Chapter 2, part 1
Day 7, 0730 hours
Megan, Bashir and Nog materialized on a transporter pad, which was only 300 metres away, or so, from the Ferengi hotel they would be staying in. It was a sunny day on Ferenginar, with a few small clouds high up in the sky, however the temperature was surprisingly temperate. The three walked off the open-air transporter pad, and onto the street running parallel to the hotel. “This way,” said Bashir, and he lead the way to the hotel.
All sorts of people were walking around on the street. Most of them were Ferengi going about their daily business, but there were many other alien races intermingled with the Ferengi. Humans, Bajorans, Vulcans, Bolians, a couple of Klingons and even one Breen. The Breen stood out from the rest of crowd, because of his helmet, though Megan noticed that people were giving the Breen a wide berth.
The street was lined with crazy paving; some sort of dull yellow coloured ceramic material, the cracks were covered with a tan coloured aggregate. On the right side of the street were multi-story shops, there fronts were gleaming with glass and various mixes of red, brown and grey panels framing the glass. In the distance Megan noticed the tall and imposing Ferengi Tower of Commerce.
As she looked to her left, she saw the hotel. It was a tall, elongated, oval shaped building. The floors looked segmented, with plain glass windows and futuristic grey/chrome panels between the windows. The outer girders were coloured red, and blended in with the panels. They steadily twisted up the building, giving the hotel the appearance that it was spiraling to the sky. While the ground floor was unusually high, there were thick red columns on the outside, and the big windows seemed to be framed with stone-red coloured ceramic tiling.
The hotel towered above the surrounding buildings, and it covered a huge tract of land. Most of that land was filled with lush gardens, trees and fountains. Megan, Bashir and Nog walked for a bit up the street before turning left to a smaller alleyway that lead directly to the entrance of the hotel. The entrance to the alleyway had a small metal structure running over it. It was a simple arch, and the ends embedded themselves into the ground.
As they walked closer to the hotel, Megan noticed various patrons walking around the gardens. She thought that the various flower beds were very pretty, mind you it was the first time she had seen flowers in over two years, any flower would have been pretty to her. As the group came closer to the hotel's entrance, outside of the low and black box-like part of the building, they saw various Ferengi staff catering to the patrons.
All of these sights was a lot to take in for Megan, she stayed silent as she savored the amazing sights, until finally she couldn't hold her tongue in any longer. “It’s incredible, ten years ago this planet was so humid and wet!”
Nog grinned at Megan’s awestruck nature. “You can thank my father, the grand Nagus, for turning Ferenginar into the Alpha Quadrant's biggest tourist trap! He realised after the emancipation of all female Ferengis, that they would need jobs! Anyway with a little help from his mother Ishka, they realized that the geography of Ferenginar was perfect for tourism: big beaches, spectacular mountains, and forests.
“All that was needed was better weather to reveal the beautiful countryside of Ferenginar. Of course he had to remove the strip mines and quarries, and look for new locations for mining... thank God for the Badlands! At the time many Ferengi executives thought that my father was crazy! Though they quickly changed their minds when they saw the profits margins rapidly increase from all the tourism!”
Megan listened to Nog intently, as she knew very little about the Ferengi’s history. “It’s a remarkable turnaround for a race that so badly discriminated it's women!”
Bashir nodded in agreement. “It sure is.”
Just as they were outside of the hotel’s entrance, Nog came to a stop, he looked at Megan in an embarrassed manner. “Oh yes one more thing, on Ferenginar some of the males are still very sexist; change can be hard to digest for some people.”
“I’ll break the legs of the first male who harasses me,” said Megan.
Bashir and Nog looked at each, they seemed worried by Megan’s bravado.
“I’m just kidding you know!”
Both Bashir and Nog looked relieved, they all walked on, going past people who were sunbathing and relaxing on holidays chairs with covers. Bashir, Megan and Nog came to a stop when a member of the hotel staff approached them. He was a Ferengi, and he was wearing a smart blue jacket, white shirt and black trousers, which was of course the hotel staff uniform. He looked at the group somewhat inquisitively. “My name is Twerk, I will be your personal host. Which of you two are Bashir and Nog?”
Bashir answered Twerk’s question. “I'm Bashir, that's Nog, and that's Megan.”
Twerk addressed Megan. “I'm sorry but you can't come into this hotel, you haven't paid for accommodation.”
Megan thought something like this would happen, however she knew how to remedy the situation. From the bag which she was carrying, she took out 20 bars of gold-pressed latinum and wrapped it up in a leather clothe. She then offered it to Twerk. “Would this be enough?”
