Author: Alan Decker
By Alan Decker
“Renovations” concept by Alan Decker and Anthony Butler
“Do you have this in teal?”
“No,” Bradley Dillon replied, giving the Nausicaan an angry glare. “It’s a flashlight. It comes in gray.”
“Teal would be some much more stylish.”
“I’ll take it up with the manufacturer.”
“I would appreciate that,” the Nausicaan replied, placing his selections on the make-shift counter for Bradley to ring up.
“Have a nice day,” Bradley said flatly as the Nausicaan carefully picked his way through the piles of merchandise on the floor and headed to the exit of Dillon’s Supply Depot’s temporary home in the Waystation Village.
Commander Beck had only been able to allot Bradley one cargo module for his store, and it wasn’t nearly enough. He had tents on top of replicators on top of those new TerryFormer Jr. units he’d just received. Under these circumstances, business was almost impossible.
Two sweet-looking old ladies entered the store, pausing a moment to take in the chaos of scattered objects.
“Looks like you could use a maid,” one of them said.
“You volunteering,” Bradley replied, trying to muster as much charm as possible. A customer was a customer.
“Actually, we were looking for something in way of a control device.”
“Control? What do you want to control?”
“You mean like a cattle prod?”
“Hold on a second.” Bradley looked down at his inventory padd, trying to figure out which pile had the Andorian cheerleading batons. He’d gotten twenty of the damn things in stock and never managed to sell one. “Here we go.”
Bradley hopped around the piles until he got to the batons. Just as he was about to hand one to the women, Lieutenant Russell entered with Krilik, the owner of the station’s Klingon formal wear shop. Krilik was sporting a stylish black eye and several cuts and bruises.
“That is them,” Krilik said, pointing at the women.
“Ladies, I’m afraid I’m going to have to place you under arrest,” Russell said, stepping forward. The women crouched down into martial arts stances.
“I don’t think so, sonny boy.”
“Russell to security. Emergency at Dillon’s.”
The two women leapt forward just as Russell went for his sidearm.
Bradley sat silently in the Andorian restaurant’s module staring at the bowl of ghas’thlat gumbo in front of him wondering if Ih’mad’s idea of combining Andorian food with the cuisine of other cultures was so great after all. The two months they’d spent cooped up in these damn cargo modules was starting to drive everyone a little crazy. Why else would two perfectly nice old women feel compelled to trash his store while pummeling Russell and his security guards. On the upside, he finally managed to find a use for the cheerleading batons. Honestly, he didn’t know senior citizens could jump that high.
“Bradley Dillon?” a woman’s voice said, pulling him out of his thoughts. Bradley looked up at the newcomer. She was human and dressed in a business suit and carrying a briefcase. She looked a bit too proper to be another outraged customer, but also way too formal to be the type of person normally looking for him. Actually, she just emanated “lawyer.” This could be bad.
“That depends on who you are,” Bradley replied.
“Suzanne Cavez. I’m with the firm of Tillis, Franklin, and Cavez.” Lawyer. Bingo.
“Have a seat,” Bradley said, gesturing to the chair opposite him. “Do you handle damage suits?”
“Sorry. My store just got wrecked. I’m feeling a little bitter.” He took a couple of bites of gumbo. Actually, it wasn’t too bad.
“Are you familiar with Lucas Mauser?”
“If he owes your client money, you need to go find Lucas,” Bradley said quickly. “I just gave him a ship and some start-up money for that mining idea he had. We’re old high school friends, so I felt obligated. I am not responsible for his debts.”
“I assure you that is not why I am here, Mr. Dillon,” Cavez said. “As the key investor in Mr. Mauser’s business, he named you half-owner of the corporation.”
“I know. I told him just to invest whatever my share was for me. But this was all eight years ago. Surely he’s out of business by now.”
“Mr. Mauser just sold the business to the Jupiter Mining Corporation.”
“Wow. He managed to stay afloat that long.”
“Yes. And I have been sent to give you your share of the purchase price as well as your investment portfolio that Mr. Mauser has been managing for you.”
