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Old July 3 2011, 03:56 AM   #241
Gul Re'jal
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Location: Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space station
Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

I have some mild case of writer's block, so this chapter is half shorter than usually. I'm also not happy with it, but I don't know what exactly is wrong with it and how to fix it, so here it goes.


Chapter 17


Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the bridge


“Sir...” Zamarran didn’t need Yassel’s ability to read Torpal’s voice—the tactician was clearly under stress. “I detect nine Talarian ships approaching.”

Zamarran did his best to hide the true feelings that flooded his heart and calmly asked, “Their ETA?”

“Twelve minutes.”

“Our reinforcements?” The gul could not help but hear hope in his own voice.

Torpal shook his head with a grim look on his face. “Still four hours away.”

“Twelve minutes,” Zamarran repeated. He turned to the communication officer. “Seltan, you and Gil Rotan have three minutes to prepare and launch a data buoy. Include the standard information and all we have on the star and the Rathosian situation.” Seltan nodded, but before she turned back to her console, Zamarran added, “And get me Captain Ram.”

Ram had a serious expression on her face. “I take it you also detected that Talarian fleet on its way,” she said.

“We did,” Zamarran confirmed. “Captain, I have a request.” He knew it was a long shot, but he wanted to try; after all the worst thing that could happen would be her refusal. “I realise that you cannot involve your ship into this conflict, so I’m not asking for that kind of help. What I ask is to intercept the buoy that we will launch in a few minutes and deliver it to the nearest Cardassian outpost, or a warship, or to our reinforcements when they arrive. This buoy contains logs of the crew, letters to our families and the scientific data we’ve gathered so far. I wouldn’t want it to be destroyed in the battle.”

Her black eyes looked at him sadly. “You do not expect to survive this, do you?

“Captain, look at the odds. There is no chance to survive this.”

I will do as you ask, Gul Zamarran,” she promised.

“Thank you.” He nodded and signed off.

He looked around the faces of his officers. Torpal, as expected, was concentrated on his task, preparing for the hopeless battle. Yassel was busy—Zamarran knew—preparing the ship for the fight and co-ordinating everything with Kapoor in the engineering.

Seltan kept typing commands and uploading data to the buoy’s data banks. No one seemed scared, no one appeared bothered by their coming deaths and that these tasks were the last ones in their lives.

He was proud of them and he wished he had a chance to tell them that after the battle. He quickly made a note with commendations for his crew for their professional conduct and exemplary service. “Seltan, please attach the file that I’m sending to you right now to the buoy data,” he said.

“Yes, sir,” she confirmed, not stopping her work.

“Five minutes until the Talarians enter the weapons range,” Torpal reported.

And so—the crew of the Marritza would soon become no more than the content of a data buoy.



USS Petrona, the bridge




“Captain, they’ve launched the buoy,” Ensign Hass reported.

“Beam it aboard and store safely.”

“Aren’t you going to access it?” Commander Zogg asked.

Ram looked at her security officer. “What for?”

“There might be useful tactical data there,” he explained.

“Absolutely not! Gul Zamarran trusted me to deliver his ship’s soul and there is no tactical data that I’d consider worthy of violating this soul, or his trust.”

“Yes, Captain.”

“Zogg...what is the prognosis, if the Marritza and the Petrona fight against the Talarian fleet together?”

“Captain?” Ch’Tef shot her a questioning look.

“To be honest, I’m not sure I could sit here and watch Cardassians being blown to pieces. You can file your official protest, if you want.”

“We’ll be in trouble,” he pointed out.

“Yes, we will. I’ll take full responsibility, if it comes to this, so if you want to be safe from consequences, you better file that report.” She looked around. “That goes for all of you.”

“It’s bad enough to watch the Rathosians die,” the science officer, Lieutenant Marrick, said. “You have my full support, Captain, if it means anything.”

Ram smiled. “It means a lot, thanks.” She paused. “So, Zogg? What are our chances?”

“Slim.”

“Do you really want to die with them?” Ch’Tef asked with incredulity. “What about their sacred buoy? It would be destroyed with us.”

“We would transfer the content to the outpost on the planet before we join the fight, if we do it. They are not under attack.”

“Captain, this is not a good idea.”

She turned to him and looked him in the eye. “Fine. Then take the buoy and a shuttle and leave. You can hide and watch, if that’s your choice.”

He pursed his lips, his antennae laying almost flat on his head. “It’s not what I meant.”

Ram opened her mouth to answer him, when her communication officer spoke. “Captain, the Talarians are in range.”

“Hail them,” she ordered. “I’ll try to talk some reason into them first.”



Rathosia, Yapplorettix City, Federation Observation Point #567887




Aladar felt being shaken and grunted. This was not a kind of way to be woken up by one of his subordinates. He better has a good reason to do that, he thought. Then he cracked his eyes open to see a ridge-less face above his.

“Tiboh,” he said, his voice still full of sleep.

“Get up, Garesh Aladar,” she whispered in a hurried voice. “We need to go. And be quiet.”

The remnants of sleep disappeared in an instant. The garesh sat and looked around. Tibaut’s friend, the Chandir security officer, was waking Pa’Ler up. After she made sure Aladar was up, she moved on to Veltek.

“What’s going on?” the garesh asked, whispering. Whatever these two were doing, they certainly didn’t have a permission to do it. They looked nervous and kept glancing at the brig door.

“We’re getting you out of here,” Permutruch replied. “We have some information that you have to take to your people.”

“We also have information what they plan to do with you,” Tibaut added grimly.

Aladar didn’t say anything, but he was sure he just faced another proof that the Federation wasn’t as saint as it claimed to be. “You will be in trouble,” he said. Whatever was planned for him, he was not sure sparing the Cardassians from it was worth their sacrifice. They didn’t deserve such a sacrifice. The human and the Chandir barely knew him and his people.

“We’ll worry about that later,” Pemutruch said. “Right now we have to get you out of here.”

When all three Cardassians were on their feet, Tibaut handed them some kind of EVA suits. “Here, wear this.”

Aladar frowned. “Why?”

“These are equipped with personal cloaking devices. You would be invisible to everyone and it would make our plan much easier.”

“This is not going to be nice for our neck ridges,” Veltek said, scrutinising the suit in his hands. Then he raised his eyes to both Federation officers and quickly added. “Not that I complain.”

The Cardassians put on the suits, but before Aladar closed his helmet’s face plate, he asked Tibaut, “Why do you do this?”

“They decided to send you to Earth to face charges. They accuse you of violating a pre-warp society and planning an invasion. They want to make an example of you that the Federation would not stand by while the Cardassians start their ugly games again; that the Federation would not allow another Bajor to happen.”

Aladar’s jaw clenched. “What is the sentence?” he asked.

“Well, I can’t say before the trial,” she answered, while the Cardassian’s eye ridges went high in surprise. “But the charges are so serious that life imprisonment is very likely.” The garesh’s eyes opened wide.

And then he recalled that the Federation didn’t have the capital punishment and didn’t know the sentence until a tribunal concluded.

Without another word, he sealed his suit and activated his personal cloak. He had many questions, but he knew there was no time for them.

“Okay, guys, don’t get lost, because we can’t see you,” Permutruch said and headed out of the cell toward the brig door. “You can communicate through a comm channel among each other and you can activate the scanner that lets you see each other, too,” he added.

“Aladar to Veltek and Pa’Ler,” the garesh tested the system.

Pa’Ler here.

Veltek here.

Aladar nodded satisfied, even though no one could see it, and patted Pemutruch’s shoulder to let him know that they were there and they were ready.

“Let’s go,” the security officer said and all five of them, three not visible, left the brig and went down the corridor.

Aladar couldn’t help but wonder what kind of information they had to share that getting the Cardassians back to their people was so important. He was sure it wasn’t only a matter of some tribunal with an unknown result.

Under any other circumstances he might try to resist this plan, as it put both Federation officers in a terrible situation and who knows, maybe they could go to prison for this, too. But it literally hurt him that he would be made an example of Cardassian invasion and what was the worst in his fatherland’s past. He didn’t want to be a tool in someone’s hands, a tool that would make Cardassia look awfully mean. Even if he died in the attempt to escape, even if Veltek and Pa’Ler died too, even if the two good Federation officers died—he found that price acceptable for not letting the Federation use them as an instrument of propaganda to misinform people.

He looked at the two people in front of him and wondered what was waiting for them. Would they regret what they were doing now? Were they regretting already? He wondered if there was anything that he could do for them to help them. Staging a kidnapping, perhaps? Or some other way of forcing the officers to do what the Cardassian prisoners wanted them to do? Considering the command’s mindset, it wouldn’t be hard to convince them that the evil Cardies managed to get out, almost killing two Federation officers.

But was it the impression he wanted to leave behind? Wouldn’t it only strengthen the bad opinion the outpost’s command had about them?

Aladar wished he knew what to do.

They arrived to a transporter chamber and the Chandir asked the Cardassians to step on the transporter pad. For a second Aladar wondered if they would really send them back to their ship and not into open space, but then he thought that they wouldn’t bother with the ‘invisible suits’ and risking their careers to just kill his team.

“Aren’t you worried that we will study the cloaking technology behind these suits?” he asked them, his voice sounding funny through the suit’s comm device.

Both officers looked at each other. Aladar was sure none of them had thought about it.

“Your lives and lives of the Rathosians are more important than scientific secrets,” Tibaut said eventually. “Besides, I’m sure that sooner or later you’d come with similar technology, or somehow get information on ours.” She retrieved something from her pocket and approached Aladar. “Here, this chip contains all data we have on the Rathosian star. You will also find the solution of the problem on it It’s only a theory and not tested, but the simulations brought promising results.”

Aladar took the chip and nodded his thanks, again forgetting that she couldn’t see him. She returned to the Chandir, who manipulated the console with a deep frown on his face.

“A problem?” Aladar asked. He imagined it had to be very strange to listen to a disembodied voice coming from the transporter pad. He opened his face plate and his face became visible. The other two Cardassians followed his example.

“Your ship’s shields are up,” Pemutruch explained.

All three Cardassians looked at each other. Then the ranking garesh turned forward. “Any idea why? What do your readings say?”

“What do we do?” Tibaut looked at her colleague and Aladar was sure he heard panic in her voice.

“I don’t know,” Pemutruch shook his head. He looked at the garesh. “Do you have a possibility to beam through raised shields?”

Now Aladar shook his head. “Not any more. We have changed the shields specifications and to improve their effectiveness we had to sacrifice a few handy functions. Like beaming through them.”

“They cannot stay here,” Tibaut said. “It’ll take only minutes before their escape is discovered. They’ll be recaptured and everything will be lost!”

Pemutruch’s cranial trunks emitted a thin sound, a sigh—Aladar guessed.

“Just beam us anywhere outside the city. Or to another city,” the Cardassian leader said.

Both Federation officers looked at him. “The jungle is dangerous and the cities are pre-warp so—”

“Pemutruch!” Aladar interrupted him, losing patience. “The Rathosians know us already. We cannot do any more damage than we already did!”

“Good point,” the Chandir agreed. He thought for a while. “I’ll return you to the city where you landed and were we took you from.”

“Great.” The lieutenant raised his hand to execute the command when Aladar shouted, “Wait! What about you two?!” He had a shy idea, but wasn’t sure they would agree.

“Don’t worry about us,” Tibaut said.

“Come with us,” Aladar said. “Ask for asylum.”

“To live on Cardassia? No, thanks,” Pemutruch shook his head, the trunks swaying around.

“So come with us and then return. I’m sure my gul would do everything to help you not to go to prison. What you’re doing is a good thing.”

Tibaut looked at Permutruch, a question in her eyes.

“I’m not sure...” the Chandir still wasn’t convinced.

Aladar nodded to his men to close their face plates and did the same, while Tibaut motioned toward the pad. “We don’t have time to ponder our options. And it won’t get us in more trouble than we already are.”

“You sure? This could be considered desertion.”

“Helping prisoners in their escape doesn’t look good in files either.”

Aladar started to understand something. He remembered the looks and gentle touches these two exchanged. They never showed anything, they were on duty after all, but suddenly the meaning of these small actions became clear to him—they were in love. Tibaut was absolutely determined to help the Cardassians and while Pemutruch wasn’t convinced, he was doing it for her. How strong his feelings had to be to make him now leave the post behind the console and join everybody else on the pad—but not without bumping against invisible Veltek first.

“I sabotaged the transporter, so they won’t be able to follow...us...for some time,” he said. “Beam out in four seconds,” he added and a moment later Aladar felt a familiar transporter tingling.


tbc
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Old July 3 2011, 04:19 AM   #242
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Well, I'd say Ram and Tibaut have proven themselves to be individuals of good character after all. Good on them for defying morally bankrupt orders! It's also good that they did it in a way to where it'll ultimately be obvious it was their sabotage and not those "bad, bad Cardies."

I just hope Tibaut and Ram will also be willing, later, to testify to the truth of what the Cardassians are saying and doing, since apparently a lie-filled report has already made it to the admiralty.

As for Aladar...he may be full of doubt, but I think he has the right instincts. If he would just believe in himself...
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Old July 3 2011, 04:27 AM   #243
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

There is something that Aladar will do, something that no one else did before him and succeeding in this thing will make him fell a little better about his own value. He will start to understand something that he doesn't yet
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Old July 3 2011, 04:36 AM   #244
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

It's not the FIRST thing he's done that no Cardassian has done before. Saving the life of an AU Cardassian on during a cross-universal transport, and then sending him back...that's pretty unique.

