A strong man with a strong frame. Gul Dukat's eldest son Anon was shorter than his father. Much broader and heavier through the neck, across his shoulders and chest. The face stern. The eyes cast in concentration, his thoughts inward. In contrast, the younger brother was the image of who his father must have been at his age. Tall. Slender. His shoulders carried high and back, supported by his hands on his hips as he looked around the airlock.
"Right down to the watchful, darting pupils," Sisko noted under his breath, completing Odo's observation of the Sentinel Pfrann dubiously promoted to the rank of Lieutenant for the occasion -- as if there wasn't something dubious surrounding Dukat's rank of Gul; Odo was sure there was.
"Hm," he grunted, stopping shy of proposing perhaps they should consider themselves lucky the one in charge was Damar. That, of course, would remain to be seen. The same as it would as far as just how much weight a man's looks or lack of them carried. Odo highly doubted if it was very much at all for either of them.
"Speaking of which," Odo gave a cynical nod toward the hefty, ponderous figure of Damar exiting the lock, quite possibly the youngest Emperor on record ever to rule Cardassia, Union or otherwise. That was not a bad achievement for thirty years of life; not bad at all.
"Sisko." Damar endeavored to greet the Captain cordially, his eyes more on Worf. "Bending rules already?"
"Apparently so," Sisko returned smoothly.
Damar threw back his head with a laugh. "We're two of kind."
"I wouldn't count on it," Sisko replied to the hand clapping down on his shoulder.
"We'll see," Damar promised with a nod in his assistant's direction, a Cardassian vole for lack of a better description. "You know my Mister Paq…"
"I believe we may have met, yes," Sisko acknowledged one of Dukat's former security chiefs while in residence aboard Terok Nor. Obviously Paq's interpretation of loyalty was similar to Damar's. For that matter similar to the Dukats; both young and old.
"My two representatives," Damar's hand called Dukat and his brother to come to attention. "Gul Dukat and his lieutenant…"
Dukat's step forward was sharp and immediate once apparently realizing he was being spoken to. His surprisingly quiet reply, a crisp, terse question. "Where are our quarters?"
"Well…" Odo thought he covered the pause rather nicely. "They're not here."
Dukat's quick glance over Odo was equally crisp and disinterested. "Then we are to be escorted to them --”
"Captain," Sisko interrupted him, "Benjamin Sisko. Commander of Deep Space Nine, Gul Dukat."
Dukat's eyes traveled back to him with caustic, though still quiet, assurance, "I know who you are."
He walked off with a call for his brother to follow him. And so perhaps the striking resemblance the younger of the two brothers bore to the father was solely physical, but then again, perhaps it wasn't. Sentinel Pfrann followed his brother, but not before he turned to Sisko with an, oh, so familiar expression. And an, oh, so familiar ring of heavily burdened exasperation conveyed by a deep sigh, "If you will excuse us, Captain."
"Youth," Damar shrugged like a permissive parent."Arrogance," Sisko corrected. "Curb it."
"We were early, Captain," Anon announced to Sisko approaching him waiting at the turbolift with his brother, "because for some reason our two borders seemed devoid of Federation patrols."
If it was an effort to employ that infamous Cardassian sarcasm, the Gul failed. The only thing Dukat continued to sound to Odo was irritable. A few decibels lower and deeper than his father's usual volume that was true. But then the voice was a little hoarse, or raw around the edges, and so that perhaps explained why; Dukat had a cold.
"Sorry to disappoint you," Sisko activated the turbolift via a control panel; a security measure set in place for the auspicious occasion.
"Ha," Anon clipped his laugh short. The door swished open and he stepped inside. "No disappointment. I presume Klingon cloaking devices."
"You presume incorrectly," Sisko said evenly. "But that's quite all right. You are welcome to presume anything you like -- Acting upon it however is an entirely different matter," his dark-brown eyes met Anon's watery red stare; Odo had already made a note of that. Bilateral implants designed to improve the Cardassian vision in bright light, as well as night. He was a Gul. Not one who achieved his rank sitting behind a desk.