“You’re here to give me money?”
“Yes, sir.” Hey now. This day was looking up. A couple of thousand credits would make the damage to his store a little more palatable.
“Would you like the breakdown of your earnings?” Cavez continued, pulling a padd out of her briefcase.
“Sure. Why the hell not?” Bradley said taking another bite.
“Let’s see. Your share of the purchase price comes to 120 billion credits…”
Bradley spat gumbo on a passing patron.
“Yes, Mr. Dillon. Should I continue?”
“Your executive bonus is another 2 billion plus an additional 240 million in various residuals and benefits. Now that comes to you directly. In addition, your investment portfolio is worth approximately 12 billion credits. Mr. Mauser was very diligent about investing your dividends.”
“Pardon me, ma’am.”
“I imagine that this is a lot to take in all at once,” Cavez said.
“No kidding. I’m rich.”
“Yes, you are. Very very rich. As is Mr. Mauser.”
“I had no idea he was doing so well. He never told me.”
“He wanted it to be a surprise.”
“I just need your thumbprint and a retinal scan, and we’ll transfer the funds to your bank. It is the Third Cosmos Bank of Alpha Centauri, correct?”
“Yeah,” Bradley said. Shock was setting in. He was rich. Not just rich, incredibly rich. Phenomenally wealthy.
Bradley pressed his finger on the padd and looked into the portable retinal scanner Cavez placed in front of him.
“Everything is in order, Mr. Dillon. Have a pleasant day, and enjoy your meal,” Cavez said, standing up to leave.
“Thanks. I will,” Bradley said in a trance. Cavez left the restaurant.
“Can I get you anything else, sir?” Baughb, the waiter, said as he refilled Bradley’s glass of tea.
“I’m fine. I’m rich.”
“Very good, sir.”
“I’m rich. I’m rich. I’m rich!” Bradley leapt up out of his seat.
Bradley tossed and turned in bed that night, unable to concentrate on anything other than his new found fortune. He’d contacted his bank six separate times just to make sure the money was really in his account. It was, and he was suddenly their most valued customer.
The next question was what was he going to do with his fortune? He could live anywhere. Do anything. He could retire to Raisa to live out his days in absolute pleasure. He could go back to Alpha Centauri and get his spaceship business back. Hell, he could buy Alpha Centauri. The more he thought about it, though, the more he realized that his heart was in business. Besides, Dillon’s Supply Depot was providing a valuable service. Of course, now he wouldn’t have to be the one manning the counter. A chain! Yes! There would be a Dillon’s on every planet in the Federation, maybe even a few outside if he could get the clearances. And Waystation, where it all started, would be his headquarters. With the expansion, they’d actually have room for what he had in mind.
“Would you please be careful?” Commander Lisa Beck demanded as a piece of metal scrap from the upper level of the mall almost landed on top of her.
“Sorry, lady,” one of the workmen replied. He closed his face-shield and went back to his cutting. The construction foreman had made her wear a hard hat when coming onto the station, but Beck didn’t think it was going to be enough protection, though.
Beck turned to locate the source of the voice. Bradley Dillon, dressed in an incredibly expensive looking suit, was running up to her while adjusting his hard hat.
“You shouldn’t be on the station right now, Mr. Dillon. This place is dangerous.” To accent her point, another piece of debris plummeted to the deck.
“I need to speak to you about the renovations.”
“It is very important.”
“Alright. I think they’re almost done with the new security office. We’ll try in there.”
Bradley set a couple of padds down on the security desk while Commander Beck tried to figure out just what the hell he was up to.
“I’ve been going over the schematics of the renovated station,” Bradley said as he began pacing the office. “And I’ve noticed that several sections of various decks are being lent out to organizations both public and private. Starfleet is putting a couple of academy annex classrooms in. The Vulcan Science Academy has reserved most of deck 37. And the Tellarites are opening a massage parlor.”
“If you’re worried that there won’t be enough room for your shop, don’t. The new Waystation will have close to 100 decks. There’ll be plenty of room,” Beck said.
