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Latinum and Mercy [CD]

Posted on Wed May 8th, 2019 @ 10:32am by Petty Officer 2nd Class Fhiri & Lieutenant JG Yikete Oggt

Mission: Interlude 3
Location: Empok Nor
Timeline: 3 October, 2394 - 1500 Hours

[ON]

Fhiri paused outside the door, thinking about alternatives. She'd immediately ruled out the idea of asking the EMH to help. The only thing that sorry excuse for a holo-program was capable of was making people angry. And she needed this particular person happy. She'd considered nurse Beddite but she'd taken leave. That meant the only person left on the ship with advanced medical training was Lieutenant Oggt. She'd had a few small interactions with the Saurian officer and he seemed alright.

She sucked air through her teeth, adjusted the bag slung over her shoulder and triggered the door chime. "Rule of Acquisition number thirteen: Anything worth doing is worth doing for money," she said to herself.

The door to his temporary quarters assignment slid open when he answered the chime and he motioned Fhiri inside, but Lieutenant Oggt was clearly pre-engaged in a rather animated discussion with another Saurian over the comms screen. They made a series of lingual clicks and pops back and forth before the connection closed and Starfleet's insignia replaced the video call screen.

He made a throaty noise like he was clearing an obstruction before he turned back toward the direction of the door. "Fhiri! It's nice to see you!"

Fhiri's eyes shot up. "Wow. You remembered my name. Thank you very much," Fhiri said, bringing her hands together in front of her. She glanced around the small quarters, noting that the temperature was a little higher than she thought comfortable. "I'm sorry to interrupt. I hope I didn't mess up a deal for you."

Oggt cocked his head a bit as though trying to work out what she was referring to for a moment. "Oh," he said, waving off the screen. "Only if you count my mother trying to marry me off to Zalii Gryfkc." He shook his head as though it gave him a headache to think about.

"You don't seem very happy about that idea," Fhiri said. "I'd recommend you get a three year contract instead of the five year. I was married for a year and it was such a disaster, for my ex, that he paid my brother a hefty fine for getting out of the contract early. That's part of the reason my brother allowed me to go into Starfleet. When's the wedding?"

"Zalii Gryfkc has the personality of a goldfish," Oggt replied sourly, "no disrespect to goldfish intended." He crossed his arms and looked at the Ferengi flatly for a moment. "Why are you here? Surely not to discuss my personal life."

"Oh! Sorry. Relationships are very interesting to me because I have no luck with them," Fhiri said. "I actually need some help. Or rather, an acquaintance of mine needs help. I'm not sure how much you've been able to tour Empok Nor but there are parts of it that are unused, closed off or even condemned. There's a lot of opportunity there, if you know what I mean. Anyway, I have a friend who I work with from time to time, when we get leave. Unfortunately, while we were off sailing on the desert, she was getting sick. As in, your teeth are falling out sick." Fhiri paused, considering that Oggt might not be familiar with Hyboragic Fever, which caused Ferengi to lose teeth and sometimes death. "Not literally. She's not a Ferengi. Anyways, I was wondering if you would go with me so that you can check her out. She can't go to station medical because there's some... discrepancies on her entry visa."

Oggt didn't have the faintest clue what Fhiri meant when she talked about opportunity, but he did have a soft spot to help people and it sounded like she had someone who needed it. "She really should go to station medical," he iterated, even as he was crossing the room to pull out a big medical case out of a cabinet. He figured he could go, evaluate, and then call the station for transport if it ended up being anything serious.

Fhiri rolled her eyes as Oggt collected his gear. Hadn't she just said her friend couldn't go to station medical. "Yeah well, maybe you can convince her. You look like you've got everything," Fhiri said, eyeing the doctor's things. "Why don't you let me do the talking until we get where we need to go. First stop is Zulg's bar. Don't tell anyone but he's a cousin. A distant cousin but not distant enough."

