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Old January 3 2012, 04:08 AM   #113
Rush Limborg
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.


* * *

Garak stood in the Prefect’s Office on Terok Nor, staring into the face of Gul Skrain Dukat.

“You sent for me, Gul?” he asked…sure to provide a tone of amusement, not the fear or even the bitterness his enemy—and, due to locale, superior—would prefer.

Dukat smiled, steepling his fingers. “Garak…it’s been too long.”

“Too long?” Garak asked, frowning. “Forgive me, Gul…but if you truly missed my company, I’ve only been a com line away. Understand, I would have enjoyed the opportunity to converse with…such a noted representative of our people—”

“Garak, Garak, Garak…” Dukat shook his head, “One could swear—your lies are becoming increasingly pathetic. As it were, it’s amusing how well your…little business is faring, considering its owner.”

“Well—we may trade insults at another time. In the meantime—”

Dukat’s tone hardened. “Know your place, tailor. You are on my station…and I will determine ‘when’ it is time for ‘what’.”

Garak nodded, with a faint smile. So…still peeved at your inability to kill me, Skrain?

“Of course,” he said. “Forgive me, Gul. However…I am still bewildered at your motives for summoning me.”

Dukat chuckled. “Well, now…isn’t this rewarding? I’ve succeeded in bewildering a member of the Obsidian Order? Oh,” he added with a dismissive gesture, “Forgive me, Garak. Former member….”

Garak nodded, keeping the smile. He knew all too well…Dukat’s agenda, from the moment Garak had arrived, had been to gain a simple pleasure through socially tormenting him. (Personal vengeance—a petty motive that Garak, for one, considered himself far too…mature…to fall prey to—for the all-too-timely demise of one former Chief Justice, Procal Dukat….)

Garak, naturally, had seen through this childish intent immediately…and therefore had made it a point to throw himself into his new career (station tailor—how quaint), and to actually enjoy it. Such, he knew, would infuriate Dukat…although Garak also knew that he would probably never see such expressed externally.

But now Dukat grew serious, and said, “The reason I’ve called you here, Garak…is quite simple: I want you to do something for me.”

Indeed? I suppose humiliate myself as your jester, for your officers. If such is the case, Dukat…you had best prepare yourself for a considerable helping…of

Garak threw his head back a bit, letting his amusement show. “You need my help, Dukat?”

Dukat kept his composure, “Much as it pains me…yes.”

Garak thought for a moment, and replied, “I would imagine, this is in a…somewhat more significant role than as a simple tailor. Am I correct?”

Dukat seemed to stiffen in his seat. But he nodded. “You are.”

Garak allowed his smile to grow. “In that case, Gul…what can I do for you?”

Dukat stared at him for a time, in silence. Finally…he rose to his feet, and a faint smile of his own appeared.

“An interrogation,” he said.

* * *


* * *


Garak looked up from mending the Bajoran’s trousers…to see a certain lovely young counselor standing in the doorway, hands casually clasped behind her back.

He smiled. “Counselor Dax! I don’t suppose you’d have something for me to mend…have you?”

Ezri smiled, and shook her head. “No…not today.”

Garak frowned. “Then…did you remember something we—neglected to discuss, earlier?”

Ezri shrugged, as she stepped forward. “Not really. I just got off duty, and…I guess I wanted to see how you’re doing.”

“Really?” Garak asked, forcing mild astonishment.

Ezri tilted her head, looking amused as she stopped a few steps away. “Is it that annoying, Garak?”

Garak threw his head back. “Annoying, Counselor? No, not at—”

Ezri laughed. “Don’t worry, Garak—I’m not offended. If I don’t annoy my patients that much, I’m not really doing my job.”

Garak smiled. “Counselor…I can assure you, you’ve been a great help to me. Oralius forbid I allow discomfort to prevent you from continuing to be.”

Ezri nodded thoughtfully, peering deep into his eyes. “Oralius?”

Garak blinked. Did I say it, again? By Cardassia’s sun—what is happening to me?

He found himself stiffening. “A…mistake, Counselor. Pay it no—”

“Now that’s very interesting,” Ezri said. “You know, Garak, my profession has a term for ‘mistakes’ like that.”

Garak frowned. “Oh?”

“A ‘Freudian slip’. Basically, it’s whenever you accidently come out and say what’s on your subconscious mind. It’s often something you weren’t even aware you were thinking about.”

Garak felt his smile return. “Well! Are you suggesting I’m…subconsciously a follower of the Oralian Way?”

Ezri narrowed her eyes, still smiling. “I don’t know. I didn’t say it—you did.”

Garak raised his hand. “So…by my suggesting it—it’s possible that I am—‘subconsciously’, is that the term?—”

Ezri nodded.

“—subconsciously admitting to such?”

Ezri shrugged. “You could be. It all depends on what we can dig up.”

“Dig up, you say? About…me?”

