A Colder, Crueler Reality
In an alternate universe not so very different from our own:
“Weyoun, please, you mustn’t leave!” Kira Nerys implored him.
The Vorta eyed her bitterly. “We no longer have any reason to stay. Your ‘noble’ Federation has destroyed our gods the Founders, with its biological warfare, something we would have thought impossible. But they’re gone, all of them, even your precious Odo.” There was horrified wonder and loss in his eyes, as if, no matter how many times he said it, he could never fully accept it.
The Bajoran tried desperately to defend her allies. “It wasn’t the Federation that developed that disease; it was Section 31!”
He looked back at her with disdain. “Colonel, that’s like saying that the Romulans and the Cardassians didn’t try to wipe out the Founders earlier with a combined fleet of ships; the Tal Shiar and the Obsidian Order did. Don’t you see that it’s the same thing, because it’s the same species?”
She gave up that point. “All right, fine! But I don’t call what the Vorta and the Jem’Hadar did in retaliation any improvement! You wiped out all life on Earth, and on three of its major colony worlds!”
Weyoun was unimpressed. “But we did not commit genocide. There are still surviving humans here and there, scattered about in a variety of places. That’s more than they did for the Founders, and better than they deserved!”
“Oh, yeah, and what about what your allies the Breen did to the Klingon homeworld and its main colonies?! There are darned few Klingons left alive anywhere, and all because they were the Federation’s allies! They didn’t even know about the existence of Section 31, let alone its manufactured disease!”
“Well, maybe next time, the remaining Klingons will be more selective with whom they ally themselves.”
Kira got to her main point. “And what’s Bajor supposed to do?!”
He clearly couldn’t have cared less. “There are still other Federation worlds left; you could still join, I suppose.”
“Join??!! The Federation is in a shambles! It won’t be recruiting new members for ages! Earth was its capital planet, as well as its headquarters for Starfleet Command! Betazed will be decades pulling itself back together after your Jem’Hadar Occupation of it! Without Earth’s mediating influence, the Vulcans and the Andorians are already returning to their ancient squabbling tradition; in fact, with Ambassador Spock having worked years toward reunification between Vulcans and Romulans, an alliance of those two is beginning to look more and more likely! A number of prominent Vulcan officials have even openly declared that they’d rather align themselves with their distant cousins, however warlike they may be, than with their just-as-warlike traditional enemies, the Andorians! If the Vulcans desert the Federation, there goes its last stabilizing influence! The quarrelsome Tellarites and the arrogant Trill are already at each other’s throats, fighting over which of them should be the new capital planet, and most of the other member worlds are loudly proclaiming that neither Tellar nor Trill should be!”
“None of which, obviously, is my concern,” Weyoun said loftily, unmoved.
“But, Weyoun!” Kira pleaded. “Bajor is your responsibility! You allied with the Cardassians, and brought them back here to DS9 and Bajor! We had only just run them out of here after decades of cruel enslavement, and now you’ve brought them back already after we’ve only had a few years of freedom!”
He quirked a doubting brow at her. “According to the Cardassians, they lost interest in Bajor and withdrew of their own accord.”
She fumed in outrage, “They lost interest because they had stolen from us all that there was to steal! If they’d known about the wormhole, they’d’ve never left! And now you’ve brought them back here again, in force; you’ve chased out and destroyed the Federation, our only protectors; and now you’re going to just leave?! You’re going to leave Bajor at the mercy of the Cardassians again?! The Dominion presence here has been the only thing stopping the Cardassians from returning to their brutal treatment of the Bajorans! The Dominion signed a pact with Bajor; you must honor it! You can’t just abandon us to the mercy of the merciless!!!”
“We can and we will. That pact was signed by the Founders, and they are no more.”
Kira despised begging, but for her people, she would do so. “Weyoun, please! You can’t have failed to notice the dire things that have already been happening, just since you’ve withdrawn from active governing here on the station! All of those Bajorans whom you were so happy to see return under Dominion protection, are now frantic to get back off of the station again, due to your announced impending withdrawal, because they know that if they don’t leave, they’ll be in the first line of Cardassian fire the instant that you’re gone! But anticipating that, and wanting readily available slaves on hand, the Cardassians are already not allowing clearance to be granted to any Bajoran transports! Are you aware that just this morning, a group of Bajoran women, unable to bring themselves to face the casual raping and torturing again, deliberately beamed themselves out into space as their only escape??? Weyoun, don’t leave us to the Cardassians, please!!!”
The Vorta looked at her, his expression bleak and empty. “All of the Vorta and all of the Jem’Hadar will withdraw to the Gamma Quadrant to grieve the loss of our gods.”
Kira was wandering aimlessly, almost unseeingly, through the Promenade, when a completely unexpected sight brought her up short. Garak was emerging from his shop. And he was wearing a Cardassian military uniform.
“What’re you doing here?” she asked him. “You left on the Defiant with Sisko and the others when the Dominion ran them out of here. And why are you in that uniform?”
