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Garbage in, Garbage Out [CD]

Posted on Thu Feb 6th, 2020 @ 11:00am by Captain Jack Cunningham Jr & Zulg & Ensign Jinto Temo & Lieutenant Commander Hadir Prenar

Mission: Interlude 4
Location: Zulg's Bar, Empok Nor
Timeline: 20 February, 2395 - 1800 Hours


Zulg cast a wary eye over his Friday night crowed, trying to estimate whether he was going to get a good return on his recent investment. He'd been persuaded by his Uncle to bring in an Earth music group. He couldn't remember what it was called but to his lobes, it was looking like a questionable decision. The music was performed by three blonde human women, accompanied by a band. They were making a lot of noise, and not the kind Zulg liked. On the other hand, the crowd inside his bar looked to be growing. He shrugged, filled a glass with Cardassian beer and slid it across to his customer.

"Here you are, Commander. I hope it is to your liking. I had this brought in on a Rigellian freighter just today," Zulg said with a smile.

Hadir smirked he knew Ferengi too well, knew Zulg too well. If they did something for you such as this, it meant that they wanted something. "Thanks Zulg. Seems that you have the bar in full swing tonight. Music is a little much for my taste, but everyone else seems to enjoy it."

"I'm glad to hear you say that, commander. To my ears, it's garbage in, garbage out. I don't understand any of it," Zulg said as another Starfleet Officer sat down.

"I'll take scotch with one ice cube," Jack said as he settled into his seat. "Interesting music you've got here tonight, Zulg. Is that Bavarian folk music?"

Zulg shrugged as he began making the order. "I don't know. I hired them because they were from Earth and they were cheap. So far nobody has complained so it appears to be a good investment."

Jack looked over at the Cardassian sitting next to him. "What kind of music do Cardassians listen to?"

Hadir smiled at the newcomer, a man that he knew by record alone. "Same as humans, there are different tastes. But most Cardassian music is heavy on reed instruments. Oboes and the like. I like opera and jazz, but then again I am not like most Cardassians." Hadir took a swig of beer and extended his hand toward the newcomer. "Hadir Prenar..."

Jack took the hand, noting the grip. "I'm Lieutenant Jack Cunningham. I'm the head of the Marine detachment on the Firebird. What ship are you with?"

"I know..." Hadir smiled broadly, "...I am the Strategic Operations Officer for Empok Nor. It is my job to know who and where all the assets in the sector are. Also, your reputation precedes you. Although I must admit that it has been some time since we have seen Marines on this station."

Zulg set the drink down in front of Jack and interjected. "I heard that your Marines are responsible for rescuing the captain of the Firebird back on that Far Wandere planet," Zulg said.

Jack shook his head. "Zulg I don't know where you get your information but I hope you didn't pay too much for it. My Marines did their part, nothing more, nothing less." He picked up his drink and turned back to Hadir. Zulg moved away to another customer muttering under his breath.

"There isn't much use for Marines out here in the mostly settled area. We aren't fighting with Cardassians or Bajorans, thankfully. But the Firebird ends up in a lot of unstable situations and we are aboard to assist as we can. How about you? Not very many Cardassians in Starfleet. Are you happy to be here?"

"Actually, yeah. I am happy to be home. Even of it is a mixed blessing. As far as I am aware I am the only Cardassian in Starfleet, and the first." Hadir replied the last statement had a sense of pride within it. "Station work does not allow for much exploration, so there is the want to get out there. However, in my line of work it is often best to stay put. I hope to one day get a shot at an XO position. However, I am sure it will take some convincing to get Starfleet to allow that to happen." He took a final swig of his beer. "Hey Zulg what do I have to do to get a decent glass of kanar around these parts." He shouted toward the bartender as his way of ordering up a glass. "How about you? I mean you have to have other goals or do Marines just want to take orders and kick the proverbial butts."

Zulg handed off a drink to a young ensign in a red starfleet uniform and then slid over to stand in front of Hadir. With a practiced hand, he set down a tall glass and filled it with kanar. "Here you go, commander," Zulg said. He grabbed a cloth and began cleaning more glasses, keeping an eye on the doorway.

Jack snorted at the commander's question. "Nothing proverbial about it. We train to kick butts and save lives. Most of my Marines are very good at what they do and we train hard to make sure we get things right. It isn't a calling for most people but Marines aren't typical. As an officer, my job is to make sure they get the material and training to get the job done. But I also serve on a Starfleet ship and I have to understand how she functions. Captain Llwyedd has been assigning me to be the Officer of the Watch. It has been... a learning experience," Jack said. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the ensign take a deep swallow of his drink. He looked familiar.