"You will be scheduled for a complete medical screening…" the Captain was also taking note of the optical implants and thinking of others.
"I have the notification," Anon interrupted and Sisko paused, waiting him out.
He didn't have to wait long. "What do you expect me to do?" Anon requested impatiently. "Argue with you about it? Sorry to disappoint you," he faced the door of the lift waiting for Sisko to give his orders. "Where are we going?"
"Promenade," Sisko directed, and the lift engaged.
"Promenade?" Anon scowled slightly at Pfrann. "Our quarters are on the Promenade?"
"The Bajoran representative has arrived ahead of schedule --”
"Surprise," Damar's snort interjected over Sisko.
"I don't see the harm in everyone meeting each other this evening," Sisko continued.
"No," Anon refused. "We have no interest in socializing. We are here for one purpose. Stop the lift. Stop it!" he insisted, his finger pointed directly in Sisko's face. Worf's defensive reaction was immediate. Sisko was even quicker. His hand shooting out in a preemptive strike, stopping Worf before Dukat found himself a permanent part of the station's sub-structure.
"Take your finger out from in front of my face," Sisko advised the unimpressed and motionless Gul quietly, "before I snap it off."
He did. Almost triumphantly with that short laugh, the hint of a smile flitting across his face. "My father is right about you."
"Possibly," Sisko granted.
"Depending," Anon understood, "on what he says."
"Regardless," Sisko assured, "of what he says. Understand one thing, Gul Dukat, your father's son or not, this is my station."
"And like all young men," Damar settled back with a chuckle, "he can't decide who he is."
"And you can, helmsman?" Anon retorted. Damar reared to find his advance in turn immediately checked by Worf, Odo, and Odo supposed if one wanted to push it, the loyal assistant Mister Paq.
"That is enough!" Sisko barked, livid. "Halt program!"
"Anon, please!" his brother's plea supported that request.
"Don't correct me!" Anon silenced him with a snap; his glittering infra-red pupils focused on Sisko. "We prefer to adhere to the drawn protocols of contact accepted by the Cardassian Union."
"I don't give a damn what you prefer," Sisko assured. "Less interest in your domestic quarrels. One last time, Dukat, this is my station and if I say jump, Mister, you will jump. That includes extending your superiors the respect due them -- in public! I don't care if you slit each other's throats elsewise. But, not on my station, and not on my time."
"Kira Nerys," Anon nodded. Not that that had anything to do with anything other than reiterating his continued lack of interest in anything Sisko might have to say.
Sisko stared at him. "What about Major Kira?" he insisted. "Yes, Major Kira has been appointed to the position as assistant to the Bajoran representative. If you have any complaints, address them to your own Council!"
"I have the notice," Anon agreed. "I didn't read it. I was…" his hand fluttered in the direction of Damar, "too busy reading his position. Did they grant the post of Federation assistant to you?"
"They did indeed."
"Good," he approved, turning to face the door of the lift. "Address your questions and recommendations to me. Instruct Nerys to do the same and the Cardassians will leave your station within two days, not a week."
"I'll make a note of that," Sisko finally replied.
"Your choice," Anon shrugged. "You want to dance, dance. Me? I prefer to jump."
"Yes, well," as far as Odo could see what the Captain probably wanted to do more than anything was knock him down more than a peg or two. Though, of course, Sisko didn't; that would have been rude. Likely in violation of some diplomatic protocol -- to borrow Garak's defense -- should anyone happen to complain.
"Promenade," Sisko turned away.
The lift reengaged, stopping again shortly thereafter. The door opened. Dukat exited to shrug at the swank display of Federation prosperity spreading out over the Promenade once drenched in the sweat and filth of Bajoran workers beneath those magnificent Cardassian archways. "You like your trinkets of glamour."
One step though and he stopped to look at his brother silent beside him, a grin, interestingly enough creasing the Gul's face. "Who cares where we eat. Our quarters or some Quark's. Do you care?"
