The Wolf and the Dog Pandora
Posted on Sun Jun 21st, 2020 @ 8:36am by Captain Nycolas Temple
Edited on Sat Jul 11th, 2020 @ 7:26am
A tale of two stories - an ancient fable and a field report.
[Starfleet Intelligence: Classified Field Report]
[Date: 506329.1, 2383]
[Location: Federation/Cardassian Neutral Zone - Gaspar System]
[Agent Code Name: The Wolf]
The Wolf was hungry after a long winter without feast. He was rag and bone as he stalked the outskirts of a town, and it made him downhearted to think about it.
The night winds howled across the arid evening desert of Gaspar, the small Federation-come-Cardassian colony right in the heart of the Neutral Zone. Ravaged by war and the constant struggle between the two super powers over permanent settlement of the planet, Gaspar was a mixture of both species in a barely maintained peace. There was one main city on the surface, separated into two distinct areas - a basic human encampment lacking in style but more than adequately supplied by advanced Federation technology; and the Cardassian ghetto of dense, older builders now transformed into militaristic hubs of competing factions. Much like the area of space in which Gaspar existed, there remained a single strip of neutral territory between the two areas - a lawless den of slum bars and brothels.
It was within this strip that the Agent found himself sitting in an open window overlooking the Cardassian half of the city, as he slumped into a firm wicker chair and his two boots resting on the balcony railing. The evening's revelling from the bar downstairs was loudly dancing into the room, the constant noises of laughing and drinking a common soundtrack in this area. It had been a long term in this squalid town, laying low in the cheapest hotel he could find; spending his days and nights searching for his target. Being off-trail from Starfleet Intelligence for so long had seen the Agent turn into a more cunning hunter, as he loved the freedom of being this deep undercover could provide. To anyone else on Gaspar, the Agent was nothing but another twisted human getting his kicks in the dark world that the Federation forgot.
Of course, the location of the room and the hotel he found himself in was no coincidence. From here, he could see every Cardassian shuttle arriving on the planet and using his binoculars he could study every new arrival and departure from the city. It had been exactly four weeks since the last time he saw his target, Jagul Sonar, depart from Gaspar; now the Agent feared he'd spooked the Cardassian from ever returning. But SI contacts ensured that the old Admiral's movements were just part of his regular routine and he was due back on Gaspar soon. For now, the Agent could only spend his time sitting at the windowsill, waiting for that one shuttle to arrive that would bring his target back into his sights.
The Wolf cowed his head as he sat amongst the bushes, his long snout buried into shrubbery as his famished eyes peered at a roost of chickens in a nearby yard. He could hear their clucking and scratching; small little tasty morsels of food that the starving Wolf would enjoy devouring. He lipped his licks in anticipation and stared to run.
Around one o'clock in the morning, as the Agent paced in front of his window, he could hear the sounds of an old Ravinok prison shuttle, its dirty engines burning through the atmosphere with a noticeable thunder. The Agent moved back to the balcony and readied his binoculars as the shuttle sputtered over the city and towards the Cardassian landing port. Crouching down low, he raised the binoculars to his eyes and focused in on the landing pad. The green hue of the night vision lenses gave a grainy appearance to the footage but the subject was unmistakeable. Jagul Sonar had returned.
Like a shot from a phaser, Agent Wolf was barreling out the door of his hotel room and into the city street below. He had to act fast, he knew the subterranean tunnel that lead from the neutral zone into the Cardassian territory would not be heavily patrolled this time of night but he couldn't waste any time. The sounds of the bustling night whizzed past his senses as he ran through the crowds of people, pushing past the revellers and debauchery on his way to his target. He reached the sewer grate in just under two minutes - a personal best after he'd practiced the run many times.
With a Cardassian border patrol approaching in the distance, the Agent quickly pulled open the water-pipe's cover and dove into the drain. He was immediately met with the dank, oppressive smell of old metal and stagnant water and he tried his hardest not to open his lips for fear of getting some of the toxic liquid into his mouth. The pipe was small, but the Agent had practiced walking quickly in a squat position around his hotel room; his thighs and knees were used to the strain. With the water seeping into his boots, he pushed harder and harder to make it through to the other side of the pipe. One turn to the left, second entrance on the right, a sharp left again, jump over the outlet, another right turn - he knew the path well, he had studied it extensively. The weeks spent on Gaspar had not just been filled with watching out of a window, it was diligent research and a lot of practice for this moment.
As expected, the Agent was now underneath the street outside the Cardassian Brothel, Cirdas Nor, the "base" for men. Also as expected, he soon heard the rumblings of a small land speeder close by and in a matter of seconds, it stopped just above the sewer entrance where the Agent lay in wait. He climbed the greasy metal ladder so he could hear better as the clear voice of Jagul Sonar bellowed out into the night. Sonar always visited the Cirdas Nor immediately after arriving on Gaspar, and he always ordered his men to wait in the nearby bar across from the brothel. Soon the guards would be drunk and Sonar would be receiving his usual services.
