Anon woke up in the Temple next to her wonderful old mummy that was not only female, but Bajoran, the suffocating stench of their incense threatening his stomach. "You think I look like her?"
"Well, no," Janice admitted from under her surgical mask as she sat there painting her bowl of broad, flat leaves with a thick, purple ointment. "Why? Did I say she was Cardassian?"
"You said she could give you information," he attempted to sit up to see what she was doing; the effort failed. He fell back onto his back under a heavy weight holding him down.
"She can," she promised. "She gave me her recipe for the prevention of post-operative infection, and/or infection due to plasma burns -- see?" she held up one of her leaves before pressing it in place on his arm. "Guaranteed to last a minimum of four thousand years. What's best of all, it really works."
"Plasma burns," Anon scoffed. "I suppose she died of plasma burns."
"No more than she died from someone stabbing her in the chest with a knife.""Ha!" Anon corrected her. "You mean a piece of my ship, and I took it out."
"Ha!" she corrected him. "You mean you broke it off. Not too bright."
"Really," Anon looked her up and down. "Why do you say that?"
"Because you cut your fingers when you did it," she picked up his hand to show him the little telltale slits in his fingertips. "And I almost cut mine trying to dig it out. Don't do it again. Which you probably will."
"The Klingons look worse," Anon struggled to see down over his chin to what he really looked like. "Why did you say I have to wear this stupid grass?"
"Do you really want purple goop all over your nice silver shirt?"
"Because the Klingons who were here before your friends took our replicators the Klingons before them left?" Janice suggested. "And bandages are a precious commodity when you're a week by shuttle from the nearest outpost even if you weren't under quarantine and had a shuttle, which we are and don't?"
"Oh," Anon frowned, trying to piece it all together. "Why did the Klingons before the ones who took your supplies, leave them?"
"Because we still had men who could fight then," Anar let go of his shoulders to give him a hand up. "Those of our colony who didn't join the Federation in the Dominion war ended up succumbing to the fever. We were very lucky Janice managed to locate a supply of ryetalyn, otherwise there would have been no one here when your transport crashed."
"It didn't crash," Anon assured. "I ordered the landing to repair the engines. Where did you find your ryetalyn? How did you get it if you can't leave here? Why wouldn't someone bring you bandages when they brought you your antidote?"
"Are you always this suspicious?" Janice teased.
"Answer me!" Anon insisted.
"All right," she shrugged. "They did bring me bandages. See?" she held one up, ready to wrap around his arm and keep his leaves in place. "But this way we can conserve what we have by using them for wraps and the leaves as the dressing. After that, we're back to cloth."
"Maquis," Anon nodded. "No one brought you anything. You stole it."
"Neutral," Janice shook her head. "Human Neutral born on Martian Colony 3 to Doctors Harrison and Rebecca Lange, also archaeologists, also Neutrals. My father believed if you really wanted to get anywhere in this galaxy -- or at least get to see anything in this galaxy," she agreed, "the best way to do it was as a Neutral. He was right. Anar was afraid though once the war started my neutral status wouldn't be enough to protect me…so he gave me this…" she pushed up her sleeve to show him her implant. "It's a tiny, little transmitter that blocks your scans from recognizing my DNA as Human. To your systems, I'm just another tree."
"It's easy when you know how," Anar offered Anon. "And, yes, I admit, fifty years of Occupation, fifty years in the Resistance, I do know how. But we're still not Maquis. Janice would have taken her mummy and left us long before now."
"For where?" Anon scoffed at Janice. "It's pretty naïve of you to think your neutral status really means anything, any more than that toy can protect you."
"Well, it's pretty naïve of you to think it doesn't mean anything," she handed him his shirt, "because it does. To me. You can return our help with be bandages and a couple of weeks’ rations when you leave us. Until then Anar says you can use the town center -- if you want to stay in the village with your men. Or you can go back to your transport. I'd like it if you didn't. We have enough of the antidote to share, but why increase the risk of exposure to your men since you do have, or you will have Rigelian fever?"
"You don't know that," Anon shook his head.