But I can't wait to see what it is!
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Old July 3 2011, 05:31 AM   #245
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

But this time he will make a decision to do that thing and he would know that no one ever tried that. In a way, he will feel like defying unwritten rules.
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Old July 17 2011, 10:12 AM   #246
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Soundtrack for this chapter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zScsG...eature=related

Chapter 18



Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the bridge




At first, the Talarians’ tactics left a lot to be desired, but they quickly learnt from their mistakes and switched to a more effective way of firing at the Marritza.

“Sir!” Torpal shouted toward Zamarran, not taking his eyes from his console. “The Talarians stopped chaotically pounding our shields. They are now concentrated on one spot on the ventral side.”

The tactician glanced at the gul and was certain that Zamarran’s mind ran through all vulnerable and strategic places on the ventral side of the ship, including the engineering.

The gul hesitated for only a second. He punched the comm. “Kapoor!”

Yes, sir,” she answered from the engineering.

Torpal stopped listening and instead directed his attention on his console. The Talarian ships assumed some kind of formation. He knew little about their tactics but he had to admit that their ways seemed to be effective. This was a race of warriors and they knew exactly what they were doing, no doubt about that.

Three ships left the formation and moved to the opposite side of the Keldon. Torpal quickly guessed their intentions: they didn’t want the Cardassians to commit all their power to the ventral shields, so they would keep firing at other spots, forcing the Marritza to spread the power and that way keep it thin everywhere. Or, perhaps, they hoped that with all power directed to the ventral shields, other parts of the Keldon would be vulnerable and easier to reach.

Zamarran barked another set of orders and Torpal knew that the gul had also guessed the rules of the game that the Talarians were playing. He told Kapoor to use some tricks; he told her where to get additional power from and he told her not to protest his orders, even though she didn’t even try. Torpal thought that Zamarran’s orders clearly showed that the gul was an engineer—he knew how to protect the ship to last as long as possible.

His, Torpal’s, job was to take the fighting back to the Talarians.

The glinn sent troops to every critical or vulnerable part of the ship with orders to guard it and protect it. He ordered all scientists with limited battle training to go to their quarters and not leave until told to. He calculated the amount of torpedoes, constantly reminding himself that this was not a warship and that his resources were extremely limited, unless he wanted to fight throwing phials at the enemy.

The continuous pounding at the shields sent sparks from the tertiary engineering console. Kara Talis, who was manning it, seemed to barely register the rain of sparkles falling on her. Torpal thought that in a stressful situation the seemingly fragile young woman showed a lot of strength and concentration. There was nothing fragile about her now—she was as tough as any other Cardassian soldier. He was just discovering that they all were—this crew could become something great, if given a chance.

The ship shook again under another set of pounding and Torpal thought that it was starting to get on his nerves. But he was still under Zamarran’s orders—not to return fire...yet. Whatever the gul was planning, he had not shared it with the tactician.

Suddenly, an opening in the shields appeared—exactly in the spot that the Talarians kept firing at. Torpal opened his mouth to report it, but the opening closed as fast as it had appeared. The tactician look up surprised.

“What are the Talarians doing?” Zamarran asked Yassel.

She checked her readings. “Nothing. They’re just hanging there. They’re not firing. They’re doing...nothing.”

They are surprised, Torpal thought. He was sure the opening had been created deliberately by Kapoor, or someone in the engineering, only to be closed a moment later. It had given the impression of a very quick and very effective shields replenishment. And that was something the Talarians hadn’t expected.

“Torpal.” The tactician raised his head to look at his gul. “Fire!”

“With pleasure.” The glinn’s fingers danced on his console, giving the Talarian’s their love back—and more. The formation quickly dispersed and their organised, planned attack was no more. Instead, they switched to chaotic firing at the Marritza, circling around it like angry insects. Very soon Torpal understood that the chaos was merely another tactical move. With all Talarian ships in constant move without any predictable patterns, it proved to be very difficult to target them and most of Torpal’s phaser discharges missed their targets. “This is not good,” he muttered to himself, ignoring another rain of sparkles on the bridge.

“Sir, maybe we should retreat and return together with our fleet,” Yassel said in an uncertain voice.

Zamarran shook his head. “No. They had attacked the planet once, they could do it again. We cannot leave the Rathosians. Not now.”

“We’ll help them little if we’re dead,” Torpal said.

The gul looked at him. “Do you really want to run, Torpal? Do you want to withdraw?” The tactician didn’t. He had never left a battlefield in his life and he didn’t intend to now. He was not a coward. Zamarran continued, “We must send the Talarians a clear message: we will rather die than abandon these people: we are serious about it and there is nothing you can do to make us withdraw.”

“Yes, sir,” the glinn replied, nodding, but he wasn’t sure his voice was heard in another explosion on the bridge and if the nod was clear, or it got distorted by his attempt not to lose balance on the shaking deck.

Zamarran turned to Yassel and started to issue his next order when Toral heard a noise right by his side and everything went black.



USS Petrona, the bridge




Captain Ram hated the view on her screen. The Marritza was under fire from a fleet of Talarian ships and the captain was under orders not to interfere. It didn’t matter that the Talarian technology was behind Cardassian and that the Keldon was much bigger—the Cardassian vessel had no chances against so many warships, even if they were significantly smaller than herself.

The bridge of the Petrona was silent. Every bridge officer’s eyes were on the viewer, watching the slow death of the science ship. Ram would never admit it to anyone, but she had opened her mind and was soaking in emotions from the Marritza. They were scared. Angry. Terrified. Many in pain and probably dying. But she also felt and heard determination, bravery and...a lot of thoughts on that ship over there was directed to families of the crew. They were saying their goodbyes, even though no one could hear them.

Except for her.

The movement of the Keldon cruiser slowed to finally seize completely. Whatever had caused it, Ram knew that it meant the end.

Zogg shifted in his chair. “Captain, do something,” he whispered; his voice reflecting his emotional turmoil. Ram looked at her tactical officer. “Before it’s too late,” he added, returning her attentive gaze.

She didn’t hesitate. In fact, she cursed herself not to do it earlier, before lives were lost. “Zogg, shields up and arm weapons. We’re going in. Prepare an evacuation plan. We can’t save their ship, but we can try to save as many people as we can before she goes to hell.”

“Yes, Captain!”

The silence on the bridge was gone and everyone made him- or herself busy. Ram didn’t hear anyone protesting or commenting her order. Even ch’Tef seemed glad that he could do something. The crew couldn’t watch Cardassians being slaughtered any more than she did.



Cardassian Union Warship Kasharok, the bridge



Gul Daro spun toward his aide. “How much longer?”

“Two more hours, sir,” Glinn Lassat answered.

“Readings?” The gul turned toward the tactician.

“Not good, my Gul. I am sure we won’t be there in time.”

“That is much worse than ‘not good,’” Daro muttered to himself. He stood up and stood behind the communication officer. “Put them on the screen.”

A moment later he wished he hadn’t given that order. The Marritza was motionless and covered with scars—and getting more punches with each second. Another ship was moving toward it; a Federation starship. They appeared fully armed and ready to fight. Daro wondered why would the Federation attack the defenceless Cardassian ship and then quickly dismissed the thought. This didn’t sound like the Federation at all. Had they come to help, then?

And then another fleet appeared, a dozen or so ships. Daro squinted at the screen, trying to recognise who it was. “Magnify,” he said softly to his officer. A moment later he knew: the Gorgor.

Perfect! The last thing the Marritza needed was that nosy race of people who considered themselves the judges of the universe.

For a moment Daro wondered if Gul Zamarran hadn’t done something to make them all angry with him. The Federation and the Gorgor sometimes worked together, so there was nothing surprising if they co-operated, but the Talarians? Daro didn’t know Zamarran; he had never heard of Zamarran before this mission, so he had no idea what kind of man the gul of the Marritza was. Was he one of those old-type, arrogant guls who shot first, asked questions later? Or was he someone more reasonable? But would a reasonable man have been in such trouble? Would a reasonable man have been under attack from three different powers that usually didn’t work together?

He couldn’t watch it. He didn’t want to watch it. He didn’t want to look at hundreds of people being blown to pieces, but in a strange way he felt he owned them that. He was not there in time; he was not there to save them, so at least he could watch their end and bring the tale of it back home to their families—to tell them that their loves ones died as heroes, protecting innocent people form being destroyed by their own sun.

Daro was angry. He didn’t like to fail and he felt that he had done just that—failed.

He turned to his engineer. “Exceed safety protocols and get there as fast as possible.”

“Yes, my Gul.”

It didn’t make him feel any better.



Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the bridge



Zamarran turned toward the thud and with panic and he realised that it was Torpal’s heavy body hitting the deck. He punched his wristcomm. “Kara Zaral to the bridge!” he shouted into it and then ran toward the glinn.

He had no idea about tactics. He had no idea how to fight a battle; as an engineer he knew how to survive a battle but not how to destroy an enemy. What was he going to do without his tactician?

Torpal’s armour and face were covered with blood—his own blood. Zamarran knelt next to him and touched the soft spot under the glinn’s chin to check for his pulse. He felt none, but he hoped that it was caused by his shaking hands. He felt relief when Medic Zaral entered the bridge. She ran toward Torpal and Zamarran rose and moved away to give her more space. Then he leaned over the main tactical console. He knew that the other senior tactician was in the engineering. He knew that he couldn’t recall her from there. The only person with tactical training present on the bridge was a young dja. Zamarran looked at him and saw a reflection of his own feelings on the young man’s face—panic. The dja was not ready for this and the gul feared that the inexperienced officer might be more of a threat than help.

“What would Jarol do? What would Jarol do?” he muttered to himself. He looked at the dja. “Take the secondary tactical console,” he ordered. And then added, “And tell me when I attempt to do something stupid. That’s an order.” The dja nodded; his eyes opening wide with surprise. Zamarran thought that the man wouldn’t find courage to follow that order. But it was not the time for worry, it was the time to fight.

The gul decided to concentrate the defence on two-three targets at once not to spread the fire too thinly. He noticed that Torpal had fired a few torpedoes, but most were still loaded and ready to be launched. He locked on targets and sent torpedoes their way—two for each target. He hoped that he hadn’t just wasted the ammunition.

A moment later five out of six torpedoes met with their destinations, destroying one Talarian ship and seriously crippling another one. The third one was manoeuvring so fast that Zamarran was unable to scan it to gather information on the damage done.

Additional dots on the screen drew his attention. “Reinforcements,” he whispered and all hope abandoned him. A moment later the computer recognised the dots as Gorgor ships. The hope did not return, though, as Zamarran knew that the only thing the Gorgor would want would be watching ‘evil Cardassians’ die. Just to confirm with their own eyes what their sensors were telling them.

He looked at Yassel. He felt sorry for her; for her wasted future. For all wasted futures of his crew. He felt sorry for Gul Brenok’s feelings after the long-haired man discovered what a grave mistake he had done, assigning Zamarran to this ship. The gul was certain that someone else, someone more skilled would have found a solution and get them out of this situation. His inability to command had practically killed all people on this ship. All these young scientists.

Yassel smiled to him. It was a gentle, sad smile. ‘For Cardassia,’ she mouthed soundlessly.

Zamarran thought that she was one very brave young woman and if only given a chance, she would do a lot of good and have a great career. If she only believed in herself.

He thought of his daughters. Of his sons. His wife, who called him ‘Trovik.’ His grandchildren. He would never see them again but what was worse—they would never see him again. His ‘never’ was much shorter than theirs and he hoped that theirs was counted in long years, not mere minutes.

He glanced at Zaral by his feet. She was still taking care of Torpal, so perhaps the glinn was not dead yet...but would be very soon.

Maybe he should order the crew to abandon ship...but would they listen?

And wouldn’t the Talarians destroy defenceless pods?

Suddenly, everything silenced. Zamarran had an impression that the time froze. Was this the end?


tbc
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Old July 17 2011, 04:24 PM   #247
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Hmmmm...something tells me the Gorgor are about to revise their judgments of the species of the Alpha Quadrant. The Cardassian willingness to die for the Rathosians, in contrast to the Federation's moral cowardice...now that the Gorgor have seen the Prime Directive in its full "glory," I cannot imagine they'll be impressed. By inaction, they told the Talarians it was OK to go on and do what they are doing.

Ram should have acted sooner. Period. It's good that her conscience has finally moved her--that she finally listened to the suffering she was condoning by inaction--but something tells me that in Gorgor eyes, this will be dismissed as too little, too late.

As for the Cardassians...I'm glad that at least people like Zamarran are coming to understand that they cannot whine and hide themselves and give the middle finger to everyone, like a two-year-old with a very foul mouth, and then complain about how everybody hates them and misjudges them when all they've shown the rest of the galaxy until recently is violence (and I include the coup in that, since I do not think that was the optimal response to the Federation's unreasonable demands). They have to earn it.

What Brenok and th'Arshar did to save Saratt was a wonderful start.

This offers further proof. It shows they can be consistent in this.

Now, they are really starting to earn it.



Oh, and Gul Daro! I can already tell that your Daro is different than mine--but I can see that thoughtful nature and that soft voice. And his clear aversion to violence and rash action.
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Old July 17 2011, 05:07 PM   #248
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
Hmmmm...something tells me the Gorgor are about to revise their judgments of the species of the Alpha Quadrant. The Cardassian willingness to die for the Rathosians, in contrast to the Federation's moral cowardice...now that the Gorgor have seen the Prime Directive in its full "glory," I cannot imagine they'll be impressed. By inaction, they told the Talarians it was OK to go on and do what they are doing.
The Gorgor are...weird. That's all I'm saying now
Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
As for the Cardassians...I'm glad that at least people like Zamarran are coming to understand that they cannot whine and hide themselves and give the middle finger to everyone, like a two-year-old with a very foul mouth, and then complain about how everybody hates them and misjudges them when all they've shown the rest of the galaxy until recently is violence (and I include the coup in that, since I do not think that was the optimal response to the Federation's unreasonable demands). They have to earn it.
I can't imagine Zamarran doing anything else. And I think neither can Brenok; he knew very well what he was doing making Zamarran the gul of this ship and sending him to the Rathosian system. For the same reason he's chosen Daro as the commander of the reinforcements. He needed people who wouldn't make the situation worse.

