My shift ended and I left the bridge, heading for the mess hall. I expected Karama to be there, as he had left the bridge earlier, but he wasn’t present. Ullmann was just finishing her meal, sitting at the table alone. Other tables were quite crowded, but no one had chosen to join her. Or maybe she’d refused to sit with others.
“Mind if I join you?” I asked her, approaching.
“Not at all,” she smiled weakly. Some of Cardassians around glanced at me and then returned to their meals. “How was your day?” she asked when I returned with a bowl of something I’d chosen from menu. The something was green and orange and resembled soup.
“It was okay,” I said, tasting the first spoon. It wasn’t bad, although wouldn’t become my favourite dish. “I think Glinn Zamarran is testing me. My engineering skills.”
“And how is it going?”
“I don’t know. I can’t just ask him and he doesn’t volunteer to tell me. However, as long as he’s not angry, I consider it a success.”
“You don’t aim high.”
“It’s not that. This is not the Federation, this is Cardassian warship—”
“Don’t remind me.”
“—and things here are the Cardassian way.”
“I can’t help but wonder why they choose this career. Here, it’s not fun.”
I had to agree with her. There was little joy in duty here, only obligations. Of course, serving your planet and your people meant something, but still it was better to do all that and
have some fun.
“I have to go the bridge, my shift starts soon.” She finished her supper...or was it her breakfast?
I only nodded, as my mouth was full. She headed for the exit and a few heads turned to look at her, and then turned back and a few men started whispering, nodding toward the door.
I ate slowly, hoping to see Karama tonight, but he didn’t come. I swallowed the last spoon of my soup and returned to my quarters. I asked the computer where Karama was and it told me in this scary voice that the gil was on deck eleven. According to the computer those decks were ground troops empire. I didn’t know what he was doing there, but I wouldn’t dare to go there myself.
“Computer, inform me when Gil Karama returns to his quarters.”
I hoped he didn’t return too late. I still had to familiarise myself with next batch of ’the rules and the regulations’ of the almighty Cardassian warship Roumar
, so in spite of being tired I couldn’t afford to go to sleep yet.
“Gil Karama is in his quarters
,” the computer rasped.
“What?” I startled and then realised Mr. Monster had woken me up. My padd lay next to me on my bed. “Computer, what time is it?”
“Oh two hundred hours
“When did Gil Karama return to his quarters?”
“Three minutes seventeen seconds ago.
“So he shouldn’t be sleeping yet.”
“Never mind. I wasn’t talking to you.”
I rolled off my bed and ran to Karama’s quarters, hoping to catch him before he went to sleep.
I chimed and waited. I decided not to chime again if there was no reply and was just about to leave, when the door opened and he stood in it. The first thing I saw when the door slid open was the spoon on his chest, where our sternum is, for it was perfectly on the level of my eyes. I raised my head to look at his face.
“What are you doing here at this hour?” he asked surprised.
“I wanted to talk to you and ask how you were doing,” I said, but in fact I started wondering why, exactly, I wanted to see him so much.
“Come in,” he said, moving away.
I stole another glance at his chest spoon. His collar bones were covered with ridges and big, thick scales. He wore a black singlet with Cardassian logo on the chest. His shoulders and arms were bare and I could see the scaled ridges going from his neck to his shoulders, and then on the outer edges of his arms to his elbows and wrists, where the ridges receded. The scales on his shoulders and elbows were visibly thicker.
Another interesting thing I noticed was a tattoo. It was on his chest, below his collarbone ridge. I couldn’t see it whole, as the singlet covered most of it, but there was something there.
Not only his Cardassianness was tempting my eyes not to leave his body. He was a fine man, all right. Muscular, fit and clearly in the top condition.
Wait a minute...Did I have a crush on him?
“How are you doing?” I asked. “I heard the gul was pretty angry about all this mess with Ullmann.”
“She was furious,” he said. “Please, sit down.” I sat on his sofa. “Zobar
milk, two cups,” he told the replicator and then brought both cups to the table and put one in front of me. “Will help you sleep later.”
“Is your duty longer now? You didn’t come to the mess hall to have supper.”
“As a part of my punishment I must report to work on the lower decks.”
“Oh. Is it normal?”
“No. Our previous gul’s aide used it often to discipline us and believe me, it didn’t take much to deserve to be sent there.”
“What do you have to do exactly?”
“All those things militia troops do, and more. From polishing ship’s bulkheads to physical workout. It’s mundane, boring work. The worst part is that we have to serve militiamen. As to hand them things, do things for them. They can order us around. Enlisted troops give bridge officers orders. Fun,” he muttered.
“For how long?”
“Two weeks. And believe me: every garesh enjoys it.”
“Why would someone choose a job like this?” I wondered aloud.
“It pays well.”
“Yes. Serving in attack troops is considered a high risk career, so their remuneration is adequate.”
We looked at each other, both surprised by the other’s reaction.
“What did you expect? That we work for—” he didn’t finish.
But I did. “Free. Of course, you still use money.” He smiled. “They say Ullmann stopped your promotion,” I said.
“The gul stopped my promotion, not Ullmann,” he replied.
“Are you angry?”
“I regret it. Gul Jarol was right; I should have just stopped talking to this biased bitch, but I didn’t.” He pursed his lips. “You know what I regret?” I shook my head. “I regret I disappointed the gul. I don’t care about promotion, I don’t care about Ullmann and what she thinks of me, not any more. I don’t care about the reprimand the gul is going to put into my file. It all can be fixed. But I lost my gul’s respect and trust. She thought I was something more, something better and I left her with an idiot on the bridge.”
“You’re too harsh. I’m certain she doesn’t think so.” To be honest, I wasn’t certain. Gul Jarol was like a queen for me: powerful, beautiful and don’t you dare to look in her face. I wouldn’t be surprised if she judged people harshly.
“But I feel
I could understand that. I wouldn’t like to disappoint my captain, either.
I didn’t want to keep him up for long, so I left his quarters soon.
He was right. The zobar
milk put me to sleep as soon as my head touched my pillow.