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Old October 12 2010, 05:12 PM   #61
Gul Re'jal
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

Thanks

They seem to appreciate her effort to learn their language
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Old October 12 2010, 05:43 PM   #62
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

Who wouldn´t? Even when one speaks something wrong, already the effort makes for the other a feeling of value and acceptance in once culture/being/ country (planet ) in my opinion.

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Old October 13 2010, 01:54 AM   #63
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

Gul Spook wrote: View Post
Thanks

They seem to appreciate her effort to learn their language
After seeing what happened to Ullmann and Karama, I think it is SO important for them to see this. I think it gives them a lot of pride to do this, that she values their culture and language.

(It's also interesting to see that Dja Ma'Kan thinks Kapoor's Starfleet rank is worth something!)

I see that your Universal Translator works a LOT differently than mine. It's always interesting to see the different theories and modes of operation people come up with for the UT in their stories!
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Old October 13 2010, 04:18 AM   #64
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

Ma'Kan is very young, most of her adult life she spent witnessing the Dominion rule and what they've done to Cardassia, so she's not the perfect product of pre-Dominion Cardassia with its racist and superior attitude.

I'm still not sure if both women can make friends, but they sure won't be enemies
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Old October 24 2010, 04:09 AM   #65
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

Chapter 8 – Day 31


“What are you doing?” Zamarran's voice startled me.

I turned to him.

“I'm following your order, sir. I'm attempting to reconfigure secondary microparametric core.”

He looked over my shoulder.

“Why do you need a sensor scanner for this?” he asked.

“It would speed up the work. I could--”

“It would also be imprecise,” he interrupted.

“Yes, sir, however I intend to double check everything after finishing the procedure.”

He gave me a doubtful look.

“Did you familiarise yourself with Cardassian standard procedures, Lieutenant?” he asked.

“Yes, sir, I did. I realised this is not very standard, but it would be faster.”

“I do not care for faster, I want it to be done properly.”

“Sir, it will be done properly, just a different way.”

“Lieutenant, I want you to follow standard procedures,” he said, his voice growing menacing.

“Yes, sir,” I replied crisply and put the scanner away. An order was an order.

He opened his mouth as to say something, but then closed it. It seemed like he expected me to argue with him and was ready for a riposte, but my reply made it unnecessary. He observed me working for a moment, then grunted and left.

It would appear that the first day of my work in the engineering didn't start as well as I hoped. I would have the job done, and probably better than he expected, I would just do it differently. Cardassians didn't see to appreciate initiative; you should follow the protocol and shut up! It was a miracle that they achieved anything, but no surprise a lot of their technology was behind ours. With their complex of superiority 'we're the best' they'd never admit that, but it was the fact.

Hmmm... wasn't it my complex to claim that my technology was better than theirs?

I returned to work, this time following Cardassian instructions; it meant I had to start from the beginning, but if he wanted it to be slow, fine! Who am I to argue with a picky Cardie, who can put me to a punishment service to vacuum Gareshes' quarters?

The good side of working with the real equipment on the real stuff instead of staring at data on the bridge was that the time flew fast. Before I realised a man approached me and was expectantly staring at me for an extended period of time.

“Can I help you?” I asked him finally.

He seemed surprised by my question. “You duty has finished. You're doing my job now,” he explained.

“Oh, really? I had no idea it was that late!” I finished entering final algorithms and stepped aside, letting him to start his duty.

I knew the drill on the bridge, but was it here the same. It seemed like everyone else from the day shift had already left, so there was no way to observe others if they performed the 'bye, bye' ritual. What's worse – I had no idea who was ranking here now and who I should tell 'bye, bye'.

“I'm sorry, but...” I started and my replacement for the night shift raised his eyes to my face. “Do I report leaving the engineering the same way as leaving the bridge?” I didn't finish my question when I realised it was probably on the wonderful padd with all their protocols.

“Yes, you do,” he said flatly.

“To whom?” I whispered.

“Gil Ya'val,” he nodded toward the chief engineer's office. There were two Cardassians inside, none of them familiar. Which was Ya'val???? The doubt on my face had to be obvious, as he added. “The shorter one.”

“Thanks,” I smiled to him and to my surprise he smiled back. Now, that was nice.

I headed for the office.

“Lieutenant Kapoor reporting end of her duty, sir,” I said officiously.

“Noted,” Gil Ya'val answered; I nodded to him, then to the other Cardassian in the room and then left, thinking about the mess hall and yummy food; I was hungry!