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
Oh, and Gul Daro! I can already tell that your Daro is different than mine--but I can see that thoughtful nature and that soft voice. And his clear aversion to violence and rash action.
When I was writing those sections, I had the scenes with him from the episode in my head. I hope he came out as the same quiet, soft spoken and almost shy person.

And I thought that someone without stupid racial prejudices would be a good choice and Brenok would send someone like that to help in the difficult situation that Zamarran had to face. I also thought that it's a high time for Daro to get a promotion
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Old July 17 2011, 07:02 PM   #249
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

I agree, Daro isn't someone who's going to do something stupid to make the situation worse. Neither of our Daros would.

And I think you captured him exactly.
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Old July 23 2011, 01:50 PM   #250
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Chapter 19



Cardassian Union Warship Kasharok, the bridge




Glinn Lassat approached his gul. He didn’t say anything, he just stood next to Daro and watched the events on the viewer.

“This won’t take long,” he said quietly when Gorgor ships reached the battlefield.

Daro looked at him and to his surprise he realised that Lassat’s face expressed astonishment. Why? What was there on the screen to— Daro’s eyes returned to the viewer and he was certain that his facial expression was a mirror reflection of his aide’s.

“Do our sensors confirm what we are seeing?” Daro asked the communication officer.

“Yes, my Gul. The Gorgor opened fire at the Talarians.”

“What is the Federation starship doing?”

“It would appear that...they activated a tractor beam and seem to pull the Marritza out of there.”

Daro grinned slightly. “Hail Gul Zamarran,” he said. If he’s still alive, he added in privacy of his own thoughts. He hoped he would see the other gul’s face on his viewer.

He saw a man with a bruised left side of his face, but very much alive. Daro couldn’t be sure if this was Zamarran, though, as he had no idea what the gul looked like and the man was so close to the camera feed that Daro was unable to read the markings on the man’s armour, as the image didn’t reach that low.

I’m Gul Zamarran of the Marritza.” That left no doubt who Daro was talking to.

“Gul Daro in command of the reinforcements. I’m sorry we are so late. What is your status?”

Barely in one piece. I’m evacuating most of my crew to the Petrona for their safety. I can’t even tell if this ship can be salvaged.”

Did Daro detect guilt in Zamarran’s voice? “We will rendezvous with you in about an hour.”

Zamarran nodded and pulled his face—Daro guessed that the gul was in pain. “I appreciate that.

He signed off and Daro thought that it certainly wasn’t one of those ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ guls. One of them would complain about the fleet being too late, not appreciate its arrival after the fact.

He was looking forward to meeting Gul Zamarran.



Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the bridge




Zamarran turned to Yassel. “How is evacuation progressing?”

“We have emptied the most dangerous parts of the ship. The threat of losing hull integrity seems to be alleviated, but I think we still should empty the ship. Just in case.”

“Do it.” He looked at the tactical display. The Gorgor seemed to overwhelm the Talarians and the bipeds appeared to be in retreat. “Seltan, get me the lead Gorgor ship.”

“Yes, sir.”

A Gorgor—Zamaran was unable to tell if it was the same individual that he had spoken to, or someone else—appeared on the main viewer.

First Siadatch Fook’tok’mat,” the being said. So, it was the same person.

“First Siadatch Fook’tok’mat, I’d like to thank you for your help,” Zamarran said. “Without it, my ship would be destroyed.”

Fook’tok’mat raised a tentacle. “No thanks are necessary. We only did what had to be done. Who attacks the helpers, shall be destroyed.”

“Let’s just say ‘stopped,’” Zamarran grinned.

Destroyed. My ships will pursuit the criminals and will destroy them. Then we will find their hive and destroy it too.

Zamarran’s eyes opened wide. “Excuse me?!”

The Gorgor blinked it’s lidless eyes. “Shall they not be punished for the near destruction of your vessel?

“What you are talking is genocide, if I’m not mistaken.”

They attacked you.

“It doesn’t mean you have to wipe them all out!” Zamarran shouted. “Recall your ships! Now!”

Why are you begging for this? They almost killed you.

“And I have destroyed several of their ships. It doesn’t mean that I want them to kill my family for this and that’s exactly what you’re planning to do. Recall your ships!” Contrary to Fook’tok’mat’s assessment, he was not begging; he was demanding.

The galaxy should be cleaned from evil that doesn’t help and doesn’t let others help,” the Gorgor stated flatly.

Zamarran growled. And these people dared to call his countrymen evil? The Cardassians were no angels, but at least they never attempted to exterminate anyone. As bad as they were, they never got that far. And here he was, facing a person who believed in their moral superiority and who was ready to wipe out a whole race. Some moral they had!

It reminded him of the Founders and their mindset and that sent shivers down his spine.

“Recall your ships or I’ll send my reinforcements to destroy them before they do any damage,” he said and immediately regretted it. It was possible that all he had just done was making the Gorgor the enemy of Cardassia and placing his people on the list to exterminate just behind the Talarians.

Do you not wish to solve the problem? Do you not wish to remove the threat?” Fook’tok’mat clearly couldn’t comprehend Zamarran’s way of thinking.

“I do, but not this way,” the gul replied. “I appreciate your help, I really do, but I would prefer if you let us solve it ourselves.” He hoped a change of tone would be a better tactic.

The Gorgor thought for a while. “We will be observing,” he said eventually and signed off.

“Who do they think they are?” Yassel whispered behind Zamarran’s back.

He turned to her. “An extreme version of the Federation,” he said. “They think they are better than everyone else who doesn’t live like them, but they go farther than babbling and posturing. Did they recall their ships?”

Yassel checked her display. “They did, sir.” Then she changed the subject. “Sir, Kapoor and I would like to stay here with a small team of engineers to assess the damage.”

“Is the evacuation almost complete?”

“Yes, sir. Most of our crew is aboard the Petrona.”

He thought for a moment. “All right, stay. As much as I’d like to stay too, I must talk to Captain Ram. Please keep me informed.”

She nodded. “Naturally, sir.”

Zamarran looked around the ruined bridge and, reluctantly, headed for the exit.



Rayak Nor, the merchant ring




Jarol, followed by her son, approached Delva’s Treasures stall. “Do you sell this?” She raised her hand with the item that Demok had bought for her some time earlier.

“No refunds!” the Ferengi assistant said.

“I don’t want a refund. I just want some more information about it.” She pointed to her ‘knick-knack.’

“What kind of information?” the Ferengi asked suspiciously.

“How many of such items do you have?” She had already received test results from the science department and she knew that the object in her hand was not as old as the monument that it appeared to be a part of, but she still hoped that there was some explanation to it; one that wouldn’t mean that it was all lost and the monument was completely gone.

“How much?” the assistant said.

She blinked at him. “Excuse me?”

“How much are you willing to pay for the information?”

“Are you suggesting that I should bribe you?” Her eye ridges went high.

“Nothing is free, madam. Everything has its price and so does information. Treat it as a business transaction, not bribery.”

“Bribery is illegal and I would not have any part in it!” she said slowly.

The Ferengi shrugged. “It’s not illegal where I come from. Pay or no information, it’s as simple as that.”

Frustrated, she glanced at the shop’s offer. There were many items that resembled her ‘knick-knack’—difficult to describe shapes and Cardassian aesthetics—and two exactly the same. She took that observation as proof that they all were copies; and since her copy was not that old, she clutched to the hope that the original was there somewhere, waiting to be rescued and brought home.

She looked at the Ferengi, who was leaning toward her and smiling expectantly. She knew that a few leks would solve her problem, but how could she do it? Even if Laran weren’t right behind her, she would never do something like that.

“I will not pay you for the information,” she said. “But I will find my answers,” she added and turned to leave. She ignored Demok’s sad and worried look and headed for the lift. From the corner of her eye she saw Fatret standing by the door to her office. Jarol was sure her next session would be a lot of talking about bribery, Ferengi, chasing monuments and any other unpleasant thing that Fatret would find to torture her.

She hated the sessions. Sometimes she even hated Arenn for forcing her to attend them.

She entered the lift, wondering if she’d have to see Fatret for the rest of her life. Was that her punishment? To go again and again over her crimes to never let her forget the heaviness they carried? To make her relive everything constantly? To make sure no one—especially not her—forgot what she’d done with her life and lives of people around her?

She looked at the ‘knick-knack’ in her hand. She had hoped it was not a knick-knack; she had hoped it was something more—a promise of retrieving something important for Cardassians. Now, she knew it was a false hope and that it was just what it appeared to be: an object to be placed on a shelf with the sole purpose of gathering dust.

She was so certain that somewhere out there was the original, based on which someone had made those copies, but there was no way to get to that information, unless she used illegal means and she wouldn’t do that. The thought of violating the rules made her sick.

A moment later she realised how ironic it was. How come was she sick, if all her life was filled with just that—violation. She was a violation.

She left the lift and ran to her quarters as fast as she could not to let the guards posted outside see her tears. After the door closed behind her, she ran to her room, muffling the sobs with both hands.

She didn’t hear her son entering the quarters and approaching her closed door. He did not try to make her open it; he knew she wouldn’t. He just listened and his heart was aching.



Rathosia, Forrituloix City




“Here we go again,” Veltek said, taking his helmet off, smiling and breathing in air that smelled like dinner.

“A Cardassian from Cheshire,” Tibaut said.

Veltek gave her a surprised look. “A what?”

She shook her head. “No, nothing...There’s just that book and...to make long story short, there’s a cat there and it smiles and it can disappear and once all that was left of it was a smile in thin air...” She silenced, as everyone including her boyfriend, stared at her with disbelief. “Anyway, my point is that you should take your suits off, before you scare the locals with Cardassian heads hanging in the air.”

“Suits off!” Aladar ordered.

“There’s one thing good in all of this mess,” Pa’Ler muttered. “The Feds have fixed my ankle.”

Suddenly Aladar felt a strange sensation. A moment later he knew what it was...
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Old July 23 2011, 01:51 PM   #251
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"


Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the engineering




Kapoor was on her way to another console to take its readings, when Yassel entered the engineering.

“What is our condition?” the glinn asked, following the human, who was in an uninterrupted movement.

“I must say this ship has been built to last,” Kapoor replied. “We’re in much better shape than it seemed at first. We need a dry dock, but we should be able to get there ourselves. A few patches here, a few patches there and we’ll be as good as new.” She flashed a smile at Yassel.

“That’s good.”

Kapoor got serious. “Do you have casualty report?” Yassel only nodded. “How many?”

“Seventeen.”

“Damn it.”

“It would be much more if not the Gorgor.”

“I’m surprised to hear that they helped. From what we know, they don’t interfere unless something is directly related to them.”

“I don’t understand the Gorgor. I’m not even sure I want to understand them. They are a combination of extremes: on one hand they care about life, on the other their disregard for life is unbelievable.” Yassel shrugged. “I hope they stay away from us.”

Kapoor sighed and was just about to say something, when some kind of alarm activated.

Both women went to the console that sounded the signal.

“What’s going on?” the glinn asked.

“It seems that our sensors detected Cardassian life signs on Rathosia.”

“Beam them up, now!” Yassel almost shouted.

The engineer operated the controls. “This is strange. There are five life signals, not three.” She inclined her head a bit. “Not all Cardassian, though.”

“Rathosians?”

“Nope.”

“Beam them all up. Before they disappear again.”

“Yes, Glinn.” Kapoor followed the order, although she wasn’t sure it was a clever one. She decided to beam them directly to the engineering, using the equipment transporter padd.

As she expected, Aladar and his team materialised on the padd. From the corner of her eye she noticed that Yassel started toward the group, but stopped herself in time. Oh, Kapoor knew that Yassel hadn’t just fought an urge to hug them all—only Aladar would be granted that privilege.

Damn Cardassian stiffness! Kapoor wouldn’t blame Yassel for acting on her urge; she would cheer.

“Welcome back,” the glinn said and then her attention went to two unexpected guests. She gave Aladar a questioning look. “And they are...?”

“They helped us escape from the Federation brig,” the garesh explained. “I had to take them with us.”

Yassel looked at him sceptically. “You will have to discuss the details with Gul Zamarran. He is currently unavailable.” She hesitated. “I will arrange for the guests to return to the Federation ship and you refresh yourselves and prepare for debriefing.”

“About their return...” Aladar started and silenced. Then he added, “If I may be so bold...” Yassel nodded, so he continued, “Until we clear their situation with their superiors, I think they should stay with us. I will explain everything during the debriefing.”

“Very well.” The glinn looked at both Federation officers. “You will be escorted to the wardroom. I’m afraid we are not in a shape for extended hospitality.” She swayed her hand to indicate damaged engineering. “We barely survived a battle.”

“That’s all right,” the woman answered. Kapoor immediately recognised a thick French accent.

The engineer approached them. “I’ll take care of them,” she volunteered.

Yassel nodded. “Fine. Garesh Aladar, be in the wardroom in fifteen minutes. I’ll get Gul Zamarran.”

“Yes, Glinn!” Aladar dutifully confirmed and left the engineering, followed by his two men.

“Kara Erpan,” Kapoor called one of engineers, “please take over.”