"I do know that," she nodded. "The same as I know your second engineer has a lacerated liver. I've managed to stop the hemorrhaging, and Anar has issued a distress call to the outpost for their doctor. But it will be a week before he's here, if he'll come. I don't know if your engineer will live a week even with blood transfusions we may be able to take from your crew, but we can try --”
"Try?" Anon interrupted.
She blinked. "Yes, try. You're not suggesting we shouldn't, are you?"
"No, of course I'm not suggesting that," Anon waved impatiently.
"Good," Janice pulled off her mask where he could see her smile. An impression from the cloth mask creasing her face above her upper lip. "Anar can help you with working your way through the maze of this place to find your men. I'll be in the Temple giving thanks…" she counted off. "Praying for a good season. That we have enough raw serum, which I know we do, but it doesn't hurt to mention it. And that's probably about it -- Other than your engines," she pointed at him. "Anar says you're not supposed to pray to the Prophets about things like engines. But the way I look at it, the engines are what make the transport move, and the transport carries the supplies you need to get home to your people. So, definitely, I'll make sure I mention your engines."
"Yes, she's serious," Anar claimed when Anon stayed frowning after Janice as she left them. "Serious about everything she says, and everything she does."
"That would be stupid," Anon decided with a sneer. "You, too." His hard red eyes drilled into Anar. "I know your face. I've seen it."
"Shakaar Adon," Anar accepted the challenge to embrace or deny his family with an incline of his head. "A curse or a blessing I wear the face and carry the name even if I don't harbor the soul. I've heard that before, of course. All his Minister's life. A face is difficult to hide. It's your arm that's burned not your eyes. As my eyes are fifty-eight, not blind. I know your brother's face. I've seen it. Yours is new."
"Aren't I in the Temple?" Anon insisted when Anar turned from him to move Janice's mummy back out of harm's way, reactivating her protective field so she would be certain and survive another thousand years.
"You're in the morgue, actually. Our power sources are limited. Sterile fields consume energy -- nine surgeries in a row? That's an enormous amount of energy."
"That's not a waste of energy right there?" Anon gave a stiff nod for the finely wrinkled cadaver, missing the significance of what Anar was saying.
"Yes, it is," Anar agreed. "In my opinion it is. But I'm not going to tell Janice no. She's her inspiration…Did you hear what I said to you?" his checked temper edged close to the surface over the Gul's uncompromising arrogance when what he should be expressing was gratitude. "The child just spent twelve hours saving your life and the lives of seven of your men. And no, she isn't a medical doctor."
"I heard what you said," Anon assured. "If my engineer dies your Janice Lange will pay with her life. Is that understood?"
"Actually," Anar contemplated the ceiling, his hands on his hips, "yes, it is. If not all too keenly familiar. Have confidence in yourself, Gul Dukat. I repeat, your presence is noted and effective whether we are farmers…Or whether we are…" his gaze dropped to Anon with emphasis and meaning, "in truth, surviving Maquis."
"Then why doesn't she understand it?" Anon was back to frowning in the direction Janice had left and Anar paused.
"I asked you a question." His cold, accusing stare bore back into Anar. Still, he didn't look anything like his father at all. Not in the features of his face, or those penetrating eyes. He didn't sound like him. Not in the affectations of his voice, or its tone. He didn't stand like him. Pose, or strut like him. Did he think like him? Anar couldn't decide.
"You mean because she has two doctorates by age twenty-three?"
"That is exactly what I mean," Anon insisted. "She is an intelligent woman. She has to know it is not in her best interest to dismiss me. If she doesn't, explain it to her."
"By the Prophets I've tried to," Anar's mouth twisted in a smile. "More than about you. I'm not sure why or what Janice doesn't understand." He thought about the question. "I do know Janice isn't dismissing you. You're simply equal in her eyes perhaps? Not higher or lower than anyone? Why? I don't know," he maintained. "I've no idea what it is Janice sees when she looks at people, or even things. She was five years old when her father took her on her first dig. Close to the age I was when my father took me on my first raid. At fifty-eight I'm not the oldest Town Elder there ever was, but unfortunately, I'm also far from the youngest."
