Chapter 6 - Three-Hour Tour (Part One)

Njessa looked over the team assembled, “You know the parameters of the mission, find a source of dilithium and find out about what hostile groups we are likely to encounter.  Be they aggressive Ferengi, Orion or other pirates, or scouts from rival power blocs.  We need as much information as we can get while giving away as little as we can of our current situation.”

She stepped over to stand in front of Tomaasz, today dressed in Command red, “Thank you for changing your uniform, Tomaasz, we do not want to remind the Ferengi that you are an expert in this field.  If you wish to change back afterward, I understand,” she added with a smile.

“Any last-minute questions?”

The Caitian smiled in return. “The less they suspect the better. No questions from me at the moment. Though I admit I do look forward to returning to the ship with a load of parts to reassemble.” His tail made an amused curlique.

Standing just behind Tomaasz was Kyle, a small smile on his freshly shaven face, wanting to look his best and less like a stressed officer. His eyes glancing around the team, he had utter confidence in each of them, but himself? At least the junkyard should have plenty of distractions, he tries to remind himself before speaking up.

“Do we have any specific bargaining chips should they want collateral or just try to back out of those types of deals?” Kyle asked.

“For that matter, what do we have to trade in general?” Mira added.

“We have a small chest of latinum but best not to let them know that,” said Njessa with a smile.  “It will go fast enough if we have to spend it.  We can offer news, information, and replicated items, especially medical-related ones.  Any technology we hand over will be thoroughly black-boxed so that it cannot be reverse-engineered but you do not need to let them know that.”

“Mum’s the word,” Nailah agreed as she fastened a necklace holding a homemade good luck charm around her neck. “And if we run into trouble…?” She studied the claw on her left index finger.

“The Tanjura will be standing by if needed,” said Njessa.  “But I have trouble believing the Ferengi would risk something as costly as a confrontation with a Starfleet cruiser.”

“We all have our combadges too, barring them blocking our comms we’ll at least be in contact with each other.” Kyle offered up. He wasn’t expecting a fight- he himself wasn’t a fighter, but he’d have his team’s back.

“Physically threatening would-be customers is bad for business,” said Mira, hoping to offer some assurance.

“That it is. Besides,” Tomaasz added with an enigmatic smile, “I doubt the outpost’s security is eager to stir up any conflict.”

“No profit in it usually,” said Njessa.  “Now, go on, it would reflect poorly on Starfleet if you were late.”

Jason took a moment to read through the additional details, the ship was able to gather while they were awaiting their formal arrival at the station.  He was attempting to reveal patterns in their security or arrival protocols, that might help them with their task at hand.  He came out of the moment, looking at the Commanding Office, “Of course, Captain” he nodded.

Kyle nods at Njessa, “We’ll be on our best ‘Starfleet’ behavior Captain.”


On the Station.

Govitz, a senior assistant, wearing a very expensive Ferengi cut suit with a latinum-hilted disruptor at his side.  Tall for a Ferengi and with exceedingly white and straight teeth.  He waited for the Federation group to arrive for the tour.

A Klingon of average size wearing recently polished battle gear served as his assistant and probably bodyguard.

“Welcome, welcome!” said Govitz spotting the Starfleet personnel.  “I am Govitz, I oversee the shipyard and today, I will be your guide.  We have ships from across local space, all for sale should you see something you are interested in.”

Mira forced a smile, trying to look excited. She even was kind of excited by the thought of seeing new tech from an unexplored part of the galaxy. But she also wanted more sleep and for her pounding headache to go away. She had, indeed, grabbed a shower and a nap since her escapades on the station, but…ugh.

“Come this way, there are complimentary drinks, two per person,” said Govitz

“You’re spoiling us,” Nailah dryly.

Nailah looked around, as she moved to follow the Ferengi. The scent of metal, old wiring, and countless species seasoned the recycled air. A cacophony of merchant barkers and haggling customers dominated the space, and Nailah tilted her ears back to dampen the noise. The station’s architecture boasted old artistry in its construction partially masked by a patchwork of pragmatic repairs to its structure, both inviting her to marvel at what it had once been while warning her that it had surrendered to time and reality.

“Have you been working at this station for a long time?” Nailah asked.

“Yes, yes, since it was opened,” said Govitz with a broad and insincere smile.  “Qualik is a brave pioneer in opening new markets and providing opportunity to trade to all.”

The Klingon rolls his eyes but does not otherwise comment.

Jason was unsure of the Klingon who didn’t seem to have any interest in the situation.  However, he had to be the muscle for the Ferengi.  It was odd, however, to see a Klingon be a hired hand for someone else.  He took a few mental notes as they passed through a few different hallways.

