ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gul Re'jal, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Location:
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Chapter 22


    Cardassian Union Warship Damar
    Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
    30th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar



    “So, what do we know?” Brenok asked everyone present in the wardroom.

    “We know that the Obsidian Order made sure these men wouldn’t survive,” Ya’val said.

    “So you think this was deliberate?” th’Arshar looked at the engineer.

    “Absolutely. My guess is that any attempt to cut the wires attached to the brain would trig the program.”

    “So what do we do?”

    “I have been thinking about it,” Taret said. “The last message Bantal sent was ‘All at once’. I assume that it was a message to us, that he wanted to tell us something.”

    “All right. But what?” O’Riordan asked.

    “To cut all wires at once?” Zabar took a guess.

    “It wouldn’t stop the program from triggering,” Ya’val said.

    “But would let us remove Saratt to safe distance,” Taret replied.

    “Can you move him that fast without harming him?” Brenok looked at the medic.

    “I don’t know. I don’t think so, however I think that the alternative is less appealing.”

    Brenok nodded his understanding. Since the alternative was Saratt’s certain death, they had nothing to lose.

    “Couldn’t you find this program before this happened?” O’Riordan looked at Ya’val. “There had to be something.”

    The Cardassian engineer looked at her, anger in his eyes.

    “There was no way to detect it,” Jeto replied. “It was hidden deep in the system and wouldn’t be discovered unless we would specifically know what to look for. We did search through the software and we missed it. We couldn’t have prevented it.”

    The human doctor looked at the Bajoran. “Are you sure?”

    “I’m sure.”

    “And you also vouch for him?” O’Riordan pointed to Ya’val.

    “What about him?” Jeto asked. “He is a professional engineer.”

    Brenok couldn’t believe his own ears. Jeto not only defended Ya’val, she also ignored the insinuation that Ya’val didn’t do his job properly because of being a Cardassian. Brenok was sure that was what O’Riordan meant by ‘him’—that a Cardassian wouldn’t do such a task with proper care because he wouldn’t care about someone else’s life. He was also glad that Ya’val didn’t take the bait and said nothing, although the engineer's face expression was telling everything about his feelings.

    “There is one more thing,” Brenok said. “We know that Bantal disconnected many links for both of them. But there are still active brain and neck ridges links. What do we do about it?”

    “We could wake him up and ask him to disconnect first,” Zabar suggested.

    “I am not sure this is safe,” Ya’val said. “We cannot be certain that it was physical severing the wires that had triggered the program. It could also be the disconnecting procedure itself.”

    “Do you suggest to unplug him the hard way?” th’Arshar looked at the engineer.

    “I don’t know,” Ya’val shrugged, helplessness on his face. “I just inform you of possible risks.”

    “Then the decision is yours, sir,” Zabar looked at Brenok. When they were alone she had a bottomless basket of cute names for him but when among others, especially his subordinates, she was always official and professional.

    “What kind of brain damage should we expect?” Brenok asked.

    “Hard to tell,” Taret shrugged. “It could make him a vegetable or have no affect at all. And everything in between these two options.”

    Brenok thought for a while, feeling eyes of everyone present on his face. Finally he made a decision. “Here is what we will do...”



    The Obsidian Order vessel
    Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
    30th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar




    Brenok entered the ship’s bridge, followed by th’Arshar and O’Riordan. He saw a whole militia troop there, in addition to Taret’s medical team.

    Half of gareshes stood around the table, each with stretched hands.

    “Fom!” Tarub boomed. “Fom! Fom! Fom!”

    Each ‘fom’ was a signal for the next move: the men stretched their hands, made a movement of lifting, stepped aside—each ‘fom’ was one step—and stopped.

    “Again!” Tarus barked. “You must be synchronised. What is this? Little girl dancing? To positions! Fom!”

    Jeto stood in a far corner and observed the troop distrustfully.

    “For God’s sake, why does he look like a mummy!” O’Riordan shouted.

    Brenok shot her a glance. What was a ‘mummy’?

    “We need to protect him as best as we can,” Taret said. He was in the process of wrapping Saratt’s leg in some kind of bandage.

    “What is it?” th’Arshar asked.

    “This is an artificial scale protection,” the medic explained. “The patient’s skin is damaged, many scales missing and we are just about to move him. I don’t want to inflict more harm. This should protect him sufficiently. We would do that anyway later for the time of healing process.”

    “So it’s a kind of bandage,” O’Riordan came closer and inspected Saratt’s arm that was already wrapped, including his fingers to points where the wires were connected.

    “More advanced, actually,” Taret muttered and Brenok was sure he heard pride in the medic’s voice.

    “And what are they doing here?” O’Riordan kept asking.

    “They will do the moving,” Brenok explained. “Each of them is responsible for a part of Saratt’s body and will support it.”

    “Shouldn’t nurses do it? They are more...delicate,” O’Riordan looked sceptical.

    “With all due respect, Ma’am, this requires co-ordination and discipline,” Tarub said. “My people are the best for this task.”

    Brenok agreed with that. In fact, Tarub came to him with the propose of using his men for this job.

    “Your people are good in slaughtering innocents, not in such a delicate work.”

    Tarub fumed but didn’t say anything. He only glanced at Brenok, clenching his teeth. The gul’s face remained serious; he looked the garesh in his eyes and then, not taking his eyes away from Tarub’s face, he said, “I would appreciate, Doctor, if you wouldn’t insult my people.”