“That’s not what I wanted.”
“Well? Then what?”
“I would like to lease three decks. 24 through 26 if they’re available.”
“Three decks? Do you know how much that is? You don’t have enough income or merchandise to support a store that size.”
“No no. The store will still be in Starfleet Square Mall. I need the room for a couple of other things.”
“The corporate offices of Dillon Enterprises,” Bradley said proudly.
“You have got to be kidding.”
“I assure you, Commander, my bank account and I are not kidding,” Bradley said handing her the padd detailing his current financial status. Beck just about choked.
“134 billion credits!!!” Beck shouted.
“And some change,” Bradley said smiling.
“I guess you can have the decks,” Beck said trying to regain her composure. “I’ll put the request in with Starfleet.”
“Excellent. I’ve called a private contractor to begin construction on my offices and the Starfleet Suites Hotel, that is assuming I get the licensing permission for the name from Starfleet.”
“You’re putting in a hotel?”
“Yes, and one of the finest restaurants in the quadrant.”
“Sounds very…enterprising,” Beck said finally.
“Station log. Stardate 51664.2. Construction is commencing at a steady if not rapid pace. Much more activity is evident on decks 24-26 where Bradley Dillon’s contractors are busy creating office space for his new corporation, Dillon Enterprises. Bradley’s sudden change in fortunes has left the rest of us feeling…left out.”
“I can’t believe they just gave him those decks,” Lieutenant Craig Porter said from his position at the makeshift science console set up in the cargo module being used as operations.
“He still has to pay rent,” Beck replied.
“With the amount of money Bradley has, rent might as well be free,” Lieutenant Russell said.
“I wake up everyday firmly believing that this is some bizarre dream,” Porter continued. “One day, I’ll wake up, and he’ll no longer be disgustingly loaded.”
“Did he ever do anything to you guys?’ Beck asked.
“No,” Russell said.
“But I don’t see him sharing the wealth either,” Porter said. “Come on, Commander, you must be a little jealous.”
“Try insanely,” Beck said.
“Commander, a ship just entered sensor range. It’s Ferengi,” Russell reported.
A toothy-grinned Ferengi appeared on the screen. For some reason Beck couldn’t pinpoint, he was looking extraordinarily smug.
“This is Commander Lisa Beck of the Federation Outpost Waystation. What can we do for you?”
“Daimon Gribnob. I have been sent by the Grand Nagus to see Bradley Dillon.”
“I’ll let him know that you’re here. Until then, please find a parking space. I’d invite you in, but conditions are a bit cramped.”
“I understand. Gribnob out.”
“What do you suppose that’s about?” Porter asked.
“I’m guessing they’ve heard about Bradley’s good fortune and want to find a way into his wallet,” Beck said.
“If I don’t get a cut, they don’t get a cut,” Porter said.
“That’s between Bradley and the Ferengi.”
Bradley’s new office on Waystation was bigger, in his estimation, than the cargo module his store was now in. Money not only bought power, but space as well. Aside from hiring a personal assistant, getting his office built was the first task Bradley had on his mind once he got approval from Starfleet to go ahead with the Dillon Enterprises project.
Now, sitting in his huge replicated-leather chair in his real wood-paneled office, Bradley felt like the richest man in the universe. Unfortunately, he’d quickly discovered that being rich brought money grubbers out of the woodwork.
“Mr. Dillon?” his assistant’s voice said over the comm system.
“The chair of Amnesty Galactica would like to speak to you about the atrocities being committed against the people of Yulias Six.”
“And how much money does he want?”
“Several million, I believe.”
“Send him a Dillon Enterprises coffee mug when they come in.”
One part of Bradley reveled in all of the attention, but having to listen to constant begging was really starting to get to him. Perhaps a nice dinner out would be in order. With his new found fortune, the Andorians were sure to treat Bradley like a king.
“Commander Beck says there’s a Ferengi ship parked outside that would like to speak to you.”
Ferengi? Now this could be bad. The tiny scavengers like Amnesty Galactica might as well step aside. The big vulture had arrived. The question wasn’t what they wanted, but how they were going to try to get it.
