Jarol co-ordinated the preparations. She had barely a few days to bring on board enough resources to suffice until the end of their mission. It was possible that they would find a way of replenishing the supplies, but she wanted to be prepared for the worst, not the best. Whatever lay on the other side of that wormhole, it could mean a lot of resources, a total void, or a fight. The last possibility was the least attractive, as damage to the ship and loss of life were the most critical and the hardest to foresee.
Glinn Damar had asked her and the aide from the Radalar
to meet him to co-ordinate the preparations. The meeting had been a very good idea, as they had decided to split some of responsibility. At first she was against such a plan, as if one warship were completely destroyed, the other two would remain without something they needed and the third ship carried, but Damar explained that it didn’t mean the other ships would be left without required supplies. All he wanted was assigning tasks to the small battalion and giving each warship a role to play, so that they knew what to do in a crisis and could act swiftly.
She had been a little disturbed by being invited to dinner by Damar, but he accepted her refusal with a smile and a small apology.
The last evening at home she was able to spend with her family, since Zamarran had graciously granted everyone a shore leave; no doubt to spend his last night with his family.
Demok was planning the meal outside, in the garden. He’d placed the table under fop
palms, and set it for seven. She didn’t have to ask to know that the Brenoks were coming.
After being kicked out of the kitchen by her husband and father, she went to the table and sat in one of plastic chairs, breathing in cool Nokarian air. Since the continent was mostly agrarian, the air here was clearer and healthier than in other parts of Cardassia. A great place to raise kids, even if her family farm was a history after a series of destructive draughts a few decades earlier, which made growing fruit impossible. Her father had started to recreate their orchard a few years earlier, but it was still a long time before thin, tiny trees and palms would grow and bore fruit. Only those three palms in the garden managed to survive and now graced the place with their beauty and a smell of ripe fop
“Mum, wanted to talk to you.”
She turned to look at her son. “Yes, Droplet, what is it?”
“I talked to dad already.” He did not say anything more and she knew why: he didn’t want her to know what her husband had decided not to influence her decision.
“Sit down.” She patted the chair next to her.
Laran Demok sat and leaned his elbow on the table. “My first apprentice service will come to an end in three months and thanks to my hard work,” he paused to let the proudly said words sink in, “I am allowed to choose
my next archon.”
She pretended she wasn’t impressed. “Are you?”
But he wasn’t fooled by her lack of enthusiasm. “Yes.”
“Who is it?”
“Is not a matter of ‘who,’ but where.”
She shifted in her chair. “That far?” she asked with worry.
“I’m a big boy, Mum.”
“Not to me. Why there?”
“Because this is one of our oldest colonies founded in the times of the Hebitians. This would be a great experience and also a way to see completely different way of doing things. I really, really want to go, Mum.”
“Aren’t you a big boy? I thought you were informing me, not asking for my permission.”
He grinned. “I wouldn’t want to do anything to upset you.”
She chuckled. “And you’d change your decisions based on your mother’s over-protectiveness?” His grin grew wider. “Oh, I see. You count that in my endless motherly understanding and putting my child’s good before my feelings, I’d agree and be happy for you.” His smile was showing all his teeth. “And be proud of you, too.” He nodded vigorously. “Well, I hope your father is happy and proud, too.”
“As long as I don’t enlist in the Guard, he’s happy with everything.”
Laran followed his paternal grandfather’s example and had chosen a career of an archon, to his father’s relief. Tiron Demok had had three sons with his first wife, who had died in labour with the last one, and all those young men had been killed in the war with the Romulans. Demok had a habit saying that his heart would not survive losing another son, so he was glad that Laran had other future in mind for himself.
She sighed and pulled her arms toward him. He almost fell into her embrace, but backed out in the last moment. She was just about to ask what had happened, when she realised that he was looking over her shoulder. She turned to see Brenok with his family, which included his daughter. Tasara inherited her beauty after both her parents and in spite of being almost raised together like siblings, Laran was not blind to her charm. Especially after they passed by their teenage years and became young adults.
“What’s for supper?” Brenok asked.
“I wish I knew,” Jarol smiled. She looked at her son. “Do you know?”
“I do,” he confirmed, but didn’t volunteer any more information.
“Look at that.” Jarol waved toward the house. “That’s what happens when men take over your life.”
Brenok sat opposite her. “I know how you feel,” he moaned and hid his face in his hands.
Tasara leaned to him. “You adore us, Dad,” she said, gently pulling his braid. Jarol was the only woman in her family, while Brenok was the only man in his.
His head popped up. “Why, of course I do!”
“To break with male hegemony,” Asra said, “I can at least tell you what we brought.” She put a basket on the table and opened it.
“Let me guess.” Jarol grinned like a winner. “Gofut
’s there, too.”
Asra and Tasara laughed and Brenok’s indignant “Hey!” was barely heard. Everyone knew gofut
was his favourite dish and one of his ladies cooked it for him before he left for longer.
“Laran!” Demok’s raspy voice reached them.
“Coming!” the young man shouted back and rose; he went to the house.
The table was quickly graced by food that the Demoks had cooked and the Brenoks had brought.
They talked about family matters, and politics, and the newest holonovel, and Laran’s plans to take his apprenticeship on a colony, but they did not talk about Jarol and Brenok’s upcoming mission into unknown. That was an unwritten rule not to talk about their work. Even if a conversation started casually, it could very easily become upsetting to everyone, so they were wise to never even start it.
That night Jarol was falling asleep in her husband’s arms, gently stroking thick scales on his elbow, worrying about her son and experiencing nervousness mixed with curiosity about the upcoming mission.