    “But--”

    “Never!” Brenok barked in a harsh voice, suddenly looking at her.

    “But--”

    “Enough!” th’Arshar’s voice sounded and didn’t appear any softer then Brenok’s. “If you cannot assist, I suggest you return to the Karamazov.”

    “I want to help,” she said quietly.

    “Ask Medic Taret for your instructions, then,” Brenok said and his attention shifted elsewhere. He considered the conversation finished.

    “Fom! Fom! Fom!” Tarub continued the training; the time between ‘foms’ was shorter with each subsequent rehearsal.

    The medical team prepared a hover-stretcher, to which they planned to move Saratt, next to the table. Brenok noticed a lot of medical equipment had been beamed from the Damar.

    “Fom! Fom!”

    Brenok observed the preparations. Ya’val and Jeto took their posts and worked on their consoles. Taret talked to medical staff, gesturing a lot.

    “Team two!” Tarub’s voice was the clearest in the noisy room.

    The other half of the troop approached and stood just by the practising men. They extended their hands in front of team one’s chests and stretched two fingers imitating scissors.

    “Fo-om!” Tarub boomed; team two ‘cut’ and team one immediately moved to ‘carry’ Saratt. They bumped on each other. “That is pathetic!” Tarub hollered. “You are worse than Ferengi slug worms! Your gul is watching, aren’t you ashamed? His daughter would do it better with her eyes closed! Again!” They returned to their positions. “Fo-om!” Better but still not without problems. Another set of insults followed and Brenok listened amused, as the more Tarub used, the funnier they were. “I’ll hire crash test dummies, they are more flexible than you!” Brenok had to admit they were improving. “I’ll dye your heads green if you don’t try harder! I’ll shave you bald and your wives will leave you and your children won’t recognise you!”

    Brenok went to one of tactical consoles. He wanted to make sure that security systems were offline. They didn’t need any surprises, not this time.

    “Sir,” Tarub’s voice spoke behind him. “If the girls won’t mess us, we’re ready.” He said the word ‘girls’ loud enough for his men to hear it.

    “Good,” the gul rose from behind the console and went to the table. He looked at the face of the patient and studied his features for a long while. Don’t you dare to die, he thought. “Is everyone ready?” he asked audibly. Each team reported their readiness. “Begin!”

    Troop team one took their places and waited for team two to take theirs. Some of the men gently slid their hands under Saratt’s body, others grasped or supported his head and limbs. Then everyone froze. Team two prepared their cutting tools and neared them to the wires, not touching them, though. They remained motionless, staring intently at their hands.

    Brenok stopped breathing, knowing very well that Tarub was looking at him, waiting for an order to start. Finally, the gul looked at the garesh and nodded once.

    “Ready! Fom! Fom! Fom! Fo-om!” On the fourth, broken ‘fo--’ team two cut the wires, while on ‘--om’ team one raised Saratt above the table and moved toward the hover-stretcher.

    “It’s coming!” Ya’val shouted.

    Brenok could hear the electric discharges building in the machine above the table and then blue tongues enveloping it. One of tongues licked one of militiamen elbow. He groaned but his grasp of Saratt’s arm didn’t weaken.

    Then one of tongues found something tasty and was drawn to one of wires still sticking out of Saratt’s neck ridges. It quickly progressed to his other neck ridge and wires there, scorching the skin on his throat.

    “Damn it!” Taret shouted.

    At the same time Tarub moved and stood between Saratt and the table, taking whole discharge on himself. Brenok heard Jeto gasp, while Tarub growled angrily, as if his fury could stop electricity. As expected, Tarub’s armour absorbed the discharge and dissipated it.

    “No, no, don’t do this to me...” Brenok heard Taret moaning. He quickly ran to the hover-stretcher to see Taret performing CPR. O’Riordan was already preparing a crash cart. The gul observed them working for a moment and then looked at Tarub. He saw him surrounded by his men. He moved toward the group.

    “He’s all right, sir,” one of militiamen told Brenok. “Shaken and a bit burnt but otherwise he is fine.”

    “Take care of him,” he told the man. He knew each sub-troop had at least one garesh with medical training.

    “Yes, my Gul.”

    Brenok’s attention returned to the fight on the hover-stretcher. He wished he could help. He wished he could contact Saratt’s family and tell them the good news and feared he’d have to deliver the worst thing a family can hear. He wished he could tell Saratt that his paintings were important for the Cardassians and that his return was a small miracle for Lakarians. He wished he could tell him that his butchers would be punished for they’d done to him and they wouldn’t be shown any mercy, just like they didn’t have any to offer him. He wished he could sing him a victory song. He wished he could look into his eyes without seeing pain in them.

    Taret sat on the floor, breathing heavily. Did he give up? How could he give up?!! Brenok wanted to tear him to pieces with his bare hands.

    “Beam us to the infirmary, full set,” the medic said after punching his wristcomm. “Then beam Garesh Tarub.”

    Almost everyone around the hover-stretcher, including the equipment, disappeared in orange light. A moment later Tarub was also gone.

    “Sir,” Ya’val’s voice spoke behind Brenok. “Let’s get out of here.”

    The gul turned and looked at the engineer. “Yes, yes...” he muttered.
     
  2. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Location:
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Cardassian Union Warship Damar
    Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
    31st day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar




    They had been operating on Saratt for almost twelve hours. They had to remove the wires and take care of the damage that had been inflicted by the electric discharge.