“Yes, Gil.” He took the padd from her and resumed collecting damage reports.

The human looked at the Federation officers, who stared at her without saying anything. “All right. My name is Gil Kapoor. I’ll take you to the wardroom. If you’d like a glass of water or something, please let me know—we could stop by the mess hall. Replicators aren’t operational, I’m afraid.”

“You’re a human,” the red-head said finally.

“Yes, I know that,” Kapoor smiled.

“Is this where you are assigned? This Cardassian ship?”

“Actually, this is a temporary assignment.”

“An exchange program of some sort?” the Chandir asked. “Never heard of an exchange program with the Cardassian Union.”

“Well, you’d have to go back about...” She paused, thinking. “About twenty years.”

“I don’t understand,” he said, stepping off the padd. “By the way, my name is Lieutenant Pemutruch and this is Ensign Tibaut.”

“Nice to meet you.” Kapoor nodded and then said to Pemutruch, “I volunteered to an exchange program and that’s how I ended up here, but it was over twenty years ago.”

“Did you get stuck on Cardassia when they closed their borders?” Tibaut asked.

“No. I had enough time to return home, but I didn’t want to. Now this is my home.” She headed for the exit and they followed her.

“So, what’s going to happen to us?” the Chandir asked, clearly not interested in Kapoor’s life history any more.

“I don’t know what exactly you’ve done,” the engineer replied.

“We helped three Cardassian prisoners escape,” Tibaut said quietly.

Kapoor glanced at her. She wanted to ask ‘why?’ but she knew she would know soon enough—if she were allowed to stay in the wardroom.



Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the wardroom




Zamarran felt every muscle in his body. He was under impression that every single organ ached—and he knew there was no chance for any rest. On the Petrona he had gone through a quick medical check up and after that he returned to work.

He had made sure that his crew was safe and taken care of on the Federation starship and then invited Captain Ram to the debriefing that Yassel had planned. He had tried not to show it, as he believed it would look awfully unprofessional, but his relief upon finding out that Aladar and his men were alive and fine was enormous.

Ram accompanied him alone; she had decided not to bring her aide or anyone else from her ship. Zamarran was not naïve—he was aware that she had acted against her orders when she had come to help him and that she was facing some trouble now. He wished he had a way to help her.

He had been informed that there were two Federation officers in the wardroom, but still—the view was so unusual that it stopped him for a moment. Then he invited Ram to sit next to Yassel.

He looked at everyone present. His aide, his engineer, his gareshes and three alien officers. His people deserved commendations and he made a mental note to take care of that later. The Federation people, on the other hand, were all in trouble, as each of them had gone against their orders or worse.

First he listened to Aladar’s report: about the visit in the city on the planet, about the inhabitants and about being kidnapped by the Federation. Then about bad treatment the Cardassians had to suffer to be finally helped by two present in the room officers.

Then he listened to Captain Ram, who told him about the Federation’s policy regarding such situations and their Prime Directive. And finally he listened to the youngest Federation officer, who informed him of the planned tribunal and how it was supposed to be used against Cardassians.

He shared with Ram details of his conversations with the First Siadatch and she promised to make sure that the Federation officials would remind the Gorgor once more that the Federation didn’t condone genocide, or other extreme actions against people.

When everything was explained and all information shared, they arrived to the next stage of their briefing.

Finding answers and solutions.

Ram said that she would take care of her problem and deal with her superiors, regarding joining the battle and helping the Cardassians. She also planned to clear the misinformation and accuse the commander from Rathosia of providing false information in her report. She worried about two young officers, though, as their charges were much more serious than what she had to deal with.

“They must answer for their action, but I think that doing it in the heat of the moment is not a good idea; and I’m sure Paris and Starfleet Headquarters are boiling right now.”

“What do you propose?” Zamarran asked.

“I would like you to take them to a safe place beyond Federation reach, Gul Zamarran. I would then officially ask for sending a JAG team over there. Only professionals and lawyers, without crowds and admirals. I hope that they would look at the events without emotional attitude and take under consideration all factors, including the ridiculous trial that the Cardassians were supposed to face.”

“And you think this is the best idea?” Zamarran wasn’t convinced.

She shrugged. “It’s the best I have.” She looked at both young people. “Would you agree to such a solution?”

They looked at each other uncertainly. Pemutruch looked back at Ram. “Where would we go? Stay on this ship?”

Ram turned to Zamarran. “I was thinking about Rayak Nor,” she said. “There is Federation presence there, it’s Cardassian territory and it’s close to our borders.”

“I cannot make such a decision myself,” the gul replied. “I must discuss it with my superiors.”

Ram nodded. “Of course, I understand that.”

The door opened and Seltan entered the wardroom. “Sir, I have some...information,” she said.

“Can’t it wait?”

“I’m not sure, sir. I thought it would be better for you to decide if it can wait.”

“You could have notified me by the comm, instead of leaving your post on the bridge.”

“The communication system is still down, sir.”

Zamarran felt like a fool. Here she was, doing more than her duty called for and he was looking for excuses to chastise her for her creativity. It seemed that he was that kind of guls he called ‘old pricks.’ “I see. So, what is it?”

“A probe was launched from Rathosia. It is a kind of communication device and constantly transmits only one message.”

Aladar’s head popped. “What message?” he asked, although it was not his place to do so.

Seltan looked at him and then at Zamarran, not sure if she should answer the garesh’s question.

“What message?” the gul asked.

Please come back.”

Everyone in the room looked at Zamarran, while he looked at Ram. “Will you try to stop us from officially contacting the Rathosians?” he asked her.

She shook her head. “Considering what Mr. Aladar said, I think that you have already established that contact. I will not interfere...but I can’t vouch for the scientists on the planet.”

“They will attempt to stop you,” the orange—red? Zamarran had no idea such colour was possible in nature and he had problems with describing it—haired woman said.

“I will wait for my Order’s gul and discuss it with him.”

Ram smiled. “Can I have your promise that you won’t abandon them?”

“Captain Ram, my crew and I almost died in the attempt of protecting them. There’s no way I’d let seventeen of my people die in vain and abandon our mission. My instructions are clear—fix their sun and save them.” He looked at Aladar. “Which brings us to the information you have brought.” His eyes went to the Federation officers. “While you are aboard, would you be so kind to help our team in solving the problem? We could test if your theory has a chance of success.”

“Certainly,” the man with trunks on his head said.



Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the gul’s office




Daro walked through the ruined bridge toward the office. All stations were manned and the bridge was filled with additional personnel of repair teams. It seemed that contrary to Gul Zamarran’s fears, the vessel was no only salvageable, but its engineer had already started repairs.

Daro thought that Zamarran had to be proud of his crew. He not only hadn’t abandoned their ship, but had also asked Daro to beam aboard and discuss the important matters on the Marritza. Daro didn’t mind. It not only let him see for himself the science vessel’s condition, but he also had no problems with respecting someone’s pride of his crew’s accomplishments. Zamarran wanted to show everyone that the Marritza was still able to continue its service and Daro had no intention of ridding the gul of this little proof.

He entered the office and greeted Zamarran.

“I’m sorry for the condition of this place,” the other gul smiled apologetically.

“Do not worry about it,” Daro returned the smile. “You just fought a battle; I didn’t expect to see a shiny ship looking like it just left a dry dock.”

“I’m still collecting data for my report.”

“I understand. Please, take care of the urgent things first; reports can wait.”

Zamarran nodded. He invited Daro to sit on a sofa in the corner of his office and took a chair opposite it himself. “There is one thing that cannot wait, though,” he said.

“The repairs?”

“The repairs are in progress and don’t require any special attention. What I’m talking about are the Federation officers.” Zamarran then explained what Tibaut and Pemutruch had done and how they had helped the three gareshes.

Daro listened attentively to the report, assigning all information a priority and then filing it away. “Gul Zamarran,” he said after the other man had finished. “I am not sure how to deal with the Federation officers’ situation, so I’m inclined to follow Captain Ram’s suggestion and take them to Rayak Nor. Federation presence and a Cardassian archon might be helpful in this matter. I also would like you to take the Marritza to the station. They would perform basic repairs and then the ship would proceed to Cardassia or Adarak III for a full maintenance.”

“Understood.”

Daro had no doubts that Zamarran, an engineer, would understand the logic of such a solution. With limited warp capability and extensive damage, the Marritza couldn’t go to high warp velocities or it would fall apart. The station was much closer than any other Cardassian repair facility, so reaching it would take less time. And after patching up the most needy sections, the vessel could proceed to a dry dock at normal speed.

Daro noticed that Zamarran seemed to be down. Was he that worried about the ship?
“Anything I can do for you?” he asked.

The younger gul shook his head. “No, sir, thank you.”

“But there is something...” He didn’t want to pry, so he decided not to insist if Zamarran refused to talk, but he wanted to make sure that the other man knew that Daro was there to help and that it was welcome to ask for it.

“I failed,” Zamarran whispered. “In fact, I double failed. I failed as a commanding officer of the ship; I can live with that. It’s not the end of the world, even if I’m booted from the military.” He raised his head and looked at Daro. “But I failed the Rathosians and for them it is the end of the world.”

Daro shook his head gently. “This is not entirely correct, Gul Zamarran. First of all, I do not think you failed as a gul and I certainly will not write that in my report. Second, the Rathosian situation is still not solved, but if what you’ve told me about the Federation data is the truth, you might have found the solution. It doesn’t matter that it weren’t your scientists. The result matters. Your people brought that information and that is what counts.

“This isn’t the most successful mission, but it is far from failure. You did well under very difficult circumstances and I praise you for that.”

“But, sir...”

Daro raised his hand. “This was a very difficult task that you had to deal with it. And you did well.”

“We did not repair the star,” Zamarran said flatly.

“No, you did not. Someone else will have to come and finish the job, but you would, if your ship weren’t in such a bad shape.” Daro thought that he had worded it badly and that Zamarran probably heard a criticism, so the ranking gul decided to explain himself. “You did everything you could to protect the locals and you paid a high price, but it doesn’t mean it all was in vain. You gathered important information and you sent a clear message to the Talarians. Whoever is assigned to finish this mission, they will walk the easy path that you have paved with your blood. I don’t see it as a failure.”

But Zamarran didn’t seem convinced. Was there something else that bothered him? Daro observed him for a long moment and then rose. The other gul stood up, too.

“I’ll leave one ship as an escort,” Daro said, “And recall the others back to their region.”

“Understood, sir.”

“If there is anything you need, don’t hesitate to contact me.”

“Yes, sir,” Zamarran replied, but Daro was sure that he’d never receive such a request. Zamarran was one of those men who always tried to solve their problems themselves without asking anyone for help.

The Order Gul returned to his ship and assigned warship Revtal to accompany the science vessel to Rayak Nor.
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"Reagan, it appears, is really only an ardent unionist if the unions in question are in Poland" - Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
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Old July 23 2011, 01:52 PM   #252
Gul Re'jal
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Location: Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space station
Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Chapter 20



Rayak Nor, the gul’s private quarters




Toral and Jarol had just finished dinner and were taking dirty dishes to the kitchen to wash them, when the gul’s wristcomm activated.

Korel to Toral.”

Hatinn rolled his eyes. “Toral here.”

Sir, Gul Brenok wishes to speak with you. He says it’s urgent. Visual contact necessary.”

“You can talk in Laran’s room.” Jarol nodded toward her son’s room. “He’s at work now.”

“Acknowledged,” the gul confirmed. “I’ll take it from Rayak Nor.”

Yes, sir.

Hatinn went to the other room and activated the terminal over there, while she returned to the kitchen to finish washing the dishes.

Hatinn, however, didn’t close the door behind him, so she could hear every single word.

In three hours a team of medics will arrive to Rayak Nor. You’ll take them to Mazita,” Arenn said.

“Have they found the cure?”

It appears so. It seems to be working only in early stages of the disease, but better that than nothing. There’s still another team on Cardassia that is working on improving the medicine.

“Send someone else.”

Excuse me?” The surprise in Arenn’s voice was apparent, even without seeing his face.

“Send someone else,” Hatinn repeated. “Send the Marritza; after all these weeks of repairs they are in a good shape. I can’t leave her now.”

Brenok was silent for a short moment. Then he said, “Toral, you started this mission and you will bring it to an end. The colonists know you.”

“You can send Zamarran. I have to stay here with her.”

You will go,” Arenn insisted in a voice that allowed no refusal.

Jarol was astonished. Hatinn was refusing a direct order and for what? No reason!

Not really realising what she was doing, she went toward her son’s room and stood in the doorway.

“I won’t,” Hatinn said. “Any gul can do this; not anyone can be with her.”

She could see that Arenn was getting angry. “Gul Toral, you will follow my order, or you’ll face severe consequences.

“I will stay with her.”

Arenn pressed his lips. A moment later he signed off.

“How could you do it?” Jarol whispered. Hatinn rose from the chair that he had sat on and approached her.

“I can’t leave you alone,” he said.

“You just refused a direct order,” she shouted, pointing at the blank screen. “You cannot do that!”

“There are more important things than duty,” he said softly.

“There is such a thing like responsibility. You just abandoned yours. You...you...” She searched for words to express her feelings.

“Atira, you need me.”

“Don’t flatter yourself! I don’t need someone who cannot follow rules!”

“At—”

“Get out!” she hissed, stretching her hand and pointing at the door. “Get out of my house!” He stared at her with disbelief, not moving. “Get out or I’ll call security.” She started to lose patience.

He looked at her flabbergasted for a moment longer and then left without a word.

