Seeing one’s own mother crying was one of the most terrible and scary things in the galaxy. It certainly was for me.
“Mum, please...” I whispered.
But she only kept shaking her head and sobbing. Dad was sitting next to her, frowning. I could understand how they felt; that’s why I wanted to explain to them the reasons behind my decision.
I had been sending letters and calling them occasionally, but hadn’t shared everything—not a word about Tavor. I didn’t know why; maybe I feared their reaction, maybe I was not sure there was any future for this relationship and didn’t want to hear another ‘you sell yourself cheap,’ as if I slept with everyone. Hell, I hadn’t even slept with Tavor yet!
“You must return home
,” Dad said. “You must. We watch the news, we know what’s going on there. I always knew these Cardies cannot be trusted and I never liked that you had volunteered for this assignment. And now—this?
” He raised his hands and then brought them down to his thighs with a loud slap. “You
“Dad, I don’t want to return.” I didn’t appreciate his calling my friends ‘Cardies.’
“Is there anyone beyond the camera view with a phaser pointed at your head?
“No!” I shouted with indignation.
“So why can’t you return?
“I don’t want
to return, Dad. I can but don’t want to.”
“They made you say this. I know they did.
” He was visibly shaking now. I wasn’t sure he was angry, nervous or scared.
“Daddy,” I said trying to calm him down. “It’s not like that. I have friends here, I have a life here. You know that—I had been telling you about them. It’s not that different from Starfleet, really.”
“How can you say this?!
” Mum shouted. “I know you have friends there, Sweetheart, people you care for, that security girl for example
.” I guessed she meant Ma’Kan “But...this is a dangerous place now. After that coup! Do you have any idea what kind of monsters are in power now?
“Actually, Mum, I have a very good idea, because I know personally some of those people. They are not any monsters.” Glinn Brenok was a definition of a non-monster, if anything. “I’m sure it looks bad from over there, but here it isn’t—”
“You must return home, now!
” shouted my father.
“No.” I tried to be calm, I really tried. Why couldn’t they trust me? I wasn’t a baby any more; I could take care of myself.
“No,” I repeated. “And I have more news for you. I am getting married.”
Silence for a long moment.
“To one of them?
” Mum stopped crying a looked at me with round eyes.
“That’s right.” I nodded. “He is a gentle and a wonderful man.”
“What is his name?
” my mum asked. Somehow, her behaviour changed. Maybe she could understand me better now, maybe she could see that for love a woman was able to do anything and everything. Maybe she started to believe that I really wanted to stay and was not forced to it. If being in love and getting married wasn’t a reason good and convincing enough, then I didn’t know what would be.
“Tavor Karama.” I said his name softly, as it always sounded soft to me. Once Tavor had told me that I said his name almost the same way that Glinn Brenok did. Tah-voh
. I had terrible problems with Cardassian ‘r’ sound; I never could get it right and at ends of words I omitted it completely. Too much contact with British during my school days, I supposed.
Mum nodded, absorbing the name, but dad fumed. “That rapist?!
“What?” I hadn’t expected that. And then it occurred to me that he had to talk about Tavor’s father. No doubt Bajorans had shared with the Federation their list of war criminals and dad could have become very interested in the subject since my coming to Cardassia.
“He raped that officer, the one that had been there with you. That’s why she has been sent back, not to be able to press charges against him. Cardassian law...
” he muttered with contempt.
So it wasn’t about Tavor’s father. Stupid Ullmann! I wanted to scream in anger. “No, Dad, that is absolutely not true.” How come was my voice so quiet?
“What did he do to you?
” dad asked suspiciously. “Did he...did he....harm you?
” His voice shook. I knew it was hard for him to even think about his daughter being violated that
“No, Daddy, he is not like this.”
“Daddy, no! He never touched me. At all. It’s not appropriate for them. Only after being married.”
“Oh, and I suppose they were all married to those Bajoran women they had been raping for decades.
“Dad! Don’t judge the whole race based on minority!” I said sharply.
“But it doesn’t seem like a minority to me, baby. That’s the problem.
I clenched my hands, trying not to explode. “He hasn’t even been to Bajor. Ever.” I paused to take a breath. “If you could talk to him, you could see how gentle and caring he is.”
“Could we talk to him?
” Mum asked.
I thought for a moment. Actually, why not? Maybe if they saw him, asked him questions, saw him smile, listened to his soft way of speaking, looked in his kind eyes—maybe then they would understand that not every Cardassian was a monster from Bajor. “Sure, I’ll call him.” I pressed a comm. “Kapoor to Karama.”
I made sure the translator was off and said in my broken Cardassian, “Come to me. Mum and dad want to talk. Be good.”
“On my way
,” he answered. I hoped he understood my message. I wanted to tell him to be patient with them but didn’t speak Cardassian well enough to convey this message.
“You speak their language?
” Mum looked surprised.
“A little,” I smiled.
A chime sounded and Tavor entered. He wore a civilian tunic and I thought that it was a happy coincidence; maybe it could help them—help dad—see through the stereotype of a ruthless Cardassian soldier and see Tavor for what he really was—a person.
