Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gul Re'jal, Aug 1, 2010.
I think it would work well.
A step in the right direction
Jarol took a deep breath in. It took all her inner strength not to look in where Ma'Kan had been a moment ago, before being beamed out back to a safe location; she knew she couldn't, as that would condemn the girl.
It was chaos, everyone gathered around the body, someone called for a medic, but to her relief another voice said it was too late for a medic. She caught Daset's sight; his face expressed concern, but no surprise. He stared at her and after a moment his mouth moved: you did it. She didn't deny, didn't confirm. She needed his support to go on with this, and she still wasn't sure where his loyalties lay – with the Cardassia or the Directorate.
He looked away and then pushed among the crowd to the body. She turned on her heel and left the hall. It was done.
[RIGHT]Ten months earlier[/RIGHT]
“I'll never understand why he thought I was the right person. Why he insisted that I should support them?” Brenok chewed his food and spoke at the same time, sending flying pieces of food to the table in front of him.
“Arenn, you know Daset from the worst side,” Jarol replied. “I had a chance to see the other side shortly before he left. He isn't a bad man. He just treats his duty seriously, too seriously, taking away all joy from the service. I know you were his victim on more than one occasion, and I hated him for that, but seems like in spite of how he treated you, he always respected you as an officer. He never broke you, you never complained. And you are the second in command aboard one of first warships, which started firing at the Dominion during the Battle of Cardassia. You are a hero and they need heroes to support them, so that they could win the elections, or whatever their goal is.”
“Elections...” Brenok repeated.
“I find the whole idea of people going and in a mass deciding who should be in power strange at least. The public doesn't understand the needs of power, the rules that... well, rule the power. How can a peasant like me know who should lead the Cardassian Union?” Brenok smiled at that; he never thought of her as a peasant. “And then a summary of those opinions of people, who know nothing, is a final decision about our ruling body? And the opinion of foolish masses would matter more than opinion of not many intelligent individuals, as there are always more fools than geniuses. This is sick.”
“It is. Just as this... temporary government,” Brenok nodded.
“Government,” she snorted. “Federation puppets. They want us to become like them, to apply their rules in hour home. I don't like it. I don't like it at all.”
“So maybe that whole Directorate is not a bad idea?” Brenok wondered and then shook his head; he didn't believe it himself.
“The system was right, the people were corrupt,” she said and Brenok realised it was in fact the same opinion, which Daset had expressed a few months ago in Demoks' house.
“So you think we should go back to the old way, but a little differently? How differently?”
“Well,” she put her fork away, “first we'd have to change our policy toward outer worlds. No more Bajors.”
“We need outer worlds to provide our resources.”
“Yes, but do we have to tear those resources out of their throats along with the throats themselves? Can't we ask politely? Can't we pay? Offer our services? Protection? There are lots of little, weak worlds near Tzenkethi border, they are between us and them. Scared. Terrified. Let's tell them: join our Union, we will protect you, they won't touch you. You'll be safe with us. We just need you to contribute to our wealth and share your resources. As much as you could spare and not a tad more would be taken from you by force. You can keep your rulers, but they have to file their reports annually, that's all.”
Brenok stopped eating and kept looking at her. “And I was told I was an idealist,” he said.
“I just think,” she was a bit hurt by his remark, “that it's our enemies that should fear us, not our own denizens.”
“That makes sense,” he admitted. “So, do we take power and make new Cardassia?”
“Maybe later. Now finish your food,” she spoke in motherly tone of voice, took her fork and resumed eating.
It was cold. Jarol didn't like cold, no Cardassian liked cold. But apart from being cold the room seemed to be pleasant. An oval table was standing in the middle with chairs on each longer side, three for one team, three for the other. She motioned to her militia troops and ordered them to line up by the wall, mirroring the same positions the Romulans had taken. She has never seen a Romulan up close and now she was just about to face three of them.
Gul Madred motioned toward the table and sat in the chair in the middle. Jarol and Brenok followed him. Her place was on the right side of the Gul, opposite a Romulan woman about her age. Brenok sat opposite a man about twice his age. Between those two sat even older Romulan, with a smug expression on his face.
“I am Admiral Tebok,” he said. “This is Commander Karameth and Subcommander Tarak,” he introduced the woman and man respectively.
“Gul Madred, my aides Gul Jarol, Glinn Brenok,” Madred introduced their group. “Let me use this opportunity to express...”
“Yes,” Tebok interrupted him. “We know you, Cardassians, like to talk and are able to produce long speeches, however I'd appreciate if we proceeded directly to our matters, without unnecessary metaphors.”
“Fine,” Madred said and Jarol was sure she heard a shadow of irritation in his voice.
Both leaders activated their padds and started talking. Madred had told Jarol clearly that she was not to interrupt. She and her aide were part of the delegation, as highest ranking Cardassian officers in the sector, but she had no experience in conducting such talks. She fully agreed with him and was rather relieved she was off the hook. She was there just to be there – her only task was to support the Gul by her intimidating presence.
She wasn't sure if her presence was intimidating anyone, so she took the opportunity to take a better look at the Romulan Commander.
The woman's hair was cropped close to her skull in the typical Romulan fashion. Her dark eyes were observing Gul Madred – his every move, his body language – sometimes switching to Jarol and Brenok, who sat almost motionlessly. Her puffy uniform made her look big, but Jarol was sure the Romulan's silhouette was rather slim, just as her face.