Ezri looked off for a moment. “Maybe…. Are you up for it?”

“Well, that depends. Unlike you, Counselor—I am not off duty.”

“Oh—don’t worry; we can do it right here, right now. In fact…” she gave a nervous chuckle, “I’m—pretty sure that’s what we’ve been doing.”

Garak smiled. “I suppose.”

“So!” Ezri said, “Do you, by any chance, have a history with the…Oralian Way?”

“One might say that…although, it would be quite a stretch of reasoning.”

“Go on….”

Garak looked off to think for a moment, and continued, “My…uncle was a follower of the Way.”

Ezri frowned. “Your uncle?”

“His name was Tolan Garak. In fact, Counselor,” Garak chuckled, “As a child, I’d been under the admittedly mistaken impression that he was my father.”

Ezri tilted her head. “When did you find out he wasn’t?”

“On his deathbed—but…” Garak tilted his own head, “That’s—a different story entirely. The point, I suppose, is that—though my true father was certainly a force in my upbringing—Tolan was…quite influential, as well.”

Ezri frowned. “Wasn’t the Oralian Way forbidden?”

“It is. Naturally, my uncle was sure to be secretive about such things. However…he had made it a point to encourage my…”

Ezri smiled—not in amusement, but in something more accepting, and sympathetic, “…your spiritual growth?”

Garak shrugged. “One might call it that.”

“But I take it, nothing came of that.”

“Not particularly. However…I admit, I’ve always been—quite amused at the reasoning behind the ban of the Way. As far as I’m concerned…it is hardly a threat to the Cardassian way of life….”

He looked off…and he felt his face harden. “Not as great a threat as the Dominion, in any case,” he said.

He felt Ezri place a hand on his arm again. Despite himself, he found he welcomed it.

Garak turned to the girl, and smiled. “I suppose the answer to our question is: the ‘slip’ is my inner child coming out, with my uncle’s teachings intact…wouldn’t you say?”

Ezri returned the smile. “Maybe. To be honest, Garak…I think a case could be made that, if that’s the case, it’s a good sign.”

“Oh? And what would it signify?”

Ezri shrugged. “Basically, that you’re trying to come to a new acceptance of yourself—who and what you really are, in your heart. Self-awareness, if you will.”

Garak nodded slowly, his smile fading as he pondered this. “Indeed. Perhaps this was initiated by my acceptance of the…pain over what might be considered…”

“…betrayal of your people,” Ezri nodded. “I think that’s a good argument. Once you admitted it to yourself—you opened a doorway into more self-reflection.” She shrugged. “All things considered…we’re making progress, after all!”

Garak felt his smile return. “Perhaps, Counselor.”

Ezri frowned. “But…I have to warn you, Garak.”

Garak blinked, looking at her in amusement. “Warn me? Is there a danger, Miss Dax?”

“Not…exactly—just be careful.” Ezri paused for a moment, and went on, “If you’re going to go down that road, Garak…it means you’re going to have to face a lot of memories—memories you’ve been able to handle before now…but only because you’ve been able to detach yourself from them, emotionally.”

“Due to…my lack of self-reflection.”

“Exactly. And, in some cases,” Ezri’s gaze fell, “Your…addictions.”

“Naturally. Of course, I won’t be able to seek that sort of refuge.”

Ezri met his gaze. “No, you won’t. Look—I’m not saying you won’t be able to cope with those memories now…but you’re going to face them with new eyes—emotions that you suppressed with your training. The trouble is…you training won’t be able to help you, this time.”

“And—what will, if I may ask?”

“Acceptance, Garak. And to be honest—I’m supposed to help you, with that.”

Garak nodded. “Thank you, Counselor. I will…heed your warnings.”

Ezri nodded, looking satisfied.

Garak resumed his mending of the trousers.

He heard—and felt—Ezri take another step to him. “Finishing an order?”

“Yes—I…was approached by a certain young man—a Bajoran, named Taren Mal. As you can see,” he showed her, “The…seams were quite…undone.”

Ezri’s eyes widened. “What was he doing with them?”

“He said it was, and I quote, ‘a long story’. He seemed quite embarrassed.” Garak smiled at her. “Perhaps a potential client for you, Miss Dax.”

Ezri chuckled. “I doubt it. Now…why is his name important?”

Garak frowned. “I beg your pardon, Counselor?”

Ezri titled her head, peering at him again. “You made it a point to say his name. Is it important to you, for some reason?”

Garak shrugged. “It—seemed familiar, somehow. His family name, anyway. I…suppose I’ve been reflecting on it, for the past hour or so….”

Ezri nodded. “Have you come up with anything?”

Garak smiled. “When I do…I will let you know.”

Ezri nodded again, in apparent acceptance…but her eyes held a firm look which seemed to say, Make sure you do.

She left…and Garak returned to his work.

