The door closed and we activated the lights.
“Computer, raise illumination level,” Ullmann said. Yeah, it was dark here too. “More. More.”
“Well, what do you say? Here’s our new home.” I looked around.
It wasn’t a big room, but it would be fine. I didn’t plan to spend here much of my time anyway. The bridge was much more interesting.
“Did you notice how he was looking at me?” Ullmann asked.
“He was. I hate it here. And that gul. Wasn’t she scary?”
“Yep, she was.” I had to agree here. “The only time I was so nervous was when I’d met my first captain, right after the Academy.”
“She didn’t like us.”
“Nah. She cared about your sweating. I think she worried you were sick. If she worries, she can’t be that bad.”
“I hate it here,” she repeated.
“Yeah, I know, you’ve already told me. You want the lower bunk or the higher one?” I asked.
“Higher,” she said quickly.
“Oki doki.” I threw my bags, which had been delivered to our quarters earlier, on my bunk and went to check the bathroom.
It was tiny. There was a mirror there, and a small cupboard, in which I found lots of tools, half of them of unknown purposes. I knew what the toothbrush was for, but there was also some menacingly looking brush with long spikes, and some thin brushes, but too thin to be for teeth. I decided not to touch anything before knowing what all those mysterious objects were for. Fortunately, I was clever enough to bring my toiletries with me. There was also a shower—booth?—in the bathroom. By the door there were two round screens, one of them with controls. Great. What were they? Temperature setting? There was some Cardassian writing next to them, but I didn’t read Cardassian. Darn, I should have taken a Federation tricorder with me.
“Computer, what are these?” I asked, hoping against hope.
,” boomed a raspy, male voice, startling me. Oh my, I’d expected their computer to speak like the one on Deep Space Nine! What was that monstrosity?!
“Computer, there are two objects on the wall next to the...the...shower booth. What is the left one for?”
“The temperature setting
Ha! I was right!
“Scary voice, isn’t it?” Ullmann’s head appeared in the door.
“Yeah, he scared me too. Computer, what is the one on the right side?”
“A timer? What kind of timer?”
The computer wasn’t polite enough to answer.
“What are all these things?” Ullmann glanced into the cupboard.
“I have no idea. We’ll have to ask someone.”
“Maybe that Gil Karama?”
“No! No! Not him!”
“All right. Don’t get so excited.”
“I said all right.” What was her problem?
“You wanna try to take the shower first?” she asked.
“Yep. I want to go back to the bridge.”
“You’re joking! And you’ll leave me alone here?”
Ah? Leave her
alone? “Lock the door.”
“I don’t know how.”
I went to my bags and retrieved everything I needed. Then I returned to the bathroom and shut the door.
Soon I learned what the timer was for. It counted time and turned the water off after ten minutes time. And it refused to resume. There was no sense in arguing with a computer—or a shower—so I left, dried myself and put a fresh uniform on.
There was a replicator in our quarters too. And another small screen to it. Another timer?
“Computer.” I looked at the replicator. “Raktajino
The machine hummed and a mug of raktajino
materialised. I observed the little screen to see if something would happen and it did. Some characters appeared there. What they meant—beats me. Maybe it was some kind of visual confirmation that my request was processed.
I quickly drank my coffee and returned to the corridor, in spite of Ullmann’s protests. I didn’t come here to sit in a small room. I wanted Cardassianness! Now, where was that lift? We had come from there, right?
I managed to arrive on the bridge without starting any interstellar incidents. The door opened and there I was: the almighty Cardassian bridge with Cardassians inside and Cardassian consoles filled with Cardassian funny letters, too.
Glinn Brenok was sitting in the throne. I nodded to him. He didn’t nod back, but said “Zamarran” and the chief engineer looked up at him and then at me. He raised his hand and waved his fingers, indicating I should approach. So I did. There was a chair next to his.
“Sit,” he said.
So I sat. The design was much more efficient than on Federation starships. I had the full view on the bridge and on the console in front of me. If I needed anything else, I could turn behind to face the monitors and additional consoles. Mr. Zamarran handed me a padd.
“Here,” he said. “I programmed it to translate any Cardassian text you come by,” he explained.
“Thank you.” I really appreciated his thoughtfulness. After a short time I had spent on Deep Space Nine I was familiar with Cardassian technology, but not with their language, as everything on the station was in Federation Standard. This little tool would make my life much easier.
I glanced at the door to the ready room, but from my angle I couldn’t see if the gul was inside or not.
I raised my translation padd, turned and hovered it over one of the monitors behind me. Its sensor scanned the text I pointed it at and a translation appeared on the screen. I could read a fascinating report on vertical engine coils flow—it was within established parameters. That was good to know.
I stole a glance at my boss. Would it be rude to stare at him and study his profile? Or was he too busy to notice? He clearly didn’t pay any attention to me, so I turned my head to face the middle of the bridge, but observed him from the corner of my eyes.
And I realised there was no way he could see me staring. I couldn’t see his eyes and that meant he couldn’t see my face. His eye ridges blocked everything.
