The Ferengi homeworld was a damp, swamp-like planet with little or no direct sunlight. It rained more than Seattle during El Nino. There were alligators, crocodiles, and swamp monsters to beat the farm. Moss grew on everything, including people if they stood still long enough.
Yes, it was indeed a dismal place to be hanging out.
But for some people, it was home.
The Ferengi were one of the few capitalist societies left in this part of the galaxy. This was one of a few places that people like her could still be and do what she loved.
Nabiki Tendo sat in her throne-like chair behind her desk as she looked over some of the paperwork turned in from the modest trade business she ran; Tendo Intersystem Commerce Incorporated.
She did not really care for what she saw in the reports. There were too many holes and latinum unaccounted for.
She was going to have to get answers.
She gave the PADD the once over one more time, then turned to a doorway.
“Gor!” she yelled.
A young Ferengi came running into the room and slid to a stop in front of Nabiki’s desk. His face showed the fear he usually felt when Nabiki raised her voice.
“Yes, Miss Tendo?”
“Who did the Romulus to Ferengi Outpost Six run last week?”
Gor quickly pulls a PADD out of his pocket and checks.
“It appears to have been Nard.”
Nabiki nods. “Where is he now?”
“He should be at his house. His next run doesn’t start for a few hours.”
Nabiki nods again. “Thank you.”
Gor nods and quickly scurried off to the next room, gleeful that his head was still attached. Nabiki hit some buttons on her computer. An older Ferengi with a silver sash appeared on the screen. He does not seem to be paying any attention to who has just come up on his communications system.
“This is Liquidator Hort.” The Ferengi dryly stated without ever looking up.
“Yes sir, this is Nabiki Tendo.”
The liquidator looked up and smiled.
“Miss Tendo. Rather early for my bribe, isn’t it?”
Nabiki laughed. “No, not your bribe. But the time for you to earn it.”
The liquidator sat up; completely focused on the conversation.
Nabiki, coolly as always, leaned back. “It appears that I have a transport captain that is skimming profits.”
The liquidator grinned and chortled. “A true Ferengi.”
Nabiki chuckled. “Maybe so, but the problem is that he is skimming MY profits.”
Nabiki threw the PADD down on her desk. It smashed into a million pieces. The liquidator jumped slightly at the sound of the shattering fiberglass, then nods.
“I’ll take care of it.” He stated, ending the communication.
Nabiki grinned and leaned back once more.
“Don’t you feel bad about having people killed?” A soft female voice asked from behind Nabiki.
Nabiki turned and smiled at her.
“Good morning, Kasumi.”
Kasumi Tendo nodded a greeting at Nabiki. She gave Nabiki a cup of tea and then took her own cup around the desk. Kasumi then sat down across from her sister.
“To answer your question,” Nabiki explained between sips “I don’t ask to have them killed. What Hort does to rectify the situation is his business, not mine.”
Kasumi sighed as she took another sip of her tea. She then passed Nabiki a PADD.
“What’s this?” Nabiki asked.
“It’s from Akane. She and Ranma finally got married.”
Nabiki raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
Kasumi nodded an acknowledgment. Nabiki read the PADD for a bit.
“And she didn’t even think of inviting us?” Nabiki cynically asked.
“She says that it was a spur-of-the-moment wedding. They didn’t invite anyone. Just her, Ranma, and another ship’s Captain over subspace.”
Nabiki nodded and continued to read.
“It says here that she is going to be our direction at Deep Space Nine here for a couple of days and she would like to see us.”
Kasumi nodded another acknowledgment.
“I think it would be nice if we went.”
Nabiki agreed. “GOR!”
Gor once again quickly scurried into the room, frightened as usual.
“Do you think you can take care of things around here for a week while we go to Deep Space Nine?” Nabiki asked.
Gor nodded. “Yes ma’am!”
“We’ll be leaving later today. And know that if I return and things are even the slightest bit askew, it’ll be your big-eared ass.” Nabiki threatens, her gaze burning right into Gor.
Gor understood and nodded feverishly to make sure Nabiki knew that.
Nabiki stood and motioned for Kasumi to follow her. The two women walk into Nabiki’s room. Nabiki grabs a suitcase and starts to pack. Kasumi helps by neatly folding up Nabiki’s clothes so that they will fit.
