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Old September 4 2010, 02:48 AM   #91
Gul Re'jal
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
Gul Re'jal wrote: View Post
Yes, Brenok chose the same "escape" as Damar. The easiest and worst way for sure.
It's hard for me to see HOW it actually is an escape...all it does it make the feelings even worse than simply dealing with it. But then I don't drink, so I guess I can't really understand.
I don't understand it either, but I had seen it happening and such people see it. I suppose it's getting drunk to the point of losing consciousness and for a moment you don't have to think about anything. Then you feel even worse, so you want to reach the same unconsciousness point again, and so on...

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
Oh dear, this has me a bit worried about who it might be and what that could mean for him.

BTW...I realize Brenok doesn't pray, but this song feels emotionally like what you describe here. And the voice MIGHT be a fit...not sure. Be sure to listen to the song ALL the way to the end.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wxmUSc3pZE
Oh, the song is perfect! Even the voice matches Brenok.
The problem is Brenok stopped singing. The worse he got, the less he sang. Jarol will notice it soon.

That scene of him crying and rolling on the floor first blaming Damar and then apologizing to him, I wrote it listening to a song about pain, but unfortunately it's in Polish
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Old September 4 2010, 02:56 AM   #92
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

Oh, I'm SO glad the voice matches!!! Especially when the song got to end, I kept thinking it had to be a match.

BTW, it's interesting how people react...I sing a lot, but I find I actually do it more when I'm feeling low. But I can see how it would go the other way.
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Old September 4 2010, 03:10 AM   #93
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

Here's another song, which puts me into the mood of Brenok's suffering and Jarol inability to help him. It probably would be easier for her if he wasn't her subordinate.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNqBLfGK5dc
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Old September 4 2010, 04:03 AM   #94
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

NG...do you have another link for your song? Its again one of those that are not working in my country and Id like to hear it as well.... :-(

As for drinking, I find it easy to understand really. Numbing feelings and memories for some time. I don´t drink either, but I ´ve seen it happen in my family. Drinking does not need to have logic and makes things worse, but when things are worse just one moment of "faced release" seems to have a greater value, than anything else coming with it. Surly not the best of coping strategies, but some people did not learn good coping strategies and alcohol is easy to get and use and legal.

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Old September 4 2010, 04:09 AM   #95
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

Hm...maybe this link will work?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pREY0Ffu38
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Old September 4 2010, 08:38 AM   #96
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

Works! Thanks! Ahh...so this is "Brenoks voice". Very nice, though really a depressive song.

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Old September 4 2010, 08:59 AM   #97
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

So it matches Brenok's state of mind perfectly.

I'm writing the next chapter right now and I'm crying with him.

Is that normal?
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Old September 4 2010, 09:13 AM   #98
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

Very normal! It´s great even, cause than you know you are really inside the story!
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Old September 4 2010, 05:04 PM   #99
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

Gul Re'jal wrote: View Post
So it matches Brenok's state of mind perfectly.

I'm writing the next chapter right now and I'm crying with him.

Is that normal?
I've had that happen with certain characters...AU Dukat, for instance.
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Old September 6 2010, 07:59 AM   #100
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

Just finished reading the first page. Great story so far.
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Old September 6 2010, 08:15 AM   #101
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

Thank you, 6079SmithW. I hope you'll enjoy the rest too
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Old September 6 2010, 08:48 AM   #102
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

I'm looking forward to it!
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Old September 6 2010, 12:33 PM   #103
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

Flower Girl
2377 (2377)



Jarol stared at Brenok shocked.

“Do you... do you... do you...” she actually couldn't make herself ask the question.

“No, I don't,” he answered simply.

“Then why do you go there?” she didn't understand.

“Because it helps me. They are not what we were told. They are... mysterious,” he smiled slightly.

“How can they help? How could strangers do something I couldn't!” she knew it wasn't right to make it about herself, and she didn't want to, but she couldn't understand...

He approached her and put his arms around her shoulders.

“They helped me to see that you were trying to help me. I'm sorry for all those nasty things I told you. You are my best friend, your father treats me like his own son. I have to remember that. I am not alone.”

She smiled sadly.

“Don't worry about my feelings,” she whispered.


Three months earlier



“Do you realise what you did?” Daset was angry, but not as angry as Jarol expected him to be.

His office reminded her of his quarters, which she had seen when he was leaving the Roumar. It was decorated with taste, full of interesting weaponry and art. There was nothing resembling the mar'kuu sculpture he had given her though.

“I didn't do anything,” she said.

“You did it, you just used someone else's hands and eyes. But I am absolutely sure the assassination of Ahal was your doing and will not believe your denial.”

She sighed.

“Jarol,” he stood up and started pacing in front of his desk. “There is no one to take over his responsibilities. Ghemor's so-called government is not interested in internal military affairs. Those idiots are so blind that they ignore dangers. They fear the Feds would stop sending their medicines, if we had strong army,” he snorted.

“You can take over,” she said quietly.

Daset stopped. “You gotta be joking,” he exclaimed, raising his hands to the air.

She shook her head.

“I can't!”

“Why not?”

“Because... because...” he knitted his eye ridges, clearly unable to find a good reason.

“Because why?” she pressed.

“I don't have enough support, nor background. Without background the support is necessary. I maybe have a distinguished career track, but am not a high born Cardassian. I shouldn't even dream about reaching highest levels of power.”

