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

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Not really. The rebuilding project is based on how we rebuild Warsaw after WWII, but it absolutely is not as ugly as Warsaw!!

    But to think of it...I think I think of Lakarian City being for Cardassia as Cracow is for Poles--it's a beautiful city with a soul that lots and lots of artists come from. It's the "heart" of Cardassia, it's soul, while Lakat (in my universe the capitol) is the brain.

    I didn't.
    I believe in coincidences, coincidences happen all the time. But I don't trust coincidences. Time to check my office for Obsidian Order bugs again, obviously [​IMG]
  2. Thor Damar

    Thor Damar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 27, 2009
    Thor Damar, God of thunder and monologue..

    My Lakarian city is my home city of London without any of the imperial pomp or the political ramifications that come from it being the capital. (we don't really have a Cracow).

    Say, all this has given me an idea that I might PM both you, TN and NG about...
  3. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    An idea? :) Curious, curious...[​IMG]
  4. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Warsaw doesn't look ugly...I pulled up some pictures on Google, and there looks to be a LOT of neat architectural details and cool things to look at. :)

    I won't say where I live, but I feel the same way about my own city. Yes, we have our problems, and they can be big ones, but I still see beauty. :)

    You find the bugs, I'll bring the disruptor and DESTROY the things. :evil:
  5. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    It is ugly. It's not obvious in photos, but the real thing is ugly. I've been there and I've been in other cities all over Europe and Warsaw is the ugliest city I've ever seen.
  6. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Pfft. Again, if I can find something I like about the place I live, I sure won't have a hard time finding it in a European city, which almost always means more architectural interest than what we have here in the US. Your city would be easy in comparison. :)
  7. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    My city is Szczecin and it's nice :) Maybe not pretty the way Cracow or Gdańsk are, but it's nice. It has good spots and some interesting historical buildings (two Russian tzars' wives were born there :)).

    Warsaw is ugly. Period. It's dirty, buildings are neglected, falling apart of simply look terrible. Maybe it's better now, maybe they take care of the Old Town now, but 10 years ago it was terrible. Even my stomach reacted badly to being there :lol:
  8. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    I've seen cities fight to come back...sometimes it's a battle that you know is going to take decades longer and a lot of hard work. But as someone who cares for such a city, I don't want to write off any place. :)
  9. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Chapter 19​

    Cardassian Union Warship Damar
    Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
    29th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar

    “How did she get there?” Doctor Zabar asked. She, Gul Brenok, Glinn Zamarran and Medic Taret were in the gul’s office, updating the doctor with new information.

    “I assume it was some kind of emergency protocol. She activated it and was automatically beamed to the Obsidian Order vessel,” Brenok explained. “The guards, who had been posted to observe her, didn’t have time to react. She just de-materialised.”

    “And why weren’t there any guards on that ship? Shouldn’t it be some kind of standard procedure or something?” she looked at Brenok and smiled to make sure he didn’t take it as an attack on his competency but as a simple question.

    “I asked Gul Brenok not to send troops,” Taret replied. “I didn’t want them to get in the way of my medical team.”

    “Yes, they have an incredible ability of doing that, don’t they?” she joked but didn’t smile this time; the situation was too serious to smile. “And you are sure her name is Nagem?” she asked the gul.

    “That’s what she’s told us and her DNA confirmed that.”

    Zabar shook her head with disbelief. “I would like to see her to make sure, but if it is who I think it is...” Her sentence hung in the air unfinished.

    “Yes, Doctor?” Brenok encouraged her to continue.

    “There was a member in my team. She joined before I received that ‘assignment’ from the Obsidian Order, but left shortly after I sent my report. Always eager to learn, always asking questions. I regretted her decision to leave. Now...”

    “Now you think she had been sent to you to learn from you and use it here. Or to spy on you.”

    Zabar only nodded. Brenok entered a command into his computer and Nagem’s image displayed on his oval monitor. “Is it her?” Zabar nodded again. “Let’s hope her work was a copycat style. That would mean you’d know more about it than anyone else.”

    “I would like to examine those men first and then decide what should be the next step.”

    “Doctor Zabar, you’re the specialist, you know what to do better than I.”

    “But you’re the gul,” she smiled. “You’re the same age as my grandchildren—or maybe even younger than them!—but you still can order me around.”

    “I wouldn’t dare,” he flashed his teeth in an amused smile.

    “I hope so,” she laughed. “Now, can you get Saratt and Bantal’s medical histories? The real thing, uncensored.”

    “I already have them here,” the gul handed her a padd. “Medic Taret had asked me to get them.”

    “Good thinking. Was the decrypted database useful?” she addressed the question to Taret.

    “There’s a lot of information there, but in regard of disconnecting these men...” he shook his head. “There is something, it’s a copy of the procedure from your report and there is a footnote attached that that procedure is only theoretical and its success cannot be guaranteed. In other words: if you need to unplug them, kill them and disassemble their connections to the computer.”

    “Charming,” Zabar muttered.

    “Doctor, is there any chance we can help them?” Breanok leaned to her and looked her in the eyes.

    “I don’t know, my young Gul, but I sincerely hope so.” She thought for a while. “There’s one thing...If you don’t mind, I’d like an engineer in the medical team. This is as technical matter as medical.”

    “I’ll give you two. Ya’val and Kapoor.”

    “Maybe someone from the Karamazov,” Taret proposed quietly. “With knowledge about Borg implants.”

    “Good idea,” Brenok agreed. “I’ll talk to th’Arshar.”

    “Borg,” Zabar sighed and rolled her eyes. “Now, if there is nothing else, I’d like to start the work.”

    “By all means.”

    She rose and Taret followed her example. She politely nodded to Brenok, then to Zamarran and finally headed for the door.

    “It sends shivers down my spine,” she said to Taret after they’d left the bridge and were on the corridor on their way to a lift, “to think that that woman spied on me all that time.”

    “I try not to think how many times someone watched my hands closely.”

    “Oh, how I envy those young people, those children who don’t remember the dread the Obsidian Order meant. Their lives are so...” she couldn’t find a right word.

    “Worry-free?” Taret suggested.

    “Yes. Lucky them,” she grinned. “Now, let’s take care of the unlucky ones. What is their status?”

    “I left most of everything untouched. I have lowered Paratox dosage a bit for both, but I don’t want to completely cut it off. I know very little about it. That database of theirs...” He shook his head with resignation. “It contains information useful for this project only. And since they didn’t plan to remove those men alive, there is no information on effects of withdrawing Paratox.”

    “Another database? Or they decided to commit everything to their memory not to risk any leaks?” she asked as she stopped in front of a lift door.

