Brush Away the Skeletons

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From: Sophie.Masse@tbeu.mba.org (Sophie Masse)
Date: 22 Dec 95 15:56:07
Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative
Subject: B-A-T-S [DS9]
Message-ID: <97e_9512231130@mba.mba.org>
Organization: MtlNet (MBA.org) The BBS at the End of the Universe

BRUSH AWAY THE SKELETONS
************************
Written by: Sophie Masse
CopyRighted by: Sophie Masse
Email adress: Sophie.Masse@tbeu.mba.org
Rated: PG-13
Known characters: Garak, Enabran Tain, Gul Dukat, Mila, Julian Bashir.
Ficticious Characters: Telim Garak (Garak’s father) Telara Guel, Gul Delgat
Bajoran victim.
Main Character: Garak

PART ONE – THE ENROLLEMENT
**************************

Elim Garak would have preffered being eaten alive by a Grekhol over what he
was being submitted to at the moment. In fact, he would have gladly invited
contempt by turning down the Spymaster’s offered hand. As he stared at it
incredulously, he wondering for the millionth time why he was being forced into
this. His right hand, which would have normally been pushed by courtesy and
reflex to grasp the Spymaster’s hand in a show of gratitude, now lay limp
at his side, trembling slightly. Somehow, accepting the offer would have been
too easy…too dangerously easy.
Yet a hand pushed insistantly on his back, forcing him to take a step
foward. He knew full well it was the strong hand of his Father, yet the
touch startled him. He gave a sidelong glance at the man who had brought him
here, and gave no indication of happiness or contentement. His Father
nodded toward the Spymaster. “Go on Elim,” he whispered harshly. “Say you’re
glad to be here, and let’s get on with it.”
Now Garak turned his young teenage face fully toward his Father, looking
up at him with pleading eyes. “But Father, this is not what I want…”
Gul Telim Garak frowned heavily down at his son. “We discussed this
aready. Now don’t embarass me and shake the man’s hand!”
Gul Enabran Tain smiled feintly and retracted his hand. “Don’t worry,
Gul Garak. We get a lot of hesitant, confused youngsters. That’s why the
Order exists. To shape these creatures into effective Agents, for the good
of our Empire.”
The elder Garak scowled abruptly. “Surely he won’t be placed in the Order
right away. He doesn’t have the skills…”
“No no no. Cardassians of your son’s age are not prepared for such a…
honorable position as one in the Obsidian Order. No no, your son will be put
into Pre-Obsidian School where he will be tought discipline and skills which
will help him in the Order…if he passes the Level Entry Test, of course.”
“Of course,” smiled Garak. The younger widened his eyes. This was certainly
not what he had intended to do with his life. He now turned his lanky body
toward his father and looked up insistantly. Although tall in nature, Garak
could not measure up to his Father, higher than the norm. Still, Elim had
always managed to instill a look which balanced off his physical shortcoming
toward his father. “Father…” he said more fiercely. “I don’t want to be
here.” His father kept a frozen smile toward Tain as he pulled roughly on his
son’s arm. “Excuse me, Gul Tain. I need to talk to my son for a moment.”
Tain motioned them to proceed, and he sat back in his chair, considering
the young man Telim had brought in. The Order would certainly mold him into
a fine Agent, but Tain saw more in the young man. Yes, if Garak was
properly motivated, he would soon become a valuable asset for the Order.
“Now listen here,” his father was growling. “You’re a clever boy. The
Obsidian Order is the only reasonable place for someone like you. Don’t
expect anything else. This is where you should be, and this is where you will
be. No questions. Now, defy me again in front of Gul Tain, and I will make
you suffer for it. Understood?”