“Stop thinking the old way!” she said harshly. “Who cares about your family background? You care for Cardassia. Your career record proves you have the ability to lead and lead wisely. We don't need another high born Ahal, we need someone like you! Don't you get it? Some things have to change.”

“I would fail without support,” he said quieter.

“What if you had the Fourth Order's support?”

“It would have to include Gul Jotrel and Gul Tarkan.”

“I can talk to Jotrel. I don't know Tarkan, but I could contact him.”

“You're serious about it,” Daset sat back in his chair.

“Utterly serious. And the fact that you resist is the best prove you're the right person. You don't want power for your own benefit, you want something good for Cardassia. Stop wanting, start acting.”

“And you would support me?”

“I would, but under one condition.”

“You like conditions,” he grinned.

“You would officially cut yourself off of this Directorate group. You are to stand alone and work for good of Cardassia.”

“I am not going to be alone.”

“No?”

“No. You are going to be by my side.”

She grinned.

“And you're going to talk to Jotrel. You know him.”

“I'm not sure 'know' is right word, but I'll contact him and talk to him.”

“I thought you served together.”

“We served on the same station, a big station, under the same Gul. Apart from seeing each other in ops from time to time and drinking on a few occasions in the same company, we had no contact.”

“Drinking is good enough for me,” Daset smiled.

Jarol chuckled. “Hopefully it's good enough for him too,” she said.



“Can we talk?” Brenok entered Jarol's office and sat in the chair on the other side of her desk without invitation.

“Looks like you wouldn't accept any other answer than 'yes'. What's on your mind?”

“Ahal. Or rather his death.”

“What about it?”

“If you think you could hide it from me, then you must think I'm stupid.”

“Stupid – no. Drunk most of the time – yes,” she said and immediately regretted her words. He ignored her remark.

“I know you hated him, but revenge?”

“Arenn, it wasn't my revenge.”

“Then what was it? Justice?”

“He needed to be eliminated, because this man was dangerous to Cardassia's integrity. We couldn't let him make important decisions.”

“You can fool yourself, you can fool Daset – as I'm sure he knows you did it – but you can't fool me. It was a revenge.”

“No.”

He chuckled, but without amusement. “And why exactly Gul “by the book” Daset didn't arrest you?”

“Oh come on! You can't prove I did this!”

“You engineered this. This very conversation proves it.”

“And why exactly are we having this conversation?” she always trusted him, but in his recent state of mind she wasn't sure he was still the same man she knew.

He only smiled. There was nothing menacing in his smile, yet she felt endangered.

“I just wonder why you didn't share the plans with me,” he said eventually.

“I...” he knew, right? So she could openly admit to it, right? She still could trust him, in spite of that weird behaviour he was showing recently. “I didn't want you to be involved.”

“Oh, so your secret was for my protection?” he asked with irony.

“Yes. Daset will not act, I will not be in trouble, but how could I know it for sure? If something went wrong, I could have been executed, but not you. There was no reason to endanger you.”

“I don't need this kind of protection.”

“I think you do. Everyone does. You were involved enough by securing those invitations. I don't want anyone to pay for this, especially not those, who didn't have anything to do with it. That includes you.”

“You could have told me,” he said quietly.

She wanted to say she didn't have to tell him everything, but bit her tongue in time. “Arenn, I didn't want to keep any secrets from you. It just was something I had to keep in secret. From everyone.”

“Was it Ma'Kan?”

“And it still is a secret.”

“I see.”

She waited for him to say something more, but after a short while he rose and left her office. Was he hurt? Why did he take it so personally?



Shouting and insults dragged Brenok's attention to a darker corner of the plaza. He stopped and listened for a moment, but in spite of loudness, it was still too far to understand what was the subject of the quarrel. He hesitated, but finally decided to see what was going on.

He approached a group to see there were three civilians – two women and a man – and two militiamen.

“What is the problem?” he asked.

“The curfew starts soon and they are still on the street,” said the Garesh, a little startled by an officer's presence.

“Soon, it starts soon,” the man said, emphasising the last word.

“According to their data,” the Garesh shook a data rod he kept in his hand, “they would not arrive to their address in time. They would breach the law.”

“They haven't yet,” Brenok pointed out. “And since you stopped them, they surely won't be able to reach their home in time.”

“But sir...”

“Instead of stopping them and making problems, you should have escorted them back home safely, to make sure nothing bad happens to them.”

“Sir, I...”

“The curfew wasn't established to bother good citizens, but to keep them at homes, when it's not safe outside, because so many bad people are crawling out of their holes in the night.”

“Yes, sir,” Brenok hoped the man really understood.

“You are not to bother good Cardassian citizens, you are to protect them.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Fine. Now, escort them home.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Thank you,” said the civilian man.

The Garesh made an inviting move with his hand, pointing to the direction they should go, but the older of two women approached Brenok and looked at his face. She was much shorter, so she had to raise her head high. Brenok felt disturbed by her standing so close, too close, violating his personal space, but something was stopping him from stepping back.

Then she gently raised her hand and put it on the front of his armour, where his heart was.

“You are suffering,” she said quietly.

It startled him. His heart started beating fast, he wanted to move away, but couldn't. He expected her to say more.

“You need to heal,” she didn't disappoint him.

Garesh gave him an asking look, but he ignored the militiaman.

“What do you mean 'heal'?” he asked quietly, so that only she could hear him.

“Come here tomorrow evening. By the sunset. Your healing will start,” she said. Her voice was soft and smooth.

