The Great Ancients
During a visit to the Gallery by an elderly Romulan Senator, an interruption from Brek’s holo-assistant leads Brek to make a sales-promise Brek might not be able to deliver on…
Posted on 17 Nov 2022 @ 3:41pm by Brek – Timeless Treasure Art Gallery
Location: Promenade – Timeless Treasure Art Gallery
1652 words – 3.3 OF Standard Post Measure
The gallery’s visitor turned out to be an old Romulan Senator. The veteran, incredibly tall, and refined and slow, left Brek with no illusions. This visit would bring him no future prosperity. All that would be in store for him, for the next hour or so, maybe more, would be a tedious talk about the past and how much better things were back then. And Thitur (such was his name) wasn’t speaking of life prior to 2387. Oh no, that would be too common. His interest was in the Great Ancients, Vorta Vor, and the myth of Ganmadan. Every time he mentioned them, the Senator made a wide motion with his right arm to emphasise his words. To Brek he sounded like a conductor who had lost his audience a long time ago.
“Total destruction of all lifeforms will happen again,” Thitur told him sternly, once they had reviewed all the paintings on display.
“Everything must come to an end,” Brek agreed prudently. He was used to old folks and their doom, for his grandmother was sometimes taken too by the grim promises of prophecies. “Have you seen anything that you like among those artists?”
The senator looked down at him and Brek felt like a toad trying to communicate with a mountain. “Not quite. You are favouring young painters, I see. Romulan citizens who have barely lived at all… What do they know about life? Nothing, and what they think they know, I fear they extrapolate.”
“What are you seeking, then, Senator?”
“I seek true value Mister Brek. Preferably amongst the classics. You have no such things as ‘The Sacrifice of the Centurion’ or “The Fall of Freljord’. You don’t even have a portrait of our beloved Ambassador Nanclus. Yet he belongs to modern times.”
Brek blinked. If he recalled correctly, Nanclus’ debatable act of valour had occurred in 2293. In his mind this wasn’t modern or even yesterday. It was old and dusty and best forgotten.
“Ah… you seem to prefer dark themes, Senator Thitus.”
“I don’t. My wife does. I fancied, wrongly it seems, that I would find a gift for her here. But it doesn’t look like it will be the case. What you have on offer is too… vigorous and animated… I may have to go to Surat Gallery, I heard good things about them.”
This was a provocation and Brek felt its sting. “Yet you visited me first, Senator.”
“My curiosity is not yet moribund. And what will we find here?” Thitur asked, giving the impression he was a great teacher and Brek happened to be a mere lobelling, ignorant in all things. They had stopped at the only empty spot in the gallery.
“Ah! This is the place I reserve for the exhibition of a Ferengi painting. A beautiful landscape called ‘Swamp Ogogpo’. I have yet to acquire it but…”
“Say no more,” Thitur interrupted him, his voice as sad as his expression. “The name itself brings images of absurd instability.”
“It is a painting full of life,” Brek inadvertently said. Thitur retaliated with a magnificent glare, meant to shame the whole Ferengi community. Only, shame wasn’t experienced often among the sons of Ferenginar. For many the concept didn’t even exist. “I’ll tell you what!” Brek resumed. “Tell me which painting you think your wife would desire the most, and I’ll make sure to obtain it, at a decent price. How’s that?”
“At a decent price, you say?” There was mockery in the Senator’s voice. “Mister Brek, do I look like a risk-taker?”
“Quite the opposite. But you are here, talking to a Ferengi… Or is it that your little venture inside my gallery was just to torment me? Maybe you dislike my species so much that you thought it would be a fine idea to waste my time?”
“How entertaining it is, to see that you actually assume that every visitor will purchase something from you, Mister Brek. For this to happen, you will have to… what is it that young people say?… up your game. In the meantime, I bid you…”
The Senator was about to leave but Brek effectively blocked his exit by placing himself in front of the gallery’s doors. “What if I was to promise to deliver ‘The Fall of Freljord’, fully wrapped, as a sumptuous gift should be, to your quarters by the end of the month?”
Holo-assistant Nyasha chose to interrupt the dying conversation at this moment. She was holding a tray of aromatic teas and her delicate smile, Brek saw, had a little effect on the old Senator, for instead of another crusty remark, he faltered.
