The Brave Little Tailor in the Pale Moonlight
Garak, the brave little tailor, sat in his shop embroidering the top of a tunic. The embroidery spelled out in Hebitian runes the names of his seven closest friends in the Obsidian Order, a society of intrepid Cardassian adventurers who traveled the galaxy searching out secrets. They were also his only remaining friends in the Order, since all the others had stopped speaking to him when he ran afoul of the Prince of the Secret Searchers, Enabran Tain, and had to go into exile here in the floating castle of Terok Nor, which its current rulers insisted on calling Deep Space Nine. And now all seven of them were dead.
Garak let out a deep sigh as he finished embroidering the final name. He felt so helpless. The Kingdom of Cardassia was under the thrall of the evil Dominion, forced to submit to the whims of Jem'Hadar ogres, Vorta goblins, and their shape shifting leader, the wicked Jello Witch. His friends had been meeting in secret to try to come up with a plan to throw off this monstrous yoke, but the Dominion had found out, sent in a detachment of ogres, and killed them every one. Garak sighed again, took up his embroidery tool once more, and wrote "Seven OO in one blow."
Oh, how Garak wished he had been able to wipe out the evil shape shifters in one blow. Once upon a time he had been so close to doing so. Now the entire Federation and Klingon alliance were not up to the task, and what could he, a plain and simple tailor, hope to accomplish that they could not? Then he remembered an old Cardassian saying, that the best way to defeat one set of ogres was to get another set of ogres very angry with them. Soon he had thought of just the right ogres for the job and just the plan to make them angry with the Dominion. It was a very delicate plan, and it depended most of all on no one's finding out that it was his plan at all. Fortunately the brave little tailor had some experience in such matters, and he was even more fortunately going to have lunch that very day with his dear friend Dr. Bashir. The good doctor was a very clever young man with a taste for noble adventures and also a young man not immune to Garak's powers of suggestion.
They were only five minutes into their lunchtime conversation when Dr. Bashir said, "That's an interesting pattern on your tunic, Garak. Hebitian runes, aren't they?"
"How very perceptive of you, doctor," the tailor replied.
"You did lend me that illustrated book on the Hebitian civilization after all," the doctor continued. "The alphabet isn't a difficult one. Those are mostly names, I think. And then that one line underneath, 'Seven OO in one blow.' Is that some kind of riddle?"
"What do you think?"
The clever young man looked thoughtful for a few seconds. "OO that must be the Obsidian Order. Those are seven people the Order wiped out?"
"Not exactly," the tailor answered him with an enigmatic expression.
"Seven Order agents who were themselves wiped out, all in one blow. By whom? By you, Garak?"
"Ah, you flatter me. But yes, they were seven members of the Order, friends of mine, killed on Romulus ten years ago. They say that someone betrayed them. If someone did, I'm sure he had a good reason." Garak smiled his most disarming smile.
"I recall that you conducted secret Cardassian state business on Romulus, disguised as a gardener."
"I did indeed, but several years prior to this unfortunate incident. I must say that weeding Romulan gardens was far easier than cutting through all the thickets they plant around their true intentions. For instance, why have they remained neutral in the war?" the tailor asked.
"They're no doubt waiting for the Dominion to wipe out all the other major Alpha Quadrant powers. Then when they finally move against the Dominion, they'll inherit the entire quadrant," the doctor told him.
"But if they wait that long, how can they be sure that they won't find the Dominion unbeatable. Indeed, I rather imagine that the Dominion won't wait to be attacked. The Changelings have long memories, and they can't have forgotten that the Tal Shiar joined Tain in his ill fated attempt to destroy them."
"If only the Romulans could see it that way, and come into the war on our side. It would make all the difference," the doctor enthused.
"Perhaps you should suggest that to Captain Sisko?" Garak observed.
"I think I shall."
And then the brave little tailor smiled to encourage his clever young friend but also because he knew the first step of his plan had been accomplished.
Two days later Captain Sisko, the lord of the Deep Space Nine castle, came to the little tailor's shop. "Mr. Garak," he said, "Could you do me a favor and see if you can uncover any secret messages that say the Dominion might send its ogres against the Romulans?"
"That's a very big favor," said the tailor, "I would have to rely upon every single friend I have left on Cardassia. There are only seven." In fact those seven friends were the very ones who had been killed, but Garak's plan required that he not tell the Captain this as yet.
"Do it," commanded the Captain, who was unfortunately never very polite to our hero, and didn't even say "please."
Garak did nothing for several days and waited for the gruff tempered captain to return. When he did, he asked, "So, where are my secrets, Mr. Garak?"
