Chapter 8, part 2
In her quarters Megan laid down upon the sofa, it was her favourite place to rest and to think. All she wanted right now was to be left alone. The door chimed and Megan closed her eyes, maybe the person would go away... The door chimed again, she ignored it.
She didn't want to talk to anyone, not even Max. The door chimed a third time and she became seriously annoyed. The door opened and at this point Megan had had enough. “Whoever you are-”
She paused when she looked at the person standing in front of the door. “Mum?” she asked, while she tried to comprehend the person standing before her. She hadn't talked to or contacted Sarah in years, and she had been of sorts estranged with her mother.
“You never come to visit me,” said Sarah, with a small smile. “So I thought I would visit you. I can come in can't I?”
Megan nodded, she was afraid of what her mother might say if she refused to let her in.
Sarah hugged Megan briefly. “I'm so glad to see you, these last two years have been... tough.” Sarah paused and an awkward silence sprung up between the two, the silence that represented the estrangement, so Sarah continued. “Captain Dax told me what happened to you, in that Cardassian prison camp. I don't know what to say...” Sarah looked sadly at Megan, a great amount of pity and sympathy resided in those eyes.
“You have no idea what it was like,” said Megan tensely. “And you don't want to know either.”
Sarah looked mildly agitated by this rebuff. “Why did you ignore my letters?” she finally asked. “Ever since you joined Starfleet Intelligence, you didn't contact me once for over five years.”
“It was my job to keep a low profile,” explained Megan. “You didn't approve of it, and I figured if I had to contact you then you would ask what I was doing. At the time, I was... troubled. I'm sorry I ignored you and it was something I deeply regretted during the time I spent in that Cardassian prison.”
Though Megan looked angrily at Sarah, really she was disgusted with herself.
Sarah was now looking at her daughter carefully. “You've changed; that sweet and innocent girl I once knew is gone.”
Megan could not tolerate such emotive sentiment. “She grew up and learnt never to be so trusting and naive ever again!” she said harshly.
At this Sarah looked taken aback. “You trust nobody, not even me?” she asked.
“When the man you love betrays you, it's hard to trust anyone.”
Sarah looked at Megan with pity. “And why didn't you tell me about this relationship?” she asked sadly. “I'm your mother, why were you hiding things from me?”
Megan then realised just how much she had hurt her mother, and because of this her mother deserved an explanation... “Jack, the man I once loved, was the only person I really trusted,” she explained while her eyes became wet with tears. “For a while I couldn't even trust you.”
Slowly Sarah moved over towards Megan and then hugged her. “I wouldn't do anything to harm you,” whispered Sarah, she then placed her hands around Megan's head. “Do you understand that?”
Grief came surging through Megan and she started sobbing. Being with her mother seemed to bring all the bad feelings out of Megan, like extracting poison from a wound. “I know,” she said in a choked voice. “But I feel so alone. I don't have any friends, and I have this terrible gnawing feeling inside me.”
After a while Sarah released Megan. “You stupid girl,” reprimanded Sarah. “I'm your mother, and I'll always be your friend.”
Sarah sat down on the sofa, and Megan did the same, and she cuddled up to her mother. In a way Megan was a like small child as she lay against her mother, holding on and trying to find some comfort. She felt Sarah's fingers running down her hair back and forth. It felt very relaxing, and Megan started to recall the good times she once had with her mother all those years ago.
“What are you going to do next?” asked Sarah. “Are you staying in Starfleet?”
“I don't know,” said Megan miserably. “It's hard to think about the future right now.”
“Your not one to lie idle,” said Sarah wisely. “You've always been hard working, doing nothing makes you restless.”
Megan knew this to be true, still a lot of things had changed inside her, and had her hard-working qualities been changed as well? She wasn't sure about that. “I'd only stay in Starfleet if I had a posting that was dull and permanent,” she said after a while.
“You don't mean that,” said Sarah dismissively. “Why not work on this station? I've noticed quite a few vacancies for Starfleet officers; this place doesn't seem popular with Starfleet officers.”
Megan scowled briefly, not this place surely. “This station is of Cardassian design, it reminds me of that awful prison. I couldn't work here.”
“It may look Cardassian, but the crew working here are not,” explained Sarah. “I've seen some of the senior staff, they seem like decent folk especially that Trill captain, Dax. You need to learn how to trust people again. It was the Starfleet crew of DS9 who rescued you.”
“I know,” said Megan miserably, though to trust was the thing she feared the most. “I suppose right now I don't want to remain idle, moping about what happened in the past. I need to do some form of work to distract myself from the emotional pain.”
“So you are going to stay on board this station?” said Sarah shrewdly.
Megan detached herself from her mother and looked at the floor. “I'll see how it goes,” she said with a shrug. “If it doesn't work, I can always come back to Earth.”
Megan turned to face her mother. “Oh yes... I promise to you that I will keep in touch on a daily basis.”
“That's much appreciated,” said Sarah smiling. “I might visit you from time to time.”
