Star Trek: Shaping a Cardassian - Among the Dragons

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gul Re'jal, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Oh, man...I knew Gul Karama was going to be hateful, but to actually see it firsthand was terrible.

    And indeed--Gul Karama is the last person who should be calling other people out on their sexual habits, considering that rape was one of his. hard as Kapoor's question was on her husband-to-be, I think it had to be asked. Even on Earth, the cycle of abuse can be a tough thing to break, if that's what you consider normal. :(

    As to raising the children as Cardassians...I hope that while Cardassian will be their first language and they'll go to Cardassian schools, they will be given some way to appreciate their mother's heritage too.
  2. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    About raising children...Gul Karama overestimates his "power" over his son. He won't let Tavor and Amrita live in his house, but he thinks he can demand--or control--how they raise their children. Why does he care in the first place, if he practically disowns his son? Ah, yes, his need to control everyone and everything... :rolleyes:

    Tavor is a smart man, he will deal with it :)
  3. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    It's good to know that Gul Karama's power doesn't go that far. I really hope to see sometime how the children were raised. It would be great, for instance, if Cardassian is their first language but they are also bilingual or even trilingual. :)
  4. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    This would be in Rayak Nor story some day (I think sooner than in Kapoor story). The kids would be a bit older, but it would be very obvious what they are like and how they are being raised.
  5. TerokNor

    TerokNor Captain Captain

    Mar 26, 2010
    Oh yes, fathers can be so difficult can´t they? Both of them, but of course Mr. Karama is more than just difficult. This was a hard situation perfectly written.
    And will Tavor still get the possibiloty for a second try with her parents? Would be nice to read what questions they have and how hed answer them.

    Also I just wondered something...if Damar has survived, would he have supported Ghemor or also the ones Jarol supports? Would there friendship have broken?

  6. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Damar might've offered the alternative that Gul Re'jal's Cardassia needed: a middle way. A leader who can work with others but is strong enough to hold his own and not be a puppet. (He's already been down that path once, and he won't want to do that again.) But really, do you think Re'jal would have a "good guy" character backing her version of Ghemor? :p ;)

    At least that's my unofficial opinion.
  7. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Damar would probably win the first elections and Ghemor wouldn't have any real power to do the damage.

    I don't think he would support the coup. I think he would support the Mar'kuu Group (if it existed at all, Damar's presence would most likely change the whole political scene of Cardassia) but a coup wouldn't be needed.

    If he didn't support the Mar'kuu Group, it wouldn't destroy his friendship with Jarol. She's better than that. And I am not sure she would got involved in politics at all if he were alive.
  8. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    If someone is new to this story and would like to catch up, please go to my archive I have edited the story and hopefully improved the grammar and some worldbuilding details, but I’m unable to edit posts on the forum, so the improved version is available only on the archive.

    Chapter 21—Day 609

    Another office. Another government office. Oh, I didn’t think I had visited as many Federation officials, as Cardassian. Actually, I don’t think I had personally visited any Federation official.

    At least, this time I wasn’t scared to death. Everything else seemed almost the same as in Gul Tarkan’s office: a secretary in armour behind the desk, the big door to the office, even the seat was identically uncomfortable.

    “You may enter,” said the glinn-secretary.

    The office was much smaller than I had expected. There was a painting of a village in a desert on the wall to the left and another of a sand storm in a town on the opposite wall. There was a window opposite the door and it was big enough to give sufficient light even for my human eyes. In one of corners there was a low coffee table with three chairs. I moved forward, walking on a soft, thick carpet toward a medium-size desk, which was completely covered by padds. There was one spot free of padds, though—a small sculpture stood there, the same that she had kept in her office aboard the ship. A dolphin of some sort. A Cardassian dolphin, of course, with ridges at al.

    “Eresh Kapoor.” Legate Jarol stood from behind her desk and approached me. “What can I do for you?”

    I was wearing Cardassian armour with the eresh’s markings. She was wearing legate’s armour—silver and with the Union’s emblem on her chest. I noticed she didn’t wear the undershirt that legates usually wore under their armours, which covered their shoulder ridges. I wondered why.

