((Starbase 118 - ‘The Rajbari’ Indian Restaurant))
Alora’s gaze slid back over to her companion and she blinked at him in confusion. She wouldn’t what? Then it dawned on her that he was responding to her statement made before the waiter had come to take their order. She smiled a little, and might have said something, but he continued on.
Tatash: I have seen plenty of people rise up through the ranks and hit a ceiling. You know the sort, they get promoted to their level of competence and then they just sit there and fill a post until they either get moved on or retire. I know you haven’t fit into that mould as I read just about everyone’s service record because I’m one of those intel weirdo’s. You’ve moved from ship to ship, from post to post, you’ve had a taste of everything that the blue collar can offer. ::he smiled:: That’s not a criticism, that’s a clear demonstration that you have a thirst for challenges.
DeVeau: I have to admit, I do like a good challenge.
Starfleet in general was a challenge. The requirements and testing to just get into the academy were rigorous, and classes and training had only proven more so. Throw in the fact that she worked her fingers to the bone with a double speciality, plus made time for her extra curricular activities, Alora hadn’t slept much those years. Challenges? Yes . She met them, but the challenges she had expected to face were a far cry from command. At most, she had thought she’d be Chief Science officer for the rest of her career.
DeVeau: I also have to wonder exactly how much you’ve dug into my past.
That last was accompanied with a smile, and the Gorn smirked, lifting the corner of his mouth while shaking his head.
Tatash: Nothing that wasn’t just public service records. I don’t go snooping into my crewmates business, but even the official ones paint interesting pictures of people. Mine would give the impression that i’m some super grizzled war hero that galivants across the galaxy blowing bad guys away without a second thought ::he paused, before cracking a grin:: and while obviously completely correct it doesn’t however mention that I enjoy things like cooking, dancing, partying too hard... It’s the story between the lines that you have to look for, and yours clearly shows you want more.
The food was taking its time, but the smell from the kitchen was intoxicating as it started to waft through as those spices started to cook and mix into their wonderful forms.
DeVeau: What about you?
Alora asked, turning the tables. She had invited him out to know him better. The relaxed atmosphere of an informal meal made friendly conversation much easier. Not to mention, food often brought down walls, helped people open up - not necessarily so she could dive into their deepest darkest secrets, but so she could see a different side than what she saw on duty.
The Gorn shook his head.
Tatash: No, I thought i wanted Command, and for a while I ran the entire Marine regiment just like I had run the planetary garrison on Cestus. I did well in the role, sure, but did I enjoy it? ::He paused, before shrugging those broad shoulders:: Not really. My retirement let me explore myself a little better, understand my own motivations a little more. I’ll admit it, I was chasing a rank because I thought it was the done thing to do, to try and live up to my fathers name as some top level brass… but it wasn’t the right thing to do, it meant I put my own interests in my career above things that I should have paid more attention to at the ground level.
He paused for a second, leaning back in his chair to cast his gaze towards the kitchen. He was hungry, that much was evident judging by the way those reptilian slits seemed fixated on the wooden doors leading to the place where his dinner was tantalisingly waiting. He turned back around and continued. Alora didn’t try to hide the amusement that crept over her face at the rather poignant looks he shot toward the kitchen.
Tatash: So now I am here, back where I belong. Protecting the people I care about, my friends in a capacity that lets me use all my strengths and abilities. That list of friends includes you now. I'm sorry to say, I mean, you did kind of ask me on a… date, that’s what you humans call this sort of thing isn’t it?
At the mention of her being included as a friend, Alora’s smile brightened, but it immediately faded at the mention of a date. A date? Not by a long shot. Not with...gathering herself together, Alora realised he hadn’t meant anything by it, he’d just unknowingly struck a cord, and she was letting her emotions take control again. Too much had happened, but he had no knowledge of it. After a brief moment, she managed to stretch her lips into a semblance of the previous smile and shook her head.
DeVeau: No. I just wanted a chance to chat outside of an office.
Tatash chuckled, it was a mild joke apparently, thankfully perhaps. At least he said no more or tried to press the matter before continuing onwards.
Tatash: No… no I’m kidding. I just wanted to see the look on your face. I’ve spent enough time hanging around you magnificent mammals to pick up most customs. It’s just your reaction … it proves you would have fit in with the ‘bad bunch’ I was in. Theo, Mirra, Antero and a few more ::he smiled as he listed off those names::. Would you believe we woke up that same morning with one of the biggest pop diva’s in the galaxy passed out on the couch? A good sense of humor and the ability to make the absolute most of a situation is sometimes the only thing you’ll ever have left to defend yourself. It’s probably your most important defence when things start getting too real and this situation is no different.
She had a feeling the look on her face hadn’t been what he had expected. Alora shifted in her seat, reaching out to unwrap her silverware from the napkin that it was tucked into. Unfolding it, she flicked it out and lay it in her lap, given her hands something, anything to do, even if just for a moment. Thankfully, there was a momentarily delay as he paused, before looking back at the door that finally swung open with a cart of food causing the Gorn to look somewhat elated.