    Taret pressed a wallcomm to call the lift. “I think both. I’m sure there is full information on everything somewhere, but it would appear that they didn’t think it has to be available on the ship itself.”

    “So you reduced the dosage. I assume you fear they are addicted to it.”

    “That is a high possibility. Another thing is that if their ability to move returns quickly and they start to move...I’m not sure their weak bones and muscles would be able to take it. Their condition is really bad. Frankly, I have no idea how it’s possible they aren’t dead yet.”

    “How about feeding them?”

    “I’ve prepared a special mixture to cover their basic needs. I tried not to make it too nutritious. The shock could kill them.”

    “Fragile beings,” she whispered softly.

    The lift arrived so they entered and Taret gave the car a command to take them to the infirmary.

    “Belay that,” Zabar said. “Transporter chamber.” She looked at Taret. “I hope you don’t mind.”

    “Not at all, Doctor. Actually, to think of it, I should have known,” he smiled.

    “After they wake up, I’m sure at least Saratt is going to be in pain. His nerves are probably fried by this thing. How do you propose to help him?”

    “I have prepared Aratal and calculated a dosage for him.”


    “Seems the best available option.”

    “What about side effects?”

    “I promised him that he wouldn’t feel pain. I don’t intend to break that promise.”

    The lift stopped and they headed for the transporter chamber.

    “I understand.”

    “I must warn you, Doctor. I don’t think you have seen anything like this in your whole career.”

    She didn’t say anything.

    The Obsidian Order vessel
    Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
    29th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar

    Zabar entered the bridge trying to walk quietly. She knew the patient was in a coma but she still felt a due respect to him, as a patient, should be paid. She saw a small team of medics was present, both Cardassian and Federation physicians. A woman with orange hair looked at her and frowned.

    “This is Doctor O’Riordan,” Taret introduced the woman to Zabar. “Doctor, this is Doctor Zabar, the best neurologist on Cardassia.”

    Zabar nodded politely and then went to the table with Saratt.

    She remembered Taret’s warning and there were things she expected to see but this still went beyond her imagination. She almost felt physical pain seeing his flaking scales. His exposed brain was beautiful—as every other brain she had seen—but it was marred by a terrible crown of spikes that pierced it. His face was sunken, fragile. She raised her head and closed it to his cheek as if to stroke it but she didn’t touch him. She knew she couldn’t.

    “You’re a pretty boy, my dear,” she said quietly.

    Then she put her bag on the floor and took a medical scanner from it.

    “I will check the other one,” Taret told her. She nodded and he left the bridge.

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

    Glinn Zamarran entered the Wardroom and quietly went to his seat. He wasn’t technically late, he had told Brenok that he had been going to Karama and would stay as long as the communication officer needed, but he still felt his late appearance was insulting to the gathered officers.

    No one seemed to pay attention, though. The gul acknowledged his aide’s presence with a small nod and then returned his attention to Av’Roo, who was in the middle of her presentation. One glance at the main monitor was enough to know she talked about Borg technology.

    Doctor Zabar was making notes on her padd and Taret was intently looking at the Skorr. After a few moments Zamarran understood that Av’Roo was presenting an engineering point of view on their problem, including a Borg aspect of the experiment. She finished her lecture and Doctor O’Riordan took her place, telling everyone about medical procedures related to Borg drones.

    “If it is as close to Borg technology as you say, would it be necessary to wake them up for the procedure?” Taret asked after O’Riordan finished and sat down.

    “No, not necessary, although helpful. Whole procedure could be controlled also by being able to communicate with the assimilated person.”

    “In this case, however, it might be necessary,” Ya’val said. “This is not exactly Borg there. I have read relevant information regarding those connections and it appears that they have to disengage some functions before they could be removed. A shut down, sort of. Otherwise the ship’s system would fall into chaos and their minds probably too.”

    “In other words,” Brenok said, “we have not only to unplug them physically, but also their ‘programming’. Is that correct?”

    “Yes, sir. They have to shut down the software that is responsible for the link to break the connection.”

    “And how will we do that?” th’Arshar asked. “I mean, this man in the engineering had attacked the away team and can do it again.”

    “I will talk to him,” Brenok said.

    “Do you think he’s going to listen to reason?” Ronus sounded doubtful.

    “I don’t know but we won’t know if we don’t try. I have already gathered information who this man is and I hope it would help me reach him.”

    The Trill nodded, accepting Brenok’s answer. Then he looked at Zabar and Taret. “What are their chances of survival?”

    “Hard to tell at this point,” Zabar said. “We try to prepare for any possibility but this is not something we can foresee.”

    “Was that woman, Nagem, helpful?”

    “After her arrest she had designed a procedure to unplug Bantal,” Taret said. “Doctor Zabar and I have studied it and it appears to be a fantastic piece of work but we are reluctant to apply it. We don’t trust Nagem.”

    “Why would she do that?” Farr asked. “I mean, why would she design it now?”

    “She wants a lower sentence,” Brenok explained.

    “Ah,” the Caitian wasn’t impressed.

    “And that’s one of reasons why we don’t trust her,” Taret said.

    Ronus nodded his understanding. He wouldn’t trust her either. “Do you have your own theory?”

    “We do,” Zabar confirmed. “It contains a lot from Nagem’s suggestion but we’re going to try a different approach.”

    “How about that ship’s databases?” Brenok looked at Ya’val. “You had told me some of them seem to be coded.”

    “Yes,” Ya’val confirmed. “We have withdrawn all our databases from the Karamazov and made sure no malicious codes were left behind to infect their ship. With Nagem’s codes we managed to access all of the databases but...we can’t read them. It appears to be a kind of Cardassian script but it’s...” Ya’val shrugged, “rubbish.”

    “I might actually have an answer to that,” Zamarran said. All eyes turned to him. He glanced at Brenok for permission and, after being granted one, he continued. “Glinn Karama’s condition improved to a point where he needs to do something, so he made himself busy with that writing on the Obsidian Order ship’s hull. And he discovered an interesting thing. This is Cardassian. The characters’ top halves were moved and replaced by preceding characters’ tops.”

    “I don’t understand,” O’Riordan said.

    “Take a word. My name, for example. It consists of seven characters. The first one is Z. The second is A. Top of Z was moved and is now the top of A. The top of A is now on M. And so on. The last letter’s top is now above the first letter’s bottom.”

    “So to read the word we need to move those tops back.”


    Zamarran almost burst into laughter seeing faces of all gathered. All Cardassians, without exceptions, drew the word mentally in their minds to decipher it, concentration clear on their faces and in their eyes, while the Federation people stared at them, wondering why no Cardassian said anything about the revelation. Zamarran could also observe the speed with which every Cardassian solved the puzzle and astonishment on their faces.