Garak’s lower lip trembled, but his bright blue eyes were steady. “Yes,
sir.”
“Good. Now, tell the man you’re honored to be here, and we can proceed
with your enrollement.” He straightened up and tugged at Garak’s collar to
adjust it. “You should be proud,” he said. “Obsidian Agents are rare these
days, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to even appeal to the Order.
You have the potential, Son. Don’t disabuse it. You’ll make a fine Gul.”
Garak sighed and was turned toward Tain by his Father’s strong hands. He
neared the wide black desk and stared at the figure of Tain which loomed over
it. He adopted a wan smile and extended his hand to Tain. “I’m honored to be
here, Gul Tain.” He had said it with a false honesty which sounded fake even
to his own ears.
Enabran smiled broadly and took the boy’s hand, shaking it vigourously.
Obviously, he had not perceived the deception. “May I say, you’ll make a fine
edition to the Order, my boy. Once you’ve been disciplined, of course.”
Telim smiled. “Of course.”
Garak sighed and slomped his shoulders. Already at 17, he had managed to
secure his life until well over sixty. And what was his life going to be
like? If the rumors about the Order were true, he was certain it wasn’t
going to be a pleasant one. Already he missed his friends…his life. His
*normal* life. He would have to tie loose ends. Break up with Telara most of
all. He did not love her, but she was familiar. She was a remnant of a life
he knew would never be his again. With a sigh that extended deeper into his
soul, he was ushered out Tain’s office, and into a life completely different.

END OF PART ONE
***************

PART TWO – A DIFFERENT LIGHT
****************************

Pre-Obsidian school was not all that bad, Elim had to admit. He met some
interesting collegues, all of which eager to enroll in the Order. As time
streamed on, Garak became increasingly aware that being in Pre-Obsidian
School did not assure him a position in the Order. And had he still been the
seventeen year old cardassian he had been when he enrolled, he would have
done everything in his power to dissuade the Superiors that he was not a
likely candidate. Yet, as he reached the age of 23, he had been disciplined
into thinking the Order was the most important Organisation that Cardassia
had yet to encounter. Applying to a position in the Order was Garak’s
priority right now, and he was certain his collegues were no match for his
skills. Gone now was Garak’s good natured attitude, yet his dark sense of
humor was legendary on campus. He had lost all qualities which would have
impaired him and he replaced them with arrogance, connivance and mischief. If
he was to be an effective Agent, generosity and compassion would have surely
brought him nowhere. Yet he allowed courtesy and humor to remain. Two
qualities he insisted were required in any civilised Cardassian. However, an
underlying feeling of regret always managed to remind him of his previous
life. His father was dead now, killed during his shift on some desolate moon
in some isolated sector. Garak was not told the details, nor did he wish
to know them. His mother had been placed in an institution, no longer able to
survive by herself. They had given word to Garak about that as well, but the
Cardassian didn’t want anything to do with it. As far as the Order was
concerned, one had no parents. Familial and intimate attachements only made
it harder to pull away from a non-Obsidian lifestyle. And so Elim Garak was
alone, his only company that of Enabran Tain, now his official Mentor, and
a couple of lower collegues. He only allowed to aquaint himself with people
he was certain did pose a threat to his entrance exam. After all, the Level
Entry Test was only a few days away…
“And you’ll do fine,” Enabran insisted. Garak looked up from a lighted
computer screen, and his smooth features crumpled in a look of angst.
“Are we talking about the same test?” he inquired.
Tain waved a dismissive hand. “Students are told it’s a difficult test so
they’ll study and train more. There’s nothing to it, actually. When I
passed it, I got the highest grade in my Squad.”
Garak snorted and returned his attention to the screen, saying, “And how
much did you pay the Examener to accomplish that?”
Tain scowled. “Oh, how very low. Even for you.”
“Well I’m sorry!” Garak exploded. “But my mind is on this exam. And study
as I will, I am not certain I will pass it!”
“And what makes you say that?”
“My mind has been wandering these past few months. I’m afraid I haven’t
paid due attention during your teachings.” Tain stared intently at Garak,
and he was certain his pupil had carried no honesty in his appology.
“And what has made your mind wander?”
Garak slumped back in his chair, releasing a noisy sigh. “When I was first
enrolled in POS, I had no liking whatsoever for anything that involved the
Order.”
“Including me, I gather,” Tain smiled.
“Oh especially you,” Garak said with a return of the smile. “I thought
you were the most arrogant, egotistical man I had yet to meet.”
“And look at you now, making competition with me on all those levels.”
Garak frowned. “Please. I still have my pride.”
Tain sat back and nodded at Garak. “So what’s bothering you, Elim.”
“It looks to me as if I have no life. I mean, what am I really going to
do in the Order? Really? I’ll have a couple of orders issued, perhaps issue
some myself…but what will it accomplish? I’ve never been told what the
Order is fully about. I’ve heard passing rumors, read incomplete documents.
You’re in the Order, Sir. What is it like?” he asked gingerly, leaning
foward.
Tain frowned at the abrupt change of subject. “You say you have no life,
seeming to dislike the Order all together, and yet you are eager for
knowledge about it’s existence. I am not sure how to interpret it all.”
Garak shook his head at Tain’s evasiveness, then kicked the computer base
with his heavy boot. “Oh right!” he said contemptuously. “That’s what I need.
Someone to tell me I’m lost and confused. That may have worked when I was
seventeen, but no more. I only wish to know what I’m getting myself into.
Now why the hell was I never told about it?”
Tain shifted his heavy frame in his seat and his eyes looked downcast.
“I’ve never told you because I was afraid you’d leave. The Order is not
some cheerful organisation that helps the elderly Garak. It’s a serious and
dark Order, one that thrives on it’s Agent’s ability to emotionless attitude
toward their victims.”
“_Victims_?” Garak narrowed his eyes as he viewed Tain’s reaction. He was
acutely aware that his mentor had not meant to let the word slip.
“We interrogate people, Garak. To tell you the truth, we imploy techniques
to better motivate people to give us information.”
Garak’s face lightened with sudden revelation. “You torture them?”
“Not torture…it’s such an…extreme word.”