She was furious and disappointed. He had not only refused an order; he had refused a good order. He had refused it for some ridiculous personal reason. Arenn had told him to do something and Toral had felt that he was allowed to ignore his superior’s instructions. That wasn’t just wrong; that was beyond wrong. Did Toral think that he could break the rules because he dated his superior’s friend? Was it some kind of abuse of personal relationship? The thought appalled her.

Breaking rules, even apparently insignificant ones, was unacceptable, as it usually led to serious abuses and mistakes. The thought that Toral had just used the situation to do something unthinkable in the Cardassian Guard made her sick.

Rules should not be broken. Rules were to be followed. She, of all people, knew the best how terrible breaking rules was. How severe consequences followed acting at will and ignoring the order.

She was so disappointed in Toral, but then she thought that she shouldn’t be surprised—he was as guilty of some particular crimes as she was, therefore he was no better than she. And she was sure Fatret would be the first one to tell her that. Jarol knew she should avoid people like herself, not to return to the path of crime and violating the order. Gul Toral and his evilness had to disappear from her life.

She opened the channel. “Jarol to Borad.”

Borad here.”

“I think Gul Brenok is going to ask you if the Marritza is in the shape to take a new assignment, or if there are any other ships in vicinity. If there aren’t any, send some of our vessels, if possible.”

Regarding Mazita?” the glinn asked.

“Affirmative.”

Gul Toral has just revoked all shore leaves that his crew had and his ship is leaving the station right now. Toral’s going to meet with the transport that the medics are aboard on and take them directly to the colony. He said it should speed things up.”

“Good,” she said. “Thank you.”

She only wished Toral had done that because it was the right thing to do, not because she had just broken up with him and he wanted to be as far from her as possible.


Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the mess hall
Docked at Rayak Nor




“I’m talking to you, dammit.” Kapoor poked Aladar in the arm, causing him to drop his fork.
“Ah? What?” He blinked at her.

“What are you staring at?” She looked in the same direction. “Ah, the Snow Queen.”

“The what?”

“The Snow Queen. She’s so cold and unavailable.”

Aladar frowned. “Don’t talk about her like that.”

Kapoor gave him an attentive look and he expected a mean comment, but she only grinned. “I won’t,” she promised.

“She came to observe the training today. Again.” He picked up the fork and wiped it in a tissue. “And...it will sound stupid...but I am not sure why she controls me. Doesn’t she trust me?”

“I don’t think she goes there to observe the training.”

He looked at his human friend. “So what for?”

“That look you had on your face a moment ago; she sometimes has the same look.”

He frowned. “What look?”

“The same I see on my husband’s face...when we don’t argue.”

Aladar lowered his eyes. “I just...She’s beautiful.”

Kapoor grinned. “So are you.”

The garesh chuckled. A moment later he was serious again. “I can only look, not touch.”

“Why?”

“She is unavailable for me. I’m not good enough.”

“Oh, boy. Twenty years after leaving India and living among the Cardassians and I still hear about a caste system.” She rolled her eyes. “Listen to me, you stupid garesh.” She leaned her bent arms on the table and neared her face to Aladar’s. “You are a man. She is a woman. You dream about her. My guess would be that she dreams about you. That’s all that counts. That’s all that’s important. Stranger things have happened. Look at me. My children have ridges.”

He shook his head. “Can you imagine how her family would react?”

“As the matter of fact, yes, I can. In India’s past, she might be disowned, or horribly punished. But we’re not in India. We’re on a warship. Her family is not here.”

“But they would know. You, Indians, value your family too, so you should know how hard it is to turn your back on them.”

“You know something, Aladar. Let her decide. Maybe she’d be willing to risk her family’s anger for you.”

“Nonsense.”

Kapoor sighed. “You’re hopeless.”

“What could I offer her? What could I give her? I’m not educated. I’m an idiot!”

“I wouldn’t be friends with an idiot, so please be so kind and don’t insult my friends.” Aladar only glared at her. “Look, Garesh Idiot, you are nice, clever and caring. That’s what girls look for.”

“She is going to marry some high-ranking gul. There’s probably one already chosen for her.”

“One hundred years older than she, no doubt,” Kapoor muttered. “No surprise she’s always so sad.”

Yassel glanced at them and her and Aladar’s eyes met for a moment. Then, they both looked away. He felt like he had just done something indecent. “Let’s change the subject.”

“All right,” the human agreed. “But there’s just one thing I want to add. Give it a try. The worst thing you can hear is ‘no,’ but you’ll never know if you don’t try. Think about it.”

“You want to start a revolution in Cardassian society rules?”

“I didn’t start it. Zamarran is an aristocrat but none of his children are married to any high-born person.”

“Her father isn’t Zamarran.”

“No. But maybe she thinks more like the Zamarrans than like her father, if he wouldn’t like you around his baby-girl.”

Aladar grunted. On one hand Kapoor was right—the worst thing that could happen would be refusal. But what would happen after that refusal? Would she demand his transfer? Would she tell him to stay away from her? Would she order his execution for insolence? He couldn’t imagine her doing any of these terrible and cruel things, but maybe she would be forced? Her social status demanded a lot from her and she wouldn’t have any choice but to do what was expected of her.

He looked at her and her eyes, which were on him, looked away. His stayed on her face, though. A moment later hers returned to him. She looked away again but shortly after gazed at him again. This time she didn’t look away. He smiled. A tiny grin appeared on her face in response.

Kapoor shot a glance at Aladar. “Did she smile back?” she asked.

“Uhm,” he confirmed.

“See? I told you—she likes you.”

He looked at her. “It’s not against the rules to smile to people.”

“Really? Some Cardassians could have fooled me.”

Aladar resumed eating.

He would never dare to approach Yassel, never. It was out of the question.

Kapoor slid her finger along the golden seam of his armour. “Did I congratulate you on this honour?” she asked.

“Like...” He quickly counted. “Seventeen times.”

“That Cardassian memory,” she sighed and then smiled. “Here’s eighteenth. You deserved it, Aladar. From all gareshes I know, I don’t know anyone who would deserve to become a member of the Damar Guard more than you.”

He smiled. He was proud too, but would never say that out loud. That would be arrogant and rude. “Thanks.”



Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, lower decks
Docked at Rayak Nor




“One, two, one, two!” Aladar was shouting. Heavily breathing officers, non-coms and scientists ran in a circle, trying to keep up with the pace Aladar had chosen. “Stop!” A few of them bumped onto people in front of them. “Stretch hands! Left, right, left right! Hands on hips! Left, right, left, right!” He neared to one of scientists. “You either twist your body as far as you can to the right, or I’ll do it for you!” he boomed. The young woman’s hands and plaits flew around her head; the longest braid almost hit Aladar in the face, as he stood so close. “Whoa!” he shouted jumping back. “And I, in my naivety, had thought that Gul Brenok has this thing because of some silly rumours about an ear. This is a weapon!”

Everyone started to laugh and just then Aladar noticed Yassel standing by the entrance. He didn’t know she had come to watch again, but he was glad she was here now, as he could see—for the first time—her smile. No, not a smile; she was laughing. She laughed at his joke.

She was beautiful when laughing. Pearls of her laughter reached his ears and he would give everything to keep this minute for a while longer. He knew he would revisit this moment in his memory many, many times.

But he had a job to do. “No giggling! Left, right, left, right!”

After the training he decided to finally do what he had been planning for the last few days. He hadn’t told anyone about this, not even Kapoor, as he hadn’t been sure if he’d ever find courage to do that...and he didn’t want to make a fool of himself.

But today he felt like it was now or never. The Marritza had been brought back to some usable condition and was scheduled to leave Rayak Nor in a few days.

Aladar didn’t considered himself a coward, but right now he was terrified. He had made his decision and was determined to try, but he was aware that it could get him into trouble, really big trouble.

He entered the bridge—a place that any garesh rarely visited, unless on the guard duty—and headed for the gul’s chair, in which sat astonished Zamarran. “Sir, can I have a word with you? And with Glinn Torpal?” Aladar tried to be as submissive as possible. He didn’t want any of the officers to think that this was some weird attempt to challenge them...or anything else they could be thinking, seeing him on the bridge and asking for a conversation. Gareshes don’t ask, they are to do things that they are ordered to do. And certainly they are not expected to show even a shadow of independent thinking.

Zamarran rose and headed for his office, nodding to Torpal to follow him. Aladar went after them, trying to keep respectful distance.

The gul went toward his desk, but stopped before it and turned to face the other two men. Torpal stood next to the garesh, looking at him with a mixture of surprise and curiosity.

“Yes, Garesh Aladar, what is it?” Zamarran asked.

“Sir...sirs, I know this is against rules and very unusual...” In fact, he was not aware of any rules regarding it, but he knew that this had never been done before. “However...” He hesitated. They still waited patiently...He couldn’t imagine Zamarran putting him to death for this, but maybe Zamarran wasn’t challenged enough to get pissed at someone. This was against some traditions, wasn’t it? Zamarran was known for his attachment to unwritten rules and customs.

There was no way around it. He quickly said, “I would like to request for a transfer.”

Torpal looked at Zamarran and Zamarran looked at Torpal. Whatever they had expected Aladar to say, clearly it had not been what he had spat out.

The gul looked back at the garesh. “Transfer where to?”

“Over here. This is my temporary assignment and just before the Marritza leaves the station, I am to report back to my duty on Rayak Nor. I would like to stay aboard the Marritza.” Did a garesh have a right to want something? Was it insolence?

The glinn looked at the gul. “Sir, I’d love to keep him here,” he said to Aladar’s surprise.

Zamarran rubbed his chin ridge. “Gul Brenok and Gul Jarol fought a war over him and she won. I don’t think she would be willing to accept this request.” He thought for a while. “I am not aware of any paperwork you should fill, Aladar, so I will send that to the Order commanding gul as my request.”

The garesh felt great relief. Not because they let him stay, but because they didn’t get angry with him about his request. “I appreciate that, sir!” he said, squaring his shoulders.

“Dismissed.”

He left the office, but noticed that only he was asked to leave. He wondered what Zamarran would talk to Torpal about. Maybe there still was some trouble ahead of him.

He left the bridge and smiled to himself. He really, really hoped that this transfer would happen and then he could face all the trouble from his gul and Glinn Torpal. Garesh Aladar was not afraid of anything! Even of asking for a transfer!
__________________
In a Cardassian library or in a Cardassian gallery?

"Reagan, it appears, is really only an ardent unionist if the unions in question are in Poland" - Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
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Old July 23 2011, 01:53 PM   #253
Gul Re'jal
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Location: Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space station
Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"


Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the bridge
In orbit of Cardassia Prime




It was almost the end of the shift, so Yassel approached Zamarran to report her leaving the bridge.

Instead of acknowledging, he said, “Can I see you in my office for a moment?” He hoped she wouldn’t take it as a sign that she had done something wrong, but her worried expression quickly verified his hopes. “Please, sit down,” he said, offering her the guest chair. After a moment of hesitation, he chose not to sit in his behind the desk, but in the one next to her. “I would like to inform you that the dealings and the investigation regarding Gul Zeter and the charges are concluded.” She took a violent breath in and tears shone in her eyes. Zamarran decided to go right to the point. “As a disciplinary action, he has been dismissed from the Guard in disgrace, effective immediately.” Her eyes opened wider. “The investigation was quite short. Gul Brenok interrogated Zeter and also his aide. His aide testified that he had seen Zeter’s sexual behaviour on the bridge and he did think it was an inappropriate place for this kind of actions, but it never occurred to him that it was unwanted, as you never reported it.” He didn’t want her to feel as if what had happened to her was her fault, so he quickly added. “He didn’t think that you were too afraid to report it. I’m sure he regrets his lack of action. Gul Brenok decided to also punish his lack of action, although not very severely.” He paused. “Now, as for Zeter...He claimed that all his actions were welcomed and accepted by you—”

She started from her chair. “That’s a lie!”

“I know,” Zamarran said calmly and waited for her to sit down. He could see that she was furious. “Gul Brenok didn’t believe him and added lying to a superior to his charges. Zeter will not only not serve in the Guard, but he is not allowed to serve in any auxiliary military service. No one in armour would want to have anything to do with him.”

“I don’t have to testify?” she asked.

“No.” Zamarran couldn’t not notice a great relief on her face. “Gul Brenok didn’t want you to go through that and Zeter’s claims were enough to discharge him without making you go through all that again.”

“Thank you,” she whispered so quietly that the gul barely heard that. “For everything.”

“This is my duty to protect you and serve you. Your previous gul failed miserably in his duty, but I hope that from now on your service will be free of worry...at least—this kind of worry. I cannot speak for the plans that hostile scientific riddles might have.” She smiled slightly at his joke. “Gul Brenok’s report is available for you to read, if that is your wish.”

She shook her head. “I don’t have to.”

“All right. Now, if you don’t have any more questions, you are dismissed. Your shift is over.”

She stayed in her chair. Zamarran knew she wanted something and patiently waited for her to gather courage and say it. “Sir...what if...what if Zeter tries to slander me in front of my family? Or slander my family’s name?”

“Zeter’s discharge charges are no secret. Gul Brenok had wanted to make him a clear and public example, but for your good he resigned from this idea. However, if Zeter tries to turn everything around and blame you, there are ways to protect you from it. If you learn of anything, if your family complains about anything, inform me and I’ll take it to Brenok. He will take care of it personally.”

