parricida: (pic#8643820)

1. Someone who kills a relative, especially a parent;
2. See: betrayal, to give information to an enemy; to hurt (someone who trusts you, such as a friend or relative) by doing something morally wrong

basic information 
Name: Elim Garak
Age: 53
Height: 5'11''
Gender: Male
Orientation: Pansexual
           First, a note for those not familiar with the Star Trek series: human beings have long since formed a collective government, calling themselves the Federation. Beyond them, there are two species I'll be referring to, Cardassians and Bajorans. In-series, the Cardassians had occupied Bajor for a number of years, enslaving and terrorizing the population in the name of freedom. The Cardassians justified their mass slavery and genocide with the usual reasons-- species superiority, ruling in the name of helping the Bajorans, et cetera.

Amid all that, Elim Garak, a Cardassian and the illegitimate son of Enabran Tain, was born. Tain was a high-ranking official of the Obsidian Order (the Cardassian equivalent of the KGB-- just as nosy, twice as ruthless. It was said you couldn't eat dinner on Cardassia without the Obsidian Order knowing, and you'd better be eating something they approved of). Sponsored by his illegitimate father, Garak was enlisted in the Bamarren Institute for State Intelligence, trained to become an expert spy and operative for the Obsidian Order. He proved himself exceptionally skilled and deeply devoted to his planet and government; once he graduated, he became his father's  protégé. He is mentioned to have been both an expert and enthusiastic torturer and interrogator, and one of the Order's top agents.  

At some point in his career, Garak betrayed Tain. The specifics of his betrayal are never revealed, but references are made to his somehow betraying Cardassia as well. He was ordered killed, but escaped and fled. Tain allowed his son to live, but Garak was left exiled forever from his home world. This was no mercy: Tain mentions at one point that Garak being kept alive-- isolated from his people, hated by everyone around him-- was a far worse punishment than death.

Garak took up residence on the Cardassian space station Terok Nor. He set up shop there, settling in as a tailor, and kept an eye on his enemies from up close. The commander of the station, Gul Dukat, was the son of one of Elim's victims, and tried to have Garak killed several times. Despite that, Garak survived for over two years there.

Once the Cardassians retreated from Bajor, they surrendered Terok Nor over to the Federation (who renamed it Deep Space Nine) (hey, that's the name of the show!). Rather than leave with his fellow Cardassians, Garak saw opportunity knocking. As the only Cardassian amid all these Federation officers, he might actually find out something interesting-- interesting enough that he could earn his way back onto his homeworld. Keeping his shop open, he posed as a harmless tailor, there only to eck out a living. It didn't matter that most people onboard believed him a spy; what was important was maintaining a front, acting so harmless for so long that people would eventually forget about him.

And that's where the series begins.

At first glance, Garak seems utterly charming, but entirely harmless. He's a happy and charismatic man, thick-waisted and good spirited, a man who found his calling in life and is pleased at where it got him. Every remark is greeted cheerfully, and he finds his pleasure in little ways-- debating Cardassian and human literature with his friend Bashir; applying his considerable sewing skills to designing a new dress. He's not stupid, not by any means-- he's often wry and sarcastic-- but he's hardly dangerous.

Anyone who thinks that's the entire picture is a fool.

Garak is highly anticipatory, his mind always working and calculating. He evaluates people for their usefulness, for how they'll act and react and how he can manipulate that to further his own goals. Despite being nothing more than a tailor now, Garak is still a spy at heart, and he's constantly on edge. As a result, he always seems two or three steps ahead. When the Federation moved in to his exiled home, Garak immediately spotted the opportunity; within a few days, he had already befriended a high-ranking officer. Said officer thought himself terribly clever for getting close to Garak; in fact, it's Garak who learns more from Bashir than Bashir ever learns from him. At the same time, their friendship isn't entirely false-- Garak finds himself genuinely pleased by Bashir's friendship, and seeks him out almost daily to converse with him. By the end of the series, it's implied that they both of them have rubbed off on each other-- Bashir is more cynical and sneaky, while Garak has learned to become far more optimistic.

Being an ex-agent, he can be highly ruthless. He's killed three people over the course of the series, to say nothing of the countless people he had tortured and/or killed during his time in the Obsidian Order. In one episode (Broken Link), he attempted outright genocide. It wasn't on a whim-- said species was their enemies, and Garak truly felt it would be in not only Cardassia, but the Federation's best interests to kill the entire species. Garak did not hesitate for a second over the morality of the choice-- the only reason he didn't succeed was because he was stopped by a fellow crewmate. 

