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The Price We Paid Part I

Posted on Tue Feb 25th, 2020 @ 11:24pm by Zulg & Gil Paret
Edited on on Wed Feb 26th, 2020 @ 2:11am

3,871 words; about a 19 minute read

Mission: Episode 9 - Empok's End
Location: USS Tianlong, Hanger Deck One
Timeline: MD001 1900 hrs

After a crafty escape, the small dinky shuttle, was now landing on the hanger bay of the USS Tianlong. A Federation carrier, sent from Starfleet, to help aid in the evacuation of Empok Nor. Elloma had no idea, where Starfleet was going to send them, but she was glad to be off that station. She had no doubt, the saboteur caused the fall of the station. They should have been able to hold back the invading forces.

"Thanks for your assist. Sorry I am only saying it now." Elloma said, as she looked to the two gentleman that were in the shuttle with them. They were to busy easier, to socialize or give proper greetings or thanks.

“I was glad to help,” Talas replied quietly. “I just wish I could have done more, I know we did what we could it just somehow feels like not enough.”

“We all feel that way,” Jack added. He smiled at Elloma and Nassie. “It is nice to meet you both even under bad circumstances.”

“Yes,” Talas spoke quickly. “I am glad to meet you both as well.”

"Elloma Essu..." Elloma started to say, as she was about to introduce Nassie.

"Nassie Essu." She called out, she reached out to shake their hand. "And like my sister said, thank you for the assist. Don't kick yourself, there was nothing more we could have done." Nassie said, as she looked over to Talas.

“Where are my manners, I am Talas Ruhrie,” he replied, looking over at Nassie with a smile. “Just arrived to my post in engineering.”

“Jack Smith,” was the other man’s reply. “I am...rather was the counselor and will be when we return.” He was confident that this wasn’t over.

"Pretty sure, Starfleet will utilize all of us, until we retake our home." Elloma called out. She could see Nassie shaking her head in agreement. "Until then, we just need to help out, where we can."

"That is a good plan," Talas nodded. "It helps to have each other and seeing those who were rescued will help us heal."

"I will make certain I am available to help as well as listen," Jack added. "All of us are feeling many emotions right now, I cannot even imagine how Captain Hood is coping."

"Think we should head to the lounge, not sure about you. I don't want to hang out in the hanger deck all day. According to the schematics, over there." Elloma pointed out to them, on the 2nd floor. "There is a lounge there. I think the pilots frequent that lounge, don't think they will mind a few refugees stopping by to get a drink." Elloma pointed out to them.

For a Ferengi like Zulg this was the worst situation to be in. He hated sadness, sadness was bad for profit, unless it was a funeral. They took the station and with it his bar, his life, his PROFIT. They would pay with the best revenge a Ferengi knew, lawsuits. For the time being he set himself up as a good samaritan. It seemed that the ship had a lounge and was in need of a good bartender. So he set himself up, and they said Zulg's was dead.

He just finished serving some pilots their drinks when he noticed Paret sitting by a window by herself. No one wanted to sit or speak with her as the racism settled in after the battle. He sent a server over with a bottle of replicated kanar. Zulg knew it was not as good as the real thing but it was better than nothing. He felt for the Cardassian woman. For all his bluster the crew of Empok Nor was Zulg's real profit.

Gil Paret sat and stared out the window at a ship at warp. She was a woman in exile, exiled from her home and her people. She worried what would become of her now. The idea that there must of been more that she could do, should have done. You kept that station together against an insurmountable odds. Allowed everyone to get off and away safely. What more could be asked of an engineer? she thought.

The bottle of kanar was delivered and Paret smiled weakly in Zulg's direction. It was all she could manage as a thank you. Her hand began to trace the rank insignia on her shoulder as she gulped the kanar. She removed the insignia, that which made her a Gil in the CDF. Her eyes narrowed as she stared at it knowing that she wore this proudly. Now she did not want to see it or what it represented. Paret gulped more of the kanar and she sensed that one of her trademark braids had come undone. Instead of bringing the braid back in order she sat and stared into the void. A woman lost to battle, lost to the galaxy.

As they entered the lounge, Jack glanced around. Everyone’s expressions showed their sadness and anger mixed together. It made him want to go to every table and try to help them cope emotionally but he needed to get himself together first. He noticed the Cardassian woman sitting alone and turned to the others. “Any of you know her?” He asked. “If it we’re me I would need reassurance of some kind from my fellow crew.”