Her aide on the other hand was a chubby man. He kept making notes on his padd, glancing up at his Admiral from time to time. Jarol had checked their bios before arriving to the outpost, so she knew those two served together longer than she had Brenok at her side. If anything went wrong, if the talks failed, they would be formidable opponents in a battle. Not mentioning their huge, green, resembling bird ship. Roumar was still licking her wounds and even in the top condition she wouldn't be able to stand up to a D'Deridex class warbird. Not alone anyway.
She didn't pay much attention to the negotiations, but from those few moments she concentrated on what was being said she knew it wasn't going well. Tebok was refusing literally each argument and proposition Madred had to offer and she clearly saw the Gul was loosing his patience. She didn't blame him, as so was she.
She looked at the Romulan troops lined up by the wall. They stared blankly in front of them (or maybe at their Cardassian counterparts), like statues. No one was armed – that was one of most important rules during the negotiations. She imagined Cardassians in Romulan prisons and camps, under cruel watch of guards not unlike those men and women here. She knew they couldn't leave them in those camps.
Yes, women. There were many women here. Cardassian Guard didn't forbid females to join their ranks, but it was rather rare. There probably weren't more than fifty, maybe one hundred female Guls, maybe a little more of lower ranking officers. Women were supposed to be scientists and military career wasn't an easy choice for someone, who should be at home with her children and elders. It was possible to combine those two, she knew that from the experience, but it was a challenge. She was going to face that challenge soon. Again. And she looked forward to it.
A raised eyebrow on the Romulan Commander's face made her realise her little, private thoughts about her baby crept out to her face in a form of a smile. She just raised her eye ridges, ignoring surprise on the other woman's face and smiled a little wider. Karameth lowered her eyebrow and smiled back, nodding slightly. Jarol wondered if she had any children.
Madred rose, and Jarol and Brenok followed his example. The Romulan Admiral rose too. None of them said anything and then Madred headed for the exit. His face expression was telling everything.
Brenok didn't enjoy the prospect of co-operating with Romulans, but these two seemed reasonable. He also clearly felt Karameth's discomfort when she had to stay in one chamber with him. He was sure she dealt with Cardassians before and it was nothing pleasant. He was nothing but polite to her, but nonetheless felt her antipathy toward him. Or maybe it was just her distrust, after all the war ended only short time ago.
“And where exactly is Gul Jarol?” Tarak asked one evening.
“She's on an extended shore leave,” Brenok explained.
“Did something happen? It's rather sudden,” Karameth commented.
“No, but it was necessary to send her back home.”
He didn't want to go into details. After all it wasn't their business and Jarol having a baby had nothing to do with their work. Their task was to plan releasing Cardassian prisoners and that was what they should concentrate on.
“How can you read that weird, chaotic writing?” Tarak looked at Brenok, raising his slanted eyebrow and looking over Glinn's shoulder at the Cardassian display.
“I wonder how you can understand your sentences.”
“What do you mean?”
“You write linear sentences, right?”
“That's right,” Tarak confirmed with a nod.
“Well, how do you know which word is attached to which word? I'll give you an example. Let's take an easy sentence. 'I really like red leaf tea'. The word 'really' is attached to 'like', see?” he pointed to the right words on his screen, which he typed to visualise his explanations. “It is like that because 'really' brings additional meaning to 'like'. 'Like' gives additional information to 'I', so it is directly behind 'I'. Now, you have here the word 'tea', because that is what you like. Below 'tea' is 'red leaf', as additional information for the word 'tea'. If you'd like to add 'hot' and make it 'I really like hot red leaf tea', you write 'hot' above 'tea' word.”
Tarak kept nodding. “Interesting. But how do you know if the first word should be written vertically or horizontally?”
“Oh, that is a matter of stylistics and context,” Brenok explained.
“And that.. um... circle here?”
“It denotes beginning of a paragraph.”
“And these dots?”
“Oh, they usually emphasise a word, or point to the most important word or notion in the sentence.”
“Like underlining? We underline words.”
“Yes, probably,” Brenok wasn't sure what underlining was for, so he didn't know if the comparison was really correct.
“You said 'usually',” Tarak gave him an asking look.
“Dots, as we call them dims, have also other functions, but this would require a longer lecture.”
“I see. You know, Brenok, languages are a passion of mine, so if you don't mind, I'd like to ask you more questions at some later time.”
“Wouldn't a database answer all your questions?”
“I prefer to converse with a real living, breathing person.”
Tarak smiled and Brenok smiled back. If circumstances were different, he could befriend this pointy-eared man.
They went back to work.
Brenok looked tired. His eyes seemed to be deeper in his ridges than normally and his skin had a pinkish hue, which didn't indicate anything good. She worried about him, but didn't know if he'd tell her the truth if she asked.
“How are you?” he asked, smiling. “How are you both doing?”
“We're great. Laran is an adorable, sweet being and everybody loves him. He's the first baby born to this family after the war, so even more precious.”
Brenok smiled. “When can I see him?” he asked.
Jarol motioned to someone and her father entered the frame, carrying an infant. He smiled to Brenok. “Here he is, son. He could use some singing,” Darok said.
The Glinn felt warm wave in his heart. He didn't think anyone would call him 'son' again, and never expected to sing for any baby. Warm wave was quickly replaced by icy pain.
“He looks like a copy of his father,” he said.