That's another thing-- Garak's morality is highly rigid, but entirely foreign to most people. Above all else, Garak priorities both his people and himself, in that order. Every action he takes, every move he makes, is weighed against how it would effect Cardassia. Even in exile, he has that blind, fervent loyalty-- which doesn't mean he's blindly loyal to every Cardassian, of course. Just the essence of Cardassia herself. Beyond that, he's very much in favor of himself-- he outright warns a character at one point that "I'll go along on your fool's errand, but I want one thing to be perfectly clear...I have no intention of sacrificing my life to save yours! If it looks like we're in danger of being captured, if there's any sign of trouble at all . . . you're on your own." Any and all concepts of honor are thrown under the bus in favor of survival-- honor doesn't do you much good when you're dead, after all.

Being an ex-spy, he's also skilled in various physical abilities-- he holds his own admirably against one of the Federation's more violent officers (who later grudgingly compliments his skills). He holds his own in multiple battles, ducking and dodging laser blasts and holding enemies at bay. Brawn isn't his forte, but the life of a spy isn't always outwitting your enemies.

That being said, he is highly, highly intelligent. He's mentioned more than a few times that his tutelage under his father was one of the most harrowing and difficult years of his life, and that he only survived it because he was so smart. Years after he escaped his father, Tain came out of the blue and attempted to have him killed, only to be subverted by Garak anticipating it. Other examples of his cleverness: he's able to hack into Deep Space Nine's computers, learning any and all interesting information that passes through. Later in the series, he makes a living translating secret, encoded messages on the regular-- a task he excels in.

He has a tight grip on his emotions-- not something immediately apparent, as that doesn't mean he's stoic. He simply cloaks anything that could be perceived as weakness underneath alternating shields of sarcasm and charm. Even when he was dying, he attempted to hide the fact-- Bashir had to fight him repeatedly before he allowed himself to be treated. During that time, it was revealed he was utterly miserable-- and had been for years now. Alone on a station populated by people who outright loathed him, Garak was nearly at his wit's end, desperate for an escape-- of any kind.

All this being said-- Garak is not entirely the cold, opportunistic agent he likes to pretend he is. There are two notable instances where he could have been cruel and instead chose to be kind. The first is the case of Tora Ziyal-- the daughter of one of Garak's most loathed enemies, Dukat. Garak had murdered Dukat's father, and had an ongoing and fierce enmity with Dukat, with both men attempting to murder the other repeatedly. So when Ziyal came on board, she was understandably leery of Garak-- right until he set her at ease with the comment: "You're not going to hurt me, are you?" It was teasing and kind, and later, he added the more sincere: "You have nothing to fear from me." He could have hurt her-- he could have even killed her. But instead, he simply wanted to leave her be, because he recognized the sins of her father were not hers to bear.

Later, Ziyal finds herself attracted to Garak-- despite their severe age difference, he's the only other Cardassian she's gotten to know. Here, too, we see his kindness. Rather than exploit her feelings or use her to get revenge on her father, Garak simply seeks out a friendship with her. At no point during the series does he treat her as anything but a fond friend, and he never once tries to use or hurt her.

The second example comes from Garak's one shot at redemption. At one point in the series, he's offered a chance to reclaim his old life-- to once again become Tain's  protégé, to be welcomed back to Cardassia, to get to erase history. All it takes is betraying a friend-- which he does, happily and without a second thought. However, Tain requires him to torture said friend-- and it's there we see Garak has lost his taste for interrogation. At one point, Tain reminds Garak, he had taken delight in torture and interrogation-- Tain had been forced to restrain Garak at times, so zealous was he at his task. Faced with Odo's interrogation, however, Garak ends up desperately begging his friend to tell him something-- anything-- so that he could end things. In the end, he returns to Deep Space Nine-- still desperately longing for Cardassia, but with the understanding that he could not simply resume his old life. His sadism had abated, filled by something softer and kinder instead. He isn't a paragon of virtue and kindness by any means-- but nor is he the cold-blooded killer he was in the past.

He's also incredibly claustrophobic, for the record.
   Found at [ profile] ankeel
§ Information layout credit goes to [personal profile] lavaliere.
§ Coding done by [personal profile] advancing.
§ Image credit goes to [ profile] dziwaczka

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Feb. 2nd, 2015 12:21 am
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Elim Garak

February 2015

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