    “Actually,” I started to speak quietly, “In spite of wearing my armour, I came with a very private, personal matter.”

    “Oh?” She seemed surprised. Her whole mannerism changed immediately. Her facial expression became less official and more curious.

    “Glinn Karama and I are in the middle of our wedding preparations. It’s not going to be a very traditional Cardassian wedding...his parents are going to be absent.”

    She nodded her understanding. “I know of Gul Karama,” she said simply.

    “Yes.” I pulled my face, thinking of that monster. But I didn’t want to spoil this moment. “So, we want to have a modest ceremony. Still, I want to make it as traditional as possible for Tav...Glinn Karama and...” I hesitated. I’d made my decision and I was sure it was the right one, but now facing her—I felt like it was too bold to ask.

    “Yes?” She encouraged me.

    “According to the Cardassian tradition, I need two per’tayes. I have only one. I would...” I silenced not able to finish, but she clearly understood.

    Her posture changed, as she leaned to me. “Kapoor, you should ask your friends for it, someone close to you.”

    “Legate, I have only one friend here—one female friend at least—and you are the closest thing to a friend there is. You would make me a great honour if you’d agree to be my first per’taye.”

    “Kapoor, the honour would be mine.” She put her hand on her chest. “However, shouldn’t Ma’Kan be you first per’taye? She is closer to you.”

    “But you are a legate and you are older.”

    She smiled, grabbed my elbow and pulled me to the coffee table. I sat in one chair, she sat in another and then she said, “Kapoor, a per’taye is not about social function, position or age. It is about the place the woman has in your heart. Ma’Kan is your, this is Ma’Kan we’re talking about, right?” I nodded. “So she should be your first per’taye.”

    “Will you be my second per’taye?” I asked. Ma’Kan had told me the same thing, but I had been afraid of offending Legate Jarol.

    “With pleasure,” she smiled warmly.

    That was so strange. I had known her as a gul for such a long time and while I couldn’t complain, she had been nothing like a Federation captain, who would called you by your given name from time to time. Now she was a legate, a member of the government and I had expected her to be even more distant and stiff... But she was nice and friendly, more like an older sister than a former commander. Why was that? Because she wasn’t my direct superior any longer? Because I came with a non-uniform matter?

    “Our wedding will be on thirty-fifth of Yiyut,” I said.

    “I’ll make sure to have that day booked for you.”

    “Thank you, Legate.” I rose. “I’m sure...I can see you are busy.” I pointed to the desk and the padds. She stood up, too. “I’ll leave you to your work now. I have to study anyway.” Stop babbling, silly!

    “Good luck, Kapoor.”

    “Thank you, Legate.”

    I left her office.

    A member of the Central Command would be my bridesmaid. Wow, I ruled!

    Ma’Kan waited outside of the building, bathing her face in the sun’s orange rays. “Well, what did she say?” she asked me when I approached her.

    “She said the same thing you did.”

    “I didn’t doubt that. But did she agree?”

    I smiled. “Indeed.”

    “So, that is settled. What’s left on your preparations list?”

    What? Did she expect me to pull the list out of my head and—Of course she did! I squinted my eyes, trying to recall what else was left to do. “I still have to prepare our menu. This is not going to be a big party, but we must feed our guests.” I gave her an asking look. “Or not?” I had just realised that in the society of constant saving and rationing they might not expect a few to feed many.

    “Have you decided to have the party in your new place or at a restaurant?”

    “Why? Does it matter?”

    “Yes. The guests must know beforehand. You shall greet them with some food, but they wouldn’t come empty-handed. They’d bring rations for you to use later, or their own food to share with everyone, or share costs of the bill if the party takes place at a restaurant. They would also notify you earlier if they bring food or rations, so you’d know how much food you should prepare. Nothing ruins a party more effectively than little food to eat and lots of ration allocations on padds.” She chuckled.

    “This is so new to me,” I admitted. “I can barely get used to thinking about money and paying for things. Rations? This is just too damn weird.”

    “I’d feel like a thief in the Federation,” Ma’Kan said. “To take things and don’t pay? You go to prison for that here.” She laughed. A moment later she became serious again. “As to the menu, don’t plan anything yet. After you invite all your guests and they confirm their ‘return gifts,’ then and only then you can start planning what to feed them with.”