Little Laran indeed looked like a miniature of Demok, with the exception of eye ridges. They weren't as round as Demok's, but they weren't slanted like Jarol's; it was something in between, in oval shape.
Brenok thought it was good it was a boy. If Jarol's baby were a girl, his soul would break into millions of little pieces right here, right now.
“Get some rest,” he said, trying to end the connection. He wanted to do it delicately so that she wouldn't realise he was suffering.
“How are the Romulans?” she asked.
“Reasonable. Karameth is difficult at times, but the subcommander is a nice guy.”
“And how's Madred treating you?”
“I think he's happy leaving me all the details to work with the Romulans. Most of the time he is in his quarters, talking to someone over the comm. I hardly see him.”
“Does he have a problem with a Glinn running the warship?”
“No, he didn't show me any disrespect at least. I think he understands that you had to leave, and even if he was unhappy at the beginning, he doesn't mind any more. I have proven I can handle the Romulans, he acknowledges my reports without comments. Sometimes has a suggestion or two, but that's exactly what they are – suggestions.”
“I'm glad to hear that. Keep my ship safe.”
“Absolutely,” he smiled and was painfully aware this smile revealed all his feelings.
She observed him for a short while and then said: “I'll be with you soon.”
“Don't worry about me,” he replied and disconnected. His eyes burned with tears he didn't want to release. He rose and went to retrieve the object, which became his best friend recently. They spent many evenings together these days.
He just didn't know if he tried to drown the pain in his heart or shoulder.
He would never again hold his little girl in his arms. He would never smell Asra's hair. He was scared. He had nothing left, no family, no future, not even a home, not even a wall. He felt he was drowning... in his pain... in his tears... in kanar... He wanted to forget, stop his brain from working, from reminding him every day that he was returning to a cold, empty bed, that no one waited for him to return home, because he had no home. How could he go on? Where was his past? There was nothing to look back at. Nothing to look forward. He wanted to die.
It was his fault! He did it! He provoked them and they killed his family for this. They destroyed everything that had any value in his life, because this bastard decided to rebel and brought it all on his little girl. If they wouldn't kill him, he would strangle him with his bare hands!
He rolled on the floor, weeping. Forgive me. Please, forgive me.
He choked on his own tears. He couldn't breathe. He didn't want to breathe. Take me, take the air out of my lungs and let me join my family. I am nothing without them. An empty shell. I don't want to live... I don't know how...
He laid on the floor in embryo position, absently scratching the scar on his neck ridge.
“Brenok is currently not available,” Jarol said.
She returned to duty only a few days ago and still wasn't used to its rhythm. She missed her little boy, but it was no time for long shore leaves. She needed to build Cardassia, so that her baby would have a place to grow and become a man, hopefully as brave as his father and his namesake.
Daset glared at her from the screen. “I do not want to talk to Brenok,” he explained.
“Oh, don't you? So what can I do for you?”
“There is no reason to get irritated, Jarol.”
“Am I irritated?”
“You sound like you are. And I'm sure you know all details of my dealings with Brenok. For now I consider the matter closed.”
“For now? You expect him to change his mind?”
“Brenok is a clever man.”
“Shame you didn't notice it when he served under you.”
“I did,” Daset said firmly. “But let's talk about our business.”
She leaned back in her chair. “What is the reason you contacted me?”
“We have significant personnel problems. Many people lost their lives and that includes officers. Most experienced Guls died either during the war, or joined the rebellion and were slaughtered along with everyone else,” he paused. “That forces the Central Command to shift some officers and assign them new duties.”
“Are you taking some of my people away?” she asked worried, although didn't show it.
“No. This is about command level, not internal ship matters.”
“So what does it have to do with me?” she asked.
“You've been serving in the Fourth Order for long, haven't you?”
“I've been in the Fourth Order since the beginning, however there was a short period of time when I was... not in any Order,” she tired not to go into details, hoping Daset wouldn't ask.
“So you know the general mission of the Fourth Order,” it was a statement, not a question.
“Of course I do.”
“Good. There is just one more thing.”
“Thing? You didn't tell me what is this all about yet.”
“I'm sorry, you are right, of course,” he paused for a moment to take a look at his padd. “We need to shift some commanders on the top level of the Order. Gul Jotrel, you should remember him, you served together on Terok Nor, is going to take command of the Fourth Order's Battalion One. I want you to take Battalion Two.”
“You don't think you're ready?”
Should she admit that was the truth?
“Look,” he continued, as she didn't reply. “We need people, good people, to defend Cardassia. We need to deal with all the mess we have here. We need to deal with Romulans, Klingons, Federation, Breen and everyone else, who doesn't want to give us back our territory. We need young officers, who would look at things from fresh perspective. You are one of such officers, so I suggest to make yourself ready.”
“And this thing you've mentioned?”
“Your direct commander would be me, but on the top of the chain of command is Legate Ahal.”
She stared at him with disbelief. “Ahal? He won't work with me, you can be sure of that.”
“Can you work with him?”
She thought for a moment. “No,” she said eventually.
“Jarol, I know you have history, but you sh...”
“It's not about our history,” she interrupted. “It's about him. He is a reckless, cruel and opportunistic ass and I don't intend to serve under him ever again. Not because I don't like him, not because I don't respect him, but because at some point he could give me another wrong order. He should not be in power. He should not make any decisions. I will not follow him. That is not negotiable. You want me, you get rid of him.”
“How could I get rid of him?” Daset looked at her surprised. “Don't overestimate my influence. I am just a Gul here.”
