Prophets’ Mercy Hospice
Illiana Ghemor allowed the tears to fall. “Ranjen, why are you crying?” Kira Nerys asked, her eyes moistening at the edges.
“It is nothing…my child, I-I am merely pleased to see you recovering so well,” Ghemor haltingly replied.
The former commander of Deep Space Nine was sitting up in the hospital biobed, with a renewed vitality that she hadn’t evinced in months, not since Illiana had put her in this precarious position.
Then Illiana had taken Kira’s identity to turn the station’s weapons against Cardassian Premier Natima Lang. Since then, she had had a change of heart, and she wanted to make amends. She had taken on another guise, that of a simple ranjen, a low ranking member of the Bajoran religious order, who visited Kira from time to time.
Since this was something ranjens often did for the infirm no one questioned her presence, though she had gotten a few widened eyes at how similar the two women looked.
It still amazed Illiana. She had been born a Cardassian, yet had spent much of her adult life disguised as a Bajoran, an operative for the Obsidian Order, an infiltrator in various resistance cells. Despite their uncanny resemblance she had never met Kira during the Bajorans’ war against the Cardassian occupation.
If it hadn’t been for her father, who had mistakenly thought Kira was in fact Illiana, and had reached out to the Bajoran and even shared shri-tal with the colonel. For a long time Illiana had hated Kira for receiving her father’s most valued secrets, which in turn the Bajoran used against the Cardassian regime. Her fury had fueled her actions against the Bajoran, using Ceti Alpha V eels to first take control of her mind. One of the first things she had made Kira do had been to share her father’s shri-tal. Kira had been more willing to do that than some of the other deeds Illiana had commanded during their mission, such as killing the Dominion representative Nitala’Rax or threating to use a plasma charge against her friends.
To the colonel’s credit she had been highly resistant to suggestion, which unfortunately had caused extensive brain damage.
Seeing how the woman fought against her, fought for her friends, and realizing how much her father had come to value this woman and share her views, slowly eroded Illiana’s hatred. It didn’t hurt too that she soon realized how Lang’s assassination had not made Cardassia stronger, yet more vulnerable to men like Mintof Urlak, the man behind Lang’s murder.
Her father had turned his back on authoritarianism, he had found another way, and in the midst of all the fire and wreckage that Illiana had caused, she realized the only way to honor his memory was to do the same.
However, all she knew was blood. The artist she had dreamed about becoming as a child had vanished as soon as she joined the Obsidian Order. So she had set out to avenge both Lang and Kira, first by eliminating the man she thought directly murdered Lang: Elim Garak.
A confrontation on Rokat Colony a month ago had resulted in her learning the truth. She had been captured by Garak and DS9’s Dr. Bashir, a man who was more than he appeared to be, and given to Section 31, the Federation’s Obsidian Order. It had taken very little to escape custody and take on a new identity.
Illiana had found Garak and offered an alliance, which the desperate man had gratefully taken. Together they would help free Cardassia from the yoke of Mintof Urlak, or die in the attempt. She nodded, thinking, hopefully die in the attempt.
Illiana was tired of causing pain, but didn’t know how else to live. “Ranjen, are you okay?” Kira’s voice was heavy with concern, but there was a hint of suspicion in her large brown eyes. Perhaps her memories were coming back, perhaps she could see through Illiana’s disguise? In any event, this would be the last time she saw her sister.
“No, no,” Illiana said, her voice clotted with sadness, “Just happy is all. The nurses tell me you will make a full recovery.”
“It will take some time, but yes,” Kira nodded, confidently. “Have you-have you been checking up on me?”
“I have,” Illiana nodded, “from time to time.” She paused, thinking to add, “As one of several patients I visit.”
“Ah,” Kira nodded, her suspicion starting to ease. Her eyes beamed with gratefulness. “Thank you.”
“It is nothing,” Illiana smiled.
“You’ve come to visit me all this time and I don’t even know your name,” the colonel said.
“It doesn’t matter,” Illiana demurred. “Everyone knows you and all have been praying for your recovery. Though perhaps I have been less respectful not to give you time to heal alone.”
