Leeta poured a glass of Slug-o-Cola as her husband muttered to himself. She hated seeing him like this. He was a brilliant man and an excellent Grand Nagus, but when the stakes got too high, he had a tendency to get a little overwhelmed. She put the glass down on Rom’s desk and gently caressed his ear, eliciting a distracted shiver. “Perhaps it’s time to take a break, Husband. I’m sure that no problem is worth working yourself into an early grave.” She gave him a warm smile.
“Thanks, Wife.” he picked up the drink and took a sip. “Mmm, slimy! But no, I need to solve this! The Ferengi are counting on me to lead them, and not to a state of bankruptcy – or worse!”
Leeta frowned. “Should call your mother? I know that she has helped you with work issues in the past.”
Rom shook his head. “Nooo. Moogie is trying to enjoy her retirement. Grand Nagus Zek picked me because he trusted me. I have to handle this myself!”
“No, Rom. Not by yourself. I’m here to help you, too.” She knew how Rom’s mind worked. It was time for him to stop thinking like other leaders he knew and to start thinking more like how he saw himself – a Ferengi. “Alright, let’s think this through together. Pretend your problems are a ledger. What’s the first line item?”
Rom took another sip. “It’s the Hur’q. They keep attacking Ferengi space, and it’s getting harder for us to hold them off. The Lukari have offered us some support, though it’s only a matter of time before they need to focus entirely on their own planet and can no longer spare any ships. The Kentari have helped a bit, too, though they have their own problems. I mean, they were close to being obliterated by the Tzenkethi not too long ago. And then there was that business on their new colony! It’s a good thing -“
“Sorry. The DaiMons aren’t making it any better. Most of them are fighting the Hur’q ships that come too close to Ferenginar, but you know how we are. We’re not fighters like the Bajorans or Starfleet or the Klingons or the Romulans or the- “
“Right. Sorry. It takes four or five of their Marauders to take down one of the Hur’q vessels, and when they do, they expect payment as if they were suddenly legendary heroes from the time of Gint, the first Nagus. And if their ships are destroyed, they expect to be reimbursed for the cost of a new one – if the new one cost as much as a Galaxy-class cruiser with a hull made of latinum! If things weren’t so dire, I’d be proud of their unscrupulous behavior, but it’s getting ridiculous!”
“Oh, Rom.” Leeta smiled and shook her head. “Okay, well if the issue of defense is that we’re being out-numbered and out-gunned, then we obviously need more allies to assist us. Who can we call on for help?”
Rom smiled and clapped his hands together. “That’s it! I’ll call Nog and have him bring a fleet of Federation ships immediately. He won’t be able to turn me down. I’m the Nagus after all.”
“Rom, you know you can’t do that. Nog follows Starfleet protocols. He doesn’t have the authority to spontaneously bring a fleet of ships without following his chain of command. Let’s try something more reasonable.”
“You’re right.” Rom gave a dejected sigh. “Well, according to my sources, the Federation and the Romulans have been actively fighting the Hur’q, but the Klingons have only sent a few ships. Most of the Klingon fleet hasn’t left Qo’noS.”
“That’s strange, mused Leeta. “I mean, Klingons… not wanting to fight? That’s like Tellarites not wanting to argue, or Tribbles not wanting to eat. You should look into that, something’s going on there!”
“Quark. Quark knows Klingons,” Rom thought aloud, pacing. “Quark used to be married to a Klingon! And he knows Ambassador Worf! Prune juice! I’ll send Quark to Qo’noS with enough prune juice to fill a swimming pool! That will get their attention!”
“Ahem,” Leeta arched an eyebrow. “Prune juice won’t win the war, Husband. We’ll need more allies besides the Klingons. Didn’t Pel mention something about an Alliance summit meeting on DS9?”
“That’s right, she did!” Rom snapped his fingers with glee, a plan beginning to form in his mind. “It’s going to be big, too! Odo’s back from the Gamma Quadrant looking to meet with the major Alliance players. I’m told that Starfleet, the Klingons, and the Republic will all be sending representatives to DS9 to talk with him. I suppose we could go, too, to represent Ferengi interests! I am a major leader, after all!”
Leeta nodded. “If we make our case, perhaps one of them can provide a suitable defense force for us.”
“Yes! And we could talk to Quark about the prune juice plan while we’re there!”
Leeta rolled her eyes. “If we have to. I hope he isn’t using that… holo-version of me to run the Dabo tables. It’s creepy!”
“But wait!” Rom gasped. “What will we pay them? Depending on how long this Hur’q attack lasts, this could bankrupt us! If the Ferengi Market Exchange drops… Oh! I might get assassinated like Grand Master Smeet! Oh no!”
“Calm down, Rom.” She quickly caressed his ear again. “Calm down. You’re not going to get assassinated. You’re a good Nagus.”
“Well, sure, you say so. But you’re biased!”
“Yes, I’m biased. But I’m here because I believe in you. You can do this. Let’s do this one step at a time. We can go to DS9 and meet with the leaders and go from there. Most of the time, they aren’t that interested in money anyway.”
“Very true, although if I have to listen to someone from the Federation go on about post-scarcity economics one more time…”
“You’ll manage,” Leeta replied with an impish smile. “Shall I pack a bag for a trip to Deep Space Nine?”
“Yes. Let’s do it.” He finished his drink with one big chug, slammed the glass down on his desk, and pressed the button to summon one of his most-trusted associates.
“How can I help you, Grand Nagus?” Pel replied as she entered, smiling and ready to exercise Rule 33. “Need someone liquidated? Is there a merger you’d like to oversee – or squash? I’ve got a hot tip on tulaberry futures to share, if you’re interested…”
Rom looked at her with the somewhat indifferent demeanor expected of a Grand Nagus. “Have my ship prepared. Leeta and I have important business to attend to on Deep Space Nine.”
Pel gave him a shrewd smile in reply. “Of course, Grand Nagus. Be sure to say hello to that handsome brother of yours for me, won’t you?”
Leeta managed to stifle a giggle as Rom nodded absently, then spoke. “I expect everything to be running smoothly when I get back. No trade wars with the Cardassians, or price gouging of Na’kuhl refugees!” He held out his staff.
Pel looked mildly disappointed before obediently bowing to kiss the staff. “You never let me have any fun. But, you’re the Nagus, and what the Nagus wants – we acquire. I won’t let you down!” He ran off.
“Thanks, Pel!” Rom called out as she stood to depart. He simply smiled as she paused and gave Rom a confused look before leaving his office chambers.
Leeta smirked. “Rule 299?”
“You noticed!” Rom laughed. “I always had a soft spot for that fake rule ever since I heard about it from the crew of Voyager. I always wanted to see if it really worked. If it does, I suppose I’ll have to thank Neelix. Or would that send a mixed message…”
Ryon “Melange” Levitt
Staff Content Designer