Fhiri stepped out into the corridor, looked both ways and set off. She was glad most of the crew was gone on leave. She really didn't want to run into any more people than she had to. Especially Lieutenant t'Aegis or, gods, Potter. They made it to the exit port and stepped out into the more humid air of Empok Nor. Two freighters, bound for Cardassia, had docked the night before and their crew was already enjoying shore leave.

"Ugh," Fhiri said. "Cardassians make bad drunks. Eats up the profit when you have to pay for new furniture and glassware."

"Worse than a Cardassian is a drunk Nausicaan. They're not a whole lot better sober, either," Oggt muttered as he kept up with Fhiri's quick pace across the support bridge toward the habitat ring. "So, your friend is at Zulg's?" he questioned, confused about why they were headed to the promenade for a sick woman.

"What?" Fhiri asked, dodging a young human being chased by a young Bajoran. "No. I told you, my friend is down below. Access to those spaces isn't easy. Zulg has a hatch in his storeroom that connects to an old mining shaft that connects to an air intake, which will lead us into the down below. Don't worry, I'll let you go first so that I can push on you if you get stuck."

Zulg's was packed. Another group of Cardassians were sitting together in a crowd. A smattering of Starfleet personnel sat at the long bar, laughing and smiling. Sprinkled throughout the place were independent contractors who brought much of the station's supplies on regular runs. The bright lights of the bar combined with the murmur of conversation and a Ferengi rock song. Zulg handed off a drink to a Klingon, bobbed his head, scooped up the payment and locked eyes with Fhiri.

"What do you want?" Zulg asked across the room.

"You and I are going to the down below to bet on the blood fights, ok?" Fhiri said quickly, under her breath.

"Blood fights?!" Oggt whispered loudly back. "You didn't tell me anything about this." Oggt remained mostly behind Fhiri when she talked to Zulg, not meeting the bar owner's scrutinizing gaze.

"Cousin!" Fhiri said, sidling up to the bar. "I need to look at that computer regulator in your storeroom."

Zulg scowled. "That's a very important piece of equipment. I don't need a female breaking it. You should go elsewhere to practice your engineering skills."

"I could. I certainly could. But my brother would be disappointed with you. Isn't he providing you with regular shipments of supplies for your bar? That means you and I are practically in business," Fhiri said, leaning in toward Zulg.

Zulg tossed the bar rag down. "I do not do business with females!" He hissed. Zulg hated discussing his business during business. Unless there was some serious opportunity for profit. This female Ferengi was an ongoing thorn in his lobes. And worse yet, she was family. "Fine. But I will be talking to your brother about this."

Fhiri nodded. "So will I," she said and motioned for Oggt to follow her. She lead him around the bar, through a service door and into the room where most of the high profit goods for the bar were kept. "Ok over here," she said. "Help me move this container. The access hatch is below it."

"If we have to move this to get to the hatch, how are we supposed to get back out later?" Oggt questioned aloud as he put a surprising amount of strength into tipping the barrel onto its edge and then rolling it a few meters away. "It doesn't look like a hatch," he said as he bent down and scrutinized the deck plating. "Tell me again why your friend is down there?"

Fhiri knelt down and pressed on each of the four corners of the plate and then again on the upper left corner. There as a hissing sound and the entire plate lifted up and folded on a set of hinges. "We don't come out this way, of course. I'll show you the way out after we are done. And my friend is down there because she came aboard as a stow-away on a freighter. She doesn't want to go back to where she's from and they won't let her stay here if security picks her up. Listen," the Ferengi said, standing and putting her hands on her hips. "Are you going to help me or not?"

As a Starfleet officer, Oggt felt this 'mission' was wrong in so many ways but as a doctor, there was no question in his mind that he needed to honor his oath. "I'm with you," he relented quietly as lowered his long body down into the hatchway, medkit securely in hand still. "It doesn't mean that I have to like it, though." He didn't know if what Fhiri had told him of the abandoned mining shafts and air intakes was true, but suddenly the whole thing reminded him of spelunking the caves in the Rakantha mountains, an adventure package that he paid quite a bit for. At least she wasn't trying to charge him for this adventure. Yet.