He squinted his eyes, trying to read her face, but there was nothing, but sympathy.

“And what is going to be here tomorrow?” he asked.

“Come. You will see,” she stepped back and joined the other two. “Please, escort us home,” she spoke to the Garesh.

He nodded, shot the last glance at Brenok, who still didn't move, and then followed the civilians, along with the other militiaman.



Jarol and Brenok entered Daset's office to discover they weren't the only invited people. Not that there was a crowd. Only two more men. Jarol nodded her greeting to Gul Jotrel. She spoke to him on several occasions recently, but always through a comm. It was first time in almost 10 years that she met him personally.

She went toward him and Brenok followed her.

“Gul Jarol,” Jotrel extended his hands and grabbed her arms. “It's so nice to finally see you in flesh.”

“Likewise, Gul Jotrel,” she smiled. “I hope you are well.”

“I manage.” He pointed to the other man. “This is my aide, Glinn Toral.”

“My aide, Glinn Brenok,” she introduced her friend. “And where is Gul Daset?”

“Some business kept him, but he should be here shortly.”

She looked at Toral. A friendly smile appeared on his face, while he nodded to her his greeting. She nodded back, once.

The main door opened and Daset entered with Gul Tarkan – a tall, thin man with a sharp face.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Daset said. “Ironically, the matter is rather urgent,” he motioned toward a small table in the corner, where six armchairs stood. “Please sit down, everyone.”

“So what is the urgent matter?” Jotrel asked, sitting.

Daset waited for everyone to find their places, then called his secretary to bring tea.

“The Directorate opposes my candidature,” he said simply.

“Which is not surprising, since you officially cut off any relations with them and stood apart,” Tarkan commented.

“Yes, well, you are right. They try to force their man to replace Ahal now and I may not be able to keep my position.”

“What do you need?” Jarol asked. She was no politician, she didn't know all the rules.

“I need a leverage, which would make it impossible for them to remove me. I have to make my position strong enough to make getting rid me not doable without them losing their strong position,” Daset said.

“The Fourth Order's support would be a good start,” Jotrel said.

Everyone nodded. At least they agreed on this.

“It might not be enough,” Daset said. “The Directorate still has most of the Guard behind them, especially the old, experienced officers.”

“They all belong to the same breed,” Tarkan commented.

“Yes, and that's why it would be so difficult, if not impossible, to change any of their supporters' minds.”

“Let's not change minds,” Brenok said. Everyone looked at him, some faces expressed surprise, some shock, some interest or a mixture of all those feelings. “What I want to say is that we need to look for support somewhere else. The core of the Directorate is practically the same as old Central Command. We can't go on, using old rules. Old model, yes, but we have to change something, or we would repeat their mistakes. The Feds try to 'improve',” he snorted the word, “our political system. They want people to make decisions. Fine. Let's follow that for a moment. You want support? Why do you look for it among old, rusty pig-heads? Why not ask the people, if they want strong, protective army?”

“And if they say 'no'?” Tarkan asked scornfully.

“Let's make them want us,” Brenok said. “Let's find heroes of Cardassia. Let's find those, who opposed the Dominion, those, who fought in the war and tried to protect civilians from the enemy. Let's look for them not only among the brass, but also – or maybe even especially – among low ranks. Everyday heroes. A Garesh, who protected a family from being slaughtered by Jem'Hadar. A hungry man, who gave a child his last piece of food. Things like that.”

“Let's send part of our troops to rebuilding works,” Jarol interjected. “I did it once and my men were happy to go and help.”

“Let them see the military doing something else than fighting another war,” Brenok said.

“The Fourth Order's mission is protecting Cardassia,” Jotrel said. “It doesn't have to mean only military protection,” he added, smiling at Brenok. “I like the way you think, Glinn.”

“All right,” Daset nodded. “So we show our soft, non-military face. Then what?”

“Then we watch how people react,” Brenok said. “Watch them feeling safer. Watch them asking us for more.”

“Do you really believe it could work?” Tarkan gave Daset a doubtful look. “This sounds like a fairy tale.”

“Do you have a better idea?” Jarol asked him.

Tarkan eyed her, but said nothing.

Brenok looked around. Tarkan didn't seem happy with his ideas. Daset was thinking, touching the tip of his nose with his finger. Jarol was observing Daset. So was Jotrel. Toral was looking at Jarol and clearly not thinking about the subject of their conversation.

Finally Daset rose.

“I will talk to a few friends and present Brenok's ideas. Hopefully they would agree with our plans and join us,” he said.

“And if they wouldn't?” Tarkan also rose.

“Then we're on our own,” Daset said.

They exchanged their polite farewells and spread back to their warships.



Jarol entered the bridge and looked around.

“Where's Glinn Brenok?” she asked. He should be on duty.

“Here,” he rose from her chair.

“Oh, I didn't see you,” she motioned toward the chair, while he vacated it for her. I didn't hear you was what she actually meant. Usually his singing was giving away his position. Now, to think of it – when was the last time she heard him humming anything?

“Karama, you said Gul Daset wanted to talk to me?” The comm officer nodded. “On screen then,” she ordered.

She saw an empty chair on the screen. A moment later Daset quickly sat in it.

“Sorry,” he muttered; it was clear he was busy and in rush.

Ma'Kan gasped. Jarol looked at the tactician and saw absolute admiration on her face. Daset looked at her too and smiled warmly. Then his eyes returned to Jarol, while Ma'Kan lowered her head and her dark grey cheeks gained even darker shade. The Gul tried not to smile, but it didn't work, so she bit her lower lip.