Tatash: Besides, red looks better on human people than blue, blue always makes them look too cold. Ah good, here it comes!
Yes, food. Always a grand distraction and an easy way to turn the conversation in a different direction. Alora gaze followed the waitress as she carried a tray and set down their food in front of them. Inhaling deeply, she took a moment to appreciate the pleasantly pungent aroma that marked Indian cuisine. Taking up her fork, she wasted no time in mixing her rise with the meat and sauce.
DeVeau: So I’m sure you’ve gotten asked this a million times - goodness knows I have - but it’s always interesting to me to hear a person’s answer. What drew you to Starfleet?
The Gorn paused, then tilted his head. Did he look almost sheepish? The expression drew another smile to Alora’s lips and she sipped at her drink in an attempt to hide it.
Tatash: Honest truth. It didn’t. In fact when I was told I would be sent away to be an exchange officer at the Hegemony’s request I tried my damned hardest to avoid it. My perception at the time was that Starfleet was a group of softies that floated around in their tastefully furnished starships solving everyone else’s problems and interfering.
Alora couldn’t help but chuckle. Yes, they were do-gooders. That was all right though. Softies? Not by a long shot. While they might not be engaged in military action all the time and prefered to use diplomacy as a way to negotiate, that didn’t mean Starfleet were pushovers.
He prodded his tongue out quite cheekily before continuing.
Tatash: I mean, aside from the softie part, the rest has proven accurate but now though, I wouldn’t swap it for anything. I like the fact we make lives better and peacefully resolve issues, I was hotheaded and thought that it would get in the way of my grand career… I was, despite my stature, a much smaller person then I am now. What about you? What drew you into it?
DeVeau: I see. Glad to know we’re not softies. And glad to have you among us.
Lifting her glass, she gave a small salute to the giant across from her before taking a sip. It was a simple question, one Alora had answered time and time again - and one she asked time and time again.
DeVeau: I was fascinated with plants and animals even as a very young child. While there was plenty to do on Earth, I was also fascinated by the stars and the idea that there was just so much more to see and do and explore and find out. I suppose in that way, I’m like a mongoose.
The Gorn looked in thought for a second. Then again, there was probably just as many humans that didn’t have a clue what a Mongoose was either, but his confused look was enjoyable.
Tatash: A what?
Laughing, Alora took a bite and savoured it a moment before answering. Ah, what a darling little creature they were, and immortalised in a lovely story. While there might be some controversy over the man himself, Alora still respected his skill as a writer - and that story held a special place in her heart.
DeVeau: It’s an animal found on earth. There was an author, Rudyard Kipling, who wrote a story that featured one. In it, he said the motto of the mongoose family was ‘run and find out’. That’s what I wanted to do. Run and find out. And now I’m here.
Tatash ate as she thought about her response, carefully chewing each piece of meat while keeping eye contact, seemingly thankful for having a proper conversation for once. This may be the first proper sit down and chat with someone he’d had since coming aboard and he seemed to be appreciating it.
Tatash: Well you’re definitely ticking a lot of boxes so far. I mean, you’re the XO of an entire -starbase-. That’s genuinely awesome.
DeVeau: Yes. I suppose it is.
Alora hadn’t quite become convinced of that. Awesome it might seem, but it was not a position she had vied for. It was one she’d been offered, one she’d accepted. Sort of. It was one she was afraid she’d fail at. During her entire career, Alora had always been sure of her position. Science Officer. Starting off at Ensign, when she was promoted, she was surprised, but didn’t doubt herself - not really. When she took position as Chief Science officer, that had been the epitome of her career. That had changed, as things were wont to do, but she had still been somewhat confident in her position. When she’d been placed as CSO at ops, there had been some sadness, but once again, she’d embraced it without doubt. Now? With taking on a completely different role? Doubt crept in and kept picking at her, like a mosquito she kept trying to smack, but kept missing so it just continued to return and bite her.
Tatash: So did you come to the station alone? Any family? I see a lot of officers have brought whole entourages.
DeVeau: Well, sort of. My parents are on Earth, as are two of my brothers. My second eldest brother is a Starfleet Medical Officer. My second youngest brother - though still older than me, I’m the true youngest - seems to have made his way to the stars and goes where he pleases. I hear from him time to time, but he’s always in a different place.
Adrien was sort of the outcast. It wasn’t because he wasn’t loved. Oh no. While their parents had been far from perfect, one thing was certain among all the children - they were loved. Adrien just had his own ideas about what he wanted to do with his life. He’d decided to go his own road, even if that meant only keeping up with family on spotty occasions. That was probably the hardest part about his decision.
DeVeau: What about you?
The Gorn shook his head.
Tatash: No, I have a Brother. He owns a mining business and has a wife and daughter, does well for himself. My mother does some part time work now and then but she’s retired. I am simply my own company, although i’ve been tempted to get a pet. Something easy to look after.
