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Getting ready

Posted on Tue Oct 29th, 2013 @ 2:19am by Jeffrey Tambleton & Lieutenant Lissan zh'Zarath

Mission: Trouble on the frontier
Location: Dopteria system, near Ferengi Alliance
Timeline: About a year previous

Stay neutral in conflicts so that you can profit from both sides: Rule of Acquisition #213

Both Tambleton and Kara were looking decidedly scruffy. Tambleton had not wanted Kara along for these negotiations with the Ferengi but she’s quoted the 74th Rule at him: Knowledge equals profit.

As she’d pointed out, she knew the Rules of Acquisition and he didn’t. That had put him on the back foot from the outset and Kara Mohune was not about to let him recover.

The first thing she’d insisted on was clothing, for which she’d quoted Rule # 47: Never trust a man wearing a better suit than your own. Hence the scruffy outfits.

The negotiations were to be conducted on neutral territory on a small moon orbiting the third planet in the Dopteria system. Again, Tambleton had been forced to acquiesce. He didn’t know this region of space at all, or its inhabitants, so he had no choice but to go with Kara’s judgement. Therefore, he was keeping a meticulous record of proceedings.

Kara, keeping the 51st rule firmly in mind – Never admit a mistake if there's someone else to blame – was doing likewise. Her records however, also recognised the 126th Rule: A lie isn't a lie, it's just the truth seen from a different point of view. Everything, in her records, was subject to interpretation which was why she was making records: plural. The one which was submitted would be the one which closest fitted the truth she wished to portray, not facts.

It would be complete and not subject to alteration after the fact. Alterations are easy to detect and immediately imply the rest of the record is unreliable.

Dopteria System

The moon had little to offer by way of scenery or natural wonders or anything else which might attract notice. That made it ideal for clandestine meetings. Neither side wanted prying eyes looking in; not if they wished to conduct business in the future.

Both sides wanted to conduct business in the future.

For their part, the Ferengi saw no profit in shipping weapons through Federation space to the Cardassians. True, the 62nd Rule held that: The riskier the road, the greater the profit.

Outweighing that was the 125th Rule: You can't make a deal if you're dead.

Better to let these pirates take the fall if anything went wrong. Then they, the Ferengi, could deal with new intermediaries and keep the latinum flowing.

In the old town quarter of Viath, near to one of the main ports on the planet, were a number of shops, inns and homes. Passing trade was good even if the town itself was nothing much to look at. But there was money to be made here if you knew how.

A muddy brown river flowed along the outskirts of the town brushing past some of the shops on the old quay. It wasn't the prettiest of places to stay if you had time to spare whilst waiting for the next transport off planet. The accommodation at the Fallen Flag Inn was decent enough and cheap and was probably the best place to eat according to the Lonely Planet Guide.

Scopas, the owner of the Wells Trading antique shop, looked at the time; another ten minutes and he could leave. He had been here for years and was a stickler for time keeping. He wouldn't close until it was time to just in case he got a sale.

He had sold a lot of his stock in the previous week, including an old dresser that he had had for a few years. Scopas had used it mainly for storage but a sale was a sale no matter what and it was all about making a profit at the end of the day.

He took out the last of the dishes from the dresser and placed them on the old table that was piled high with all the rest of the stuff from inside. After a good polish the old sideboard will look as good as new. Considering it hadn't cost him anything in the first place, Scopas had made a hefty profit on the old piece.

It was time to shut the antiques shop at last. He turned off the lights and turned the sign over on the door to 'Closed'. As he locked the door he thought about his sideline; the one that made him the most profit. Scopas turned from humble antiques shopkeeper to arms dealer in the space of a few minutes.

Scopas took the local transport to the port and picked up his flyer that he affectionately called Daisy (long story). She was old like him and they had been through a lot together but Daisy had never let him down. Old she maybe on the outside with a couple of scuff marks here and there but on the inside she was a different matter altogether.

Anonymity was important to him. More than once a patrol had passed him by without taking a second glance at the decrepit ship. Little did they suspect the cargo he’d been carrying.

Inside was much the same, at least to first impressions. Much of the chrome work was past its use-by date, there were scratches across many of the plexiglass panels, the consoles showed many dents and there were quite a few holes in the decking.

If anyone cared to take the time to inspect the ship and had an idea of what they were looking for, they would soon notice that the electronics behind the panels were another matter. Scopas had fitted the ship with bio-neural circuitry to enhance its capabilities. He had done so so that he could install an Emergency Medical Hologram.

Getting his hands on a EMH had not been difficult. There had been a fire sale when the Mark Is were decommissioned. After all, there are only so many plasma conduits to be scrubbed on waste transfer barges. The difficult part had been installing the fifty million gigaquads of memory that the program needed for full operational capacity plus extra for learning.

Scopas intended that the EMH learn a lot. He brought in holo-technology experts to add to the already complex programming. Soon the EMH could pilot Daisy. Over time, he became the ship’s Tactical Officer, Chief Engineer and Operations Officer. He even acted as Scopas’ companion on long voyages.

Even had the Ferengi systems aboard Daisy been compatible with Federation technology, they would not have been able to cope with the massive drain on power that the EMH caused. So Scopas had had to pull out the old systems and install new ones. More than that, he had to do so in a way that no-one would suspect what he was doing.

So in went the gel packs, a ship wide holo-emitter array and all the other fancy technology he needed. Living quarters were cleared out and the circuitry installed behind false wall panels. While he was at it, he upgraded the ship’s shields and weapons.

All this cost a lot of latinum even though Scopas did deals to cut costs wherever possible. The end result was a ship unlike another owned by a Ferengi. It needed to be all that because weapons trading was a risky business. It would not stand up to a Federation ship of the line but it could hold it’s own against most patrol vessels and could do enough damage to a Defiant class to hope to make good his escape.

Added to that was the danger inherent in working alone. It meant he didn’t have to share the latinum but it also made him vulnerable. Sometimes customers thought they could force him to hand over his goods without payment. More than once, the EMH had tended him on the return journey from a sale. Others thought they could blow him out of space to remove witnesses to the transaction.

Scopas took Daisy to the old volcanoes to the south of the planet. The hollowed out tunnels and caves made from old lava flows had made the area an ideal storage space for the type of weapons he was dealing in.


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