Eeee, another DS9 story. I do hope you all enjoy it.
Garak inhaled the pungent scent of iron. A tiny smile played on the corners of his mouth. Iron based blood. So different from the brown blood of Cardassians. One could almost be tempted to paint with the red liquid oozing from these humans.
But that would be...excessive.
Garak schooled his features into a blank canvas again.
He had a duty to fulfill for the State here. "How much longer?"
"A few seconds, First," the technician demurred, his deft fingers encouraging the smoking computer to life again as heavy footsteps thudded down the hallway.
Garak swallow a groan.
Must he handhold Dukat at every step? Really, he had better things to do than cater to the Gul's inept pride.
"Humans really are such a weak race," Dukat purred. (Purred! As if he were some simpering civilian female!) The male leaned his shoulder against the charred doorway and folded his bulky arms, a smirk dirtying his smug features.
"Indeed?" Garak sent a thin smile back. "We suffered no losses then, I take it."
The technician wisely stepped out; his job now finished.
Dukat watched the male leave, his face twisting into a much more palatable sneer. "Only a handful."
"From a weak resistance, no doubt," Garak said, pulling up the Section 31's inventory list.
"We have won!"
"So we have," Garak glanced over the file, pausing it. He marched over to Dukat. "Bring several of your best guards and a Hacker to Subsection 5, cell 47."
Dukat bristled, straightening. "I am Leader here!"
Garak raised a ridged eyebrow. "And I am First."
Dukat deflated at that, his muddy eyes shining with anger.
Really, it disgusted Garak how easily the Gul let himself be played.
"I shall meet you there," Garak informed the male. "Five minutes."
The Hacker grinned as the door slide open.
Garak allowed the show of emotion. The male deserved a bit of lenience after all. This one room had been guarded by the Section's best codes and traps. That it had only taken the Hacker fifteen minutes to bypass and render them useless spoke well of his training and ambition.
"Let us see what secrets the Section wants hidden," Garak said, waving Dukat's guards in. The male and female slipped in without hesitation.
"Clear, sir," the female announced after a minute.
Fool, Garak thought, stepping inside. This was why the Gul would never reach any rank of importance. Garak scanned his new surroundings. A grey, empty room...no, not empty. A small body lay crumpled next to the male guard.
The male touched the body and stood. "Alive, sir."
Garak slid over. His eyes widened involuntarily. A child! What was a child doing here? There were no reports of this in their Intel. Garak made a note to mention that shortcoming to Tain when they got back. The Order could ill afford just overlooks in their information.
Good Intel was key to winning this war.
Garak crouched down by the boy. At least, he was fairly certain the child was male. The tight one-piece jumpsuit left little to the imagination. Garak turned the slack face towards him. Dull eyes stared up at him.
"Report?" He demanded.
The female glanced up from her beeping hand-scanner. "Malnutrition, broken bones, deep tissue damage, and heavy traces of Mugato in the boy's blood."
"Whatever are you, that the Section would rather you dead than with us?" Garak mused, noticing the brittle feel of the child's hair. The boy had been with the Section for a while by the look and feel of it. The beginnings of an idea flicker to life.
"Kill...me..." the boy rasped.
Garak smiled. "My, but you are strong."
The idea grew stronger.
The female sucked in a breath. "Augmented implants detected, sir."
Well, that certainly explained much. Garak pushed up on his knees and stood, already planning how get Tain to agree with his idea. "Bring him to the ship and make his recovery a priority."
"Yessir!" Both guards saluted, moving to rearrange the boy for better transport to a ship.
"Ridiculous!" Dukat snapped. The male strode forward until he was nose-to-nose with Garak.
Oh, very well.
With three moves, Garak had the Gul on the floor and immobile.
Garak glanced over at the wide-eyed guards. "Transport him to my ship."
The male guard nodded and activated his communicator. The three shapes shimmered white and disappeared.
Garak focused back on the struggling body beneath him. He pressed a nerve cluster, relishing in how Dukat hissed and quickly stopped fighting. Garak placed a knee on the small of the male's back and leaned in until his mouth was by Dukat's ear.
