Occupation of the Mind

BY : Lucian
Category: Star Trek > Deep Space 9
Dragon prints: 39
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek: DS9, nor the characters from it (save for the OC I created within the bounds of the established universe). I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Author's Note: This isn't terribly explicit, but it is very dark, so be warned.  Very first Star Trek fan fiction.  Feedback always welcome.  Hope you enjoy.

Chapter One

After the Cardassians withdrew, station in as many shambles as my life, I felt a vast emptiness.  I had expected to feel relief.  What I felt instead was lost.  A deep sense of finality.  I had nothing and had no idea where I would return to or how to pick up my life.  My newfound freedom was an impossible notion.

When the Federation stepped foot onto the station and began relief efforts, I was uncertain, but felt some peace then.  Someone had come to take control, to give direction, to help.  That would not quell the sudden dizzying turn my circumstances had taken, but in the moment I was soothed. 

I needed little aid.  Starfleet’s attention on me was fleeting and intermittent.  I’d found myself wandering towards the promenade, gazing in at the dim mess it had become.  I saw Quark and his kin kicking about the rubble, packing. 

As a slave, I’d not seen this part of the station much, but I had seen it.  It was a lively staple.  It was the soul of the station if it ever had such a thing.  Seeing them load product into boxes, I felt cold.  The last familiar face would be gone.  The past would be no more.  And where would I be left?

I disappeared again into the quiet destructed corners of the station.  Dust hung in the air and showed hazy in the sparse streams of light.  I found a dead end, stepped over some debris and curled up on the floor like the trash I was and pretended to sleep until my body obliged my wish. 

I spent days like that.  But at some point during my sulking in dark, unpopulated corners, I heard familiar sounds: warm and raucous with the delicate clinking of the Dabo tables.  I heard crowds humming and crying out loudly.  I’d followed the sound to the Promenade to find it warmly lit and full of people.  Quark.  Rom.  Dabo girls.  They were there as if nothing had changed.  They’d stayed after all.  I smiled.  But somehow there was still a profound emptiness in my soul and I could not name what it desired. 

There had been many transports down to Bajor.  I had boarded none.  I was afraid to leave before I had set my mind straight.  I had no plan and seemingly little comprehension of my changed reality.  I could not leave this behind forever for a fate of uncertainty down on the planet.  I felt something keeping me here and I had to find out what it was.  I had to stay.  Just a little longer. 

As the station was restored and redecorated, coming alive in a way I’d never seen, I lingered.  I still felt tied to this place, still not ready to leave after everything that had happened there, after all the time I’d spent on this station without anyone in the world. 

But I’d not been a shop-keep.  I’d been a slave.  With owners to house, clothe, and feed me.  I had nothing to fall back on. 

Late one evening with most of the crowds dispersed, I lingered on the edges of Quark’s.  “Last chance to get a drink,” Quark called to me without looking up.  “Speak now or forever hold your peace…til tomorrow.”  I twisted my hands.  I’d never really spoken to him before, and I was unsure of myself.  He finally glanced up from cleaning and he stilled.  “You’re still here? You didn’t leave with the rest of the transports?”  He recognized me?  Though I’d not met him, I knew him and his reputation, but me?  I should have just been another face in the crowd. 

I looked down.  This feeling I had.  It couldn’t be spoken of.  I had no words for it, and doubted anyone would understand.  And the request itself, I was about to make, was difficult for me. 

I approached him slowly. 

“I wanted to ask you something…”

“Ask away.”  He’d still not resumed his task. 

I waited until I reached the bar before saying, “I don’t want to leave…”  I couldn’t look him in the eye.  “Would you…could you…hire me? As a server? Or something? I just…need enough to stay here.”

-*-

I had some damage, but I was trained to please and obey.  The customers…weren’t as bad as the Cardassians though I feared it every time.  I was not bad at this job.  Quark could get irritated sometimes, but he never yelled at me.  I was able to have a small place on the station.  I worked a lot, but that didn’t matter to me.  I was able to stay and continued searching for whatever resolution my soul was so longing for.  It seemed I would never find it.  But at least I was in the right place.  And every day, I got to see a face from before.  A remnant of the only life I knew and understood. 

