
Aladar didn’t considered himself a coward, but right now he was terrified. He had made his decision and was determined to try, but he was aware that it could get him into trouble, really big trouble.
He entered the bridge—a place that any garesh rarely visited, unless on the guard duty—and headed for the gul’s chair, in which sat astonished Zamarran. “Sir, can I have a word with you? And with Glinn Torpal?” Aladar tried to be as submissive as possible. He didn’t want any of the officers to think that this was some weird attempt to challenge them...or anything else they could be thinking, seeing him on the bridge and asking for a conversation. Gareshes don’t ask, they are to do things that they are ordered to do. And certainly they are not expected to show even a shadow of independent thinking.
Zamarran rose and headed for his office, nodding to Torpal to follow him. Aladar went after them, trying to keep respectful distance.
The gul went toward his desk, but stopped before it and turned to face the other two men. Torpal stood next to the garesh, looking at him with a mixture of surprise and curiosity.
“Yes, Garesh Aladar, what is it?” Zamarran asked.
“Sir...sirs, I know this is against rules and very unusual...” In fact, he was not aware of any rules regarding it, but he knew that this had never been done before. “However...” He hesitated. They still waited patiently...He couldn’t imagine Zamarran putting him to death for this, but maybe Zamarran wasn’t challenged enough to get pissed at someone. This was against some traditions, wasn’t it? Zamarran was known for his attachment to unwritten rules and customs.
There was no way around it. He quickly said, “I would like to request for a transfer.”
Torpal looked at Zamarran and Zamarran looked at Torpal. Whatever they had expected Aladar to say, clearly it had not been what he had spat out.
The gul looked back at the garesh. “Transfer where to?”
“Over here. This is my temporary assignment and just before the Marritza
leaves the station, I am to report back to my duty on Rayak Nor. I would like to stay aboard the Marritza
.” Did a garesh have a right to want
something? Was it insolence?
The glinn looked at the gul. “Sir, I’d love to keep him here,” he said to Aladar’s surprise.
Zamarran rubbed his chin ridge. “Gul Brenok and Gul Jarol fought a war over him and she won. I don’t think she would be willing to accept this request.” He thought for a while. “I am not aware of any paperwork you should fill, Aladar, so I will send that to the Order commanding gul as my request.”
The garesh felt great relief. Not because they let him stay, but because they didn’t get angry with him about his request. “I appreciate that, sir!” he said, squaring his shoulders.
He left the office, but noticed that only he was asked to leave. He wondered what Zamarran would talk to Torpal about. Maybe there still was some trouble ahead of him.
He left the bridge and smiled to himself. He really, really hoped that this transfer would happen and then he could face all the trouble from his gul and Glinn Torpal. Garesh Aladar was not afraid of anything! Even of asking for a transfer!