The third story is Vacation
and can be summarized as follows:
To ease the stress and pressure Megan has been feeling, she decides to take a vacation on Ferenginar. Accompanied by Bashir and Nog, Megan for the first time in years actually has some fun for a change...
While Quark helps his brother with top secret currency union talks between the Cardassians and the Ferengi...
Here is the first chapter:
Chapter 1, part 1
Day 1: 1300 hours
It was near the end of lunch break and Max and Megan were walking along the Promenade. The two seemed a bit tense, and in the Replimat the two had barely spoken to each other. Megan wasn't going to admit it to Max, but she just wanted to be left alone, for some reason everything she was doing just seemed wrong.
Max seemed to sense Megan's hidden moods. “Are you alright? You’ve barely spoken to me and you look so tired.”
Right now Megan didn’t want Max asking questions like that. “It's nothing,” she said with a hint of impatience.
However Max wasn’t buying that answer. “What you need is a break, I mean why not take some time off work.”
Almost instantly a voice inside Megan’s head was telling her to reject Max’s idea. “I haven't done that in ten years, besides working shifts helps me forget about the past two years.”
“How much shore leave have you got accumulated?”
Megan paused as she thought about it. “About a year maybe more...”
“One year's worth?” said Max disbelievingly. “That must be a record...”
He came to a stop and lightly grabbed Megan’s shoulder, Megan was surprised by such a friendly gesture.
“Listen, Bashir and Nog are taking a two week vacation to Ferenginar, I think you should go with them, and have some fun for a change.”
“Have fun?” repeated Megan ominously. “Try being tortured for two years by the Cardassians, that will quash you sense of 'fun'.”
Max though was smart enough to see past Megan’s defensive nature and to see the real issues bothering her. “You need a break Megan, you've simply pushed yourself to hard. That’s why you’ve been so moody over these past three days, it is your bodies way of saying take a break and stop overexerting yourself!”
Even though Megan knew that Max was absolutely right, she was reluctant to take a break. The only thing that kept her sane, and gave her a sense of normality was her job, but on the other hand she couldn’t keep forever pushing herself… “I guess your right about that… I suppose Ezri would allow me to take some shore leave.” Megan paused as she was somewhat annoyed by Max’s triumphant grin. “Alright then you win; I'll take a vacation...” she said in an exasperated tone.
Max walked away, before turning around to face Megan. “And make sure you have a good time, I don’t want to hear from Bashir and Nog that you’ve been sulking and morose!”
Max was being infuriating again to Megan, but she knew his heart was in the right place. So she resigned herself to the inevitable, it was time to stop using her job as a means to quench her anguish and pain. With this vacation she could use it as an excuse to indulge herself, she hadn’t indulged herself for more than six years.
Suddenly she felt lighter, the very thought of the vacation seemed to ease her burdens, and unwind some of the tension that accumulated ever since she became an Starfleet Intelligence agent.
Day 2: 0900 hours
Bashir and Nog were doing a last minute check of their respective luggage outside of docking bay one. For Bashir he had many things to check: clothing, tuxedo, pads, walking boots, thermals, tricorder, laptop, various bling, his copy of the Ferengi rules of acquisition, data rods containing various holosuite programs, and of course the tongo game. It was a lot of luggage to carry, and as he was checking, he didn’t notice Megan approaching.
“Need a hand carrying all of that luggage?” she asked.
Bashir looked up. “No we're fine.”
He did a double take, as Megan wasn’t in her Starfleet uniform, and she was her civilian clothes. Bashir thought Megan looked rather nice with her light brown trousers and white long sleeve shirt. Another thing Bashir noticed was that Megan’s hair wasn’t tied back in a bun, it fanned down the top part of her back. It made Megan look a lot more prettier than usual, and Bashir almost expected Nog to be eyeing Megan up.
However Nog looked rather stand-offish. “What are you doing here?” he said, a bit to aggressively.
Megan seemed impervious to Nog’s rather unpleasant manner. “I'm on vacation, I thought I'd go to Ferenginar with you two...”
“Your welcome to stay in the resort we've booked,” offered Bashir, he wasn’t going to hold it against Megan for a crime she may or may not have committed. Besides Max had told him that Megan was coming with him for a vacation and he mightily approved of Megan's decision to take a vacation. For she needed to relax and enjoy herself, after everything she went through in the Tau Primia prison.
Nog didn’t look to pleased. “Julian... no,” he hissed.
Bashir though ignored Nog’s protest, Megan was coming whether Nog liked it or not. One vital possession that was needed popped up in Bashir’s mind. “Nog you've got the gold-pressed latinum haven't you?”