It was a poignant point. Meant to underscore the horror of a society that had endured years of occupation and war. To achieve the life span of fifty-eight years should not be the goal of a modern society, and certainly not one of a future generation.
Anon missed the point entirely. The same as he missed the romanticism and inspiration of things specific, and life in general. A flaming sunset by way of example, whether its rays inspired romance or world domination, he missed it either way. Had Anar been aboard the transport during her battle with the Klingons he would have realized it, as well as understood a part of what was confusing him now about the young Gul. It wasn't revenge, or glory that drove Anon Dukat. It was the simple fact he needed to get the Klingons off his back. Once it was over, it was over.
"Fifty years," Anar stared out at the dying embers of sunlight sprinkled through the darkening air. "I was there at the beginning, and there at the end. It is inconceivable to me how many of my people I have watched die. But, still no, I have no idea what the answer is to your question that Janice claims is very simple."
"Simple," Anon scoffed.
"That we're all the same." Anar stared thoughtfully into the shadows cloaking the landscape and moving figures outside, muting their definitions and outlines until you couldn't tell who or what they were; other than the giant whose name Anar believed was Tan. Posting guard and standing close beside the younger one whose face, contours, body and carriage were so strikingly a mirror image of the father Dukat even in the dark. Anar nodded. "Simply that we're all the same. Her doctorates didn't teach her that, nor confirm her belief for her. They merely support her.
"Like that mummy over there," he turned around. "Who died of drowning, by the way. And, yes, I owe the creature a bit of thanks myself. There were a few die-hard traditionalists I can think of who lived here who would have blamed Janice's removing the mummy from her natural grave as what brought the wrath of the Prophets down upon us. First as the war. Then as the plague. The truth is, both the war and the plague came first. We had no idea what the fever was initially. All we knew was everyone was sick and everyone was dying. Without Janice's medical background, we may never have known. Even once we knew we had to continue burying our dead until we could locate the antidote. That's how Janice found her, digging a grave. She had been doing work out here in the colonies for over a year. She had been with us for over six months, just about three weeks before the Federation-Dominion war started. And nothing. Bits of pottery, a few pieces of jewelry, and suddenly there she was. Four thousand years old, perfectly preserved. Flesh, organs. No more than a couple of meters beneath the earth. In her spare time Janice has been conducting every conceivable study on the soil, the plant life, water, air. And who knows? Perhaps there is something here of lasting value beyond a scientific quirk -- that, yes, I understand a great many of these types of discoveries can turn out to be. A once in a lifetime, and only once in a lifetime.
"There's at least that purple goop," he chuckled with an indication of Anon's hand. "As Janice calls it. A word to the wise, though. Don't let Janice's informality mislead you. She can tell you every organism and chemical there is to her compound. She concocted it from mud scrapings she took from her mummy. A premise based solely on the radical theory that if the flesh of one being could reject deterioration and infection for four thousand years, what would happen if you applied it to the burning flesh of a living body? Could it possibly control an existing infection? Assist in preventing the chronic course of re-infection? Have you ever seen Rigelian fever? Even the antidote is useless after a certain point. It certainly can't create tissue regeneration in a body that's been literally eaten away. So those scrapings would either help, or they would hurt, or they would do nothing. We prayed they would help. Our prayers were answered. Answered again two days later when Janice and I managed to locate a colony who had the ryetalyn. More importantly, willing to share."
"Why didn't you just give everyone the antidote once you had it?" Anon insisted, the logic simple enough for him.
"Why didn't those Klingon cruisers just kill you instead of it being the other way around?" Anar gripped the table in anger. "It's in the air around you. The soil. The water you drink. It has to run its course. Viruses mutate constantly from the simplest cold, to the deadliest disease!"
"Oh," Anon said, unmoved by the outburst. "What happened to her hair?"
"What?" Anar said. "Her hair?" he repeated as Anon rose from the table to put on his shirt. "Whose hair?"
"Janice's," Anon nodded. "It sticks out."
"Sticks out?" Anar glanced down the corridor and the path Janice had taken. "What are you saying? That Janice's hair is some sort of measure of her ability to treat your men adequately?"