* * *


* * *

Garak was not one to burst out laughing. He was far too controlled for that. A smile…a silent chuckle—that was enough.

Such was his response to Dukat’s “assignment”.

Dukat stiffened again…and his smile looked a bit forced. “Do you find something amusing, Garak?”

“Oh, not at all. Simply…can’t your own subordinates interrogate for you? Why come to me—the one Cardassian on this station whom you know, with ever fiber in your being, that you can’t trust to serve your agenda?”

“My dear Garak,” Dukat replied…somehow managing to remain calm, “It has little to do with trust. If that were it…I would sooner turn to a comfort woman to do this for me.”

“Well, now, wouldn’t that prove interesting.”

“The point, Garak,” Dukat said—clearly reaching the limits of his patience, “Is that I cannot at this time access the resources of the Obsidian Order.”

“But—as you so graciously pointed out—I am no longer with the Order.”

“That is precisely my point.” Dukat leaned forward, pressing hands down on the table, as he peered into Garak’s eyes. “Garak…perhaps you don’t understand the situation. I do not want the Order interfering in my affairs, at this particular time.”

“Ah!” Garak nodded. “Having a bout of wounded pride, are we? Does this…suspect I am to interrogate—does the revelation of its existence run the risk of insulting you, in some way?”

“I suggest you remember your place, Garak!”

“I suggest you remember yours, Dukat,” Garak replied, his elation at this verbal battle increasing by the moment. “You forget, sir, that matters of intelligence within the Empire are the jurisdiction of the Order. Regardless of any embarrassment you might face upon…admitting a defeat—”

“Garak—let me explain it to you in this way: due to the increased frequency of attacks conducted by that infernal Resistance—” the last word he spat out like a curse—“The Central Command is beginning to give very serious thought to abandoning Bajor—completely.”

Well, now…this was most interesting. Garak tilted his head. “Abandon it?”


“At the order of the Detapa Council, I take it?”

“Command feels it is only a matter of time. We must find a way to crush the Resistance—strike a killing blow to one cell after another. Only then can we prove that we can afford to remain.”

Garak nodded slowly. So…here it was. “And you believe this…suspect—may hold the key to such?”

“He may. He is a high-ranking member of one of the more prominent cells. Were we to break him—on our own, without crawling on our knees to the Order—and crush the cell, it would send a message to Command, and the infernal Council, that we can remain—and that we must gain more support, to crush this rebellion once and for all.”

Dukat tilted his head, his eyes blazing. “Does that satisfy you…Garak?”

Garak stared at him, saying nothing. At last…he brought up both his hands—and applauded, slowly and pointedly.

“Well said, Gul Dukat!” he said. “You may well become a credit to your rank, sooner or later. So, as far as you are concerned, you want me to give you your salvation: you have the efficiency of the Order, in me…without asking for the Order, itself. Inspired, and brilliant—assuming, of course…that I would have an incentive to accept your offer.”

Dukat’s teeth clenched. “Garak—”

“Oh, come now, Dukat—we’ve established you can’t kill me; Tain himself saw to that. It seems to me that you need my services, far more than I need your assignment. What reason do I have to accept?”

At this…Dukat actually relaxed. He sat back down in his seat, and said, “I was hoping you would ask.”

Garak nodded. “Well?”

“Garak…as you’ve said, I am going to you because you are efficient. You are the closest to a guarantee that this man will be broken. You will be able to do…what the methods at my disposal proved unable to do.”

“Is there a point to this flattery, Dukat?”

“Only this, Garak,” Dukat said, leaning forward. “If you do this for me—if you break this man, and bring me the information necessary to destroy his cell…I will promote you from your position of tailor—and appoint you as my chief of intelligence on Terok Nor.”

Garak chuckled. “You—appoint me—as your chief of intelligence?”

“Yes…ironic, isn’t it? Amazing, what necessity can force one to do. In this case…I see myself forced to abandon our past…animosity. Unfortunate—but should this succeed, we certainly will need your services again—and again, until we find and crush every last cell in the Resistance.”

“Forgive me, Dukat,” Garak replied, “But I would imagine a great many individuals who would not take kindly to my being appointed to such a high position.”

“You won’t be…officially. Officially, you will remain as ‘station tailor’. However—” Dukat’s lip tightened, “You may take solace in the fact that, from this point forward, it would only be a cover…for your true position under me.”

Dukat leaned back in his seat, folding his hands across his chest. “Do we have a deal, Garak?”

Garak stared at him for a time. This was no trick—it smacked too much of desperation and revulsion on Dukat’s part. And as it stood…Garak had nothing to lose.

His smile grew. “Where is this terrorist, now?”

* * *
"The saying implies but does not name the effective agency of its supposed utopia.... 'Needs and abilities' are, of course, subjective. So the operative statement may be reduced to 'the State shall take, the State shall give'."
--David Mamet
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