As the Wolf ran at a pace towards the roost, he was suddenly greeted by a flash of dark black shadows in front of him. There came an angry bark, then another, then another. A pack of guard Dogs had smelled the Wolf's approach and managed to head off the hungry beast. "Stop!" Barked the lead Dog, bearing his fangs for the Wolf to admire and fear. Pulling up quickly, the Wolf could see he was outnumbered, and lowered his head in surrender.
Having waited enough, the Agent slipped out of the drain and returned the cover silently. He risked looking up into the tavern and sure enough, the Guards were loudly boasting about their day's work, the pure alcohol already dulling their senses. The Agent removed his sodden shoes and placed them by a trash receptacle outside the brothel, as he quickly scaled the outer fence and landed inside the yard. Upstairs a light turned on in one of the rooms, casting a spotlight down onto the yard, and causing the Agent to stop briefly. He looked around to see if anyone could see him, and was relieved to find no one had. With a sigh, he used the missing brick holes in the old building's wall as grips to climb up onto the second level terrace, and then used a window sill to climb up towards the third floor. Every step of the way, he knew he would be caught and killed if anyone happened to go into these rooms, or noticed his assent up the building. He had to complete the mission without any tech, and so he had to do it quickly and dangerously.
Finally pulling himself up onto the roof, the Agent crouched down low and waited to see if he had disturbed anybody during his climb. Again, all he could hear was the guards across the street laughing and shouting, and the soft talking in one of the bedrooms below him. Sonar had paid his dues and been escorted to the Penthouse suite - if one could call it that - as was his usual custom. Walking across the roof over unsteady tiles to the other side of the building, the Agent peered over the eaves and found the window left open. It had cost him one month's allowance to bribe one of the Cirdas Nor girls to leave the window open, but it was worth it. The Agent lowered himself down slowly, bicep muscles straining hard under the intense exercise, and flicked his legs inside the building.
Landing with a soft thud, the Agent crouched down again to listen. Now he could hear the giggling of two girls, followed by the rambunctious cackle of the Cardassian Admiral. Looking at his wrist watch, the Agent knew he had roughly 40 seconds left, so he waited in the darkened room, his breath steady and body tense. Exactly thirty six seconds later, there was a loud groan, a shouted "Ba'ou!" from Jagul Sonar, and then silence. The predictability of the old Cardassian Admiral was something to be admired, though it was unlikely his companions would think so. They would have to spend the rest of the hour pretending to be interested in his old stories and boastful claims. Of course, this time Sonar wasn't going to be around for the full hour.
The Wolf bowed to the pack of guard dogs, noticing immediately that they were well-fed, strong, and groomed. "I relent" said the Wolf, taking a step backwards towards the forrest. "You must!" growled the lead Dog, sniffing at the wolf with disdain. "I was just hungry," whined the Wolf, looking remorsefully at the roost that was oh so close. The dogs snickered amongst themselves. "Because you're a wolf." Stated the Dog. "We working dogs receive regular meals, a warm bed to sleep, and all the treats we want. Just for barking at things and running around." The Wolf could only envy the dogs.
As the girls departed from Sonar's room, giggling amongst themselves in a hushed tone, the Agent could distinctly hear them comment about a "little teliyk" as they walked past. From inside the room, Sonar boomed, "Hurry up and get my food!"
The door was left slightly ajar and the light from inside Sonar's room peaked into the hallway as the Agent silently stepped closer towards his target. His hand ready on his phaser, the Agent took a deep breath before suddenly rushing into the room and firing a shot directly at Jagul Sonar as he lay in his bed. Sonar gasped then groaned in pain and he felt the numbing bolt of energy coarse over his body, his eyes wide with surprise. It was a perfect shot, hitting Sonar right in this bare chest, with just enough power to immobilise without knocking him out. The Agent quickly shut the door and locked it, as he turned back to see Sonar glaring at him with an evil snarl.
"Huuumann?" He slurred, just as disgusted as he was shocked.
"I am an Agent for Starfleet Intelligence." The Agent responded mechanically. "Here to extract information from you about an attack on Federation territory."
Sonar smirked, as his breath wheezed, "You won't get anything from me. I won't speak to you Starfleet Kardiy."
It was the Agent's turn to laugh, as he moved across the room to see the Cardassian's clothes dumped in a pile on the floor. He immediately began searching through his jacket and pants. "I don't need you to speak." The Agent replied.