"Alas, all my friends were killed by the Dominion the minute I talked to them," the tailor replied.
"Alas, indeed. Then our hopes are gone," the Captain said.
"Not necessarily," Garak answered him. "We could do a little magic and produce the secret documents ourselves. I happen to know that a very important Romulan is about to meet with the Dominion. If he thought we had secrets, I'm sure he'd pay us a visit. Of course the magic can be dangerous. And you may not want to do what's necessary to make the spell work."
"If you think you can do it, then count me in," said the Captain.
"For someone who's had seven killed in one blow, no magic is too difficult," the tailor said. "When I have discovered all the necessary items for concocting the spell, I'll ask you to get them for me one by one."
The items necessary to bring off the spell were three: an optilithic data rod, a capable data forger, and some biomimetic gel. On the next day, the little tailor went to the Captain and said "First I must have an optilithic data rod."
"Do whatever you must to get one," the Captain replied.
"For someone who's had seven killed in one blow, nothing is too much," Garak assured him. What the tailor did not tell Sisko was that he always kept a supply of optilithic data rods in his most secret hiding place. For his plan depended on the Captain thinking that these were a rare and difficult commodity to obtain.
On the next day after that, the little tailor intercepted the Captain and asked him to engage the services of Graython Tolar to craft the false data recording. "You will have to convince the Klingons to give him up, since they intend to execute him," he confided. The Captain was not happy to impose upon his Klingon warrior friends in this matter, especially since he couldn't explain the reason for its necessity. "Certainly sparing the life of a criminal is nothing compared to losing seven in one blow," Garak reminded him. And the Captain agreed that this was so.
Mr. Tolar, who was a very blue and very cheerful individual on the outside, unfortunately harbored some very nasty impulses on the inside, and he was a constant source of aggravation to the Captain and to the tailor. The Captain had to cover up several wicked deeds that the forger committed against the local publican and one of his serving girls, and the tailor had to work very closely with the blue man to see that he made the Dominion's Cardassian and Vorta lackeys behave in character.
After the tailor took the blue man back to his quarters and told him in no uncertain terms not to open the door, lest he suffer an unfortunate accident, he went back to his own quarters and reflected upon his choice of forger. Tolar was not the most talented counterfeiter Garak could have thought of, and his unruly nature made him a considerable risk to the plan. Yet there were so many points in his favor. For one thing, when the little tailor had been engaged on one of his great Obsidian Order adventures, he had taken the blue man and his brother prisoner in order to learn some secrets from them. The brother had produced the secrets before Garak had to turn his attentions to Graython, but the blue man had seen the methods the tailor had used to persuade his brother to talk, and it was unlikely as a consequence that he would dare to defy the Cardassian. It was also a sad necessity that whoever did the forgery be expendable, and the tailor preferred to sacrifice someone who didn't have a very promising future ahead of him. When he dropped by on the blue man during his sleep later that evening, he would end the man's life before he even knew Garak was there. This was far more kind than leaving him to the tender mercies of the Klingons, the tailor told himself.
While the forger had been working on the manufactured evidence, the brave little tailor approached the Captain for a third time. "I can only obtain the data rod from one person, and that person will only give it up in exchange for 200 liters of biomimetic gel," he said. He held his breath, because all the rest of the plan so far was really just a charade that would enable him to come into possession of this substance.
"That's impossible," the Captain fussed. "Biomimetic gel is very dangerous, so its distribution is very strictly regulated. And I know I couldn't get that much, even if it weren't."
"I'm certain my contact may be flexible concerning the amount, but some biomimetic gel he must have, or our plan is doomed. Surely this is not an impossible feat for such a brave and powerful lord of this castle."
Within a few hours, the Captain delivered 85 liters of the gel into the tailor's hands. "Dr. Bashir was not pleased to obey my order to hand this over," the Captain observed. "He's filed a protest with Starfleet."
The tailor was not surprised that the clever young doctor would take such a stand. Otherwise, being his friend, he would have just asked *him* for the gel. But, no, as unpleasant as dealing with the Captain could be, only he had the authority to demand that the doctor do as he commanded. "I am sorry you've quarreled," the tailor said in a soothing tone, "Still that's not nearly as bad as having seven killed in one blow." And once again the Captain had to admit that it was so.
The next day was a busy one for the little tailor. He had the forgery inscribed on the datarod, delivered it to the Captain, took care of the unfortunate Mr. Tolar, and then told the Captain that he planned to do some information gathering in the computer system of the visiting Romulan senator's ship. "Don't get caught," the Captain warned him.