“All I could get was ten strips...” said Nog, he seemed somewhat forlorn by his low amount of money.
“Ten strips?” said Bashir disbelievingly; how were they going to buy anything on Ferenginar with that amount of latinum? Unless of course they gambled their way into acquiring an bigger amount...
Nog seemed very defensive. “Well that's all I've got left, the rest went to the resort, besides I don’t want to eat into my personal savings…”
Megan however came to Nog’s rescue. “I've got a hundred bars of gold-pressed latinum. I figured you would need a lot of latinum on Ferenginar.”
From one of the bags she was carrying, Megan took out a sealed container. She opened it, and Nog’s mouth fell open in shock, the shining gleam of the gold pressed latinum reflected in his eyes.
It seemed Megan was full of surprises, for one thing Bashir was surprised that she was going on vacation, and now this? “How in the name of the Prophets did you get your hands on all that latinum?”
Megan shrugged, she seemed amused by Bashir’s and Nog’s reaction. “One of my former contacts in SI was a Ferengi, suffice to say I got him out of a sticky situation and he paid me five hundred bars of gold-pressed latinum to er... gloss over the situation.”
Whatever reservations Nog had about Megan coming along had vanished, he was suddenly all smarmy and warm. “Say you wouldn't mind staying with us in the resort?”
“Why not?” said Megan, with a small smile.
Bashir knew that the way to any Ferengi’s heart, even a Ferengi Starfleet officer, was through gold-pressed latinum. The three then entered the airlock, and boarded the transport ship. Inside the ship they deposited their luggage in their quarters. When Bashir was inside his quarters, he then realised there was a small problem with having Megan bunk up with him and Nog. “Erm Megan are you sure you want to stay in these quarters?”
“Is there something wrong with me staying here?” inquired Megan, there was something rather ominous in her voice.
Bashir looked around; the quarters only had two rooms, the accommodation room and the bathroom. There was no where for Megan to sleep in private. “Well it’s just there is no where for you to sleep in private.”
Megan didn’t seem to like Bashir’s concern for her sensibilities. “We’ll bunk up together, I’ll sleep with my clothes on, I trust you two don’t sleep stark naked?”
Bashir was surprised by Megan’s forthrightness, well that settled that matter, given the cramped nature of the quarters, there was barely room for two beds let alone three. Though Bashir felt somewhat awkward as he would be sleeping very close to Megan, Nog seemed to be thinking the same thing, and Bashir knew Nog was inwardly wincing.
Usually Nog only had a women sleeping next to him if she was one of his numerous girlfriends. However Bashir knew that Nog was respectful around ladies, it was just a little embarrassing that was all.
After sorting out their luggage, and replicating two extra bunk beds, the three headed to the mess hall to sample the food selection of the ship’s replicator. As they sat down on a table, for a quick cup of coffee, Bashir noticed Odo entering the mess hall.
Nog welcomed Odo over. “Odo! Come to see us off?”
Odo took a chair and brought up to the table. “No I'm travelling to Ferenginar, I have a... investigation which I'm carrying out.”
“What kind of investigation?” Megan asked.
“It's just a small matter, there's nothing to worry about... By the way-” Odo lowered his voice and looked around to make sure nobody was listening in. “The Ferengi authorities have been detaining various tourists on trumped up charges. I've heard from a source that a Starfleet officer could be the next target. So be on your guard when you arrive at Ferenginar.”
Nog didn’t quite seem to believe Odo. “Why would the Ferengi authorities arrest innocent people?”
“I don't know, but these arrests have started ever since the Cardassian/Ferengi currency union negotiations started. If you see anything suspicious contact me.” Odo passed to Bashir a sub-space relay device. “Hopefully I'll be seeing you when you return from Ferenginar...”
Odo stood up and walked out of the mess hall.
Megan watched Odo go with an expression of disbelieve. “Is it just me or is Odo a bit paranoid?”
“Paranoid?” said Nog. “I'm not sure... but vigilant? Definitely. Odo has an odd style of maintaining law and order, yet it works...”
Bashir wasn’t really surprised by Odo’s presence on the transport ship. “He’s probably monitoring Quark, since Quark has travelled to Ferenginar.”
Megan though didn’t seem to appreciate the hidden meaning to what Bashir had said. “If you don’t mind me asking why is Odo so obsessed with Quark?”
Nog briefly flicked his eyes to Bashir, and winked. “They’re friends you see.”
Megan gave a disbelieving stare at Nog. “Right…”
Given some time, Bashir knew that Megan would come to fully understand the connection that Odo and Quark had. One was the law officer forever trying to catch the crook, the other was the crook always one step ahead of the law officer.