“Bei'asara go,” I said, approaching Karama; it was the first evening he reappeared in the mess hall for his supper.

He almost spurted his food on the table, and then looked at my face, which no doubt expressed satisfaction and pride.

“Ajimu lok ga,” he replied after swallowing his food, but it appeared to be the only words that he could push through his mouth. He still stared at me with huge eyes and I didn't volunteer any additional explanation, but I did turn my translator back on.

He put his fork away. “I see you've been busy these days,” he said finally.

“A little bit,” I said modestly.

“Who's been teaching you?”

“Dja Ma'Kan and Garesh Aladar.”

“Why?”

“Why not? If I'm to spend here some time then I can learn as much as possible, right?” I wanted to joke that it would help the Federation to spy on Cardassians better later, but bit my tongue in time. He would not find that joke funny. I wouldn't find the consequences of it funny either. “What is that game?” I asked instead, pointing to two Cardassians that played something that vaguely resembled chess.

“Kotra.”

“Do you know how to play it?”

“Yes.”

“Can you teach me?”

He raised one of his eye ridges slightly. Well, slightly for me, for Cardassian standards it was quite an achievement. Then the ridge returned to its proper place and its owner said, “I must warn you, I'm good at this.”

“Until I learn and beat you,” I smiled. Something appeared on his face, an expression I was unable to decipher, but it disappeared after a second and he laughed.

“We'll see,” he said in a fake – I hoped – menacing tone of voice.


tbc
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Old October 24 2010, 05:11 AM   #66
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

Hmmmmmmmm...interesting little dialogue between Kapoor and Karama.

I can see that deep down, the way Karama behaved towards Ullman DID bother Kapoor on some level. That will have to be dealt with in some way if they want to be friends...I just hope it can be in a conversation where they'll be sensitive to each other's feelings.

As for Karama...I wish I could see into his head. I at least hope he's happy that Kapoor is learning his language. (I hope she didn't just make a major mistake with what she said, though.)

The scene in engineering...I wonder if the guy who took over for her was surprised to see a human get so absorbed in her duty? Was I wrong to almost hear a bit of laughter in his voice when he told her that she was doing his job? He DID smile at the end, at least...

I hope she didn't introduce anything into the system that shouldn't be there, though. If she did, Zamarran and Ya'val won't take kindly to it.
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Old October 24 2010, 05:25 AM   #67
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

Nerys Dukat wrote: View Post
As for Karama...I wish I could see into his head. I at least hope he's happy that Kapoor is learning his language.
I'm not sure he knows what to think. He is friendly, because it's his nature (yeah, I know, the Ullmann Incident doesn't prove it ), but he doesn't expect her to adapt to a point she learns the language. He took it upon himself to be her "guide" through Cardassian world, but he doesn't seem to understand how deep it's going to get.
Nerys Dukat wrote: View Post
The scene in engineering...I wonder if the guy who took over for her was surprised to see a human get so absorbed in her duty? Was I wrong to almost hear a bit of laughter in his voice when he told her that she was doing his job? He DID smile at the end, at least...
Maybe that, maybe also the fact that she wasn't "punctual". For my Cardassians following schedule and time is a show of respect. You are late - you don't respect someone's precious time and you don't respect them. Here's a bit opposite - she didn'ton time. I think he was a bit amused.
Nerys Dukat wrote: View Post
I hope she didn't introduce anything into the system that shouldn't be there, though. If she did, Zamarran and Ya'val won't take kindly to it.
I think in the beginning all her work is going to be checked against errors and such. Not that they don't trust her and expect her to do something malicious - she just doesn't know their systems that well and... her memory isn't eidetic, so she can't memorise them as fast as Cardassians could.
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Old October 24 2010, 05:34 AM   #68
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

Gul Spook wrote: View Post
Nerys Dukat wrote: View Post
As for Karama...I wish I could see into his head. I at least hope he's happy that Kapoor is learning his language.
I'm not sure he knows what to think. He is friendly, because it's his nature (yeah, I know, the Ullmann Incident doesn't prove it ), but he doesn't expect her to adapt to a point she learns the language. He took it upon himself to be her "guide" through Cardassian world, but he doesn't seem to understand how deep it's going to get.
Did he think that maybe she would find the idea of learning his language unpleasant?

