“Fellow Cardassians and non-Cardassian citizens of the Cardassian Union.” A handsome Cardassian man with the rank of gul spoke from the screen. His speech—I already knew his name was Daset and in spite of the markings on his armour he was a legate now—was being broadcast over and over again. “Many of you know that last night has brought changes, but you do not know what kind of changes. Do not fear, please. We apologise if we scared you; we apologise, if you experienced any discomfort.
“We are the Mar’kuu Group. We were displeased with Alon Ghemor’s government decisions and actions and we decided it was too dangerous to let him and his supporters to stay in power. We had to take action and remove him from the decision-making position, in which he posed a real threat to Cardassia’s integrity and safety.
“The Detapa Council is now dissolved and the Central Command takes over. This means no real changes for you, the citizens. We will do our best to secure your safety, provide you with resources and serve you to the best of our abilities.
“To ensure that our rebuilding process goes undisturbed, we have decided to close our borders to foreign powers. Everyone who wishes to stay in the Union and become its denizens, can do so by applying for a special permission of the right to land. Those who want to leave, will have six months time to bring their affairs to closure and leave our territory. After those six months any alien ship that will attempt to cross our borders without a special permission to enter the Cardassian territory will be warned twice and then fired upon. We will not let anyone interfere with our internal matters any more. We will follow wishes of Cardassian and non-Cardassian denizens of our empire, and will not allow anyone to pose demands or conditions.
“The transition period is not going to be easy for us, but we will do everything in our power to make sure you, the people, live in peace and without fears and worries.
“We pledge our lives to serve you. We will rebuild strong Cardassia; Cardassia that doesn’t bow to anyone, Cardassia that will make Legate Damar proud.” Gul Jarol, who stood behind the speaking man’s chair, nodded her agreement with that statement. I supposed it made sense, since she had known Damar personally. “Cardassia that will be your safe home.
“It’s time to say ‘we are Cardassians and we are proud of it!’”
The man’s face was replaced by the Union emblem.
Six months. Six months. Six months.
I could either stay with Tavor and not see my family for who knew how long, or return to Earth and never see him again. I liked neither.
I had been living on the Roumar
for over a year now. I’d made friends here. I had a career here. I’d fallen in love here. I felt at home here. What was waiting for me in Starfleet? A new ship. New people. New transfers. Perhaps new friends. But new love? I couldn’t imagine my life without Tavor. I couldn’t imagine not feeling his scales under my fingers. Not eavesdropping to him speaking Cardassian. Not listening to his throaty laughter. Not trying to beat him in kotra
I would miss Zamarran and his smiles without smiling. I would miss Aladar and his complaining about arrogance of officers. I would miss Ma’Kan and her little ship models. I would miss Glinn Brenok’s singing. I would even miss being intimidated by Gul Jarol.
I started to grow my roots here, so severing them and starting everything again anew was not very tempting.
“Computer, locate Gul Jarol.”
“Gul Jarol is in the gul’s office
,” the male computer voice rasped.
I left my quarters and headed for the lift.
On the bridge, Glinn Zamarran gave me a surprised look—it was after my duty hours after all. I pointed at the door to Jarol’s office and he nodded, obviously understanding what I had come for.
I went upstairs and the door parted in front of me.
“Gul Jarol, could I talk to you?” Oh-oh. I didn’t expect to interrupt anything, but it was obvious she was in the middle of a conversation with Glinn Brenok. “Maybe I should come later?”
“Come in, Kapoor. What is it?”
My hands were shaking, so I clasped them behind my back. Up until now I hadn’t thought about what I was doing but now it sank in—that was the dice and I was just about to throw it. It was my point of no return. “It is about that...declaration of closing borders.”
“There should be sufficient time for you to pack all your things and return home,” Jarol said.
“Oh, it would be, if I planned it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Legate Daset said that all who wanted to leave have six months to bring their matters to closure and go away. He also said that those, who wished to stay—can.”
“That's correct,” she confirmed.
“Well...I don't want to leave.” What would she say? How would she react? What if she refused!
She didn’t say anything for a moment and then asked, “Are you sure? Do you realise what it means? You won’t be able to leave Cardassia after those six months, maybe for a very long time, because the isolation may take years.”
“I understand that.”
Glinn Brenok turned to have a better look at me. The gul rose and approached me. “Are you sure of this?” she asked again.
“Yes, Gul. I’ve given it a lot of thought and discussed it with...someone, and...I want to stay. I would also like to stay in the Guard, if it’s possible. On this ship.”
She looked at her aide but he didn’t say anything. Her eyes returned to my face and I felt my knees shaking. That was it. The decision. In or out. I dared not to look at her face.
“Your military career will have to be decided by Gul Tarkan. I will notify him about your request. You have some time to change your mind and leave before we close the borders, but if you wish to stay, then I see no problem with that.”
I raised my head to look at her. Did she really say that? In? In? Really in? “Thank you, Gul,” I whispered.
“However—” She gazed at my uniform “—you will have to stop wearing this. If you want to stay among us, you will have to become one of us.”
“Yes, Gul. I will, Gul.”
“Kapoor,” Brenok said suddenly, startling me a bit. I looked at him. “You should address her ‘legate’ now.”
Of course! Did I insult her? I covered my mouth with my hand. “Oh my...I’m sorry, Legate. Of course! I'm sorry. I didn’t mean any offence, it’s just the habit—”
She raised her hand. “Relax, Lieutenant.”
“So, I can stay?”
“Affirmative.” Was it a smile? Did she slightly smile? “Dismissed.”
“Thank you, sir.” My face had to tell her everything about my feelings.
I left the bridge and went straight to Tavor. I kissed his chanth
and said, “You won’t get rid of me for the rest of your life.” He looked at me. “My stay on Cardassia has just been approved by Gu...Legate Jarol.”
“Will you approve me as your husband?”
“Only if you isolate yourself from other women. Permanently.”
I ignored all surprised—and those not-so-surprised—faces and left the bridge.
My future was on Cardassia.
Now I had to inform my past in the Federation about it. Oh, boy...