Garak nodded slowely. “But it _is_ an effective term, isn’t it? So what did
you intend to do with me? Make me your star headsman? Is that it?” Garak
felt unsure weither he should feel proud, or repulsed.
“You make it sound barbaric!” Tain exploded, standing up briskly. “The
Obsidian Order is a respectable Service. We save more lives than we dispose
of. Casualty is necessary everywhere, Garak. It’s not exclusive to wars.
Remember that.” Furious, Tain turned his heels and left the room, leaving
Garak alone with his jumbled thoughts.
“I should have run away,” he muttered, recalling the exam material in his
computer. “When Father came in my room, I should have knocked him down and
run away.” Of course, he knew he would never had the temerity to attempt
such a thing. Just like he knew he would never have the temerity to kill, or
even torture another living being. But more he focused on the idea, he was
surprised to discover that the concept shocked him even less than a minute
before. Perhaps Tain was right about him after all…

END OF PART TWO
***************

PART THREE – TELARA
*******************

Elim Garak was now officially a Gul in the Obsidian Order. He was now 26,
and his more atheltic frame now bore the metallic heavy uniform of the
Obsidian Order. He wore it proudly, and hid no arrogance when it came to
those who had not made it as far as he had. Thus, when Telara Guel came to
visit him, he looked upon her with lifeless eyes. His love, which had
never burned for her in the first place, was not even replaced with
affability.
She sat down across his desk and regarded the office he now held. For a
cardassian of Garak’s age, the position and luxuries he delighted in were
not often seen. And to his eyes, she was merely here to bathe in his success,
perhaps in a wish to rekindle their once ago romance to profit from his
wealth and influence. Garak snorted, and Telara turned sharply toward him.
“What?”
“Oh, nothing,” he said simply. “Merely wondering what your reason is for
visiting me. You do realise that a person of your position cannot intrude
upon my affairs. The only reason you are talking to me is because I know you.
People here fear me, you know.” His flash of arrogance was more than she
could take. Her eyes flamed with ire, and she curled her lips ever so
slightly.
“I see that the Order has indeed changed you, Elim–”
Garak held up a palm and smiled. “Gul Garak, my dear.”
“And to think that you swore you would never be influenced by them. I guess
promises don’t mean much to you.”
Garak stared at Telara with a narrowed eye. She spoke the truth, of course.
He had made that promise to her years back, when he had been a seveteen year
old boy. Those years were now forgotten. He leaned back and made a prayer
with his hands. “But tell me, why *are* you here, dear Telara.”
She stood up, the folds of her azure dress falling gracefully to the plush
carpeting. “I don’t know, frankly. I think I wanted to be sure you were
truly gone. I guess I was right. nothing remains of *my* Garak.”
Elim stood up and gazed at her evenly. Then, with a curve in his lips, he
whispered, “I was never yours, Telara. Honestly speaking, and you have never
known me to lie, have you my dear? Honestly speaking, I have never loved
you.” He watched her reaction with a critical eye, perceiving if indeed he
had damaged her spirits. When he detected a shattering in her eyes, his
smile grew wider. “Now,” he said, stepping toward the exit and opening the
door for her. “If you’ll excuse me, I do have some work to do.”
Almost on the edge of tears, Telara mustered her pride and sauntered to
the door. She paused when she was directly facing Garak, and with a final
show of anger, she drew back her palm and slapped his face with a satisfying
sound. Garak didn’t even bother holding up his hand to rub the pain away. He
nodded slowely and said, “I hope you enjoyed that. It’s the last thing you’ll
ever get the chance to do to me. By the way,” he said before she left. “You
want to know the real reason why I kept staying with you?”
He took her lingering presence for an affirmative, so he went on, “I only