    Brenok spent that time in his quarters. He had made a certain decision and decided to share it with someone, whom it also concerned.

    “Uncle Arenn, how nice to see you!” Latana smiled at him from the monitor.

    “How are you? How are twins?”

    “We are fine. I hope you can see them soon.”

    They chatted for a moment about her everyday matters and then he said, “Latana, there is something I want to tell you.”

    “Yes, Uncle?”

    “I will move back to Lakarian City. I will buy a house there. If you want to move with me, it would be also your house. If you decide to stay in Lakat, I would buy you a house there. It’s up to you. But I am moving and I won’t change my mind.”

    “I understand, Uncle. I will talk about it with Zatal.”

    “Of course,” he smiled. “This concerns both of you.” He knew Latana’s husband valued his job and he wouldn’t be able to find the same kind of employment in Lakarian City. “You have some time, though. This won’t happen tomorrow. I just wanted to let you know as early as possible.”

    “I appreciate that, Uncle.” She scrutinised him for a moment. “Is everything all right with you? You don’t look well.”

    “I’m tired. And I await a very important news.”

    “I see. I’m sure you can’t talk about it.”

    “I can’t.”

    “I’ll see you soon?”

    “Very soon,” he managed to smile.

    Her face disappeared from the screen and he leaned back in the chair, closing his eyes. A moment later he was asleep.

    “Taret to Gul Brenok.” Suddenly woken up, Brenok almost slid off the chair.

    “Brenok here,” he answered in a raspy voice.

    A moment of silence. “Are you all right, sir?” Taret sounded suspiciously.

    “I’m fine, Taret. What is it?”

    “Saratt woke up and--”

    “I’ll be right there.”

    He probably beat the time record of reaching the infirmary from deck two, where his quarters were located.

    “How is he?” he asked Taret as soon as he arrived to his destination.

    “Quite fine. I cannot be completely sure but it would appear that his brain functions are undamaged. I can’t say the same about this throat, I’m afraid. His vocal cords were fried. We had to remove a lot of tissue and he won’t be able to normally talk. However,” Taret smiled. “The smile on his face when he woke up...It was priceless, sir. It was a weak smile, he couldn’t do much more as the paratox dissolves slowly, but it was a happy smile.”

    “Can I see him?”

    “Certainly,” the medic agreed. He took the gul to an adjacent room, where Saratt lay in a biobed.

    As soon as the painter noticed Brenok in the door, he started to blink rapidly.

    “What’s wrong?” Taret asked him with worry obvious in his voice.

    But Saratt kept looking at Brenok. He stared at his fellow Lakarian with great intensity and Brenok wished he knew what the painter wanted. Or maybe he was asking a question? The gul approached Saratt.

    “Do you want to ask a question?” One blink. “About where we’re taking you?” Two blinks. “About what would happen to you?” Two blinks. Brenok dreaded to ask the next question. “About Sabal?” Saratt had to notice that the pilot was not visiting him. One blink.

    Taret looked at Brenok, leaving it to him to deliver the bad news. They had agreed they would not lie to Saratt but also would not talk about it unless directly asked. Brenok had hoped Saratt wouldn’t ask.

    “Please leave us alone,” he said quietly.

    Taret moved away but stayed by the door. Brenok pulled a stool and sat next to the biobed. He could see Saratt already expected something had happened.

    The gul didn’t say anything. He started to hum an old, traditional Lakarian mourning song. He felt tears filling his eyes and for the first time since Sabal’s death he felt an emptiness, a void the pilot left. He had had no time to think about it, he hadn’t given his heart any chance to feel it, but now it all fell on him.

    He wasn’t the only one crying. Saratt closed his eyes and Brenok knew the painter understood his message. The gul wiped his tears and noticed that Saratt was staring at his braid. The painter gave an asking look into Brenok’s eyes and then back on his braid.

    “I grew long hair because I lost my ear,” Brenok turned his head for Saratt to see. “The scar was scaring my daughter.” Saratt’s eyes glued to the place where the hair covered Brenok’s temple. “Do you want to see it? It’s ugly.” One blink. The gul didn’t do it often but this time he didn’t hesitate; he raised his hand and uncovered his non-existing ear. Saratt studied the place and his lips moved a little. Brenok wished he knew what it meant, an encouraging smile perhaps? Or maybe ‘I look much worse, so don’t worry’? He lowered his hand and the hair returned to its previous position.

    Saratt’s eyes found another thing to concentrate on. His stomach.

    “Are you in pain?” Brenok asked worried. Two blinks. “Is something wrong here?” Two blinks. “Do you want me to move away?” Brenok was leaning over him and maybe Saratt didn’t appreciate that. Two blinks and then again two blinks. “What are you looking at? Your body?” No. “Something you see on the wall there?” No. “My braid?” No. There was nothing else there. “You don’t like the colour of your gown?” Saratt’s eyes open wide and his nostrils widened. Was he laughing? Two blinks. “My shadow?” This was ridiculous but to Brenok’s surprise Saratt answered Yes. “Why? What’s so special...” He didn’t finish. He knew. There was a Lakarian song about having a shadow. Without a shadow you don’t exist. He started to sing.

    Saratt listened to him with closed eyes and when Brenok finished the painter looked at him.