“You wished to talk to me,” she said to Daset.

“Yes, indeed. I forgot to tell you your orders.”

“And they are?”

“We had some raids on the Federation convoys. There is one heading for our space as we speak. You have to make sure it reaches Cardassia safely. Your comm officer should have all details now.”

Jarol looked at Karama and he nodded his confirmation.

“He does.”

“Good. Jarol, make sure they get here in one piece. We don't know who attacks those ships, but the Feds can't spare their armed forces, so they send quite vulnerable vessels. It's in our interest to make sure everything goes smoothly.”

“Shall I also find who attacks them?”

“That would be perfect, but their safety is your priority. If you can spare time and resources to investigate and, hopefully, solve the problem, well, that would look great in our portfolio, if you know what I mean.”

“I do,” there was nothing better for a politician than a long list of successes and she knew very well Daset was more a politician than an officer now; and not without her and Brenok's active participation in the whole affair.

“Proceed,” he said and disconnected.

“Sorry about that, Gul,” Ma'Kan said ashamed.

“Don't worry about it, nothing happened after all,” this time she managed to stop her smile from crawling out to her face.

She completely understood the tactician's reaction: Daset was a handsome man, probably most handsome she has even seen in her life. What surprised her was Daset's reaction. He clearly felt flattered, and this particular officer sending such a nice, warm and friendly smile to someone of such a low rank was something she wouldn't believe if she didn't see it with her own eyes. There was a lot about Daset she didn't know.

“Can we talk?” Brenok whispered to her.

She nodded and he headed for her office. She followed him, not sure what it was about: a private or official matter.

“Yes?” she asked, when the door closed behind her.

“Do you need me on this mission?” he asked.

“Get to the point.”

“I would like to apply for a shore leave, an extended shore leave.”

“Why?” she was surprised. She thought work was the only thing that kept him sane, otherwise he would brood over his loss. She wanted to make him busy and feel useful, not to drink locked in his room.

“I need time,” he said quietly.

“I don't think this is good idea, Arenn.”

“What do you know?!” he snapped. “Sorry,” he added a second later.

She approached him and stood so close that their armours almost touched. “Talk to me, Arenn, please. I'm not your enemy. But I don't know how to help you, I don't know what I could do for you.”

“Give me a shore leave.”

“Talk to me as your friend, not your Gul.”

“Do you deny my request, sir?”

She looked at his hard face and her heart ached. She didn't know what she could do, what she could tell him.

“Request denied,” she whispered.

His lips created a thin line. “Can I at least request this evening off?” he asked.

“We don't leave until tomorrow morning,” she said.

He went around her and left the office. She sighed.
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Old September 6 2010, 12:34 PM   #104
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

Brenok didn't know what to expect. He wasn't even sure he wanted to know, but he found himself waiting for the mysterious trio in the same place he saw them a day earlier.

He stood, observing quieting city life, streets getting less crowded, as people rushed back to their families and their homes. A group of children ran, laughing, they passed by him, some glanced at him with curiosity; they seemed so happy, so oblivious of the great tragedy that touched their home planet. The group stopped in the middle of plaza, around a tree, and played there. Then one of girls left the group and ran back toward Brenok. She had something in her hand. She stopped when she reached him and extended her hand, handing him a small branch from the tree, with a small bud at the end of it. He took the gift and she ran back to her friends, while his eyes filled with tears. Would his daughter also see him as a hero, if she'd reach this girl's age? He slid the branch into his sleeve, leaving the tip outside, so that the bud lay on the top of his hand.

“It's time,” said a voice next to him.

He was so concentrated on the girl and her gift that he didn't notice the woman's approach.

“Come, Glinn,” she put her hand on his shoulder. The younger woman was also here. He didn't notice it earlier, but there was a resemblance between them. Was it a mother and a daughter?

They led him to the other end of the plaza. He noticed that the younger woman called the group of children and they joined them.

They entered a building and went downstairs. It was cool inside and Brenok felt uncomfortable shivers. He had enough of coldness after the Romulan deal: he had to spend hours in cold rooms, because Romulans preferred cooler places and for some reason the temperature was adapted to their needs, not Cardassians'.

They arrived to some big, dark and cool chamber. A basement no doubt.

“We don't need to do it here any more, we could do it even outside” the woman said, “but we prefer to hold our meetings here. This place means a lot to us.”

He nodded his acknowledgement, although he didn't know what she meant. He rubbed his hands to warm them up a little.

“Here,” the girl, who has given him the flower put a warm cloak on his shoulders. “It will keep you warmer.”

“Thank you,” he said. “For the cloak and for the flower.”

She smiled and left. The younger woman – the daughter? - led him to a chair in a corner.

“You don't have to do anything. Just listen and watch. You can leave any time you want to,” she said and went to sit next to her mother in one of front rows.

He pulled the cloak to cover his neck ridges better. He glanced at the girl and she must have felt his sight as she turned and looked at him. She smiled warmly and he returned her smile.

And then someone entered. A woman. She wore elaborate clothes, which reminded him of something.

Then it hit him. They were Oralians!

He observed the ceremony with curiosity. He always thought of them as deluded, not completely sane fanatics, but he saw people, who found some joy in what they participated in. He'd been taught religious people were dangerous and they had to be removed from Cardassia's surface, because they were weakening the system, but these people here didn't appear to be dangerous in any way. They were nothing like Vorta and Jem'Hadar, who believed in their gods.