Nerys Dukat wrote: View Post
I hope she didn't introduce anything into the system that shouldn't be there, though. If she did, Zamarran and Ya'val won't take kindly to it.
I think in the beginning all her work is going to be checked against errors and such. Not that they don't trust her and expect her to do something malicious - she just doesn't know their systems that well and... her memory isn't eidetic, so she can't memorise them as fast as Cardassians could.
That makes sense. I just hope they don't think that she has an inferior or "broken" brain. I wonder, do you think there's any way they could help her to use what she as a human has, more effectively, so that she can keep up with them a little better? I actually think they might be worried about insulting her by asking or ordering her to do something like that, but I wonder how they'd respond if she asked (probably by asking Karama).
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Old October 24 2010, 05:49 AM   #69
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

Nerys Dukat wrote: View Post
Did he think that maybe she would find the idea of learning his language unpleasant?
I think it wouldn't occur to him she'd like to learn it. He had to, because it was his job. It was his duty. My Cardassians are not allowed to learn foreign languages, because it would be treason (imagine the Obsidian Order asking you this: why do you learn it? Are you their agent now? What do you need to learn it for? There are universal translators, why aren't they sufficient for you?). It changes now, in post-war Cardassia, but he still has that mindset.

So he is surprised. His perspective on languages is different than others, because he is a communications officer - he carries a secret that only his gul and gul's aide know about.
Of course there are officers who know that a comm officer speaks not only Unionese, but those who know wouldn't talk about it.

Nerys Dukat wrote: View Post
I wonder, do you think there's any way they could help her to use what she as a human has, more effectively, so that she can keep up with them a little better? I actually think they might be worried about insulting her by asking or ordering her to do something like that, but I wonder how they'd respond if she asked (probably by asking Karama).
You need to wait to see what ideas Gul Tarkan has about her different brain.
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Old October 24 2010, 06:00 AM   #70
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

Gul Spook wrote: View Post
Nerys Dukat wrote: View Post
Did he think that maybe she would find the idea of learning his language unpleasant?
I think it wouldn't occur to him she'd like to learn it. He had to, because it was his job. It was his duty. My Cardassians are not allowed to learn foreign languages, because it would be treason (imagine the Obsidian Order asking you this: why do you learn it? Are you their agent now? What do you need to learn it for? There are universal translators, why aren't they sufficient for you?). It changes now, in post-war Cardassia, but he still has that mindset.
It's the same for my Cardassians--only certain people learn foreign languages. That's why Gul Berat didn't trust the "Federation expert" he had to take to Volan III, because he thought she was an Obsidian Order agent. And she probably was.

(Though mine feel differently about teaching their language... )

Nerys Dukat wrote: View Post
I wonder, do you think there's any way they could help her to use what she as a human has, more effectively, so that she can keep up with them a little better? I actually think they might be worried about insulting her by asking or ordering her to do something like that, but I wonder how they'd respond if she asked (probably by asking Karama).
You need to wait to see what ideas Gul Tarkan has about her different brain.
Uh-oh...he probably thinks it's an infant's brain.
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Old October 24 2010, 06:24 AM   #71
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

Nerys Dukat wrote: View Post
Uh-oh...he probably thinks it's an infant's brain.
Nope
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Old October 24 2010, 06:25 AM   #72
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

This could be interesting...
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Old October 24 2010, 06:36 AM   #73
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

There are some hints about it in The Shadow of the Order, but to understand that you'd have to have details from here.

I'll all be clear the day I post that Tarkan chapter
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Old October 29 2010, 05:38 AM   #74
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

Chapter 9 – Day 57


“Can I ask you a question?” I asked Karama. We were in his quarters having third round of kotra.

“Of course,” he moved zalek to rot position.
“It’s about your armours; their shape specifically.” I moved one of my figures, hoping it wouldn’t be taken immediately. My hope was hopeless – he moved his lelek and replaced my dolok. “Why are they so protruding in front of your chests? It’s not that you have there anything.” Their shoulders and top of chest were athletic and strong built, but they didn’t have any spikes there to explain that diamond angle.

He pointed to the spoon on his chest, visible above the edge of his singlet. “We have this.” He made another move and then continued. “Both chanths are very sensitive organs. When you are in battle, you want to protect a spot that is so fragile.”

“How fragile?”

He only smiled. “I can’t tell you all secrets, can I?”

“You will tell me when I win a game.”

He laughed. “Then you’ll never know.” He took another of my pieces.