    “Noted.” I paused. “Now what? You told me you had a surprise for me.”

    “Have you ever been to a fresh market?” she asked.

    My eyes opened wide. “No.”

    “Want to go?”

    “And you will tell me all about food over there?”

    “Naturally. This is going to an educational field trip.”


    “Anything you must do?”

    “Nope. Let’s go.”

    We took a tram—a modern, fast mini-train—and arrived to one of districts, in which I hadn’t been before. Ma’Kan explained that the biggest fresh market in Lakat was here.

    Sometimes there were moments when I felt on Cardassia just like at home. The heat, the humidity, the crowds—it all was so similar to home that no Federation starship could imitate this strange feeling.

    The fresh market was no different and gave me a strange feeling of home. It was surrounded by a wire net fence with a gate—I assumed there were many of those in different parts of the market—to enter. By the gate hung a huge plan of the market. Ma’Kan stopped there and let me study it for a moment. The plan clearly showed which part of the market was dedicated to fruits, which to vegetables, meat, fish, and kitchen equipment—yes, on the market one could buy not only food but also all necessary items to prepare it.

    “Let’s start from fruits,” I suggested looking at Ma’Kan. “Are we allowed to sample?”

    “If we’re lucky,” she answered. “Vendors usually sacrifice a fruit or a few to sample, but once those are eaten, no more is offered.”

    “I see.” It made sense—one wouldn’t waste their precious goods on customers who just eat and don’t buy.

    We entered the market: narrow streets between stalls filled with noisy people. Vendors called and praised their goods and I quickly realised that I drew a lot of attention. They waved to me to approach them, tempted me sniffing their fruits with delighted facial expressions, or offering me something to try.

    I stopped by a big stall. “What is this?” I asked Ma’Kan. The vendor was busy spraying his goods with water, undoubtedly making sure nothing would go bad or too dry in the hot sun.

    “This is fop,” she answered. The fruit was greenish-yellow and oblong. “There are two types of these; one is like this one, the other was is more of red colour.” While she was speaking, the vendor turned to reach for something on the other side of his stall and handed me another fruit, very much like this one, just reddish-yellow. “Yeah, this is it.” Ma’Kan smiled at him. “Want to try?” she asked me.

    I looked at the vendor. Up until this moment the dja and I used the universal translator, but I decided to be brave. I turned it off and asked, “Yat? Zdar?” One? How much?

    Har.” He showed three fingers. “Hufnap lek.”

    “Ten leks for three,” I repeated after turning on my translator. “If I hate it, will you take the other two? Consider it a payment for this trip.” A thought occurred to me. “Do you like them?”

    “Everyone likes them. And it’s a deal, but I’m quite sure you’ll like them, too.”

    I paid the vendor ten leks. To my surprise, he offered me a damp cloth. I gave my friend an asking look. “It’s to clean them, in case you wanted to eat one now.”

    I meticulously wiped my fruits clean and returned to cloth to the vendor. Then, I took a bite. The juice dripped of the fruit to my chin and then down to my armour and boots. The vendor chuckled, but it wasn’t a mean laugh. He handed me another cloth, this time a dry one, to wipe the juice off my armour.

    Fodaiji,” I thanked him, hoping that I’d chosen the right ‘thank you,’ since there were two in Cardassian language, each for a different kind of situations.

    The fop was delicious. I managed not to make mess of my appearance before finishing it, but I was sure that applied only to my clothing. I could feel sticky, sweet smears of dried juice on my face.

    We moved on to another stall and another kind of fruits drew my attention. It was dark purple, very thin and very long. It reminded my of an eggplant in a way. I pointed to it and looked at Ma’Kan.

    Goplu,” she said. “You peel off the violet skin and eat pink meat inside.”

    I bought two and I liked it. In spite of looking like an eggplant, it tasted like a combination of a banana and a jackfruit.