    “This is the ship’s name?” Ma’Kan asked quietly.

    “I would say so,” Zamarran confirmed.

    “What does that word mean?” th’Arshar looked at Brenok.

    The gul didn’t reply at first. Zamarran thought that he was lost in thoughts but a slight movement of Brenok’s jaw told him that the gul tried to control his anger.

    “It’s two words, actually,” the glinn looked at the captain with intention to answer, “It means ‘Lakarian Painter’.”

    “They named that terrible experiment the Lakarian Painter?” Farr clearly didn’t understand.

    “Saratt, the man plugged to the main computer core, is a painter from Lakarian City,” Ma’Kan quietly explained.

    “That’s sick,” O’Riordan muttered.

    “You think that the databases were scrambled the same way?” Ya’val asked Zamarran.

    “It’s worth to check.”

    The engineer nodded his agreement.

    “What are the chances for normal lives for them?” Brenok asked quietly. He didn’t look at anyone specifically but it was obvious the question was directed to medical officers.

    Taret looked at Zabar. “There is no possibility for them to return to full health.” Zabar looked up from her padd. “The damage to their bodies is too extensive. They wouldn’t walk, their motor functions might be limited. Their rehabilitation would take years. Apart from irreversible changes to their skin—in some places scales have been removed and scaring is too deep for the scales to grow back, especially on the edges of their neck ridges,” it didn’t escape Zamarran’s attention that Brenok shivered. “We have also decided to amputate ends of their fingers. The nerve damage is most likely severe and impossible to cure so it’s better to remove those nerves completely and then replace missing parts with prosthetics. The same goes for toes.”

    “Isn’t it a bit too brutal?” O’Riordan asked.

    “I think it would be brutal to leave them with damaged nerves, in pain,” Taret emphasised last two words.

    “And I agree with this assessment,” Zabar said, then continued. “We will have to cover their brains as soon as possible.”

    “If I may,” Av’Roo raised her hand. Zabar nodded, so the Skorr said. “I would have an idea for material to do that. It is something typical for Skorr medical purposes, namely our beaks, but I think it could be worth considering for covering their skulls.”

    “I would be very interested in seeing specifications of this material,” Zabar said.

    Av’Roo nodded. “I’ll send it to you as soon as I’m back on our ship.”

    “Thank you, Lieutenant.”

    “How about their neck ridges?” Brenok asked.

    “I cannot tell what kind of state their nerves would be after disconnecting from the machine, but if there would be nerve damage that would cause suffering, we’d also remove those nerves. Limited arm mobility might be preferable over constant suffering,” Taret explained. “We might also consider transplanting new scales but it would be purely cosmetic. Their skin should heal and the edges should be covered by thick scars that would protect their ridges sufficiently.”

    Brenok rubbed his own thick scar on his neck ridge. Somehow a body knew that this was a place which needed a thick, protective cover.

    “Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Sodek say that Saratt knows how to unplug him?” Fong asked.

    “He did,” Av’Roo confirmed.

    “So why don’t we wake him up and ask?”

    “For two reasons, Lieutenant,” Taret said. “First, this information is most likely in one of databases and we can get it without waking him up and adding to his suffering. Second, his communication ability is limited. How would he tell us?”

    “Right, I didn’t think about that,” Fong admitted. “Can’t Sodek mind-meld again?”

    “Saratt refused that option,” Brenok said. “We won’t go against his wishes.”

    “Why? It’s for his own good.”

    “Because he had been treated like an object for too long and by too many,” th’Arshar said. “We will do what he wants.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    Th’Arshar looked at Brenok. “You said you wanted to talk to Bantal. Isn’t that dangerous? He could kill you.”

    “Bantal is in vulnerable position, he can be killed before he’d manage to kill us,” Ya’val said.

    “I think I know why he is here,” Brenok said. “And I think I know what to say to draw his attention and make him listen. To be on the safe side, there would be no Federation personnel present on the Obsidian Order ship at that time, only Cardassians. And not too many,” he added, looking at Taret.

    “I have a question,” O’Riordan raised her hand. “Can’t we beam them out? Maybe that would be a better option than severing their fingers and toes?”

    “Even if I thought it was a good idea—and I don’t—there is a dampening field around them,” Taret said.

    “We couldn’t detect any life signs,” Fong recalled.

    “Exactly,” Ya’val nodded. “Both men and the stasis chambers are surrounded by specific dampening fields that block their life signs and make it impossible to beam them out.”

    “I’d say it’s a security precaution,” Ma’Kan added. “You don’t want your main computer core to be suddenly beamed out by an enemy if you happen to be in battle and without shields.”

    “Right,” Fong agreed.
  10. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    “What about that black cloud around the vessel?” Jeto asked.

    “We have investigated that. It appears to be a benign side effect of drifting and a few encounters with asteroids and other smaller celestial bodies. The vessel’s hull is charged and draws specific particles to it.”

    “Any danger to us or the people on that ship?” Brenok asked.

    “No,” Ya’val firmly shook his head.

    “Are there any more questions?” Brenok looked around the faces of gathered officers. No one said anything, a few shook their heads. “Does everyone know what they are supposed to do?” Nods. “Dismissed then. And get to work.” He glanced at th’Arshar, wondering if the captain wouldn’t want to complain that he ‘orders’ also the Federation people, but the Andorian simply rose from his chair and looked at his officers, clearly waiting for everyone to leave first and then to follow them.

    The wardroom emptied—only Zamarran stayed as he wished to talk to Brenok—but th’Arshar was still there. He stood by his chair, looking at Brenok who was still sitting in his seat, reading something from a padd.

    “Are you going there now?” the Andorian asked. “To Bantal, I mean.”

    “Yes,” Brenok confirmed not raising his head. He tapped at the padd and then looked at the captain. “This is Bantal’s profile,” he said, lifting the padd a little to indicate it was the object he spoke of. “I love Cardassia, I really do, but sometimes...sometimes I really hate it.”

    Zamarran glanced at th’Arshar, wondering if it would shock him. Zamarran himself was not surprised, he sometimes felt the same. He knew Brenok meant the Cardassia before the Shift, but he suspected that the Andorian didn’t.

    Th’Arshar sat back in his seat. He opened his mouth but closed it without saying anything. Zamarran didn’t read Bantal’s biography but he was sure that it was this document that had triggered Brenok’s frustration.

    “Gul Brenok, even the Federation isn’t always as crystal clean as we want to believe.”

    Zamarran’s eyes flared. Did he say even?