"You forget yourself," he whispered.
"We don't have time to waste on your petty projects, Garak!" Dukat snarled.
"I really do despair of your ambition, Dukat," Garak sighed before sinking his teeth into the meaty flesh of Dukat's neck ridge.
Dukat howled and struggled again. Garak bit harder and held on. After a few seconds (pathetic), Dukat whimpered and stilled. Garak held on a moment more and then unlocked his jaw.
His long tongue licked the blood from his chin and lips. "I am First."
"You are First," Dukat hastily agreed in breathy tone.
"Excellent." Garak got up and straightened his uniform jacket. "You will see to the rest of the inventory immediately. I expect no deviations or delays."
Meaning, no medical side trips. Everyone would know Dukat was disgraced.
Dukat wavered on his feet as he too stood. "Yessir."
Garak transported aboard without any further trouble. He was quick to make his way to the Infirmary, stopping only a few times to get pertinent updates on their 'evacuation' of the planet base below.
One such report held interest.
"Sir, it seems the planet itself is rich in Saponin."
"Intriguing," Garak allowed, looking over the data. He'd thought only Gamma Trianguli IV the only planet with the poisonous flower. He nodded to the subordinate. "See that some samples are taken."
The male paled at the dangerous mission, but saluted. "Yessir."
Garak moved on to Infirmary.
The small room was organized and efficient, everything in their right place and order. Garak admired Lieutenant Bresen for that, hence why he had asked for the female to be transferred to his ship.
"Your report, Doctor?" He asked, his hands loose at his side.
She handed her pad over. "As expected; malnutrition to the point of starvation, multiple broken bones, especially in the rib cage - scans indicated this has been done many time – deep tissue damage – his left leg in particular might not be salvageable."
"The Mugato?" Garak pressed.
A brief smirk flashed across Doctor Bresen's face. "Counteracted, sir. He should be stable within an hour or two."
"Excellent work, Doctor." Garak handed the pad back. "Proceed with your nutrition plan. I shall return later this evening to interrogate the boy."
Doctor Bresen nodded. "Very good, sir. Shall I initiate full nutrition?"
Garak paused. It could be valuable to approach the first encounter with an extra incentive in his corner.
"No," Garak drew out. "Half. But have a cup of water and soup on standby when I arrive."
The boy, despite his weak state, studied Garak just as intently as the Cardassian did him. Garak marked that down as another valuable trait to mention to Tain. He'd tried to get in contact with the Head of the Order, but could only leave a message. That left him with more time to gather better Intel on the child, so Garak didn't feel too miffed about it.
"We almost lost you, child," Garak told him.
No response. Granted, Garak wouldn't answer that either if he were in the boy's position.
"Doctor Bresen says you need to eat to regain your strength. Have you been given food? Water?"
Still no response.
"I see." Garak signaled to a assistant. "Bring me some warm broth and a cup of water, if you would."
The male scurries to obey. In no time, Garak held two small cups - one warm, one cold. He turned back to the boy. "Do you have a name?"
The child stared at the nutrients in Garak's hands and turned his head away without answering. Ah, yes, Garak could see how the human might think the food conditional to answering questions.
"Here," he said, placing the cups by the tray near the boy's head. "Let me know if you need assistance."
Not that he expected the child to announce any such weaknesses, but it helped to establish Garak's generosity. Garak waited a few minutes more before leaving.
When next Garak entered the Infirmary, several weeks later, it was to a quiet panic - hushed conversations, no one meeting his eye. His brow drew down. "Doctor."
Doctor Bresen paled, but came forward. She almost seemed as if she might throw herself on the floor before him. But why would...oh...how annoying.
"You lost him," Garak sighed.
Doctor Bresen swallowed hard, her fingers twitching. "I don't know how it happened, sir. I kept his sedatives at maximum until mealtimes."
"I take it he escaped during such a time?"
"Yessir," she whispered. "I am a fool."
"Yes, but thankfully not inept. I take it you've located the boy."
"Yes, sir," Doctor Bresen pulled up a screen. A small green dot blinked on the four deck.
"You chipped him."