    We left the fruit section and proceeded to vegetables section. I stopped and asked a lot of questions about a root stall, as apart from prices there was something else on the price tags stuck in the goods: a drawing of a Cardassian silhouette with parts of the body marked. For each root a different part was coloured. Ma’Kan explained that root-vegetables were very healthy and the vendor made sure that her customers knew which one was the best for which organ. She also told me which ones had an awful, bitter taste.

    Again, my attention was drawn by something exotic. It looked like a giant wheat—a long grass with heavy grains on top. “What’s this called?” I asked my friend.

    Sisstu. This is sisstu. You can eat it raw in salads, or cook it, or bake it, or mash it, or whatever. It’s good. I’m sure you had it in something. Usually it looks like little balls in your meal.”

    “Those little orange and brown thingies?” I asked and she confirmed by nodding. “Ah, yes. I had no idea they grow like this.”

    “You can also buy them without the grass, just grains. Or canned.”

    “And this?”

    The colour was hilarious; it was glowing red. You’d forgotten your torch and had to enter a dark cave? Take a vegetable! It’d light your way and fill your tummy.

    “This is ganot.”

    Ganot—a glowing, red cabbage. Just next to it was mini-ganot—glowing, red Brussel sprouts.

    We returned home with a few bags of fruits and vegetables. I invited Ma’Kan for dinner to pay her for her time and lessons on Cardassian fresh market.

    Tavor was staying in his brother’s place. Tasar and his family were currently out-of-town, so their newly rented apartment was almost empty. Tasar and Inaya had moved out of Gul Karama’s house, because they had decided to live on their own without terrorising presence of the father, who had just retired and was at home all the time. They had invited Tavor to stay at their place whenever the Roumar was orbiting Cardassia, so my fiancé was happy to free himself from the ship’s quarters and breathe the real air. I had to stay aboard the warship—no naughty stuff before the wedding was allowed!

    But having meals together was not naughty, so Tavor and I had a chance to spend a lot of time together and almost feel like living together...just without the bed thing.

    When the door to the apartment opened, my friend and I were literally attacked by loud music. We went to the kitchen, not even trying to speak in that noise and then searched for my husband-to-be.

    Ma’Kan found him first. She stood in the doorway and leaned on the door frame, observing him with her jaw on the floor. I joined her to see Tavor wiping clean—or perhaps polishing—a shelf in a cabinet, rocking on his feet and shaking his bum to the rhythm of music. We stood there, observing him. He finished the shelf and moved on to the next one and just then noticed us; two unmoving people in the door had clearly startled him. He turned the music off. “What did she say?” he asked me.

    “She agreed.”

    “I hope we won’t make news,” he muttered and then resumed his activity. It was the first time that I thought Tavor didn’t like the idea of Jarol being my per’taye. I decided to talk to him about it later. I didn’t want any part of our wedding to be unpleasant for any of us and I regretted that he hadn’t said anything earlier, before I had asked the legate.

    “What are you doing?” Ma’Kan asked him.

    “My brother let me live here for a while, so I see no reason not to repay for it by cleaning his house,” Tavor said. “They still have a lot of work before their move is over and I could do at least some cleaning.”

    Ma’Kan looked at me. “Wow,” she just said.

    I chuckled. “He’s not for sale.” I looked at Tavor. “Ma’Kan is staying with us for dinner; I hope it’s all right with you.”

    “Sure,” he said with his head between shelves. He adjusted the volume level and then turned the music back on, but a bit more quiet.

    Ma’Kan and I went to the kitchen. “That’s interesting,” I said. “We didn’t hear a sound coming from the apartment, while it was so loud in here.”

    The tactician looked at me. At first there was surprise on her face, but then her expression changed to something else that I couldn’t decipher. “All houses on Cardassia are now built this way—soundproof.”

    “Clever. That way no one disturbs their neighbours when listening to loud music.” The look she gave me...I knew there was something behind it. “What?” I asked.

    “You don’t want to know,” Tavor said, entering the kitchen.

    “What?” I insisted.

    Ma’Kan sighed. “Walls are soundproof, so no one would hear when the Obsidian Order came for you, beat you to unconsciousness and then took you away.”

    I hoped it was her poor attempt of a joke, but her facial expression was deadly serious. I looked at Tavor and he didn’t look any better. This was for real. “So that’s how people disappeared without a trace,” I said. “No one even knew when.”