“Patch them in here,” Bradley said, standing up and straightening his suit. A massive viewscreen rose up from the floor, covering the bookcases behind Bradley’s desk. A moment later, the Ferengi Daimon’s image appeared.
“Mr. Dillon, I presume?”
“Yes. Who am I addressing?” Bradley said, attempting to sound formal and rushed at the same time.
“I am Daimon Gribnob. I have been sent by the Grand Nagus and the Ferengi Commerce Authority to discuss the trade rights in this sector with you.” Trade rights. So that was the game. He could almost see their game plan. If anything, Bradley felt that his new wealth had made him much more shrewd and calculating than ever. And that being the case, this little maneuver the Ferengi were attempting would not work.
“Daimon, I am a very busy man, and I don’t have the time to talk about this now. May I suggest a meeting in two hours?”
“I am also a busy man, Mr. Dillon. Let’s settle this promptly…like now. The simple fact is that your businesses in this sector are a direct infringement on territory claimed by the Ferengi. We demand a forfeiture of 35% of your assets as compensation for your flagrant disregard for our trade sphere.”
“I have received no record of the Nagus’ claim, so I don’t feel the need to abide by it. Good day.” Bradley quickly ended the communication knowing full well that this was not the end of it. Once the Ferengi got it into their heads that they had rights over something, little short of a photon torpedo would dislodge them. Lacking the torpedo, Bradley would be forced to resort to alternate tactics.
“Gisele, get my bank on subspace.”
Gribnob’s first officer, Lox, walked over to his Daimon once Bradley Dillon had closed the comm channel.
“What will you do now?” Lox asked.
“Whatever I have to. Do you have any idea how much latinum is involved in this?”
“Of course, it’s a lot, you moron. Alert the transporter room that I’m going over there.”
“What is it?”
“Do we have the rights to this sector?”
“Technically, yes. The Nagus claimed this region years ago, but never did anything with it. He considers it a worthless void. That’s why I’m willing to sell it for him. Once I get a few billion bars of latinum out of Bradley Dillon, the Nagus will see the cunning in my lobes.”
Gribnob materialized in the middle of a firestorm. Sparks flew everywhere as men clad in protective gear sliced up the metal walls of the corridor. Falling back on his Ferengi upbringing, Gribnob did the first thing that came to mind.
“What the hell do you want, ugly?” one of the workers demanded, lifting up his welding visor.
“Not to die. Oh, and Bradley Dillon.”
“Down the hall. Third door on the left.”
Gribnob entered the door the worker indicated and found himself in a half-completed waiting area. A receptionist sat behind a desk. Above her, mounted on the wall, was a large sign reading “FUTURE HOME OF THE DILLON ENTERPRISES LOGO.”
“May I help you sir?” the receptionist asked.
“Where is Bradley Dillon?”
“He is on a subspace call right now. If you’ll take a seat, I’ll inform him that you are here Mr…?”
“Gribnob. Daimon Gribnob.”
“Of course. Please have a seat.” She gestured at a couple of upside-down building supply buckets lined against the side wall of the office. “Can I get you some coffee?”
“Do you have any beetle juice?”
“I’m afraid not. The replicators haven’t been installed yet.”
“I’ll just wait, then.”
“I don’t care about the ethics, Billy, can you get it done?”
“Well, yes, sir, Mr. Dillon, but why?”
“I can’t go into that right now.”
“Mr. Dillon?” Gisele’s voice said, breaking into the conversation.
“There’s a Daimon Gribnob here to see you.”
“Thank you. I’ve got to go, Billy. Tell me you’ll take care of it.”
“I’ll take care of it,” the confused bank officer said from the viewscreen.”
“Great. I’ll be in touch.”
Bradley closed the comm signal and settled into his desk chair.
“Gisele. Send in the Daimon, please.”
“Right away, sir.”
Gribnob cautiously entered the office a few moments later, stopping to gawk at the paneling, paintings and furniture. This was obviously a man more used to the bridge of a starship that to the world of real business. This was a pirate, a marauder.