kept you around because everyone knew how much you liked to fuck. And for me,
reputation outweighed my having to stare at your dull face every day.” And
then, with a polite smile, he inclined his head, then slammed the door on her
contrite face. He never saw her again, and never regretted his actions. He
would have many years after his service to the Order, but her face had long
been forgotten during his stay in the Obsidian Order. Her memory, along with
a painful pinge of regret, would resurface only decades later, recounted to
a certain Doctor Julian Bashir.

END OF PART THREE
*****************

PART FOUR – FIRST ENCOUNTER
***************************

Garak didn’t like Gul Dukat. He became aware of that fact upon meeting
the other Cardassian one dreary afternoon. In fact, not only did he have
complete lack of respect for the other, he loathed the likes of him. His
mere presence made him sick to his stomach. He wasn’t sure if it was the
position he held — so close to his in importance — or his naturally
arrogant features that smirked at anything living and intelligent enough to
take offense by it. Whatever it was, Garak hoped he would not know this
person long enough to become aquainted personally.
“Gul Garak,” Dukat said with an imperious wave of the hand. “I trust Gul
Delgat has relayed your orders?”
“I was not aware I had orders,” Garak said with petulance.
“Oh please. Don’t think of yourself as Supreme Spymaster of the Obsidian
Order. You may be high in ranks in this Organisation, Gul, but keep in mind
that others will always outrank you, weither by status or officiality.”
“Such defensive reactions, Gul Dukat,” Garak said with a matching smirk.
“Are we perhaps low in self-confidence these days? If so, operating at
Central Command is perhaps not very wise. You might give misguided orders…”
“You keep your nose in your business, and I’ll keep mine in Central Command.
Now,” he said with a short ragged sigh. “*Has* Delgat given you orders or
not?”
Garak shook his head and settled in his chair. “If I had, I would not have
said I hadn’t, now would I?”
“Then contact Central Command. Ask for Delgat, and he will relay them to
you.”
Garak crossed his legs and looked up at Dukat with an amused expression.
“Why should I? I have nothing to do with Central Command. They don’t give me
orders. If I had orders to follow, they would be issued by the Obsidian
Order.”
“It’s not an order, it’s a task!” Dukat shouted. “The Obsidian Order is
here to *assist* Central Command. Do you not know your own Organisation’s
duty?”
“Spare me,” Garak breathed. Unknowing of Dukat, a nerve had been touched.
Garak still had a fuzzy image of what the Service was about. He gestured
Dukat to wait on the side as he opened a channel with Central Command. A
low Officer answered the call, and promptly recognised Garak. He stuttered
a few words, then passed the transmission over to a Gul. It was Delgat.
“Gul Garak,” he nodded formally. “We have a mission for you,” he said
without preamble.
“Quite tedious that *I* had to contact you. If you needed my assistance,
it should not be my job to seek it, but yours to ask it.”
My appologies, Gul Garak. But we had an impromptu scheduling of–”
Garak waved a hand. “Get to the point.”
“A Bajoran freighter has been captured. It was roaming inside the
Cardassian boundaries, and we intercepted it a few days ago. We need someone
to interogate the passengers. We are certain they are either smuggling
information or stealing some.”
“And you want me to find out what exactly? What the information is, or
simply if such information exists?”
“Anything.”
“Well that says a lot,” Garak sighed. He nodded and said, “Very well.
Expect me soon.” He closed the channel and got up. As he passed Dukat, he
paused next to him and said, “Next time, instead of making dramatic
entrances in my office, a simple communique will suffice. And as much as you
needed to gauge me as I did you, I hope today’s encounter was sufficient.
Personally, I don’t want to see you again.”
“Trust me,” Dukat purred. “The feeling is mutual.”