Twerk took the latinum and inspected it, he seemed satisfied and then he gave Megan a grin. “Most certainly, if you would follow me. I'll give you a brief tour of the hotel, before showing you to your rooms.”
“That won't be necessary,” said Bashir. “Nog and I have been to this hotel before, just show us to our rooms please.”
“As you wish,” said Twerk with a bow.
The group walked into the entrance, through the automatically opening doors. They were walking down a long corridor, and in the distance another exit could be seen. On both sides there were various shops, selling items that looked very expensive, it was clear that this hotel was for the rich and wealthy. Megan felt somewhat out of place, though Bashir and Nog were gazing fondly at the interior seemingly oblivious to the riches of far wealthier patrons.
About a third of the way through the building, it opened up to reveal a massive atrium. It was an impressive sight, while at the ground level there were various swimming pools and all sorts of chairs and tables lying around. From the view point of the atrium the hotel was rectangular and symmetrical, while the outer girders rose directly upwards.
On two sides the sunlight shone on the building’s walls, but at around the 40th floor and below, shadow consumed the entire building. Clinging to the outside layers where over a dozen cylindrical turbolift shafts. Megan watched the turbolifts go up and down, it was a rather mesmerizing sight.
Walking on the outer perimeter of the atrium, Megan looked and counted at least 100 floors. “How tall is this hotel?” she asked Twerk.
“400 metres high, and it has a 102 floors, it can house up to 17000 people. Of course this is more than a hotel, we have about 4000 permanent residents here, which includes most of the 3000 staff members. With all the shops on the first ten floors, and the other facilities, including the casino on the next twenty floors, this is more like a self-contained town. In the height of the tourism season the hotel approaches near full capacity, however right now business is a bit flat, at this time in the year the number of tourists is at its lowest.”
Bashir leaned his head to one side and whispered to Megan as they walked. “That’s why I decided to have the vacation now, when it was quiet on Ferenginar. That way I could pick the quarters of my choice, and so Nog and you would have individual quarters right next to my own. Besides when it’s quiet, this hotel drops it’s price on accommodation, so it’s an absolute bargain.”
“A clever idea,” said Megan blandly.
Twerk proceeded to the nearest turbo lift shaft, it was a clear glass shaft on the outside, with the track placed onto the building's wall. Twerk tapped a panel to summon a lift to the ground floor.
After waiting for about a minute, a turbo lift finally came to a halt at the ground level. The group walked in, the actual turbo lift had black metallic girders supporting the structure. While the part of the turbo lift attached to the track was simply a black wall with a door in the middle, this was where the lift controls were housed. The remainder of the lift was made of a fully transparent material, including the roof, which gave the occupants a spectacular view of the hotel.
“99th floor,” said Twerk.
The lift jolted slightly as it accelerated, but then it settled down and the ride became totally smooth as the lift maintained constant velocity. As the lift gained height, the ground floor begin to shrink, as they past the 40th floor, the sunlight shone through the lift. Megan had never such an amazing building in her life, back on Earth the skyscrapers tended to be smaller and more modest in size.
After about half a minute, the turbo lift slowed down and came to a halt. The doors open and Twerk lead the way straight into a corridor with a T-junction. One side had the glass and walls, and on the other side was one constant wall, dotted with doors to the quarters.
Twerk proceeded forwards, and he walked past two pairs of quarters. As every two quarters were joined together, the corridors formed a rectangular pattern. However since the building was oval shaped, and as Megan came past a corridor intersection, she could see the windows of the building in the distance. There were a few people in the corridors, mainly staff members.
The walls looked like they were made of plaster board, and they were painted in a dull brown colour. While the doors to the quarters, were made of actual hardback wood, coated with an transparent insulated material. The actual floor was covered with an elaborately painted carpet, it was like a tapestry of images, full of criss-crossing symmetric geometrical patterns.
Twerk finally took a left turn when he reached the other end of the building, to his right were the quarters which had the view to the outside. After a moment’s walking he came to halt, and turned to face Bashir, Megan and Nog. “Your individual quarters are right here, three in a row facing the windowed end. If you need room service, don’t hesitate to ask.”
Briefly Twerk bowed his head, and left the three alone.
Bashir addressed the group. “Alright once we’ve all sorted out our individual luggage and settled in, come into my quarters and we’ll discuss our vacation plans.”
Megan proceeded to her quarters, she opened the door and at first glance saw a room that must have been the living room. It had various chairs, tables, stands, drawers and other furniture. While the walls were coloured the same as the corridor walls, the carpet was a very bland beige colour. There were a few paintings hung on various places on the walls, the paintings looked rather abstract.