“Have a seat,” Bradley said, extending his hand to Gribnob. The Ferengi shook it limply (again, he obviously wasn’t comfortable with this business custom) and sat down across from Bradley.
“Let’s get down to business,” Bradley said. “What are you offering me?”
“Offering you?” the Ferengi said, taken aback. “You are the one in debt to us.”
“I don’t think so. I’ve checked every record I can get my hands on, and the Grand Nagus hasn’t ever conducted business in this sector.”
“But he has the claim and is angered by your presence here.”
“Again, I don’t think so. Here’s what I see. You’re a Daimon looking for a bit of prestige and pull with the Nagus, so you figure that if you can get some latinum out of me, the Nagus will be impressed. Am I right?”
Gribnob sat back stunned. Somehow this hu-man had ascertained his entire plan. If he didn’t know any better, he’d swear Bradley Dillon was a Ferengi. Of course, Gribnob could not let any of that show.
“I am here merely as a representative of our Nagus. And your disrespect to him has raised our demands to 40% of your assets.”
“You won’t see a strip of latinum out of me as long as I’m alive.”
“That is an excellent point, Mr. Dillon. You are out here all alone on a defenseless station. And the phaser arrays mounted on that parking lot of cargo modules out there have very little chance of damaging our ship from this distance.”
“Are you threatening me?”
“I am merely pointing out the strengths in our argument. You will transfer 54 billion credits to this account immediately or face the consequences.” Gribnob pulled a small register padd out of his pocket and tossed it to Bradley.
“Trash,” Bradley said simply. A hole in the floor opened beside his desk, which he lobbed the padd into.
“The answer is no.”
Gribnob leapt across the desk, grabbing Bradley by the collar.
“You will pay for that.”
“Go home, Gribnob. The game’s over.”
“Only for you.” He pulled a disrupter out of his pocket. “Now, if you’ll be so kind as to accompany me back to my ship, we’ll discuss this further.”
“Oh god am I glad I’m paranoid,” Bradley said, leaning forward in his chair.
“What are you babbling about, hu-man?”
“Not a thing,” Bradley said. He shot his hand under the desk and pushed a button. Instantly, he vanished in a flurry of molecules.
“Damn you, Dillon!!!” Gribnob pulled out his communicator and contacted his ship. “Bradley Dillon is gone!”
“We detected the transport, Daimon,” Lox replied. “We’re trying to trace it now.”
“Get me out of here.”
Bradley materialized in the middle of a pile of MicroMeal containers in his shop’s module thanking himself for the foresight to be paranoid. The site-to-site transporter in his office worked perfectly…well, except for the landing. Two feet to the left, and he would have been in an eminently preferable pile of pillows. On the bright side, he’d escaped Gribnob. Now, he just had to keep it that way.
“Computer, engage scrambling field.”
“Daimon, we’ve lost sensor contact with Bradley Dillon’s module.”
“What?” Gribnob demanded.
“Some sort of energy field just sprung up.”
“He’s there. I know he’s there. Beam him here.”
“I can’t get a solid lock on anything.”
“Set the beam on wide dispersal and energize. We’ll grab everything in that room!”
Bradley pulled himself out of the MicroMeals and headed toward the door. He had to warn Beck.
“Bradley Dillon to…”
He, and almost everything else in the room, dematerialized before he could finish the sentence.
“I’m detecting a massive transport from Bradley’s module,” Porter reported. “It’s coming from the Ferengi.”
“Hail that ship!” Beck ordered.
“They aren’t responding,” Russell replied. “They’re on the move. One quarter impulse…one half…full…they’ve jumped into warp.”
“Damn! Russell, find Commander Morales and go after them.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Russell said as he raced out of ops.
“Commander, we’re receiving a message from the Third Cosmos Bank of Alpha Centauri. They need to speak with Bradley,” Porter said.
“Tell them he’s unable to be reached at the moment.”