"No, I don't care," Pfrann shook his head quietly.
Anon eyed him for another long moment to suddenly throw back his head with a laugh. He clapped his arm around Pfrann's shoulders.
"Anon…" Pfrann attempted to shrug the arm off.
Anon would have none of it. He strode off under those magnificent archways, his arm firmly in place, the other gesturing as he spoke, cajoling his brother. Taunting, teasing until the younger one surrendered to the pulls, the punches, the pokes, and started to laugh.
Sisko was watching two brothers. One a very powerful young man, unharnessed in some ways, far too confident in others. The younger one blatantly terrified of losing his elder, possibly to himself. "His father's station," he remarked to Odo stepping up beside him.
That also warranted little more than a grunt. "Yes, well, it's not his father's station."
"Tell him that," Worf spoke from above their heads.
To the contrary, Sisko would rather tell someone else, something else. He turned to Damar.
"Have patience with him, Captain," Damar proposed with a tolerant smile in an attempt to cloak his impotence put alongside his former master's prodigy.
"Interesting choice for a representative, Legate Damar," Sisko assured. "Extremely interesting."
Pfrann saw her first as they entered Quark's upper level. Anon was too busy attempting to further his understanding of his schizophrenic father as he gazed around the glittering glitz and glamour of Quark's entertainment palace. "No wonder Dukat likes this place. No wonder he can't stay away.
"No wonder he loses it," he turned to follow Pfrann with a knowing chuckle. "He doesn't know what to do with it."
"Anon!" his brother whirled back to crash into him like a maddened Klingon targ was on his coattails.
"What's the matter with you?" Anon scoffed. "No one's going to stop you. See all those?" his finger flickered around to twenty odd yellow statues assembling to enclose the immediate area; an effort not too noticeable to the rest of the patrons pausing in their dinners to cast a puzzled, interested look.
"I want to go," Pfrann pleaded in desperation. "Please, let's just go."
"No, we're not going anywhere," Anon stepped around him to continue his stride on through the dining area. "If they want to look, let them look…" he spotted the two pieces of luggage in the middle of the floor. The young, slender, brown-haired Human male in Federation uniform sitting on one of them. The small Bajoran woman attractive in her delicate bone structure and short dark red hair seated on a chair across from him on the other side of the table.
"Anon," his brother said in his ear.
Anon noticed Garak last after he looked over the tall woman, striking and beautiful with what appeared to be tattoos framing her face. She sat between the Bajoran officer who had to be Major Kira and a muscular man; another Human. A Ferengi waiter hovering in the foreground.
"Anon," his brother begged.
"Janice," Anon answered. Her clothes were as simple as he remembered them. The insanity of her hair surrounding her. A familiar smile contorting her face as she talked to the tall woman with the tattoos seated across from her. Anon frowned. "What species is she?"
"A Trill, I think," Pfrann sighed, far more interested in the threat of Janice Lange. "Anon…"
"Curzon Dax," Anon nodded, pleased. "Good. If Shakaar or Sisko attempt to scream contamination we'll just blame it on him."
"Him?" Pfrann stared at Dax.
"Her. Him. Whoever," Anon dismissed. "The Cardassian is Garak."
"Garak?" Pfrann's troubled look shifted immediately from Dax to his father's enemy.
"Trust me, Pfrann," Anon's hand clapped down on his shoulder, "the Federation and Shakaar have far more to be concerned about than we do."
"Anon!" Pfrann grabbed to stop him when he removed his hand.
"I love her, Pfrann!" Anon angrily pulled away. "I'm not going to betray her, anymore than she is going to betray us, and neither are you!"
"What?" Pfrann stared at him.
Anon sighed. "I think after eight months I know this."
"What are you talking about eight months?" Pfrann hissed. "You haven't even seen her!"
That was true. Anon studied Janice. "You're right. I think I should tell her now that I do." He pushed ahead of his brother.
To Worf approaching with Sisko and the others it almost appeared as if the two brothers were engaged in an embrace for some reason until Worf looked past them to the table. He stiffened. "Garak."
