Warnings: PG13, just to be safe.
It's subtle, the way Garak learns of Bashir. The Glove of Section 31. That's what the Section calls their new ripple of disturbance. A rather insulting title, as usual for the sect, but Garak doesn't rename the mystery agent. No, Garak goes through his life as if nothing has changed, and keeps his contacts all the closer. He makes sure only a chosen few – Tain, Dukat to an extent – know of his earnest curiosity in this.
Through shadow clients and tense informants, the information trickles into his ears.
Of course, Garak must sift out the exaggerations and guesses from the truth.
Informant 2: It's a man.
Client 67: No, it's a woman.
Conclusion: Well, if the stilled videos are any good, the bone structure indicates a man.
Client 11: He has scars that run down the length of his entire face.
Informant 89: His eyes are as stormy that of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Informant 2: He has no hair….and then, at a later date, he has hair down to his ankles.
Conclusion: The man wears a mask and hood at all times, thus Garak can't get a good look at his face or hair.
Client 13: He's eleven foot, three inches.
Client 556: He's a Changeling.
Informant 2: He's all of two meters.
Conclusion: Videos, again. He's about 5 foot, 6 inches. It's possible he's a Changeling, more Intel is needed to conclude for certain.
Informant 2: He has telepathic powers, enough so that he can freeze you in your steps.
The Ferengi twitches in his cushioned seat so badly it almost looks as if he's spasming. Garak resists the urge to sigh. There's a reason he tries not to meet this particular plant often. The Ferengi brings far too much attention to himself to be more than "sometimes" useful. But Garak cannot have this data getting into the wrong hands, thus he goes in person.
"Calm down," Garak says (in such a way that the Ferengi knows he's insisting)
Dark eyes flit about as the Ferengi stills and slides over a pad. "H-here."
"Rather large," Garak remarks as he fingers the edges of the pad.
"You asked for everything on Jem Hadar!" the Ferengi snarls in a rare show of backbone. Garak straightens his shoulders. The Ferengi reads that move accurately and hunches inward, eyes darting down to stare at the table. "I-it's all there. I swear."
"And I accept that." Garak waves a bar girl over. "One black hole, my dear."
The Bajoran's nose wrinkles, but she nods. Her ear lobe is bare, not even a scar where the piercings might have gone. Garak wonders how she came to be here on Cardassia, and at what age. He pushes it aside as irrelevant. She knows her place in this establishment. No matter how much she hates Cardassians, or what way the war is turning, she must serve whoever asks her.
Garak can appreciate that orderliness.
"Is there anything else?" he asks the Ferengi, not taking his eyes off the Bajoran preparing the drink – one cannot be too safe. Garak has lost three clients and one informant from poisoned drinks alone.
"The Glove attacked another cargo ship."
Garak 'hmms' and motions the Ferengi to continue.
"H-he used his telepathy to freeze everyone on board. Took their minds and made them do his dirty work." The Ferengi glances around, still hunched over the table. "He…he probably knows I'm here right now telling you."
Garak snorts, and then chuckles. "I doubt that."
"But he –"
"Enough," Garak says as the Bajoran woman walks to them. "I shall see to it. Enjoy your drink."
Garak laughs when he gets home. If this agent had that kind of power at his disposal, Section 31 would have kept him under tighter surveillance…and less missions. There'd also be no witnesses. Their minds would be much too scrabbled to do anything other than scream or cry.
Garak marks down that Informant 2 has a penchant for fanciful tales – it might be good for when Garak wants to mislead a rival.
Still, Garak listens to all the Intel people say – both around him and to him.
The door slams open and smacks against the wall. Thankfully, it's not the cheap plaster of the common people, and stands up to the abuse. Garak sighs – it's been a long day of staring at nothing but monitor screens. He glances up over the video footages.
"I asked for more men," Dukat hisses, leaning over the station.
"And I refused them. It was a failed mission to begin with." Garak presses a button that 'bleeps'. He gives Dukat a pointed look. "What did you expect to happen?"
"This was for the glory of Cardassia." Dukat folds his arms across his broad chest. "You should have given me all the relevant facts."
Dukat opens his mouth.
"I said it was a 'failed mission'." Garak says.
Dukat's mouth closes slowly. His eyes narrow. Garak can almost see the thoughts racing inside that scaled head. His opponent's eyes narrow even further.
"You set me up."
"You did." Dukat scowls. "You've been itching to get at my post for months now. You did this to advance your favor with Tain. Admit it, Garak."
"I am quite happy with my position."
Dukat's upper lip curls. "The cameras don't have sound. Admit it."
"And have Tain read it off my lips when you bring the recording to him?" Garak smiles. "Too easy."
Dukat's neck ridges flush black. For a moment, Garak readies himself for a physical fight. Dukat always was one for action, rather than intrigue. But then Dukat takes a deep breath and whirls around. Garak lets him get to the doorway.
"Did you at least catch a glimpse of him?"
His posture becomes tenser.
Garak stands. "Come, come, Dukat. Who's withholding valuable intelligence now? I ask not for myself, but for the State."