"What?" Anon turned around to him.
"No, of course you're not saying that," Anar shook his head in agreement. "You couldn't possibly be. What does Janice's hair have to do with anything? Where's the correlation? There isn't any. Is there?" he stared at Anon.
"I said her hair sticks out," Anon replied coldly.
"We were discussing the child's education and background!" Anar's fist struck the table. "I am attempting to alleviate your suspicions that Janice might harm your men. Even by way of something such as lack of education. Which would be through no fault of her own! Except even that isn't going to happen. I firmly believe Janice is quite capable of saving any man who can be saved. The same as I highly question any doctor in the galaxy could save your engineer. That man had to have been lying under a crossbeam crushing his abdomen for hours!"
"Four hours," Anon pulled on his tunic, moving to survey the mummy lying there in her tranquil state. "You are right. Janice's education is not important to me. It's important to me my man lives. I don't care who saves him. The finest doctor in the galaxy, or some Janice Lange. It is as immaterial as her hair -- Which sticks out," he assured.
"Yes," Anar agreed, fascinated. "Yes, it does. I suppose it does stick out. It stuck out like that when she came here."
"Like a Klingon's," Anon's disdainful eye strayed over the mummy. "She has the fragile face of a Bajoran and the hair of a Klingon. An air of energy, rather than mysticism around her. I've never met a Human before. I am not sure what I think of them. I am familiar with the Federation belief Cardassians and Bajorans are cousins from the same seed and it's bullshit. It's probably bullshit to suggest the Klingons and Humans are cousins, too."
"I don't believe…" Anar answered slowly, "anyone's ever proposed that particular theory before."
"Good," Anon said. "Because it doesn't make any sense to me."
He didn't look like it didn't. He looked and sounded very much like he was questioning something. Rather innocently. In a way such a child might do. Walk in a room and ask why the sky was green, blue or gold. Not because they really wanted to know necessarily, simply because it was a thought that had occurred to them.
"No," Anar cautiously pressed, "carefully constructed interrogation?"
The Gul eyed him. Understandable because it was a valid point. Even though Anar hadn't meant to voice his thinking out loud, suggesting Anon might only be asking questions because he was by nature a person who asked questions without pre-existing motives.
Innocence? That was a thought Anar managed to keep to himself. There was an inconceivable air of youthful innocence alive in Anon Dukat. Unwashed away by training and the legacy of the man who sired him. What was even more inconceivable was to suggest the young Gul wasn't thinking seriously about things like surviving Maquis cells incorporated among Bajor's outer colonies. Of course he was. Innocence wasn't stupidity, it was simply innocence. Occasionally preoccupied with other things more important to it.
"I am also familiar that tribal medicines have been around for thousands of centuries on every planet in this galaxy," Anon either warned or simply mentioned. "The same," his eyes met Anar's, "as I am familiar, it is not only your viruses and diseases that mutate, but the simple principle that we are not all the same."
He didn't walk like his father either. Anar frowned after Anon striding away through the soft light of the cold, stone corridor. The pace was fast, a stalk. His back stiff and arched. The steps he took as broad as they were long as he seemed to walk from side to side as well as forward, the arms swinging along at his sides. His face set in concentration looking neither left nor right as he cleared a path for himself, unmindful of whether anyone noticed him or not, which they did. Long before they ever knew his name. A detached and unemotional, stiffly serious young man who walked…
"Like a man who's just gotten off a horse." Anar's brow remained wrinkled in its frown. "Her hair sticks out?" He still wasn't sure he fully understood that one, and so he just shook his head, tired of thinking about any Gul Dukat. "It must be me. What's in a name? The power in a name?" Was there power in a name? Could there just be something about the name Dukat that mandated the wearer strive to make a lasting impression?
"You know the answer to that without the Prophets' assistance." Anar turned to study his softly aging face reflected in the power console, its features and aura made famous by his charismatic nephew. "And would I have likely expected you, Shakaar Adon, to grace my humble township long before the flesh of Prefect Dukat. To believe the soul of a savior could be born of the womb of Cardassia is one thing. To believe one could be born of the loins of Dukat? I must say the Prophets' faith in my ability to look beyond the stench of ten million corpses is interesting. I pray for the souls of the future and those alive in its past that it is not misplaced."