    None of them said anything. It was a few years after the Obsidian Order had been gone and it still triggered fear in them. I couldn’t even imagine how terrible the Order had to be...and I didn’t think I wanted to imagine.

    Tavor inspected the bags, sniffed inside one and whispered with a delight, “Freshhhhhhh fishhhhhhhh...”

    Grateful for his attempt to defuse the unpleasant atmosphere, I started to tell him about our trip to the fresh market.


    This is how I roughly imagine Cardassian popular music:
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011
  9. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Jarol as a bridesmaid...I definitely wouldn't have seen that one coming, especially given her disapproval of the wedding and her belief that a human woman isn't enough for a Cardassian. Is this an attempt to win her approval?

    Tavor's reaction makes me he aware of such disapproval? Or is he instead afraid his father will hunt them down if they do make the news?

    Creepy detail about the soundproof houses. Do you think they'll keep building them that way, though, in more peaceful times? Apparently there are some peacetime applications that would've made life in MY apartment a lot easier in college!!!

    Good work overall. I don't see at all what you were worried about. :)

    It seems to me your Cardassians would like the custom of the wedding registry, if they were to give gifts the same way humans do. I've heard that it's mainly an American thing, but the efficiency of it would probably appeal to them. That way, you know for sure that what you're buying will not go to waste or be a duplicate.

    Now...what's a jackfruit? Never heard of one before.

    The vendors are being surprisingly nice. I wonder if it's because of her armor that they figure they need to be nice. Or is it because they don't care where their money comes from as long as that someone pays in legal tender? ;)

    Oh, and what kind of thank you is fodaiji, as compared to elekiji? (And then the third is the rare one, right, the "I thank you for your sacrifice" form of thanks?)

    And a glowing vegetable? Do they have to remove the glowing part so it's not toxic? ;)

    (MY Cardassians might start looking at that one as a body-paint source...totally horrifying your group. ;) )
  10. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    I don't think Kapoor was ever aware of Jarol's thoughts. Jarol never expressed them and certainly not in her presence. And by that time Jarol saw that humans can be crazy in love too.
    I think he doesn't want his wedding to be a public show. A legate, plus one of sons of a 'prominent' Cardassian guls, plus a human: that's too much for him.
    I think they still build houses that way, because the feature is really useful and offers everyone a lot of privacy and not being bothered by anyone, or to bother anyone.
    I think they have some system of gifts--lists presented with invitations, or something like that; I haven't decided yet.

    My first impression of it was "a funny smelling banana," but I grew to like them. In Asia they are sold fresh, but you can also get them as a dried snack. Maybe you could get dried jackfruit in US in some stores.
    Both. She has money and she wears armour. Lack of ridges was secondary.

    I'm sure Kapoor also ignored unpleasant looks thrown her way. Why to spoil such a nice day with assholes? ;)
    Foda is a 'thank you' for service, something that doesn't stay, eg. opening a door for you, handing you a box of tissues to take one, letting you first through the door, etc.

    The third one is just for one kind of situation--a big sacrifice. I don't think I made a word for it yet.
    There are flowers which start glowing after sunset, because the colour somehow reflects the light, so I thought: why not another plant?
  11. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    I'm glad Jarol wised up. I was really afraid she was going to screw up the wedding.

    I see...that's a good thing to know. That way nobody will be disturbed by hearing human music playing.

    And I'm going to be bad here...but there are other activities one would never have to worry about disturbing the neighbors with. That actually happened at the apartments I lived in in college. Very annoying, that.

    That thing is ENORMOUS. :cardie:

    There are a lot of Indian stores in my area, so I might be able to stop by one and see if they have some jackfruit available. That could be interesting. :)

    She's very good at doing that...she seems, overall, to have a very thick skin.

    OK, and then elek is for something a bit more permanent, as in something you get to keep? (And I think a compliment is something you can keep, too? ;) )

    I don't recall seeing one either. mean a different kind of glow than bioluminescence? So these plants wouldn't actually glow in the dark? ;)
  12. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    She was really surprised and honoured to be asked to be per'taye.
    That's also true.