“I suppose you are already packed?” Nabiki asked.
Kasumi giggles and nods. “Yeah, I figured you would want to go, but I was planning on going either way.”
Nabiki continued to grab clothes as she talks.
“I haven’t seen my baby sister in years. What would make you think that I wouldn’t want to go?”
“I know how you are,” Kasumi replied, suspiciously eying a rather seductive lingerie set that Nabiki had handed her to pack. “Rule of Acquisition number six; ‘Never allow family to stand in the way of opportunity.’”
Nabiki laughed. “Well, there is really no new opportunity at this time, so it’s all good.” Nabiki tossed Kasumi one more item before closing and locking her closet. “Besides, that is their rule, not mine. I tend to think of family as an opportunity.”
Kasumi sighed as she loaded the final article of clothing into the suitcase.
Nabiki picked up the case and carried it out. The two ladies walk out into the main lobby of Nabiki’s business. Nabiki looked to Gor.
“We will be at Deep Space Nine if you need me for anything.”
Gor nodded and waved. “Have a safe trip.”
Nabiki nodded as Kasumi waved back to Gor. The pair walked outside into the rain. Kasumi promptly opened an umbrella to protect the pair on the walk to the launching pad.
“Where is your suitcase?” Nabiki asked.
Nabiki chuckled. “So, you were going to take a company ship?”
Kasumi rolled her eyes. “Don’t worry; I was going to take a cargo run as well.”
Nabiki laughed. “That’s my sister.”
The pair continued to walk down the wet pathway to the silver cargo ship sitting on the launch pad. A Ferengi took Nabiki’s suitcase and ran onboard the ship, with Nabiki and Kasumi right behind him.
As the two women are boarding the ship Nabiki stopped.
Kasumi noticed her sister and stopped as well.
Nabiki just shook her head.
“Gor is somewhat of an idiot. Do you mind if we make a quick stop on our way there?”
Nabiki nodded and pulled out a communicator. “Tendo to base.”
“Yes ma’am?” Gor replied on the other end.
“We are going to take Vor’Gal’s shipment with us. Have it loaded please.”
“Yes ma’am.” Gor obediently replied.
Nabiki closed her communicator and looked at her sister.
“Vor’Gal is just a few light-years on the delta side of the Bajoran wormhole. It shouldn’t take us but an extra two or three hours.”
Kasumi nodded and continued into the ship. “I’ll make us some tea.”
Nabiki nodded in the general direction of her sister as she watched several Ferengi bring out large silver containers on anti-gravity pads and begin loading them into the cargo ship.
“This shit is far too expensive for me not to deliver personally,” Nabiki noted as she began to walk in after her sister.
In the cargo hold of the ship, the Ferengi carefully stack the containers and lock them down in magnetic fields. On the top of each of the containers, in both Ferengi and Japanese is a stern warning.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” A giant mouse yelled at Ranma.
Ranma, in casual clothing, is sitting at a table with Akane, Usagi, Makoto, and Gosnell around the table with him.
Ranma looked at the mouse and grins. The mouse placed a pizza on the table and bounded off.
Ranma narrowed his eyes and looks at Usagi.
“Where are we again?”
Usagi, who had already gotten a slice of pizza jammed into her mouth attempted to reply.
Ranma continued to eye Usagi as she quickly chewed and swallowed the slice. She took a big gulp of her beverage and attempted to explain herself again.
“Chuck E. Cheese.”
Gosnell stared at the mouse as it attempted to do some sort of jig to quell a crying baby. Ranma sighed and grabbed a piece of pizza for himself.
“When you said you wanted to take us out for my birthday, I assumed that we were going somewhere…” Ranma attempted to find the words, but Akane beat him to it.
Usagi began to flail her arms towards one side of the arcade-filled room.
“BUT THEY HAVE SKEE-BALL!”
“What the hell is a skee-ball?” Gosnell asked, still watching the oversized rodent do his best to entertain several angry four-year-olds.
Usagi paused for a moment and then began to explain.
“You take the ball and throw it up a ramp. If you get it in the center hole you get fifty points, but if you miss you only get ten.”
Usagi gobbled down another slice and continued.