Looking around at his new surroundings, Bradley had the distinct feeling that he was in big trouble. He was in the cargo hold of a Ferengi ship, and he was pretty sure that he wasn’t going to have a lot of time before the ship’s owners came looking for him.
This wasn’t his sort of deal. Starfleet officers were much better equipped to handle this trapped on a hostile vessel crap. Seeing as how there weren’t any Starfleet officers around to help him, though, Bradley was just going to have to make do on his own. First order of business, get prepared to kick some Ferengi ass. He didn’t have any phasers handy, but he had a few items in stock that could have potential.
Bradley rushed over to his counter, which had been beamed up as well, and grabbed his inventory padd. Somehow, he had to find a way to disable the ship’s engines and send a message to Waystation to come rescue him. Of course, that meant he’d also have to face a few Ferengi.
A short search revealed the first items he needed: a few Sense-O-Matics. Their manufacturer was trying to bust in on the tricorder market, but Bradley didn’t think they’d ever catch on. Besides the stupid name, their garish colors and awkward construction just couldn’t compete with the sleek tricorder. They did, however, have the advantage of being much more affordable for the average colonist. Bradley stocked them for that reason and now was grateful that he did.
He programmed the first Sense-O-Matic to emit human life-signs, then buried the device under a pile of tents. The other two he kept for later use. With any luck, the Ferengi would believe Bradley was still in the cargo hold. Positive that the Ferengi would be on him any second, Bradley opened up his safe and pulled out his pride and joy: a subspace pocket generator. Technically, this thing was incredibly illegal, but it was also very handy. Once he opened that pocket, he could store as much stuff in there as he wanted. It was like carrying a huge storage crate with you that fit in a device the size of your fist.
Bradley opened up the pocket and threw in a few TerryFormer Jrs., a couple of the cheerleading batons, a Sense-O-Matic, and the Grady Guide to Galactic Cultures. Finally, he programmed the last Sense-O-Matic to emit Ferengi life-signs, which would hopefully mask his own. Then, he crept out of the storage bay. He rounded a corner just as a team of five armed Ferengi arrived at the cargo bay door.
Ducking into the first room he came to, Bradley checked the Grady Guide to see what he was up against. Aside from the technical specs, the Guide gave him the disconcerting fact that a ship this size had a normal crew of about forty Ferengi. This was most likely going to be a very bad day.
The Guide was also, unfortunately, very lacking on the specifics of the layout of the ship. He needed a map or a transporter.
“Well?” Gribnob said expectantly.
“They have not found him,” Lox reported. “The scrambling field is making the search difficult.”
“Shut it off!”
“They can’t find it either. There’s a whole ton of stuff down there.”
“Then, go help them!”
Bradley found a computer terminal in bedroom the next cabin he entered. Hoping that accessing the general ship’s layout would not trigger any alarms, Bradley activated the system and downloaded the information into his Sense-O-Matic. He was so intent on his work that he almost didn’t hear the cabin doors open and close out in the living area. Bradley shut off the terminal and dove under the desk, digging in his subspace pocket for one of the cheerleading batons.
A moment later, a Ferengi entered the room humming while he stripped his clothes off for a shower. Bradley peeked over the desk quietly as he turned on the power cell of the baton. He decided that naked Ferengi now ranked just under that gutted fish he saw as a kid on the list of the most disgusting thing he’d ever seen in his life.
The Ferengi entered the bathroom and activated the sonic shower, giving Bradley his opportunity to escape. He made a break for the door.
“Hey!” the Ferengi shouted from behind him. Evidently, he hadn’t gotten into the shower just yet. “Filk to…”
Bradley whirled around and tossed the baton. With pinpoint accuracy, it slammed into the Ferengi, sending jolts of powerful energy through his quivering body. Bradley placed nude, electrocuting Ferengi just above nude Ferengi on the list.
The Ferengi collapsed to the deck unconscious as Bradley retrieved his baton. It wasn’t a phaser, but it would just have to be enough for right now.