Sisko's attention shifted immediately from Damar to Garak; the man he had completely forgotten about. "Worf," he directed in agreement as Dukat took a step around his brother.
"Garak…" The voice was Damar's, bristling beside him.
"At ease, Mister Damar," Sisko moved forward quickly after Worf.
"Legate Damar," Odo reminded in his ear."Whichever," Sisko waved.
They looked up, Janice included, when Anon appeared to circle the luggage before looking beyond his survey, past Bashir quickly standing up, to Garak. Something in the air perhaps? Something in the eyes? Something prompted Janice Lange to turn back around to Garak, her hand reaching out to clench his. Her gesture and soft, gentle smile generating a look of confusion across his face.
"Yes, well, if that's not empathic…" Bashir muttered as Janice turned back to face Dukat, positioning herself between him and Garak.
"I'll say…" O'Brien muttered back.
"Or briefing," Dax offered, not to dampen the romance.
"Briefing?" O'Brien scoffed. "Briefing?"
"Quite," Bashir agreed. "Wouldn't it have been prejudicial of Shakaar to mention Ziyal?""Yes," Kira answered coldly.
Garak spit Janice's hair out of his mouth to find himself face to chest with Worf planted between him and a sullen Damar.
"Doctor Janice Lange, Gul Dukat," Janice reached out to shake Anon's hand hanging straight at his side. She grasped it anyway, in both of hers, explaining pleasantly as he looked, "It means welcome. Peace. Friendship --”
"And thank you." The cool grip of his hand around hers was tight. His eyes probing hers deeply. The silent moment shared between them, to him, was awkward. He wasn't sure if he wouldn't have preferred to have been the one to lie about any past acquaintance rather than her. It was unlike her, he would have thought. That disturbed him. Annoyed him in some ways, excited him in others. Her warm hand clenched his as tightly as he held hers; her eyes hopeful, happy, anxious, sad. It was going to be difficult to talk to her privately, regardless of what he told Pfrann. It was going to be more difficult not to talk to her at all.
"Interesting…" Garak immediately caught the distortion in Dukat's voice pattern indicative of a universal translator in desperate need of adjustment, even if he missed noticing the strength of Dukat's grip, or the lengthy moment shared between him and Doctor Lange.
"Yes," Janice smiled at Anon, acknowledging his brother over his shoulder. "You must be Pfrann…"
"Yes," Pfrann acknowledged.
The brother's voice was soft, the translation perfect. More importantly, Garak noticed how quickly Pfrann agreed with Doctor Lange's presumption of who he was. Odd, because Garak didn't recall anyone mentioning the younger brother, certainly not by name.
"And, of course…" Janice turned to Damar, a broad Cardassian similar to Anon, roughly the age of Doctor Bashir.
"Yes, yes, yes," Damar waved impatiently at her. "Legate Damar. Sit, young woman. Sit."
"All right, I'll sit," Janice shrugged, and sat.
She sat. Garak ogled her. Certainly there was an air of familiarity about the young woman in her approach; he had noticed that much earlier. And while a charming characteristic in a woman as young and attractive as she was, it wasn't necessarily a preferred attribute for a diplomat. Interesting because though a diplomat's chief purpose commonly was to invoke unity and accord between peoples, appropriate public etiquette demanded they hold themselves aloft.
Garak likewise noticed how Chief O'Brien looked away, also apparently not quite sure if Doctor Lange's action of immediate compliance had been the smartest thing for her to do; certainly open to an interpretation of sarcasm, and therefore disrespect.
Nevertheless Lange's obedience or defiance that may have momentarily surprised Damar as well was lost in the attention he was currently paying Garak from behind Worf.
"Garak," the Emperor said, the back or chest of a Klingon not quite broad enough to hide them from each other completely.
"An interpreter, perhaps, your highness?" Garak offered glibly. Personally inspired by Doctor Lange's actions. "I could be wrong, but I don't believe your representative's universal translator is working completely up to specifications."