Zamarran wondered why Brenok treated that matter so seriously. He hadn’t had to involve in it himself—he had people to do it—but he had led the investigation and he had interrogated senior officers of Yassel’s previous warship himself. Zamarran couldn’t help but assume that for Brenok, in a way, it was personal. Maybe someone whom he knew had suffered such an injustice and terrible treatment. With so few women in the military and one of those few close enough to the long-haired gul to tell him about such an event, Zamarran was almost sure that someone had harassed Jarol, as unlikely as it would appear in the case of this strong and powerful woman. But she hadn’t always been powerful and someone in her past could have wronged her, too. Brenok, Gul Idealist, wanted to make sure no more women would have to share Yassel’s and Jarol’s fate. And Zamarran supported the young gul in this goal with all his heart.

Yassel nodded, accepting Zamarran’s explanation. The gul knew that if Zeter really tried to have his revenge and harm her or her family’s name, even with severe consequences some things couldn’t be undone, but he hoped that Brenok’s threats made it not worthy of the risk and the punishment that would follow. Still, Zeter had already proved that he had no honour and no backbone and Zamarran wasn’t sure how much such a primitive mind could comprehend.

“Does my family know?” she asked.

The gul looked at her. “If you didn’t tell them, no.” He paused and then said in a soft, warm voice. “But I hope you will tell them.”

She shook her head fervently. “I cannot!”

“Yassel, you were a victim. This is not a shame to be a victim. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I’m an officer, I should be strong and brave.”

“And I am sure you are. But you are also a Cardassian being. And you were put in a terrible situation, with fear paralysing your actions. It’s not your fault. It’s the Guard’s fault. It’s the Guard’s fault for letting that happen, for not informing you that you had rights, for making you believe that no one would help you. We failed you. I’m so sorry that you had to struggle with this alone and there was no one to help you. You lived in fear for years and that was wrong, but you are not the one to blame.” She looked at him with shiny eyes and he hoped that what he was seeing was relief and hope for a better future. “If anything like that happens on this ship, let me know. If you are transferred and it happens on your next ship, or the next, or the next and you have no one to go to—let me know, too.”

A small smile appeared on her face and he smiled back. She didn’t say anything but she didn’t have to.

“Dismissed,” Zamarran said softly and she headed for the door. “Oh, and Yassel.” She stopped and looked at him. “Gul Brenok has agreed to let us return to the Rathosian system and finish our job. We can go there as soon as we leave the dry dock.” Which meant—in two days.

“That’s wonderful, sir,” she smiled—Zamarran had never seen her smiling that way and he was almost certain that the reason wasn’t their upcoming mission—and then left.

The gul knew one thing for sure: if Yassel were his daughter, he’d tear Zeter apart with his bare hands. He couldn’t imagine that the glinn’s father would feel any differently.

As for the Rathosians—they had asked for the Cardassian Union’s protection. They wanted to keep their independence, but had offered their rich resources in exchange for orbital defence platforms in their orbit and inclusion into Cardassian patrol territory. They had also refused any diplomatic contact with the Federation, considering them treacherous and not trustworthy. Zamarran couldn’t smile at the irony of that opinion.



Rayak Nor, the gul’s private quarters




As he had been asked by his mother, Demok was in the middle of a “general cleaning” that preceded every Establishment of the Third Hebitian Republic Festival, when he found something that he had never seen before. It was a holoimage of a man in armour. The armour design was a bit outdated, so Demok was sure this photo had been taken quite some time ago. But who was the man in it?

He went to his mother, who was busy with cleaning in the kitchen, and showed her the holoimage. “Mom, who is this man?”

She took her rubber gloves off and gently took the frame in her hands. “This is your great-great-grandfather. The only person in my family in the military...until me.”

There was something in her voice, some kind of longing, but he didn’t understand why. “Is this man important for our family?”

“He’s important for me,” she answered, sitting down. “My mother brought this holoimage after I decided to join the Guard. I was sixteen and I was so naïve.” She put the photo on the table and her eyes shone with tears. “I wanted to follow him, to be as honourable and as brave as he was.” She pulled her face in disgust. “And look what I’ve become!” She raised her hands in a gesture of resignation. “I’m a stain on his memory.”

Zobarshit!” Demok protested. “Zobarshit! Zobarshit! Zobarshit!”

“Watch your language,” she said quietly.

“No, I won’t. I’m tired of you treating yourself like trash!” He knew he should compose himself, as it was not helping, but he couldn’t stop.” Oh, by the way. What’s with Toral?”

“I treated him badly. Really badly. I overreacted over something and...it’s not the first time that I treat people like this. Uncle Arenn experienced that, too.” She shook her head. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I know one thing for sure—I’m not getting any better, no matter how hard I try.”

“Call him and apologise.”

“It wouldn’t work.”

He disagreed. Toral loved her and one quarrel, no matter how stupid, wouldn’t destroy that feeling. If anything, Toral was persistent. “You won’t know until you try.” She just shook her head. “We will finish our cleaning and when the house is shiny and spotless, you will sit at your terminal and contact Toral and talk to him. That’s an order!”

She looked at him and an amused smile-like expression appeared on her face. The last words were not said in a normal Lakatian accent, but in her heavily Nokarian accented manner of speaking Unionese.

Demok harrumphed, satisfied that she hadn’t objected, and returned to his work.



Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the mess hall
In orbit of Rathosia




“Hi,” said a voice above her. She raised her head to see Garesh Aladar standing over her. “Is this seat taken?” He held a tray in his hands. She looked around: there were only three tables taken in the mess hall, so he had plenty of space to have his meal.

“N-no,” she muttered.

“Good, because I have nowhere else to sit.” He put the tray on the table and sat next to her. Not opposite, but next. He had two mugs on the tray; he reached for one and placed it in front of her. “I’ve noticed that you always have tea with your meal. I’ve also noticed that your mug is already empty.” He flashed his teeth in a smile. “I am good at noticing things.”

She chuckled. Was it wrong to eat at one table with a garesh? She noticed what he was doing and thought that she should rephrase her previous thought: was it wrong to dine together with a garesh? He’d brought a lot of food on his tray and was now taking it off it and placing on the table. Too much for one, just right for two.


“Are you wasting your rations on me?” she asked.

“I am sharing my rations with you. And tomorrow you will share yours with me.” He pointed to a bowl of foogtak. “My mom’s special recipe.”

So? What it inappropriate to eat together with a garesh?

Did she care?

“I’m afraid I don’t have special recipes from home,” she said.

“So choose your favourite food. Whatever you’d want to have. I want to know what you like.”

She observed him. His narrow nose with a thin ridge of shapely scales. His oval eye ridges, surrounding his big, grey eyes. His dark grey lips, stretched in a gentle smile. His slim hands, putting the dishes with food on the table. His neck ridges covered by two rows of thick scales. He was beyond handsome; he was absolutely and perfectly beautiful. She stared at him on every occasion, enjoying the ‘view,’ but she had never had a chance to study his features from this close...until now.

He cast a glance at her and a naughty smile appeared on his face. She realised that her awe must have been more than obvious, so she lowered her eyes ashamed. This wasn’t the first time that he had caught her looking at him, but she could not stop herself from doing that. She liked to sneak to the training deck and to observe him torturing ‘his bookworms.’ She felt foolish about it, but she was jealous that he had a pet name for them but not for her. She wanted to be called something silly but with affection, too! Especially by him.

Her eyes returned to his hands that gently unpacked something from a silver-foil wrap. Cookies? She looked at him to catch him looking at her neck ridge. She almost recoiled but then told herself that he only looked at the blue scale and didn’t even make a move to touch it. He looked her in the eyes and grinned widely. Innocently. He wouldn’t violate her, would he? He was not an old, spoiled and dirty gul. He was a young, adorable and charming garesh.

“You are blue,” he whispered.

She knew that she should react with indignation. She knew that she was ‘too good’ for him. Her father would probably order to arrest Aladar for his words. His daughter would not have anything to do with a low-born garesh! But she couldn’t care less. She just heard a compliment from a man who occupied her thoughts since she had seen him for the first time. It was a polite, courteous compliment that made her face brighten. Unlike the cold and unwelcome touch of rough fingers that belonged to the beast whom she feared and despised.

She didn’t give a damn about Aladar’s social status and his rank was of no importance. He was a good man and even if her family disowned her, she wouldn’t pretend that she was better than him, or that he was worse than any gul in the Guard. For her, he was more guller gul than Gul Brenok himself.

He put some foogtak into a smaller bowl and put in front of her. “Taste it,” he said, handing her a spoon.

The casserole was delicious. “You mother cooks like this?” she asked with disbelief. She knew he had to replicate it, but was sure that it was as close to his parent’s cooking as possible.

“Actually, hers is better. I’m good but not that good.”

She gave him an astonished look. “You mean...you cooked this yourself?”

He nodded. “Strictly following my mom’s instructions.”

“Wow. I’ve never learnt how to cook. We had replicators and cooks for that. I don’t think I have ever seen my mother in the kitchen. Not even once.”

“I hope that your cooks were good, then.”

“We had many.” She decided not to share that they had been fired—one tiny mistake was enough to lose a job with her mother. “No one stayed for too long.”

He looked at her and she had an impression that he read in her like from an open book. “I’m sorry to hear that.” And he meant it. She could hear that it wasn’t a polite and appropriate comment, but he really felt it. “If you’d like, I could teach you to make tea,” he offered.

“Oh, I can do that much!” she shouted with indignation.

“Do you?” He smiled mischievously. “But can you do it properly?”

For that she had no answer. It didn’t bother her, though, as he didn’t seem to expect any. She felt so surprisingly comfortable with him. She didn’t fear she’d say or do something stupid. Deep in her heart she believed that he wouldn’t hold it against her and would never make a problem of a silly word. With him, she could be herself.

They ate in silence. The whole conversation was in their eyes and smiles. They didn’t have to speak, grinning and sharing was enough to consider that time spent together precious. She wished this moment lasted forever—or even longer than that.



Rayak Nor, Medic Fatret’s office




Fatret crossed her arms on her chest. “I must admit I am confused,” she said. “What bothers you more? The fact that you broke the law or that you violated the natural hierarchy of power?” Jarol shook her head, staring at her hands and not knowing what to answer. Fatret waited for a moment, but since her patient didn’t seem like she intended to speak, the medic asked another question. “You broke the law. Why?” Jarol looked at her. “Why? What made you break the law?”

“We...I...” The gul’s voice was faint.

“Go on,” Fatret encouraged her.

Jarol was silent for a moment and then said, “Did you know that it was my idea? It was my idea for Daset to go to politics. I planted it in his head.”

“So, in a way, you started it.”

“Yes. My idea. But only the idea. The rest of work was his. He created the party, he worked on its schedules and he did the talking. He played by the rules that we had been given in this new to us world of politics.”

“So what happened?”

“Why defying a puppet government in one case is a heroism and in another—violating the law?” Jarol asked suddenly.

Fatret shook her head. “I don’t understand what you mean.”

“The Dominion installed a Cardassian puppet government. The people who opposed it and fought against it are considered patriots. The Federation installed a Cardassian puppet government. The people who opposed it broke the law. Why? Why the difference?”

“I’m not a lawyer but isn’t it the fact that opposing the Dominion was breaking the law too?”

“I must ask my son.”

Fatret smiled. “You do that.”

Silence again, but this time it wasn’t an empty silence. Jarol, clearly, was thinking. “I believed that Ghemor’s government was a puppet on an alien power’s strings. In my eyes he was no better than the Dominion.”

“The Dominion had appointed their puppet government, the castellan had been chosen by the Cardassian people.”

“By less than a half of thirty-two percent that bothered to vote. Less than a half voted for him.”

“I see your point. And I understand it. But does it excuse anything?”

“I’m not looking for excuses.” Jarol sounded irritated. “You have told me I should try to understand better, so I do. If I do it poorly, then give me some instructions how to do it correctly, instead of criticising.”

Fatret grinned gently. “It’s good to see you showing strong, assertive emotions.”

“Isn’t my anger something that you should dislike and discourage?”

“As long as you’re healing, every emotion is valuable.”

“All you know is a shaking, weak moron.”

Fatret’s eyes turned harder. “What did I say about calling yourself names?”

Jarol bit her lower lip, not letting a harsh answer slip out of her mouth.

“Do you know that your admission of guilt became public?” Fatret asked.

“Public?” Jarol had no idea, as she had lost any interest in watching news broadcasts long time ago.

“Someone has informed the media.”
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Old July 23 2011, 01:54 PM   #254
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Jarol panicked. The Mar’kuu Group—the people that had performed the coup—had already stepped down and none of them was in power except for one: Brenok. The woman worried that he would take all the blows, especially since she expected him to defend her. She didn’t want any harm to him, she didn’t want him to pay for her sins. Not him, not anyone. “Is Gul Brenok in trouble?” she asked quietly.

“No. He refused to comment. He only said that he supports you. He didn’t specify what he supported, though—your decision back then or right now.” Fatret paused. “Do you want to know what people think?”

“Will it ruin my progress?” Jarol asked.

The therapist smiled. “You cannot be shielded from everything endlessly.” She paused again. “The Nokarians defend you. They see you as their representative and are proud of you and your achievements. They think it takes a great courage to admit to one’s mistakes. I think they idealise you. As for the others...Some people dislike that the current government started its life the same way that numerous previous ones did, but there aren’t that many of them. They are probably used to that, or don’t care as long as the results are good. Some say that finally the things are called by their name and that everything should be revoked and brought back to the previous condition. Some openly admit that they don’t care—mostly the young ones who don’t remember those times and know only today’s situation. And some still support the current government regardless of everything. After all, it’s not news how the Mar’kuu Group took power. It’s also not news how it used it.”

“Colissa would execute them all.”

“No. Colissa is an archon and doesn’t like breaking the law, which is what you had done. Those people didn’t break the law.”

“But they support something that was breaking the law. So they are supporters of law-breaking.”