END OF PART FOUR
****************

PART FIVE – THE FIRST DUTY
**************************

Garak considered the young woman sitting across from him. She was perhaps
in her twenties, a fade tunic covering her shapely figure, and a hood which
harbored light tanned hair. She had dark hazel eyes, and the only thing
which broke her face was her Bajoran ridges and a slight scar on her chin.
She wore the customary earring on her right ear, yet the rest of her was
unadorned. Garak sighed and folded his arms. “Tell me again why you were
roaming Cardassian space without permission?” he asked tediously.
She stared back evenly. “And I’ve already told you, our ship suffered a
propulsion breakdown in one of it’s thrusters. We were forced into your
space without our will.”
“A likely excuse,” he sneered. “Now tell me the real reason.”
“That is the reason!” she shouted.
He waved his hands in desperation, then became acutely aware that someone
was watching them. When he turned, the face of Enabran Tain peered at him
with disapointed eyes through the small glassed window of the door. Garak
frowned and stood. “Excuse me,” he said, leaving the room.
“Sir!” he said with obvious delight. “How long has it been?”
“Not since the Test, I’m afraid,” Tain replied, a genuin smile crossing his
gray features. “Now can you tell me something, Elim?”
“Certainly.”
“What the hell do you think you’re doing in there?”
“Conducting an interrogation,” Garak answered uneasily. He wasn’t sure what
was asked of him.
“You call that an interrogation? Why not bring Taspar eggs and Cardassian
ale while you’re at it? In fact, let’s have a celebration in her honor!”
Garak looked stricken. “I fail to understand why you view my session so…
unruly.”
“You’re too civilised, Garak,” he said affectionatly. “Too damn polite.
You gotta show more authority, more domination if you want to go anywhere
with her. Remember, civility might get you part of the information, but
savagery will instill fear and offer you all the information, in addition to
complete submission.”
Garak wasn’t sure if that’s what he wanted. As though picking up on the
thought, Tain placed a fatherly hand on his shoulder and said, “It might not
agree with your views, Garak, but it does with the Order, and that’s what
counts.”
Sighing, he nodded carefully. “Then I shall abide to your wishes and
alter my techiques.”
“Good son. Now here,” he said, handing him a device. Rather, an array of
devices compiled in one case. Among them, Garak recognised a dermal injector,
an epidermal cuircuit and monitoring devices. He looked up inquisitevely.
“For her,” Tain said with a toss of the head. “Inject the cuircuit in her
system. It will regulate her cardio-vascular muscles to your wishes. You
may induce arrest for as long as the device will permit you. It’s
programmed to start the heart after a reasonable amount of time. But I
can assure you…if the pain of such an experience will not make her talk,
you can be certain she tells the truth when she says she has no
information to give.”
Garak looked down again and inspected the instruments. He took a profound
breath, then walked inside the room. A few hours later, when he came out
again, he was not the same man that had walked in. He threw the case on the
floor, now missing the cuircuit, and walked off with fury. The Bajoran
woman lay mercifully on the table, relieved of the torturous treatement she
had been subjected too for the past hours. She had revealed nothing, and
that was what Garak had been angry about. Not that he had inflicted the most
exquisite pain in her, not that he had been reduced to status of Tormentor
in mere minutes…no, he was flustered that he had not managed to extract
the information which was needed.

