Garak grew up believing that his father was a man named Tolan, who was in fact his uncle. Tolan first introduced Garak to the teachings of the forbidden Cardassian religion, the Oralian Way. Garak learned the truth about his parentage from Tolan on the old man's deathbed.
Garak grew up in the home of ‘Uncle’ Enabran Tain where he lived with his mother and father in Tain’s basement apartment. Tain would often take Elim on taxing excursions and kept tabs on his school work punishing him when he failed.
The Bamarren Institute
When Garak reached the Age of Emergence he was sponsored to go to the Bamarren Institute for State Intelligence to begin his education as a security operative and learned the skills he would use in his career with the Obsidian Order. That kind of education was normally reserved for children of the ruling elite but a few promising children from the lower classes were admitted, Garak was among them.
At the Institute Garak was assigned the designation Ten Lubak as using real names was forbidden. After his first training session in the pit Garak met a female student, Palandine.
In Garak’s first wilderness exercise he was captured quickly and was put in solitary confinement as punishment. In his second wilderness exercise he caught a Desert Regnar which he named Mila and used him both as an inspiration in an ability to hide and as a guide to sense hunting parties and evade them. He was never caught in a hunt again and gained quite a reputation for doing so. As he progressed through the first level Garak became characterised for being a resourceful and serious student only equalled in Lubak group by Eight Lubak. Threatened by Garak’s obvious ability One Lubak and his subgroup moved to cut off Garak from the rest of the group, though Garak was quite content to separate himself off for anyone else without there intervention using Mila’s inspiration to hide himself even in plain site. However even those skills of stealth drew peoples attention, so much so that One Charaban the leader of the second level students requested Garak’s help in the planning of a mock battle competition between the second and third level students. Garak worked hard in the preparations and his only respites were to spend time with Palandine who introduced him to the poetic works of Maran Bry.
Garak enlisted Eight Lubak into the efforts and the battle was a great success if a little painful for some participants, Garak ended up using a walking cane for some time after but his strategies worked perfectly. One Charabans position of power was secure and Garak was expecting to be rewarded but was betrayed by Charaban resulting in him returning to solitude for much of the rest of first level. At the end of first level he went to the lower prefect’s office for reviewal in the hope his efforts and reputation would move him up from the ten position in the group but instead found himself in the company of Enabran Tain who informed him he would not be progressing to the second level but would instead be reassigned to another school. Garak had time to say goodbye to Eight and Palandine and returned Mila to the wild before leaving the next day. (DS9 Novel: A Stitch in Time)
The Obsidian Order
After leaving the institute Garak returned to his childhood home to work with his farther, in this short period Tolan gave Garak his first glimpse of the unorthodox teachings of the Oralian Way. To maintain his physical skills Garak found a training area near by and practiced regularly, often accepting and inevitably winning in challenges from ex-soldiers and martial students, he soon found himself teaching basic classes. This happy life was short lived, Garak was taken by his mother to the Obsidian Order to begin his work as a junior probationist.
Garak was again given a new designation, the code name regnar, he was no longer to live at home, but instead was given residence in the Torr Sector and was only allowed to visit his family on holidays. He was to tell others only that he worked as an research analyst in the Hall of Records. He was given a comm chip by his superior Limor Prang which provided him with his life details and orders.
Garaks first instructions were to go to a meetings of his cell, a newly formed group of nine other Obsidian Order operatives, this was the first and last time the entire cell would meet. One member of the cell was Maladek the former One Ramaklan of the defeated third level students at Barraman.
Garaks first assignment was to observe and provide credibility in an operation at the Cardassian Embassy on Tohvun III in Federation border negotiations. His cover was the identity of Alardig Ra’orn the youngest son of Krai the consul at the embassy. Maladek was to be his older brother Begom and Oonal an older more experienced agent was to be Krai.
On Tohvum he soon ‘befriended’ a Human Hans Jordt, who invited Garak to play football, which through mathematical analysis Garak mastered after one missed goal. Garak who was disturbed by Hans subtitlely probing questions and Maladek’s erratic behaviour consulted Limor Prang who was posing as an embassy employee, he was instructed to keep tabs on Maladek. Maladek was attempting to defect and bring down Garak in the process, but by the manipulation of higher powers in the organisation Garak managed to convince Hans Jordt who was a federation operative that Maladek was unreliable, preventing the defection, maintaining the cover of the operation and disrupting the talks. Maladek subsequently committed suicide in disgrace.