"It seemed prudent to do so."
"See it to that the guards do minimal damage to him."
"And, Doctor, report yourself for disciplinary action as soon as that is accomplished."
The eyes that opened were clearer and much more afraid than previously. Garak watched as the human child lay still and scanned the sickroom. The First moved forward and that sharp gaze fixated on him.
"Very clever, using the tricorder to disrupt your monitors," Garak said.
The boy continued to glare and half-heartedly tugged against the straps around his wrists.
"Come now." Garak smiled. "Surely we haven't treated you that badly."
The boy snorted under his breath. "You're Obsidian Order."
"Indeed." Garak dipped his head into a small bow.
"My handler was afraid of you."
"I am pleased we impressed him so."
"What will my duties to you be?" The boy glared again as Garak went to reply. "My augments are the only reason I'm alive now, so don't bother lying."
Garak frowned. "I will never lie to you. But tell me, child -"
Garak gave the boy a long look, but left the disrespect unpunished for now. "Tell me, Julian, why did the Section have you?"
He knew, of course, but he needed to cultivate a dialogue with this asset.
Julian turned his gaze back up to the ceiling of the room. "My parents were disappointed in the baby they got. They traded him in for a better model."
Interesting. The boy saw himself as an object not a person. Garak would make sure to capitalize on that.
"I see. Correct me if I am wrong," he continued. "But genetic enhancement is illegal in the Federation. Is it not?"
Julian nodded. "My parents were stupid. They came back to the same town they left. People noticed. I was taken away and my parents imprisoned."
And also subtly killed off, Garak added to himself. He could appreciate the beauty of isolating the boy and erasing all family ties.
"Yes, the Federation was always shortsighted," Garak sighed, clasping his hands behind his back. "They let their fear rule them, the fools."
Julian glanced over.
Garak gave him a sad smile. "To treat every Augment as if they were Kahn only invites that very scenario. They could be teaching you to use your augments to help others, but instead they experiment and torture you."
Julian's hands closed into tight fists. "I suppose you want me to help you."
Garak shrugged again. "I can't deny I think you would be a great benefit to my people. They suffer at the hands of your Federation -"
"They are not my Federation!" Julian screamed, half sitting up before his broken ribs and the restraining straps forced him back down with a hiss.
"Of course not," Garak demurred. "My apologies."
Julian narrowed his gaze. "I won't kill for you."
Garak moved to his second plan. Tain had given him liberty to enact any protocols he wished. An Augment on their side would be invaluable.
"No," Garak said. "I imagine you wouldn't. But will you accept our aid in your recovery?"
"In exchange for what?"
(if only Dukat were half this intelligent)
"We have a colony that the Federation gassed. It eats away at the skin and is infectious, so no one can be evacuated. Millions are dying. If you would be amenable, I would ask you to look over the composition. Our scientists cannot decipher it."
"...I can look at it."
"My thanks." Garak turned away.
Now, to find a large enough colony and infect it with this gas.
(7 months later)
"Liar! Liar, liar, liar!" The teenager screamed. His skinny hands grabbed hold of the table next to him, the steel groaning as his augmented strength bent the metal as if it was cheap plastic. The guards backed up a step.
The boy growled, narrowing his eyes and, though the table was firmly attached to the wall, ripped it off, throwing the bent metal at the two guards. One just barely dodged to the side, while the other got clipped in the shoulder and fell with a sharp cry. The boy screamed again, tears streaming down his gaunt cheeks. "You said you would never lie, but you did! You're just like them! You're...you're..."
The teenager crumpled to the floor with wail, curled his legs up to his chin and hugged them, sobbing. He rocked back and forth in a pathetic attempt to comfort himself, one hand coming up to tug his hair.
"You're just like them," the computer's audio picked up the choked whisper.
Garak turned the recording off with a flick of his finger. "My, that was an impressive throw, Julian."
The boy seated across from him flinched, eyes never leaving the floor. Dark-skinned human hands clenched into white knuckled fists.
"I expect you to answer, Julian."
Another flinch. "I'm sorry...i-it won't happen again."
"I see." Garak pushed his chair back from his desk and rose smoothly to his feet.