    “Do you want to see your shadow?” the gul asked. Saratt blinked once. Brenok called Taret and asked him to raise Saratt’s hand. The medic frowned but did as asked without saying a word. Brenok found a piece of equipment with a reflective surface and he raised it and positioned so the painter could see his hand without moving his head.

    “In fact, you have two shadows now,” Brenok commented. Due to ambient light conditions Saratt’s hand indeed cast two overlapping shadows.

    Taret rested the hand gently and returned to the door.

    “Ready to go home?” Brenok asked Saratt. The painter’s nostrils widened again and he blinked once. There was something strange happening to his face, though. “Medic!” Brenok called in alarm. Taret literally ran to them. “There’s something with his cheeks...or mouth, I’m not sure.”

    Saratt looked at Taret, then back at Brenok. The medic took a medical scanner and hovered it over the painter’s head. “I don’t see anything wrong.”

    “Look,” Brenok pointed at a bulge on Saratt’s cheek. “What is it?”

    Taret studied his patient’s face, gently touched the place and the bulge disappeared. Then he laughed. The gul looked at him, wondering if his chief medic lost his mind.

    “It’s his tongue, sir!” Taret explained, his eyes shining. “He can move his tongue!”

    Brenok looked at Saratt who seemed to test his new abilities. His face expression was something Brenok hadn’t seen yet, his very dark brown eyes wide open. He stuck his tongue to his left cheek, then right, then left again.

    “Don’t overwork yourself, son,” Taret said. “Take a rest.”

    Brenok moved to leave. “Listen to your medic, Saratt. I’ll visit you later.”

    No
    .
    “No?”
    No.
    “Do you want me to stay?”
    Yes.
    “All right,” the gul sat back on the stool. “I’ll stay but you still go to sleep.”

    Saratt closed his eyes and Brenok started to hum a lullaby. The painter opened his eyes, surprised, then half closed them and then closed them completely. The gul didn’t intend to leave his side until he’d fall asleep. He just sat there, humming and thinking. There was one task left to do: to inform Saratt’s family that he was alive and is going to be alive. He hadn’t contacted them until now, as he didn’t want to give them hope and then take it away with news of his death. He wanted to wait and bring the final word.

    “Sir,” Taret whispered over his shoulder. “He is asleep, you can go now.”

    “I’ll stay a little while longer.”

    The medic nodded, smiling, and went away. Brenok, through the door to the main room of the infirmary, noticed that Zamarran with Av’Roo stood by the main door to the corridor. He rose and approached them.

    “What is it?” he asked.

    “Lieutenant Av’Roo wanted to talk to you, sir,” Zamarran explained and then moved away to give both of them some privacy.

    “Any problems?” Brenok asked her.

    “No, Gul, I just wanted to give you this,” she handed him a small packet she kept in her hands.

    “What is it?”

    “A gift.”

    “A gift?” he looked at her surprised. “Why?”

    “Does it require a reason?” she smiled. “If it does, it’s a token of my appreciation of your singing.”

    “Thank you,” he didn’t expect that. “That’s really nice of you.” He opened the box—it was decorated with drawings of feathers and some symbols—and looked inside. He saw feathers. Intrigued, he took the object and it occurred to be a scarf made of green and grey feathers.

    “It’s very warm. Maybe you could use it when it too cold for you,” she smiled. “I realise it’s not something you could wear with your uniform but I hope when you’re off duty, it would be helpful.”

    Brenok stroke the feathers—they were soft and pleasant in touch—and looked up at Av’Roo.

    “This is a wonderful gift. Thank you,” he said softly. “About the other day...”

    “That is all right, Gul. I searched the database and now I know what I had done wrong. I’m sorry for that. I never wanted to behave outrageously.”

    “I know you didn’t.” It freaked him out a bit that such information would be in some readily available database.

    They looked at each other for a long while. Finally, Av’Roo lowered her head and said quietly, “I’ll leave you with your friend now. I’m glad we managed to save at least him.”

    “So am I, Av’Roo, so am I.”

    She left with Zamarran and Brenok returned to Saratt’s bed.

    “She’s...intriguing,” he told the sleeping man.

    “Sir,” Taret approached him a while later. “He is asleep and should stay asleep until tomorrow morning. You need some sleep too.”

    “I’ll be fine.”

    “Sir.” Taret insisted.

    “No.” Brenok’s voice was firm.

    The medic looked at his gul and sighed. He left and a moment later was back, pushing his own chair from his office into the room. “If you’re going to stay here for the whole night, you can at least sit in something comfortable and not fall off the stool when you join Saratt in sleep. I’d hate to fix your broken arm.”

    Brenok smiled. Taret sounded more like a father than one of his officers. “What about you?”

    “I have a bed, thank you. Nurse Dastad will stay to keep an eye on both of you and will wake me if something bad happens.”

    “Good.”

    Taret smiled to Brenok and left.

    The gul sat in the comfortable chair, put his hand on the biobed just next to Saratt’s and relaxed a bit. His last thought, just before he fell asleep, was that he should be talking to Saratt’s brothers right that moment.

    Nurse Dastad came in and checked Saratt’s readings. Then he took a blanket and covered the sleeping gul. He went to a stool in the corner, took a padd with his book and started to read, glancing at both sleeping Lakarians from time to time.


    tbc
     
  3. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Finally...some kind of healing can begin.