I rose from my chair and let him sit on it; I pulled another one and sat next to him.
“Sir, Madame,” he greeted them politely.
Mum smiled and nodded back. Her smile was a bit reserved but at least she made an effort. Dad, however, suspiciously scrutinised him. And then it started.
“What do you think you’re doing, Cardassian! This is kidnapping!
” Dad shook his fist. “I will do everything in my power to get my child back.
“Sir,” Tavor tried to say something but was interrupted; his voice sounded incredibly calm, though. Had he expected a reaction like that?
“Don’t talk to me, Cardie! You raped that other woman and now Gods only know what you do to my little girl!
” I could feel Tavor tense. I glanced at him and he still had that polite smile plastered on his face but I knew it was a mask. “If you think you can enslave everyone to serve your pervert needs, you will have to deal with me!
” Mum tried to calm dad down; she put her hand on his shoulder but he shrugged it off. Tavor seemed not to react. Frozen. “You can kill each other over there for all I care, but I don’t like that you keep my child there. I don’t know how you force her to lie to us like this and I don’t know how you threaten her to lie to us at all, but—
” Mum tried to interfere but he wouldn’t listen.
” dad shouted at her. Then, he turned back to the screen and hissed, squinting at Tavor. “You miserable, little, scheming reptile. Make no mistake, I’ll file a protest and get people to free my daughter. And then you’ll pay for this, you spoonhead!
That was too much. This wasn’t a conversation; my father wasn’t allowing Tavor to present himself, to show who he was. This was a rant, a show of insults and it was clear to me that all my father wanted was to threaten and yell, not listen. Why did he behave like this? He had never been like that, he had never been a racist, I had never heard him using racial slurs. Until now. And all that directed at the man whom I loved. No, I wouldn’t accept this! Tavor was too polite to react, obviously, although I had no idea how come he didn’t talk back. He should have.
“Enough!” I slammed my hand on the desk, hitting the comm button and breaking the connection.
Tavor looked at me astonished. “What did you do that for?”
“Didn’t you hear? Didn’t you understand what he said?!” I was shaking, angry.
“I did. So what? He’s worried—he fears for you.”
It was beyond worry. “He insulted you. Many times!”
“And I would let him. He would throw all that out of him and then
we would have a chance to talk.”
I was flabbergasted. What was he saying? I sat in the other chair and stared at him. “What?” I whispered.
“I thought that if I let him let the anger out and he’d calm down, we could talk. Really talk. Have a conversation, with questions and answers. Your mother seemed to have a lot of questions.” He silenced for a moment. “She seemed nice,” he added. “And with your father—”
“He can go to hell,” I growled. “No one will call you...the ‘s’ word.” I was so angry. He had taught me that insulting people was unacceptable, that calling them names was unacceptable and now he had done just that. That man looked like my father but behaved nothing like him. I was disgusted by that show of hatred.
“You shouldn’t say such things about your father,” Tavor chastised me.
“You do about yours,” I said defiantly.
“Mine is a rapist and a murderer. Yours isn’t. He’s just worried about you. He’s panicking. He fears for your safety and I understand that. He is sick
“Well, he expresses it the wrong way!” I got up and went to my tiny window.
“You should call them back and talk to them,” he said quietly, approaching me and wrapping his arms around me.
“No way,” I barked.
I was so mad. I had known that this conversation with my parents would be a tough one; I had known there would be tears and accusations, misunderstandings and a lot of explanations. I had been looking forward to it, though, because I had thought I could tell them about my life: that I was happy, that I found my true love, that every day was an adventure, even if sometimes adventures were scary and seemed dangerous. However, they weren’t interested in my happiness. They were interested in their assumptions.
“I need to talk to Starfleet now,” I said quietly.
“Come to my quarters after you finish. I’ll have something yummy for you—to improve your mood. And I’ll let you win another kotra
“Nothing can improve my mood.”
He turned me around to face him. “Maybe this isn’t the best idea,” he said very quietly, looking intently into my eyes. “Maybe it would be better if you returned home after all.”
There was pain in his eyes; I could clearly see it now. Was it because the conversation with my parents had gone so badly, or because of the words he had to listen to? Or both?
He was a Cardassian. He was a Cardassian from an unhealthy, broken family and I knew that it bothered him. That some kind of sacred custom had been violated; he talked about it sometimes and I knew he felt terrible because of the situation. Did he want to spare me the same pain? Of hating my own father?
I didn’t hate dad. I was just so, so, so mad at him.
And Tavor? He was able to push me away, to send me back home, to let me go and not be with me not to let the crack between me and my parents to grow into an abyss. I wouldn’t be allowed to contact them after Cardassia isolated itself from the rest of the quadrant, and that was bad enough. Now it was different. Had our last conversation had to look like this? Had it had to be a fight with bitter words? Tavor wanted me to have a proper goodbye with my family, to make sure they knew I was happy. If I were to break my contact with them this way—with ugly words shouted at our faces—he’d rather withdraw his word and return me to my family than be with me. My family’s integrity was more important to him than his broken heart.
If they only knew about it; if dad knew what Tavor was trying to do for us. But dad wouldn’t listen; he’d just start to rant again, seeking hidden malice in Tavor’s actions. I didn’t have to listen to that, I wouldn’t
listen to that.