    In apartments all sorts of sounds can disturb: someone drops something in the apt above you, someone watches a film next to you and you can clearly hear the whole dialogue, someone cooks and you can hear noise of moved pans and flow of water when they wash the dishes, etc.

    They are big, but the part you eat is probably half the size of the whole fruit. The skin is very thick and the edible parts are deep inside meat that is not eaten.

    Roughly, yes. Gifts, compliments are things that are given to you, so elek is appropriate. There are situations when a non-Cardassian could have doubts which to use, but generally the difference is clear.
    I don't have it in my notes, so most likely I didn't create it yet (or forgot to add to my notes).
    They wouldn't. They only reflect light in very particular way, so without light or in insufficient light they would be "dark."
  13. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    That's why I always got an apartment on the upper floor of the complex...that way at least that issue wasn't something I had to worry about. ;)

    LOL! Or they cook or smoke and you smell it.

    Once, though, that was pretty cool. I had Indian neighbors, so I often smelled their cooking. My mom hated it every time she visited, and claimed it made her want to gag, but for me it was incredibly interesting. If it weren't for the fact that spicy things made me sick, I would've wanted to try everything they cooked!

    No problem...given the events of "The Spear in the Other's Heart," I got curious. ;)

    Oh, good. Eating those kinds of "glowy" things would probably be bad for one's health. ;)

    Plus that would, in the case of a crossover, save your Cardassians from the "horrifying" comments that mine would make of, "Could we paint ourselves with that?" :lol: (Even the Sigils ones would think of it, for dancing and wedding purposes.)
  14. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    If you even need it, I'll create it. I just didn't need it so far.
    Painting scary, glowy masks on there children in the night? :cardie:


    BTW, I completely forgot to post the Earth music that I think is the closest to Cardassian popular music: something originating from a dry, desert dominated regions.
    I can easily imagine Tavor shaking his bum to it [​IMG]
  15. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    I forgot to mention how funny that image was! :lol:
  16. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Aha! I didn't realize it before, but I know that vocalist, Rachid Taha, from the song "Barra Barra" on the Black Hawk Down soundtrack. Awesome!! :D I had always wondered where I could get I know!
  18. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Day 628

    I returned to my quarters aboard the Roumar completely exhausted. All I wanted was to lay down and die. It had occurred that working aboard the warship was different when you were a Federation lieutenant and different when you were a Cardassian eresh. It wasn’t a matter of being treated poorly or with disrespect—although I had noticed that lower ranking officers considered me to be lower on the hierarchy ladder and acted their new interpretation of respect—but the amount of boring, mundane tasks I had been being given was...exceeding my limits of acceptance. Suddenly, I was not educated enough to do things that I used to do before I’d changed my uniform to armour. I had dared to complain to Zamarran and he had told me not to take it personally; they just followed the protocol and they were not allowed to assign me tasks, which—in theory—I wouldn’t be able to complete. The problem was that I was fully able to complete them. I’d asked Zamarran if it wasn’t wasting my skill and he had pondered my question for a moment. Cardassians hated wasting anything; for them the word ‘waste’ was almost a curse. Finally, Zamarran had told me that the protocol was the protocol and it had to be followed—especially in an unclear situation and that one was exactly that.

    So I’d given up and followed the damn protocol.

    And now I was tired and bored—and all I wanted was to sleep.

    I was on my way to my closet—I still lived in the same quarters that had been assigned to me when I’d arrived aboard the warship almost two years ago—when I noticed something on my table. Intrigued, I approached it to see...a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. It didn’t look exactly like ours, as it had an uneven, serrated shape, but it was undoubtedly a jigsaw puzzle. It was quite big, too: almost seven centimetres in diameter.

    I took it into my hand and studied it, but my examination was interrupted by a chime at the door. I went to open and saw Tavor. Without a word I raised the puzzle and gave him a questioning look, because I had no doubt that it had been him, who had ‘burgled’ into my quarters to leave the puzzle on the table. In the answer, he raised higher a big, flat square he held in his hands, which looked like a painting wrapped in brown paper.

    “What’s this?” I asked.