    Brenok’s head jerked. “‘Even’? What do you mean by ‘even’? Is the Federation some kind of morality model that everyone should follow, better than everyone else, even though still not perfect?”

    “From my point of view, yes, it is.”

    Brenok stared at th’Arshar and then rose and headed for the door without a word. Zamarran rose too. “The guards will escort you to the transporter chamber,” he said to th’Arshar and then followed his gul.

    “Are we going to Bantal, sir?” He asked after catching up with Brenok.

    “Yes, we are. I’d like you to be there too.”

    “Naturally, sir.” He wouldn’t have it any other way and would even dare to argue with his gul if Brenok wouldn’t want the glinn to accompany him.

  11. Thor Damar

    Thor Damar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 27, 2009
    Thor Damar, God of thunder and monologue..
    By the Gods Whom Are Not, the Order is going beyond mere cruelty and into the realms of pure and unholy sadism. And that's just naming the ship:wtf:

    Let's hope that proper Cardassian justice is dealt out to the shadow agents...of whatever race:shifty:
  12. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    I was afraid the name would be something like that. And my Oralians say, "May they freeze in the eternal tundra of absolute zero, knowing neither beginning nor end of their torment, only pain beyond the end of the universe!" (That is one of the worst curses they have available.)

    As for th'Arshar, boy I'd like to show him the "works" of Section 31. Morphogenic virus, anybody? Good on Gul Brenok for controlling himself, though. Especially since in this context, discussing a horrible Cardassian atrocity, it really seems like th'Arshar was rubbing salt in the wound.

    About what they're going to be fed seem to have thought that through very well. People who have been starved do need to be gradually reaccustomed to normal food. If you look at relief work in famines, this is absolutely the case.

    As for Zabar...I feel bad for her, having been spied on and used that way. She really does seem like such a sweet woman. :(
  13. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    I hoped that the name would stir "proper" reactions. Like: puking.

    Th'Arshar is not a diplomat, if we didn't know that earlier, we know it now for certain.

    I remembered from history books that I had read that after people were being liberated from Nazi concentration camps they couldn't be fed properly or they'd die. After years of being fed with virtually nothing an organism needs time to adjust. So it seemed logical to use the same precaution here. 25 years on some chemicals stuff had to influence their bodies conditions and not for good.
  14. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    I saw that directly depicted in Band of Brothers. The person who had to tell the prisoners that (in the series) broke down crying after delivering the news. :(
  15. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Chapter 20​

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

    Brenok sent all medical staff, except for Malek, out of the engineering. Only he, Zamarran and two guards by the door—and Malek—were present.

    “Wake him up,” the gul told the nurse.

    “It may take a few minutes, sir.”


    Malek injected something into Bantal’s bloodstream but nothing seemed to happen. Brenok patiently waited. He could feel Zamarran standing behind him and somehow felt comforted by his aide’s presence. He also noticed that the guards raised their weapons and tensed. They were ready for whatever might come.

    It took longer than a few minutes but Brenok didn’t rush Malek. He knew that Bantal was in weak condition and forcing chemicals into his fragile body could have tragic consequences.

    Finally, the man opened his eyes. First he looked around and then noticed Brenok’s face. He squinted at the gul and stared at him intently. A moment later his eyes moved to Zamarran’s face.

    “Bantal,” Brenok said quietly and the man’s attention immediately shifted back to him. “My name is Gul Brenok and I have some information to share with you. About your condition and what is going on, but most importantly—about your family, your daughter.” Bantal’s eyes opened wider and he stared intently at the gul. Brenok feared the man didn’t believe him. “I know that she had been tricked by an Obsidian Order agent. I know he had married her and then used that to blackmail you to make you do what they wanted. To do this,” he waved around the engineering. “I know they had told you they would change her life into hell if you wouldn’t follow their orders.” Bantal started to breathe fast and Malek took a medical scanner to monitor his patient’s condition. “Bantal,” Brenok leaned closer, “this was twenty-five years ago. That agent, who had married her, was killed. She never learnt what kind of bastard he was and he never harmed her. She got married again. You have a grandson.” Brenok didn’t want to tell Bantal that his daughter didn’t survive the war, not now. He wanted to concentrate on something positive. “He is twenty-three and I am sure he would love to know his grandfather.” Especially since he didn’t have many living relatives left. Bantal closed his eyes. Brenok hoped it was a sign of the feeling of relief. “We plan to unplug you from this thing,” he said. “But we need your help.” Bantal opened his eyes and looked at Brenok. He frowned and looked around. “Bantal, we managed to communicate with Saratt in a limited way. He was displaying words on a monitor. Maybe you can do the same? For ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers you can blink, once for ‘yes’, twice for ‘no’.”

    Lie? Appeared on a monitor behind Bantal.

    “No, I don’t lie. This is not a trick, your mission, whatever it was, is over.”


    Brenok swallowed his saliva. That seemed sufficient for Bantal, as he gasped quietly.

    “I’m so sorry,” Brenok whispered.


    “He is fine. He lives with your sister’s daughter’s family. His name is Elok.”

    You traitor?

    “No, I am not, Bantal,” Brenok said calmly. “I know you had seen Federation officers here but this is a long story. One I hope to be able to tell you later.”

    One blink. And then on the monitor: Saratt?

    “He is in bad condition. He’s in pain, that’s why he tried to destroy the ship.”

    Not know. Think traitor.

    “Can’t you communicate with him directly?” Two blinks. “Can you communicate with him at all?”
    Two blinks.

    “They probably didn’t want them to conspire against the living crew,” Zamarran suggested.

    Bantal only looked at him, not confirming. Brenok guessed that he didn’t know it himself.
    “Do you know how to unplug you safely?” the gul asked.

    Another monitor activated and filled with a lot of text. Zamarran went to it to read. “It’s a detailed info on unplugging procedure,” he said.

    “Anything new?” Brenok asked.

    “Not really. It’s another file but I don’t see any new information here. But it confirms that some systems have to be shut down by--” Zamarran frowned and growled, “by Bantal and Saratt to make it safe for both the people and the computer.” Brenok sent him an asking look and Zamarran pointed to one of horizontal lines of the text. It read ‘Core 1’ and ‘Core 2’ and the glinn had refused to use those words.

    “Thank you,” Brenok said to Bantal. “Will you help us?” he asked.

    One blink.

    “I’m sorry I have to ask this but...will you attack the Federation people?”

    You no traitor?

    Brenok smiled. “No, I’m not a traitor. I am the highest commander of the Guard, actually.”

    Bantal glanced curiously at his braid and his left eye ridge slightly twitched. Brenok had no idea he could do that. Saratt’s face expressions were more limited.