“Then you get a ticket for every hundred points!”
“Oh, go to hell all of you,” the mouse grumbled as it walked away, leaving the children crying. Gosnell’s eyes followed the mouse across the room it took off its costumed head and threw it on the floor. Several other children nearby scream bloody murder at the giant mouse head rolling around next to them.
“So, what do you do with the tickets?” Akane asked.
“Well, you gather up enough and you can trade them in for cool things like a comb, or a zigly-straw or even a fake mustache!” Usagi giggled.
“You could use a fake mustache, Ranma.” Akane grinned.
The table laughed at Ranma. Ranma just groaned.
“I thought being picked on when it’s your birthday wasn’t allowed.”
The table giggled some more. Akane leaned over and kisses Ranma. Ranma blushes and smiles.
“Hello, Captain,” A female’s voice drew Ranma away from his pizza.
Ranma looked up to see an attractive Bajoran woman standing next to their table. The woman is wearing a red Bajoran military uniform. She smiled as the light shines from her ear jewelry.
Ranma smiled at her and stands.
“Colonel Kira.” Ranma greets her.
Colonel Kira Nerys, the commanding officer of the joint Federation/Bajoran outpost Deep Space Nine, returned the smile.
“Happy birthday Captain and welcome to Deep Space Nine. I trust your stay here has thus far been enjoyable?”
A voice comes over the PA. “The animatronics show will begin in one minute.”
“WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Usagi screams, grabbing a slice of pizza and darting into the room with the animatronic stage.
“Well, for some of us.” Ranma chuckled.
Kira chuckled back and motioned for Ranma to sit back down. She then had a seat in Ranma’s chair.
“I have to say, Captain, I am a little concerned.” Kira grinned at Ranma. “I’ve heard rumors of the special new task force that you command. Is something amiss here?”
Ranma shook his head. “No, we don’t have any ‘official’ business in this area. It’s purely a personal trip.”
Akane took over. “My sisters live on Frenginor. We are meeting them here since our primary assignment is to make sure the Cardassians remember exactly where the border is.”
Ranma eyes Akane. He hoped she was lying. He was under the impression his days of floating up and down the border running scans was over with.
Kira nods and stands up. “If there is anything you need while you are here, let me know.”
Ranma stands, nods, and watches as Kira walks out of the restaurant.
Ranma sits back down and starts to work on another slice of pizza.
Gosnell looks to the Captain.
“How old are you again?”
Rei creeps around a corner of a building and quickly slinks behind a pile of rocks. She pulls out a pair of binoculars and scans the top of a building about 400 meters from her.
“Where the hell is he?” She whispers to herself.
Rei stays behind the rocks and pulls a tricorder from a pocket on the leg of her jumpsuit.
Rei, dressed in the new Neo Special Operations Team jumpsuit, looked rather badass.
Rei’s hair was pulled back in a ponytail. Her jumpsuit resembled those of a late twentieth-century police SWAT team jumpsuit. All black, with dark red trim. Attached to her ear was an earpiece communicator/eyepiece. It began in her ear, curved around the outside of it, ending in front of her right eye. The eyepiece appeared clear from the outside, but the inside acted as a mini tricorder, giving her vital information including the name of the officer communicating with her.
On her collar were sown on black with red trim pips, showing her rank of commander. Covering her torso was a phase-resistant, projectile-resistant flak vest. The vest had several pockets on it for her to carry vital equipment.
Around her waist was a utility belt. On her right side was a holster that carried a new, Neo-issued phase/projectile weapon. It resembled an AD 2004 semi-automatic handgun more than it did a traditional Federation phaser.
On the left side of the belt was a holster for her full-sized tricorder which contained maps and other information too detailed to store in the mini one attached to her head.
On the back of the belt was a mini med-kit, several flexi-cuffs (those plastic handcuffs twenty-first century police use in riots), and what appeared to be some sort of concussion or flash grenade.
Wrapped around her right thigh was another holster. In that was a more traditional-looking Starfleet phaser. The only exception is that it was completely black. On her left thigh was another holster, except this one held mini-transport enhancers.
And of course, she was wearing the traditional military-style boots.
Yup. Rather badass indeed.
