Cerberus languishes in a cage in a street bazaar, an activity
which he has come to think of as his job. It isn't a very fun job.
It's usually hot and dusty work, and the cage has lately become too
small for him - he's a growing dog, after all, not really a puppy any
more. Besides which, only on the very rarest occasions does a
person's fingers ever poke through the bars to graze his head with
anything like a hint of the affection he craves. More likely they
keep their hands well away, and if they poke anything into the cage
it'll be a stick, which isn't very affectionate at all. If he moves
toward anyone he thinks looks promising, as much as he can move at all
in his cramped cage, everyone around usually draws back in full
Cerberus has three heads.
It isn't his -fault-, exactly, and it's not as if his other
heads really -do- anything, but there it is. He's a three-headed
dog. Some genesplicer somewhere thought it would be fun to imitate a
Greek myth - and if Cerberus were a little smarter, he'd realize how
lucky he is that the guy didn't read his Bulfinch's closely enough to
know that the eponymous mythic beast also had a snake for a tail and a
bunch more for a mane - and these street peddlers assumed that someone
would be struck by the novelty and pay good credits for such a thing,
especially in that "adorable three-headed puppy" phase.
They've been wrong on close to two dozen planets so far, and
now Cerberus, half-grown and rapidly losing whatever puppy cuteness he
might have had, lies uncomfortably in his cage, wondering in his
rather dim canine way why no one wants to be his friend.
MONDAY, MARCH 1, 2410
PORT JERADAR, JERADDO
"You know what we need," Lindsey Willows told her compatriots
as they walked through Port Jeradar's bustling market square, "is a
Stephen Dukat gave her a dubious look. "A mascot?" he said.
"Yeah. You know, like Kaitlyn's generation had Serge. The
Castle needs to have a, a -beast- of -mythic proportions- around to
give it the right ambience."
"Ah," said Dukat, enlightened. Then, adopting a sober mien,
he went on, "And we've lost B'Elanna, more's the pity."
"Steve!" Lindsey objected, swatting her Cardassian classmate
on the shoulder. "That's not nice."
Dukat winced, chuckling. "Ow! I was only joking."
"Well, you make it awfully hard to tell sometimes," the petite
blonde grumped. "Seriously, though. We should see if we can find
something cool for a new Castle mascot."
"What, like another neocat? They're, um, pricey," Tom Palmer
"I was thinking maybe a gryphon," Lindsey said. "School
symbol, you know."
Dukat snorted. "Oh, as if -that- would be affordable."
Tom stopped in front of a cage standing next to one of the
market stalls, his face going slack with surprise. The others didn't
immediately notice and walked on, leaving him behind, so he had to
raise his voice slightly as he said in a flat voice, "Or a
"Not exactly what I had in mind," Lindsey said, turning back
to face him, "but - EEEEEEE!"
Her sudden cry of delight startled her companions, who whirled
as well to see her trotting back to Tom. She knelt down next to the
cage he stood in front of, beaming. "I thought you were speaking
hypothetically! How CUTE is that?!"
Cerberus was slightly taken aback. This was... unaccustomed.
Well, the scream was par for the course, but usually when young humans
screamed at the sight of him, they accompanied it with a bit of the
ol' running away, not toward. He perked up a little bit, raising his
middle head and sniffing. Normally that was enough to send even the
most intrepidly curious urchin bolting for the nearest exit, but the
girl who had crouched by his cage grinned wider, then looked up at the
young man next to her.
"This is -perfect-," she said. "I mean, consider the timing!
Tom, it's -fate-. You can't go against fate," she declared.
Tom looked down at his fellow Duelist's face for a few
moments, then at the dog, then Linday's face, then the dog, then
Lindsey's face. Then he let out a huge sigh. Turning to Dukat, who
was taking the whole scene in with an utterly blank look, he said,
"Go ahead, Steve, you're the treasurer."
Dukat eyed him, then said slowly, "Fine, OK." Turning, he saw
the stallholder, a tall, thin-faced Muun, observing the trio of
Duelists with faint bemusement. "(Well, here's a phrase I never would
have imagined I'd ever say,)" he muttered to himself, then approached
the merchant and said with a smile, "Pardon me, sir - how much for the
"Wow. I can't believe what a bargain we got," Lindsey
observed as the three Duelists and their newly acquired mascot - who
seemed just short of -stunned- to be out of the cage and in the open
air - walked along the path around Lake Jeradar toward the campus of
the Deedlit Satori Mandeville Memorial Institute.
Dukat said, "You know, we've doomed future Duelists to finding
ever-weirder mascots now. Someone 100 years from now is going to curse
us and our three-headed dog."
Lindsey snorted. "You're all lucky I'm my mom's kid instead
of her boss's kid. We'd have Scruffy the Wonder Death Beetle from
Ragol as a mascot."
Tom sighed again. "Boba's going to kill me," he said.
Institute Duelists' Society President Boba Fett happened to be
arriving at the Castle at exactly the same time his fellow Duelists
were, which Tom had been rather hoping wouldn't be the case - but to
his surprise, Fett reacted to their new acquisition with almost as
much glee as Lindsey had.
"Wow!" he said when he caught sight of the creature - now
delightedly lunging about, attempting to investigate everything - at
the end of the leash. Hunkering down, he examined Cerberus more
closely, then laughed as two of the dog's heads tried to lick him
while the third panted cheerfully. Giving the middle head a rub, he
looked up at Lindsey and asked in his mellow Concord Dawn accent,
"Where th'ell'd you find a three-headed Rottweiler? That's
Well, thought Tom, I suppose it stands to reason that he'd be
a fan of genetic engineering.
"Some Muun trader at the street bazaar in Port," Dukat told
Boba. "It appears a gene shop on the Rim sold him a bill of goods.
The poor chap was -desperate- to sell. Apparently Cerberus here has
been scaring off customers everywhere he's gone."
"I can't imagine why," Boba remarked, but there was no sarcasm
at all in his voice. "He's just a big sweetheart. Aren't you,
Cerby," he said, ruffling the center head's ears.
"I figured he'd be our new mascot," Lindsey explained. "Like
Serge was for Kaitlyn and Utena's crew."
Boba grinned. "I think that's a great idea," he said. "Look
at the -paws- on this guy!" he added. "He's going to be a big fella."
"I hope he doesn't -eat- for three," Dukat observed dryly.
"The discretionary fund stretches only so far."
"Hey, you guys," came another voice from the cobbled footpath
leading down Castle Hill to the rest of campus. "How's - what the?"
Dukat grinned at the approaching figure, a Bajoran student
named Nita Daran. "Ah, Daran, you're just in time," he said. "Meet
the Society's new mascot, Cerberus."
Daran crouched down next to Boba. "Why, hello," she said, as
undaunted as her Mandalorian classmate. Cerberus, by now absolutely
glutted with happiness, flopped over on his side, tongues lolling.
Looking up at Dukat, she added, "Shouldn't it be pronounced
"Perhaps," Dukat replied. "Earth myths aren't my strong
subject, and I rather doubt they were our Muun merchant friend's
Daran rubbed the dog's chest for a moment, then asked
offhandedly, "Is he housebroken?"
There was a slightly brittle pause.
"I... ... don't know," Lindsey said.