Garak's career with the Order took him all over the Cardassian Union and beyond, each progressive mission taking him further away; Loval, Celtris III, Lamenda Prime, Kora II, Orias III. He eventually became Tain's most trusted and dependable operative. On a mission on Tzenketh he became trapped in a small room, a memory which would haunt him for years to come leaving him severely claustrophobic. It was only towards the end of his life that Mila felt it appropriate to contact Elim to get him to visit the dying Tolan. On his death bed Tolan told Elim the truth of his parentage and gave him his Hebitian mask and a bag of Edosian Orchid tubers. Garak searched for a place to grow his orchids and eventually found an apartment with a modest plot of land in the home of Rokan Du’Lam. He also took to visiting the Tarlak sector to take inspiration from Tolans orchids, here he first reencountered Paladine with her and Barkan Lokar’s (the former One Charaban) daughter Kel. After that first encounter his wonderings lead him into an Oralian Way meeting. In his time on Cardassia he maintained various residences leaving crops of Edosian Orchids in his wake, around this time Elim also developed a passion for well tailored clothes and would spend much time deciding what to wear and pack for his mission.
Over the years Garak often visited the Tarlak sector in the hope of once more sighting Palandine, he did so several times, but realizing Kel was getting too old for playing in the park he decided to follow Palandine home. She made contact after years of being entirely aware he was watching her and the two begin an illicit affair. Palandine was a member of the Oralian Way.
Garak was dispatched to Romulus where he took on the identity Elim Vronok, the gardener at the Cardassian Embassy. His mission was to assassinate Tain’s arch-nemesis proconsul Merrok, to do so the Romulan Senator Pelek requested his services to try and grow the Edosian Orchid in her arboretum, they would then pollinate the orchid with the White Star of Night to create a deadly toxic bloom. After three months cultivating the orchid, Garak and Pelek's gardener Crenal took the orchids to be planted in Merrok's garden, Merrok himself being a keen gardener. Two days later Merrok was found dead. (DS9 Novel: A Stitch in Time)
A Fall From Grace
Garak's speciality for the order was as an interrogator. One such interogation cost the life of Procal Dukat, the father of Gul Skrain Dukat. Garak and Dukat remained bitter enemies until Dukat's death in 2375.
When Tain found out about Elim and Palandines relationship, he ordered Garak to end it immediately, and never see Palandine again. Garak went to see her anyway, and was captured by Lokar. The resulting confrontation ended with Lokar's death.
Tain saw Garak's disobdience as a betrayal, and did nothing to help him with his resulting legal troubles. Garak was exiled from Cardassia, never to return on the pain of death.
Lokar had served under Skrain Dukat, and Dukat had Garak 'assigned' to his command on the space station, Terok Nor in the Bajor sector. Dukat saw to Garak's humiliation by assigning him the tasks of a humble tailor. Garak was at first resistant and spent a great deal of time ‘preparing’ the shop until Dukat threatened to have him working alongside the Bajoran slaves in the mining operations. Garak arranged for Quark to supply him with the necessary equipment and decided to take his punishment as a challenge, determined to become a vital element of Terok Nor. The business developed quickly and Garak was soon charging high prices for his repair work and began to design clothing for sale.
Deep Space Nine
After the Cardassian withdrawal, the Bajoran Provisional Government requested relief and humanitarian aid from the United Federation of Planets and gave occupancy of the station to Starfleet. Starfleet renamed the station Deep Space 9.
Garak lived on the station for several years providing information to the Cardassian Central Command, but when Dukat allied Cardassia with the Dominion, Garak chose to aid Starfleet in ridding his homeworld of the Dominion presence.
In 2374, Garak assisted Captain Benjamin Sisko in his attempt to get the Romulans to join the war effort against the Dominion. Soon after, Garak accompanied Sisko to Earth, where an attempt on Garak's life was made by a man named Thomas Roeder..(DS9 novel: Hollow Men)
Return to Cardassia
Garak was forced to work with Damar in the year 2375, when he, Commander Kira Nerys of Starfleet, and Constable Odo assisted Damar with his resistance movement against the Dominion. The group eventually made its way to Cardassia itself for the final days of the war. The group hid in the basement of the late Enbrin Tain and were assisted by Mila. (DS9 Prophecy and Change short story: "Face Value")
Damar was killed storming the Dominion's headquarters after the Vorta Weyoun ordered Lakarian City destroyed. Garak and Kira made it to the Dominion's command center just before the Dominion's surrender. (DS9 novelization: What You Leave Behind)
Following the end of the war, Garak began attending gatherings of the Oralian Way led by Palandine's daughter, Kel. He has also been helping to build the fledgling democratic government established by Alon Ghemor. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel, A Stitch in Time.)
When Captain Jean-Luc Picard contacted Cardassia in May of 2376 in hopes of getting Cardassian assistance in the Gateways crisis, Garak had to politely refuse, as the post-war Cardassia didn't have the resources to spare. (TNG novel: Gateways book three Doors Into Chaos)
Soon after the Gateways crisis, Garak travelled to Earth in hopes of returning to Cardassia with more Federation relief efforts. (novel: The Brave and the Bold)
Garak assisted Bajoran Vedek Yevir Linjarin in finding the last of the missing Bajoran Orbs, which were being held in an abandonerd Obsidian Order lab. (DS9 novel: Mission Gamma: book three, Cathedral)