The Sphere Of Glass was probably the most expensive planet in the galaxy. It was even considered excessively costly for the Ferengi. As typical with many such places, it was deceptively simple, as most beings of great wealth tended not to like wealth flaunted.
Everything seemed to be made of a glass-like material. The species populating the place were bewildering.
Lia Black McFerren's gifgram shop was tiny, stark white with white chairs and tiny tables holding colorful gifgrams, one to a table. There was another color not belonging to a gifgram. It was purple. It belonged to a store minder. 'She' had many tentacles and was full of squeaks when she found something funny which was much of the time. Te's job was to keep the little tables supplied with gifgrams: The tables were few; the gifgrams sold fast.
Security was not seen. The hologram could be on a thief faster than the thief could pick up his prize.
It was not for Lia to be in her shop. It was for her to socialize with the elite of society, wearing designer clothes and sporting gifgram jewelry. It would seem an idyllic life, albeit a challenge for one with social anxiety. The Vulcan T'Rhan was far more comfortable in high society. She loved it!
T'Rhan did most of the talking; Lia hid in her shadow until the starter was served, then Lia tactfully asked another woman, Gail, to cease slapping the holographic waitress' hand.
“I beg your pardon?” Gail asked flatly.
“A hologram has the right not to be hit,” Lia said softly. The holographic waitress blinked at Lia.
“Holograms have rights?” A woman blinked blankly at Lia.
“Yes, every intelligent being has rights. It matters not if the being is made of flesh and blood or of light and photons. A hologram can feel just as you and I.”
“And holographic pets?” another woman asked.
“Holographic pets are profitable. That is the stock and trade of this world, other than jewelry,” Gail put in. Lia didn't like her, but she knew how to handle her.
“They are, yes,” Lia admitted. Gail raised her eyebrows in surprise. “There is a way to make the same item far more profitably without difference in the item.”
“How do you know?” Gail asked, leaning forward. Everyone at that table leaned forward; they could scent profit.
“I studied your holographic pets. There is a good deal of upkeep for a hologram that is not there for lower forms of technology.” Lia smiled enigmatically. “I will submit my patent tomorrow.”
Gail stared hard at Lia. Lia stared calmly back.
On the other side of the social spectrum, Lia's parents were doing adjusting of their own.
Kate and Jon McFerren were strapped into hard seats of a 'shuttlecraft' and on the seemingly longest ride. Both were getting stink-eye from a bewildering variety of aliens, or at least those they could read; not all of them had mobile faces, not all had eyes. One cat-like creature hissed at Jon, flexing three-inch claws. For one moment, both were glad of the restraints keeping that cat away from them.
The relief was short-lived when the cat started unlocking restraints. The McFerrens looked at each other.
The cat, not an animal as Jon thought, stood on his back legs: “Yes, I'm a sentient,” and followed that with something the McFerrens didn't understand. Sweetie laughed, as did several other 'passengers' in the vessel. “Where in space did you dig these two up?”
“We were traveling with our daughter to Amethyst,” Jon spat up.
That got a roar of laughter. “Amethyst is kinda rich for slobs like you!” chucked in a thin Cardassian.
“Our daughter is the money-maker of the family. Nina Black McFerren.”
“I've heard of Nina Black...” said a Ferengi softly from the front of the craft. “She created the gifgram...”
“That's her, but she's a bitch. Dumped her parents here.” Kate McFerren spoke with low venom in her voice.
“I do not think so,” Sweetie purred from behind.
— Sandy/Lia & the McFerrens
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