The name ‘Shelton’ appeared in her eye.
“Haven’t you found me yet?” A man’s voice whispers in her ear.
Rei grumbles and checks her tricorder again.
“When I play hide and seek with my nephew, he usually finds me,” the voice taunts.
Rei scowls and hits some buttons on the tricorder. It simply beeps at her in a non-compliant way.
“You’ll never find me that way. I’m using a bio-jammer.”
Rei raises an eyebrow. “Are you spying on me?”
“Spying? Me?” the voice replies.
Rei pulls the grenade from her belt, activating it as she did. It chirps and a light starts to flash.
“Jam this,” she grins as she throws the grenade into the open area between the rock and the building. After a couple of seconds, the grenade explodes, sending large plumes of smoke into the air.
Rei takes this opportunity to run. She comes out from behind the rocks and starts to head to another debris pile closer to the building.
“Is that the best you’ve got?” the voice taunts.
Phaser fire erupts from one of the windows. The blasts hit about a half step behind Rei. She reaches the debris pile and slides behind it as the smoke begins to clear.
Rei sees what she is looking for. A small flashing box sits behind the debris pile. She picks it up, hits a few buttons, and the box ceases its blinking.
She checks the tricorder again. This time it complies and shows her a bio sign on the second floor of the building.
“Yes ma’am?” A different male’s voice replies.
“Second floor, east. Cover fire.”
Phaser fire erupts from the rock pile that Rei was once using as shelter. The person in the building fires back. Rei uses this as a chance to get through the front door of the building.
Once inside, Rei quickly checks her map. She starts heading towards the stairwell on the far end of the building. Once she reaches it, she checks the tricorder again and sees that the bio sign has moved to the west end of the building.
“Stay still, dammit,” she grumbles to herself. Checking her map, she notices that there is no stairwell on that end of the building.
She grins as she slowly slinks up the staircase.
Once at the top she drops to the ground and starts to slither her way around the corner.
“GIVE IT UP!” Rei yells. “YOU’RE TRAPPED.”
“SAYS YOU!” The man from earlier yells back. He quickly darts out of his hiding space and runs towards the window.
Rei pulls herself to her knees and fires at him.
But it’s too late.
Glass shatters as the man goes through the window.
“PARKER!” Rei yells.
“I see him!” Parker calls back.
Rei hops up and runs to the window to see her partner converge on the man. He quickly surrenders. Rei laughs.
“I forgot about you,” the man glumly says to Parker.
Parker grins and lowers his weapon.
The man, Lt. Commander Kirk Shelton, looks up to Rei.
Rei smiles as she attaches her phase-rifle to the back of her vest.
“You should never underestimate the tactical prowess of this girl.”
“I will never underestimate you again, Commander,” he grins back.
Rei smugly nods. “Computer end program.”
“NO COMMANDER!” Parker screams.
Neither Parker nor Shelton can watch as the scene reverts to the plain old grid of the holodeck. Neither can watch as the buildings disappear.
Neither can watch as Rei plummets as the floor below her disappeared.
Both flinch as they hear the distinct thud of Rei hitting the holodeck deck, about five meters below her.
“Goddammit” Rei grumbles.
Minako let out a groan as she watched the clock above the main viewer on the bridge of the U.S.S. Sisko. Sitting in the captain’s chair she had the best seat in the house.
It could also be one of the most boring.
She hated being in command when nothing was going on. It was even worse when they were docked. First, there were only a few people on the bridge. One lieutenant manned the operations terminal. An ensign manned the engineering terminal, and another lieutenant manned the tactical station.
Second, the main viewer scenery sucked. Depending on her preference she could watch behind the ship. Nothing out there. Looking forward was a bit more appealing. There she could watch the planet Bajor slowly spin on its axis. Occasionally you could see the wormhole open as a ship proceeded through.
Unfortunately, there was also a big, brown, Cardassian docking mooring right down the middle. The mooring, which was locked to one of the Sisko’s forward airlocks really ruined what could be a picturesque shot.
Minako also had to get used to the new bridge. During the refit for the Sisko’s current purpose, the bridge was replaced. As it used to look like the old, Galaxy-class Enterprise bridge, the new one resembled the bridge you would see on Voyager.