I had attained some form of stability.  Every day was more or less a repeat of the last, though there were some hiccups as Starfleet continued to work through transferring the stations workings from the Cardassian standard to theirs.  Routine was comfortable.  But I still felt empty.  I still could not know what this lingering sense of unrest was.  Something itching at the back of my mind that I could not quite reach.  Since I did not know what it was, I did not know how to make it go away.  Time, it seemed, was not the answer. 

One day, imposing, gray figures strutted into Quark’s without a trace of hesitation.  I had thought the Cardassians were gone for good, run out of Bajor, run off the station.  I thought bitter feelings and the Federation’s shadow would keep them from returning.  I was wrong.  As I gaped at them, I had the sense that our victory was not complete, and that somehow without knowing they had taken us again. 

But they sat near the bar, engrossed in conversation.  Weaponless.  I’d probably never seen them before, but I feared they’d know me.  I feared seeing the same bloodlust in their eyes if they looked at me. 

I kept my gaze low every time I passed, but I was not wholly lucky.  Someone else had been taking care of them, but they caught me after they’d gotten their order. 

“Hey!”  My face paled and I felt sick. 

“Yes, sir?”

“This isn’t what I ordered, you incompetent filth.”  He stood, plate in hand.  I forced my feet to stillness, clutching my hands in front of myself, lips pressed to a thin line.  He jabbed the plate into my chest.  “Think you can get it right this time?” 

“Yes, sir… Of course. I apologize.” 

“Good,” he sneered, dropping the plate into my hands.  He remained standing, watching after me as I backed away. 

I retreated behind the counter.  “Quark…”

“What?”

“Th-they said this is wrong.”

“They? Who’s they?”

“The, um, the C-cardassians o-over—”

Quark waved at me.  “Take five, I’ll get this figured out.”  He straightened his shirt and walked off. 

I crouched against the wall in the back and closed my eyes.  My eyes wet and I sniffled but I kept it in my chest, breathing steadily.  Rom passed in and out, I kept my head down, thankful he didn’t say anything. 

I stood up before I was ready, knowing I couldn’t take too long.  I wiped my eyes, wondering how I was going to keep working with them out there.  Quark came in and I straightened up, afraid I’d already overstayed. 

“Boy, they do not like you. Though I suppose you already know that.”  I grabbed my arm and nodded. 

“I didn’t take their order or bring it, I had nothing to do with it.”

“I know. I trust you,” he assured me.  He turned and looked at me.  “You alright?”  My eyes flicked up to his.  He looked legitimately concerned.  I nodded. 

“Yes. Sorry.”

When I returned to the floor, I kept my gaze averted but I could feel their eyes on me. 

About an hour or so later, as I was delivering an order, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the slow, meandering—yet heavy—stroll of yet another grey-clad figure.  I glanced up and saw the long, smug face, appraising the establishment.  It couldn’t—

“Is there anything else you’d like right now?” I asked the patrons. 

“No, we’re fine.”

“Alright. Enjoy.”  I picked up the tray and turned, keeping my eyes down.  I swiftly dodged between the tables, eyes on the gleaming grey of the bar.  I just had to make it back.  I’d be far enough away—

“Tamir.”  I stopped.  My heart thudded.  That voice had spoken my name.  The voice that had purred in my ear, touched me with that delicate dangerousness.  The voice that every time it spoke might hold my death sentence. 

I turned. 

Gul Dukat smiled, cocking his head as he strutted up to me.  “Is that really you?”  I was mute with horror.  I was still as he approached, looked down adoringly upon me, brushed my hair back with his fingers and gently traced my ragged ear where my d'ja pagh had been torn out years ago.  “It is you. So you stayed?”  I nodded, unable to help drawing my shoulder up.  I felt breathless.  Woozy.  “I have to say I’m surprised. Though I am delighted to see you. You are certainly looking well, though as skinny as ever.”  Gul Dukat looked up from my body and furrowed his brows as he said, “It suits you.”  I struggled to keep my knees steady, I tried to take in more oxygen, but my head was swimming and I didn’t know how to fix myself.  “Well,” he clapped a hand on my shoulder, “I suppose, I won’t keep you from your duties; however, I will be around for a few days. I think we should catch up.”  I gave a small nod, before I turned and carefully wobbled over to the counter, feeling his eyes follow after me.  I set down the tray and went to the back.  I could hear Quark calling after me. 

The shift couldn’t be over quick enough. 



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