No one bothered him, although a few Cardassians looked his way, as if they wanted to ask who he was and why he was sitting there in the corner all alone. No one seemed to mind his armour, in spite of the fact that it made it clear he didn't belong here.

“Come,” the 'flower girl' came to him, after the ceremony ended.

“Where?”

“To meet my friends.”

He reluctantly rose and she grabbed his hand and pulled him to a group of adults and children in the other end of the chamber. The... how did they call her? A guide? The guide was among them too. And so was the older woman and her daughter.

“Welcome,” said the guide.

He nodded, not sure what to say or how to address her.

“He's my friend,” said the 'flower girl'.

He smiled and squeezed her hand gently, as she didn't let it go upon bringing him here.

“You lost someone,” the guide said.

His eyes opened wider, partially to stop tears, and partially because of surprise. How did these people know? He tensed. The girl raised her other hand and closed it around his, embracing his palm in both of her small, warm hands.

“I did,” he said eventually.

“We all did,” said the guide. She put her hand on his chest. “But you can't let your heart go cold and empty. There is always someone left.”

“No one is left,” his voice shook. The girl squeezed his hand.

“Do you see her?” the guide pointed to the girl. “She lost all her family. Everyone. She's an orphan.” Brenok looked at the girl and she smiled to him. Orphan? A parentless child?? “She also had no one, but she found someone to take care of and someone to take care of her.”

He looked back at the guide.

“If no one cares about you, she will,” the guide said.

He felt a sting in his heart. He was so unfair to her, he treated her like an enemy, he took every her word as an attack, but all she wanted to do was to help.

“There is someone, who cares,” he said quietly.

“So now there are two.”

He looked at the girl and then knelt down on one knee, facing her. She let go of his hand and threw her arms around his neck. Tears ran down his cheeks when he pressed the girl to his chest.

How was it possible that this girl was stronger than him? He lost everyone, but he was an adult, he could go on with his life. She lost everyone and she was just a child, she couldn't take care of herself on her own, but she still could smile with her eyes, in spite of being something undesirable in Cardassian society.

He let her go and she moved away a bit to look at him. She grabbed her long, hanging sleeve and dried his face from tears. His heart smiled and then this smile crawled onto his face.

“Will you come tomorrow?” the girl asked.

“I can't. I have to leave Cardassia for some time.”

“But you will come again?”

“I will,” he promised.

“It's time to go,” the mother told him, so he rose. He took off the cloak and gave it back to the girl. She took it and waved to him, while he followed the woman to the exit. He waved back.

They were almost out of the cold basement, when a sharp pain shot through his right arm from the shoulder down to his fingers. He grabbed his neck ridge with his left hand and instinctively squeezed. He could feel his scar under his fingers.



The bridge was quiet. Everyone was busy with their tasks. Ma'Kan was preparing battle simulations and new sets of exercises for troops. Jarol welcomed her initiative. The woman might have been young and inexperienced, but she loved her job and did it well.

Brenok entered the bridge and went to his post. He had smudges on his face, so Jarol guessed he returned from the engineering. They had some problems with secondary warp induction coils and Zamarran asked Brenok to help him, as everyone else was busy with weapons systems.

“Er... sir?” Ma'Kan spoke to Brenok. He raised his head and gave her an asking look. She pointed to his cheek. He raised his eye ridges puzzled and shook his head. She smiled a little apologetically, went to him and cleaned the smudge from his face. He looked a little bit shocked, but didn't say anything. Jarol pretended she didn't see anything, as the rest of the bridge crew, but she was sure she saw real affection in Ma'Kan's moves.

There was nothing wrong about it. Ah, except the fact that Brenok was Ma'Kan's superior, but she sought no special treatment, no promotion. It was pure attraction on her side. Ma'Kan was entering the age, when a woman was instinctively starting to look for a mate, for the perfect man, who would share her life and who would father her children. Jarol was lucky to find Joret without looking, but if a girl's marriage wasn't arranged, if her family's status didn't demand it, she had to look for the best candidate by herself. Ma'Kan surely had a good taste, if she was interested in Brenok, but Jarol knew her attempts would be futile. Brenok's heart was still with his wife, Asra. A beautiful, delicate and gentle woman, who he was hopelessly in love with. His heart was not ready to let her go. If she didn't know from her own experience, she would say it would never be, but she knew better. After Joret's death she thought she'd never love again and then Demok came to her life for the second time and stole her heart with his smile. Although it seemed impossible now, she knew that some say she could be ready for another man stealing her heart again.

But not soon and she didn't expect Brenok to be ready soon either.

“We're in sensor range of the convoy,” Karama reported.

“Hail them,” Jarol ordered.

A man's face appeared on her oval screen.

“I am Gul Jarol,” she introduced herself. “I am here to escort you to Cardassia.”

“My name's Captain Andric,” he said and smiled, although she had an impression his smile was a bit forced. “We appreciate your assistance.”

“We will enter parallel course to yours and follow you.”

“Do you know who attacks convoys?” he asked.

“No, Captain. We plan to investigate this matter, however your safety is our priority.”

He nodded and disconnected, so his face was replaced by a star view, three cargo vessels and one Oberth class starship.

“Brenok, can you search the database on this Captain Andric?” Jarol looked at the Glinn.