Bradley headed out into the corridor cautiously and raced to the nearest turbolift. His newly-stolen information gave him everything he needed to know about the ship. After ordering the lift to head to engineering, Bradley pulled a TerryFormer Jr. out of the pocket and started programming it. Once the doors opened in engineering, Bradley activated the device and pushed it out of the lift. As the lift doors closed, he could hear the machine starting to work.
Lights flickered on and off all over the bridge as the ship slowed to a halt.
“What the hell is going on?” Gribnob demanded.
“We’ve lost all power!” the helm officer said.
“Uh…well, it’s snowing, sir,” the chief engineer’s voice said hesitantly.
“We’ve got three feet already. It’s piling up too fast. Water and ice have gotten into everything. There’s nothing we can do.”
“Auxiliary control to bridge,” another voice broke in.
“What is it?” Gribnob said.
“It’s raining down here.”
“Yes, sir. It’s beautiful. Just like home on Ferenginar. I’m a bit worried about water getting into the…”
The ship rocked from the force of the explosion as auxiliary control went up in flash of fire.
“Gribnob to all personnel. There is an insane hu-man on board this ship. Find him!!!”
If Bradley had ever seen Die Hard, he probably would have been feeling a bit like Bruce Willis at this moment. In short order, he’d disabled engineering and auxiliary control and made the weapons locker so hot that the Ferengi’s disrupters were actually melting. Along the way, he’d also given five or six surprised Ferengi the shock of their lives with his cheerleading batons. He made a mental note to thank Ih’mad and Baughb for their insane culture when he got back to Waystation. This guerilla warfare stuff wasn’t so bad after all. Who needed Starfleet? Bradley was causing more chaos alone than Russell and all of his security combined could. Bradley Dillon: Mercenary for Hire. No. He preferred, Bradley Dillon: Superwealthy Businessman. This mercenary stuff was a one time deal.
Right now, though, he needed to get to the bridge. He hoped that enough of the crew was now out searching for him that the bridge would fairly deserted. Bradley went to the nearest turbolift and waited for it to arrive. The doors finally opened revealing two Ferengi.
“Charge!” Bradley cried, leaping into the lift and swinging the baton around like some demented martial arts master. The Ferengi had enough time to scream before Bradley zapped and pummeled them into unconsciousness. After sending the lift to the bridge, Bradley pulled a couple of more batons out of the subspace pocket.
The bridge doors opened revealing a scene even better than Bradley could have hoped. The place was deserted except for Gribnob and two other officers. Bradley threw batons at the two officers before they even had a chance to turn around and see who’d entered the bridge. Gribnob rose to face Bradley as his officers gyrated on the ground in the grip of energy from the Andorian child’s toy.
“Dillon!” Gribnob shouted.
“Turn this ship around and contact Waystation,” Bradley ordered, holding a baton threateningly.
“We can’t turn around, you moron. You’ve destroyed half the ship.”
“Oh…sorry about that. Well, just call Waystation.”
“No, you’re going to surrender and sign over those damn assets! All of them!!!
“Right,” Bradley said. “You don’t have the power to make me.”
“He does,” Gribnob said, pointing at a door on the other side of the bridge. From behind the door came a whooshing sound, remarkably like a toilet. Seconds later, the door opened revealing a Ferengi, an eight-foot-tall, incredibly muscular Ferengi.
“Bulk, get him,” Gribnob ordered. Bulk lumbered toward Bradley who quickly threw the baton at the giant. Bulk froze for a second, but didn’t fall down. He just shook off the effects of the energy and kept on coming. Bradley fumbled for his subspace pocket as he ran to the other side of the bridge.
“Scared now, Mr. Dillon,” Gribnob said smugly.
“You stay out of this!”
In a surprisingly swift move, Bulk dove across the bridge, crushing the console Bradley was standing next to. Bradley moved to escape, but Bulk had a grip on his leg. Bradley finally got his hands on another baton and slammed the end of it into Bulk’s hand. The Ferengi grunted painfully but did not let go. Instead, he pulled himself up and wrapped his immense form around Bradley’s body, slowly starting to squeeze the life out of him.
Gribnob retrieved a padd from his command chair and leisurely strolled over to Bradley.
