Survivors

If nothing else, Cardassians were a hardy people. Everywhere work was being done, homes, shops, hospitals and orphanages. Edon Malar walked beside Taran Dibari and his Fek'lhr guardian, K'erash, on a sort of tour through the unrecognizable city in the streets of which both Cardassians had grown up. Occasionally people would stop their labors and turn to stare at the odd trio, a tall, handsome Cardassian with dyed yellow hair, thick goggles and wildly colored clothing, a much smaller, younger Cardassian with a Borg servo-armature in place of his right arm and jet-black eyes with square, silver irises and a heavily armed Borg/Mutant Klingon.

Taran Dibari was a hero to the Cardassian people, a being who had both avenged their suffering at the hands of The Dominion and helped their broken world and its people in the difficulty task of rebuilding their infrastructure and treating the sick and injured. K'erash was his highly visible aide and bodyguard, and, as a Fek'lhr, one of the most exotic beings most of the people had ever seen.

Edon Malar was, technically, a traitor to The Cardassian Union. He had actively aided both The Cardassian and Bajoran Resistance movements, and the latter actually involved fighting his own race. He was not particularly loved, but his work with Taran, his hands-on approach to aiding the poor and displaced and membership in The Ministry of Technology was softening his position, somewhat. Still, there were those who wanted him dead.

They stopped before an orphanage, newly built and already filled to capacity. Taran couldn't decide whether that was a triumph or a tragedy.

Any pleasant thoughts Edon might have felt were pushed aside as he spotted a heavy-set Cardassian standing in the street, staring intently at him.

Gul Madred.

Central Command's pet sadist. The man who had tortured his friend, Garen Kel, and so many others to death. The man who had sent assassins after him, hounded him across the galaxy, who would have gladly tortured him to death. And he stood just yards from him.

Edon muttered a prayer to The Prophets for self-control even as he imagined grabbing the Inquisitor by the throat and throttling the life out of him. He walked toward the older man, oblivious of the people around him. He was taller than Madred and had to look down into man's face. Eight billion dead and this monster survived?

The Devil protects his own . . .

"Edon Malar. I see your sense of fashion has only gotten worse with time." He sighed, "You are either very brave or very foolish for coming back to Cardassia."

Edon removed his goggles and stared with piercing purple eyes into the old man's brown orbs. Madred seemed to shrink back a bit from that fierce glare. "Probably a little of both." He admitted, "But, unlike you, I take no pleasure in the suffering of others. I came here to help rebuild. To build a world where people like you no longer exist."

The former Gul regained his composure, "You sound just like Kel. Idealistic nonsense." He paused, "I had hoped to meet you in a more professional capacity. What interesting conversations we would have had."

Edon's eyes narrowed in rage, but Madred was not a man who could be easily intimidated.

"Do you intend to kill me, Malar?" He asked calmly, "That is what I would do."

"I'm not a murderer." It was both a statement and a condemnation.

"And what do you call helping kill Cardassians on Bajor?" He chuckled, "'Justice?'"

"No. Killing was not something we wanted."

"But you did it anyway."

"And I'll have to live with what I did until the day I die. I -"

"Did what you had to do? As did I." Madred smiled, "We have a lot in common, you and I."

"I never tortured anyone! I fought to end suffering, not to cause it!" Edon realized that he should not have approached this man. He was a master of both physical and psychological torture. He didn't need tools or weapons, only his mind and his tongue.

"I'm not afraid of you . . ." The older man looked away from his terrible eyes, "Or of death."

"Life's no fun for an out-of-work torturer, eh?" Edon smiled coldly.

"I lost everything in the war Edon. Everything. My wife. My child . . ." The old man's voice quivered slightly, "No doubt you wonder how someone like me could survive when so many innocents died. So do I, whenever I think of them."

Edon's eyes widened in shock.

"You didn't think someone like me could have a family, did you?" His eyes took on a haunted look, "She died in my arms. My daughter . . . She was barely thirteen. I'm a broken man, Malar. That's what you wanted, isn't it? Oh, yes, I forgot, you don't take pleasure in the suffering of others. You're better than I am. How silly of me to think you might enjoy seeing me brought to ruin."

Edon turned to walk away.

"Leaving so soon? Don't you want to watch me suffer a little more? Don't you want to mock my loss? To 'rub it in' as the humans say." Madred goaded him loudly enough for all to hear, "Don't you want your revenge!"

Edon stopped in the street and replaced his goggles. He turned to look at the pathetic revenant that had once been one of the most feared Inquisitors in The Cardassian Union.

"What would be the point, Madred? All I can say is I'm sorry for your family. But I don't give a damn about you."

"Spoken like a true Cardassian." Madred replied, a hint of triumph in his voice.

Edon shook his head sadly. He was right. "We are both part of the Old Cardassia. We fought on different sides in a war that no longer exists. We have to make sure that those who follow are not as tortured as we are. That they don't have to suffer as we have."

"That would be nice," Madred conceded, "But, in the end, we are still Cardassians. We both," He looked at Taran, who was listening with interest, "or rather, all three of us, grew up on the streets, fighting to survive. Despised because we had no parents. Cardassian culture has not changed in thousands of years, and not even all of this suffering and death can change what we are."

"History will tell. We must do what we can to change Cardassia. To make it better. If we simply accept it and do nothing we will certainly fail."

"You sound like my daughter. She was an idealist, too." The older man's voice grew solemn, "She dreamed of a better future. A future she will never see . . ."

"What was her name?" Edon asked softly.

"Jil Orra."

"I am sorry. I truly am."

"I know. And that's what makes it more painful. I do not want or need your pity, and it won't help her. I doubt we will meet again, Edon Malar. A pity, all these years I've been trying to find you. And now that you are right in front of me, I can't touch you." The old man shrugged and vanished into the crowd.

"Don't be so sure." Edon whispered to the empty air.

The End

I'm not sure how old Jil Orra would have been at the Fall of Cardassia Prime, she was around 7, I think, when her father tortured Picard in 2369. She was born around 2362 and the genocide was in 2375, which would make her about 13.