“Healing alone is the last thing I think anyone would want,” Kira said, before adding, “But I am thankful that I didn’t have to. When I was in a coma, I-I felt presences, yours…it felt familiar.”
Illiana stopped herself from taking a step back. There had been things she had talked about with Kira, personal things that she hadn’t shared with anyone. “Is that all you remember…my child?” She asked, her throat suddenly dry.
The Bajoran sat up in the bed, her jaw clenching. “Don’t you think I would recognize my own sister?”
The Cardassian’s heart seized in her chest and she took a step backward, one hand reaching into the folds of her robes past her disruptor and to the syringe clipped to her belt. She didn’t want to kill Kira but she would if she had to, and the contents of the syringe would make it look like a naturally occurring, albeit tragic brain-hemorrhage.
“How?” Illiana asked.
“You don’t have to pull the weapon,” Kira said, “I know you don’t want to kill me, you had ample opportunity especially when I was in a coma.”
“Alright,” Illiana slowly pulled her hand out of her robe, placing both at her sides, within easy reach of any of the weapons on her body. “How did you know?”
“I would know that face anywhere,” Kira smirked, before rubbing one of her cheeks.
“I see,” Illiana remarked. She touched her own face. Even the smooth porcelain skin, nearly shorn platinum hair, ice blue eye contacts, different ridge pattern to the nose and fuller lips had not hidden Ghemor’s true face or lessened her resemblance to the Bajoran brunette.
“It’s a face that has haunted my dreams for a long time now,” Kira’s expression hardened.
“I…see,” Illiana repeated.
“I will never forget your face, what you did to me, my friends, the station,” the Bajoran shook her head, tears shimmering in her eyes. “And all I want to know…is why?”
“Well, I did explain some of that to you during your coma, I talked about some of my missions, of how the Dominion captured me on New Bajor, how I began to work for them, and how it eventually led me to you…to Deep Space Nine.”
“I get your hatred for me,” Kira said, “But Nitala’ Rax? He was an innocent and you made me-me…,” the woman broke down, the sobs wracking her body like hurricane waves. Illiana said nothing, but merely let the storm of despair work its way through the other woman’s system. “I know you had something to do with Lt. Easun’s murder as well.”
“I won’t deny that,” Illiana nodded, “I was a soldier, and I had a mission to complete. Simple as that.”
Kira shook her head, but the look on her face wasn’t one of anger or disgust, but a mix of sadness and knowing disbelief. “I used to tell myself that, especially when innocents would die during our attacks against the Cardassians. It numbed the pain for a moment, but that pain, that doubt, that shame, it never goes away.”
Illiana lowered her head, her own tears coming back to the fore. “I know Kira…and I am so tired. I-I just want to make it right, everything I’ve done. I’ve got to serve Cardassia…the greater good just one more time.”
“Oh Prophets,” Kira gasped, “What are you planning?”
“Just know that I am going to make amends, to you, to father, to his dream of what Cardassia could be,” she promised. “Please, trust me sister.” She backed away from the bed. Kira sat up, reaching out for her, wincing at the effort.
The Bajoran clutched the side of her head, the pinched expression on her face, stopping Illiana. The monitor above the biobed began to beep. She approached the bed, concerned about her sister’s condition. She hadn’t felt concern for another sentient being in a long time.
Reaching out, almost touching Kira’s hand, Illiana was pushed to the side as a flurry of bodies entered the room. One of the bodies bumped into her, reaching up to grasp her elbows. “I’m sorry Ranjen, but we will need you to leave the room,” the cultured voice of Dr. Bashir spoke.
Unbidden, she looked up at him, hoping he would recognize her, arrest her, make her pay for her crimes. There was a brief flash of curiosity in the man’s eyes, before the Bajoran medic called him to the colonel. “I’m really sorry Ranjen, but you will have to visit Colonel Kira at some other time.”
She nodded and looked back at the wall of bodies surrounding her sister. Illiana Ghemor slipped from the room and in less than an hour from Bajor. She had promises to keep.