“Our tour vessel will be familiar to you all, it is a reconditioned Starfleet runabout,” said Govitz.  “We have improved on the standard of luxury, obviously.”

“Oh?” Kyle speaks up, from his wandering eyes between Govitz and the Klingon. The differences between their dress, the seemingly high-quality suit and polished armor with corresponding weapons, gave him a sense of nostalgia. So far even distance can’t change old traditions. “Is luxury a high priority on this side of space?” He asked with a smile, like he already knew the answer and was hoping he would get confirmation.

“There is always a demand for luxury, my friend,” replied Govitz, though this time his smile seemed at least more genuine.  “And we provide it here, from food and drink to accommodations to custom outfitting of starships.  We have it all.”

“Sounds like you are positioned right in the middle of a great route” he offered softly to the Ferengi having been listening to all of the things that he was able to offer.  There must be profit in the area in order for him to be offering the variety of materials and amenities.  “Do you have regular customers that come by often or is a variety of merchants?”  I am sure that a businessman like yourself must be highly coveted” he was now appealing to his ego.

“Yes, we are in the process is setting up regular trade routes,” replied Govitz with a smile.  “It has the potential to be a great source of profits.”

Kyle’s smile grew, “well then I’m certainly excited to see your ‘upgrades’, I know some in engineering would be too.” He said referring to both the luxury and the mention of ‘outfitting starships.’ He wondered if there was a way to fit another power source for the Tanjura, if they couldn’t find the dilithium. He figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask, maybe he could also find a way to ask Tomaasz as well if it would even be a good idea. But he’d wait until some level of privacy away from the Ferengi.

“So which way to the illustrious runabout? Pardon me if I’m rushing.” Kyle asked with a layer of politeness that he’d not even shown to his crew, a type of preformative you’d typically see when someone is trying to suck up to the other. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t. Either way he has to give us the tour. He thought as he clasped his hands behind his back.

“We call her the Mossti, named after a small and nimby fish of Ferengar,” said Govitz with a gesture.  The Mossti was painted a bright copper with the name in Ferengi script in glossy black.  The door opened and the inside was a garish bright purple with silver accents, the seats were overstuffed, the lighting muted.  “Come aboard, get comfortable.”

Tomaasz stepped into the hatch, not quite edging his friend aside. His eyes quickly scanned the gaudy interior. Finding no threats (not that he had really expected to, but old habits die hard), he relaxed slightly. Trying to look casual, he sauntered the rest of the way in beside Kyle. His assessing glance turned into a bemused head shake as the decor registered.

“It’s certainly opulent,” he remarked blandly.

“It is a bit much for my tastes,” said Govitz gesturing the others in, “but Qualik insisted, only the best for our visiting dignitaries.”

The Klingon let his distaste for the whole “luxury” ideal be visible in his expression.  He moved to the back of the cabin and pointedly stood, ignoring the overstuffed chairs.

Kyle stayed near Tomaasz, as he took in the sudden change in environment, in its dressing. Which is how it felt, like a holosuite costume. Something trying so hard to be real, but ultimately an illusion. As his eyes trailed over the silver, he still couldn’t deny the slight amount of awe he felt. He tried to gauge his friend’s reaction, to only look away with a sudden thought- do Caitains have a different color spectrum than Humans? He went to sit down instead.

“It’s not lacking in any regard,” Kyle remarked to Govitz, still clearly taking in the interior. As he tried to get comfortable on the slightly bouncy seat, he could appreciate the dim lighting though. Sometimes on the Tanjura he swears the ‘normal’ setting was switched with ‘bright’.  “Do you give these kinds of tours often?” He asked.

“Yes, whenever we have new clients arrive who deserve the best,” said Govitz taking a seat.  “We were certainly not expecting to see Starfleet, our best estimates said it would be another decade before you made it this far.  Is there anything in particular that has brought you so far, so fast?”

“Love of exploration,” Mira answered. “Getting back to the ideals of seeking out new worlds and new life. That is the desired purpose of Starfleet. Why did you think we wouldn’t care to come out here?”

“No, no, we always expected you,” clarified Govitz with an insincere smile, “just not so soon.  After all, colonists from the Federation are beginning to find places to settle in this sector and once they arrive, can Starfleet be far behind?”

Kyle seemed to nod his head in agreement with Govitz, he couldn’t deny the uniform he was wearing or the ship waiting for them. “Well, Starfleet does its best to be responsible for the Federation’s citizens. Hopefully, they’ve left a good enough first impression for our arrival.” He smiled, close-lipped.

“Please take your seats and we will get going on the tour,” said Govitz.  A moment later, the runabout’s door closed and it detached from the station, as it did so, the walls, roof, and floor seemed to melt away into only a suggestion revealing the station and space dotted with ships all around them.


[to Part Two!]