Title: A Far, Far Better Thing
Series: DS9-hist
Rating: [R] for implied non-cons, some physical intimacy, and a little
bit of gore.
Version: Beta
Summary: Based on the rumors of the upcoming "Wrongs Darker" (it's not
really a spoiler, since I haven't seen the ep) I wrote this amendment to
my original story of Kira Nerys' history ("The Music Makers"), changing
the scene of her mother's death to...this. The subject heading says
K/Du, and it *is*, just not the K/Du you'd expect. :) This is set in
the Federation year 2346 (Card's withdrew in 2368), on Bajor.


A Far, Far Better Thing


It was a cool room; it was a good day. It was the height of summer, but
the air circulators in the basement offices hissed full-blast, and Meru
found herself, for the first time in weeks, underdressed for the
climate. And she was loving it. It was a hateful place; it was a hateful
time. It was war and oppression and the stink of rotting, sweaty bodies
that was always there, lingering, painting rings around the edges of the
sterile basement office. It was blood, and starvation, and the hottest
summer in years, decades. It was a time of drought, the lakes sucking
inward from the bone-dry rocks of shore. It was a time forsaken by the
prophets, a time of mortals hands bloodied from weapons or slave labor,
a time of many, many more deaths than births. But it was a cool room,
and it was a good day. She found a smile where she could.

She was filing, which beat mine work a thousand times over, and she had
to bite her tongue on more than one occasion to keep from whistling
while she worked. It was enough for her not to be on her knees,
whip-lashed, sweating, her lips and eyeballs cracking from dehydration;
she felt no compulsion to let her overseers know that she was almost,
*almost* enjoying herself. She punched in the next access code on her
list, began separating files into subdirectories.

"Who's got 299-blue through 400?" the Bajoran man at the console beside
her, Yzak, addressed Meru and the other four workers.

"I just input the last batch of them now," Meru replied. "I'm in the
tertiary database in the blue filemanager. Do you need me to find
something?"

"I've got a file which crossreferences something in blue, and Gul
Namerov wants a hyperlink. Can you upload the directory name to my
console so I can do a search for it?" Even Yzak's voice sounded chipper
today; last time Meru had worked beside him they'd been digging
waste-disposal ditches, and he'd barely uttered two words except to ask
her to pass the water canteen. Yes, it was a good day.

"On their way," she said, inputting his server name and transferring the
file codes to his console.

There was only one supervisor on duty, a Glin-something-or-other, and he
was sitting crosslegged at the desk, reading, not particularly
interested in the parley among the slaves. Chatting while they worked
was another luxury not to come again in the near future, and the
Bajorans were taking advantage of it.

"Van Teprim finally gave birth," announced a stocky woman at one of the
wall consoles.

"Amazing," laughed Meru. "I was beginning to think that baby would
never come out. It's been, what, eight months?"

"It's a boy," the woman, Maiaya, said with a grin. "An adorable little
gift from the Prophets. She's calling him Nerys."

"Really?" Meru chuckled. "That's my daughter's name! I know it's a
boy's name, but 'tomorrow' just seemed like the perfect choice for a
name for the new generation."

"That's what Teprim said," Maiaya nodded, chewing her lip as she sorted
files. "I think it's pretty. How old is your daughter?"

"She'll be three in half a moon," Meru said. "She's not talking yet. My
husband and I are beginning to wonder if we should be concerned."

Maiaya cast a glance in the direction of the supervisor and shook her
head, a small enough movement as to be nearly imperceptible. "No," she
said abruptly. "I wouldn't worry." Meru was sure this wasn't what
Maiaya had intended to say, and the room felt just a bit colder as she
returned her focus to the filing in front of her.

Something beeped. And beeped again.

The six Bajorans looked up in unison, trying to locate the source of the
noise, and the supervisor, upon reading something on his console, stood.
Meru shuddered despite herself.

"Aily Maiaya, Kira Meru, Masa Tzo," he announced without preamble. The
three women in question stood still, waiting for further instructions.

"Report to launching area five in Singha proper," he continued. "Your
assignments have been changed."

//Okay,// thought Meru, preparing herself mentally for the heat of the
outdoors. //We're on plasma-unit repair. I've had worse jobs.//

Following the guard who had been standing outside the door, the women
started up the spiralling staircase of the sentry office.

