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[Elim Garak, member of the Detapa Council on Cardassia Prime, very kindly welcomes me into his home for an early breakfast.]
Red leaf tea?
And I fear I have very few human foods on hand. Perhaps you would enjoy scones and jam? As I’m sure you recall, our dear Dr. Bashir is rather fond of them.
[He places a plate in front of me.] I certainly do. I didn’t realize you liked them, too.
One picks up habits, over time. [Garak tilts his cup slightly toward me] Drink up, my young friend.
I’m not that young anymore, Garak.
Oh, my dear boy, you will always be young to those of us who knew you in your youth, and our adulthood. Delight in it, for it means that we will always find you charming in ways no one else will.
Thank you, I think.
Think nothing of it. And now, shall I guess why I’ve been honored with such a visit? You are, of course, eager to see the glorious sights of Cardassia! I am afraid I must disappoint you. Many were reduced to rubble 14 years ago. You may recall.
Of course, I-
No, indeed. You are visiting because you have an important event coming up, yes? And you wish for none other than your old, dear friend Garak to make you the perfect suit. Perhaps a wedding? I am afraid I am no longer taking tailoring commissions, but perhaps for such an old friend I might consider it.
No, no. Well, actually, yes, I am getting married. But that’s not why I came to see you –
Oh? Then you must tell me why.
[I laugh. I know that Garak specializes in this sort of patter, to get people a bit off balance. It’s not personal. It’s just what he does with both friends and enemies.] I came to ask you about the Detapa Council and what’s been going on here during the rebuilding of Cardassia.
Ah, yes. I suppose that would interest a fellow such as yourself.
It is part of the job.
Tell me, how is your book doing? The one you wrote about living on Deep Space 9 during the Dominion War?
It’s doing well. Thank you. But back to the question at hand-
I wasn’t aware there was a question.
What do you think is going to happen on Cardassia? Now that the Detapa Council is in place?
I am far too simple a fellow to know that. But, if asked, as you have just asked me, I might say that there are several paths Cardassia could take. One would be to rebuild peacefully and become a productive part of the intergalactic community. One, which I hope the Detapa Council will prevent, is a path into the past. That would be a path attempting to reclaim our past glory and rebuild our military might. The one our good friends in the True Way would advocate.
I’d heard they’d become active again. They were your main opposition during the democratic elections, weren’t they?
Indeed. Lead by the most respected Gul Madred. Who, of course, favors a return to our days of military government.
So you’re opposed to building up the Cardassian military?
Oh, I never said that. A military is an important thing. But I am opposed to chasing after the past forever. After all, we do recall what happened the last time.
You mean the alliance with the Dominion?
Of course, what else could I possibly mean? For a few brief moments of military might, Cardassia paid with over eight hundred million deaths, and destruction the likes of which I hope never to see again. The military threw us right back into the famine and disease of our pre-Cardassian Union dark ages. Ironic, isn’t it? That the military came about to save us from destruction, and then plunged us back into the very same situation centuries later.
Has the True Way been causing problems?
Growing pains, my young friend. Cardassia is having growing pains. It’s only natural that some of our more fearful members would wish to cling to the old ways. I have every confidence that the True Way will one day join us in looking toward the future of Cardassia.
Do you really believe that?
Would I say something I didn’t believe?
Well, then. [He smiles at me. It’s that pleasant, enigmatic smile I remember from our time on DS9. Which means there’s no getting anything more out of him on this topic.]
How has the restructuring been going?
We’ve rebuilt what we could. Of course, the recent cutbacks of funding from the Federation have hurt our progress.
But the Federation needs to help out the Romulans-
Oh, I was not chiding your most excellent Federation! Far from it! We cannot leave Romulans to their own devices. No, indeed not. For who dares to trust a Romulan without a planet to pin him to? That would be like leaving a bowl of sem’hal stew unattended upon a table, all the while knowing that a starving Cardassian vole was hiding under your chair.
The Federation is helping out of good will.
Of course they are. And it is out of good will that we of Cardassia sent six ships to aid the Federation in its quest of good will toward the Romulan Empire.
Actually, I’ve been wondering about that. It doesn’t seem to be a very popular move here on Cardassia.
What could possibly have given you that idea?
The crowds of people protesting it the other day at the University of Culat.
Ah, yes. Well, not every governmental act can be universally loved. Indeed, do not trust any planet, or any people, who claim that every law and every governmental decision is loved.
They seemed pretty upset.
Well, the Federation has reduced aid to Cardassia. So those who are in favor of the Federation are just a tad bit upset. And they feel, understandably, that we simply don’t have the resources. Those who oppose the Federation – well, they certainly don’t want to do anything to help the Federation.
Then why did the Detapa Council vote to send ships?
There are always more reasons than those on the surface. It is really very simple.
Will you explain it to me?
I fear not. I shall leave it to you to put together. Tell me, have you enjoyed your breakfast?