“Searching...” he tapped his console. “Captain Ivo Andric commanding USS Anika.” Brenok silenced, read from the screen and continued. “He fought in the Border Wars and later in the Dominion War. He received his own command recently. Currently responsible for convoys to Cardassia. It's not his first run,” Brenok finished, raising his head and looked at Jarol. “The rest is some irrelevant information.”

“The Border Wars you say,” Jarol said slowly.

Brenok nodded. “That's correct.”

That would explain his behaviour. She was surprised the Feds would choose such a person to run those convoys. The man clearly fought against Cardassians in two wars and now was told to help them. But then – she also fought in those conflicts and she was here too, wasn't she...?

“Ma'Kan, keep scanning. I want to know if anyone is in the neighbourhood the first moment they enter scanning range.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Keep someone at it at all times. I want to be notified even in the middle of the night.”

“Yes, sir.”

The first day passed without any special events. Zamarran kept fixing, Ma'Kan kept scanning, Jarol kept waiting for something to happen, not sure if she wanted trouble – to fill her time with some action; or didn't want any problems – to deliver the Federation ships safely to Cardassia Prime.

She was in her office and couldn't stand being useless any more. She decided to find herself some task. She established contact with the Federation Captain.

“Good morning, Gul. How can I help you?” he asked.

“I was wondering... It isn't the first time you lead the convoy to Cardassia, is it?”

“No, it isn't. Why?”

“Had you been under attack before?”

“Yes. Two months ago a small fleet of ships tried to take control of our cargo.”

“Is there any data you could pass to me? I'd like to investigate this matter.”

“We have something in our database, but it's not much. Some visual recordings, crew logs.”

“I would appreciate access to that data.”

“I could allow you access to low security files,” he said slowly.

“Would there also be possibility to talk to crewmen, who witnessed the attacks?”

“I can't order them to talk to you, but I can ask if anyone would be willing.”

“Captain,” she smiled the most charming smile she could muster. “Finding those responsible is in our both interest. We could...”

“Frankly, Cap... Gul, the problem is that I am not sure you are sincere in your offer.”

She silenced, surprised. “Why not?” she managed to ask eventually.

“Because those attackers were Cardassians.”

“How do you know that?” she didn't expect it, but it didn't surprise her. The curfew, the need for troops on Cardassia – all those things weren't there without a reason. Some people were like Demoks', accepting others under their roofs, but some preferred to steal food from weaker ones to have more for themselves. What happened to never-ending sacrifice and good of Cardassia? Did the Dominion purged them of their own dignity?

“Those attack ships were mostly Hideki class. According to reports from other convoys, there are also some Maquis attack ships, but most of them were Hideki.”

“That doesn't prove those were Cardassians, it only means they used Cardassian ships.”

“See? You already look for excuses.”

“No, Captain. I just don't assume things without proofs. I would still like to see those reports and data.”

He stared at her. “Will you try investigate and share the results, regardless of who it is?”

“Do you ask me if I would let the attackers go, if they were Cardassians?” she asked. “Captain, whatever you think about us, we have our justice system and are not much more fond of crime than your Federation.”

“Fine then. I will... no, I have another idea. Come to my ship. We will discuss it over a breakfast. Did you have a breakfast yet?”

“No, I didn't. I accept your offer.”

“My transporter chief will beam you to the Anika.”

“Can I take my aide with me?” she asked.

“Yes. See you both in... let's say fifteen minutes,” he nodded and disconnected.

She tapped her wristcomm. “Brenok, meet me in the transporter room in ten minutes.”

“Acknowledged.”

She arrived to the transporter to see Brenok already there. He looked tired.

“Did you sleep?” she asked.

“Yes, but not much.”

“You can help Zamarran, but not at the cost of your own rest.”

“I need to keep busy,” he said.

“All right,” she nodded and patted his shoulder. “We're going to pay a visit to our Federation friends. I hope you're hungry and ready for culinary experiment.”

“Splendid,” he muttered, stepping on the transporter pad.

“Garesh, contact the Anika and tell them we're ready.”

A moment later they were on the alien ship.

It was bright, cold and angular. A woman, a blue woman, waited for them.

“My name is Commander sh'Salas. I will take you to the Captain's dining room.”

“Thank you, Commander,” Jarol nodded politely. She searched in her memory and decided that this woman must be an Andorian.

Both Cardassians followed the Andorian through corridors and one ride in a turbolift.

Captain's dining room was a separate room, next to the mess hall. There were four chairs at a table, in the middle of which stood a small vase with a single red-green flower.

“Welcome to USS Anika,” the Captain entered the room and motioned toward the chairs. “Please be seated.”

Jarol and Brenok sat, and so did sh'Salas.

“The Captain likes to cook himself,” the Commander explained.

“I'm afraid I wasn't expecting any non-Federation guests, so I planned rather Earthling type of food.”

“That's all right. We are ready for an adventure,” Jarol tried to joke, but wasn't sure it worked.

“I'm glad to hear that,” Andric put a steaming bowl of something yellow-white in the middle. Then he put a plate with light yellow cube and a blunt knife next to it and finally something, that Jarol was almost positive was bread.

“You didn't replicate that?” she asked, looking at the Captain, who sat down.

“Nope. I make sure to always have some real ingredients. I enjoy cooking. It relaxes me. And kills time too.”

Brenok scratched his nose. “How do we eat it?”

“With appetite, mister...”

“Oh, where are my manners! Captain, this is Glinn Brenok, my aide.”

“With appetite, Mr. Brenok. You eat it with appetite.”