The access hatch let the two down into a crawlspace that had enough room for them to hunch over and walk, but was still uncomfortable. Fhiri followed Oggt down the corridor, wondering whether she'd made the right choice. She could have asked one of the civilian doctors that stopped on the station, or even one of the medical staff from a Ferengi ship. But both of those would have cost her hard latinum and Oggt was free. Plus, she knew Oggt actually cared about people, where as the Ferengi would have charged her even more if she wanted the patient to live. Which she did.

"How did you get into Starfleet?" Fhiri asked. She couldn't remember if they'd talked about it on the Techlon planet.

"Oh, I wanted to explore the stars," Oggt said, squeezing around a structural support beam that seemed randomly placed in their path. "You know, new life and new civilizations. To boldly go--" And then he disappeared, falling downward through an opening in the crawlspace to somewhere dark beneath them.

"I'm okay!" he called up.

Fhiri looked down through the opening in the crawlspace. "Huh," she said. "Sorry! That wasn't there the last time I came through." She ran a finger across the edge of the hole and then lifted it to her nose. "Definitely some oxidation of the metal. Do you see a way out down there or should I help you back up? We're pretty close to the exit." She thought she could hear faint voices ahead. Only a Ferengi would have noticed.

"There's a way through. I'll meet you up ahead!" Yikete called up as he bumped into a couple people in the darkness as his large eyes adusted. "Oh. Sorry, didn't mean to wake you. Excuse me. Pardon me. That's not very polite, I've never even met your mother." His voice faded out as he passed out of the immediate area and looked for wherever it was that Fhiri should have come out.

Fhiri managed to get over the new hole in the crawlspace without any problems and after a left turn and a downward slope, emerged into the central space that made up the down below. Looking to her left she saw the familiar sight of cobbled together hovels, pressed together, giving the perception that if one collapsed, they all would. She looked to her right and saw the doctor scanning the vicinity. She waved and ambled towards him, nodding to a few of her former customers.

"You made it!" She said to Oggt. She gestured around them, pointing at the largest structure, which in reality had been the mine superintendent's office. "That's the blood pit. Its where they have the fights," she said. "Over there is the flea market, although I don't know what a flea is. I think it is some kind of jewelry. Behind me is the Racks. Most of the people who live here, slip in them."

"Barbarians," Oggt said, disgusted as she pointed out the blood pits. His eyes followed her tour around the underside of the station and he just shook his head at the end. "These are not humane living conditions." He wondered why people like this actually chose to live here. Surely there were better places for them to be.

Fhiri shook her head. "People often call Ferengi names. But they don't understand us. Your eyes see what they want to see. Think about how bad things are where they came from if this is an improvement," Fhiri said. "Come on. Lets go see how my friend is doing." She made her way over to the flea market. There were about twenty small stalls, each specializing in something. One traded in food. Another traded clothing. The items were surprisingly high in quality. A worn looking alien that Fhiri didn't know nodded at her, its three eyes squinting at her over a wide mouth.

"Some of the people in down below are from non-Federation worlds," she said.

Oggt mostly kept his thoughts internal because he respected Fhiri and he was trying to understand. These conditions though, however Fhiri justified them, were definitely not sanctioned by the Federation. People deserved better than this, even if this is better than where they came from. "Who fights in the blood pits," he queried as they continued past stalls of things he couldn't guess their origin and purpose, "and for what do they fight?" He swore that if she told him entertainment he didn't know if he could keep his opinion to himself.

"Well, as you might imagine, they don't have much of a legal system down here. Sometimes when things get heated, they decide to let the fight determine who is right. They've got a pretty organized system. You can win if the other person surrenders, gets knocked out or if you draw blood first. It's way better than a random brawl and people generally adhere to the outcome. Some gambling accompanies the matches but it is pretty low key," Fhiri said as they reached a metal bulkhead. A hatch stood open, revealing a long hallway that had seen better days. Lights hung at uneven intervals, flickering like lightning bugs. "She's got a room down this way."