Fatret silenced for a moment and then said, “We are here to talk about you, not Colissa.”

“Can I ask you a question, for a difference?”

“Go ahead.”

“What do you think?”

Fatret was clearly surprised by Jarol’s question. She thought for a while. “Cardassia was in chaos back then and I remember that I was very scared. Lack of stability, weakness and vulnerability. Powerless temporary government replaced by fighting political parties that seemed to be more interested in gaining power than what to do with it when they finally had it. And then that strange question: whom do you choose? How could I know whom should I choose? I watched bickering between different people and wondered how they would be able to rule the Union if they couldn’t even talk to each other in a civilised manner. Compromises? Instead of doing what’s the best for us, finding something that everyone would agree upon?

“I was scared after the Shift. I feared that everything would return to the times before the Dominion. On one hand I was happy that something was being done about the chaos, especially since the government had some really terrifying plans—limiting the military and leaving us defenceless, giving up all our colonies; on the other hand I wasn’t sure if the chaos wouldn’t be better from the terrible times full of fear, the Obsidian Order and never-ending wars. The official announcement of completely dismantling the Obsidian Order and prosecuting its members for crimes against the Cardassian people brought hope to my heart. You started as any other new government, but what you did after that was different.”

“Colissa told me that we got lucky that everything worked out—and that’s the reason why the people don’t hate us.”

“Maybe she’s right. I don’t know enough about politics to have an opinion. What do you think?”

“I don’t know what to think any more. I didn’t want to take power for myself. I was terrified when that responsibility fell on me. I don’t think I realised that the coup—which for me was a way to get rid of a puppet government, not to take the power for myself—would be just the beginning and not the end. I didn’t realise that we would have to fill the emptiness that we created. Daset knew that. He had everything planned, but I was just too stupid to understand.”

“Would you do it again, if you faced the same choice? If you could return to that point of your past?”

“Would I try to stop Ghemor from destroying Cardassia? Absolutely. Would I actively participate in the Shift? I don’t know. I think I would be more scared of the results of the Shift, if I understood them better. Would I be wiser than I was? Would I know better and understand better? Then maybe I’d find another way of removing the Federation puppets and not being put in the position to replace them. But I was not wise back then and I’m probably not much wiser now.”

“Well, you didn’t have any doubts then but you do have now. In fact, you have regrets now.”

Jarol’s eyes glistered with indignation. “You think I never had any doubts? That I always felt comfortable with it?”

“Didn’t you? When was the last time you had a problem with that?”

Jarol didn’t say anything at first. “I had buried my doubts. They felt so heavy that I had buried them, trying to forget them.” Her voice was quiet and sad. “I pretended that everything was fine. I pretended in front of myself that this was for the best. If Colissa is right and it was luck that we have succeeded, then this luck fed my excuses. I just couldn’t hesitate all the time, or I wouldn’t be able to do my job.”

“Does this make you evil?”

“Rather very stupid.”

“Shall your children hate you for being stupid?”

“What?” Jarol blinked at Fatret.

“Shall they hate you for that?”

The gul knitted her eye ridges and then understood what was the point that the therapist was trying to make. And she disagreed. “But it’s not about that,” she protested. “They rejected me because of the things that I’ve done. And this very conversation proves that I haven’t changed, doesn’t it?!”

Fatret reached for a padd. “You insult their memory, do you know that? You assume that your own children would want to watch you suffer, that they would inflict this suffering themselves and enjoy it. Is that how you remember them? Monsters without hearts? Worse than the worst of Obsidian Order agents?” She activated the padd and showed Jarol the display. “Here, take a look at these holoimages. What do you see?”

The gul started to cry.



Rayak Nor, the gul’s private quarters




She was in the family room and listening to the sounds coming from the kitchenette.

“No, not like this, it’s too thick. Try again,” Laran’s voice was instructing. “Better. Don’t cut your fingers, it’s not supposed to be a Klingon blood pie.”

She couldn’t help it—she had to sneak over there and take a look. She tried to be as little visible as possible, not to disturb the natural environment of the chef and his aide...or rather his apprentice.

“Is this better?” Hatinn asked in an uncertain voice. He had come to the station earlier that day and announced that he would be staying for some time (she still couldn’t believe that he had forgiven her all the terrible things she’d told him). He had told her that he had taken leave of absence to be with her in that difficult time, but she wasn’t sure she believed him. She suspected that he was here to take the command of the station—Brenok didn’t think she would be back any time soon, so he had taken action.

Laran only growled to Hatinn’s words.

She had a really rough night with particularly bad dreams and later her session with the crazy medic hadn’t been much better, so this little show improved her mood a little. She was still shaken at the words that Fatret had said. “You insult their memory, do you know that? You assume that your own children would want to watch you suffer, that they would inflict this suffering themselves and enjoy it. Is that how you remember them? Monsters without hearts? Worse than the worst of Obsidian Order agents? Here, take a look at these holoimages. What do you see?

She had no idea where Fatret had taken her personal pictures from. One showed Corat and Mayel playing with her in a park. She remembered that day. Corat had wanted to catch clouds and Joret had held him high up to help the boy ‘reach’ them. Mayel chased colourful flying sek’rot, trying to take pictures of them. For some reason, she had liked all sorts of bugs.

Another picture showed Laran before his first day at school. He cried and didn’t want to let Arenn go, holding his uncle’s braid in his little but strong grasp.

Both her families, the one she had lost and the one she still had, were wonderful.

“You’re maybe a good tactician, but a terrible cook. Shouldn’t you know how to use a knife?” Laran mocked irritation. “When you cut your enemies, do you cut yourself too?”

“I shoot my enemies, it’s safer that way,” Hatinn barked back. They both laughed.

If both her families were wonderful, then who was sending her all those messages? She remembered what Hatinn had told her—it was her own anger, her own frustration, her self-punishment.

Fatret had said that Jarol had to let go, but the gul didn’t know how. She didn’t want to insult her children, imagining that they would be such twisted Cardassians and hate their own mother, but she didn’t know how to stop. The nightmares were still horrible and telling herself that it was not really Mayel who wanted to tear her heart apart—literally—was not helping at all.

“I’m afraid, Mom, that he won’t be of much help in the kitchen.” She looked at Laran. She could see that his genuine, at first, smile was now a bit forced, frozen. He’d noticed she was in a grim mood but pretended he hadn’t.

“I’m doing my best!” Hatinn protested.

“Your best is not enough, Gul Toral,” Laran announced in his archon voice. “I sentence you to a lifetime of cheering up my mom.”

“Bummer! Shall I start now?”

“That would be preferable.”

Toral washed his hands and went to Jarol. “I hate your son. Can I kill him?”

“Don’t even try. My uncle is your boss!” Laran shouted.

Hatinn turned to him. “I’ll do you little good if you’re dead,” he pointed out.

“Can we not talk about family hatred?” she asked quietly.

They both silenced.

“Sorry,” Hatinn said eventually. “These jokes weren’t appropriate...or funny.” He pulled her back to the family room. “Tell me about your day.”

“Bad morning, boring day, talking to the crazy medic, boring afternoon.”

“You need to find something to do,” he said.

She shrugged. “I tried. There is nothing I can do. I only know how to fire a warship’s phaser.”

He opened his mouth to say something but closed before uttering a word. She knew he wanted well but was clueless how to do that. She felt guilty that she kept him attached to her, but didn’t know how to free him. She knew he wouldn’t leave her until she was better, but she didn’t want to make him feel like he owed her anything. He could leave her any time and she wouldn’t blame him.

Laran entered the room with a big bowl in his hands. “Yuck food for mom.” He put the bowl on the table. “Swog salad.”

One of her favourites. She glanced at Toral who narrowed his eyes. It seemed that it was not one of his favourites.

“Am I the only one who likes healthy food here?” she asked, hoping that her tone sounded cheerful.

Both men grinned. She shook her head with resignation.

During their dinner, both men tried to engage her in a conversation and she started to feel like on a therapy session. She didn’t want to be rude and tell them to leave her alone; all she really wanted was to lock herself in her room and spend the evening there. In silence. And darkness. Their cheerfulness—and she couldn’t get rid of the impression that it was faked for her benefit—was making her tired.

“Uhm...” she muttered. She didn’t want to upset them, didn’t want to sound ungrateful for all they were trying to do for her, but she really didn’t want any company right now.

“Yes, what do you need?” All Hatinn’s attention was on her.

“You cooked a wonderful meal and the salad is tasty...but if you don’t mind...I am tired and would like to go to my room.” She knew she sounded almost like a daughter asking her parents for permission.

“Under one condition,” the younger ‘parent’ said. “You take a bowl of salad with you and finish it there.”

“Yes, Droplet, I will,” she said submissively.

Laran put some salad into her bowl and handed it to her.

She went to her bedroom and sat at her desk. She put the bowl next to the control panel and started to tap. She wasn’t really aware what she was doing, until a recorded image started to play.

It was their family day in the Lakarian City Amusement Centre. Mayel was nine, Corat was six. One year before their...

She watched, swallowing her salad spiced with her tears. She almost forgot how much she missed them. They would be adults by now and who knows—maybe she would be a grandmother. She wanted so much to know what paths they would choose in their lives, what they would look like and if they would be happy.

They had been so full of life, laughing and exploiting both their parents to the maximum. That day in the Amusement Centre they had gotten candy and frozen zobar milk dessert. They had gone for one ride three times with their father and two with her. They had enjoyed the science exhibition and the racing games.

She played another recording and lay on her bed, leaving the empty bowl on the desk.
She didn’t know when she fell asleep.

It was the first night in many weeks that didn’t terrorise her with nightmares.



Rayak Nor, the infirmary—the chief medic’s office




Brenok appeared on the screen and Taret could tell that the long-haired gul hadn’t slept for quite some time. “What do you have for me?” he asked; his voice sounding quite cheerfully and contrasting his tired face, but Taret wouldn’t be fooled. He knew Brenok for most of the young gul’s life and could read him perfectly. He would bet that Brenok not only was tired, but also his neck ridge was bothering him.

Taret and Fatret glanced at each other and then back at Brenok. The therapist said, “As much as I would like to inform you of a progress, I’m afraid I cannot. I am uploading my full report right now.” She inserted a data rod into the reader.

No progress?” Brenok asked. “Absolutely nothing? So what do you talk about? What does she say?” There was a faint shadow of irritation in his voice.

“Most of our conversations go around in circles. Sooner or later she returns to the starting point.”

Brenok was silent for a moment. Then he asked, “Prognosis?

“It’s still too early to tell. She probably needs more time.” Fatret paused. “I know that she was injured and part of her brain was damaged. The damage might be bad enough to cause her permanent mental instability. In that case, the solution would be chemical—I would prescribe her medication that she would have to take for the rest of her life. I asked her to submit to Paftar-Marr test, but she refused.”

This test? Is it important?

Taret decided to answer Brenok’s question. “It is a test that marks particular characteristics of personality. Each of us takes that test at least three times in our lifetime. The results should be comparable and changes are explained as gaining maturity and natural development of a given person. A natural change doesn’t excess six percent.” Taret glanced at Fatret. “I asked Gul Jarol to take that test last week, after you mentioned that she’d refused.”

“And?”

“And she agreed without a word. I got my results a few moments ago and that’s what I wanted to talk about with both of you.”

Fatret was astonished. “How did you do it?” she asked in a high voice.

Taret shrugged. “Maybe she just didn’t want to agree to something you wanted. Or maybe it’s the matter of trust—she has known me for years.”

And did the results help you?” Brenok asked in a little annoyed tone of voice, reminding Taret that they weren’t there for a chat about difficulties their patient served her therapist every day.

“They can explain a lot of things.”

“What’s the change from the previous test?” Fatret asked.

Taret sighed. “Seventy-eight percent.”

Fatret raised her hand to her mouth. “Precious rain, no surprise I can’t reach her. Instead of helping her I push her into an extreme version of her new personality.”

Taret understood Fatret’s shock. But Brenok clearly didn’t. He frowned. “What does it mean?

Another sigh left Taret’s chest. “That means, Gul Brenok, that this is not the same person. Her personality has changed significantly. She looks the same, but she doesn’t think the same way and she doesn’t feel the same way. She is not the same person you used to know.”

How can you help her?

Taret shook his head. “Gul Brenok, her change of personality is not a disease that can be cured. It’s permanent. In many ways she is a new person. Reborn.”

The young gul was silent for a long moment. Then he looked at Fatret. “Why does it complicate your work?” he asked.

“I prepare my sessions as conversations with someone who feels guilt about her past actions and their result on today. Who I actually face is a person who is deeply shocked by actions of another person, with whom she feels she has little in common. The difficulty is based on lack of understanding of her own actions. She doesn’t understand how someone could have done things she had done, so in the result she is unable to analyse her own feelings and reasoning at the time of taking these actions. What she knows is that these actions were committed by her, but she cannot understand why and that’s why she struggles so badly. She hates this person she used to be and at the same time she knows that this person is herself. She hates herself. She wants to become an opposite of that person.”

“In addition,” Taret interjected, “I don’t think that forming of her new personality is completely finalised. She’s still searching, still discovering her new inner world. There could be more change, although not very noticeable. The milestone is behind us. Right now she needs help in dealing with the change. And not only she needs it.” Taret hoped his words would be clear to Brenok.

The gul listened carefully. After Taret finished speaking, Brenok was silent for a while. “Does this mean that you must change your approach to the therapy, or that you can’t help her,” he asked Fatret.
__________________
In a Cardassian library or in a Cardassian gallery?

"Reagan, it appears, is really only an ardent unionist if the unions in question are in Poland" - Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
Gul Re'jal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 23 2011, 01:55 PM   #255
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

“I’m not going to give up, Gul Brenok. I will change my tactics and see if they bore fruit.”