“Sounds like an important one. First Grade?”
“I wish. Third only.”
A shy thought planted itself in her head.
“All right, but if you want it to work, I don't have to deal directly with Ahal. You will pass everything to him and from him.”
“I'm giving you an order, so you are in no position to make any demands.”
“I know,” she smiled.
He smiled back. “I'm glad you still have that sculpture.”
She wasn't aware that the mar'kuu was visible in the frame. “I do.”
“Gul Jarol, you are now officially commanding battalion four-two,” Daset was all business now.
“Yes, sir,” so was she.
She checked the holosuite programs in the computer's database. She skipped all 'leisure' ones, knowing very well how militia troops from lower decks 'leisured' themselves, and accessed the training programs. She searched for a moment, and then found some basic scenarios she needed for her purpose. They seemed quite simple, but she could write more advanced ones, if there was such a need later.
“Dja Ma'Kan,” she said after pressing her wristcomm. “Report to my office now.”
The door opened a moment later and the young officer entered.
“Dja, I have a special task for you,” Jarol said. “The information will be passed to you on need to know basis and you are to discuss it with no one. Absolutely no one. I that understood?”
“Yes, sir,” the girl replied crisply, squaring her shoulders.
Jarol eyed her. She knew she'd have to test the Dja's loyalty too, but she could do both things simultaneously.
“How is your eye?”
“Pardon me, sir?” the young woman asked surprised.
“There is a program for you. In holosuite two. You will activate it using your personnel code. You are to discuss it with no one. You are to use it alone. I expect you to report back to me when your achievement is at least ninety-seven percent three times in a row. You have three weeks to reach that score.”
“Understood. I will report there after my duty.”
The Dja left and Jarol wondered is she just didn't make one of biggest mistakes of her life. Everything could still be taken back, but she was on a good way to hell.
“Remember what you said the other day when we had that dinner?” Brenok said. “Act on it!”
“We're in no shape to fight!” she reminded him.
“That way or the other we can't let the Tzenkethi bother our borders. Daset made you a battalion commander. Call for reinforcements.”
“They won't get there on time.”
“You're the tactician, I'm just an engineer, so you know better. But this is our chance to stop our 'Bajors' and you know it!”
She indeed knew he was right.
“And if we die?”
“And if we die hopefully others would see what we tried to do and follow us. Let's help Aramatians. Let's not be Klingons.”
“All right,” she agreed reluctantly.
They left her office and entered the bridge.
“Karama, which task force is the closest to the Aramatian system?” she asked the Gil. “Ma'Kan, I want full evaluation of tactical situation in the Aramatian system. Zamarran, we need to be battle ready against the Tzenkethi, so whatever you have up your sleeve, it's time to implement it now.”
Officers made themselves busy with their tasks, while she sat in her chair.
“Brenok, what do we know about Amaratians?” she asked the Glinn.
He accessed the database. “Amaratians live on the fourth planet in the arbit of Amara, a red star. They are mammalian, small bipeds. Their technology is not very advanced, in comparison with us at least. We have conquered them seventy-eight years ago and they provide mostly raw minerals. Their mines are quite advanced and it's probably the most advanced branch of their technology. We didn't have any problems with them. They are weak, submissive and cowardly,” Brenok raised his head to look at Jarol. “At least officially,” he added.
She cocked her eye ridge. “And why would you say that?”
“For a race, which isn't a problem, the Cardassian contingent was raised five times within last twenty years. It's three hundred percent more troops there now than there used to be before the first reinforcement.”
“So they are not as submissive as they might appear.”
“What's the name if their prefect?” she asked.
Brenok searched for a moment. “Gul Moskelt.”
“Never heard of him.”
“Gul Moskelt was posted as Amarat Prefect eight years ago. Not much on him in the database.”
“Karama, establish contact with Gul Moskelt.”
Karama only nodded, acknowledging her order. She knew he was already busy with other tasks she had given him, so accepted the nod as sufficient.
“Sir,” Zamarran looked at her. “I could, I repeat – could – make the ship look menacing, and we could take a few shots, but there is no way we could become battle ready, no matter what.”
Jarol felt temptation to ask Brenok to recheck everything to have his confirmation of Zamaraan's assessment, but knew it wouldn't look well. Not that she didn't trust Zamarran, it's that she used to trust Brenok's opinions best.
“Understood. However you must try to do your best. Fight could be inevitable.”
“Sir, there is a task force in Tira sector. It would take them forty-eight hours to reach Amarat system.”
“And our ETA is...?”
“So we would have to do without them for seven hours,” she spoke out her thoughts.
“There are only ten ships in the task force. The rest is still in docks.”
“What is their current task?”
“Patrolling our borders between Tzenketh and Breen Confederacy.”
“Sounds like they are not busy. Brenok, order them to regroup. Two ships will continue patrolling the border, however eight warships in best condition should proceed to Amarat system.”
“Yes, sir,” he acknowledged.
“I have Gul Moskelt,” Karama reported.
“On screen,” she looked up at the screen embedded in the front wall of the bridge.
The viewer was filled with a face of a middle aged Cardassian.
“I'm Gul Moskelt, Prefect of Amarat.”
“Gul Jarol, commander of Fourth Order Battalion Two. We have been informed you are in danger of Tzenkethi attack.”
“We have detected their ships, yes. They seem to be on course to Amarat.”
“Can you tell me how many vessels we speak about?”