“You have… quite a selection, I see, young lady…” the Senator said with what might pass for a slight smile.
Nyasha smiled some more. “This is thanks to Mister Brek, who knows all the best beverages available in space. What would you prefer, Senator? We have, for instance, blue tea from the Kae’raktar Mountains.”
“I don’t mind if I do…” He took a cup, and a slow and minute sip; most certainly the habit of a Romulan who’s afraid that someone might try to poison him. “Hm… not bad. Now, if your Mister Brek had in his possessions, a painting of those mountains, framing the valley of Chula, he would have a buyer.”
“Is it that this valley has a special meaning to you, Senator?” Nyasha ventured.
It wasn’t a particularly bright thing to say, considering the fate of Romulus, but Thitur bowed his head slightly, and his little smile retained what vague warmth it possessed.
“You are probably too young to realise that what no longer exists is often cherished without restraints.” The Romulan produced a dramatic sigh. “I met my dear wife at the foot of those mountains. There was a charming holiday resort once, in that area. A secluded place where one could…” His vision blurred, but it only lasted a moment. Thitur soon regained control of himself by readjusting the robes he was wearing (there were easily three of them, in delicate fabric, that bulked his frame. Without those, Brek felt sure the mighty Senator would look like a stick insect. A tall one sure enough, but a stick-bug all the same). “Hm… I’m sure you get the picture. Under the veneer of our responsibilities, we sentient beings are all the same. We seek the sympathies of like-minded people. And the benevolence of a lady is, as Mister Brek would say, priceless.”
Brek tried to keep quiet, but he found this interaction between the old Romulan and young Nyasha, cringeworthy. So, instead of grinding his teeth one more second, he spoke up: “Mister Brek could also say that as diverting as Miss Nyasha is, she is also Holo. That will be all for now, Nyasha,” he added, to send her away.
“Holo?” Thitur asked, visibly not with it, as his eyes followed the black woman.
“Yes. She is my holo-assistant. Every Ferengi ought to have one, to boost sales. See, she almost sold you a view of the Kae’raktar Mountains. I programmed her to perfection.”
“Oh… I mean, Ah…. That is to say… You misled me, Mister Brek.”
“I did nothing of the sort.” Brek countered. “You did that to yourself, my dear Senator. You saw what you wanted to see. There is a bright side though. Nothing happened. You didn’t try to seduce a young woman, and so I have no reason to go to your wife to tell her an interesting story. How dreadful that would have been. You almost put yourself into a position where I could have easily blackmailed you.”
“The person who did that and survived, is not born yet, Mister Brek.”
The Senator’s tone was glacial, but Brek decided to keep a cheerful appearance. “No need to proffer threats. I’m perfectly aware of the multiple skills possessed by past, present and future members of the Romulan Senate. I was only trying to edge you towards a new kind of trade. An absolute and beautiful bargain, and also a one-time only offer.”
“If what you are going to say next has even half the whiff of coercion, you won’t wake up tomorrow, Mister Brek.”
“Rest assured: I’m not as foolish as I look. Here is what I propose: take it or leave it as you please.” Here, Brek lowered his voice. “In exchange for an agreed amount of latinum, you may, at your leisure, spend time with Nyasha whenever you want.” Thitur gave him a murderous ‘who-do-you-take-me-for’ look, and Brek promptly added: “You know, to chat with her. In plain daylight, here, in the gallery, with tea and crumpets.”
“Or biskits… biscuits, whatever you like, Senator.”
“Keep your mouth shut. This is what I would like you to do, Brek.” Thitur took a deep breath, brushed his top robe as if he had been splashed by something vile, and he added. “If you can procure me ‘The Fall of Freljord’ at a price that is as attractive as the holo woman you entertain…”
“I don’t entertain her.”
“I asked you to be quiet. I may just forget to spread rumours about your eccentric and deceitful character, Brek.”
“You would blackmail me?”
“Nothing would be easier. I’ve even thought, on numerous occasions, that the Great Ancients created your species just for that purpose. The Ferengi are loudmouthed, but quite easy to manipulate.”
“This is plain slander, and very inappropriate, Senator. It would also never work, because I’m not at all like you described.”
“‘The Fall of Freljord’, by the end of the month, Mister Brek. I shall be very cross if you disappoint my wife.”
And just like that, he was gone, leaving Brek pretty much flummoxed.