The teenager's shoulders hunched up more.
With the grace only one from the Obsidian Order could achieve, Garak glided forward until he was standing in front of his desk and leaned back against it. "What are we to do, Julian."
Not a question, more an exaggerated musing.
Garak already knew what needed to be done.
"Any ideas?" He teased, letting a smirk grow across his lips. "I'm open to something inventive."
A small part of him twinged at playing with the boy's fears so, but it was such a tiny tweak that it took no more than a breath to suppress it again. (He'd need to investigate why it was even there to begin with. The State could ill afford any weaknesses right now)
"Julian?" Garak folded his arms and lowered his tone. "Where is this rebellion stemming from?"
"I..." The teenager exhaled shakily and raised terrified eyes to meet Garak's. A slight tinge of fire ignited in those brown orbs. "You lied."
"Did I now?" Garak withdrew his smirk and hardened his own gaze. "And what, pray tell, did I lie about?"
A slight hesitation. Boney shoulders pulled back as Julian straightened a bit in his seat - a child determined he was in the right and willing to fight for it, despite being terrified of punishment.
"You promised I'd be free."
"And are you not?" Garak swung an arm out to gesture at the luxurious room around them. "I see no cell or chains. I hear of no food or comforts being denied. Such hardships you endure, to be sure."
"He who allows himself to be trapped in luxury is more the fool than he who is branded - for the latter is bound by the will of others, whereas the former willingly lets himself be slowly killed."
Garak huffed, amused despite himself. "Clever, using Klinas on me."
"I learn only what you have taught me."
"So, now we teach our prisoners philosophy." Garak raised a ridged brow.
"What better way to indoctrinate me?"
"So, I didn't hear your subordinates talking about how useful an asset I will be to The State? Silly me. My augments must be malfunctioning."
Garak stiffened and straightened, unfolding his arms into a more ready attack position. "Watch your tone, boy."
"You lied," Julian spit out, his hands trembling and his eyes accusing.
So many options lay before Garak right now. He could use this as an excuse to give the human to Science, have them figure out how to engineer more like him. He could refute the claim, publicly punish the soldiers who were lazy enough to gossip within earshot (they're dead men already, why not make use of them one last time?)
"I..." Garak sighed and rubbed the bridge of his node between his thumb and forefinger. "Julian, if you had a gifted painter or orator or even mathematician, would you hide their talents? Make it so that no one ever knew their greatness?"
Garak surged on. "You are the paragon of human augmentation. You have a strength, wit, and stamina that has already saved lives."
The baby gasped for air, little breaths rasping wetly. Beside her Julian stared at the computer screen. Images and words flash across with hardly a second between pages.
"There," he said suddenly, the screen freezing at his touch.
Tain stepped closer and glanced at the human child. "How quickly can you replicate it?"
Julian bite his lower lip. "Two hours. I need to run it through some tests before I give it to anyone."
Dukat snorted. "Starfleet, defeated by their own spawn."
"I am not Starfleet!" Julian growled, lips curling up into a sneer.
"No," Tain said, a proud smile sent Julian way. "You are so much more."
"Why would I deny you the chance to help others?" Garak asked.
"But they -"
"Yes, it benefits The State and that is all a soldier will care about. It's all they're trained for. But the common people? They know different. We know different. The State only exists so long as the people allow it."
The words felt like jagged glass on his tongue. May Tain forgive him for his blasphemous words.
"I don't want to be an asset..." Julian said, looking down.
Garak shifted closer to the panic button. Blast! So many months of training, gone because of human weakness.
"I want to be an agent," Julian stated, eyes igniting with passion as he raised them. "I want the power to stop this war."
Joy and relief flooded Garak until he was nearly giddy with it. He grinned. "An agent, is it. Like your James Bond?"
"No," Julian scooted forward on his seat, gaze hardening. "I'm going to succeed."
"You know, I do believe you will. I'll have to ask Tain, of course."
Garak turned, paused, and placed a hand on Julian's shoulder. "You will do Cardassia proud, my boy."
Well, what'cha think? Please let me know in a review.