END OF PART FIVE
****************

PART SIX – A TEST OF LOYALTY
****************************

Gul Elim Garak was now 35. He was a supreme Inquisitor, and a rank to be
feared and treated with respect. Something he had taken for granted a few
years back was now reality; he was no longer being issued orders. Rather, he
was giving them. But he now and then indulged himself in an interrogation
or two. Years of only doing so had eroded his compassion; he was now plainly
enjoying watching his victims wither and break down in front of him, weeping
or begging him to cease his inquiries. What a fine job it was, Garak told
himself. And how he was gratified that his father had indeed pushed him into
this. How foolish he had been…to think he had initially rejected the idea
of being enrolled in the Obsidian Order.
It was of this he thought about as he completed business in his office.
A chime sounded, and he was startled out of concentration. He looked up and
sighed. “Come in.”
Gul Enabran Tain entered the office and gave Garak a hearty grin. “Garak,
my young friend. How fare you?”
Garak stood up gingerly and grinned broadly as he shook hands with his
mentor. “Quite well, Sir. And how is life treating you?”
“Oh, you know me. Quite a dull life these days. I’m close to retirement,
you know.”
“I refuse to believe that,” Garak said with a smile.
“Ah well, t’is true,” Tain sighed, dropping his increasing weight into a
chair. He looked up from heavy eyebone ridges and considered his pupil.
Briskly, he changed the subject. “Are you engaged any time during this week?”
he asked.
Garak waved a hand toward his computer. “I was planning on completing
unrelated work, but otherwise I’m free.”
“Good. I have a request.”
“Which is?”
“We cought some covert transmissions being broadcasted to Bajor. Now we
believe that several rebel Cardassians are in contact with Bajoran Militia,
perhaps giving them valuable information. Of course, no one will admit
anything, but this is where I want you. I wish for you to conduct several
inquisitions over the course of the week. Some other members of the Order will
do so as well, but I will bring in the prime suspects for you.” He allowed a
small smile. “Your techniques are, after all, legendary.”
Garak shied away from the compliment and adopted a serious frown. “And, who
are these…rebel cardassians?”
Tain held up a PADD and handed it across the desk to Garak. Elim looked at
the listing, and his breath cought in his throat. “Telara? She is among the
traitors?”
Tain narrowed his eyes. “You know this woman?”
“Yes…”
“She is believed to be the leader, my friend. I want you to start with
her.”
Garak looked up with a somewhat pleading look. “But what crime was comitted
here? Is there even any form of evidence…proof?”
“We don’t need proof. Rumors are enough to at least interrogate them. May
I trust you? I don’t think I need to ask this of you.”
“Of course I can be trusted,” Garak snapped. “I shall do as you wish.”
Tain nodded with satisfaction. “Good. Now, won’t you come by this evening
for supper? Mila always enjoys your company, and she’ll make you some of
her best Taspar dishes you so adore.”
Garak was cought in his thoughts and nodded hurriedly.”Yes, of course.”
Tain considered Garak for a moment, then stood to leave. “In any case, I’m
eager to see your report on your findings. This Telara of yours…she might
prove to be a valuable source of information.”
Garak muttered, “I’m sure she will be.” Somehow, for the first time, Garak
wasn’t eager for the interrogation sessions next week.