“Ah, Kira Nerys! So good to see you!” Garak was positively jovial, and somehow seemed more confident than she had ever before seen him. “I have been reinstated into the good graces of Central Command, and declared a hero! And since there is no longer an Obsidian Order to which to return, I have been rewarded with a place in our military, and granted the rank of ‘gul’.”
“Congratulations,” Kira said hollowly.
He thanked her lavishly and even bowed with a flourish, apparently oblivious to her complete disinterest.
But one fact caught her attention. “Hero?” she questioned. “What heroic deed did you do?”
Garak hesitated infinitesimally, but then barreled on callously. “I destroyed the Defiant.”
“You what???” Kira couldn’t believe that she’d heard right.
He continued brazenly, “It wouldn’t’ve lasted much longer anyway, fighting alone against three Galor-class warships. I saw an opportunity to beam myself to one of the warships, and I took it. I wanted to get back to my own people, but I had to offer a reason why they should take me back, so I arranged a little warp core breach before I left. The Starfleeters died quickly; I probably spared them being captured and tortured: ironic, now that I think of it.”
She was shaking with rage and despair. “You killed Sisko?? And Dax?? O’Brien and Worf and your dear friend Dr. Bashir??? How could you do that??!”
That gave him slight pause. “I’ll admit that in Julian’s case, it was difficult, but he and the others would all have been killed or captured soon anyway. I will also admit that for a very brief moment, I considered knocking the doctor out and taking him with me, but as I said, I wouldn’t’ve been doing him any favors, quite the opposite I’m afraid. Believe me, he’s better off this way.”
“You bastard!!! You killed our friends!!!”
He was unruffled. “I must admit that I had grown fonder of the people here than I had ever intended or expected to, but I could ‘see the way that the wind was blowing’ so to speak. The Federation and the Dominion had basically destroyed each other. The Klingon Empire and the Breen, essentially the same. The only two strong Alpha Quadrant powers left now will be the Romulan Empire, with Vulcan annexed, and the Cardassian Union. And I am obviously eminently qualified to become a participant in the latter of those, of course. So I have taken my place as such.” Garak easily caught Kira’s raised fist, and then captured her other wrist before it could even start to rise. He eyed her meaningfully. “I’m sure that you have already realized what will be going on here in very short order.”
As if in response, her commbadge signaled. “Kira Nerys, report to the Prefect’s office at once.”
She froze. “Dukat!” Her tone was a war between fear and loathing. “Let me go, Garak!”
He held on, and said rather amiably, “Now why do I get the feeling that you don’t plan to eagerly run up there to obey him?”
Kira pulled viciously. “You always were intuitive!”
Garak restrained her easily and regarded her pityingly. “Where would you run? You know that he’ll catch you sooner or later; wouldn’t you rather face him while he’s in a good mood, than wait until you’ve put him in a bad one?”
“What do you care?! Let go of me!!”
“I’m afraid that I can’t do that. I’m a loyal Cardassian again now. I see that I’ll have to escort you.”
“No!!” She was desperate. “You hate Dukat! He’s your enemy!” She still pulled uselessly at his grip, but she was beginning to tire.
“Not anymore,” he told her pleasantly. “He contacted me and congratulated me on my promotion. In fact, he’s grateful to me for having eliminated his nemesis, the Emissary. I’ll be stationed here, and he’s looking forward to working with me.”
Garak began to drag Kira toward the lift to ops. She resisted, kicking and screaming. A number of nearby Cardassian soldiers stopped and stared at her, and their looks were menacing.
“I believe that they want you to stop that,” Garak told her conversationally. He punched her in the midsection and knocked the wind out of her, then easily slung her up over his shoulder, and carried her to ops, dangling helplessly.
Garak dumped her unceremoniously onto the floor of Dukat’s reappropriated office. Dukat and Damar gazed down at her, the former lecherously, and the latter smugly. When they greeted her, Dukat’s voice fairly oozed with dishonorable intent, and Damar was clearly delighted to see the belligerent Bajoran upstart get such thorough comeuppance at last. Even Garak’s eyes twinkled at her in a decidedly unsavory way.
Kira was at a terrible psychological disadvantage sitting in the middle of the floor with the three of them towering over her. So, trying hopelessly to hide just how unnerved she felt, she struggled to her feet, drew herself up in correct military posture, and said stiffly, “As a colonel in the Bajoran Militia, I must formally ask you: what are your intentions toward Bajor?” She inwardly chastised herself for the way that her voice was shaking.
The three Cardassian leaders made no attempt to stifle their reactions; they laughed heartily. They also made no pretense of sugarcoating reality.
Damar said bluntly, “Since there is no longer any ‘Bajoran Militia,’ realistically speaking, you are no longer a colonel.”
Smiling, thoroughly enjoying himself, Dukat said smoothly, “And I think you know our intentions every bit as well as we do. I would suspect so even if I didn’t know that you had already told Weyoun what would be the inevitable result of Dominion withdrawal.”
Kira closed her eyes to try to hide the humiliation, the agony of knowing that Dukat probably even knew how demeaningly she had begged the Vorta. Even if she could hide her fear from him now, he’d already been told all about it. And she didn’t think that she was managing to hide much of it anyway.