“She is our chief engineer,” Talas spoke up, looking her way. “I was supposed to meet with her tomorrow for my first day.” He looked at Nassie and Elloma. “What do you think?”

"No doubt, she feels the same way we do, dissociated with our home, but I don't blame her. We Essu sisters know how that feels." Nassie said, as looked to Elloma. They were not welcomed home, because they turned their backs and joined Starfleet. Their parents wanted them to serve Krios, not the Federation. They were nobility, not common folks. Or so they would tell you, every chance they got.

Elloma was surprised that Nassie made that comment. It was the first time, she really spoke about them being sisters.

Elloma was not sure how to respond at first, but as the senior officer, on this party, she knew she needed to say something. "I think we should ask to sit with her, we are all one crew, one starfleet." Elloma said, with a grin on her face. She was trying to positive, but it was hard. They lost their station.

Zulg noticed the newcomers and was quick to make them welcome. "Come... Come ladies and gentlemen. My dear friends welcome to New Zulgs. Anything that we can get you just ask. First drink on the house, Rules of Acquisition and all. So come come to the bar and place your order." He spoke like a carnival barker of old and his smile broadened. He knew these new arrivals they were members of the Empok Nor crew.

Paret turned toward the bar just to acknowledge the small amount of commotion that Zulg caused. Heh, Ferengi ever the salesmen, ever the showman. She thought as she realized that she rather liked the Ferengi. She hoped that she could get him back to his bar soon. Her thoughts turned dark at that moment and she returned to her brooding. Paret did not know it but she was shell shocked by all she had seen.

"I am pretty sure, you need to ask the carrier commander, if you can set up shop on his ship." Elloma told Zulg. She had no idea, what his name was. She had never met Captain Knight. But she was greatful, for his rescue of them. And other members of the Empok Nor crew.

"Oh never fear Lieutenant. This is all done on the up and up. New Zulg's is temporary only to keep spirits up and of course until we can all return to our homes." He smiled toward Elloma it was a typical Ferengi smile.

"Don't mind her, she is Security. I personally appreciate the gesture Zulg, right?" Nassie asked, as she walked over to the bar area. She had a big contagious smile on her face.

"Yes of course Ensign but you find me at a loss. What can I get for you and your friends?" Zulg replied as prepared to pour the group a drink.

“Why are you barred from home?” Talas asked them with a frown. He hated the thought of anyone not being able to see their family though it had been a long time for him. “He looked at the Ferengi. “What do you recommend?”

Jack’s eyes were still in the Cardassian. He was concerned for her, having your people attack and kill people you cared about was hard to deal with.

"After today, maybe an AMF, do you know how to make that. It's an Earth Drink." Nassie said, hoping Zulg, was familiar with Earth Drinks.

"Ah yes I do believe I am familiar with that one, as I am familiar with most drinks from Earth. She is the center of the Federation after all." Zulg said with a broad smile. He set to the task of making the drink being careful to measure the precise amounts to make it just perfect. A moment later he placed the garnish a slice of lemon on the rim of the tall glass. "There you go my dear. Compliments of the house." He put his hands together an bowed generously.

Elloma just stared at Zulg, the security officer inside of her, was itching to come out. But this was not really her matter to tend too. It would be up to the Tianlong's security team to handle him. She tried to look away.

Nassie was delighted, and took the drink. As she took a small sip, she let out a sigh of relief. "Very delicious, thank you Zulg." Nassie said, with a soft voice. She was just as stressed as her older sister, but unlike her, she was going to take this moment, to relax.

Zulg smiled and made his way to another customer at the bar.

Paret replayed the battle in her head. She searched for something she could have done, a way to prevent the need to evacuate. But nothing came, she has failed and what made it worse was that everyone thought she was one of them.

Jack took his drink and turned to the others. “I am going over there. Anyone coming with me? She needs our support.”

A part of Talas wanted to say no and it had nothing to do with her but her species. That was unfair and he mentally shook himself. “Jacks right.” He admitted. “Imagine us in her place.”

"We are in her place, we all lost our home. Maybe she wants to be left alone." Elloma pointed out, to the group. Empok Nor was their home now. And someone invaded it, and took it over. Even though Elloma had just arrived, and was working on a project for Commander Quinn Ó Flannagáin of the USS Pioneer, she had a certain level of loyalty to the place she served, and lived at.

