You Can Never Go Home Again

by Ronald Todd

The glimmer of gold and silver light shone brightly over the capitol city as the sun began to rise. The city was just starting to come to life. It was once the greatest city in the Cardassian Union. Now it was in ruins after the end of the Dominion occupation of Cardassia Prime.

Citizens, workers, and soldiers alike began to flood the streets. All were willing to do their part to return Cardassia Prime to her former glory...or at least a reasonable facsimile.

From his room in the former Dominion headquarters, Elim Garak watched the city come alive. He sighed as the light of Cardassia's sun began to illuminate the ruined city. For years he longed to return here and oft dreamed of the day when he would. But never in his wildest imaginings did he think it would be like this: Eight hundred million Cardassians dead. All major city laid waste by the Dominion, all to punish that handful that rebelled against them.

The door to the chamber opened. Garak noticed the reflection in the window of the young Cardassian female. She was carrying a tray containing his breakfast, as she had every morning for the past month.

"Thank you Shal'tara," Garak said with a polite smile and a bow of his head.

The young woman smiled as she sat the tray on his desk and asked if there were anything else he might want.

Garak walked to the desk and looked his tray over. "No, everything I need is here. Thank you," he said once more with his trademark smile and nod.

She smiled once again and left the room, and Garak to his own devices once again. Once Shal'tara left, Garak sat at his desk. It wasn't really his desk. At one time, it was occupied by the female changeling, just a few short weeks ago in fact. Garak poured some hot fish juice into a cup as he went over the day's itinerary.

Since the entire government of the Cardassian Union had been assassinated by the Dominion, Garak and a few others had taken up the task of overseeing the rebuilding of Cardassia. Garak never volunteered for the job but took it upon the request of a few rebels who remembered him as the one who fought along side Legate Damar against the Dominion.

As Garak looked over the padd with the tasks that lay before him today, he yawned and rubbed his eyes. He had been unable to sleep an entire night since his return to Cardassia. The nightmares were unbearable, and he was exhausted. The sleeplessness was getting to him. But how could he sleep knowing that it was partially if not all his fault that so many of his people were dead, murdered in cold blood for the deeds he and his compatriots had done against the Dominion?

Garak wondered what the people would think if they knew he was at fault for the deaths of their friends and loved ones. He was no hero but a conspirator in the attempted anhilation of his people.           

Suddenly and without warning there was an explosion down the street. The window in Garak's office shattered. The force from the explosion knocked Garak out of his chair and onto the floor. The wind was knocked out of him, and he felt the warm blood running down the side of his face. Some of the glass from the window embedded itself in his face.

Garak quickly jumped to his feet and ran to where the window had once been, now but a giant hole. He peered through the smoke and gas to see where the explosion had come from. Judging from the direction from which the smoke was coming and the distance, it had to be the power relay station a few blocks over.

Garak ran to the door and out into the street. He ran through the streets like a man possessed. And maybe he was, at that. He was unable to stop the millions from dying earlier, but he would be damned before he would let more innocents die.  

Within a matter of minutes, Garak arrived at the scene. Wounded were all around him. "What happened here?" he asked a soldier who was assisting a wounded woman.

"There was a power surge in the main relay coupling, sir," the soldier stated. "Apparently the couplings we have in storage and supply are not one hundred percent, sir. Nothing has been since the war."

There was no need for Garak to question the soldier any further because he knew what he said was true. There were no factories to build quality equipment and the used ones were all pretty well degenerating rapidly. About that time, a smaller explosion ripped through the station and plasma fire poured though the building.

Another soldier said, "Sir, if we do not get the generators offline, the plasma fire will go through the entire city within hours."

Garak nodded in agreement. "Where is the main control room?" he asked the soldiers. They told him where it was.

Garak ran through the doors of the building dodging plasma fire. In what seemed like hours but was more like seconds, Garak was in the main control room. There was a station operator lying on the floor face down. Garak went to him and checked his pulse. He was still alive.

Garak gently shook the man, then shook him harder. The man groaned and opened his eyes, still weak from the blow to the head he received when the explosion had knocked him into the wall.

"Where is the main power shut-off?" Garak asked the man. The man looked at him as if he could not comprehend what Garak had said. Once again Garak shook the man and said in a loud voice, "If you don't tell me where the power shut-off is, we are all going to die."

The man finally realized what Garak was saying. He climbed to his feet and pointed to a control panel on the far wall. Garak pried the panel off the wall and looked inside. He remembered his training back in school before he had entered the Obsidian Order and began to run the shut-down sequence.

The noise of the power plant slowly quieted and finally ceased. The station operator went to another control panel and the fire suppression system kicked in and extinguished the plasma fire that was raging through the plant.

Outside after the fire was out, Garak was surrounded by workers, citizens, and soldiers, all of whom congratulated him for what he had done.

Garak shook his head and said in a voice of despair, "Do not thank me for this little deed that I have done. If it were not for me, so many Cardassians would not be dead. If it were not for me, the Dominion would not have punished you all, and you would not be suffering today." Then he hung his head down and all was silent.

But a voice broke the silence and a young man said, "If it were not for you, we would not be free. If it weren't for you, we would be pawns of the Dominion or worse. We would all be dead." Then once again it was quiet.

Then another voice came from the crowd. No one knew for sure who it was, but it said, "Hail, Elim Garak, saviour of Cardassia! Hail, Garak!"

The entire crowd began to shout in unison, "Hail, Garak! Hail, Garak!"

Elim Garak's heart swelled and a burden was lifted from his shoulders. His people had forgiven him.

Days later, relief vessels carrying supplies from the Federation and medical and engineering teams would arrive on Cardassia Prime. But most importantly Elim Garak was able to sleep an entire night through because he finally had forgiven himself.

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