*

That was the last time anyone saw Kira Meru alive. When she didn't come
home from work that night, Taban, along with Aily Prem and Masa Jiaka,
sent out a buzz across the Singha camp to begin a search for their
missing wives. A week passed, then two, with the men no more enlightened
then they'd been that first summer night. Nerys and Miko didn't quite
understand, but Onep, along with Masa's daughter Laren, understood that
their mothers were dead by Cardassian hands, despite Taban and Jiaka's
attempts to construct plausible stories to explain the disappearances.

Autumn came but the heat wave never broke. One evening, Onep and Laren
were working in the orchards when their overseer informed them that Gul
Namerov himself wished to speak with them. Before he uttered the words,
they knew.

"I regret to inform you," he began in a low, thundering Dakhur dialect,
heavily accented with the Kardasi hiss, "that I have received word from
our shipbuilding facilities in orbit that Kira Meru and Masa Tzo have
died. It seems that the Bajoran workers were unable to ration their food
supply adequately, and I'm afraid your mothers starved to death before
any of the overseers were able to procure more supplies. Please relay my
apologies to your families."

Onep nodded somberly, but Laren spat at the ground. Onep touched her
shoulder.

"I understand," Namerov continued. "You blame us. I assure you, the
officers assigned to the shipbuilding facilities are committed to caring
for their workers. Any problems the Bajorans may have had come from your
own people's inability to cooperate. Again, however, I offer my sincere
apologies for your loss."

"Thank you," Onep managed, and, grabbing Laren's hand, he raced through
the orchards to the barracks.

*

She hadn't seen daylight in what seemed like weeks. The tent was barely
large enough for the three women, and they were forbidden to leave its
walls unless summoned, so Meru found herself with a lot of time to
contemplate her hatred. They took turns. One night, Meru would be
summoned to the prefect's quarters, Maiaya the next, Tzo the next. And
for each it was the same. The woman would report to the main building,
escorted by the on-duty glin. Once inside, she would be asked to remove
her clothing, and she would be washed thoroughly, head to toe, her hands
clamped in place behind her while the Cardassian who was sponging her
ogled her starved and bony form with something akin to disgust.
Sufficiently cleansed and scented with vile Cardassian perfumes (which
took days to dissipate, at which point it was time to be scrubbed
again), she was led, naked and dripping, up the wide stone stairs to the
prefect's quarters. He was always otherwise engaged -- reading, on a
comcall, downloading files -- and he'd wave a hand at the woman, telling
her to sit down on the bed, he'd be right with her. Between the scent of
the perfume and the balmy-to-humid climate Cardassians seemed to prefer,
she'd sit, nearly suffocating, goosebumps rising on her exposed flesh.
Waiting. And then the prefect would finally complete his task -- she was
always surprised, and furious, to realize that she'd actually been
*impatient,* waiting -- and start towards her with grin playing at his
mouth. "Well," he'd say, without fail, "what shall we do tonight?" And
it was always the same.

Afterward, bruised, sore and bitten, her hips so strained that it hurt
to walk, she was led downstairs, her insect-ridden garment returned to
her, and she was tossed back into the tent with the other women, to
await her turn again.

They didn't even know what province they were in.

After the first week, the women didn't talk much; they'd run out of
things to say. Maiaya had no children, and Tzo and Meru had stopped
speaking of theirs; it hurt too much. Once in a while they'd bring up
the resistance, speculate on what the brave Bajoran soldiers were up to
that would finally liberate this world, but the words were hollow and
they knew it. Meru wanted to believe it, but she knew, had known since
she named her daughter 'Nerys' that it was tomorrow's generation who
would liberate their world, not Meru's own. It was too late for her,
but the new generation, the children who were being taken in by the new
resistance cels that were forming had a chance at living in peace, and
having their world back. But not until then. Not for years.