END OF PART SIX
***************

PART SEVEN – MILA
*****************

Garak had always been fond of Mila. He considered her a valued friend, and
always enjoyed her company, as did she. And when Elim stopped by the
Spymaster’s house, he was greeted by her generous smile. “Master Garak, what
a pleasure to see you,” she grinned, ushering him in. She had deliberatly
ignored the use of his title, perhaps because she wished formality to be kept
outside the house. Yet she recognised Garak’s importance, and manage to hold
respect with a more informal title. As far as he was concerned, she would
have called him Elim, and he wouldn’t have mind.
When he was inside the dinning room, Mila pulled a chair for him. “Master
Tain is away for the moment, I’m afraid.”
“Oh?” Garak was surprised. “Anything amiss?”
“Oh dear, no. He simply had some last minute business to attend to. I was
going to contact you when word was given to me, but you had already departed.
I hope you don’t mind dining with me, Master Garak. Although, I would
understand if you left.”
Garak smiled generously. “My dear, your company is always appreciated.
Besides, you know full well I cannot refuse your Taspar eggs.”
Mila looked truly gratified. “I knew you would not turn away from a hot
meal. All that work of yours must not let much room for healthy intakes of
food.”
Garak nodded. “You’re quite right about that. I find myself skipping lunch
all together sometimes.”
“Oh well, that cannot be good for you,” she frowned heavily. “You should
stop by more often.”
Garak narrowed his eyes. Somehow, he had detected something other than
motherly concern over his nutritive habits. He smiled feintly and stood. “Do
you require any assistance with supper?”
“Oh no, everything is already being prepared.”
“I see.”
Mila looked momentarily hesitant, as if a private battle was being fought
within her. When the conflict was resolved, she looked up. “Master Garak…”
she began.
“Please,” Garak said, holding up his hand. “Call me Elim.”
Mila flushed slightly, and took a step foward. “Elim, I cannot say that I
have been totally honest with you…”
“Oh?”
“When I told you that Master Tain was away…well, that was true enough.
But the reason was falsified. You see…I was the cause for his brisk
departure.”
“Oh.”
“I..Well, frankly, I told him you were not coming, and that he had better
take the opportunity to get some work finished back at the Order.”
“And he bought that?” Garak smiled with revelation. “Somehow, I have
difficulty imagining him believing I refused a free meal.”
“Well, he did,” Mila said with her eyes averted.
Garak stepped foward. “And why would you tell him that?”
“It seemed the only way I could get you alone without asking you directly.”
Garak frowned. “Did the thought that I would have refused seeing you alone
ever crossed your mind?”
“Frankly, it did. I had to be sure…”
Garak again moved foward, smiling sympathetically. He pressed his fingers
to her lips and his smile grew into one of affection. “I think I know why
exactly you did this. And I must say…I’m glad you did.” He took her in his
arms, his strong hands envelopping her back with loving care. He brushed her
lips with his own, capturing her mouth in a kiss which was not passionate,
but friendly. He pulled away and pinched her chin with a cheerful smile. “But
I will not allow a relationship with you.” At her momentary disapointed
look, he vehemently shook his head. “Not because of you, my dear Mila. But,
well, the Order does frown upon intimate relationships. If I should somehow
pull away from my work to pursuie other interests, my concentration would
fail me when it would come to my duties. And I shall not submit you to a life
of constant absences from my part, my dear. And you are equally not deserving
of a one night affair. Thus, please, let us not pursuie this.”
Mila nodded with comprehension. “I understand. But please, tell nothing of
this to Master Tain. He would have my head if he discovered I had a penchant
for his student and not for him,” she smiled.
Garak returned the good humored grin. “Not to worry, dear. I’m rather good
at keeping secrets.” He slapped his hands together and licked his lips. “Now,
shall we eat?”