    “The Federation people are here to help too,” the gul added.

    Kill me?

    “No, Bantal, we want to save you. I wouldn’t allow them to harm you.” After a short moment he added, whispering, “Trust me.”


    A hum sounded in the engineering. Brenok gave Zamarran an asking look.

    “He shuts down non-essential systems,” the glinn explained.

    Ya’val to Gul Brenok,” the gul’s wristcomm activated. “We have detected a drop in power. Is everything all right there, sir?

    “Yes, Ya’val. Everything is under control. Brenok out.”

    Brenok could hear Malek asking Bantal for permission to examine him. The man on the table agreed.

    “Bantal, can you establish a link with another ship?”

    Two blinks. And then Tell on the monitor. The gul was just about to ask what he should tell, when the word was replaced with Daughter. At first Brenok wanted to say that there was no time but it would be a lie and he didn’t want to lie. In addition it occurred to him that Bantal might not survive the procedure but he still deserved to know. Therefore the young gul leaned against the table and started to relay all post-2371 information on Bantal’s daughter and her family that he had found in the database of the Bureau of Identification. There wasn’t much but he could assure Bantal that his ‘little girl’ had a happy least until the Jem’Hadar took it away. The parallel to his own daughter was so clear that he couldn’t hide his own emotions. Maybe that would convince Bantal that he wasn’t making this up, that it all was the truth.

    Brenok understood Bantal’s earlier aggressive behaviour. They had used his love for his only child to make him agree to this experiment. They had convinced him that if he didn’t act as they wanted, the Obsidian Order agent that had married her would cause unimaginable suffering and Bantal knew from his own experience what the Obsidian Order was capable of. Brenok knew how it was to care for one’s daughter and if faced with the same choice he was certain he wouldn’t hesitate to agree to be put on this table and attached to the computer. He would kill every ‘traitor’ in sight and follow any suicidal mission for his little girl’s safety. He would sacrifice every last scale on his body to make sure her scales remained untouched by monsters in Cardassian disguise.

    At first Bantal had hard time to believe that so much time has passed. After talking to Saratt Brenok knew the painter wasn’t aware of passage of time as a person normally would. Bantal seemed to be the same case. Did they enter some kind of long term stasis from time to time? Did their minds, locked in some sort of virtual reality inside the computer, perceive the time differently?

    Maybe it was better that way. Easier for them. Saved them from going insane from being immobilised for twenty-five years. Alone... Abandoned...

    “Sir,” Zamarran said softly, using the opportunity that Bantal was asking a question on the monitor and Brenok stopped speaking for a moment. “I’ll be with Karama.”

    Brenok nodded and the glinn left the engineering. He passed by Doctor Zabar on the way. She came to examine her patient and welcomed him with a warm, although sad smile.

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

    “How do you feel?” Zamarran asked Karama, pulling a chair and sitting next to his biobed.

    The infirmary was almost empty, as most of the staff was on the Obsidian Order ship, but there still were two nurses present.

    “Like a stabbed man,” the communication officer replied. “And useless.”

    “You have solved the problem with the database. That helped us a lot.”

    “So the database used the same letter shifting system?”


    They both fell silent. Zamarran didn’t mind; he didn’t come here to talk, he came to be with his friend. Busy with the case he had not time to dwell on what had happened to Karama but last night he had problems with falling asleep and his thoughts had been circling the murder and Ha’varra’s insanity. Zamarran was sure the Federation counselor was crazy, he saw no other explanation.

    “We were returning back to the Damar,” Karama said quietly. “He was so quiet. I think he felt badly about his friend on that ship there.” He silenced. “I was unfair, wasn’t I?” he asked suddenly.

    Zamarran had no problems with understanding what Karama talked about. “You were hurt.”

    “He saved me. He used some uncanny trick to protect me from the first blow but that Efrosian was fast and turned against Sabal. And Sabal managed to fend off another attack. I don’t know how he did it. But that Efrosian was fast, really fast and before I knew I felt pain under my armour. And Sabal rammed him and he got stabbed too. And then we heard someone coming. I don’t know what happened next.” He silenced again. “He saved my life. He risked his to save mine. And lost his...” he sighed. “I was so unfair.”

    “You were angry. You would get over it.”

    “I hope so. I think I would. He didn’t mean wrong. He was still the same Sabal; I just learnt something new about him but it didn’t change who he was, did it?” Zamarran shook his head. “You know why I’m angry?” Another shake of the head. “That he was murdered for crimes of my father. That bastard had hurt a lot of people and now he lives a comfortable life on Cardassia and people still get hurt and die because of him. I hate him, you have no idea how much I hate him.”

    Zamarran had an idea. He knew Karama and his older brother lived together after moving out from their family house. They had begged their mother to go with them but she had chosen to stay with her husband and now both brothers waited for the old man to die to take their mother to their home.

    “Zamarran...” Karama looked his friend in the eye. “Promise me something.”


    “If I die, if something happens to me, take care of Amrita.”

    “Nothing is going to happen to you.”

    “You can’t know that. Promise me.”

    “I promise,” Zamarran said. He knew Kapoor could stay with the other Karama brother, who had accepted her and got used to having a human family member, but he also knew that his friend needed this assurance.

    They both looked at Kapoor who was sleeping on a biobed next to Karama’s.

    “She cried a lot,” the communication officer said. “She denied it when I asked but I know. I think this is hard for her. The Feds are not very friendly and now one of them tried to kill me. It is hard for her.”

    “She’s strong. She’s going to be fine. And so are you.”

    Karama smiled sadly. “Until next time.”

    Silence. Long minutes of silence. Comfortable silence. Silence of friendship.
  16. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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

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

    Doctor Zabar was frustrated. Not only the medical scans of Saratt were not encouraging but, as if this wasn’t enough, she had difficulties with technical information another scanner was offering her.

    “Young lady!” Zabar called a Federation officer whom she was really happy to see as the woman wore gold, so must have been an engineer. Everyone else in the room was either from the Damar’s medical staff or wore blue—which meant the same for the Karamazov.

    The ‘golden’ officer turned and went closer to Zabar. “I’m a Bajoran,” she said defensively.

    “Does it exclude you from being a lady? Or young?” the Cardassian neurologist asked amused.


    Zabar’s eye ridges rounded, as if she expected a real answer to her question and then she asked, “What is your name, young lady?”

    “Lieutenant Jeto.”

    “Lieutenant? That’s an interesting name. I suppose it is as popular as ‘gul’ on Cardassia. You have no idea how many men say their name is ‘gul’ or ‘glinn’.” Jeto stared at the woman with huge eyes. Zabar smiled. “I asked about your name, not your rank.”