"That is true. I never understood the rivalry between the Fleet and the Corps. I mean we are all on the same side." Hadir looked around and his mind processed how close Empok Nor looked to Terok Nor. "These old stations if only their walls could talk the secrets that they would tell." He said softly almost forgetting about his new friend beside him.

Ensign Jinto Temo sat sipping his synthale. He never truly liked feeling inebriated but understood the social convention of drinking. It was important to him to always have his senses about him especially when doing something dangerous was almost always in the near future. Having heard the two senior officers talking Temo decided to introduce himself.
"Hey gentlemen," Temo jumped into the conversation. "I overheard you guys talking, Lieutenant I'm the new Chief Flight Officer on the Firebird."

Jack nodded at the new arrival. "Pleasure to meet you, Ensign. I thought I'd seen you before. I think I passed you in the corridor back on the Firebird. It appears that having an Ensign as Chief Flight Control Officer is a tradition on the ship. I wonder if that's because Captain Llwyedd was a pilot himself," Jack said. "Oh. Sorry," he said. "Allow me to introduce Commander Prenar. He's the Chief of Ops here on Empok Nor."

Hadir turned toward the newcomer with a smile on his face. The smile remained despite the feeling of uneasiness that he got whenever he was around Bajorans. Hadir never fully got over what his people did all those years ago. "Ensign, how goes?" He said as he raised his glass of kanar to toast. "What do you think of our little corner of the Trivas System?"

Temo looked at the Cardassian who was his superior in rank. Temo wasn't even born at the end of the Cardassian occupation of Bajor, but he lived through a lot of the rebuilding of Bajor. He was raised in an orphanage as one of the few orphans that was not left due to the occupation. Despite these facts Temo held a neutral stance on Cardassians. None should be judged for the sins of their fathers. The verdict was still out for commander Prenar.

"Everyday is a new experience Sir," Temo's smile faded a bit as he took a sip of his synthale. "It's the reason I joined Starfleet."

Jack laughed and then spoke. "A pilot who hates boredom? Why am I not surprised. Just do me a favor, ensign. Make sure that when you're setting my Marines down for a walk, we don't stress the intertial dampeners too much. I don't want to go into combat with a group that smells like puke."

"And that is exactly what is missing from station life. The new experiences, sure there is always someone new to meet. But it is the exploration that is missing. Things can get downright dull around these parts." Hadir said with a smile. The truth was that he thought things were too quiet. Something was bound to happen at the station, the question was what.

"I wouldn't say that, Sir," Temo said with a smile. "I'm seeing all these things for the first time. Walking around a station like this one is an adventure. You never know what species of being you will bump into on the promenade or what small little niche shop you'll find around the next corner. On my way here I found a shop that only sells horta waste. Weird but attractive items made from horta excrement."

Jack laughed, a deep booming that drew stares. He quickly brought himself under control and looked at Ensign Temo. "I didn't know Horta waste was considered high art. Of course, I'm not a huge fan of art. Maybe I'll have to check out Lemek's shop. I could buy something and send it to my brother. He doesn't know anything about art but he loves stuff from other worlds. And it would amuse me every time I visit him on Earth," Jack said.

Hadir chuckled "Oh yeah that is ole man Lemek's shop. My point is when you spend enough time on a station it loses that charm that you so aptly described. I miss the exploration, the not knowing what is out there from day to day. But that was another assignment ago. This is now, and this is home. My job is fun, but not as fun as yours I'll wager Ensign." Hadir caught himself thinking about the Fearless and caught himself before the emotions could get the best of him.

"Haven't really gotten to it yet, Sir," Temo said sullenly sipping his synthale. "But, the quadrant awaits," he smiled ear to ear. "How is the Firebird Lieutenant? Have you seen a lot of action?" Temo watched the man curiously marines were always leading a dangerous mission after the next. He envied the Lieutenant had he grown up on earth he might have signed up for the corps.

"For the amount of time we've been on board, yeah, we've been pretty busy. I was worried when I first received this assignment. It felt like a little bit of a demotion, to be honest. But the captain has been a real professional. He understands the need for Marines. Heck, during their refit they expanded a good chunk of deck six just for us," Jack said, shaking his head. "Plus I got to ride horses when we crashed on Far Wanderer. That was a real strange time."