“Do you have any defence system there?”
“We have a number of orbital weapon platforms, but I am not sure they would stop them for long. Can we count on you?”
“Cardassian Union Warship Roumar will arrive there in forty-one hours, however the rest of our forces can't be sooner than forty-eight hours. How long do you estimate the weapon platforms could stand an attack?”
“Not long. Especially if the Tzenkethi start from destroying their power sources.”
“When will they arrive?”
“If their speed doesn't change...” he checked some readings, “over forty hours.”
“Gul Jarol, please understand we can't afford to lose this system,” Moskelt said. “Especially not now, when we need to rebuild everything. The resources here are still rich and if we keep extracting them, it would surely help Cardassia. We can't give this system to Tzenkethi.”
“I understand, Gul Moskelt.”
She noticed the Gul's attention was dragged to something off screen. He shook his head, as answering to someone, and then looked back at her.
“We await your arrival,” he said and disconnected.
Jarol waited for Brenok to answer the chime, but there was nothing. Where could he be? She was just about to leave, when the door opened. He stood in the doorway.
“Oh, it's you,” he said and let her in.
“Did you expect someone else?”
He didn't reply. His hair was a mess and his face was a bit swollen, so she guessed he slept.
“Are you feeling well?” she asked, worried.
“I'm fine,” he rubbed his upper eyelids just under the ridges with his thumbs. “I just need a tea,” he went to the replicator and ordered a tea. The warm beverage materialised and he reached for it. His hand was trembling. He grabbed it with the other hand, but they both were far from stable.
“Arenn?” she approached him.
“I said I was fine,” he snapped at her, surprising her. This was everything, but fine, but she didn't want to push. “I'm sorry,” he whispered after a short moment. “I didn't mean to behave like this. It's just...” his didn't finish.
“What?” she encouraged him in a gentle tone.
“My hand hurts.”
“Actually whole arm, from the shoulder to ends of my fingers,” he made a fist of his right hand and then stretched his fingers out.
She looked at the scar on his neck ridge. “When did you start feeling this pain?”
“Recently. I went to the infirmary, but the medic said there was nothing wrong with me. He said it was only in my head. Phantom pain, he called it.”
“Now, after all these years?”
Brenok just shrugged. “I'm not a medic, don't ask me. Ask him, maybe he would tell you the truth.”
“Oh, don't tell me you think he lied to you!”
“I don't care what he said. I know what I feel,” he scratched his non-existing ear.
Roumar entered the orbit around Amarat and Jarol waited in the transporter room for the prefect and two more people.
She didn't expect what she saw. Two tall and one very short bipeds materialised on the pad. The short one was maybe one metre tall, all furry and reddish-green, he – or she – wore a heavy coat covered by colourful patterns and lots of jewellery, mostly chains. On the alien's head rested a strange hat, made of some kind of shiny metal.
“Gul Jarol,” the prefect spoke. “Let me introduce you to First King of Amarat, Zzarriss.”
She nodded her greeting, hoping her astonishment wasn't obvious.
“This is Glinn Dok, my aide,” Moskalt gestured to the Cardassian, who accompanied them. The Glinn nodded his greeting to her.
“Let me express my greatest gratitude,” the king's voice was low and slightly fricative. She was glad the translator worked. “We are in danger and we need your support.”
She glanced at Brenok, who was also present in the transporter room. This was not what she had thought she'd see. Was her expectation twisted by her service on Terok Nor and her experiences with Bajorans? This man didn't look rebelled at all.
Or was he a... how did Bajorans call such people? A collaborator?
“We will do everything in our power to protect you,” she assured him.
He showed his fangs. Was it a smile? It looked more like a threat, but the prefect patted king's shoulder, so seemed like it was an amicable expression. A smile then. Showing all the king's sharp teeth.
“Shall we proceed to the briefing room?” she said.
She headed for the exit with their guests following her and Brenok closing the group as it's tail.
“Gul Moskelt, what can you tell me about Amaratians,” she said. It wasn't only a polite way to ask about his job, she was genuinely curious.
“Amaratians are interesting people, Gul Jarol. Their culture is rich and fascinating. They have unique writing system, ah, several actually. The planet never unified, so the king here is a representative of the nation that welcomed Cardassian rule.”
“What about the others?” she asked, wondering if her initial assumptions weren't as wrong as she now thought.
“Well, we have some problems with them from time to time, but those are internal matters of Amaratians. We just help them in dealing with them.”
“Amassans are the problem, esteemed Gul,” spoke the king, bowing low. “But with your valuable help we can keep them in line and solve the problems they cause. It gives us work force, so needed in mines, and brings unity to whole planet.”
“Work force?” she repeated.
They entered the briefing room, so she gestured for everyone to sit.
“Yes, someone must work in mines,” Zzarriss confirmed. “We, Samaans, are not good for this. We are noble born people. They are good for work. It always was like this.”
Jarol caught Brenok's disgusted face expression.
“Do I understand right?” she looked at the prefect. “You support one nation and help them enslave another?”
“Enslave is too strong word, Gul Jarol. They are at war. They have always been. We just help one side – the side that supports us – to finally defeat the other side. The unity on the planet would bring long lost peace for everyone there.” He leaned toward her and said in a low voice. “And more resources for us.”
“Why did you ask for more people?”
“We not only arm and train them. We also send our soldiers to fight by their side. That assures victory.”