Does she have self-destructive tendencies? Something to draw her attention from internal pain to physical one? Does she seem like able to hurt herself? Or worse?

Fatret shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. Her punishment is mental. She tortures herself with self-loathing and nightmares.”

Brenok closed his eyes. “Isn’t there anything you could do for her?” he asked, not opening the eyes. “Anything to help her become herself?

Taret frowned. It seemed that the gul didn’t fully understand. “Sir, she is herself now. A different herself, but that’s her. She will not become anyone else and she will not return to the previous personality. That kind of personality change is rare and in her case it was a result of a very serious brain damage. This is irreversible.”

I need my Atira, I need my friend, I need her advices. I need the person she used to be. I need her back.

“Brenok, she’s not coming back. And right now she needs your support more than ever.” Taret didn’t want it to sound so harsh, but he started to fear that Brenok would abandon his friend after this. She was different, in a way she was a stranger to him now, but Taret couldn’t imagine that Brenok would reject her and start treating her like a stranger.

“Gul Brenok, I understand how you’re feeling,” Fatret said. The gul gave her the look that could kill, but she bravely continued, “But please keep in mind that she is still very unstable and in an internal turmoil. It’s partially my fault, as my sessions weren’t headed where they were supposed to. Now I understand my mistake and will change my tactics.”

Do everything you can for her,” the gul said and signed off.

“He didn’t take it well, did he?” Fatret commented astonished.

“No, he didn’t. I think he believes that he depends on her, but that’s not the truth.” He didn’t even want to think about Toral’s reaction to all this...unless Toral fell in love with the new personality, not the old one.



Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the second-in-command’s private quarters




Yassel waited for the connection and wished it were over already. She dreaded that conversation but she knew she had to get through this. Whatever would happen—she had to do it. She had been postponing it for over a month already—almost two months in fact—but she could not do it any longer. This had to be done and it should have been done many months ago.

The face of an elder Cardassian, whom she resembled a lot, appeared on her screen.

“Father,” she greeted him, hoping that the shaking of her voice wouldn’t be too obvious.

My daughter! I didn’t expect a call from you,” he stated. She couldn’t tell if he was happy to see her, surprised, or disappointed. “How is your assignment?

“It is fine, Father. My gul is a fair and decent man and my crew is good.”

I’m glad to hear that.” He paused. “Is there any special reason for contacting me?” he asked.

“Indeed, there is.” She took a breath. “I would like to inform you of something. Of...someone.”

Yes, what is it? Or, shall I say, who is it?

“I have met someone. Someone special for me.”

Oh? Is the interest mutual?

She couldn’t stop her smile. “Yes, it is.”

Tell me about him.

So, this was it. “His name is Aladar. He had served on the Damar, under Gul Brenok’s command for twenty years. He has received many commendations and his superiors praise him. He is dedicated to his duty and has high moral standards.” What else could she say before dropping the bomb? “He has been transferred to my ship and that’s how we met. His service is so exemplary that a few months ago he was accepted to join the ranks of the ‘Damar’s Guard,’ for he is a garesh.”

All she could do now was accepting her father’s—no doubt, violent—reaction.

Gul Yassel pursed his lips, nodded and then asked, “Is he a good man?

This was not what she had expected. She tried not to show her astonishment. “Yes, Father, he is. He is gentle, and warm, and strong and wonderful.”

The elder Cardassian’s face changed it’s expression and she saw something that she didn’t see often—a smile. “Then I am happy for you,” he said.

“Really?” Her amazement had to be obvious.

Is it so surprising that I want all the best for my oldest daughter and that I want her to be happy?

“But...he is not a high-born man and not even an officer.”

Gul Yassel sighed. “Vaneme, such things carry little importance these days. Why do you think I haven’t chosen a mate for you? I wanted you to choose for yourself. I do not care for his rank or his social status, as long as he is a good and decent person who will make you happy. You are going to spend the rest of your life with him and that’s what should be considered. If he is a decent, hard-working garesh, then fine. Better than lazy and incompetent gul.”

Her astonishment raised. She had never expected to hear anything like that from her father. She had never known that he cared about her; she hadn’t experienced much warmth in her family home and love was not something that the family members expressed. It was a cold place and she didn’t even feel like returning there on her shore leaves, as it felt more like visiting distant relatives than going back to mother and father.

Maybe that was the reason? Maybe her father wanted her to find her own love and marry whom she loved because his own marriage had been arranged by his parents and he was unhappy and never loved his wife?

“I was so sure you would be angry,” she admitted.

He shook his head and asked, “When can I meet him?

“I am not sure, Father. But you will.”

Gul Yassel nodded and disconnected.

Glinn Yassel was the happiest person in the galaxy. She had misjudged him so badly, but it was a good news. Even if other members of the family would be against her relationship, her father’s support was enough to make her feel better.



Rayak Nor, Medic Fatret’s office




Jarol stared at her therapist, wondering why the woman hadn’t said a word since their session started. They just kept looking at each other.

Finally, the therapist spoke. “Jarol, let’s play a role-playing game, shall we?”

“Do I have a choice?”

Fatret smiled. “Actually, in this case yes, you do.”

“Let’s play. I’m curious what kind of trick you’re going to pull now.”

“All right. Imagine that you are an archon. Your son’s colleague. And your task is to judge Gul Jarol, former legate, for her past actions.”

Jarol scolded. “All right...” she said slowly.

“You have all the facts and it’s time to make a decision about the sentence. The tribunal starts tomorrow, so you have to make a decision now. What is it?”

Jarol didn’t say anything. She just stared in front of her, torn between two options. Fatret waited patiently for a few minutes and then asked, “Is the sentence a difficult decision?”

The gul looked at the medic. “I...I believe I deserve shikrat, but I can’t imagine sentencing anyone to this kind of suffering. So I don’t know,” she admitted.

For all she’d done in her life, she deserved the worst. She knew that. But she couldn’t imagine inflicting so much pain on someone else. She couldn’t order to torture anyone. Even in her worst time, she wouldn’t.

“Isn’t there any other sentence you would find adequate?”

“Death.”

“So, in your opinion, Gul Jarol deserves to die.”

“Yes.”

“What if she regrets?”

“She should. She should show in public that she made mistakes and that they were wrong, to teach others not to do the same. That’s what the Tribunal is for.”

“What if there is some Prophets’ or Oralius’s trick involved and her body was exchanged with someone else’s? Someone else resides inside her and she is inside the other body?”

“Body is just a shell. The person should be punished.”

“But then the other person would never get their body back.”

Jarol didn’t know what to say to that. She decided not to answer at all and say something else instead. “I believe that every crime, every broken rule should be paid for. There must be balance and order in the society. Without that chaos would come and destroy everything.” She leaned forward. “I violate this balance.”

“If you believe that death is the appropriate punishment, why don’t you just kill yourself? Wouldn’t that fix the balance?”

Jarol laughed bitterly. “It’s not just about dying, Fatret. Death should be the payment. Not just removing someone from the society. If I die of old age and am no more, the balance wouldn’t be restored. It’s not about being dead, it’s about paying for violating the order.”

“Isn’t there another punishment that could pay the price?”

“Something that I could subject myself to, to feel better about this?”

Fatret smiled. “Maybe.”

“No.”

“Give yourself a chance and ponder it for at least three seconds, please.”

“I ‘pondered’ it many times. I see no other fair alternative.”

“How about combining a few alternatives?”

“No. Nothing.”

Fatret sighed. Jarol observed her for a long moment and she felt tears gathering in her eyes. “There’s no hope for me, is there?”

The medic bit her lip. “You torture yourself and time doesn’t seem to ease your pain. It is obvious to me that our sessions don’t work either.”

“You don’t know how to help me.”

“You don’t let me help you.” Fatret frowned and quickly said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to put the blame on you. What I meant was that you resist our sessions, you are reluctant and refuse to fully open to me. But what I see is that you think a lot when you’re alone, also about what we talk about during our conversations. What I would like to see are your conclusions after each analysis that you seem to perform. Maybe if we discussed your conclusions, I could help you to continue your analysis from the point that you’d stopped.

“I am not your enemy, Jarol. I am trying to help you. I am trying to help you see that your life has not ended and that you still can do something with it. You’re still young and there’s still a lot of good things you can do. Wouldn’t good things bring some balance back?”

“I’m afraid to do anything, I’m afraid all my decisions would be wrong again.”

“Then ask someone for an opinion. Ask Brenok. You trust him and his judgement, don’t you?”

“I can’t ask him about everything, I can’t burden him with my doubts.”

“You still have to choose what to have for breakfast yourself.”

Jarol’s face was graced by a small grin. “My son decides about that.”

“From now on you will make that decision. Let’s start from small steps. Let’s rebuild your life.”

“Without closing the matters from the previous one?”

“They are closed. It’s just that the closure doesn’t satisfy you.”

Jarol frowned and didn’t say anything. She felt lost. “Is there anything I could do to fix myself?” she asked at length.

“You are not broken, Jarol,” Fatret said softly. “You are not a broken tool that needs to be repaired.”

“I’m a tool that broke a lot of things.”

“Try to concentrate on good things. Don’t forget about lost lives but also remember about saved lives.”

Jarol wanted so much to say that she had never saved anyone, but it would be a lie. “I don’t think that even twice more saved would make up for the dead ones.”

“No, it wouldn’t ‘make up.’ But you must understand you are not a monster that brings only misery. You did good things in your life, you just pretend they didn’t happen. You demonise yourself in your own eyes.”

Jarol didn’t say anything. She thought about Fatret’s words and couldn’t deny them. She didn’t want to think about anything good, she didn’t deserve any good to be appreciated or remembered. She curled on the sofa and drew her knees to her chest. “Will I be always like this?” she asked quietly in a breaking voice.

“I hope not. But you must want to change it, really want it.”

“I don’t know how.”

“We will keep working on that,” Fatret said softly.

Jarol didn’t reply and just kept laying. Fatret observed her for a moment and then rose from her chair and went to her desk. She made herself busy, giving the gul some time to do the thinking.



Cardassian Union Warship Damar, the gul’s office




Karama had told Brenok that there was a call waiting for him so as soon as he arrived on the bridge, he headed for his office. His mouth stretched in a big grin when he saw Jarol.

“Atira, how nice to see you,” he said.

She had a solemn look on her face. To think of it, he didn’t remember when was the last time he saw her smiling. She always appeared so sad and self-conscious. She wasn’t his friend any more, was she? Taret had told him about the changes, but...weren’t they too much? Was she ever going to smile again? “This is more of an official matter,” she said quietly.

“All right. What can I do for you.”

I assume you will wouldn’t allow me resign.”

“No.”

Can I at least return to Cardassia? I don’t have to be here, do I? I’m not in command anyway.

“Is there a reason?” he asked. He wouldn’t mind her coming back home, but he worried that it was about Laran.

I’m not sure I’m correct, but it seems that you won’t let me free myself of Fatret until I’m healthy—whatever that means. I read a bit and cases like mine—unredeemable criminals—take years to be fixed.” He hated when she talked badly of herself, especially since her judgement seemed warped to the extreme. He also didn’t appreciate that she brought her own persona to a tool that should be fixed. He said nothing, tough. “She cannot be on Rayak Nor for years for my...therapy. She has a family and a home. And there’s no reason for me to stay here; no duty. So it would be better for both of us to go to Cardassia.”

He had to agree that it made sense. “How about Laran?”

He wants to finish his apprenticeship here, on the station. As annoying as Colissa can be, she is a good archon. He knows he’s going to learn a lot from her.”

How did she feel about leaving her son behind on a space station? He didn’t dare to ask. “Of course you can return. Maybe that would help in your therapy, too. But are you sure you want to do that?”

I’m sure.”

“Is Fatret’s family life the only reason?”

No. It’s the only reason that makes sense and doesn’t prove that I’m not crazy.

“Tell me about the others?”

She was silent for a moment. “I hate this place,” she admitted, lowering her eyes. “This place almost killed me and the fact that the assassin has been found and executed doesn’t make it any better. I don’t want to be here.” She looked up at him. “I know it causes problems for you, as you have to fill the post, but...I just can’t stay here.

He waved his hand dismissively. “Don’t worry about me; I’ll find someone. Your well-being is the priority. And your other reason makes sense, too.”

If you say so...

He didn’t know what else he could say. What he wanted to do was to hold her hand in silence. “I look forward to seeing you soon. How will you arrive? Do you need a transport?”

No. Delva will bring us. I’m coming not only with Fatret, but also Taret. The medic says he wants to keep an eye on my lobes.”

Brenok chuckled. “Better than Delva’s lobes.” But she didn’t smile. “Then I await your arrival. Tell Delva to activate that perfect cloak he has installed to make your journey safer.” Grin, please grin, he thought. He knew it was illegal to travel in the Cardassian territory under cloak—he had given that order himself—but he hoped his little joke would remove the cloud from her face.

She looked at him and then quietly said, “He doesn’t have it any longer. It’s been stolen from him.

The gul’s eyes opened wide and then he burst into laughter. “Stolen?!” Someone stole something from a Ferengi—what an irony! His amusement vaporised very quickly, as there still was no smile on her face. His worry about her rose. “Come home, Atira,” he said. “We’ll take care of you.”

She nodded and disconnected and he thought that he’d prefer to constantly feel the pain in his shoulder for the rest of his life instead of seeing her so miserable ever again.



The end
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In a Cardassian library or in a Cardassian gallery?

"Reagan, it appears, is really only an ardent unionist if the unions in question are in Poland" - Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
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