First off, the captain’s chair is no longer elevated above everyone else. Both the captain’s chair and the first officer’s chair are next to each other. There was a retractable display console separating the seats.
Next there was only one station directly in front of her. The helm station spread across in a slight curve. Minako hated this change most of all. More buttons for Ryouga to have to deal with means more chances for him getting them lost. Plus, even though she would deny it forever; she missed sitting next to him.
On her right tucked away in the wall was the engineering station. Usagi now spent most of her on-duty time at this station, rather than main engineering. Right now, just one ensign sat there, watching a display. On her left was the science station, also tucked away neatly in the wall.
Minako’s job now was strictly operations, rather than the former operations/science position she held. Minako still did not know how she felt about that. She was a true science geek at heart, but the thrill of being the operations manager and third in command was a lot of fun.
Directly behind her were the mission operations screens and the master situation display. Both mission operations screens were blank. The master situation display screen showed no activity. While docked the ship was receiving most of its power from the station. The warp core was offline. All weapons and shields were offline. Sensors were offline. The computer core was put to low power mode.
It was so quiet you could hear the air being pushed out of the ventilation systems.
Behind her and to the left was one of the manned stations - the tactical station. The pretty young female lieutenant manning the station sat in her chair, looking almost as bored as Minako. Occasionally a panel chirped letting her know that someone either came on board or left the ship through the airlock.
The final station, behind her and to the right was the operations station. It was the most active station as the man there was required to monitor power levels, life support, and various other tedious things that made up the daily life of an operations officer.
Minako let out a sigh and slumped a bit in her chair, her red and black Starfleet uniform wrinkling slightly from the move. She eyed the clock for a moment.
‘Ten more minutes,’ she thought to herself. ‘Then some other chump can sit here and do nothing for eight hours.’
Minako’s communicator chirped.
“Hey, are you off work soon?” a familiar male voice on the other end asked.
“Yeah, ten minutes, why?”
Ryouga groaned at the empty bar. Before calling Minako he had cursed the name of Gosnell for shutting the place down.
All for Ranma’s birthday too.
Ranma wasn’t that important! At least that was Ryouga’s opinion on it all.
“The lounge is closed down. I wanted to see if you wanted to go on to the station with me. I’ve heard some good things about Quark’s, a bar there.”
“Sure,” Minako replied. “Want me to meet you there?”
Ryouga shifted uncomfortably. “I’d really rather wait for you.”
A chuckle comes across Ryouga’s communicator. “I guess Deep Space Nine is a rather big station.”
Ryouga nods, not really caring that Minako cannot see. “Meet you at the airlock in fifteen minutes?”
“Sure,” Minako acknowledges. The communication is closed and Ryouga grins.
“You have girlfriend now?” A squeaky female voice asks.
Ryouga turns to see Shampoo standing in the doorway. Shampoo was dressed very casually, wearing only a short Chinese dress that really left little to the imagination.
“Uh, Commander. Hello,” Ryouga nervously stuttered doing his damnedest to keep his eyes - up. Not that her low neckline made up any safer than down…
Shampoo walks into the lounge and quickly sizes up Ryouga. She grins at him. “Care for drink?”
“The lounge is closed,” Ryouga notifies her.
Shampoo shrugs and walks around the bar. She quickly picks the lock on Gosnell’s liquor cabinet and pulls out a bottle of Vodka. She then orders two glasses of orange juice from the replicator.
“Nothing ever really closed,” she grins as she pours some of the vodka into the orange juice.
Shampoo hands one to Ryouga walks back around the bar. She takes a seat. Ryouga does likewise and sits next to her.
“Everyone finding love except Shampoo,” She sighed.
Ryouga takes a sip of his drink and curiously eyes Shampoo.
“Don’t you still have a thing for Ranma? I mean, I see you flirting with him all the time.”
Shampoo sighed once again. “Ranma lost cause. Shampoo only play to mess with Akane.” She sips her drink for a moment before slyly grinning at Ryouga. “Do you still love Akane?”
Ryouga starts to choke on his drink. Shampoo watches with concern as Ryouga regains his composure.
“Love?” he stammers. Shampoo knew how he had felt for so many years. He knew that there was absolutely no point in trying to lie to her.
