Author's note: I wrote this just a few years ago and am still very fond of it. It's set in the Deep Space 9 universe and involves Gul Dukat, a character TPTB have tried to destroy since, by making him an evil madman rather than the multi-dimensional antagonist Peter Allan Fields and Marc Alaimo had created (yes, I am bitter). I had a whole series planned in this universe, but first they killed a major character who was going to be in it and then they destroyed Dukat's character (IMHO, obviously), so I'll probably never get back to it. On the whole, I think I prefer writing in fannish universes like Blake's 7 and The Sandbaggers, where the show is over and TPTB can't screw a poor, innocent fanwriter up.

 

First Contact

by Pat Nussman

  

"Good evening, Gul Bain."

Gul Dukat entered Bain's office unannounced, unexpected and--judging by the man's expression--entirely unwelcome. Smiling gently, Dukat appropriated his subordinate's most comfortable chair, behind the broad, tape-strewn desk. What point was there to being Prefect of Bajor, if one couldn't transport down for a surprise inspection?

Well, he corrected himself, best call it a courtesy visit.

"Still at work, I see. Or perhaps preparing for an evening's entertainment?" He detected a familiar muffled sound from the next room. "Oh, I see. Combining the two."

"Dukat." Bain offered him an insincere smile. The man, in Dukat's opinion--Dukat's being only opinion that counted on Bajor--was a whiny, weasel-like fellow, whose idea of recreation would be to torture some wretched Bajoran, for all the world as if such diversions weren't banal beyond comprehension to the ruler of Terok Nor.

Or perhaps a rape. Oh, yes, definitely rape, if the Bajoran were female or--Dukat directed a disdainful glance at his fellow Cardassian--probably even if he were not.

In an unconsciously fastidious gesture, Dukat wiped his fingers on his tunic, wondering how long his visit need last. One needs must impress the officer corps with the sensation of omnipresent surveillance, but he felt loath to waste the entire evening on this worthless hinterland outpost. Not to mention suffering the company of Gul Bain.

"I was just about to, um, conclude an interrogation, Gul Dukat." Bain shuffled his feet a little, in a display better befitting a schoolboy than a Cardassian gul. "If you'd care to..."

"Carry on, carry on." With a negligent gesture, Dukat leaned back in the padded chair, prepared to be bored. He hoped Bain would not press him to participate in his evening's...work. Courtesy could only take one so far.

Behind half-closed eyelids, he watched two slightly disheveled guards drag in Bain's diversion or victim or whatever term he used for the female prisoner.

She came in fighting, jerking against the grip of the wary guards in a way that would have been quite foreign to the peaceful, sheeplike Bajorans just a generation past. Cardassian rule had taught them that much, at least, mused Dukat. Taught them how to fight, if not yet how to win.

From all appearances, this Bajoran, at least, had not yet learned to accept losing.

She looked to be about twenty, or perhaps even younger, with a thin, almost emaciated body, honed by a diet of roots and berries or whatever Bajoran resistors found to eat, out in the wild.

But it was her face that captured his interest, as sharp and as thirsty for blood as a tempered blade, with a sort of beauty to its wild hatred. Her expression reminded Dukat of his wife, who often gazed at him in just that concentrated loathing. Except that no Cardassian would ever possess the wild mop of red hair this woman did.

"Who is she?"

"A terrorist. A Bajoran terrorist." Bain, Dukat noted, had no problem with stating the obvious as if it were something new and unexpected. "She's murdered Cardassian women and children." The man actually sounded offended, as if the girl had outraged some natural order of the universe.

"We kill Bajoran women and children," Dukat pointed out mildly. "One learns to expect a certain reciprocity."

Bain shot him a sharp, suspicious look, plainly thinking Dukat's logic treasonous, but just bright enough not to voice that dangerous sentiment. No doubt, Central Command on Cardassia would hear the tale eventually. Let them.

The girl's head jerked back and forth, glazed eyes following the thread of conversation. So, she understood at least some Cardassian. Interesting. Not that she'd remember their words later. She swayed on her feet, courtesy of whatever methods of interrogation Bain felt compelled to deal out to the natives this week, and would have fallen, had the two guards not held her up.

Clearly, she was only semi-conscious at best.

She could meet him--or even the wretched Bain--in the street tomorrow and not know him from her village Vedek. That is, if she lived until tomorrow, which seemed unlikely.

Bain stepped toward her, one hand going to the fastening of his uniform. Just as predicted. How tedious.

"I'll teach you to murder Cardassians." Bain fumbled open his tunic to reveal a pale, anemic chest.

Dukat didn't see the point to his fellow gul's declaration. Clearly, the girl already knew how to murder Cardassians quite efficiently, if Bain's accusations were factual. But Dukat saw no reason to interrupt his tirade, as idiotic as it was. The gul's babble of cliched threats appeared to be the only amusement Dukat was likely to enjoy this night, aside from a mechanical demonstration of the violence one sex could perpetuate upon its opposite.

Crossing his legs negligently, he leaned back and prepared to be the audience Bain so obviously desired. Unfortunately, he doubted the performance would be worthy of much interest.

Bain required very little of his limited strength to tear the girl's clothing off...the thin shirt and trousers were threadbare, the fabric ready to shred even without external assistance. Dukat watched impassively while tattered pieces of cloth fell one by one, to the floor, leaving the girl naked, but making a valiant, painful effort not to shiver.