"They're on a Federation-run starbase, there's a legal system here...." Oggt muttered, knowing full well that his sentiment would be heard, but not received by the Ferengi. "Well, let's get on with it," he said. He followed behind her as they walked past door after door, deeper into this forgotten section. "What can you tell me about the patient?"

"She's a Fellerian," Fhiri said as they walked down the corridor. Their footsteps echoed on the metal floor, sounding like soft thunder. "She works as an engineer on short haul cargo ships that need a fill in crewmember. That's how I met her, actually. She worked on my brother's ship a few months ago. I ran into her down here a few days ago and she told me she'd been exposed to some kind of radiation spike. I did a scan of the area, of course, but I didn't find anything dangerous. So maybe she's wrong about what's going on."

"She's a long way from home," Oggt said, pondering both the woman and her situation, and indeed, growing more empathetic to the plight of the down below. They passed two children running in the opposite direction, who looked like they had a not a care in the world, maybe the only life they might have ever known. "If it is radiation," Oggt said, his eyes following the kids until they were out of sight, "It could be something more than just an isolated case."

Fhiri chewed on her lip. The idea of the illness spreading hadn't even occurred to her. "I hope not," she said, stopping in front of a rust colored door. She rapped on it with her knuckles and a faint voice called out.

"Come in."

Fhiri spun the wheel lock and the door opened with a creaking sound. The space inside was warm, lit by only one large candle on the opposite side of the room. In the faint light, Fhiri could just make out the crude bed that held a small figure, almost completely covered with blankets.

"Aleath?" Fhiri said. "It's Fhiri. I found a doctor to look at you."

The bed rustled and the blankets fell away as the occupant sat up. She was somewhere between the size of a child and a full grown human. Her face was angular, with large purple colored eyes and high eyebrows. A hand fluttered in front of her face, incredibly long and delicate fingers, as she coughed once. It was wet sound, full of warning. When she spoke, it sounded like ice tinkling as it broke.

"Fhiri, I told you to stay away. I could be contagious," Aleath said. "Take your friend and go."

"I'm a doctor and we're not leaving," Oggt said as he sidestepping Fhiri. He moved quickly toward the patient and set up his medical case, withdrawing a medical scanner. "When did all this start?"

Aleath looked up at the Saurian, her mouth dropping open. "You're... you're a Ghelt!" She said inching away from the doctor. "Please don't hurt me."

Fhiri stepped forward, holding her hands up. "I don't know what a Ghelt is but Doctor Oggt isn't one of them. He's a Saurian and a very good person. I mean, he can't do anything business related but he's good. Just let him help you."

"A Ghelt is...oh what is the closest thing... a demon. They take children and animals," Aleath said craning her neck to get a better look. "But he doesn't have the neck ruff that Ghelts have. I'm sorry, doctor. It must be my condition. I started feeling sick about ten standard days ago. I just finished a short term contract with a Bolian ship."

"Well, I've been thinking about getting a cat for my quarters, but I assure you I have no interest in children. Far too much work," Oggt said blandly as he ran the medical tricorder over the woman's body. "Bolian, hm? Bolian digestive enzymes can cause a lot of internal damage, if ingested. Any chance that happened? Any close contact?"

The Fellerian laughed, a high pitched musical laugh. "I wasn't licking their spoons, doctor. So I'm not sure how some digestive enzymes would have gotten into my body. I certainly am not attracted to them either," Aleath said and then coughed. "I was mainly monitoring their shoddy warp core and refurbishing their environmental control units."

"Fhiri mentioned that you thought it was radiation-related," Oggt said as he reviewed the scanner readings. He didn't have a great depth of experience with Fellerians, and in fact, she was the first one he'd ever seen, but things seems fairly straight forward. "Raditation coughs are dry and unproductive, generally speaking. Yours is more along the lines of Bollian pneumonia. Pretty contagious in close quarters, but absolutely treatable."

Fhiri listened as the doctor and Aleath spoke. "Pneumonia? That sounds bad. Do you have the supplies to deal with... wait? You said it was contagious?" Fhiri asked and backed away. "Am I infected? Are Ferengi susceptible?"