Brenok smiled. He observed Andric and then followed the Captain: first took a slice of bread, then a knife and spread the soft yellow substance from the cube on it. And then he took some of white-yellow thing on his plate.

Jarol noticed sh'Salas was observing Brenok and first she wondered why, but soon she realised the woman was interested in Brenok's hair. The Gul was so used to her friend's long braid she didn't pay attention to it any more, but many people, including aliens, still were surprised by this unique feature.

“It's good!” Brenok shouted. “Is this some kind of eggs?” he asked the Captain.

“Yes, they are chicken eggs.”

“Chicken?”

“That's a kind of bird.”

For a moment Jarol observed Brenok, who ate with clear pleasure, and finally decided to give it a try herself.

It really was good. Very simple, but very tasty.

“Captain,” she started. “About those shi...”

“Not when we eat,” he raised his hand. “Breakfast time is for the breakfast. Then we can get to business.”

She smiled and nodded.
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Old September 6 2010, 12:34 PM   #105
Gul Re'jal
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian

They chatted for a while and Jarol was quite surprised that Terrans – or Andorians for that matter – could actually have quite highly developed conversation skills. The small talk was typical for Cardassians, who loved to talk, but she never had such an exchange of meaningless sentences with any Terran before. Usually she exchanged insults. Or threats.

The door behind her opened and someone entered. A blue collar uniform.

“Ah, doctor. We have guests,” the Captain said. “Gul Jarol and Glinn Brenok.”

“Nice to meet you two,” the doctor said. Both Cardassians nodded their greeting to him, while he took a chair and joined them at the table. “I'm doctor Kirkland”.

“I thought you were busy,” the Commander commented.

“Well, I've finished all my experiments, so I am free now. Hopefully for loooong time. Any left for me?” he asked, looking at half empty plates on the table.

“There's enough for everyone,” the Captain gestured to the middle of the table.

“Do you eat like this every morning?” Jarol asked.

“Yes,” said the Captain. “Although each time there is something different to eat and someone else to share it with. I like dining with all my senior staff.”

“Is it a Federation tradition?”

“No, not really. It's my tradition, something I've learnt from my Captain. You don't do it on your ships?”

“No, not really. The professional distance between a Gul and his subordinates is too big for such... fraternising. It would be inappropriate.”

“I see. But you have brought your first officer here.”

“Well,” she smiled. “First, it's a kind of official visit, and... Glinn Brenok actually is my friend.”

Andric smiled. “Wonderful! I'll drink to that!” he raised his mug with dark brown tea.

All raised their mugs and Brenok's hand clearly shook. He quickly put the mug back on the table, and everyone pretended they didn't see anything, although Jarol noticed the doctor was discretely observing Brenok's hand. The Glinn closed his eyes for a short moment, and then inclined his head to the left, stretching his right neck ridges. Jarol was sure he felt the pain that their medic insisted it didn't really exist. She wasn't so sure any more. Even if it was just in his mind, the matter had to be addressed.

“Is everything all right?” the Federation medic asked Brenok finally.

“Yes, yes, sir,” Brenok said.

“You seem to feel some discomfort.”

“It's the cold. We, Cardassians, are not happy to be in cold rooms.”

Cold. He had to deal with the Romulans in cold chambers. The first time he complained about his pain was after Romulans. Then that evening he wanted to spend on Cardassia, before they left to join the convoy. And now again – cold room, the pain is back. Jarol realised that before dealing with Romulans Brenok didn't have to spend any time in cold places – he was always safely – or unsafely – aboard his ship, surrounded by warm temperature.

The doctor seemed to accept the Glinn's answer, but still observed him unobtrusively. Well, it wasn't that unobtrucive, since Jarol noticed and she was sure Brenok's sharp eyes did too, but nothing more was spoken on the subject.

They finished the breakfast and the Captain led the Cardassians to his ready room.

“I will download all data we have,” he told Jarol. “I will ask my crew and freighters' crews if they would be willing to talk to you, but...”

“But?”

“You, Cardassians, have a reputation if it comes to questioning and...”

“I understand,” she said, raising her hand. He really didn't need to finish. “You can assure them I would only ask questions. No real interrogations.”

“I will pass the information. I'm sure they would feel better if your questions were asked here, on the Aniki, instead of your warship.”

“That is acceptable. They can even have a security officer present in the room.”

“That should encourage them to cooperate,” the Captain grinned, handing her a Federation padd.

She took it.

“Thank you. We will now return to our ship. Please notify me if there is anyone willing to talk to me.”

“I'll send you a message.”

They returned to Roumar.

“How's your shoulder?” she asked Brenok as soon as they beamed back.

“Hurts,” he grunted.

“Go to the medic. Tell him to scan you and then scan you again.”

“He would just...”

“Tell him it's my order.”

Brenok nodded and headed for the infirmary.

Jarol returned to her office, but she wasn't thinking about the convoy and attackers. She was thinking about the Fed medic. All he needed was one glance and his eyes never left Brenok. He knew something was wrong. He seemed like wanting to ask a question, but didn't dare. She heard Federation medicine was on a higher level than Cardassian, but she never believed that. No one and nothing was better than Cardassian.

However now she wasn't so sure any more. Federation was more protective of their soldiers and their well being. They might put a lot more resources and time for medical research, so maybe their achievements were worth taking under consideration.