    “It’s Jeto Letara, ma’am”. Something resembling a tiny grin played on the girl’s lips.

    “A very pretty name, Jeto Letara” Zabar smiled. “Now, could you please help me? I seem to be confused by these readings.”

    Jeto came closer and took a look at the scanning result the Cardassian’s padd was displaying. “Computer connections schematics,” she stated.

    “Indeed. I knew you were the right person to ask. I have a hard time to find correlation between these here,” she pointed to ends of some kind of connections, “and my patients’ nervous systems.”

    “I’ve been thinking about it too, ma’am,” the young Bajoran replied. “And I think that they did a sloppy work. I’m not a doctor, but I think they couldn’t separate particular nerves, so they just stuck their wires into brains with hope that it would work, if you excuse the crude metaphor.”

    Zabar put a finger to her right chin ridge and rubbed it. “I didn’t think of that. I had assumed it would be impossible to regulate nerve-wire connections, but I didn’t think they’d try something so...idiotic.”

    “You designed it?” Jeto asked her with horror.

    “I wrote a report full of bullshit that every idiot would dismiss as impossible in reality,” Zabar’s voice was quiet and sad. “Unfortunately, Cardassia was full of people more stupid than even idiots.” Jeto’s face seemed to relax. “Dear Jeto Letara, will you be my guide in the engineering matters?” Jeto nodded. “Then let’s get to work and free those two poor gentlemen.”

    This time the grin of Bajoran’s face was clear. Not a big one, but clear.

    “Medic Taret,” Brenok looked at the physician. “I have a question.”

    “Yes, Gul?”

    “That Vulcan ensign, Sodek, said that Saratt was paralysed. That he could feel touch but had no power over his muscles...or what’s left of them. But both Saratt and Bantal here can move their eyes. Bantal has some limited face expressions and I remember that Saratt’s muscles reacted to your hypospray. And they can breathe on their own.”

    “Our muscles work two different ways. Some of movements are voluntary, some not.”

    “Not?” Brenok looked at the sleeping man. After their long ‘conversation’ Bantal fell asleep with some help of Taret’s medication.

    “When you touch something you think ‘oh, it’s so hot, I must remove my hand’? Or do you jerk your hand away immediately?” Brenok didn’t reply, only nodded that he understood. “They cannot move. The impulses in their nerves go only one way. To collect, not to send. They can feel your hand touching them but they can’t move their hands. They can feel pain but they can’t scream. Or rather—they can scream soundlessly as some of muscles required for screaming don’t work. I think this is the failed part of this experiment. They weren’t supposed to feel anything. However their butchers feared to completely shut down their nervous system, so they left something. Too much. In Saratt’s case way too much. Bantal’s connections are a little different and his nerves were differently attached. Also his spine. I don’t think we’d be able to fix the damage so most likely he is going to stay paralysed from his waist down. I can only hope we won’t cause more damage during the unplugging process.”

    Brenok shivered. After Bantal shut down most of systems in preparation for their release, the temperature on the ship dropped significantly. Part of him shivered at the details of this atrocity, though.

    “Sir, maybe you should return to the Damar,” Taret said.

    “I’ll be fine.”


    “I’ll manage,” there was no sense in lying to your medic, he’d know the truth anyway.


    “Taret, I can’t leave him.”

    “Sir, he’s sleeping. And you won’t be very helpful later, fighting your own condition.”

    “I should replicate a scarf.”

    “You know it wouldn’t help. Your whole shoulder should be kept warm,” Taret insisted.

    Something touched Brenok’s upper arm and then rested on his shoulder, completely covering his right shoulder, neck and neck ridge.

    “Does this help?” Av’Roo asked. Brenok stared at her surprised. She covered him with the feathers of her wing. “I know this is not ideal but maybe warm enough? We keep our children in warmth this way.”

    Taret looked at Brenok. The gul wasn’t sure. Feathers on neck ridges had very deep sexual connotations and it felt very awkward, but when he looked at Av’Roo, for whom it clearly was a motherly gesture, he didn’t feel immorally assaulted.

    “This...” he started. “This is nicely warm but highly inappropriate.”

    Av’Roo removed her wing with a speed Brenok wouldn’t think was possible. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to--”

    “That’s all right,” the gul raised his hand. “That’s really all right. It’s nice of you to think of me,” he smiled, then looked at Taret. “I think I’ll better return to the Damar[//i]. It may be too cold here for me to stay for too long.” And with that he quickly headed for the door.

    He felt terrible, leaving Av’Roo like this. He promised himself to talk to her about it later, to explain to her that he wasn’t angry and his sudden return to the warship wasn’t a result of her inappropriate behaviour. He understood she didn’t mean anything wrong and couldn’t know. His mind understood. His libido didn’t.

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

    Ma’Kan tried to stick a tiny nacelle to her new model but her hands were shaking. She tried to relax and did a few exercises but it didn’t help much. She knew she wasn’t shaking because her body was tensed. She was shaking because she was trying to suppress her sobs. She pretended she wasn’t crying.

    She missed again and the hull of the tiny Sabre class starship gained another smear of glue. This kind of work required precision and tonight Ma’Kan could offer everything but that.

    She tried to think about the next day, about their attempt to release two men that were imprisoned in computer systems. But she couldn’t. Earlier that evening she had almost tapped her wristcomm to call Sabal. Her hand had hung over her wrist with a terrible reminder that there was no Sabal.

    They had started to build this model together. He had prepared the design and cut the pieces and her job was to assemble it. A tiny USS Karamazov.

    Another attempt of sticking the nacelle. Another failed attempt.

    A filled with pain whine escaped her throat. The sound startled her and she covered her mouth with her hand. Tears filled her eyes and she blinked, trying to clear her vision. However the more she tried not to be overwhelmed by crying, the more her chest hurt with smothered sorrowing.

    Frustrated, she grabbed the tiny model and threw it at the opposite bulkhead. It didn’t hit the hard surface yet, when she ran after it.

    “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” she cried. “I destroyed your work!”

    She collected all little pieces and was relieved to see that only one was broken. She could fix it, she could glue it back together. She had to start her work all over, as all elements had fallen apart, but it didn’t matter. She could re-live those moments and imagine that Sabal was with her. That Aladan was with her.

    She sat on the floor and stared at the small elements of plastic in her cupped hands. She wanted to kill that Efrosian. She wanted to pull his white hair and tear his head off. To scratch his eyes out with the little nacelles in her hands. To cut him to pieces with the knife he’d used to kill Sabal.