“How about those assets?” Gribnob said. The comm system started beeping.
“You’re being hailed,” Bradley said.
“I’ll get it later. Sign.”
One of the stunned officers slowly regained consciousness and crawled over to the comm station to answer the hail.
“It’s a Federation runabout, sir,” the officer reported. “They have a message for Bradley Dillon.”
“If I sign this, I get all trade rights in the sector, correct?” Bradley asked.
“Of course,” Gribnob said. “The Nagus is a fair man. He just demands a small offering to show your respect. Your assets will handle that nicely.”
“Then fine,” Bradley said, slamming his thumb down on the padd scanner. “You’ve got my entire account. Can I hear my message now?”
“Release him, Bulk. Have the runabout send over Bradley’s message.”
The face of Billy from the Third Cosmos Bank of Alpha Centauri appeared on the screen.
“Mr. Dillon, I regret to inform you that due to an accounting error in our office, a mistake was made concerning your recent dividends from the Mauser Mining Consortium. This may come as a bit of a shock to you, but these errors do happen. In any case, instead of 134 billion credits, the amount you earned is 134 credits. Diros in accounting made a small decimal point mistake. We apologize for the inconvenience. Cosmos Bank out.”
“Oh my god,” Bradley said, sinking to the deck.
“Great Nagus!” Gribnob exclaimed, sinking down next to Bradley.
“I’m ruined,” they both said in unison.
Gribnob turned on Bradley.
“You can rebuild,” the Ferengi shouted. “I’m the one who just sold you trade rights for an entire sector for 134 credits. The Nagus is going to kill me!”
“Hey, it’s more than he was getting out of this sector currently,” Bradley said.
“Get out of here! Just go! Leave this ship!”
“All right. I’m going,” Bradley said.
“Beam him to the Federation ship,” Gribnob ordered.
“Pleasure doing business with you,” Bradley said just as the transporter beam grabbed him.
“Station Log. Supplemental. After whatever Bradley did to their ship, the Ferengi were very cooperative with our requests to return him and his inventory to Dillon’s Supply Depot. We’ve towed the cripple Ferengi vessel back to Waystation where they are making repairs.
The news of Bradley’s misfortune has been kept secret. Only the command crew knows about that message from his bank, and I can’t say that we’re real disappointed. We don’t mind it when people have some good luck, but Bradley’s situation was just annoying. No one needs that kind of money, especially when they don’t share it with us. So we know Bradley’s broke, but we’re just enjoying it quietly. We figure that Bradley will tell everyone else when he’s good and ready. In the meantime, I’ve decided to lend him a bit of moral support…and rub it in a little without looking like I’m rubbing it in.”
“I think you spend almost as much time in here as I do,” Commander Beck said as she approached Bradley’s table in the Andorian restaurant module.
“Best food on the station,” Bradley said as he stared down at the Yaxix fettucini Alfredo Baughb had just placed down in front of him. “Usually.”
“Ih’mad is starting to go a bit overboard,” Beck said, taking a seat across from Bradley. “The cramped conditions are getting to everybody.”
“Tell me about it. I’m glad I’ve had my offices on the station to retreat to.”
“About that,” Beck said, figuring now was as good of a time as any to broach the subject. “I can talk to Starfleet about getting you out of your lease.”
“Why would I want to do that?” Bradley asked.
“We saw the message from the bank. I know you’re broke.”
“Broke!” Bradley started laughing. “Nothing could be further from the truth. I figured the Ferengi situation could get a bit ugly, so I had the bank set up a new account for me and send the fake message about my old one.”
“You still have money?”
“More than the Great Bird! Don’t you worry about me, Commander.”
“Glad to hear it,” Beck replied, trying to sound sincere. “Well, I should get back to ops.”
“Thanks for dropping by,” Bradley said warmly. “Come see my office some time.”
“I will,” Beck said, then made a hasty retreat out into the connecting tunnel to the next module.
The door to the next module opened and Lieutenant Porter raced in.
“Commander, are you all right?”
“Bradley’s still rich,” Beck said.