She didn't want to do it. She didn't want to show their Captain they had something – anything – better than Cardassians. But she had to put her pride away and hide it under her carpet. That's what they said in Nokar: hide your pride under your carpet and ask for help. Brenok was more important than her Cardassian pride.

She hailed the Captain.

“Gul Jarol, I understand this is important, but I had no time to ask anyone...” he started, but she raised her hand to politely interrupt.

“It's not about the attacks, Captain.”

“Oh, so what is it about?”

“Could I talk to your medic?”

“You mean doctor Kirkland?”

“Yes.”

“What about?”

“It's a private matter. Medical.”

“Oh. I had no idea you had any private, medical matters with my doctor. Fine, I'll patch you through.”

His face was replaced by the Federation logo for a few seconds and then by elder doctor's face.

“Gul Jarol, what can I do for you?”

“It's about my aide,” she said.

“So this display during the breakfast wasn't coldness related?” she appreciated he didn't ask any non-relevant questions. It was difficult for her without that.

“No. We feel uncomfortable in cold rooms, but it doesn't cause pain.”

“Does he experience pain?”

“He claims he does. Our medic found nothing, he said it's an old wound and it's only in his brain, not really pain.”

“That scar on his neck...”

“A Klingon bat'leth.”

“Ouch. How long time ago?”

“Five years ago.”

“And no one found out what causes his pain yet?”

“Actually he didn't complain about any pains until recently. I think he feels pain after experiencing cold. That's only a guess, but matches my theory.”

“It might be important. But... I would have to examine him.”

“I'll send him to you at your earliest convenience.”

“I can take care of this any time.”

“Thank you, med... doctor.”

“My pleasure. I hope he is not a difficult patient. Please tell him to bring history of his treatment.”

Should she tell him Brenok was the most difficult person in the galaxy recently? No. She'd order Brenok to behave.

She contacted the Glinn and ordered him to report to the Federation doctor. Medic Taret didn't change his diagnose – it still was a phantom pain and nothing could be done about it – but she could hear in his tone of voice that he didn't like the idea of sending Brenok to the alien medic.

In a meantime Captain Andric sent her files, so she started studying them. Visual logs showed Hideki class attack ships, but none of them used any of known attack patterns during their attacks, which didn't prove they weren't Cardassians piloting them, but she suspected they weren't military trained pilots. The ships were equipped with dampening fields, which prevented scanning interiors of ships. She was half way through files, when she received a list – a short list – of Federation crewmen, who agreed to talk to her. She accepted a schedule of interviews, which Andric sent along with the list, and returned to files.

“Come,” she said upon hearing a chime.

The door parted and Brenok entered.

“How did it go?” she asked.

“The Fed medic scanned parts of my body I had no idea they existed,” he said. “He also asked for full and detailed information regarding my operation and treatment. All that is in the Military Hospital database,” he pulled his face.

“I see. I should have sufficient security clearance to retrieve that for you.”

“I hoped you'd say that. There is no way I could access them.”

Medical files of officers above rank of Gil were classified. Even officers, to whom files were relating to, had no access to them. Security precaution.

“I'll get my hands on those files and pass them to the Federation medic,” she promised.

“Thank you. Now, if you don't mind, I'll return to duty.”

She nodded and he left.



“Glinn! You're back!” the Flower Girl ran to him and threw her arms around his neck. He lowered his body a little, so that she could reach him easier.

“I told you I would be back,” he said, smiling.

“Yes, you did. You always keep your promises, don't you?”

How could she know? It was only second time they met.

However he knew he couldn't disappoint her, never ever. Even if she wouldn't know about his broken promises, he would.

“Did you do something important?” she let him go and looked at him straightening his body.

“Yes, I think I did,” he replied.

“Good. Sit with me today, all right?”

“All right,” he answered, but wasn't sure it was a good idea.

She led him to her seat. Where would she sit? He wondered. She pulled his hand down to force him to sit and so he did. Then she sat on his lap. He chuckled. She kept looking at him and then raised her hand to move away his hair and see his no-ear. He grabbed her hand to stop her, startling her a little.

“Don't,” he said softly.

“Why?”

“It doesn't look nice.”

“What happened?”

“I was fighting an enemy.”

“Did you win?”

“Yes, I did. With help of my two best friends. Do you have friends?”

She nodded vigorously. And then she tried to touch his hair again and again he grabbed her hand, shaking his head slowly. She put her finger on top of his scar on the lower cheek ridge and traced it down until its end.

“Does it hurt?”

“No, the scar doesn't hurt,” he answered. It was the truth, this scar never bothered him.

The one that did was hidden under a thick, warm collar; he knew he would have to spend some time in this cold basement, so he put on sufficiently warm clothes.



It was actually the first time he entered the baby's room. He was unable to do it before. He didn't hate the baby, but wasn't sure he would manage to spend a moment with little Laran without thinking about his sweet Tasara.

The boy slept peacefully. His tiny, cute face wrinkled as he dreamt. Brenok pulled his hands toward the baby, but then pulled them back; he didn't want to wake him up. But he wanted to take him into his arms so badly... He gently put his hands under the little body and lifted the boy. Then he sat in a chair and cradled Laran in his arms.

Jarol was passing by the baby room, when she noticed Brenok inside. She stopped and then quietly stood in the opened door. She didn't want to disturb Brenok's first moment with Laran. She knew her friend avoided her son and she understood why. She was happy to see he was overcoming his pain and returning back to life.

Brenok started humming a lullaby and her eyes filled with tears.


tbc
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