    Her hands started to ball into fists but she realised what she was doing before she crushed the elements. She got up from the floor and went to the table. She gently put all pieces into the box that Sabal had brought them in and closed it. Then she gently stroked the cover with her hand. He had touched it. He had touched those pieces. He had touched that chair over there. And the wallcomm—many times. And her hand when he had wanted to cheer her up, or help her with her models.

    He was everywhere in her life, how was she supposed to go without his presence?

    “Ma’Kan to Ya’val.”

    Ya’val here,” he answered crisply.

    “I need you,” she whispered, afraid she’d burst into tears if she spoke aloud.

    I’ll be right there,” his voice was soft and gentle.

  17. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Zabar was WONDERFUL here! I loved her sense of humor, especially when she acted like "Lieutenant" was Jeto's given name!

    The scene between Av'Roo and Brenok was...adorable, though just a touch sad because they are misreading each other SO much. It's very fortunate that Av'Roo immediately said that this is what Skorr mothers do for their children.

    (Too bad that I can't give Brenok one of the Oralian scarves AU Marritza was you saw in the drawing, they do go sort of closer to the shoulder area.)

    I feel horrible for Ma'Kan, losing Sabal in that senseless way (though honorable, at least, in the fact that he died saving someone). But honor doesn't take the pain away, at all.

    As for Bantal...his motivations definitely make sense now. He felt backed into a corner and he reacted out of fear both of them and of what would happen if he didn't do everything the Order would want him to do. I was really worried that he'd gone insane or been so filled with hatred by the Order that there wasn't much left. And a grandchild...what a wonderful reason to live. I'm glad he has at least SOME reason.
  18. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    I agree with Zabar, why do people answer "Rank Surname" is they are asked about their name :D
    Even Jeto can't resist her and I wonder if even Jeto thinks that Zabar reminds her of her grandmother. I hope so :)

    Brenok and Av'Roo scene had more material, but I deleted it. It was too embarrassing for Brenok, so I cut a few sentences off. I think the picture is clear enough.
    And don't worry about a scarf ;)

    Yes, Bantal wasn't a bad man. He was just another emotionally blackmailed victim of the agents :(
  19. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Here's the "soundtrack" that fitted my mood when writing this chapter:

    Chapter 21

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

    “Does everyone know what their tasks are?” Gul Brenok asked. He looked around; the engineering and the medical teams confirmed. “Remember not to interfere with others’ work,” he added. “The timing is crucial. Please take your positions.”

    Jeto went to a chair by a console she was assigned to. The console controlled the table and most of programming, responsible for the Cardassian-computer connection. Ya’val sat next to her; too close for her taste but she didn’t have any influence on that—he had to man another section of the same console. She could feel his armour rubbing against her shoulder from time to time. She glanced at him but he appeared genuinely unaware of that fact. It seemed that the armour was thick enough for him not to feel such a faint sensation of touch.

    She checked the readings and it seemed like the Cardassian, Bantal, was in a good a way.

    She displayed schematics of connections on the screen and left them open to monitor the progress. Bantal had already disconnected himself from engineering systems and helm control software. She glanced at the man on the table. Just like Saratt on the bridge, he had been covered by a kind of tent to keep him warm. She observed three doctors that were disconnecting feeding tubes from his body. Taret asked Bantal if he felt any pain; the patient blinked twice. Jeto knew there were some wires in his spinal cord and knew it would take hours to safely disconnect him from them. Her job was to shut down the table’s functions, one by one. Bantal had given her access to a file in which the correct order of the procedure was described. She called that file now and also left it open on the screen. Luckily, uploading translation software to the ship’s computer and having all files she needed translated wasn’t a problem and it had been done a few hours earlier.

    No! Ya’val put his arm behind her...on the chair behind her! She couldn’t believe he would use such a moment to impose his advances on her... He leaned forward and she felt the protruding front of his armour on her upper arm. She was just about to jerk away with her chair when he started to speak.

    “Bantal,” he said quietly. “I know you can hear me...I just wanted...” he didn’t finish. Jeto could clearly see Bantal blinking once and was sure that Ya’val, from his position and face so close to hers, could see that too. “I wanted to apologise for threatening you like that before. I’m sorry.” Bantal blinked once. “I promise you a hot cup of steaming, home-made fish juice when it’s all over.” Bantal’s face relaxed.

    Ya’val returned to his position. “Sorry about that pushing,” he muttered to her and she felt shamed of her assumptions. Ya’val didn’t want to touch her in an indecent way, he wanted to be able to see Bantal’s face and from his chair he couldn’t. Whatever he apologised for, it seemed very important to him.

    An apologising Cardassian. That wasn’t something she thought she’d ever see.

    “Bantal,” Zabar stood next to the patient, “We will now start severing the connections. We don’t know how much damage had been done to your nerves, so we will cut the wires.”

    “Glinn Zamarran will inform you about each wire to be severed,” Brenok said. “You will then disconnect that link and the wire would be cut off. One by one.”

    “After we finish the whole procedure,” Taret said, “We will anaesthetise you and take you to the Damar where we will remove all wires and mechanical components. That would require some minor amputations; we don’t want to leave any damaged nerves to cause you problems later.”

    Bantal blinked once.

    “We will start from toes, then proceed to fingers, next would be your spinal cord, neck ridges and finally your brain,” Zabar explained. “If you feel pain at any stage of the process, start blinking. Nurse Malek’s sole task is to observe your face, so we would know immediately we need to address that issue.”

    One blink.

    “Are you ready?” she asked.


    “Is everyone?” Brenok looked around. “Proceed,” he nodded.

    Zamarran raised the tail of the tent to expose Bantal’s feet. “Five-blue,” he said and looked at Bantal and then at Jeto. The Bajoran looked at her monitor and checked the status of connection marked as ‘five blue’. It went dark, as it should. She looked at Zamarran and nodded. He looked at Bantal and nodded to him. “Four-red.” The whole procedure repeated.

    “Gul Brenok,” Jeto called the Cardassian commander when Zamarran finished with all toes. “I have noticed something interesting.”

    Ya’val leaned closer to take a look at her screen. Brenok approached her and leaned over her from the other side. A week ago she would start shouting, having two Cardassians hovering over her like that but not today—right now it didn’t bother her at all.

    “Look here,” she pointed to one of smaller access windows on her screen. “It would appear that Bantal disconnects those links not only for himself but for Saratt too.”

    “They are either related to the same shutdown procedure, or he does it on purpose,” Ya’val guessed.

    Brenok went to Bantal. “Did you choose to shut down connections for both of you?” he asked. One blink. “Do we still need to wake him up?” Two blinks. “Thank you for your help, Bantal,” Brenok smiled.