Sonar languished around in the bed, his arms awkwardly searching for something to grab hold onto, some kind of weapon he could use against the intruder. He found the bottle of kănar on the bedside table and reached for it. Seeing this, the Agent quickly moved over and snatched it out the Cardassian's weakened grip. The Agent poured the potent alcohol all over the bedcovers and Sonar, drenching the man in the liquid before throwing the bottle away. Sonar swore and spat as the alcohol seeped around him.
"You'll never make it back to your side of Gaspar." Sonar threatened, "My men will slice you open just for being in this area."
"Your men have consumed a bottle of that stuff each," The Agent replied, pointing down to the dark puddle around Sonar, as he returned to looking through the Cardassian's belongings.
Sensing the trap that had enclosed around him, Sonar gave an audible sigh before changing tact. "Which Federation territory?" He asked.
"A colony in the new neutral zone, thirty light years from your base on Velos." The Agent replied, "It was attacked by rogue Cardassians, but I know your military supplied the raiders and sheltered them afterwards."
Sonar attempted a shrug, which wasn't easy given his paralysed state. "How do you know?"
"Because the leader of the rogues was your brother, Tomar Gammit." The Agent replied with a cold stare. "You may have changed your name to hide the shame of his desertion, but you still harbour and assist your brother in his illegal activities."
The Cardassian baulked, "Illegal? Is that what you Kardiys call it now? It wasn't illegal when I was a Gul, it was a sport! Hunting down you weak humans and ending your rampant spread across the Quadrant was a Cardassian's greatest honour. Now we cowtow to you like simpering dogs!"
The guard Dogs looked to the Wolf with a pitying stare, knowing that he was no threat to them. Instead, the lead Dog attempted some advice, "Why don't you get regular work? Your master will treat you well." The Wolf shook his head, "I would if I could find a place." And the Dog did something unexpected, "Come, I will share my food with you for one night. It well help you find a Master." Unable to disagree, the Wolf began to follow the Dogs back into the yard they had sprung from, though he kept a nervous eye about him as he walked.
The Agent couldn't help but shake his head at Sonar, his twisted world view. If his Command Council knew that Sonar was assisting his brother, they knew it would be seen as an act of war against the Federation. A war they were unlikely to be able to fight in their current state. And yet, Sonar probably had many other sympathisers and supporters amongst the Cardassian's government, those who agreed that it was preferable to be at war with the Federation rather than at peace.
For the Agent, his role was clear. Eliminate the threats to the Federation, wherever and whenever possible. Sonar was not the primary target, but his brother Tomar would be. Finally his finger tips came across the light plastic touch of a data file deep in the Cardassian's military pants. He smirked as he retrieved it and held up the file to show Sonar.
"This will do all the talking I need." The Agent remarked.
Sonar knew the data strip had communications from his brother, including the locations in the Inconnu Expanse where he was now hiding and Sonar was sending supplies. The old Cardassian hissed at the Agent and tried to reach out his heavy hands, desperately fighting against the paralysis to get at this intruder. For his part, The Agent calmly looked to the chest of drawers where the ladies kept their supplies. Amongst the wide variety of prophylactics, toys, and ointments, he found a small wooden box that smelt heavily of spices and tobacco and he smiled.
Retrieving the box, the Agent found three long cigars and a small lighter. Without speaking, he lit the cigar with the lighter and moved around the bed to pop it into Sonar's mouth, who grunted menacingly at his approach. The Agent held the lighter up, the flame dancing before Sonar's eyes.
"And this," The Agent said calmly and quietly, eyes moving between the flame and the alcohol covering the Cardassian. "Is for Lucis."
As the Wolf followed the dogs back to their home, the soft light emanating from their Master's window, he began to notice a dark leather strap tied around each of the Dog's necks. And their fur around this strap was worn away and matted. "What is that?" Asked the Wolf, indicating to their necks. The Dog shrugged, "It is our collar. The Master places it on us so we can be tied up at night. It hurts at times, but the Master requires it." The Wolf stopped walking in his tracks, and though his stomach was yearning with hunger, his lips salivating at the thought of food, he couldn't bare to consider the cost of receiving it. The Wolf shook his head and turned to leave, "Farewell, my friend. It is better to die hungry and free, then live forever as someone else's slave."
With the flames lapping out the bedroom window, the muffled scream of the Cardassian inside, the Agent dropped down to the street below. Soon there would be sirens and guards come running, but it would be too late. The weeks he had spent on Gaspar, this hell-hole, this divided town of misery and bare survival, had in the end been worth it. He would quickly dash back through the sewers and to his dank hotel room, make contact with Starfleet and be off this planet before the Cardassians could even figure out what had happened. It would just look like an accident, a drunken mistake by a foolish Sonar to smoke cigars in bed while drinking. All the training, the practice, the waiting - it had come together nicely and now the Agent would leave Gaspar with a data chip that would lead him to straight to the next target on his list.
The Wolf had gotten his food after all.