Disclaimer: While the attempt has been made to be medically accurate, some artistic license has been taken, and statements made by Dr Bashir are not to be regarded as authoritative. The Manthracite race is a product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to the name of a canon Star Trek race is unintentional. Recognizable characters and plotlines are the property of Paramount and Viacom; all original characters and story © 2019 FemaleChauvinist.

Do not post without permission. Do not copy/print without including the above disclaimer in its entirety.

A/N: "Season" given for timing reference only; see my profile for the alternate history used in this story. Barbie


Late season 2/early season 3

"What can I get for you?" Quark asked the man leaning casually against his bar.

The man smiled slowly. "I have a business proposition to make, if you have somewhere private we could go."

He had appeared Terran until he smiled, revealing teeth that came to sharp points. Having noticed that, the eye began to pick out other details that made him unquestionably alien; the eyes so dark they appeared to have no pupil, the faint hint of scales along his hairline.

None of that mattered to Quark. The majority of visitors to his bar were alien, and he included earth humans in that category as well. What concerned him was whether or not a person could pay, and this man's tone hinted at a deal that might well be advantageous to Quark.

He glanced around the bar to find Rom, waving him over to watch the counter before he beckoned the visitor into one of the back rooms. "This way, sir; what sort of 'proposition' is it?"

The man pulled a datastick from his pocket, setting it on the table between them as he took the seat toward which Quark gestured him. "A new holosuite program," he said in a low voice, his very tone increasing Quark's desire to have it.

"How much?" Quark asked, forgetting to question even what the program might contain or if it was worth his money to purchase.

The man smiled smoothly. "Free…with one condition."

"What?" Quark asked, practically salivating.

"Commander Sisko has to be the first person to use it — for free. And make it sound like your idea. After that, you can charge as much as you like for others to use it."

"And you don't want a percentage?" Quark asked suspiciously.

The man shook his head, still smiling. "Just know that I have my ways of finding out whether my condition was met, and of making things…unpleasant for you if it wasn't. Do we have a deal?"

"Yes," Quark said instantly; even if the program turned out to be of little financial value he had lost nothing, and could at least gain some latinum from it if he billed it as a mysterious program of alien origin.

The man pushed the data solid across the table toward him, and Quark's hand closed on it greedily. "Will you have a drink…on the house?" The words came reluctantly, but it was the least he could offer.

The man shook his head. "Just remember, Sisko tries it first." His eyes met Quark's and seemed to become even blacker; for a moment Quark felt sure he would fall into their depths and be lost forever, and he wondered just what he had agreed to.

But the man turned and left the room, and Quark shook off any misgivings he might have had. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

Next chapter coming next week!

I proofread all my stories at least once before posting, but if you see any mistakes I might have missed, please let me know!

Please note that I have internet access only once a week, and may not have time to respond to all reviews/messages. If you have questions regarding my Deep Space Nine alternate history, check my profile first to see if they're answered there. Thanks for your understanding! Barbie