“Or maybe she is afraid to talk to anyone because she thinks we all blame her,” Talas countered. “That is how I would feel, with everyone looking at me with blame.”

"Fine, reach out to her, Talas." Elloma said, not wanting to be the one to reach out. They were all coping, and Elloma did not want to bother anyone who was struggling. And she appeared to be struggling, like they were.

“Lieutenant Essu made a good point,” Jack spoke quietly. “Some people would rather just deal with it on their own. This is probably not the time or place to approach her. I may at a later date.”

"Call me Elle," Elloma said, as she looked over to Jack. She gave a small grin. She liked the fact, he backed her play on this. To many humans, wanted to solve everyone's issues. Not realizing, some people just need time to cope.

“I prefer Jack as well,” he replied with a smile. “I appreciate your opinion there. It is the counselor in me coming out.”

“I haven’t made a decision yet,” Talas spoke up. “That is my boss and I am more of a underdog person. I like to cheer people up and make them feel better if I can. I know what it is like to want someone to talk to but feel like you have no one. Back home some people have no voice.”

"So you going over there or not?" Nassie asked Jack. She was curious what he was going to do. She was debating about talking to Paret.

"I don't know if I should," Jack debated. "She may resent me as I am a counselor and be suspicious."

"I'm going," Talas grabbed his drink and started over. "I watched my sister suffer in silence until I couldn't take it anymore and I promised myself if I was in this situation again I would do something.

"Good luck." Elloma said, thinking this would nite him in the ass. She had a sneaky suspicion.

Paret sat and silently wished that she had someone to share her thoughts with. However, no one here wanted anything to do with her. She wished her friend Lax had gotten on the same ship as her. She wondered if she would ever see Lax again, and how Lax's husband was doing. She began to hum a Cardassian drinking song that always made her feel better. Perhaps that would shake away the loneliness.

"your friend is either very brave, or foolish." Elloma said to Jack, as she watched Talas walk over to the Cardassian woman. Elloma was pretty sure that she wanted to be left alone.

“He is looking at things from a personal level,” Jack murmured. “It is not my story to share but he once didn’t say anything and it almost cost him someone he cared about.”

Talas didn't know if anyone was coming with him but he headed over to the table. "Excuse me. Do you mind if I join you?" He waited for an answer, not certain what it would be.

Paret looked at the man standing next to her table and she was sure she had seen him on the station but could not place the name for some reason. With a shaky hand she moved some of her loose hair back and over her ear. "Of course Ensign have a seat. Although I am not sure how much company I will be. So I must apologize in advance." Cardassians were social beings and yet Paret did not feel too social at the moment. She managed a smile that was not too convincing. Some of the others that were in the lounge looked a bit shocked that someone was even taking a moment to chat with the Cardassian woman.

“I’m Ensign Ruhrie,” he replied as he sat down. “Please call me Talas. I was to start in your department tomorrow. Talas paused for a moment. “I know we will go back there and I look forward to working for you.”

"I am Gil Paret, you an call me Paret. Although I am not sure if the rank of Gil will even hold after today..." Her voice trailed off as she was lost in a moment that was all in her head. "...Forgive me Talas. I know that we will get back there again as well. And when we do you and I are going to have our work cut out for us. I am sure that station is going to be a mess. Sorry we had to meet on these circumstances." She smiled again weakly. Although this man's presence had inspired a change in her demeanor. Paret was his superior officer, and now she had to look the part.

“I am ready to help wherever I can,” Talas said. “We are all in this together, I believe it will take all of us but we will do it.” He smiled then. “Everyone is waiting to take her back.” He wanted to be personal and tell her not to feel shame because of what happened but she was his superior.

"You know Talas I wonder exactly how right you are when you say everyone is waiting to take the station back..." Paret began to speak a familiar tone in her voice. Not one of superiority, her tone was more friendly. "...It has been my experience since leaving the station that some are not so ready, willing and able. They think that my people are behind this and so my people should straighten it out. It has me wondering if they are right."

“Any maybe they should,” Talas concedes. “But I for one do not want to sit around and wait for that.” He paused. “You are wrong about one thing. You may be Cardassian by birth but your people are the crew of Empok Nor. If they know you, they are behind you. If not then they aren’t worth the time of day.”