    He entered my quarters and went toward the table. “Sit down,” he said. I did so. “Now.” He unwrapped the ‘painting’ and I saw a board on two rails: one on the top and one on the bottom. He unattached something from the back of the board and it occurred to be another board. He placed it on the table. If it were green, not dark brown, it would look like a mini mahjong table. “Take a good look at your puzzle.”

    Even though I had already studied it, I did as instructed. “Done.”


    “Done,” I repeated a little irritated. Was this some kind of game?

    “Give me the puzzle.” I placed in on his stretched palm and he hid it behind him. “Now, take a good look at this picture. I will give you twenty seconds. After that I will hide the picture again and you will put the puzzle in the correct place on your board. Do you understand?”

    I nodded. He grabbed the board and slid it to the left on the rails, revealing a picture on the board under it, which I hadn’t noticed earlier. There were three baby animals playing in grass in the picture. I studied it carefully, trying to guess which part of the image my piece was. I couldn’t be sure if it was a leg, or an ear, or maybe something entirely else. Suddenly, Tavor slid the front board back to its place, covering the animals.

    “It’s time to place your puzzle on the board.” He gave it back to me.

    My hand hovered over the ‘mahjong board’ and I couldn’t decide where to put it. “What if I’m wrong?” I asked.

    “Then you’ll have to correct it later.” I moved my hand over the board and Tavor added, “But once you place it, you cannot move it until next day.”

    My head jerked when I glanced at him. “What?”

    “Place your piece carefully.”

    I hesitated for a while longer, choosing the place and glancing at Tavor with hope that his facial expression would give me tips, but his face was made of stone. I decided that the picture on the puzzle was a part of a leg, so I placed the puzzle in the lower section of the board. “Now what?” I asked.

    “Tomorrow you will get another puzzle and another look at the board. As the game progresses, you will be given less and less time to look at the board. If you place your pieces incorrectly, you will have a chance to fix it, but only one at a time.”


    “Normally, the speed matters. This game is played by several ch...people and the one who finishes the picture first, gets a prize.”

    Had he just almost said ‘children’?

    “But why can’t I look at the picture when placing my puzzle?” I asked. And then it dawned on me. “It’s a memory game!” I shouted, grabbing his hand. “Isn’t it? It’s a memory game!”

    “That’s right,” he confirmed. “I thought that you might want to practice your memory in some enjoyable way.”

    “So let me repeat to make sure that I understand correctly. First I look at my puzzle, then at the whole picture and then place my puzzle in place, recreating the picture in my mind’s eye. I have to do my best to print the picture in my head, so that I don’t make any mistakes, because if I make any, it takes time to correct them and the point of the game is to be the first to finish the whole puzzle.”

    “That’s correct.”

    I gave him a suspicious look. “How old are children who solve this particular picture?”

    He bit his lower lip. “Five.”

    I felt my eyebrows travelling high. “Are they better than me?” I asked.

    “They would have been in memory training for two years already and would have solved many puzzles like this one before.”

    “In other words, they are better,” I stated flatly.

    He looked a bit worried. “I didn’t want to choose something too easy,” he said quietly. “I didn’t want to offend you...I just...I think you’ll do fine with this, once you get used to the game.” He paused. “I’m sorry...maybe we should just forget about the whole thing.”

    I smiled. “No, Tavor. It’s all right. It’s not news for me that kids over here have better memory than I. And I think it’s a good idea to work on mine. I’ll stop forgetting your name, Arenn,” I joked. Maybe I should have chosen a different Cardassian given name, instead of our gul’s, but at that moment I couldn’t think of anything else.

    My assurances seemed to cheer him up a little, although I was absolutely sure that my using Gul Brenok’s given name grated on him tremendously.


    He put the board under his arm. “Supper time,” he said.

    “We’re eating at your place?” I asked. “Can I bring something with me?” He gave me an asking look. “It took hours to force the replicator to make something that would at least a little bit resemble a pappadum and I’m not going to waste my time by not replicating and eating it.”

    “And what’s that?” he asked.

    “You’ll see.”

    “Did you program only the replicator in your quarters, or aboard the ship?”