Dukat had seen rapes before...one could hardly deprive the troops of such innocent enjoyments, stationed as they were so far from home, and he'd too had his share of Bajoran female flesh. After all, he'd been separated from his wife for several years. But he couldn't help but feel distaste for this public display of Bain's virility, as limited as that quality no doubt was.

At least it seemed certain that the girl wouldn't suffer for long.

Of course, the girl was terrified, that much couldn't be hidden, no matter how gallant her attempt to conceal fear. He could hear her gasps from across the room, of terror and pain, rather than any passion, and her eyes were as wide and staring as if she looked upon the face of hell. And yet, something about the way she faced the ordeal went beyond what he expected of a Bajoran, seemed, yes...seemed almost Cardassian.

Dukat watched the rest of Bain's limited performance without expression or comment. As expected, it did not last for long. With a final, animal-like grunt, Bain finished the business and, a moment later, flung the Bajoran into a corner like so much discarded trash.

She did not, Dukat noted, cry or moan. In fact, she neither moved nor spoke at all, and only the slight movement of her breathing revealed that she still lived. Although compassion had become an irrelevantancy here on Bajor, he couldn't help but feel a twinge of empathy, a feeling that in this case the Bajoran had comported herself better by far than his own compatriot.

"Fine entertainment, eh, Dukat?" Bain's pitiful two-minute exhibition lent him a measure of unmerited assurance that Dukat found both pathetic and slightly repugnant.

"Quite extraordinary." The heavy irony went entirely unnoticed. He felt faintly nauseated watching Bain refasten his trousers with a look of heavy satiety all too obvious on the broad, underbred face.

The man didn't even have sex like a Cardassian. At least, Dukat thought, the inadequate performance had not been inflicted on one of their own women. A very small consolation.

No matter. It wasn't his business to demand good manners or good taste from his fellow guls. Only military discipline. And that was scarce enough.

Bain settled his trousers around his thickening waist, tossing a brief, uninterested glance at the silent figure huddled in the corner. "What I shall do with her now, I wonder?"

Clearly the man was an idiot. What did one usually do with terrorists? "Kill her," Dukat said impatiently.

"Oh, plenty of time for that, when she's lost all her amusement value."

Bain turned his back on the prisoner and walked over to the desk, rummaging through the clutter on its surface. "I have a report here that the Central Command might well..."

"Fool!" Dukat half-stood, trying to stay in line of sight with the prisoner, but Bain's body was between him and the girl...and the open door to the compound, itself separated from the Bajoran outback by the single fence considered adequate in such a remote area.

At Dukat's shout, the two guards, who'd been watching Bain's preening rather than their prisoner, turned, but too late. As Dukat ducked around the gul's portly figure, he saw a slender hand holding a phaser, once property of a guard, the one whose turned back had been closest to the girl.

Fools and incompetents appeared to be thick on the ground in this outpost.

"Move and I shoot off something...valuable. Valuable to you." The Bajoran's understandably hate-filled eyes dwelt on a particular portion of Gul Bain's anatomy.

Dukat heartily wished she would do just that. If she did, at least there would be one marginally enjoyable moment to this fiasco of an evening.

But she--perhaps wisely, Dukat admitted--contented herself with escpae rather than revenge. Slipping swiftly through the open door, she slid it closed behind her and, from the sound, fused the lock with a blast of her phaser.

Dukat's last sight of the prisoner was that of a pale figure runnign toward the perimeter fence toward freedom.

"Excellent work, Bain," Dukat remarked into the sudden, deafening silence. "I told you that you should have killed her." Somehow he kept his tone within the bounds of civilized converse.

Bain stared at Dukat, his face pale and shaken...as well he might be after this display of ineptitude. "It doesn't matter. She's only a Bajoran, only a girl." The words tumbled from his mouth helter-skelter. "She's scared. She ran. We'll never see her face again."

"Get out," Dukat said contemptuously, ignoring that he was, in fact, occupying Bain's own office. No matter. It would not be Bain's office for very long, no longer than it took Dukat to return to Terok Nor and file a report with Central Command.

The gul--soon to be ex-gul--slunk out, followed by the two useless excuses for guards.

Only a Bajoran, Bain had said. But Dukat wondered. She hadn't, in his eyes, behaved like a Bajoran, or at least as Dukat had observed Bajorans to behave in the past. When Bajorans like her stopped thinking like sheep and started fighting like wolves, he feared the Cardassians days on this world would be numbered. And they'd have enemies who would haunt them long after this world was stripped of its resources and the occupation ended.

No point in saying the words aloud, even if Bain were still present. Fools like Bain never listened, anyway, until the truth stared them inexorably in the face, brandishing a phaser set on "kill." Which she might, he thought, remembering the look of hatred on the young face. She just might.

"Perhaps," he replied at last to the empty room and glanced out the window again into the darkness. For a startled moment, he imaged he saw a slim girl's figure there, staring back at him from the shadows. He shook his head sharply, to clear his vision and his brain, and when he looked again, the phantom shape had disappeared. Only his imagination. Perhaps Bain, for once in his wretched life, was right. He'd not see the girl after this night.

And then again...

The End?

 

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