Patients were uncharacteristically sparse this morning so Doctor Bashir decided to take a walk around the Promenade. For the next half hour or so his assistants could handle any emergency, mostly cuts and bruises, strains and sprains.
Even after a year, Deep Space Nine's Promenade still reveals something new on each viewing. New species, new foods, new wares from any number of changing shops. Bashir stops at one such vendor to try an odd looking vegetable being sold by an even odder looking salesperson.
"Ahhh, Doctor Bashir", came Garak's voice from behind, "Taking the day off?"
"Actually, I'm just taking a short walk around the block, so to speak," Bashir says, continuing his stroll down the corridor. "And what about you? Are things so slow that you're actively out searching for customers?"
"Our clientele are not so different, my friend. When they have need of our services, they come searching for us."
Bashir was just thinking about the kinds of clients that 'plain, simple' Garak truly had when one of the station's airlock doors rolls open. Normally, such an event doesn't warrant more than a cursory glance but what emerges this time causes Bashir's eyes to widen.
Humanoid in basic form, the creature seems to flow smoothly out of the hatch on its powerful, backward bent legs. It measures a full two meters from the razor claws clacking on the deck plates to the long, bony crest of its head. A rippling emerald cascade of scales catching the light.
It stops after a few measured strides, absolutely motionless on its toes. Poised. Nostrils flare at the end of its pointed snout and its long tale curls like a stalking cat's as the Promenade begins to notice its imposing presence and falls into silence.
A predator, Bashir thinks. A hunter. A remorseless killer.
The creature snorts and rises up even higher. Two clicks, a hiss, a rumbling purr and it looks over its shoulder in one liquid motion. Two more appear at the hatch, one carrying a rucksack and wearing a large holstered sidearm, the other oddly female. An anthropomorphism on the reptilian model.
They turn in unison to look right at Bashir. Their quicksilver, emotionless gaze gives Bashir a moment of near panic before his realization that Commander Sisco has come up beside him, phaser drawn and with extra security.
"Damn," Sisco says through clenched teeth.
"Commander," Bashir starts, "What. . . ?"
Garak interrupts, "Not what, my dear doctor. . . who."
Bashir is unsure which disturbs him more, Sisko's next, single word answer or the smug, knowing smile on Garak's face.
|http://www.tasigh.org/kordite/ds9tease.html -- Revised: 18 May 2002
Copyright © 1994, 2002 Kevin A. Geiselman