“I guess I do. But I guess she has made her decision.”
Shampoo nods and takes another sip.
“You love Commander Aino?”
Again, Ryouga begins to cough and choke on his drink. He eventually pulls himself together and shyly looks away from Shampoo.
“I-I wouldn’t call it love…” Ryouga pauses. “We’re just friends. We like to hang out.”
Shampoo nodded. “And have sex?”
Ryouga wasn’t taking a drink, but his face turned a bright shade of red.
“What? Who? HUH?” Ryouga stammered. “Who told you that?”
“Shampoo can tell,” She grinned. “Shampoo no dummy. I know how different you two act around each other.”
“Different?” Ryouga pondered.
Shampoo slammed the rest of her drink. She stood, clumsily patted Ryouga on the back, and picked up the bottle of Vodka.
“Have fun at Quark’s tonight,” She giggled as she walked out of the bar, stealing Gosnell’s vodka bottle in the process.
Ryouga finished his drink and stood. He walked to the doorway and began to head towards the airlock.
“How different?” he asked himself.
Ryouga reached the turbolift and hit the call button. After a moment the lift opens, and he steps inside.
“Please be more specific,” the computer demands. “The U.S.S. Sisko has four airlocks.”
Ryouga groans. “Do you do this just to annoy me?”
Ryouga sighs. “The airlock that is attached to the station.”
The computer chirps. “Forward airlock two.”
The lift begins to move down towards the location of the airlock. After a short trip, the lift doors open.
Ryouga steps out and walks the – thankfully - short distance to the airlock. After a couple of minutes of waiting Minako walks up and grins at him. Ryouga grins back.
“Hey,” Minako says.
“Hey yourself!” Ryouga grins.
The pair stands at the airlock in silence for a moment. Minako is the first to break the silence.
Ryouga nods and motions for Minako to go in front of him.
“Ladies first,” he grins.
Minako laughs and grabs Ryouga’s arm.
“No need to disguise your lack of directional prowess as chivalry.”
Ryouga blushes as Minako wraps her arm around Ryouga’s.
“I won’t lose you,” she chuckles as the pair walk into the airlock and onto Deep Space Nine.
“The shipment will be here soon, yeah?” a raspy-voiced man asks another man who is simply staring out the window.
Through the window is a purple-green planet the ship the men are on is orbiting.
The second man looks at his partner and smiles. He walks over to the captain’s chair on the bridge of his ship. The ship is darkly colored, with very few lights. Most of those are coming from the bridge displays and soft lighting in the ceiling.
Both men are wearing dark blue military-style uniforms. Both are also armed.
The second man has a seat in his chair. The first has a seat in the chair next to him and continues to wait for a response.
“Soon,” the second man finally states. “According to the bill of lading, the ship is leaving Frenginor now. It should be here in a little over a day.”
“A DAY?” The first loudly asks.
Some of the other men manning stations on the bridge of the ship look back to see what all the commotion is about. The first man glares at them. They all resume their own work.
“You worry too much, T’Sol. We have plenty of time.”
T’Sol groans. “The sixth fleet will not be out of Sol for long. We don’t have as much time as you’d like to think we do.”
The second man chuckles as he scratches the tip of one of his pointy ears.
“Old friend you haven’t changed a bit. You are still as impatient as the first time I met you.”
“Vor’Gal, this isn’t the playground, and we are not waiting for you to get off the swing.” T’Sol leans into his friend.
“This is a military operation that we are launching. Timing is critical.”
Vor’Gal grins and pats T’Sol on the shoulder.
“WE are not launching anything.”
Vor’Gal stands up and walks to the view screen. He cups his hands behind his back as he looks at the planet 6000 kilometers below him.
“Human terrorists are launching a suicide strike again Vulcan interests, which will promptly be retaliated against by the Vulcan High Command.”
Vor’Gal laughs madly as he walks back over to his seat.
“The days of the human occupation of Vulcan are over with! It’s time to remind them who the superior species is!” Vor’Gal looks to T’Sol. “Time? My friend, the only ones who are going to have a problem with time are the Humans.”
Vor’Gal stops laughing and begins to watch the starfield on the ship's view screen. His expression turns to a very narrow grin.
“Resistance is logical.”