DeVeau: Oh? I can certainly help in that department. I own a pet. Rather, she probably thinks she owns me.
Cats were like that. Rarely were they owned, they owned. Though, Sachiko wasn’t a normal cat either. For some, it might seem she was, but the creature had some uncanny thing about her that made Alora just wonder.
Tatash: What type of animal?
DeVeau: A calico cat. Her name is Sachiko and she’s the cutest little thing, but she’s something of an escape artist.
Tatash nodded. He knew what a cat was at least, they were plentiful on the station. Indeed, it wasn’t unusual in some districts to find them randomly appearing in people's apartments after spying a soft bed through an open window.
Tatash: Mhmm, I bet you’ve had to pick her up from all sorts of places.
He had no idea.
DeVeau: Oh my goodness, multiple times. She’s wound up in people’s offices, homes, even in the commercial sector. She did this some when I was on a ship, but it seems like she does it more here.
Alora couldn’t figure it out. The doors were not set to open for her, and she was the only one they would unlock and open for without higher clearance. That was why she had wondered about who had helped her when she had her episode. Judging by what she knew of those on the ship, there were only a few people who could have, and even fewer of them would have been around that part of the habitat area.
Tatash: Yup, that sounds about right ::he chuckled, swallowing down what he was munching on:: we had a couple of cats that we let roam around the Garrison here. Mostly pest control, a station this big will always end up with bugs, rodents, tribbles...
Tatash rolled his eyes at a memory. Tribbles were always trouble.
Tribbles! Alora adored tribbles. At some point, she considered even getting certified to own one, but for the moment, she’d just stick with Sachiko. The feline was definitely a wonderful pet, and very loving, so it wasn’t as if Alora felt like she was missing out.
DeVeau: The thing is, I don’t know how she’s doing it. The doors won’t open for her, that I can tell. So it’s a mystery. Anyway, do you have any idea at all of what you might consider as a pet?
Tatash: I’m beginning to like the sound of a cat more and more. Does it’s own thing, upsets the neighbours, good fun.
Alora grinned. Yes, Sachiko did do her own thing, but Alora also had no doubt of that cat’s loyalty. Or, rather, her sense of ownership. Alora was her human, and even if the creature road around, she was always back by the end of the day when Alora got home.
DeVeau: Cats are quite easy to maintain, and most don’t manage to get out of their owner’s quarters. Sachiko’s just...unique that way. Arturo Maxwell has two. Do you know him?
Tatash nodded enthusiastically
Tatash: Maxwell is a good man, I was pleased to see he was still around. I’ve got a whole long list of people I need to catch up with now I'm back. I was thinking of maybe organising some sort of day-trip in a holo lounge just to try and get to meet some people.
DeVeau: Oh really?
Holodeck adventures were always fun, though Alora knew some people didn’t care for them. She had been surprised she managed to get Wyn in one. Then again, she had kind of distracted him.
Tatash shrugged those massive shoulders, working up the last few mouthfuls into a mound on his plate to assault with a fork.
Tatash: I’m not entirely sure. I mean don’t get me wrong I love Little Risa, and it always goes down well, but maybe something a bit more adventurous than sun lounging. Camping could be fun, scan ourselves up some big forest somewhere and have a night or two in the admittedly fake wilderness.
Alora leaned forward, her eyes twinkling at the idea. She’d been camping before. In fact, she’d been forced to camp for several months, but that hadn’t been a vacation type camping. With Ashley, they’d camped for several nights during their Fantasy simulation. Alora enjoyed it.
Tatash: What would be fun to you though? You an outdoorsy sort or more at home with books and comfort?
DeVeau: Me? I’m both, actually. I love camping, and I love sitting at home and reading a good book. It’s all about balance. I actually really like your idea, but why stop there? Why not see if there’s somewhere nearby to camp and we can do for real?
Tatash paused at the thought of it, before tilting his head curiously.
Tatash: You mean, for real reals?
DeVeau: I mean, the holodeck is great and all, but if we can have the real deal, that would be a better experience, in my opinion. Sometimes, the holodeck does too much for people.
Tatash: I mean I am all for it. There’s actually a few worlds within range that have some wide open spaces. But not -too- far away from civilisation, I think a few of us would be used to creature comforts.
DeVeau: Well, if you decide to do it, count me in. I’ll probably bring Sachiko too.
Tatash: The cat?
DeVeau: She’s actually been camping before. It wasn’t by choice, but she kept me sane.
Tatash shrugged the idea, if he was bothered by it, it didn’t show.
Tatash: Well if all else fails at least she can catch some food for us. Where did you go last time?
DeVeau: Well...there’s more to it than this, but basically, we had to abandon ship and crash landed on an habitable moon. We were stuck there for several months, then rescued and found out that the moon was in some sort of temporal bubble and only a few days had passed in real time.
Tatash: That must have been a pretty crazy experience.
Marine Intelligence (Charlie Company)
Starbase 118 Ops
-- Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau First Officer Starbase 118 Ops al...@blar.net M239008AD0