Devil's Leftovers, Part III
The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X sat out in deep space, unsure what to do with itself. Lieutenant Commander Red sat in the Captain's chair.
"Are we... Are we supposed to be shooting or something? I'm a horrible commanding officer," Red explained.
Lieutenant Kayl turned from tactical. "Seifer, Armond and Kugo haven't checked in yet so we may conclude that something happened to them."
"And BOB too, right? That Ferengi bartender with which we know nothing about whom went along with them for some miraculous reason?" Ensign Dan asked, turning from helm.
Red sat up and pointed at him. "You will learn your place, Ensign! You've just bought three hours scrubbing plasma conduits!!"
"Huh. You really are getting the hang of things," Kayl observed of the Klingon exchange officer.
Meanwhile, Seifer, Armond, Kugo and BOB found themselves locked behind a forcefield in a jail cell, in a facility on the desert world of Bajor VI.
"Kind of nice of them to put us all in the same place. Convenient, even," Commander Seifer observed before picking up some food on a nearby table spread. "Oh! And complimentary hasperat."
Kugo crossed her arms, annoyed at the situation. "That incessant BOG sold us out. He claimed he was tired of Ardra's crew, but that was clearly a lie. Ferengi tire less of treachery!"
"I would agree with that assessment," BOB added. "But we're different than most Ferengi. Ours was a secret group, born and selected to be trained as the best of the best: Swindlers, cheaters, financial geniuses."
Armond perked up. "Wait. Are you saying there's a naming convention in which there are Ferengi's named BOK, BOL, BOM and so on?"
"Precisely. BOA was the first of us; I was the second; then BOC, BOD, BOE, and onwards. We were called Beguiler Operators, which are attributed to the first two letters of each of our names, then counted each of us down alphabetically."
Seifer spoke while chewing his hasperat. "But what happened to you guys? I'm assuming something happened, as is the course of all backstories."
"What happens in all historical reminscings: Irony. In this case, ours was grifter-based, as the man who sold our program manufactured a faulty and poor curriculum of training for more money than it was worth," BOB explained. "We ended up falling apart in our adolescence; failing at becoming the advanced super-swindlers, and, in fact, becoming worse than the average Ferengi."
Kugo eyed him, critically. "Except for you. You actually succeeded in becoming the best."
"What are you talking about? I'm as much a failure as any Beguiler Operator!" BOB defended.
Armond shook his head. "No, Kugo's right. You were so good that you dropped out of the money-making game all together, to live aboard the comforts of a Federation starship. From the Phoenix-X you've enjoyed a place excluding the lure and taste of money."
"Of course. Unlike BOG, you realized the lack of need for the latinum, but have been playing along this whole time," Seifer's jaw dropped.
BOB gritted his teeth. "Fine. Yes, I've been faking my horrible deal-making this whole time. I even tricked your long lost Admiral Theseus into bribing me onto this ship in limited-Neelix-information-giving fashion using mirrors and visual angles. I have stock-piles of latinum stored away on my own private moon from ad revenue, secret subspace web stores and insider tube grub stock market trading from within the Ferengi financial community, but I abandoned it all because money is the ruin of the entire Alliance! It's an endless cycle of wanting more and cheating each other until we're all mortal enemies of our own selves. The Beguilers couldn't even stay together even with their failings as business men."
"Well, we need your expert swindling now, BOB," Seifer claimed. "Now more than ever, to help us get out of this situation with Ardra and the Bajorans."
Armond shrugged. "Or we could do a Starfleet sciencey thing? I think I can establish a temporal vortex in this very jail cell."
"Don't make me relieve you of duty, Lieutenant Commander!" Seifer countered, stepping in front of Armond to block him from a control panel.
BOB nodded. "Very well. I believe if we give the Phoenix-X to Ardra's crew, they will reveal themselves and all their secrets."
"That's a very bad idea," the Commander countered. "Federation property is not to be thrown about, and protecting the onboard crew is so important, I'd give anything up for them."
The Ferengi tilted his head, indicating something unseen. "Well, we should offer something. It's not like— they can— hear everything— we're saying— right now."
"Well if that were true, I wouldn't say the command codes to the Phoenix-X are Psi-Delta-3-Tango-2-Alp—" Seifer began before he was interrupted by the guard.
The Bajoran carried in more hasperat. "Refill!"
"Commander, you should not be saying those codes out loud," argued Armond.
BOB turned to him. "Wait. Are you being genuine or did you actually read through my head-tiling maneuver?"
"I'm going to be honest, I've had A British Tar in my head this whole time," Seifer admitted. "Man, what a catchy tune. I'm so jealous of Worf."
Suddenly, all four of them were transported away.
They reappeared aboard the Bridge of Ardra's ship, the Karisag. There, the alien Hexagin, accompanied by BOG, addressed the group.
"Well, well, it would seem I now have the upper hand, thanks to my ability to bug a prison cell," Hexagin bragged.