Aleath shook her head. "Your brother was always worried about getting sick. Is this a family thing?"

"Rule of acquisition number twenty-three: Nothing is more important than your health... except for your money," Fhiri said, eyeing Oggt.

"Starfleet vaccinates against Bolian pneumonia," Oggt assured Fhiri. "And medical guidelines say that anyone serving on a Bolian ship should be as well, but it's difficult to enforce in the civilian sector." He loaded two vials into a hypospray and told Aleath what he was doing before he did it to reassure her. "These should ease your symptoms, mostly, within the hour. You should stay off your feet though for a full week, until you're fully better and no longer contagious."

"Thank you, Doctor Oggt," Aleath said. "I will do my best to stay off my feet."

Fhiri watched as Oggt packed up his equipment and turned to go. She stepped towards Aleath and the Fellerian handed her a handful of latinum slips.

"He'll do just fine," Aleath said. "Thank you."

Fhiri nodded. "See you soon," she said and hurried to catch up to Oggt.

[OFF]

Lieutenant JG Yikete Oggt
Medical Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Petty Officer 3rd Class Fhiri
Computer Systems Specialist
USS Firebird NCC-88298

 

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Comments (5)

By Cadet Freshman Grade Gianna Djokovic on Thu May 9th, 2019 @ 6:14am

This was so much fun to write with Fhiri, who is a character I've grow to just adore. She's written so well and brings so much to the character development stage on the sim. This was a fun setting and I hope we find ways to visit it again in the future. -Liam

By Captain Malcom Llwyedd on Thu May 9th, 2019 @ 11:39am

I am not going to lie, I love writing Fhiri. And I thought the setting was a great way to break out of the traditional Star Fleet setting and explore some of the fringe areas where they exist. Thanks for writing with me!

By Lieutenant JG Murril Na on Sat May 11th, 2019 @ 9:55pm

I really liked this story, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Part II entails.

There were multiple places where the audience would read something and think to ask a question, but the characters weren't giving the answer. That takes self-control on the part of the authors, in addition to requiring a level of trust in the audience's IQ to even notice the hints in the first place.

Also, the balance of humor and seriousness feels very Trek-ish. I could easily picture this in my head as a filmed episode.

This is also one of the most re-readable/re-watchable stories I've encountered in a while. It's full of straightforward parts with details that don't derail the story if they're unnoticed on the first reading. I feel sorry for anybody hurriedly skimming this story; they'll miss a lot of the best parts.

Also, I like how both Oggt and Fhiri have continuity with their past appearances in previous stories. ex. The quiet Oggt likes rock climbing, and his personality becomes noticeably commanding and forceful whenever the patient is right there. ex. Fhiri still has to put up with discrimination, yet she expertly knows what to say to bypass Zulg's prejudice with promises of what will happen to his profits if her brother finds out about Zulg's refusal to do business with her.

Favorite line: "...the whole thing reminded him of spelunking the caves in the Rakantha mountains, an adventure package that he paid quite a bit for. At least she wasn't trying to charge him for this adventure. Yet."

That line packs a lot of value into a small number of words, yet it doesn't feel cramped or terse.

Also, Fhiri's humorous-yet-bluntly-factual line about teeth falling out is perfect, and it tells us as much about Fhiri's personality as it does about moving the plot forward.

By Lieutenant Jackson Smith on Fri May 17th, 2019 @ 7:19am

I was very impressed with the flow of this. I am going to reiterate what Murril Na mentioned, that he could picture it in his head. When I read his comment, I thought, so did I! Very well done and I look forward to more.

By Lieutenant Commander Rhiana t'Aegis on Tue May 28th, 2019 @ 4:01pm

It's always interesting to read about 'the other side' of all the nice, utopiarian (is that a word?) things in Star Trek. Even though it always seems wrong that there is something like this 'down below' that could exist on a Federation base.

Still, this post makes it believable and it was a joy to read. I also liked the interaction between Fhirhi and Oggt and their different take on what's 'right'.