“Wrong! I just have additional incentive to beat you!” I made my move, glanced at him and at once knew it was a mistake – a smile of victory appeared on his face and he took this piece too. I looked back at the board and understood that the victory in his smile was justified. He just won. Again. “One more?”

“You want to lose again?”

“I want to play again. Some day I will beat you. But I have to learn all your strategies first.”

He was just about to answer, but a chime to the door interrupted. “Enter,” he said instead. The door parted and Glinn Zamarran entered, carrying a bottle of something.

It was the first time I saw him wearing something else than an armour. He stopped, clearly as surprised to see me as I was to see him. But after a few seconds he joined us at the table; he looked at the board and smiled.

“I should be going...” I muttered and started to raise.

“Do you want to see him losing for once?” Zamarran asked.

I froze with my butt mid-air. It would be awkward to spend my free time with my superior, who was so strict and serious, but the view of Karama finally being beaten – even if not by me – was tempting. And since it was Zamarran who suggested me to stay, I decided to do just that. I put my butt back on my chair.

“All my money is on you, sir.”

“I thought the Federation doesn’t believe in money,” Karama growled, but one glance at his face was enough to see he was not really angry. He got up and went to a cupboard next to his replicator to get three glasses.

“The Federation doesn’t but this is Cardassia and I get my monies,” I said.

Karama returned with the glasses and Zamarran poured brown liquid into each. One of the glasses was almost empty – he handed me that one motioning for me to try first. I sipped on the content, smiled, so he took the glass back and filled it to the same level as the other two. Then they set up the board and started to play.

“Language question,” I said, startling Zamarran.

“Yes, she does that,” Karama smiled, seeing his reaction. “She attacks with questions.”

The lines on Zamarran cheeks deepened – his unique smile without smiling.

“Why do you say ‘full basket’ to greet someone?” I asked.

“It’s short for ‘may your basket be full of fruit’,” Karama explained. “That’s a kind of wish of good luck.”

“Eyyyy,” Zamarran sighed loudly. “Don’t listen to him, Kapoor. He’s got his facts wrong.” Zamarran paused to take one of Karama’s pieces and then continued, “This greeting is very old and very traditional. It comes from times when Cardassia was a rich and fertile world. People grew their own food and it was polite to wish your neighbours good crops. It was too long so with time it got shortened to ‘full basket’, but the meaning was still the same. Now it doesn’t mean anything really, it’s just a civilian way of welcoming someone.”

“That’s interesting. We say ‘namaste’, which means ‘bow to you’.”

Zamarran looked at me quite surprised. “Isn’t your greeting something about good days or good nights?”

“Ah, you mean Federation Standard. Yes, in that language you say ‘good’ followed by time of a day. But this is not my native language.”

“What do you mean?”

“There are hundreds of languages on Earth.”

“You don’t have one language?” he didn’t look at me, as he was just making another move, but his voice was full of astonishment.

“No. Everyone learns Federation Standard, but at home we speak our own languages.”

“And in your language you say ‘bow to you’?”

“Yes. It’s a traditional greeting that shows reverence to another person.” I didn’t want to dig into the fact that ‘namaste’ wasn’t in my native language, but in Hindi. I don’t think any Cardassian would be interested in complex language situation of India. And surely not in family history of this particular Indian in the room, who spoke Bengali to her parents, but Hindi to her grandfather and at school.

“And what if the other person is of lower status?”

“Doesn’t matter. You should be nice to everyone. The greeting’s and its gesture’s,” I presented it by bringing my palms together on the level of my heart, “history is connected with a deity and its creations. Be humble. Have no ego. But if two people of different statuses meet, the lower one should greet the higher one first. Or the younger one should greet the older one first.”

“I thought the Federation is about equality and such,” Zamarran said.

“It is. But the history of Earth is another matter. We treasure our national traditions.”

Zamarran nodded his approval. And then took another piece from the board. Karama was losing and losing badly. If Karama was good at kotra, how good was Zamarran?!

“How is the full greeting--” I silenced, seeing that I startled Zamarran again. Karama giggled at his reaction.

Bei asara aji bi kadariaji,” Zamarran said.
“Ok,” I thought for a moment. “’Aji’ is ‘you’, I know that. ‘Full basket you bi haveyou’,” I spoke my thoughts out loud. Another example of the ‘lovely’ double use of pronouns. Zamarran observed me with a smile – a real, visible smile – from the corner of his eye. “What is ‘bi’ exactly?”

“It is an imperative particle,” Zamarran replied.