Seifer deadpanned. "You beamed it in, didn't you?"
"—Using the power of transporter technology, I beamed it in!" He continued, not realizing Seifer's beat him to it. "That's the secret to trickery: modern techniques."
Kugo sighed. "What is the point of all this? You had us go to jail, and now you're breaking us out? I've had lurpas with less edge than this."
"Because your foolish Commander has revealed the one thing he promised he'd never give up, part of the command codes to the Phoenix-X!" Hexagin continued. "Now that you're here, I will negotiate the rest of them from you."
BOB crossed his arms. "Really? How?"
"Before you, on the view screen is a Son'a metaphasic distributor in orbit of Bajor VIII. Through alternate personas, we've sold them a version which, instead of killing everyone, will rejuvenate the population and all its plant and animal life!" BOG said. "The effects of youthening and betterment would be felt for one long, painful, unending generation to come."
Hexagin continued. "Now, we would be more than willing to share this revolutionary technology with the Federation, if you would allow me your ship for just three hours."
"Are you kidding me? Three hours??" Seifer reacted, shocked. "Don't tell me you're going to use it to make a trade with someone?"
BOG nodded. "With the Orion Syndicate, in fact. We've got a shipment of rare Betazed chalices from several houses to deliver as cover for a con to beam out our stolen quadrotriticale, Kriosian princess and warp core components, but the Nausicaans have it out for those green baldies and are ready to pounce at any moment of their reveal. The Phoenix-X would ensure our safety."
"A Ferengi who performs trickstering, huh?" Seifer observed. "Congratulations for being the first of the Beguiler Operators. Yeah, I know about that."
Hexagin handed them a torn piece of paper with a subspace code on it. "We normally have five or six going at once. It's quite a lucrative business, which can be learned in day, night or online classes, if you're interested."
"To say that I'm impressed is to say the least," BOB started. "But you losing your previously lifted merchandise skewers your credibility. Let us in on yours, give us back the quadrotriticale and the princess, and you can keep your warp core components."
Hexagin threw up his hands. "Then what is the point!?"
"According to that monitor read-out," BOB added, pointing. "The Orions also have fifteen crates of Ktarian gaming headsets. Those are quite valuable."
The other man gritted his teeth, giving in. "Uggh. Fine. But if things go sideways, I'm stealing BOG's wife again!"
Later, the Karisag dropped warp before the Phoenix-X and the group beamed onto its Bridge.
"Phew! Finally. For second there, I thought I was going to have to do something," Red commented, relieved. "Let it be known, doing things is not a Klingon pastime."
Hexagin smirked. "Actually, I'm taking command of your ship in a deal crafted by your Ferengi bartender whom which is called BOB for some reason."
"What!? That slacked-jawed misanthrope??" Kayl said, standing up in defiance.
Seifer turned to Ardra's crew. "She's right, Hexagin. I can just take us to your transaction without handing over the command codes."
"It's not the same! Do you want your crew to achieve Son'a eternal youth so they can continue to have starship adventures in the year 2410, or not??" BOG argued.
The Commander crossed his arms. "That's ridiculous and unrealistic. The crew would have at least been transferred or promoted to different positions by that year." And then, sighing, he said, "Ugh. Forget things that make sense— Computer, release control to Hexagin, for three hours only: Psi-Delta-3-Tango-2-Alpha-Singh-Noonien."
"Very good. Now I am in command of the Phoenix-X! Hahaha!" Hexagin laughed. "Computer, set course for the Orion Syndicate!"
The computer responded, "Warning: Staff must be used for daily operational ship functions during regular work hours or virtual memory will overload."
"She's right, you know," added Seifer. "Last year, the Bridge crew went on strike and the computer decompiled from just three requests: 1) Set course, 2) Engage, and 3) Set mood lighting on Bridge."
Hexagin looked at everyone, confused. "What? Uh, okay, set course, Red."
"Ggghhh," the Klingon growled, going back to his Helm position. "Did you not just hear that my people do not like doing things? I will make a seething personal log entry on your behalf later. Seething!"
When the Phoenix-X dropped warp in Orion space, they were met with the Orion corvette O.S.S. Hackett.
"Well, well, Hexagin. It appears you really did take command of a Federation starship," came the on-screen hail of the Orion commander, Captain Ginyo. "Your pre-bragging has paid off, as not-expected, and now I've lost a bet with my Chief Engineer."
Hexagin smirked. "We tricked the Starfleet officers by making them believe we would take their side. But guess what? We won't! Gyahahahahaha!"
"Great. Now I can't tell which parts are the act and which parts are genuine," Seifer pressed his fingers to his temple. "After we're done here, I want a staff meeting in a Parallax mud bath, STAT!"
Kugo looked at him, disappointed. "You know I cannot get the mud out of every crevice as Vulcan personal reach in certain areas are strictly off limits in our culture."