"I like it when it doesn't work," Anon stepped around the luggage to claim possession of the unoccupied chair next to Janice.
"Oh? Why is that?" Garak's smile glittered with a particularly interested glance over the Gul sitting down.
"Privacy," Anon eyed Kira standing at attention. "You are Major Kira Nerys?"
"Yes," she agreed.
"My father sends his regards." He left her to mull that over while he pursued a study of Quark.
"Social Director," Quark offered. "Funny, I was just about to say you don't look anything like him -- where you do," he alerted the younger one. "Good, bad or indifferent, you do."
"The same old Quark," Damar's laugh was forced, his words an utter lie. He reached for the chair previously occupied by Kira. "May I?"
"Of course," Kira stepped aside.And so they played musical chairs for a short while until everyone was seated, introductions made, the conversations limited and sporadic. One or two of them picking over their cold food while Damar busied himself with Sisko reviewing the security itinerary for the week; Federation and Bajoran Special Forces hurriedly assembled to form a protective shield around the area.
"What is in the luggage?" Anon solicited Janice with a flick of his head back towards the duffels as he sampled a cool crisp carrot from off her dinner plate.
A reasonable action, Garak surmised, considering the size of the entree, the Gul probably assumed it was there for the taking of anyone.
"Quantum torpedoes," Janice shrugged.
He laughed. He paused, and then he laughed, asking permission as he stretched for one of her canvas sacks. "May I?"
He flipped open the duffel tossing his brother one of the logs and keeping one for himself. "We do this also; Cardassians. Research for our platforms."
"Well, I should hope so," Janice leaned over to help him configure his access.
"No, I can do it," he stopped her. "Cardassian, Federation technology it's all the same."
"It's the same," Anon stuffed the log in her face. "See? Vedek Bareil. I can even read it. Tell me what this is instead," he held up the carrot. "Do you know?"
"A carrot," she nodded.
"A carrot." Anon challenged Quark. "How do you get it so crisp?"
"Trade secret. Ten strips and it's yours."
Janice laughed. "It's a vegetable. Not cooked."
"A vegetable?" Anon eyed the plate. "Whose is this food? Yours or the Klingon's?"
"Well, yes, it's mine," Janice agreed. "Why?"
"I thought it was his," he shrugged.
"You thought it was…" her brow wrinkled. "Is that why you're eating it? Because you thought it was Worf's?"
"But that's terrible!" she laughed again.
"No, that's terrible," Anon pointed out the gagh. "I'll have the same thing, without the gagh -- and, wait a minute, wait a minute," he stopped Quark before he took the plate away. "What's that?"
"Sand beetles," Quark sighed. "Ferengi sand beetles. By any other name, Ferengi caviar."
"Yes, all right, that's fine," Anon waved. "Same thing. Her, too. Bring her a new one. This one's cold."
"Well, wait a minute!" Janice stopped Quark. "Wait a minute!"
"Need I say why," Quark turned back with a roll of his eyes.
"You eat sand beetles?" Janice peered at Anon. "But you won't eat serpent worms?"
"You eat carrots?" he countered. "But you won't eat -- what's this?" he picked up the parsley.
"Parsley," she identified. "No, I won't eat it, that's why it's still there."
"I figured that out." he assured. "What's it taste like?"
"I don't know," she shrugged. "Taste it and see."
"Taste it. How do you know you don't like it if you haven't tasted it?" Anon scoffed, taking a handful and dismissing Quark. "You want to make a profit?"
"Come again?" Quark's lobes twitched.
"Wait on your customers." Anon tossed a twig of parsley to his brother, Damar's assistant Paq, as well as Damar preoccupied with Sisko's security log.
"Am I mistaken…" Dax leaned confidentially toward Kira.
"No," Kira answered, her arms folded, her face set as she slouched in her seat.
"Hm," Odo agreed behind them.