    I am very glad to see Saratt able to smile and even laugh under these circumstances...that tells me that there is hope for him, that somehow, his spirit was not broken despite all of the torture, and despite the hard road he has ahead of him and the challenges he will face.

    To him, it seems this is a preferable set of challenges--because he's free.

    I think I understand what was going on with the shadow, though I could be wrong so I don't want to say it here.



    I was also deeply touched by Av'Roo's gift--and Jeto's defense of Ya'val when O'Riordan made her nasty comment.

    And Brenok's singing...never has it been more meaningful than that.
     
  4. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Location:
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Saratt is free and relieved that his suffering is over. There's a lot of painful healing that he faces and he knows that, but that pain would be a pain of healing and less, much less terrible.
     
  5. TerokNor

    TerokNor Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    Oh Saratt is free :D Looking forward to read the chapters I haven´t read in total yet, but had to have a smallish look at least at the new chapter.*g*

    TerokNor
     
  6. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Location:
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Chapter 23


    USS Karamazov
    Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
    Stardate: 73716.9
    19th of September, 2396, Old Earth Calendar



    Brenok took the object he had replicated earlier and headed for the transporter chamber to beam to the Karamazov.

    There, in their transporter room, Captain th’Arshar waited for him with four security officers, including Lieutenant Anson Fong.

    “Gul Brenok, I really have no idea why you asked for this security detail,” the Andorian said. “We have arrested the murderer and there’s really nothing--”

    Brenok raised his hand to silence the captain. “Captain, this is not for me. I would like to pay a visit to your engineer and I think she would feel safer if they were present.”

    Th’Arshar smiled. “I really have to stop assuming things about your motives, don’t I?”

    “If you’re not sure, just ask,” Brenok returned the smile. “Can you take me to her quarters?”

    “This way, sir,” Fong gestured toward to door, eyeing the object in Brenok’s hands.

    “Do you wish to inspect it?” the gul asked.

    “No, sir. There’s no such need.”

    So he is only curious, Brenok thought.

    They arrived to a door and Fong chimed. The door parted into bulkheads and Jeto stood there in her civilian clothes, staring in Brenok’s face. The gul expected her to be scared, maybe even panicked, but what he saw in her expression was mostly surprise.

    “What do you want?” she barked, glancing at the security that surrounded him.

    “I just wanted to give you this,” he handed her the object.

    She took it suspiciously and then ripped the paper to see what was inside. She looked at it and smiled. “It’s beautiful. What is it?”

    “It’s a reproduction of one of Saratt’s paintings. It’s called Storm in Lakarian City,” he answered.

    “He painted it?” she was astonished.

    “Yes, he was...is a painter.”

    “It’s the city that was completely destroyed in the war, isn’t it?”

    “That’s right,” he confirmed. He didn’t expect her to actually admit it but it was obvious she liked it. He stepped back sending a signal he intended to leave now and she raised her eyes from to painting to him.

    “Thank you,” she said.

    “You are most welcome,” he answered. He turned and started to walk back to the transporter room but didn’t hear her door closing. Maybe his hearing wasn’t good enough to catch the quiet hiss, or maybe she observed him leaving. He didn’t turn back to check.

    As soon as they turned behind a corner and Jeto couldn’t see them, Fong sent three other security men away and escorted Brenok to the transporter room himself.

    “It was very nice what you just did,” Fong said.

    “She is part Cardassian. She should know that’s not a shame. Maybe this painting would remind her that some things about us can be good.”

    They arrived to the transporter room and Brenok stepped on the pad.

    “Gul Brenok, please give Glinn Zamarran my regards,” Fong said.

    “I will,” the Cardassian nodded.

    “Energize,” Fong told the transporter chief and Brenok dissolved to re-materialise back aboard his warship.




    “Was it Gul Brenok?” Av’Roo asked, putting her mug on the table next to her. “I thought I heard his voice, but what would he be doing here?”

    “It was Gul Brenok,” Jeto confirmed.

    “What is it?” The Skorr’s eyes opened wider at the sight on a huge rectangle in her friend’s hands. Jeto turned it for Av’Roo to see the front side. “Awwwwww!”

    “This man we have saved painted it,” Jeto explained.

    “It’s beautiful! Don’t you think so?”

    “Yes, I think it is,” the Bajoran admitted reluctantly. She looked around gazing at her walls and Av’Roo was sure she was trying to find the right place to hang it. She didn’t want to ask about it directly not to startle Jeto. She knew the engineer might realise what she was doing and get scared by her own acceptance of something Cardassian as good.

    Jeto went to the wall that divided her living room and her bedroom and put the painting there. “What do you think?”

    “I think it’s a perfect place,” Av’Roo smiled.

    Jeto put the painting on the floor, leaning it against the wall and returned to the table. “I’ll hang it later.”

    “What is this place?”

    “It’s Lakarian City.”

    “You mean...on Cardassia?”

    “Yes.”

    “You know...” Jeto started but silenced. Av’Roo patiently waited for her to finish. “You know...Maybe that Cardassian who stopped the slaughter in my mother’s village also was from that city. It seems like people from that city are good.”

    “Maybe,” Av’Roo nodded. Until recently Jeto didn’t even believe in existence of that man; she refused to believe in him.