She leaned back in her chair. So it was another Bajor. And its prefect seemed to be very proud of his 'cleverness'.
“What is the other nation's attitude toward us?” she asked.
“Well, they fear us, rightly so.”
She looked at the king. Little, furry, mammalian being. Why did she have an impression that under all this fur it was slimy, wriggling like a mud worm? Yuck!
“We will do our duty and protect you from the Tzenkethi, as you are part of Cardassian Union, however some changes will have to be applied,” she said.
“What changes?” Moskelt asked, clearly not happy. True, she had no power over him, actually her rank was lower, but she knew someone with a rank and position, which would let him issue Moskelt orders. She just needed to convince Daset she was right. He was a reasonable man.
“You will discuss it with Gul Daset at later time. For now let's concentrate on our immediate problem of invasion,” she said.
She knew it was a long shot. She had no idea Daset would support her, so it would be better not to say anything to Mosklet, but she couldn't stand his self-satisfied smile. She glanced at Dok. The Glinn's face was unreadable; whatever he thought, he kept it to himself.
It was quiet on the bridge. Jarol hated waiting. She hated waiting for a battle, but even more waiting and not knowing if there would be any battle at all.
First Tzenkethi ships were in range of their sensors. Orbital weapon platforms were ready and Jarol positioned Roumar close to main power source asteroid to protect it, in case the enemy knew how to disarm the planet's main defence system.
But the Tzenkethi stopped and were not entering the system. What were they waiting for? Reinforcements? Or they didn't expect any Cardassian presence and hesitated, not sure they should or shouldn't attack.
So she waited. It was already a few hours and her patience was almost gone. She feared she would decide to attack them, tired of endless waiting. It was a Cardassian territory, so she had the right to attack, correct? No? She wasn't sure. Normally no one in Central Command would tell her she broke any protocol, as technically she could do what she saw fit, but in the warship's current state it would be equal to suicide and she had no intention of killing her own crew. Good crew.
“They're on the move!” Karama reported. He sounded excited. She knew no one here feared fighting. They were brave crew too.
“Zamarran, how are we?”
“Looking menacing,” he said. “The shields would hold for some time, but I will have to keep an eye on power source and redistribute it as necessary manually.”
“How much can we take?”
“Not much, Gul.”
“Sir, I detect eight Galor class warships coming out of warp near the system,” Ma'Kan reported excitedly. Or maybe it was happiness in her voice.
“Tell them to position themselves in the hutet formation behind us,” Jarol ordered.
“Yes, sir,” the Dja replied immediately.
“Screen on,” the Gul barked and Karama activated the screen.
Tzenkethi ships were closing. They were smaller than Galors, but she knew it didn't mean weaker. Their hostile neighbours were known as formidable enemies and dangerous warriors. She leaned forward on the edge of her chair, putting one leg farther forward for better balance.
The Tzenkethi stopped and hanged in the vacuum of space, as if they were observing the Cardassians. Eight Galors joined the one near the planet, but did nothing more than that. Both formations hang there, not moving, waiting, expecting, ready for the other to make the first move. None of them wanted to make that move.
Jarol stood and made one step forward. Her muscles were tensed, she was aware of her chest filling the armour with each breath, trying to control the speed of her breathing. She worried the Tzenkethi had something hidden up their sleeve and in spite of her best efforts they would surprise her unpleasantly.
“Sir,” Ma'Kan's voice startled her in spite of its softness. “We just received orders from Legate Ahal.” She paused to read off her screen. “He orders us to withdraw. Take as many Cardassians off the planet and withdraw.”
“'Withdraw' as give the planet to Tzenkethi in case they decide to attack, instead of just looking into our pretty eyes?” Jarol asked.
She turned back to the screen to look at the enemy.
“Sir,” Ma'Kan asked quietly, as if she was ashamed to disturb the silence on the bridge. “What do we do?”
“We stand,” Jarol said calmly, but firmly. No way she would abandon those furry people and leave them to... what did Tzenkethi look like anyway?
“Yes, sir,” the Dja confirmed. Jarol searched doubt in her voice, but heard none. Good. She still had to fully test the girl for her plans, but everything looked promising so far.
“Sir, they move,” Brenok reported.
Her eyes glued to the screen. The enemy ships broke their formation and... started moving away.
“Is it just me or the sensors say the same?” she asked.
“They seem to have plotted course back to their space,” Ma'Kan said.
“Hold your positions,” Jarol ordered and Karama passed the order to other ships.
She kept the ships in formation for one hour after the Tzenkethi left and were beyond their sensors range. Then she ordered four to stay on the orbit and sent the other four back to their patrol territory.
“Karama, get me Gul Daset,” she said, heading for her office.
“Sir, Legate Ahal wants to talk to you,” Karama turned to her.
“Ignore him. Get me Daset as soon as possible.”
She sat at her desk and waited for the connection. Daset's face expression was far from happy.
“Ahal is furious,” he said.
“So am I. I told you he is a bad commander and he would give wrong orders. And so he did.”
“And now you want me to protect you.”
“I'll deal with him myself.”
“So why did you want to talk to me?”
“I need you to order Gul Moskalt to stop interfering in internal Amaratian matters.”
“Tell him to stop arming one side. Tell him to help them make peace. Not by one side being conquered by the other one, but by co-operation and talks. Make it work.”
“Are you ordering me?” he actually sounded amused.
She closed her face to the screen.