She dumped her luggage onto a sofa, and proceeded to investigate her quarters. They were surprisingly roomy and large, and as she moved from the living room, she noticed a thin and long corridor proceeding to another room. Along the way she noticed one door to the left in the centre of the corridor, she decided to investigate that room later. When she walked through the corridor and past a very opaque red vale, the next room had windows at the end, revealing a spectacular view of the Ferengi capital.
The room she was standing in appeared to be the bedroom, on one side was a big bed designed to accommodate two people. The bedroom was a smaller room than the living room, but it was still very big in relation to the size of her quarters on DS9.
Close to the bed was a replicator, the presence of the replicator confused Megan. Twerk had just said something about room service, did this mean that the hotel served non-replicated food? She checked the replicators database and found that everything had a price, this was typical of the Ferengi. Megan made a mental note to have real food as it was cheaper. It seemed as if the high prices were designed to force customers to use the hotel's cafes and restaurants.
Megan returned back to the corridor to investigate the room behind the door, she was certain it was a bathroom. When she opened the door, and looked inside, her mouth opened in shock. This was more than a bathroom, most of the space was for the small swimming pool built inside. Overhead lightening was on the ceiling, while the water reflected some of that light casting a bluish tinge on the walls. Ceramic tiling lined the perimeter of the room and the floor of the swimming pool.
To her left was a smaller walled room, with another door. Upon investigating this room, this was where the actual bathroom was. She then walked around the perimeter of the pool, she hadn’t gone swimming in more then ten years, not since her academy days. Though she fondly remembered when she was younger swimming with her mum in lakes high up in the Appalachian mountains of Earth.
Suddenly Megan remembered that she hadn’t brought any swim ware, she didn’t expect to go swimming for some reason. Of course it didn’t really matter if she had to swim in her clothes, thank God she had brought her thermal drier device. She wasn't going to use the replicator either to make some swim ware, the replicator's prices were a rip-off and she intended to be very frugal with her gold-pressed latinum. She only had five bars left, the rest was used to pay for accommodation in the hotel.
Besides the time when she had swum with her mum, they were both fully clothed. With a thermal drier device it was so quick to dry off after swimming, that changing into a swimming costume became time-consuming and impractical.
She was already tempted just to dive into the pool, and to feel the water moving against her skin… Briefly she considered go into the pool naked, no would see her, however there was a possibility someone might just walk into her quarters and into the bathroom. This would of course be very embarrassing, only two people had seen her naked and that was Jack and Bordak, and she was very determined to keep it that way.
The memories of what Bordak did to her came flooding back to Megan. She had been so caught up and amazed by the hotel, that those memories seemed to have vanished. Megan marveled at this, that was the first time she had never noticed those memories. Perhaps Max was right, this vacation was going to do her some good. Megan decided to take a dip in the pool some time late in the night, fully clothed, with her mind made up she returned to the living room to sort out her luggage and possessions.
When she was finished, she left her quarters and entered into Bashir’s quarters. Bashir was in the living room, and Nog was already there.
After Megan had sat down, Bashir addressed everyone. “Alright, do you two have any ideas of what to do for today?”
“Why not explore the countryside?” suggested Megan. “I would like to hike around a few forests and mountains, besides I've missed walking around. You see my mother used to take me out hiking in the Appalachian mountains on Earth, so I think it would be do something similar here.”
Bashir looked at Nog. “Nog are you alright with walking?”
Nog though seemed somewhat reluctant. “Alright we'll walk, though on one condition.”
“What?” demanded Bashir.
Grinning deviously Nog explained the condition. “Tonight when we go to the casino, we get Megan to gamble!”
“Agreed!” said Bashir automatically, he and Nog instantly turned to look at Megan.
“I am not gambling!” said Megan indignantly. “Gambling is for fools and the desperate!” There was no way Bashir and Nog would get her to gamble…
“It's fun Megan, come on treat yourself!” said Bashir, he was pandering to the one side of Megan that was tempted to gamble.
“It's profitable!” said Nog, who was still grinning, he seemed to be enjoying poking fun at Megan.
Megan held up her hands in defeat. “Alright, but I'm only gambling once!”
“One more thing Megan,” said Bashir. “Before we walk, I just want to show you around this hotel first, it will only take about an hour.”
“Good idea, the truth is I want to see more of this hotel as it is so amazing!” said Megan excitedly.
Standing up, Bashir looked equally excited. “Then let’s go, what about you Nog?”
Nog looked rather shiftily at Bashir. “I’m going to the casino, to check those tongo wheels and the other gambling games…”