    “That death troop commander...You know what he did?” Jeto took her mug with already cold tea and looked inside not really seeing the beverage. “He shielded him. He just shielded him with his own body. He didn’t think, he didn’t hesitate, he just stood on the way of that electrical discharge and stopped it. Took it on his own body...” She looked at Av’Roo. “It was so altruistic what he did. I didn’t even think they were capable of something like that.” Av’Roo smiled. “And that old lady? She’s so nice.” Silence again. “I am so sorry for all nasty things I had told them that first day.”

    “I know. Maybe you should also tell them that.”

    “I don’t know if they’d want to listen.”

    “You won’t know if you don’t try.”



    Cardassian Union Warship Damar
    Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
    37th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar




    “How’s my passenger?” Brenok asked, entering Saratt’s room in the infirmary. The painter stuck his tongue out at him. “Hey, that’s rude!” the gul laughed.

    “Homework, sir,” Taret handed Brenok a padd.

    “What is it?” he asked activating it and immediately recognised the content. The so-called ‘flash code’. In the past it had been used as a communication means on great distances; either with use of light or sound. He glanced at Saratt, on whose face there was a bit distorted—as his muscles still didn’t work properly—but nevertheless recognisable mischievous smile. The painter used one finger and moved it in arrhythmic intervals. “Let me learn first, all right?” Another move. A short one. Brenok quickly found the translation. No. “You’re ruthless,” he laughed. “Have mercy.” Another set of tapping.

    Taret approached them and translated, “He said, ‘Forget about it’.”

    Brenok growled but he wouldn’t fool even Jeto; the huge smile on his face was giving his real feelings away. “I talked to your brothers,” he said. “They are very happy that you are alive and can’t wait to have you back home.” Saratt smiled. “We should be back on Cardassia in a few days; we still await orders from the Central Command but they should arrive any minute now.” He put his hand gently on Saratt’s shoulder. “I have to go, I have a lot of work today. Just wanted to check up on you.”

    The painter blinked once and smiled wider.

    Brenok left the room. He peeped into another room, where—he knew—Karama was, but saw that the communication officer was accompanied by his wife, so he withdrew quietly, not wanting to interrupt their conversation.

    He had to arrange a meeting for Ma’Kan and Jeto that the Bajoran had asked for. He had to file the final report of the rescue operation. He had to make sure Tarub was all right. He had to start the arrangements for Sabal’s military funeral with all honours. Not forgetting about preparing full documentation for Ha’varra’s tribunal.




    Th’Arshar stormed into Brenok’s office. The gul thought it was becoming a habit of the good captain.

    “I want to officially protest!” the Andorian shouted. His antennae were making rapid, sharp moves and Brenok wondered if it hurt.

    Brenok sent Ma’Kan, who entered his office behind th’Arshar, with a wave of his hand and then calmly looked at the captain. “And what are you protesting against exactly?”

    “The Federation has been informed by your government that this ship, this house of torture, is to be taken back to Cardassia for further study!”

    “I know. I have already received these orders.”

    “Can you imagine what would happen if that information gets into wrong hands?! Can you assure it would never happen again?”

    “No,” Brenok said simply.

    “Can’t you talk to someone there? This cannot go on!”

    “Calm down, Captain.”

    “How can I calm down?!” Th’Arshar threw his arms to the air. “You’re going to take this experiment back home and I fear someone might want to continue it. I know you wouldn’t, but...who knows the future?”

    “Captain th’Arshar, I said I had received the orders, I didn’t say I would follow them.”

    The expression on th’Arshar’s face changed; the anger faded away and surprise replaced it.

    “You won’t?”

    “I completely agree with you, th’Arshar. Someone could use this and continue. Or attempt to do something else with that knowledge. I will not allow that. Please, don’t think that my government is a bunch of post-Obsidian Order monsters. It’s just...they didn’t see it, they only read reports and even the most detailed report can’t fully convey what happened on that ship. They don’t understand how dangerous this thing is. I do.”

    “I want this ship destroyed,” the Andorian said, but his voice was levelled and all aggression disappeared from it. He was informing Brenok, not demanding.

    “So do I.”

    Th’Arshar sat in a chair on the guest side of Brenok’s desk. “Won’t you be in trouble for this?”

    “Let me worry about that,” the gul smiled slightly.

    “Won’t they demote you or something?”

    “My position is too strong for that. And I have powerful allies. Don’t worry about me.”

    Th’Arshar smiled. Brenok didn’t think he saw the captain smiling that way to him before.

    “I know it’s unlikely, but if I could help you with something, if there is something I could do to lessen your troubles, please let me know.”

    “This is a kind offer, Captain, but this fight is going to be on the highest level of Cardassian government.”

    “And I’m just a mere captain.”

    “Oh, I wouldn’t say that. I suppose you weren’t told why our co-operation was so important, but I can tell you that we made a difference. Not only for Saratt but also for our peoples.”

    “We did?”

    “I am not sure I am allowed to tell you that, so I won’t say a word. I don’t want you to be in trouble,” he smiled. “But trust me, this was more than just a scientific mission for us.”

    Th’Arshar observed Brenok, his antennae moving constantly and the Cardassian wished he knew how to read those antennae emotions. He knew that the indignation was gone, but what had replaced it?

    “Now,” he rose. “If you’d be so kind to accompany me to the bridge. We have one last thing to do.”

    Th’Arshar shot him a surprised and asking look, but didn’t say anything. He rose too and followed the Cardassian to the bridge. There, on the main viewer was the Obsidian Order ship, drifting and drawing a black cloud of space dust particles to it.

    “Ma’Kan, are you ready?” Brenok asked his officer.