Those ridges. From distance they look like little marbles in a row, but from up close you could really see scales. What I didn’t realise was that Cardassian skin was all
covered with scales. Big ones were clear, but then they were getting smaller, and smaller and so small that you couldn’t actually see them, but I doubted they were replaced by skin like ours. I was completely sure they were just tiny, little scales all over there.
The ridge on his nose made his nose look more prominent, especially from the profile. Below his nose the ridge disappeared just above his upper lip, but not before splitting into three parts. Tiny scales surrounded his nostrils, from far it looked like a thick line, but those were scales on small ridges. The ridges coming out as extensions of his ears were also covered with scales. The lower one almost receded on sides of his chins to reappear in the middle and raise toward his mouth.
I was very curious about the spoon, but wouldn’t be able to look at it—especially inside
it—without dragging his attention, so that had to be skipped today.
Another super cool thing was the neck ridge. I glanced at Glinn Brenok. His ridge was covered by three rows of big scales; Zamarran had only two. I felt strong temptation to touch them. Where they cold? Warm? Hot? Where they rough like a fish’s, or smooth, like a snake’s? Did they have any nerve receptors there? Would they feel a slight touch of a feather? Those scales looked damn thick to me! How far did those scales go? Did they disappear on his shoulder? Or went down to the elbow?
I looked at his hands. Yeah, there were scales there too, just that small-to-tiny type.
Just like a model presenting his physiology, he turned away from me to check something on the wall console and I had a perfect view on the nape of his neck. Guess what? More scales. They covered the whole back of his neck between the ridges. Did they go down...down there? Did all his back look like snake skin?
His hair was shiny; totally black and shiny. All of them had shiny hair? Did they use something or was it a natural feature? They were men, so probably it was natural. Did the gul wear make up? I couldn’t recall. Her hairdo was impressive, though. Not as weird with all those additional ornaments I’d seen on holopictures of Cardassian females, but it still was more than an average human woman on duty would care for.
Why were alpha shift officers on the bridge at this hour?
I returned my attention to Zamarran and his face. It was a fascinating study. I wondered how old he was? How long do Cardassians live? I knew that most likely longer than us, but didn’t know how much longer?
His uniform was squeaking quietly as he moved around and I wondered if it was very uncomfortable to wear it. He leaned toward me to reach something and I stole a glance at his chest. He wore something under that hard part of the uniform and...yes, there were scales there too. And ridges too. And I think I caught a top of another spoon. How many spoons does a Cardassian have? And where? Do I want to know it? And how...?
No, don’t go there. You don’t need to know everything! You naughty girl!
He blew air through his nose and at first I thought he realised I was looking down his “cleavage” and his scales, and his ridges, and his everything, but it wasn’t me. Something on his console caused this. I wanted to know what it was, but I didn’t think he would welcome my translation padd—my TP—hovering over his readings. His grey hands tapped and tapped and then something appeared on the monitor and he started reading. It seemed like he relaxed a bit. I looked at Brenok, who noticed nothing. And Zamarran reported nothing.
I wondered how ad Brenok gotten his scars? Had it been a battle? With the Federation? Or the Jem’Hadar? Or had he cheese grated in a lift?
“Sir, can I ask you a question?”
“Yes.” Zamarran’s reply was short.
“Why is there a timer in the bathroom?”
He froze. Literally. He stopped moving, with his hand awkwardly levitating above the console. Then slowly, veeeeryyyyy slowly his head turned to face me. His eyes were dark brown and huge with surprise.
“Excuse me?” he said quite loudly.
“Is there a problem?” Brenok turned toward us.
What did I do?!
“No, sir, no problem,” Zamarran answered Brenok, but did not answer me. He just returned to his work.
“Sorry,” I whispered, although I had no idea what I had done.
I noticed Karama was looking at us. He smiled to me and then turned back to his console. He knew what I did, didn’t he? I would have to ask him later.
“I am finished,” Zamarran suddenly said. “You can stay and watch, but nothing special is going to happen,” he added.
He got up and moved out from behind the console. Some other Cardassian replaced him, giving me curious glances. Karama got up too and came to us?
“Supper?” Zamarran asked him.
“I think our guest has some questions.” Karama looked at me and winked.
“Suit yourself,” the engineer muttered, said something to Brenok, who was busy with a padd, and left the bridge.
“Supper?” Karama looked at me.
“Sir,” Karama addressed Brenok, “Gil Karama and Lieutenant Kapoor report end of their duty.”
“Dismissed.” The glinn didn’t look up from the padd.
Karama waved to me and we headed for the lift.
The mess hall was dark—surprise, surprise. And almost empty.
“What do you want?” the gil asked me.
“I don’t know. I’d like to try something Cardassian, but it should be something light.”
“All right. Sit down.”
I sat at one of free tables and he went to a replicator. A moment later he returned with two plates, on which was something resembling pancakes.
“They are not as good as my mom’s, but they’re okay,” he said, putting my plate in front of me.