I stroke his eye ridge gently, enjoying the feeling of his scales under my skin. “Go back to your quarters. I’ll join you when this is over.”
He nodded, kissed me and left.
I didn’t wait long for the connection to be established. A commander appeared on my elegant, oval monitor.
“Commander Valatto. How can I help you?
” he asked smiling at me.
“Commander, my name is Lieutenant Amrita Kapoor, Starfleet Service Number JP-583-554.” He entered the number into his computer and I saw that red colour reflected from his olive skin. Clearly, some kind of warning displayed on his monitor. I ignored it and continued, “I would like to file my resignation from Starfleet.”
,” Valatto said slowly. “Please wait a moment. I’ll patch you through to Admiral Nechayev.
Before I had a time to ask ‘why?’ his face was replaced by the petite, blond woman’s stern look.
“Admiral,” I said by the way of greeting.
She ignored it. “Lieutenant Kapoor, I’m glad you decided to contact us. You are being recalled from Cardassia, effective immediately.
I ignored her too. “Admiral, please acknowledge the receipt of my resignation from Starfleet.”
“No, Lieutenant. You will return to Starfleet Headquarters to be debriefed.
What? Am I a traitor now? “Why?” I asked.
“If there is anyone in the Federation who understands what is going on on Cardassia, it is you. You have the insight, you are in the middle of it and you have the information we need.
“I’m resigning from Starfleet, Admiral. I can prepare a full report about everything I know about current Cardassian politics, I can even try to interview the coup participants for you and I will answer all your questions, but I am not returning. I resign from Starfleet.”
She gazed at me for a moment. “You have a direct access to that gul...we need to know what you know. Besides, it is not safe for you there any longer.
“Admiral, you’re not listening, I am—”
“I heard you, Lieutenant. And I refuse to accept your resignation. You will report to Starfleet Headquarters.
I knew it! I was sure they’d try this and I had prepared myself for it. “You cannot refuse it, Admiral. Starfleet Regulation Number forty-five-dash-seven-dash-eighteen, paragraph three. ‘Should a Starfleet off—’”
“Don’t quote regulations to me, Lieutenant, I know them
.” She didn’t sound irritated...or she sounded irritated all the time; I was not sure which one.
“Then you also know you can’t refuse my resignation. If you have received the file, I am no longer a lieutenant.”
She silenced for a moment. Then she said in a much softer tone of voice. “Lieu...Ms. Kapoor, Cardassia is not safe right now. You can’t stay there.
“Expect my full report soon. It’s going to be the last one.”
“I don’t like it and I think you make a grave mistake.
” But there was nothing she could do about it and she knew it. “Good luck, Ms. Kapoor.
“Thank you, Admiral.”
She disconnected and just then I realised how tensed I was.
I was sure it wasn’t the end; I was sure that Starfleet wouldn’t just take my file and forget about everything. But at that moment I didn’t care. At. All.
The die is cast. The rope to Starfleet had been cut. The rope to parents had been torn to threads. I hoped that new Cardassian strings would prove strong enough to carry me into my future.
I left my quarters and headed for the Roumar
’s bridge and the gul’s office.
Gul Jarol gazed at me, looked at my civilian clothes with interest and then put away the padd she had in her hand.
“Lieutenant?” she asked.
“No longer, G...Legate.” Of course, she wasn’t a gul any more. What was she still doing aboard the ship anyway?
“I see.” She leaned back in her chair and gave me a more careful look. I’d say there was curiosity in her eyes. “What can I do for you, then?”
“I promised Starfleet the last report about the current situation on Cardassia. I will write what I know. Everything. I wanted you to know that. I can show it to you so you’d know what I wrote, but I won’t allow any censorship.” Bold. She could block it with ease and there was nothing I could do about it, but I didn’t want to do it without notifying her, though. I didn’t want to feel like I spied on them; I didn’t want them to think I spied on them. I’d worked too hard and for too long to gain their trust—her
trust—to fail it now. I hoped she understood that it was the last thing I had to do, my last duty to fulfil. She was a soldier, she was an officer and she knew duty.
Jarol smiled. “Lieut...Kapoor, if you write the truth, then I don’t need to check it, control it or whatever. Besides, I am really not interested in Starfleet’s opinion about Cardassia. It is of no consequence. Not any longer.” She paused. “All right, that is not entirely true, I’m not that short-sighted.” A small grin appeared on her face. Why wasn’t this beautiful woman surrounded by dozens of adorers again? “Write your report and send it. Thank you for notifying me.” So she did understand. I felt relieved.
“About my stay in the Guard...?” I asked shyly.
“I’m sorry I didn’t have a chance to talk to Gul Tarkan, yet. I’ll do that first thing in the morning, all right?” Did she ask me if it was all right, or were my ears playing tricks on me?
“Of course. I appreciate that, Legate.”
She looked like she wanted to ask something more, but she only smiled and returned to her padd. “Dismissed,” she said.
I left her office and went straight to Tavor’s quarters. I hoped he had a good plan for my mood improvement because I desperately needed it.