    “Yes, Gul.”

    The gul looked at th’Arshar and the Andorian looked at him. They stared in their faces for a moment, reading each other. Brenok had to admit he liked that stubborn blue man, who never feared to argue with him and defended his officers even if they did wrong things. Th’Arshar had a clear vision of right and wrong, his own code of morality and he followed that code strictly. He also had the ability of being able to admit when he was wrong and that was something Brenok valued in all people.

    They read each other’s eyes and then both simultaneously smiled, opened mouth and said in unison, “Fire.”

    A lone torpedo left the Damar’s launcher and travelled toward the Obsidian Order vessel. It hit the lower part of the hull, where the engineering and the warp core were.

    No one said anything. They only observed the vessel exploding and quickly disappearing from the screen. The black cloud started to disperse, leaving emptiness of the vacuum.

    “And that’s how it should be,” th’Arshar said.

    “Gul?” Zamarran approached them clearly puzzled. He had been the other recipient of the orders from the Central Command. That was a standard precaution—to inform guls’ aides of their guls’ orders to assure those orders execution. The standard precaution, obviously, worked only on paper.

    “I’m sorry, Zamarran, but I couldn’t let it happen. I couldn’t let this ship return to Cardassia.”

    “I understand why. However I do not understand why you didn’t trust me with your decision.”

    Brenok felt a sting of guilt. “I trust you, Zamarran. I didn’t want you to be involved in this. I take full responsibility for that action.”

    Years ago Brenok had complained to Jarol about the same thing. He had thought that she hadn’t trusted him to share her secret and never fully believed her claim that she hadn’t told him to protect him from consequences. Now he knew better, now he understood her fully and believed every word she had told him that day. He only hoped Zamarran was smarter than him and would understand it now and not in twenty-odd years.

    “I would be willing to face those consequences with you,” the glinn said.

    Brenok smiled. “You don’t have to. But know this: it means a lot to me that you would back me up in this.”

    Zamarran smiled too.

    “You, Cardassians, are amazing,” th’Arshar patted Zamarran’s shoulder, then added, “Can someone escort me to the transporter room, please?”

    “Don’t you know the way by now?” Brenok asked him.

    “I do but would you let me roam on your mighty warship?”

    Brenok laughed. “I’ll see you off to the transporter chamber...we call it a ‘chamber’, by the way.”

    “And you call your docs ‘medics’. You’re funny.”

    “It’s not me who has feelers on his head.”

    “It’s not me who has a spoon on his forehead.”

    “Comes in handy when you eat soup.”

    They left the bridge, chatting like kids and Brenok almost burst into laughter seeing Zamarran’s face expression.
     
  7. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Location:
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space

    The Demoks’ family house
    Cardassia Prime, Lakat
    5th day of the month of Chatyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar




    “I have an announcement,” Jarol said unexpectedly.

    Everyone at the table looked at her. Only Laran seemed not to be interested; Brenok guessed she had already told him. She looked at Brenok, who was chewing his food, and waited. He stopped chewing and then swallowed. Did she wait for him to do that? It had to be a big thing!

    “What is it?” he asked.

    “As soon as Daset can return to his duties, I will step down.”

    Brenok would choke is he were still chewing.

    “You will do what?”

    “It is the time, Arenn. I have done my job.”

    “There is still lots of things you could do.”

    She smiled. “Perhaps. But I believe someone else should take care of that.”

    “I can’t believe you’re going to retire. You’re too young,” he said. Jarol was barely sixty-six years old, which was edging on being middle-aged but not there yet.

    “I didn’t say anything about retiring. I’m going to take command of Rayak Nor station.”

    Brenok put his fork away. “This may sound ridiculously unprofessional in the mouth of the highest commander of the Cardassian military but...what is Rayak Nor?”

    “It’s a space station we’re going to build in the Traken system.”

    Brenok was silent for a long moment. “Do you have any idea what kind of impact it’s going to have on our relations with the Federation? They’re going to be furious.” He paused. “Of course you have an idea, your job is to have an idea!” He knew she was responsible for interstellar affairs of their government.

    “You, of course, realise the Klingon threat is growing and a well armed station in the Traken system would be our watch tower and the first line of defence. I had told you I had been negotiating a treaty with the Federation and your mission was very important in proving that we are civilised people and can be trusted. We are going to sign a Cardassian-Federation non-aggression treaty as soon as Daset leaves the hospital. And after that we are going to start building the station.”

    “But it’s too close to the Federation border.”

    “That’s why we tried to talk to the Federation first and make them understand it’s not against them we’re preparing ourselves.”

    “I take it you succeeded.”

    “Indeed. They still are distrustful but at least, for once, they try to follow their philosophy of peace, love and understanding. We can build our station without alienating the Federation. But they had a condition.”

    “Which is?”

    “There is going to be a permanent Federation presence on that station.”

    Brenok couldn’t believe his own ears. “And you agreed to that?”

    “What I think of the Federation is irrelevant. The safety of the Union is important. And right now it’s the Klingons we have to worry about.”

    “And what about the Federation-Klingon relations?”

    “That’s not our problem.”

    Brenok smirked. “You certainly realise that after you step down and take command of a station...I’ll outrank you.”

    She grinned. “Now that’s something I didn’t consider.”

    “These are interesting times we live in,” Laran said.

    Brenok looked at the young man. “Indeed they are...indeed they are...” he muttered.
     