“Perfect,” I muttered. What did that mean?

“In this case it has a wishing meaning,” he continued, taking another piece from the board. Karama growled. “You can’t order baskets to be full, but you wish – you hope – they are going to be.”

I nodded; it was a bit clearer. Maybe Zamarran too should teach me Cardassian?

I sipped on the beverage – it vaguely reminded me of beer – thinking about languages, spending an evening with my super-strict superior, watching Karama being beaten in kotra and... I had to admit I had a good time.


tbc
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Old October 29 2010, 05:53 AM   #75
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Re: Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

Chapter 10 – Day 103


“I’m leaving,” Ullman said.

It was one of those rare occasions when we were both in our quarters.

“What do you mean ‘you’re leaving’?”

“I have asked Starfleet for transfer and they agreed after receiving my report.”

I didn’t have to ask about the report, I was sure it was full of negative stuff about the Cardassians, especially Karama. I couldn’t blame her, but I felt it wasn’t fair. She didn’t give them a chance from the beginning and after that it only escalated. Too bad.

“Did anyone else treat you badly?” I asked.

“No, I think after his punishment they were afraid to do anything.”

Or they didn’t want to do anything, but that wouldn’t occur to her, would it?

“Does that include me? I mean – returning home?”

“No. I have received orders regarding me, not a word about you. If they recall us both, you would probably get your own message.”

I nodded. “When do you go?”

“Next week.”

“That soon?”

“Not soon enough.”

We fell silent and it wasn’t a pleasant silence. It hanged over our heads and it was all too clear we had nothing to talk about. We were never friends, only colleagues, and we didn’t share our shifts, we didn’t develop any subjects to talk about. I realised that I knew Karama, or Zamarran, or Ma’Kan or even Aladar better than her.

“I can’t believe you want to stay with them. Alone.”

I looked at her. I didn’t feel alone. It’s true that some of the crew were glaring at me, but they were minority and even that minority was shrinking. Zamarran and Ya’val were fair and didn’t patronise me; the rest of engineering followed their example, they were all business. My night shift replacement, Glen Bedar, had to report my mistakes to Glinn Zamarran, but it was no malice. Ya’val had told me that Bedar volunteered to show me where and why I had made those mistakes; and Bedar did. He sacrificed his own free time after his duty to teach me. We didn’t make friends, but good working environment is a precious thing.

I was spending my evenings with Ma’Kan, Aladar and Karama. Initially the first two taught me Cardassian, but with time I started to assist Ma’Kan in her fascinating hobby – she liked to build models of ships. Not just plastic or paper models. Working models. That would buzz, shine and possibly fly. She had asked me to help her design a tiny Federation spaceship, like a Galaxy or Sovereign model. I couldn’t help but admire her patience in cutting and connecting tiny pieces of plastic and metal to build a hull or a tiny engine.

Aladar was my passport to the lower decks personnel. He was a low ranking Garesh, younger even than me, but being his pal secured my safety from other wild, untamed Gareshes. In a way it made me ‘one of them’.

And finally Karama. My guide, my Cardassian encyclopedia, my friend. I didn’t know about the others, but I knew I would miss him after returning home. I liked spending time with him. I liked the way he laughed and how he growled when he wanted to show his dissatisfaction with something. I still couldn’t believe how come it went so bad between him and Ullmann. If he only ignored her comments she would have to realise he was not what she was taking him for and all this wouldn’t happen. But he played right into her fears and now, knowing him better, I couldn’t figure out why.

“Time to start my shift,” Ullmann logged out from her computer screen and rose.

“Have fun.”

“This is no fun at all,” she took some stuff and left.

Did I want to spend my evening here, or did I want some company?

“Kapoor to Karama.”

“Karama, go ahead.”

“Busy? I’m bored.”

“No language lessons today?”

“Today is not the day.”

“Come over than, I was just about to have dinner.”

I hesitated. Maybe I was intruding. “Are you sure? Sounds like you have your evening planned.”

“Rule number one hundred and seven: Cardassians don’t like to eat alone.” Was it smile I heard in his voice?

“I’ll be right there.”

And I was. With two salads and a small jar of fish juice, as I didn’t want him to use all his replicator rations on me.

“Ullmann is leaving,” I said when we were half through our food. We had soup and grains mixed with vegetables, a bit like Korean bibimbap, only not that spicy.

He looked at me and for a second I had an impression I saw relief in his eyes. Then he resumed eating. “Are you leaving with her?” he asked after a few spoons of his Cardassian ‘[/i]bibimbap[/i]’.

