Part of USS Eagle: Mission 1 – Delta Quadrant and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

A Quandary

Sefus IV
November 2400
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Lieutenant Commander Roger Allen paused to think about the assignments he gave while the away team was flying on the shuttle Eaglet 1 to the science facility on Sefus IV.  Chroniton particles were still being detected, but they had begun to dissipate.

“Since we have no idea what we’re going to find on the facility, no one goes off alone.  I can’t emphasize that enough,” said Roger.  “Hok and I will start searching the living quarters, while the three of you check the engineering, medical, and science sections in that order.  Hok and I will meet you when we’re finished.”

Roger knew his shipmates were capable, but maybe they should have brought another person from security.

“Sir?  Sir, are you all right?”

Roger looked at Ensign Hok.

“We’ve been standing here…”  Hok’s voice trailed off.

“I’m just thinking ahead, Mister Hok.  There’s a lot to do here.”  Roger didn’t want Hok to know he was questioning himself about an order he gave.  He couldn’t explain why, but something didn’t feel right.

“Yes, sir.”

Roger got the sense Hok didn’t believe him.

“The facility manifest lists nine scientists stationed here, but there are twenty personal quarters.  I’ll check the ten on the left and you take the right.  Report anything unusual,” said Roger.

“More unusual than chronitons and a missing crew?” said Hok.

“Yes.  Be careful.”

“I will, sir.”  Hok watched the XO open the door to the first room on the left.  Sighing, he started his search, too.

The first three were unoccupied, but someone lived in the fourth.  Taking more time, he looked in every room, but no one was there, with apparently nothing unusual about the place.  In the bedroom, he was about to leave, when he saw a small box on the night stand.  Suspecting what was inside, he opened it, finding a ring with a gold band and diamond.  It seemed one of the scientists was going to propose marriage to one of the others.  Closing it, he was about to put it back on the stand, but stopped midway.

Thoughts raced through Hok’s mind.  No one would know the ring was gone.  He could slip it into his pocket.  Done deal.  Profit gained.

Then his Starfleet training kicked in.  All those noble and selfless ideals were blaring at him to do the right thing.  Respect the owner of the ring.  If they couldn’t find the scientists, the family would want it.  He was being disgraceful just by considering taking it.

Despite the idealism that had been poured into him in four years at Starfleet Academy, he knew people were inherently out for themselves.  No one was any different.  Even the people that were called nice or good; because even though they did nice and good things, they did them for their own selfish reasons.  The only way to make it in this universe, the only way to be successful or have the good life, was to be out for yourself, and in doing that, a person had to play the game.  That game had rules, and the first Nagus had written them.  How stupid he was to think the Starfleet way was something better.

Everything Ferengi, everything he truly was and wanted to be, was telling him to take it, and to look for more.  The others were busy with their own tasks.  None of them knew what Hok was doing.

He stared longingly at the box, the reasons to take it, running through his head.

Instinct, plus opportunity, equals profit.  Greed is eternal.  Nothing is more important than your health… except for your money.  Never ask when you can take.  Take joy from profit, and profit from joy.  There are many paths to profit.  Even in the worst of times, someone turns a profit.  Not even dishonesty can tarnish the shine of profit.  The justification for profit, is profit.  A man is only worth the sum of his possessions.

The most important reason: a Ferengi without profit, is no Ferengi at all.

Hok opened the box again and slowly reached out and touched the ring, but quickly pulled back his hand.  Though he knew he was alone in the room, he looked behind him to make sure.  He touched the ring again.  Ah, it felt so good!  His mind raced.  His stomach churned.  He could barely breathe.

Closing his eyes and deep in thought, Hok made his choice.

 

Comments

  • Interesting plot, though not really surprising that a Ferengi is basically fighting himself over whether or not to take something that doesn't belong to him. Though you made it sound like he actually took it, if so hopefully he comes to his senses and returns what he took. Very interesting story here, wonder what's going to happen next.

    November 12, 2022
  • I am all in for Schrödinger's ring! At first blush, the discovery of the ring struck me with a hit of pathos for this science team that's gone missing. And then you immediately undercut it with Hok's desire to steal the ring for profit! Ha! Didn't see that coming and then it proved a satisfying character spotlight to understand his philosophy and internal conflicts. Fantastic story!

    November 14, 2022