  8. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Location:
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Epilogue


    A young Cardassian woman pushed a hover-chair with a man in it toward a barrier. She stopped when his knees almost touched it, she then locked the chair in place. She sat on a bench next to the chair and looked at the man.

    He stared at the city landscape on the other side of the river. It wasn’t Lakarian City that he knew. He had been told that it had been completely destroyed in a war of which he was not aware. Now, unfamiliar hooked spires of buildings graced the reddish sky, mixed with copies of familiar historic buildings, of which re-building he had his humble, albeit unwitting, participation. It wasn’t his Lakarian City but it was Lakarian City nevertheless and even if it looked differently, it still was beautiful. And if his old paintings could be of help in re-creating it, his life wasn’t wasted.

    The sun was slowly moving to hide behind the city. It’s red light reflected from the water of the river, giving it slightly crimson hue.

    A tear filled his eye. The girl has been bringing him here for four years at least two or three times a week and he had yet to grow tired of this view. He felt her hand on his; in spite of thick gloves, which hid his deformed hands, he could feel the warmth of her touch. He looked at her and mouthed Cardassia is beautiful. He could not produce voice, not any more, not for years, whispering was the best he could do, but he didn’t have to do even that—for she could read from his lips.

    “It is, Uncle, it is,” she said softly.

    He smiled.

    A young couple stopped at the barrier and looked at the sunset. Then one of them glanced at the man. She stared at his hooded head for a moment and then pulled her betrothed away. It didn’t bother the man; he was actually glad they left as he didn’t want to ruin their beautiful moment with his face that looked like he was two hundred years old, while in fact he could enjoy merely half of that time and even that had been robbed of its quarter. He could not know that she wanted to move away not to obstruct his view.

    “Uncle,” the young woman said. “I have been accepted to the Lakarian Academy of Classical Art.”

    He looked at her. His face wore signs of unimaginable suffering he had endured in his life, his body destroyed by inhuman experimentation and almost useless, but his black, like Betazoid, eyes shone with excitement. His hands with missing parts of fingers couldn’t hold a brush any longer but his brain still saw the world the same way it had when he had been young and could commit those images to canvas.

    “Proud of you,” he whispered. He could not make sounds any more, but he still could whisper. It had taken him years to develop that ability; still, it was better than writing everything down or using the ancient ‘flash code’. There was someone else in his life to produce voice, a beautiful voice, a singing voice.

    He looked back at the landscape and admired its perfection. He wished he could paint it.

    He was happy. In spite of everything, he was happy. In a weird way, laughing in faces of his butchers, he was happy.



    The End​
     
  9. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    AWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!

    He's really, truly happy! And this niece...I hope she goes on to have a long career that he can continue to be proud of. Somehow, I imagine that even though he can't hold a brush in his hands, he has been her best tutor and strongest supporter. :)

    I am also so happy to see how long he has lived. I was really afraid he only had a few years left after all of that, but that he's lived this long in Lakarian City...how wonderful. :)

    (I also kind of wanted to smack those people for reacting that way to Saratt's appearance.)



    I was also so pleased to see that horrible slaughterhouse of a ship destroyed. There can only be ONE real Lakarian painter.


    And of course Jeto finding that maybe there's something about the Cardassian side of her heritage that is worth having...that was wonderful. Saratt can count her as another life that he touched in a positive way.


    What looks like a possible peace treaty is also wonderful--I think that it would be good for both powers to be less paranoid of each other, even though they will probably never get over the wounds of what happened right after the Dominion War, and the mistakes that both sides made. And how funny--Brenok will now outrank Jarol! :lol:


    I enjoyed Saratt messing with Brenok over that "flash code," and insisting that he learn it the hard way!


    And finally...I am glad to know that Tarub lived. I really was afraid he'd gone and gotten himself killed, doing what he did.
     
  10. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Location:
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    The niece is following her uncle's footsteps :D I think he has some satisfaction of that ;)
    He's around 100. I don't think he could live full Cardassian lifespan, but I hope he still has some years ahead of him.
    He thought the woman was appalled by his appearance. In fact, she didn't want to stand in his way and obstruct his view. She saw an old man with handicap and knew it was easier for her and her beloved to move away than for him.

    She still has a long way to go but it's a start :)

    There is going to be at least one scene in the next story about who outranks whom and who has to listen to whose orders :devil:


    While I am sure Tarub would do what he had done anyway, he knew his armour would protect his life. He might end up with burns, scars and other unpleasantries, but he knew he should survive that. That's what their armours are for :)
     
  11. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Me too. I love the thought that the years he has lived free have outnumbered the years he lived as a victim of the Order--and then some. Already, he has lived a lifespan that a human from our time would be glad to have.

    I hope that he doesn't always worry like that.

    I know that if I'd been in that woman's place, I would've smiled at him first, just to make sure it was clear what I meant. (But then maybe working in retail teaches you those kinds of things--or reinforces what you already know.)

    A very good thing indeed. In Sigils it's similar--they can help with some of the lighter stun settings from a phaser, and partially absorb the energy from a higher-power blast. Not sure how the cuirass would do against pure electricity, but I imagine it would help in that universe too.
     
  12. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Location:
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    No, he doesn't always worry. Usually he doesn't pay attention. But here it was a small even, not just another passer by, so his mind took a moment to think about it. It didn't spoil his mood, though :)
     

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