We had arrived. Skarrat. A three-planet system, inhabited by reptilian, dinosaur-looking people. Highly skilled artists. Peaceful. A planet of friendly cousins of a T-Rex.
The green ball of the planet rotated below us and it looked beautiful. After oranges, browns and yellows of a Galor class warship I welcomed the view of green forests. The planet didn’t look like raped by conquerors. I expected to see dry, brown and desert world, but this was pretty, fresh ball of nature. This
was the occupied Skarrat?
Gul Jarol and Glinn Brenok beamed down, leaving Zamarran in charge. The engineer sat in the throne and his assistant—his aide, as they say here—Gil Ya’val motioned toward the main engineering console, at which I was sitting, to take his place, but Zamarran slightly shook his head. I glanced at him astonished, but he didn’t look at me.
He left me in charge of his console!
I didn’t dare to move to his chair, but started paying attention to the readings, ready to pick up anything wrong as soon as it appeared. Not that I read their language, but I already knew how the computer informed of problems. Red, flashing symbol and a string of letters to its right. The letters were surely a detailed information on the problem. I could report the problem simultaneously hovering my TP over the red text to translate and deliver more by the time Zamarran reacted and demanded details.
And it’s not that I wanted anything bad to happen!
“Look here.” Zamarran pointed to his screen. “When you see something like this, you know that everything goes as projected.”
I nodded and he continued his explanations.
It was very interesting to see how differently everything worked here. Deep Space Nine was equipped with a Cardassian computer, but after many upgrades and changes it didn’t resemble one any longer—not in the means of operation. While I have already noticed that Cardassians allowed quite wide deviations from peak performance, they were monitoring them amazingly closely, making sure they didn’t cross the line. And the way of monitoring was incredibly efficient. Partially it was because of their attention to details, partially thanks to their written language.
The system was set up to convey ‘positive’ and ‘neutral’ information horizontally, and warnings and ‘bad news’ vertically.
Suddenly, I noticed that Glinn Brenok was walking toward us. He looked all business and I was curious what he would ask Zamarran to do. But wait a minute...He was looking at me
“Lieutenant.” He handed me a padd. “You have a special task.”
“Yes, sir,” I acknowledged that he had all my attention.
He called Ullmann to come to us and continued, “Here are your detailed instructions. Both of you will be granted a special security access to our database to search for all and any information, regarding Skarrat.” The occupied world? Why did he want us to collect the data about their crimes? He waved at us to follow him and he led us to a console in the back of the bridge. “This will be your station. Be thorough in your research. We want your report as soon as possible, but don’t rush. Do it properly.”
“Yes, sir,” we said in unison. Finally some real work!
“How are you doing?” Karama stood on the other side of our console and craned his neck to peer at our readings.
“We’re busy,” I said.
“How busy?” he asked, but didn’t look at me, his gaze was on Ullmann. She ignored him.
“Too busy for a chat,” I replied.
“Oh, I didn’t come for a chat.” He was still staring at my colleague. Then he slowly moved around the console, stood on her right side and leaned on the console on his right hand. His left hand moved behind her; he put a padd on the console on her left. He didn’t touch her physically, but it almost looked as he put his hand around her waist. “I came to give you this.” His voice was deep and had clearly had an erotic note.
“What’s this?” I asked.
He glanced at me, smiled and then his attention returned to Ullmann. “You
ask me what this is,” he said very quietly almost to her ear.
Her breathing became faster and louder.
Then he suddenly stepped back, went around the console and approached me from the other side. “The padd contains the latest communiques from the planet,” he said in a normal voice. “I have entered them into the database already, but you may find there a few important things. I have extracted and marked them for your reference.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“My pleasure.” He smiled one of those wide, friendly grins and returned to his console.
“How can you talk to him?” Ullmann asked me.
“He’s nice to me,” I said and almost added ’because I was nice to him,’ but I didn’t.
“Yes, because he doesn’t think you’re pretty. You’re not interesting for him. I am.”
“He is teasing you only.” The ‘pretty’ comment was uncalled for.
“He is a Cardassian. He’s dangerous.”
“He’s not dangerous just because he is a Cardassian,” I protested.
“He’s been harassing me since day one,” she hissed.
“No, he’d been only friendly. You were rude.”
“Why are you on his side?” She looked at me reproachfully.
“Ullmann, I am on no one’s side. But I think you both are overreacting. I know you don’t like him, but he never meant any harm to you. And even now, he doesn’t touch you, just...suggests...” I pulled my face. “Look, no one else does that and they all are Cardassians.”
“Men in the mess hall are not much better.”
“Did anyone else accost you?” I worried. How come this didn’t happen to me? Was I that lucky?
“No, but they stare at me. Like I were some weirdo.”
“Maybe it’s your hair. They don’t have blondes here. Karama seemed...” I silenced, seeing her gaze. Okay, this wasn’t the best example.
We worked in silence for a few minutes.
“He would probably rape me a long time ago, if we didn’t share our quarters,” she said. “He can’t afford to have a witness.”
I disagreed, but was sure convincing her was a waste of time. I made a decision to try to solve it from the other side.
I observed the bridge for a moment, wondering if it would be very wrong to go to Karama. Some officers were walking around to others and even if they weren’t chatting, such movement seemed acceptable. I decided to take a risk.
I approached Karama’s console. He looked at me a bit surprised.
“A problem?” he asked.
“No. I wanted to talk to you about Ullmann and those jokes you play on her.”
“What about it?” he returned to working on his console.
“Karama, why do you do this?” I asked him quietly.
“Because she expects it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Did I do anything to her? Did I really threatened her in any way?”
“No. She just assumed—” I started, but he interrupted.
“My point exactly.” He looked me in the eyes. “This is her punishment. She created this hell for herself, so she can live in it for all I care.”
“Could you please stop feeding her fears? Please?” He stared at me. “Please?” I made puppy eyes.
“I’ll stop, but I do it for you, not for her.”
“Thank you,” I smiled.
He replied with a weak grin of his own, which faded almost instantly, and he returned to work. So did I.