They never spoke of their spouses -- Tzo and Meru's husbands, Maiaya's
wife, left back in Singha -- somehow, that brought it all into focus,
made the separation too final, and the horrible violations the prefect
was performing on them nightly, too real. Meru prayed to Taban,
sometimes, begging him to take care of the children, and to forgive her
for abandoning them, but when she was lying in bed under the prefect's
heavy, armored frame, she would talk to herself, talk herself to
distraction to avoid letting her mind touch on Taban, alone in the bed
they used to share. It wasn't the same. It wasn't the same. What Meru
did in the prefect's quarters was no different from any other job she'd
held under the mercy of Cardassian overseers; it was a job. And she did
it. And she never, never let herself think about what this man was doing
to her, how he was mining her like blasted stone from the inside. Never.
And the women never spoke of it.

Sometimes Maiaya would sing -- battle hymns, generally -- and Tzo and
Meru, both with tin ears, would listen solemnly, unsmiling, as if the
lyrics in the ancient tongue were some code that, if they could only
crack it, would spell their freedom. In an effort to keep them "shapely"
(the glin's words), they were fed quite well, but the food was
Cardassian, pasty and bland, and the women could barely stomach it. Tzo
would eat, and Meru and Maiaya would offer her their leftovers, in the
hopes that the prefect would take a liking to her "shapely" form and
perhaps give her better treatment. But she would come home from her
encounters as bruised as the other two, and tell the same story they'd
each been telling, every night.

It must have been early winter when the on-duty glin came to collect
Meru for the second night in a row. "He asked for you again," the glin
explained. Casting a terrified glance at her compatriots, Kira Meru
exited out into the foreign-familiar Bajoran night.

After the scrubdown, Meru started for the stairs, knowing the drill by
rote, wanting desperately for it to be over with. "Not yet," the glin
said, clapping a hand on her shoulder and stopping her in her tracks. He
steered her back into the atrium where she'd been bathed, and slid open
the door to a shiny alloy cabinet. From it, he drew a plaited, wooly
bundle, which he pressed against Meru's damp breast. "Put it on," he
said. "Legate's orders."

She shook it out, and saw that it was a robe, cableknit from some
luxurious wool and belted at the waist with a wide ribbon. She slid her
arms into the sleeves, thankful for the protection from the dank air and
scrutinous eyes. Warm and shivering, she blinked up at the glin,
awaiting instruction. "Go on up," he said. "You know the way."

//Alone?// she didn't say, but instead turned on her heel and started
for the stairs.

When she opened the door to the prefect's quarters, he was waiting for
her. *He* was waiting for *her*. He was seated on the bed, crosslegged,
with a tray of fruit and a bottle of spring wine -- spring wine! --
beside him. And he smiled when she walked in. At first she thought she
was dead, and was dismayed at the cruel joke the prophets were playing,
but the ache in her groin and the teethmarks across her arms and neck
reminded her that she was very much alive. Her world was growing more
bizarre by the moment, but she was very much alive.

"Hello, my dear," the legate cooed. "Please, sit down."

Unable to formulate a good reason not to, she complied. "Yes, sir."

"Please," he said. "Call me Dukat."

"Yes, Legate Dukat," she said, furrowing her brow.

"Dukat," he said with a grin. "Just Dukat."

She merely nodded, petrified. //I should slap him,// she thought, //spit
in his face, holler to the Prophets for vengeance against all he's done
to us.// Hating herself for her cowardace, willing herself to feel some
instinct other than self-preservation, she sat stock still and waited to
see how this would play out.

"Have some wine," he said, pouring a glass and holding it out to her.

//Yes. Have some wine. Dull the pain.// Nodding again, she took the
glass from him, downed the strong alcohol in one gulp.

"Tell me about yourself," he said, refilling her glass. "Tell me about
your family."

"They're slaves!" she said before she could catch herself, but Dukat
merely shook his head and smiled knowingly.

"Personally," he said, "I despise the actions that Gul Namerov has taken
in the Singha facility. Shall I have him replaced?"

"He beats people at random; every month he declares what he calls a
'holiday,' where five innocent people get executed in public. If those
are grounds for dismissal in this tyrannical culture of yours, I'd say
replace him," she said, her tongue loosened by the wine and Dukat's
apparent sympathy.

"That's terrible," he said. "That is no way to train workers who are
under your command. He should be nurturing you, helping you learn, and
grow. I have no taste for violence," Dukat clicked his tongue.

