This is the first in four stories I hope to write. Input is always appreciated. Enjoy!

A long scaly tongue flicked over scaly lips, and the creature smiled sneeringly. Wesley Crusher swallowed his own saliva as he watched, the dryness of this lizard life-from making him thirsty. He wouldn't be here if he didn't absolutely need to be. His mother had taught him better than to hang around criminals.

His mother. If she found out what he was going to do… At the very least he would never be on a star ship again. And if she didn't get him, the law would. Exile would be his fate, as well as the loss of his Star Fleet rank and mining dilithium for the rest of his life.

But he didn't intend for her to find out, and if this all worked….. The possibilities were endless! But, unfortunately, the only reason no one had discovered it was the key component was illegal in the Federation. Extremely illegal. Thapoline. A dark silver liquid substance that burned the skin and was highly, highly combustible. And equally radioactive. Luckily, only five millimeters of the stuff was needed for his experiment, so it would be easy to hide.

Last month, he had contacted this ugly thing sitting across from him, Stuftl Rewvion, a master smuggler who dealt in the most illicit of the illicit, especially Thurgamention, a close cousin to Thapoline. But he needed Thapoline, nothing less, nothing more, so he had asked Rewvion to find some for him. Rumor said the Romulans were attempting to make use of it, so there had been a possible source all ready available. Rewvion had hinted it would be expensive, and Wes had been close to flat broke at the time. He had saved all he could earn, beg, borrow, or steal for this day, but now he was having second thoughts. Only the thought of what was to come for his peculiar field of experimentation made him sit still at the table in this dank and dirty bar across from this unscrupulous being.

"So. Boy wanted Thapoline. Stuftl have Thapoline," the thing rasped. It kept talking in the third person and referred to Wes as "boy." "Why boy want Thapoline?"

Its voice scratched Wes's eardrums and threatened to make him stand up right now and call it all off.

Wes smiled slightly. "Just a little experiment."


The ensign shrugged. "I suppose."

He carefully brushed off his pants and suppressed a shudder. This bar on Risa didn't care in the least Wes was a minor and was frequented by smugglers, thieves, and thugs. Rewvion had requested they meet here; out of the way of the law and with a home field advantage. The place was poorly lit and looked like it had never been cleaned since it had opened at least two centuries ago. The bartender had offered Wes a drink when he had walked in, but he had ignored the being and took a seat with slippery Rewvion in the back.

"What experiment?"

"What business is it of yours? All you should care about is I need that ten cc's of Thapoline you have strapped to your hip for whatever reason."

"Ten cc's? Boy accuses Stuftl of not bringing ten milliliters?" Rewvion puffed up his spines and glared across the table. This human boy had crossed a sacred line; no one accused Stuftl Rewvion of lying.

Wes sighed. This creature was depressingly dull and slow-witted. "One cc is exactly equal to one milliliter."

"Stuftl sees. To business," he reached to the belt he wore and unclipped a vial filed to the brim with the dark silver of Thapoline. Wes noted the vial was made from transparent RadStop, a very new material that blocked radiation ten times better than lead. Rewvion put it on the table between himself and the Star fleet officer. Wes suppressed his excitement. It wasn't over yet.

"How much?"

"Purest Thapoline in Neutral Zone. Heavily guarded. Stuftl had to steal from secret military base."

Made sense. But because it was a secret base and the Romulans wouldn't want to admit they were experimenting with Thapoline, they wouldn't say anything.

"How much?"

Rewvion sat back with a shrug. "Ten thousand."

"Ten thousand credits? I don't have that kind of money. I only have five hundred. But," he leaned forward. "I do have this." He reached to his belt and pulled out a small weapon which he laid on the table. "A disruptor, and a very special one. This model has been branded illegal and destroyed. I took this from a collector who prized only the best. And original. Only three in left in existence, and two in Federation custody," he added quietly. This was the Varon-T Data had recovered from Kivas Fajo; he had managed to replicate it and had brought the replication with him. Couldn't let Rewvion have too many good toys.

Stuftl licked his lips again as he thought abut it. Tempting. Very tempting. If he found the right buyer, he could get at least two million. But he was very suspicious. One does not become a master of a dark trade by trusting every Federation agent that claimed to legitimately want an extremely dangerous substance.

"Boy desperate?"

"Let's put it this way; I need that Thapoline more than you can imagine. All I ask is you tell no one of our transaction, not even your most trusted associate, and I walk out of here with the Thapoline and you get your cash and the disruptor."

"How can Stuftl know he can trust boy?"

"Because Stuftl knows boy has come here alone and with no communicator. And how does he know he can't?"

"Very well."

Wes picked up the Thapoline vial after digging his five hundred from the duffle bag he had brought with him and handing the cash over. Stuftl gingerly picked up the disruptor and looked at it. Then he scooped the cash into an old sack stained with God knows what before dropping in the weapon.

Ensign Wesley Crusher stood up and walked from that horrible bar as he slid the Thapoline into his pocket, and he finally allowed himself a smile. Now to get back to Commander Ryker before he got worried. Then to get back to his work. He had been waiting a long time for Stuftl to come through with the Thapoline, and now he could continue his little experiment.