Hadir laughed "I read the after action reports on that mission. That sounded like it was a lot of fun. I mean it is not often that you can be the actual cavalry. Those Diligent Class starships are highly maneuverable. I would think that Captain Llewyedd would allow to take the ship for a spin before the next mission." He said with a smile and then took a swig of kanar.

"I hope so," said the ensign trying to match the Cardassian's swig of kanar with his own synthale. "He won't let me on the Con until Lieutenant Jackson clears me." Temo seemed to peer off in to the blue crystal bar of Zulg's. "I'm sure before you know it I'll be a fixture on the bridge of the Firebird. Honestly I just can't wait to program my settings in to the Con Panel"

"Just be careful. I am not ready for another crash landing. The last one almost ended a number of careers," Jack said. "What I can tell you is that Lieutenant Smith is a warrior and a hell of a pilot. Learn everything you can from him."

Zulg popped up near the bar. "Are you talking about Jackson?" The Ferengi asked. "If you see him soon, could you send him my way? He ordered something and I need to make sure he receives it in time."

Hadir chuckled and turned toward the barkeep. "That did not sound too ominous Zulg. Give me another kanar if you please."

Zulg took the empty glass from Hadir with one hand and grabbed the heavy bottle of kanar with the other. "Of course, of course," he said, eyeing the new ensign. He'd previously discounted him as worth little but now he was sitting with both of the powerful officers. "Ensign Temo, is it? New pilot? Very interesting. Is it normal for hu-mans to get their own department right out of the academy? Did your father make some payments on your behalf?"

Temo looked down at his synthale and thought about his childhood, "I never knew my father," said Temo solemnly. "I grew up in a orphanage, but no you don't pay your way to anything in Starfleet. You have to work and earn it." Temo's easy smile returned to his face.

Hadir almost spat the sip of kanar out as he chuckled. "Zulg, you know Starfleet is not like the Ferengi Defense Fleet. You can't buy your way to the top."

Zulg finished pouring and replaced the bottle behind the bar. "Of couurrrse not, Commander," Zulg said. "I wouldn't dream of insinuating that anyone in the Federation would use influence to help others reach positions of power." The Ferengi gestured around him at the expanse of Empok Nor. "For example, this fine space station, which was refurbished entirely by Starfleet and is commanded by Starfleet, wasn't purchased. And I didn't pay any bribes for this fine bar either."

Hadir's mouth leveled straight. He understood the Ferengi's point, and there was a part of him that agreed with Zulg. However, he would not give the barkeep the satisfaction of knowing that. Just as quickly his facial expression changed and he smiled in a typical Cardassian way. "You know Zulg you always have the best kanar. One often wonders how you come by it."

"I guess a well placed bar of latinum, opens doors here and there," laughed Temo. "I've read about the Ferengi and all there dealings with the gamma quadrant through the Celestial Temple. I find it quiet interesting. I'm interested in games like Dom-jot and the like. You seem like an interesting people always living by the seat of your pants."

Zulg smiled. "We live by latinum alone, young ensign. But we are interesting, I will agree with you there. And I'd love to teach you Dom-jot and Tongo if you like."

Jack shook his head. "Do not let a Ferengi teach you a game if you want to learn how to win. You'll have fun but you'll be broke by the time it's over."

Zulg shrugged and walked off.

Hadir laughed at Jack's comment. "Speaking of what say you both to a game. I am feeling a might lucky and a game of poker could do nicely. Jack, Jinto what do ya say." He took a large swig of the kanar, people could say what they wanted about Zulg but he did get some fine kanar.

Jack nodded. "Sounds good!"

"Poker? Something tells me learning an earth game from two senior officers could be just as lucrative as learning Dom-jot from a Ferengi, but I'm in," Temo smiled. Of course Temo already knew how to play poker. He had become quiet the player at the academy, but he had also learned never to show all his cards upfront. He would let his seniors win a few hands and retire for the night and perhaps he would be invited more often.


Lieutenant Commander Hadir Prenar
Chief Strategic Operations Officer
Empok Nor
(NPC by Rees)

1st Lieutenant Jack Cunningham
Marine Detachment 358 Commander
USS Firebird NCC-88298
(NPC by Llwyedd)

Ensign Jinto Temo
Chief Flight Control Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298
(NPC by Friedrech)


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Comments (1)

By Warrant Officer Arlan Harlan on Sun Feb 16th, 2020 @ 9:32pm

Wait, did Zulg hire a POLKA BAND?? Why was Harlan not invited?! :D