“You want new, strong Cardassia? Amaratians are friendly. At least some of them. Let's make them all friendly. We just saved their asses from the Tzenkethi. In spite of our orders. Let's not lose it. Do something about it. Use the opportunity. And if you don't care about this aspect, look at it from another side: wouldn't you rather have all those men on Cardassia, helping in rebuilding process, instead of fighting someone else's civil war?”
Daset inclined his head to one side and stared at her for a long while.
“Damn, Jarol, I smell Brenok's work here.”
She didn't react, didn't speak, didn't even change her face expression.
“What's your answer?” she asked flatly.
“Fine. I'll do what you suggest,” he raised both his hands, palms toward her, like giving up.
She let herself a weak smile.
“Is that all?” he asked.
She nodded and he disconnected.
“Splendid,” she muttered to herself. She pressed her wristcomm. “Ma'Kan, report to my office.”
The young officer entered a few seconds later.
“Ma'Kan, how is your practice in the holosuite?”
“Progressing, sir. However the changing circumstances make it difficult to achieve the result you have set up for me.”
“Real life is unpredictable. You have to be ready for anything.”
“What does it mean, Gul? Do I practice sniper skills for a real assignment?”
Jarol wondered if to tell her now. No. It's too early. She wasn't even sure of the girl's loyalty, she definitely couldn't reveal her plans yet.
“Keep practising. I will add a new program soon.”
“Understood,” the Dja straightened her back.
“Return to the bridge.”
She turned on her heel and left.
It was third time Brenok did not come to their dinner and she wondered why. Those dinners became a kind of habit: once a week they ate together and it was the third week in a row he didn't appear without saying anything. He could be busy, she knew, helping Zamarran in the engineering, but was notifying her such a trouble?
“Jarol to Brenok,” she said tapping her wristcomm.
There was no answer. She tried one more time and then decided to pay him a visit – again. Would she see shaking hands again? She had seen shaking hands once and she knew what it meant. Was the reason here the same? Or was it his pain he claimed he felt. She had gone to ask the medic and he'd told her the same thing he'd told Brenok: it wasn't real.
“Come,” said Brenok's voice on the other side of the door, answering to the chime.
She entered to see him sitting with a holopicture in one hand and a bottle of kanar in the other. He didn't even bother to use a glass.
“I knew it was you,” he said, not even looking at her.
“If you knew it was me, why didn't you hide the bottle?” she asked.
“You came here as my friend, or as my commanding officer?”
“So there's no need to hide the bottle,” he said grimly.
The holopicture – it was his daughter sitting in his wife's lap.
“Arenn, I know you suffer, but...”
“I don't want to talk about it,” he said dismissively, cutting her off.
“Even to me?”
“And who are you to be any different?!” he snapped, looking up at her.
Her eye ridges raised in astonishment, but she didn't say anything.
“Get out!” he shouted, leaning forward and almost dropping the holopicture. She realised he was drunk.
“Glinn Brenok, I expect you to be ready for duty tomorrow morning. After your duty tomorrow you will report to the infirmary for full check up.” She wanted to say that if the medic would find something wrong with him, she would dismiss him, but she feared the medic would find something and she would be forced to act upon her own threat... and she didn't want to.
He only glared at her. “You know where the door is,” he grumbled.
Her eyes flashed with anger, but the feeling quickly subsided. She knew he suffered and she worried about him. She wasn't sure how she could help him, but she knew she had to do something. Drowning his pain in kanar was no solution.
Instead of returning to her quarters, she decided to head for lower decks. She knew Ma'Kan was training the troops; she wanted to talk to the young tactician and could also inspect how the young woman dealt with militia troops, who were everything, but gentle. She still remembered the first time she had to train them: she was older, but very nervous. She had to gain their respect and submissiveness, she had to become authority for them and they had to trust her judgement. Now, as their Gul, she probably knew the lower deck troops better than any Gul in the fleet, unless their path to the command chair was similar – through tactical.
She entered the gym and stopped by the door, looking for the tactical officer. She couldn't spot her anywhere and just started wondering if the troops were left alone with orders to practice, when she noticed that Ma'Kan was in front of the long jogging line – she led them.
Jarol smiled inwardly. Why didn't she even think about it? Ma'Kan had a great idea to simply join the men in their exercises, be with them, not just issue orders. She stood, observing the practice. Athletic men, their chests bare, muscles working under their scales and their Order tattoos visible below their left collar bone ridge and above ribs ridges. They looked astonishing: precision, discipline, strength, all the best in a Cardassian soldier.
Ma'Kan noticed her; she said something to the troop leader, who was directly behind her, and then slowed, breaking the formation. She approached Jarol.
“Sir, I didn't expect an inspection.”
“It is not an official inspection,” the Gul said. “I wanted to ask how is your other practice.”
“It is progressing, sir.”
“You have to be ready next month,” Jarol said.
“Already?? I am not sure it's enough time.”
“Make it enough time. Use all your spare time. You will be paid accordingly,” Jarol was ready to give the Dja her own monthly pay to have this done.
Ma'Kan said nothing.
“Dja, I you can't do it, I have to know it now.”
“I can do it, sir,” the officer replied crisply.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, sir, I am sure.”
“Good. Proceed,” Jarol nodded toward the troops. The Dja joined them and the Gul observed the exercises for a while longer and then returned to her quarters. She needed to talk to Brenok the next day.
“I still don't understand why you wanted me to get invitations for us,” Brenok said, sitting in his place. Jarol sat next to him. “That would give them an impression I think about their offer, while I don't.”