Well, the little tailor certainly did not intend to get caught, because it was his little visit to the Romulan vessel, not the clever verbal jousting and seeking after advantage that the Captain and the Senator would engage in for the next few hours, that would make the plan succeed or fail. He crept quiet as a mouse into the central replicator supply unit. There he removed the raw organic material from which the mechanism produced food and drink for the Senator's quarters and replaced it with some of his biomimetic gel. The minute the Senator decided that he wanted a glass of Romulan ale or a breakfast of prekaba muffins, he and his whole ship would explode into a thousand pieces. And because biomimetic gel was used in many of the shape-shifter's magic spells, they were sure to get the blame.
Judging from the Senator's hasty departure and the Captain's dark looks, the tailor concluded that the faked datarod had not passed inspection. Poor Tolar was not the most skilled, he had to admit. While the plan would succeed whether or not the Senator had been fooled, he did wish that the Captain had been spared the hours of worry he would suffer until the explosion happened. The Captain could make life so unpleasant for everyone in the castle when he was worried.
Two days later, after the Romulan ship had exploded and the Romulan and Dominion ogres had been made angry at each other, just as the little tailor had planned, everyone in the castle was smiling and happy and overjoyed that the tide of battle had finally turned. But when Captain Sisko came into the tailor's shop, he was not happy at all. In fact the first thing he did was rudely punch the tailor in the nose. "You did this," he shouted. "You blew up that ship." The tailor was mildly surprised that the Captain had figured this out so quickly, as he was not nearly so clever as the clever young doctor, but he told him straight out what he had done and only kept back a few of the minor details. This caused the Captain to throw him across the room. Now the tailor was starting to be truly annoyed, and he almost showed the Captain a few of the tricks he had learned in the Obsidian Order. However, he thought better of it, since he still had to live in the Captain's castle, so he said instead, "I just did what you wanted for me to do but wouldn't do yourself. It's brought the Romulans into the War and probably saved the Alpha Quadrant, and all it cost you was the lives of one Romulan senator, one criminal, and the self respect of one Starfleet officer. I'd call it a bargain. And it's certainly nothing compared to having seven killed with one blow."
And once more, the Captain had to admit that this was so.
On the next day the tailor was sitting at his regular lunch table with the clever young doctor, discussing the past week's remarkable events. "Can you imagine that the Dominion would be plotting the destruction of the Romulan Empire while negotiating with one of the Romulans most sympathetic to their cause?" said the doctor.
"It's never advisable to believe that one can top the Romulans in devious treachery," the tailor replied. "And then to attempt to cover their plotting with such a clumsily engineered 'accidental' explosion! They've got their hands full now, and they've brought it all upon themselves."
"I'm sure if you had planted that bomb, Garak, there wouldn't have been any incriminating evidence left intact." The doctor winked.
"Should I ever plant bombs, I would make sure that they accomplished their intended function," the tailor answered with a smile."
The doctor looked at him closely. "Your face appears swollen and bruised. I'd almost guess you'd been in a fight."
"Ah, I did have an unfortunate scuffle with a large and unsophisticated Klingon who did not appreciate my remarks on how little his uniform did to show off his best features. The damage was hardly severe enough to cause me to intrude upon your busy hours in the Infirmary."
"I'd have welcomed the interruption. A mere bloody nose is a relief from the parade of war wounded. And I've had a bit of a row with Captain Sisko," the doctor said.
"Really, what about?" the tailor asked innocently.
"Um, Starfleet classified I'm afraid. Sorry."
"No need to apologize. I of all people appreciate the need for secrecy in affairs of state."
"I haven't seen you wear your memorial tunic again," the doctor said, in order to change the subject. "Do your honor your fallen comrades only on the anniversary of their deaths?"
"What fallen comrades, doctor? Whatever are you talking about?" the tailor asked.
"The seven OO killed with one blow, whose names you embroidered on your tunic."
"Doctor, I am seriously concerned about the stress you've been under. I told you no such thing. And I certainly don't go around embroidering anyone's names on my clothing. That would be a severe offense against fashion."
The doctor looked at him in wonder. "Well, you were committing just that offense when last we met. I saw the tunic with my own eyes. How can you have forgotten that you told me about the murdered agents at our lunch just last week?"
The brave little tailor broke into a broad grin. "And certainly you, doctor, with your genetically enhanced memory, can't have forgotten the little moral axiom I told you just a few years ago?"
"And which would that be, Garak? You've offered me so many of them," the doctor huffed.
"Why, my dear doctor, the one that says you should never tell the same lie twice."
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