Silence fell between the two and Megan savoured the moment. For a few seconds, she felt content and safe by having her mother so close, it was as if nothing could harm her.
Bashir, Kira, Nog and Max were sat at their usual table in Quark's bar. The mood between them had been gloomy for the past three days. The loss of life on board the Defiant, the Liberty survivors and the mysterious circumstances surrounding Megan's involvement in the whole affair all weighed on their minds.
Nog was the first to break the silence. “I'm telling you Megan doesn't deserve to wear that uniform. She completely broke the Prime Directive and who knows how many Starfleet regulations she broke in the process.”
“I know,” said Bashir, though he didn't seem to convinced by this. “But she's been through a terrible ordeal.”
“What do you expect if you are working with Section 31?” said Nog.
“Ssh!” warned Kira and she looked around, to make sure nobody was listening in on the conversation. “We shouldn't be talking about this, we don't know the exact details of the investigation. If Ezri and Odo have allowed Megan to stay onboard this station, then it's more than likely that Megan was never a Section 31 agent.”
“Are you saying that Megan was not responsible for the attack on the Liberty?” inquired Nog.
“We don't know if she's guilty or not,” said Max quietly. “Jack has left this station but Megan hasn't. It seems to me that Jack is the guilty one.”
“Max you're a good guy, but you're somewhat naive,” said Nog, in a friendly sort of way. “It seems to me that Ezri and Odo were forced to classify the investigation, in other words it's some sort of cover-up.”
Max felt embarrassed by Nog's comment, and he changed the topic. “On a different note what was all the fuss about the Arrettia massacre? I hear you three mentioning it occasionally.”
The mood on the table dropped further and Nog looked very tense. “Listen if there's one topic you should never talk about with the captain, any Starfleet captain for that matter, it's the Arrettia massacre!” he warned.
“Why?” asked Max still frowning, he had heard of the name but didn't know the entire details about this event.
Kira let out a brief snort of derision before she answered Max's question. “Because it was a terrible humiliation for the Federation!” she paused and laughed bitterly. “Let's just say that the Federation was a bit too good intentioned when they were given the stricken Cardassian Union aid fifteen years ago. There's that human saying: the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
“Well some hard liner Cardassians took grave offence at the Federation aid being provided to Cardassia. So they managed to whip up popular support calling for the Federation to be ousted! Well it reached fever pitch when Gul Bordak ordered his troops to ransack the Federation embassy building on Cardassia and butcher everyone who was working with and for the Federation. 450 Federation and Starfleet personal were killed, along with dozens of other Cardassians working in that building. It wasn't pretty.”
She looked around, making sure nobody else was listening in on their conversation. “Not many people know this, but the Starfleet captain, who ran the embassy, was killed by a mob of angry Cardassians crowding outside of the building. He was ripped apart, literally, by their bare hands.” She grimaced and looked a little disgusted, before continuing. “That's why captain's are so edgy about the Arrettia massacre; because one of their own was brutally killed. So Bordak caused a revolution and the democratic government of Cardassia fell. What's embarrassing is not that the Federation got kicked out of the Cardassian Union. It's that the Federation's top person to bring about the democratization of the Cardassian Union was the instigator of the uprising! Guess who it was?”
“Who?” asked Max.
“It was Garak,” answered Kira.
“Never!” said Max disbelievingly. He may have known Bashir, Kira and Nog for over a year, but he had little knowledge of the secrets that the three had. Secrets which had accumulated after 25 years of working on and living on board DS9, as well as being privy to much sensitive information disclosed in senior staff meetings...
“Oh yes,” said Kira. “One of the Federation's most highly praised Cardassians, winner of five peace prizes, created one of the most unprecedented revolts of the century!”
Max let out a low whistle. “That's embarrassing!”
Kira looked around to make sure nobody was eavesdropping upon the conversation. “Of course don't repeat what I said to anyone else, have you got that?”
“I won't,” promised Max.
Bashir somehow looked even more gloomier than usual. “It sure is embarrassing,” he explained to Max. “Even worse Garak became in effect dictator of the Cardassian Union. So all of the Federation's hard work at democratizing Cardassia was in ashes, and a new stand-off began.”
Max thought hard about what Bashir had said. “But Garak must have been protecting his position! He realised the danger to his leadership and took a gamble!”
Bashir looked very smug, clearly impressed that Max was keeping up. “That's precisely what happened, and so for fifteen years DS9 has been at the forefront of a cold war. Nothing serious has happened, but there's been a lot of posturing... On both sides.”
Kira was grimly smiling. “There's only one good thing that has come out of this situation, and that is the Bajoran government decided the stand-off was a major reason to build a Bajoran military fleet, to protect Bajor from any such threats. Because of the Cardassian troubles, Bajor has become much stronger for it.”
Bashir's look of smugness was replaced by a crestfallen look. “I thought I knew Garak, I thought he had changed for the better, but I guess I was wrong...”
Kira raised her cup. “To better times then?” she suggested, while toasting
“Better times,” said Bashir, Max and Nog in unison as they raised their cups.