“I want to hear what they have to say.”
“Why?” he was surprised. “You don't agree with their reasoning and more than I do. And why did you bring Ma'Kan?” he looked around. “I can't see her now. Where did she go?”
“Don't worry about her. She's nearby, she has a job to do.”
“Oh, does she. Well, I expect it to be one boring evening.”
Brenok had been very surprised, when she asked him to secure two invitations for the Directorate meeting. He asked why she wanted to come, but she gave him some dismissing answer. He was clueless.
Legate Parn's speech was long, colourful and... boring. He spoke, and spoke, talking about Cardassia's glory and bringing that glory back, but didn't say anything on the subject of how to bring that glory back. Jarol's face expression clearly showed what she though about this speech – she smirked and observed the obese Legate with a contempt in her eyes.
Daset was next. He seemed to be one of the youngest delegates. He spoke of needs of Cardassia. He thanked people, who were helping in the rebuilding process.
Then it was Ahal's turn. When he entered the stage and took his place by the podium, Jarol smiled devilishly. Was it satisfaction on her face?
Suddenly Ahal collapsed. Jarol's hands moved slightly and Brenok caught her touching gently her wristcomm. It could be an accidental move of her hands, but something was telling him it wasn't, he had an impression she sent a command somewhere. He looked at the stage, seeing crowd gathering around the podium. He couldn't see Ahal.
Jarol stood up. It was done.
Revenge on Ahal at last??? NICE!
A very different vision of a postwar Cardassia indeed...I'm worried about how this is going to work out, though, if they don't reform a bit more than they apparently are so far. I don't want them to be Federation clones any more than you do, but this still seems like it could go very badly.
I feel really bad for Brenok, though. He probably wouldn't have any of it, but if I were in your universe I'd definitely want to go there and sit with him. I doubt he'd want a hug, though, no matter how much I'd want to give him one.
I rather expected condemnation; Jarol engineered a murder after all! And you say
Brenok needs help, but he's not ready to accept it yet.
Thanks for you comments
Well...I think Ahal had it coming. This guy WAS not only dumb, but a would-be war criminal. I recall him wanting to use chemical weapons!
Jarol's methods were dirty, for sure...but I definitely wanted to see Ahal pay.
Poor Brenok. Walking now in Damars footprints does he? I hope he gets better, though it is a really hard thing he is going too, a thing that could destroy a person forever.
As for Jarol.... I also didn´t like Ahal, however that was a really ruthless thing to do...
P.S. Though I also had a good laugh... I confused the words food and foot..and for a moment had the picture of Brenok having his foot in his mouth while talking to the same time in my head..and was somewhat puzzled, why you would make him do that and that he is so agile... a second later I read the rest of the sentences of course and noticed my mistake. Still now that picture is in my head and makes me laugh.
P.P.S. And really like the cardassian writing.
Oh my, TN, now I have a picture in my head of Brenok with his foot in his mouth!
Yes, Brenok chose the same "escape" as Damar. The easiest and worst way for sure.
But he's going to get help, and from very unexpected source at that.
Of course, the saying "having one's foot in one's mouth" DOES have a meaning in English--it means that person said something stupid.
It's hard for me to see HOW it actually is an escape...all it does it make the feelings even worse than simply dealing with it. But then I don't drink, so I guess I can't really understand.
Oh dear, this has me a bit worried about who it might be and what that could mean for him.
BTW...I realize Brenok doesn't pray, but this song feels emotionally like what you describe here. And the voice MIGHT be a fit...not sure. Be sure to listen to the song ALL the way to the end.
I don't understand it either, but I had seen it happening and such people see it. I suppose it's getting drunk to the point of losing consciousness and for a moment you don't have to think about anything. Then you feel even worse, so you want to reach the same unconsciousness point again, and so on...
Oh, the song is perfect! Even the voice matches Brenok.
The problem is Brenok stopped singing. The worse he got, the less he sang. Jarol will notice it soon.
That scene of him crying and rolling on the floor first blaming Damar and then apologizing to him, I wrote it listening to a song about pain, but unfortunately it's in Polish
Oh, I'm SO glad the voice matches!!! Especially when the song got to end, I kept thinking it had to be a match.
BTW, it's interesting how people react...I sing a lot, but I find I actually do it more when I'm feeling low. But I can see how it would go the other way.
Here's another song, which puts me into the mood of Brenok's suffering and Jarol inability to help him. It probably would be easier for her if he wasn't her subordinate.
NG...do you have another link for your song? Its again one of those that are not working in my country and Id like to hear it as well.... :-(
As for drinking, I find it easy to understand really. Numbing feelings and memories for some time. I don´t drink either, but I ´ve seen it happen in my family. Drinking does not need to have logic and makes things worse, but when things are worse just one moment of "faced release" seems to have a greater value, than anything else coming with it. Surly not the best of coping strategies, but some people did not learn good coping strategies and alcohol is easy to get and use and legal.
Hm...maybe this link will work?
Works! Thanks! Ahh...so this is "Brenoks voice". Very nice, though really a depressive song.
So it matches Brenok's state of mind perfectly.
I'm writing the next chapter right now and I'm crying with him.
Is that normal?
Very normal! It´s great even, cause than you know you are really inside the story!
I've had that happen with certain characters...AU Dukat, for instance.
Just finished reading the first page. Great story so far.
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