“No. She asked to be transferred, I didn’t.”

He nodded his understanding.

We ate in silence for a while.

“Can you do something for me?” he asked. This time my reply was reduced to nodding only, as my mouth was full. “Please tell her I am sorry.”

I didn’t see that coming. I stared at him and he noticed my astonishment; he smiled sadly and explained. “What I did... I realised that... I became something I don’t want to be. Why I did it... is because of that something. I did it because she took me for that something and I didn’t like it and... I became this...” his voice shook and he didn’t finish.

“I’ll tell her,” I promised, although I doubted it would make any difference for her.

Did he want to talk about it? Should I encourage him by asking?

“I never wanted to be like him,” he said very quietly. “I was always very careful not to resemble him in anything, even though I have chosen to join the military too. She... Ullmann treated me... she talked to me like I was him. I hated that. I hated that she formed her opinion about us based on things he did and now I have to pay for it.” He dropped his spoon and looked at me. His eyes were full of pain. “I am not him. I don’t want to be him. But she plastered me to him like we were one. She didn’t know that, she didn’t understand that but it was awful for me and I snapped. I... I changed into him. Gul Jarol was right, I only enforced her wrong impression instead of correcting it. I became him. I became that heartless, cruel bastard who treats people like trash and women like sex toys. I hate him for everything he did during the Border Wars, for everything he did on Bajor, for everyone who he tortured to death, for every woman he raped and every child he slaughtered.” Tears appeared in his eyes. “I don’t want to be him.” I wasn’t sure who he talked about. His father? “And now... I came so close.” He raised his fingers and closed this thumb to his little finger leaving small space between. “It doesn’t matter I didn’t want to hurt her, really hurt her. She thought I did and that’s what counts.” Anger flashed in his eyes. “He raised me to be a monster and he succeeded!” I shook my head, silently filing my protest. “What? Don’t you agree?”

“I don’t,” I said quietly. “If you were a monster, you wouldn’t regret what had happened. You would think she deserved that and more. You would act on your threats.”

“Kapoor, why do you talk to me? Why didn’t you side with her? You are her friend.”

“Because I know you. Because I know your other side. You made a mistake. But that wasn’t really you. If it were, I wouldn’t be here now. I would be too scared to be in one room with you.” I moved with my chair closer to him. I knew Cardassians didn’t like a direct touch, but I have noticed that there was one type of touch they did allow; I put my hand on his arm – he wore a thick tunic that day and I didn’t touch his skin, I wouldn’t dare to go that far. “I am not afraid of you. I trust you. You are my friend,” his eyes stuck to my face. “In fact, you are my best friend on this ship,” I said and I meant it.

He stared at me for a long time. His pupils were wide as he studied my face. The line of grey marbles around his eyes gave him a panda look – his skin inside the eye ridges was of the same colour is the rest of his face, but deep shadows cast by the ridges created the impression that the skin around the eyes was darker. The lower eyelid was almost straight; thanks to it his eyes gained a crescent shape when he smiled. I wished so much he smiled now. It was so sad to watch him suffering. He was the only Cardassian I knew that his ear-to-chin ridges didn’t recede, but were connected. They surrounded his face, giving it round, cute shape, cut in half by small, but sharp nose. I didn’t know if he was handsome, I didn’t know if he was handsome by Cardassian standards, I didn’t even know if he was handsome by my standards, but I liked his face so much. I liked all ridges, and hooded eyes, and marbles of his scales, and his crescent blue-grey eyes and his round cheeks and round chin. And now this face that I liked so much was so sad, so full of regret, shame and sorrow.

He lowered his head and looked at remains of his meal.

“My father is a Gul in the Fourth Order. He is an active member of the Directorate. He has a past of ‘good service’ for Cardassia,” his words were soaked with irony. “He did lots of terrible things and he is proud of them.” Irony and contempt. “I don’t want to be anything like him.”

“You are not.” I gently squeezed his arm.

“How can you tell?” he snapped at me.

“Because I am here, sharing a meal with you. Because the last time I was here you played kotra with me. Because you let me touch you. Because you laugh at my silly jokes. Because you don’t mind I’m a human and you never did. And that means you are nothing like him.”

“Kapoor...” he grabbed my hand, took it off his arm, but didn’t let it go. He didn’t say anything else; we just sat there, in silence, in a comfortable silence.



tbc
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