END OF PART SEVEN
*****************

PART EIGHT – FAILURE
********************

“What do you mean, you can’t go through with this?”
Garak bowed his head and shook his head. “I can’t interrogate her. I’m too
personally involved.”
Tain restrained his anger with difficulty. “That was nearly two decades
ago! What happened to your fabled insensitivity when it came to traitors and
smuglers?”
“She’s not a traitor.”
“How do you know that if you haven’t interrogated her?”
Garak met his gaze evenly. “I just know!”
“That’s not good enough! Now march back in there and talk with her, beat
her, pull her hair, anything! I want her to confess.”
“If you’re so eager for her to endure punishement, then why don’t you do it
yourself?”
Tain leaned back. “You *dare* talk back to your Superior like that?”
“You’re not my Superior. Not anymore.”
Tain narrowed his eyes. “Oh? I can have that changed rather quickly, if you
wish. I still have more influence in the Order than you’ll ever have.”
“Yet I still have enough importance to refuse a session if I choose to. And
at this time, I refuse to interrogate that woman in there.”
“Do you realise that defying me is enough to throw you out of the Order
all together?”
Garak recoiled in shock. “You would do this to me because of my simple
refusal to a session?”
“I would do this because of your ungrateful attitude toward me! Your Mentor,
your Superior!”
Garak curled his lips, and his hands crumpled in fists. “If that are your
feelings toward the matter, then I quit!”
“Good! The Order is no place for a unrespectable coward!”
Garak was fighting desperatly not to lunge at the man and swipe him a good
knock on the jaw. He clawed at the insignia on his uniform and striped it
off, throwing it unceremoniously at Tain’s feet. “You know what? It feels
good not to be your pawn anymore.” With what he turned on his heels and
walked off in a storm. Tain tightened his fists and watched his student march
away.

END OF PART EIGHT
*****************

PART NINE – CARDASSIAN EXILE
****************************

Garak stared incredulously at the two Obsidian Agents crowding his house.
He shook his head and frowned. “Repeat that, please.”
“Gul Tain has ordered us to inform you that you are now exiled from
Cardassia. If you choose to remain here, you will be trialed and executed
under Cardassian Legislature.”
Garak swallowed hard. “And *why* am I being exiled?”
The other guard handed him a computer pad and nodded toward it. “He
believes that by refusing to interrogate the rebel suspects, you are making
yourself an automatic suspect yourself. Since no one wishes to interrogate
you, guilt has already been determined. The only reason, it seems, that you
are not being forced to execution is your aquaintance with Gul Tain. We
both suggest you choose exile if you do not wish your life to terminate.”
“This is ludicrious!” Garak exclaimed. The guards looked around his
house and once of them said, “You should begin packing. A transport has
been arranged to carry you off to the Bajoran system. Gul Tain believes you
will learn much by living amongst your allies.”
Garak exploded. “I will be sacrificed! We are at war with them!”
“That is not our concern. You are not forced to live on Bajor. There are
several neutral systems around which will be sufficient to sustain you.
Perhaps even the Federation will accept you,” he sneered.
Garak was suddenly sick to his stomach. The reality of it all had just
knocked him on the side of his head. He let himself drop on a chair and let
out a heavy sigh. “I’m ruined,” he said simply.

END OF PART NINE
****************

PART TEN – DS9
**************

13 years had now passed since the incident. Garak had remained on a
desolate planet in some sector he could not recall the name. He had stayed
in the freighter as far as it would take him, and he had settled in a small
camp outside the planet’s main city. He had slowly tried to rebuild a life
of his own, yet he found it hard to begin from the lowest point. He had been
used to luxury and power. Now he had been reduced to a lowly merchant
traveling from city to city to earn his bread. Pityful, he scolded himself
relentlessly. I should have opted for execution, he thought. At least I would
have gone off with dignity and pride. After all, is this a life?
Yet something pushed him to mold another life. He was tired of the
traveler’s lifestyle, and longed for something better. Perhaps all was not
lost after all. He still had his skills, certain talents that could be put
to good use. He was given word that the war between Bajor and Cardassia
was no longer in activity, and he was certain he could return to Bajor’s
system and build a new life. That station the Federation had settled near
the discovered wormhole. He could go there.
And so he did. With the small savings he had accumulated, he booked a
flight to this Deep Space Nine, and arrived at the station with a new
purpose…a new lease on life. And a cardassian station, no less. At least
the surroundings were familiar. He had quickly found quarters, and decided
to open a shop. After all, he had been a tailoring merchant for all these
years, why not remain with what worked? Thus he leased a space, then opened
his business. Yet because the population was overly Bajoran, he found only
prejudice and racism. The tables were turned it seemed, and he could do
nothing to protect his pride…
…until one fateful afternoon — when he met a young and eager to please
Doctor Julian Bashir — he discovered his life had encountered a satisfying
change…for the better.

THE END
*******

… OFFLINE 1.50


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