    “Only in my quarters. I don’t have access to ship-wide program. I’m just an eresh, rem—” I bit my tongue a bit to late and I was certain I almost accused him of forgetting.

    He graciously ignored it. “Well, yes, but you can send your addition to the quartermaster and he could accept it.”

    “I didn’t know that.”

    “You still haven’t memorised the rules,” he stated. “I know it’s not easy for you, but you must try. You had a lot of time for it.”

    “It’s not that I have nothing else to do, you know!”

    He smiled apologetically. “I’m sorry, Amrita, I didn’t want to sound patronising.” He paused. “So, supper?”

    “Let me just replicate my food and I’ll join you in a moment.”

    “Great.” He left my quarters, taking the board with the puzzle picture with him.

    I went to his quarters with a bowl of pappadum. As soon as the door opened, I was welcomed by a smell of warm food. I was sure it was all replicated, since there was limited possibility of cooking elaborate meals aboard a warship, but I didn’t mind.

    He eyed my dish suspiciously and then reached for one thin piece of crispy pappadum. A little surprised by its texture, he bit and helplessly looked at crumbs falling to his feet. “Salty,” he said with approval. He took the plate from my hands and placed it in the middle of the table.

    I sat and looked at my plate, filled with steaming hot food. “Tavor, what’s this?” I asked, touching a piece of some meat with my fork.

    “Fried zobar oppanat.”

    Zobar,” I said. “It’s like a cow, isn’t it? A kind of cattle?” I amended my question seeing his look; of course, how could a Cardassian know what a cow was.

    “That’s correct. Why?”

    I pushed the plate away. “I’m sorry, but I cannot eat it.” This moment had to come some day. I avoided eating zobar meat and it never was a difficult task, considering how varied Cardassian cuisine was, but I never had been presented with it so directly until this evening. I couldn’t just choose anything else without explaining why I wouldn’t eat the food he had prepared especially for us.

    “Why not?” He was surprised and disappointed and I realised that it was the time to tell him something about me. He knew that I had something in common with the Oralians, but we had never discussed the details of my faith. I understood that I owed him a full explanation, so that he wouldn’t feel so disappointed by my refusal of eating the food that he had replicated with such a care.

    So I told him about the meaning of cows in my religion and how people ought to treat them. And how wrong it would be of me to eat a cow.

    “I know that a zobar is not the same animal, still feels wrong. Unclean.”

    And then he did something I’d never expect him to do: he pushed his plate away. “If it feels wrong to you, then it feels wrong to me, too.”

    I knew he loved zobar meat. “Tavor, you don’t have to do this for me. I don’t mind you eating what you like. But I wouldn’t touch it.”

    “Not good for you, not good for me,” he insisted. Before I could say anything else, he rose, took both plates, placed them in the replicator, recycled and then asked for the same dish but with meat replaced by sisstu. I smiled at him when he was putting the plate in front it me. If I only knew how to express my appreciation not only of his understanding, but also of his...little sacrifice.

    I looked at my food, graced by Cardassian corn-like vegetable, and started eating. “Delicious,” I judged and he grinned.

  19. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Oh, no! My first comments got eaten! (Speaking of which, that pappadum looks like an enormous tortilla chip!)

    Let me try that again...

    I was really touched by Tavor's willingness to give up something he loves--perhaps even for life--not to mention essentially "waste" rations for two meals, to avoid offending Amrita's gods.

    An observation about Kapoor's duties as an eresh...sometimes it seems to me that Cardassian rigidity goes to almost stupid extremes, and this is an example. My dad had to go through a similar situation when he changed airplanes as a newly-promoted colonel (gul equivalent ;) ). But he was offered the opportunity to take a shortened course for high-ranking officers, recognizing his experience. That said, my dad declined and asked to take the same full-length course young lieutenants (the equivalent of a Navy ensign) took. Then again, flying a big cargo airplane is far from mundane!

    Given that situation, I'm actually surprised Amrita didn't snap when she found out what that puzzle really was. It could so easily have come off as one more incident of being patronized and being treated like she was stupid. (I also couldn't read Tavor's tone when he was giving the did you imagine him sounding?)