Disconcertingly coldly, Garak told her, “Get used to seeing us here; we’ll never leave again.”
Now she had to put all of her effort into not letting her fear and grief stream liquidly down her face.
Dukat said almost conversationally, “Oh, and by the way, remember how you used to wear your hair longer during the first Occupation? Grow it back like that. I liked it better.”
She stared at his presumptuous, proprietary attitude; her obedience was simply arrogantly assumed.
In calculatedly cruel double-entendre, Damar said, “With the Militia dissolved, we’ll have to get you out of that uniform.”
She winced, panic barely in check, and they laughed ominously.
Dukat said, “I’d like to see you in that strapless gown that you refused to wear to Ziyal’s party.”
Kira knew that that wasn’t even a temporary reprieve; it was the beginning of her doom. Cardassians typically dressed up their Bajoran mistresses before taking them. She gave up trying to stop or conceal her trembling; it was a wasted effort anyway; she was shivering violently, and she had no doubt that they could all see it.
Dukat turned to his right-hand man. “Damar, please escort her down to change into the dress.”
In response, Damar’s eyes alit, his expression so ghoulishly lewd that she turned wide eyes of unconcealed fright to Dukat.
“You’re…sending…us…down…alone…to…change…my…clothes???” As bad as it was to have to face Dukat finally having his way with her, she at least was grudgingly aware that he genuinely cared about her, at least a little, in his warped-minded way, and would probably be at least somewhat gentle. But she was under no illusions that Damar felt anything but hate for her, and she dreaded how rough he would be with her. She was sure that he would deliberately hurt her. She failed to stifle a whimper.
Taking a tiny degree of pity on her, possibly pleased that she now had to rely on him for a degree of protection, Dukat said, “Damar will be a gentleman and wait in the corridor while you change, won’t you, Damar? It will only be for a few minutes, and then Garak and I will be down to join you.”
At the obvious new horrific implication, Damar didn’t look one bit disappointed at the brief delay. In fact, his lascivious grin became even more diabolical.
“Garak…and…you…???” Her openly frightened eyes appealed to Garak, begging for a denial of what she thought that Dukat had meant.
Instead, he was obviously intrigued by the heady, mind-bending turns that this situation was taking. He was opportunistically all-too-willing to take advantage of her, too.
Kira finally let the tears flow without restraint. “Please! Dukat, no!! No!!! Don’t do this!!!” she begged pitifully.
In response, he reached out and firmly took her chin in his strong, gray hand. “You have been refusing my advances for years. It has been infinitely tiresome. You have been defiant, flippant in your refusals. Often, you have even dared to laugh in my face. More than any other Bajoran woman that I have ever met, you require lessons in humility; you need to be put in your place. I have devised the perfect punishment, worthy of your defiance. I know what you’re afraid of, and I intend to deliver it.” He caressed her shuddering cheek.
Her eyes were those of a trapped, helpless, prey-animal. Her voice emerged as a startlingly little-girl whimper. “I’ll willingly put on the gown! I’ll obey you! I’ll be respectful and submissive! I won’t fight you at all! So, will you at least please be gentle with me??? Don’t hurt me, please!! Not like that!!!”
Damar laughed softly. They had broken her. They had found her ultimate weakness, and were going to enthusiastically exploit it.
Dukat took his time answering her, deliberately torturing her with suspense. Then he spoke carefully. “Except for this first time, yes, your own behavior will determine whether we deal with you violently or gently. But as I said, the goal this first time is punishment. So we are going to rape you. We’re going to be rough with you, because you have earned it. We’re going to render you meek, mild, and completely intimidated.”
Without warning, the room spun around her, and Kira actually reached out to Dukat. “Oh…no. I’m…diz…!”
When Kira opened her eyes, for one wild, soaring moment of hope, she wondered if she could have dreamed the entire thing. But then, she felt the silky smoothness of the gown on her body, and her desperate wishes sank. But then she gasped at a new horror: if she was wearing the gown, someone must’ve undressed her, and put it on her. For the barest fleeting instant, she wondered who had done so, but then immediately realized that she didn’t want to know.
“Good, you’re awake,” Dukat said amiably enough. He wasn’t alone. Damar leered at her. Garak seemed dispassionate and aloof, probably determined not to let his comrades see any soft spot for her in his heart. “You fainted,” Dukat told her. All three seemed to find that in itself rather amusing.
Kira looked around: she was lying on a bed in someone’s quarters. Her tears returned in earnest, as if they’d never been interrupted. “Oh, please, Dukat!! I beg of you!! Have mercy on me!!! I’ll do anything if you’ll just be gentle with me!! I am meek; I am submissive! I am punished! It isn’t necessary for you to hurt me!!!”
Dukat was already shaking his head, dashing her last shred of hope. “Merely frightening you, no matter how thoroughly, isn’t enough to break your spirit; I know you too well. No. You have to be shown – once – what will happen to you if you ever again defy us in even the smallest way.”
They intentionally drew out the suspense, letting her sob pitifully, watching her actually writhe in torment.
Then her real nightmare began.
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