    “Shall we proceed?” Zamarran was ready by Bantal’s hand. Taret stood next to him with his surgical instruments.

    They started again.

    “This is too easy...” Jeto muttered to herself. Ya’val shot her a glance. “This is the Obsidian Order’s work, right?” she said to him, although her eyes didn’t leave her monitor. “Shouldn’t they have made it difficult? Didn’t they make things difficult?”

    Ya’val looked behind her over her head and just then she realised that Brenok was standing there and heard her.

    “That’s why I’m monitoring the system,” Ya’val returned his attention to his screen. “I keep scanning and searching for anomalies.”

    When they were finished with the fingers, Churmou pulled a kind of shelf from the guts of the table. Zamarran lay on it, with his face up and nodded to her. The Bolian engineer pushed the shelf back into the machine.

    “You’re all right there, Zamarran?” Brenok bend down and shouted into the opening.

    “I’m fine,” came the glinn’s muffled voice. And “Ouch!” a moment later.

    “What is it?” Taret in a split second was on his knees by the opening.

    “Nothing, Taret. I just cut my finger. Don’t worry about me. I’m ready to start.”

    The shelf had been installed there by the table constructors. Its purpose, most likely, was to give access to spinal cord connections, to attach them, disconnect and possibly maintain.

    Zamarran started to name connections and Brenok repeated them for Jeto to make sure she understood them correctly. In this case the connections existed only on Bantal’s profile. There was nothing of that sort in Saratt’s ‘technical specification’.

    “I hate the fact that it’s an engineer’s job to operate on a man,” Jeto heard Brenok saying to someone. She didn’t turn he head to see whom to talked to, she couldn’t interrupt her work. “People are not machines.”

    “Look at it from a bright side,” Captain th’Arshar’s voice said. “He helps Bantal and that’s what counts.”

    Brenok only growled.

    The spinal procedure took more time than the extremities operation but finally Zamarran was pulled out from the guts of the table.

    “Show me your finger,” Taret demanded as soon as Zamarran’s face was visible.

    The glinn raised his index finger and moved it so close to the medic’s nose that it almost touched it. “See, it’s not even bleeding any more. Can we proceed?”

    Taret grabbed Zamarran’s hand, inspected the cut, sprayed it with something that smelled like a disinfectant and let the glinn’s hand go.

    Zamarran stood at the head of the table. He leaned over Bantal. “You good?” he asked. The patient blinked once. “So here we go.”

    Jeto could tell that Zamarran was tired. His face wore smudges of dirt from the inside of the table, his hair was a mess, but his eyes were focused and his hands stable. He took the tool, which he had been using to cut the wires, and activated it. He looked at Jeto. “Blue-blue-seven,” he said and his eyes returned to the wire.

    The Bajoran looked at her screen and saw that the connection deactivated. She nodded. “Done,” she said, in case Zamarran wasn’t looking at her.

    He started to cut the thick wire.

    “What a--” She heard Ya’val’s voice next to her. “Something happening!” The pitch of his voice was higher than usually; he started to frantically punch keys on his panel. She glanced at his monitor: there was some kind of program activated.

    Brenok was already over Ya’val’s head. “Shut it down! Shut it down!” he yelled before Jeto even knew what the program was doing.

    And then she understood. She looked at Zamarran. “Step back, step back!” she shouted to him. “Everyone step back!” She pushed away from the console, making sure she didn’t touch anything.

    Ya’val kept entering commands, trying to stop it but she knew it was too late. The process had already started and no matter how fast his fingers worked—there was no way to reverse it.

    “Back!” Brenok pulled Ya’val’s arm, but the engineer wrestled himself from the gul’s grasp and kept working. Jeto approached from the other side and grabbed the other arm and together with Brenok she dragged Ya’val away from the console...not a second too soon before it was overtaken by electricity discharges.

    She glanced at Bantal, on whose body the blue discharges danced. She closed her eyes and covered her ears with her hands, but the terrible sound was still reaching her brain.

    The discharge dissipated a minute later, leaving the fried body on the table. Zamarran punched the edge of the table with his fist, shouting a Cardassian curse that Jeto didn’t know. Doctor Zabar pulled the tent’s fabric over Bantal’s face and covered him. Medic Taret sat on the floor and hid his face in his hands.

    Quiet. No one said anything.

    One monitor was flashing. There were some Cardassian words on it but Jeto couldn’t read them.

    “What does it mean?” she quietly asked Brenok, pointing to the screen.

    The gul looked at it and then closed his eyes. “It means,” he looked at her, “‘All at once’.”

    Zamarran looked at them and then at the monitor. He stared at the words for a moment and then finished cutting the wires off. After that he left the engineering without a word. Malek and Zabar moved Bantal’s body to a hover-stretcher and left the engineering too, followed by most of other staff.

    Jeto looked at Brenok who kept staring at the empty table. She wished she knew what he was thinking. His jaws worked and his eyes were squinted.

    “Do you think Nagem knew about it?” th’Arshar asked him.

    “I don’t know,” the gul replied quietly. “But I am going to attempt extract the last piece of information from her.”

    “I’m not sure I would trust her ‘information’,” th’Arshar said. “Can I assist?”

    “No, Captain. You don’t want to witness that.” Brenok’s eyes finally left the table and looked at the Andorian.

    Jeto didn’t want to even think about what Brenok meant.

    “And what if she doesn’t tell you anything?” th’Arshar asked.

    “I don’t care if she tells me something or nothing. I am going to enjoy the process.” The gul moved toward the exit but stopped before leaving the engineering. “You know what’s the worst thing?” he asked, not turning to face them.

    “No,” the Andorian said.

    “That no matter how much I’d like to torture her, I know I wouldn’t have guts to actually do it.”

    “That’s a good thing, sir,” Jeto said before she realised what she was doing. Th’Arshar looked at her a smiled.

    “I don’t feel so good,” Brenok said and resumed his walk, disappearing in the corridor a moment later.

    Th’Arshar patted her shoulder and followed the gul. She was just about to leave too when she realised that not everyone has left yet.

    He was still sitting on the floor. He pulled his legs close to his chest and leaned his arms on his knees. His forehead rested on the bent arms, his face not visible.

    “Medic Taret?” she squatted down next to him and put her hand on his back. “You did all you could.”

    He raised his head and looked at her. He didn’t say anything but he didn’t have to. His face was a personification of grief.

    Last edited: Dec 26, 2010
  20. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Oh my God...that made me CRY. :(

    I didn't want to see that happen to Bantal. And I don't want to see it happen to Saratt, either.

    I'm glad that at least Ya'val had the chance to say what he felt he needed to say, and be understood.