Paret felt those words, she felt them in her heart and a genuine smile came across her lips. "There was so much more we could have done in the core room. So much that could have prevented them from taking the station..." She paused for a moment as she realized she was dwelling in the past. "You know I wish there were others who thought like you. I do not wish to hold you from your friends. You should have them come here and we can swap stories and drinks." She said with a smile.

Talas turned and smiled at the others waving them over. He didn’t know if they would all come but he hoped so.

Meanwhile Elloma looked over to Nassie and Jack. "Well she does not seem very receptive to approach." Elloma pointed out. As she observed Paret's demeanor. She did not appear to want to be disturbed.

Jack looked over. “I agree but she didn’t tell him to leave either. Talas is smart enough to leave if she hints at it. Jack watched them for a long moment. “You two want to find a seat?”

"I guess, but this handsome Ferengi has the booze right here." Nassie suggested with a big grin. She just wanted his alcohol. So a little harmless flirting never hurt.

“Can I have another drink, for my friend here?” Jack asked the Ferengi. “And a water for me.”

Nassie gave the Ferengi her big brown please eyes. Then she looked over to Jack. "Thank you, I think." She said with a big grin on her face. She was not sure if he was referring to her or Elloma. As his friend. She assumed her, since she made the reference to wanting a drink.

Zulg placed the drinks ordered on the bar. "It is nice to see some officers with their spirits up. It has been so damned depressing around here since we departed Empok Nor."

"I will admit, its hard to keep our spirits up. I suppose its easier for me. Because I just arrived a short time ago." Nassie said, as she looked over to Zulg and the others.

Elloma decided to chime in. "I am with Nassie on this one. I barely arrived as well. So I dont have a strong connection to the station. But it's sad to see us loose our home, and that some of us died defending it." Elloma pointed out. She was taking it a little harder than Nassie was.

"The longer I am away from my bar, the longer the Cardassians have control of Empok Nor, the longer I am out profits." Zulg grumbled. "Now that is a cause worth fighting for."

Jack shook his head. “You will be surprised at how soon we are back.” He glances towards Talas and smiled. “Hey look! Talas wants us to join them.”

"If your wrong, you owe me a drink." Elloma told Jack. She was not getting that impression from Paret.

“It’s a deal,” Jack nodded as they headed towards the table. “Talas doesn’t seem unhappy.”

"You coming Zulg?" Nassie, asked wanting the drinks to keep coming with them.

"Alas my apologies I must keep everyone entertained. I will make sure that your beverages are kept fresh and I will stop by as soon as I can." Zulg replied with a broad smile that bore the Ferengi trademark trowels.

“Oh come on,” Jack urged. “Everyone is served at the moment, you can visit for a little while.”

"I'm staying where the boose is." Nassie said, with a big grin on her face.

Elloma looked on in disbelief. She did not want to leave Nassie alone with Zulg. Not the way she was drinking tonight. "Perhaps we can ask them to join us?" Elloma suggested to Jack.

Ferengi prided themselves on two things, the firs of course being their business acumen and the second being their ability to read people and make the best deal. At the moment it was the latter skill that Zulg had employed. He could see that Elloma was a little apprehensive, and the Nassie just wanted a good time. The others in this little group seemed to be a bit upset about the state of the Cardassian woman. He decided that perhaps it would be best to give the group his undivided attention and allow them to benefit from his counsel. "You know perhaps you are right. I have been on my feet for a while now. I could do with a rest and a bit of conversation. We should join them." He reached under the bar and put two bottles on the bartop. The first was a black viscous liquid, that was clearly Kanar, and the other was a pale blue unidentifiable liquid. In a surprising athletic move for a Ferengi he leapt over the bar and grabbed the bottles. "Shall we?"

Jack looked over at the women. “Coming?”

"Bummer." Nassie simply said, seeing that Zulg was closing down his makeshift shop. She followed Zulg over, and hoped that he would bring out another bottle. She was still on edge, and wanted to relax a bit. She had a feeling this carrier, had no real booze on it.

Elloma silently followed her sister, without saying a word.
To Be Continued...

A Joint Post By:

Gil Paret
Chief Engineering Officer, Empok Nor

Lieutenant Junior Grade Elloma Essu
Assistant Chief Security/Tactical Officer, Empok Nor

Ensign Nassie Essu
Operations Officer, Empok Nor

Owner/Bartender "Zulg's", Empok Nor

Ensign Talas Ruhrie
Communications Specialist, Empok Nor

Lieutenant Junior Grade Jack Smith
Chief Counselor, Empok Nor


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