"Father?" Elise's voice called over the com system.
"Yes?" he answered her hail.
"Just checking." Anar could hear her fear she attempted to cover with her laugh. "Your son is pacing."
"My son always paces," he assured. "Remind him you carry life in your stomach. The Prophets have never betrayed our faith and trust before, they will not betray us now. They are simply tired, as I am, of watching my children die."
"I'll tell him."
The engineer died the following afternoon. Anar canceled the call to the outpost. Half of Anon's crew contracted Rigelian fever within three days whether he returned to the transport or not. He returned to the transport, and was one of the first to return to the village desperately sick with the plague. Janice was kind about it, teasing and joking as she reminded him how she had told him so. Assuring him yes, it was all his fault, as he lay there sweating black sweat, his temperature edging up over a hundred, delusional with visions of Klingons leaning over him.
"Whoops!" Janice caught her bowl of painted leaves and purple goop as Anon lashed out, almost sending all of her hard work flying. "No, we don't want to do that!"
"He thinks you're a Klingon," Anar laughed.
"He's afraid of your hair."
"My hair?" Janice blinked down on the man gasping for air through his overheated skin. "Oh, my goodness. No, we can't have that either." So she borrowed his insulated shirt to tie around her head, covering her hair. "This to you looks normal," she nodded, proceeding to change his dressings without further incident. Anar just hung his head with a resigned shake. "I am wearing a shirt on my head, but this to you looks normal. Boy, are you sick."
Eighteen hours later the antidote finally took effect and Anon was better to spend the next three days violently ill from the serum. They never could get the engines to work, not well enough to lift off. Between the fever, the quarantine and the red tape, it was two months before a new Cardassian transport was able to secure the crew and the cargo from Anon's ship that had inadvertently set down on the remote world called home by the remnants of Anar's band of Maquis raiders. A proud troop first beset by Klingons in the Klingon-Cardassian war. Then a Neutral archaeologist with failing shuttle controls. Then the Federation-Dominion war that brought more trouble with the Klingons than anyone else. Then the fever, the quarantine, and finally Anon and his Cardassians. It was suddenly eight months down a road Anar had had little control over traveling. He wasn't certain he wasn't becoming comfortable with the road. In a lot of ways the journey was familiar. The fever and quarantine simply a different kind of fight for survival against such staggering odds.
Federation regulations controlling the distribution of the serum were strict to prevent mishandling of the supply. But even if it had just been passed out on street corners like loaves of bread to starving mouths, the Maquis would not have been among the recipients. Their once powerful organization officially declared destroyed by the Cardassians, the decade long chapter of resistance forever closed, it remained a Federation offense to provide food, shelter or medical supplies to any known outfit or settlement sympathetic to the Maquis. Violation of the embargo carried a mandatory prison sentence. It didn't seem to matter nor keep the bureaucrats awake at night that the sanctions in the face of something such as Rigelian fever was a death sentence imposed on people who didn't necessarily warrant being condemned to death. The justifying rationale? For all the eight year old Nadyas who died instead of lived, it was their Maquis grandfather Anar who killed them by his actions, not the Federation sanctions.
Neutrals were immune from Federation sanctions. They could not be held accountable for treating Bajorans, Maquis or Cardassians alike. For every bureaucrat Anar cursed at night before he fell asleep, he thanked the Prophets for sending them Janice Lange. What continued to confuse his clear and perfect world was why the Prophets had also sent Anon and his transport laden down with supplies that Anar never even considered investigating -- he'd like to think because he simply didn't have the means or men available.
The same as he'd like to think Anon never got around to conducting his own investigation into just who these settlers actually were, simply because he didn't have the interest or the time, even though Cardassians always had the interest and the time. Anon Dukat was a paradoxical young man. Not yet settled in his own identity. Prudent and formal in his actions, as actions were what counted and defined the man.
Either that or he was simply better at putting on a more believable show than his father. Less obvious in his attempted seduction of young women and Town Elders.