"But you have no problem with fucking us twice a week!" Meru spat
before she could stop herself; Dukat's syrupy words cut her to the bone.
Regretting the outburst immediately, she searched Dukat's face for signs
of response.

At first it looked like he would strike her, but then his face fell, and
he looked at the floor. "I regret that," he said. "I'm sorry."

"What's going to happen to them?" she asked. "Maiaya and Tzo. I imagine
I'm to stay here with you." She hadn't made that leap until the words
were out of her mouth, but as soon as she uttered them she knew they
were true. She was to be Dukat's consort; he had chosen her. She
supposed she should be flattered, but hate and bile rose in her throat.

"They will be returned to Singha as soon as I can arrange for transport.
And, yes, you're correct. I'd like for you to live here in headquarters
with me; it must have been *anguish* living in that wretched tent all
these weeks."

"So why did you order us to live out there?" she asked.

"I had to!" Dukat lost control for a moment, tossing his head, his onyx
hair swinging wildly around his face. "Don't you understand? I'm the
Prefect of this annex! I am in charge of the entire Bajoran project! I
had to set a strong example! Half my men are older than I am; I had to
prove to them that I was to be respected as a leader!" He slammed his
fists into his thighs and refused to meet Meru's gaze. "But I was
wrong. I know that now. A good leader is respected for his powerful
mind, not his 'tyrannical' actions, as you so aptly put it. I am an
intelligent man. A great man. I am the youngest member of the Cardassian
military ever to be risen to the rank of Legate, and I am a credit to my
title! Centuries from now, when this world takes its stand as a strong
and powerful part of the great Cardassian Empire, people will remember
the name Dukat as the man who began it all. And do you know why?" Dukat
looked to Meru, not really expecting an answer. There was a long pause,
and Meru tried to take in what Dukat was saying. But his next words
shocked her. "Because...I love Bajor."

"What?" she asked, leaning over to try and catch a glimpse of his face
as he stared at the floor.

"I do," he said, attempting a laugh which stumbled over the lump in his
throat. "At first, it was just a job. Central Command sends me out here
and says: 'annex!' But this is a beautiful world; your people are so
good, and simple, and kind...under our tutelage, you could learn to
become great, as we have. That's all I want; all I've ever wanted. For
our two peoples to coexist peaceably."

And, for a moment, Meru understood. //They want to be more like *us*.
They can be enlightened by our peace, our spirituality and wisdom, just
as they believe we can be enlightened by their power and strength.// For
a moment, it all made sense; the occupation, the resistance, the
Cardassian brutality and slaughter. While she couldn't forgive Dukat for
what his people were doing to her world, she understood that it was the
Prophets' will, to teach the misguided Cardassian race a little of what
the Bajorans already understood about peace, and faith, and love. And
she was to be their emissary. For a moment, it all made sense, hanging
above the bed, above the two of them, shimmering in its crystalline
perfection. It was the truth; the awful, horrible, genocidal truth. And
a moment was all it took.

Meru reached out and touched Dukat's shoulder, gently. "I understand,"
she said.

Dukat looked up, his face wrought with pain. "You do?" he whispered.
"You forgive me?"

"No," she said. "I don't forgive you. But the Prophets will save your
soul. I can help you."

Dukat reached out, slowly, and traced a finger across Meru's face, the
touch so unlike the violent attacks of the previous weeks that Meru
shuddered. "Thank you," he said.

He pulled her head toward his, gently. "Maiaya taught me this," he
whispered, touching the corner of her mouth with his exploring finger.
"She was drunk; I think she threw *me* down that night. She used to
struggle, and fight; the other one -- Tzo? -- used to scream, to let out
these uncanny high-pitched wails. Only you were resigned, were at peace.
I could see the faith in you, and the confidence that everything would
someday come right. I respect you for that. But Maiaya did teach me one
thing about Bajoran custom, and I thank her for that..." So saying, he
tipped his head and closed his eyes and pressed his lips to Meru's,
letting their tongues taste one another, their moist mouths move
together.

Meru sighed, the tenderness of the kiss more moving than she'd
expected. She weakened, and allowed herself to fall into Dukat's
embrace. //Prophets, grant me the courage to help this lonely,
misunderstood man....// she thought. And somewhere, on that winter
night, the Prophets heard.

* The End *