"Oh, well, I don't know." Bashir wouldn't be so hasty to presume Dukat was misbehaving for any particular reason. "I mean," he grinned for Kira and Dax skeptical to say the least, "if you're referring to a traditional Cardassian mating ritual, shouldn't Dukat be snarling, and sneering, and throwing chairs…" he caught a glimpse of Worf's eyes sliding to the side. "Rather like Worf?"
"Or throwing parsley," Dax nodded.
"This surprises someone?" Quark clomped by and down the stairs.
"No," Kira assured.
Sisko and Damar glanced up with the twig of parsley mysteriously appearing in front of them.
"Try it," Anon gestured to Damar's suspicious scrutiny.
"Yes, all right," Damar picked up the parsley with a sigh, his somber expression changing with first bite.
"Yes?" Anon said.
"Fine," Damar waved, resuming his conversation with Sisko.
"All right, go ahead," Anon nodded to his brother waiting.
"What?" Janice blinked startled with a scolding whack of Anon in his chest. "Why that's terrible!"
Garak inhaled sharply in shock, followed closely by O'Brien's groan. Kira, Dax, and Julian merely succumbed to staring.
"What's terrible now?" Anon laughed. "Someone had to try it first. Why shouldn't it be Damar?"
"Well, yes, I realize someone had to try it first," she nodded briskly. "That's not the point. It's parsley, not poison."
"It could taste poison," Anon shrugged with a grin for his brother. "You like it?"
"Yes," Pfrann agreed quietly.
"Good," Anon promptly rose to bellow over the rail for Quark.
"Oh, Jeez…" O'Brien turned around in his chair for a pained study of Odo as Kira's face set harder and Sisko almost jumped out of his skin.
"You were saying?" Dax said to Bashir.
"Quite…" Bashir's dazed nod was slow.
"Um, hm," Odo agreed.
"Like father, like son," Dax settled back in her seat with a smile.
"You got that right," O'Brien sneered.
"Yes, you do," Kira assured.
"Well, why doesn't someone say something?" O'Brien insisted. "She majored in anthropology --”
"Not sex?" Dax offered.
O'Brien looked at her. "He's Cardassian."
"It's pretty universal," Dax nodded.
"The practice or the method?" Bashir grinned.
"Excuse me," O'Brien stood up, once a father, ever a father apparently.However, Odo's hand pressing down on the Chief's shoulder stopped him from being that fatherly someone to intervene. Leaving it to Damar jumping to his feet with an annoyed and insistent, "Dukat!"
Anon ignored Damar to the added confusion of everyone who hadn't been in the turbolift earlier for Sisko's lecture on appropriate public etiquette.
Or almost everyone. Odo's gaze moved from Garak's bright eyes to settle on Doctor Lange pensively lost in thought. Suggesting to him she either knew little about Cardassian cultural antics as the Chief professed, or Commander Dax was right and the antics were universal. In any event it did appear as if she was diligently trying to figure something out.
"A way out," O'Brien assured. "She's no match for him. You know it. I know it. And he knows it."
"Yes, well, if that's true," Odo grunted, "I'd say not only Doctor Lange, but Shakaar has a problem on his hands."
"I have to agree with Odo," Dax admitted to Kira. "If she's going to be that easily intimidated I don't think the conference stands much of chance."
"If." Kira studied the young woman with her head bent staring at her feet.
"I think it was more just a natural reaction," Dax nodded.
"What was?" Kira looked up.
"The slap she gave him?"
"Oh," Kira said. "Yes, I'm sure it was."
"So then just how intimidated could she be?" Dax understood after thinking about it briefly.
"Exactly," Kira assured.
"Interesting point," Dax agreed.
"I mean," Kira gestured, "I really don't think Shakaar…"
"Would turn a kitten loose in a den of lions?" Dax offered.
"No," Kira was firm. "I don't think he would."
"Also an interesting point," Dax acknowledged.
"But?" Kira said.
Dax smiled. "I'm not so sure Dukat would have laughed if he didn't think Lange wasn't a kitten."
"Doesn't mean he's right," Kira insisted."No," Dax granted, "but it doesn't mean he's wrong either. Sometimes kittens do just respond out of reflex action."