Dukat's shoulder's slump.
Garak always knows which card to play with him, especially if the cameras are running. Dukat knows that too, of course. He's a man of action, not stupid. Garak is high up in the Order's ranks. A request from him is considered an order by most.
"Dark hair, short, curly. Human."
That's more than Garak's ever gotten before. "You're sure it was him?"
Garak comes to the front of the table. "How?"
Dukat turns around. "One of the others in their group took him aside. Told him something. Couldn't catch all of it. Something about delaying them."
"Indeed?" Garak raises both eyebrows. "Was anyone killed?"
Intriguing. Perhaps there is unrest in the spy ranks. Perhaps not. But, either way, it's a good lead. "My thanks, Dukat. I shall make sure to mention your involvement in gaining this."
Dukat grunts, walking out.
Garak's not doing him any favors really. By telling Tain how Dukat gave him this, Garak also brings up Dukat's failed mission again.
Garak goes four months without hearing or gaining any other relevant about the Glove. It's almost a suspicious silence. Garak, at least, treats it as such, and tells all his people to stay out of Section 31's business. He'd rather not tip his hand too much.
Then he gets much closer than he's ever been before.
He arrives home one warm, sultry evening. The air is wet with humidity. The sky blackened of its blushing, pink clouds. He's not yet lite the lamps, or told the computer to turn on the lights. In fact, he takes no more than two steps into his house before he freezes.
It's not so much what has been moved (nothing has), or what he sees (nothing again), but rather the thick air of danger that permeates the rooms. Someone is here. A killer. Sent for him. His death wish finally come to call.
"You took longer than I thought," Garak says, shutting the door behind him. He'll show no fear to this man. "Can I offer you anything? Tarkalean tea, perhaps?"
There's no reply. Not a whisper of movement. Even the wind outside has died down, as if in homage to this master of carnage.
"Is there really such need for dramatics?" Garak strides over to his desk and presses a blue key on the monitor. The lights blink on at 50%. A dimmer setting than he'd preprogrammed. Garak does a mental shrug and accepts the human's need for shadows.
He circles round the table and finally gets a good look at his – until this point, unknown –adversary. A black-grey one suit, well-worn boots, and a white mask. "Glove."
The masked face dips its head.
"Is that what you wish me to call you?"
The man's entire body goes rigid – not in any way that someone outside the Order could tell. But Garak can, and does. He lets his lips curl up a bit. Point to him. The Glove's hands fist into tight balls, shaking with fury.
Garak takes a mental step backward.
This isn't the threatening killer he's been investigating. This man is on edge, nervous even. Great heavens of stars, he dropped his guard enough to let Garak know he was here. That means….he's not here on an official basis.
Garak leans forward. "At some point, you will have to speak back, if I am to help in any way."
The man stays in his stiff position for several minutes more.
Garak allows it. This is an opportunity that won't come again. He must have this man make the second move on his own, or he'll bolt. Garak's seen it before into other informants and clients.
At last, the Glove marches over to Garak's desk.
He slams a memory chip onto it.
Still nothing said.
Garak interlocks his fingers and leans his chin on them.
He says nothing too.
"I want out," the man says. His voice isn't at all how Garak imagined it. Much lighter and with a distinct accent.
"Many do." Garak picks up the chip. "But out of the game or out of 31?"
"I see." Garak holds the chip up to the light. "That might be difficult. You are a well-known figure."
"I will give more after it's done."
"My, my, we do want out."
The man growls. "I know you can do this. Do it."
"You're hardly in a position to demand."
The man glares at him through the mask, or Garak imagines he is. He looks at Garak for a very long time, ether way. And then: "The Section has Dukat."
Garak blinks. Dukat, in Section 31's pay? That is news. If it's true. Which Garak is inclined to believe it is. It explains a great many of Dukat's new oddities. "I see. And do you have a preference to your new identity?"
Ah, guilt. Of course. The ever strong, human emotion. Garak is so glad Cardassians outgrew that particular weakness. "Very well. I shall need a face to put to this person."
The man's hand goes once, twice to his mask before he succeeds in taking it off. It's a young face that greets in. Young in age, but not in experience. There's a hardness, a desperate bitterness to those eyes. It's as if a feral animal is posed in front of Garak, hidden under the guise of a human.
Well, this will make for an interesting doctor.
Frontier medicine it is then.
Garak nods. "Starfleet is out, of course, but I do hear that the Bajorans and Cardassians out in the Delta Quadrant need more personal."
It's rather generous, letting the Glove treat both sides of the war. Call it a study. A study in the damage of the human psyche. Garak would like to see if it makes a difference, helping both people. See if the man still chooses one over the other.
"I'll have it ready in one week." Garak pauses. "Will you survive til then?"
It'd be a shame to lose this opportunity.
"Good. I shall see to it." Garak allows a smirk. "I assume you'll find me."
The man's lips twitch. "Yes."
Phew, this fandom won't let me go, I tell ya. Not that I'm really complaining. I love writing these stories. :D
Hope you all enjoy this newest one.