"Ah, I see you are all wrapped up in a complex mixture of lies and deceit, as is the way of trickery and deception! Being that you are as untrustworthy as us makes you trustworthy." Ginyo then clapped, enthusiastically. "Let us do the trade!"
BOG worked the Operations console next to Kayl. "Now transporting the Betazoid chalices-of-several-houses which were definitely not stolen."
"Hey, I have a question, does the Federation ever tax its own people? Like, how do you allocate resources without monetization or some kind of value assigned to goods and services?" Ginyo asked, confused.
Seifer shrugged. "It's pretty much first-come, first-serve, or, in many cases, whoever whines the loudest. Ohhh, the whine-fests we have in our pseudo-democracy."
"You know, I like you people," the Orion surmised seconds before his crew's console beeped with a warning.
One of his officers, Vark, turned to him. "Sir, the Phoenix-X is transporting away all our crates of quadrotriticale and that one Kriosian princess who would not shut up about her right to be trapped on a world with a Human from Florida!"
"Hey, we stole that from you, fair and square! Well, at least you didn't transport off our warp core components," Ginyo said before realizing that they did. "You jerks!"
Hexagin smirked. "And don't even think about firing on us, because the Phoenix-X has been equipped with tricobalt torpedoes, without any explanation as to why!"
"Oh, I won't have to," Ginyo laughed as several Nausicaan ships dropped warp next to him. "Because I've got reinforcements. You see, I made a deal with the Nausicaans, to protect us in exchange for that Son'a metaphasic distributor you created, that you will be handing over the command codes to now that we've got you."
The Ferengi BOG laughed. "Shows what you know. I made a similar deal with those very same Nausicaans, before you, promising them our cargo, your cargo, Hexagin, and the distributor for my freedom and your imprisonment!"
His partner turned to him. "What!?"
Seifer laughed, himself. "Sorry, BOB. But, in fact, I made my own deal with the Nausicaans. I offered them all of that, but threw in this imitation Jewel of Thasia." And then he paused. "Crap, I shouldn't have said it was an imitation." Then, he paused again. "Crap! I just bet against you, and you're on our side??" And then he paused again. "Double-crap! I think I called on the Breen, actually."
"You fools are now under the control of the Nausicaan Guard," came the hail of the Nausicaan command officer, Kuoket. "Which of you did we make the real deal with, and which were the fakes? You squished-heads look all the same to us!"
Commander Seifer raised his hand. "Yeah, it definitely wasn't me, sorry."
"We've dealt with you before, Seifer!" countered Kuoket. "Do you not remember the five crates of yak cheese you tricked us into trading during your renegade thieving days, in 2376, beyond your Federation life??"
Seifer's eyes widened. "Kuoket? I completely swindled you out of those Skkrrea refugees which I sold to the Ferengi for a hefty price!"
"You did us a favor, since those refugees were sick with Varro's disease and completely turned that Ferengi crew into singing love birds," he cringed. "You can go, but it's Ardra's crew and these Orions I want to punish for the mere existence of what-if scenarios."
The Commander crossed his arms. "Well, we are completely within our rights to imprison them, but I guess this works out because I'm anxious to see that youthening array mess with Bajoran physiology after what they did to us."
Later, the Phoenix-X took orbit of Bajor VIII, which was being orbited by the Son'a metaphasic distributor. Its sails opened up and just before it was about to do anything, it exploded in a ball of fire. Simultaneously, Ambassador Picard transported onto the Bridge of the ship.
"Got me another one of those," he said, proudly. "Well then. I'll retire to some quarters and you can take me back to Earth when you're ready.
The crew, in shock, watched him leave the Bridge. Everyone then turned back to Commander Seifer. "I guess we'll go there next?"
"Well, I hope you've learned a lesson in all this," said Kayl, turning to BOB.
The Ferengi nodded. "Yeah, that I'm not as good a grifter as I thought I was. Sometimes we surpass the ways we used to be."
"Hey, you got us to where we needed to be," said Seifer. "As for me, I learned that I was just like you once, and that to judge is to judge myself. Also, the past never leaves you, no matter how many databases you thought you illegally erased."
Red turned. "Lying is not honorable. It leads to mistakes and memory loss. You should all be ashamed of yourselves!"
"Oh, crap," Seifer blurted. "I forgot the rest of our Klingon Exchange officers back at Kesprytt III!"
Elsewhere, in a Prytt interrogation room, deep, within the planet, Kortos, Amos and Targon continued to regail the Prytt official with stories of their non-adventures.
"Oh! There was one time, our Doctor genetically modified a generation of Tribble into consciousness with mouths so they could speak," said Kortos.
The Prytt unofficial, Maeke, pulled out his hair and moved for the exit. "Enough! Enough! You guys can wait out in the hall until your ship arrives! I should have been a Kes-hating farmer, like my uncle."