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Posted on Wed Aug 18th, 2021 @ 5:51pm by Lieutenant Praxalin Chromis & Captain Osegan Trenna

Mission: Beacon
Location: Science Lab
Timeline: Mission Day 2 at 1345

After the awkward meeting with Talbot, her day had been much smoother. The ship was still running at a quick pace and the crew was busy readying themselves for whatever lay in wait in the Quimalia system. Leaving Lieutenant Hessen in charge, Trenna left the Bridge and headed off to check in with the new Chief Science Officer.

As she approached the main science lab, the doors recognized her and granted her ingress. "Lieutenant," she started, before realizing she was alone in the room. "Mister Chromis?" she called out.

A strangled bark, like a muffled popping sound, came from behind a lab table. A lab table with a pair of long spindly legs kicking out in fluffy slippers. Chromis was on the floor behind the desk, a full packing crate tipped up and pinning him to the floor as his hands slapped at the side of it.

"Are you okay?" she asked, walking towards the table in the middle of the room and stifling a laugh. Seeing the condition the science chief was in, laughing was no longer on her mind. "Oh shit! Hold on!"

She closed the distance in just a couple large paces. "I'm going to try to lift this up enough for you to slide out," she explained. Her fingers slipped under the edge of the crate and attempted to get a decent grip. "Get ready," she warned before starting to lift.

Chromis let out something that sounded like a combination of a backfire and hot oil sizzle. As the mass of the packing crate shifted with the Captain's efforts, Chromis shimmed out from under it and rolled away. He then coughed violently, letting in deep lungsful of air. His plumage was fully raised, a bright fan haloing his head.

"That...looked lighter than it was," Chromis said, lying on the deck with one hand clasped to his waist.

Lowering the container, Trenna flexed her fingers a couple of times to get the feeling back. "Maybe I'm just stronger than you think," she replied. "Are you alright?"

"It's not the first time, won't be the last," Chromis said, sitting up before slowly getting to his feet. "Also I'm not as young as I use to be. Third lung...ahh it's a Kenki thing. I doubt very much a vestigial lifting organ is that important. Or it wouldn't be vestigial."

He let out a whistling little huff.

"Tea?" he asked, cocking his head to the captain. "I find tea is one of the universal concepts across species."

Trenna smiled at the scientist; he was quite friendly, if a bit odd. He might the most normal person on this ship, she thought.

"I'd love some, but on one condition. I'd like to try a tea native to the Kenki. Most of my tea experience has been Human and Bajoran, along with some Kressari and Xepolite blends. Word to the wise: avoid the garbage that Boslics call tea. It is horrible."

“I thought the same of ginger when I was younger. I couldn’t understand the love humans had for it, much to tart and over powering. But, then again I thought it was a tuber that should be eaten like a potato. A very, very spicy potato,” Chromis said as he walked to the replicator. Within moments a carafe of hot water was provided, and he spent a few minutes collecting together an old tea set. It was a sphere of brassy metal, supporting on three stout legs and a short spout. The hot water went in it, along with a few dried red leaves.

“Kabba is a common drink on my homeworld. It has many varieties, with each province trading it to the next. It was this drink that united us first, as well each had our own version,” he said after letting it steep for a minute or two. “We do not live as long as some, but we find enjoyment in the smallest of life’s treasures. Something I am great up for given your timely rescue.”

"That is a wonderful attitude to have," the Bajoran replied. "A historical and cultural connection with a drink isn't uncommon, but rarely is it such a strong one." It made Trenna wish that she had more history of her own to connect with.

"Is it normally drunk unaltered or are there common additives your people use?"

“There are…some. But given the caustic nature of them, I assure you that you would not find their addition at all pleasing,” Chromis said. He took the tea pot and cups to a small work table, seeming to shoo away the data padd’s that had been left out on it. “The Kenki digestive system is robust, and our tolerance for things differs to most humanoids.”

He began to roll the tea pot slowly on its side, the sealed lid and spout keeping the contents from spilling out.

“Food and drink unite us as a people, and as a great cosmopolitan over culture. In all of our societies eating is seen as a communal affair, a time to socialise and enjoy nourishment. Except in those societies with stringent social rules, though they have their own communal rituals that make up for it. It is perhaps the first sign of a civilisation, the sharing of a meal, the offering of hospitality,” Chromis ventured. He began to pour. “Believe it or not but I am something of a student of anthropology.”

"A man of many talents," Trenna said warmly. "Made all the more valuable by our current mission. It is refreshing to have a science chief onboard."

"Yes, I did make note that the Altai did not seem to have that 'lived in' quality of a long term science team," Chromis said. He sipped his tea, a feat that a little funnel built into the rim of his cup aided in navigating the challenge of his beak. "But that just means this is a blank slate, a fresh start. And with the coming exploration opportunities, our missions together will bring, I foresee great things in our future."

"It's nice to have someone that optimistic and hopeful around," she replied. "Not that the crew is full of pessimists mind you, but we haven't had the best of luck thus far. I think some people's optimism has lost it's sheen as a result. And we're all overworked due to all of the unfilled billets." She took a drink of the hot beverage. "This isn't bad."

"Thank you. And optimism is something of a Kenki trait. In fact when our first Kenki set foot on another moon we shared an orbit with, their first words were 'We have come further than those before, and have so much further to explore'," Chromis smiled. Or at least he seemed to, the hard chitin of the beak not allowing for much facial expression around the mouth. But the eyes did enough. "The Altai's mission of scientific discovery has only just begun, and we have so much further to explore."

She enjoyed another mouthful of the hot liquid. "I admit to not knowing much about the Kenki. Anything important I should know before I get a chance to dive into the Federation's anthropological and sociological records?"

"Huum. Well, speaking only for myself, I find Kenki become quite cranky when we molt. It only happens once every two months, but I'm told I get quite irritable. A full-body case of the itches I think someone called it once," Prax clucked in what was apparently the Kenki version of a chuckle. "Other than that as a species we don't have many social taboos. None of our games are focused on combat or aggression, unlike many human pass times. Or Bajoran, for that matter. We prefer cooperative pastimes, a common cause. Though anthropologically speaking that has more to do with our development as a civilization than anything else."

He sipped his tea for a moment, thinking.

"Other than a deep-seated fear of lemons I can't think of anything else that couldn't wait for contextual interactions," he said with a shrug.

"Lemons?" she asked, chuckling. "That's a new one. What's to fear about lemons?"

"On my homeworld, there is a small fruit. More of a nut, really, though it has a soft pulp centre so...that is not the point. We call it the janu. When it is ground into a paste and mixed with a small amount of water it has a scent not dissimilar to lemons," Prax said. He tapped one of his claw tips against the metal cup. "The paste made from the janu is used to anoint our dead. It aids in the denaturing process by accelerating decomposition. So you can imagine my first use of a replicator in the Starfleet Academy mess hall when the glass of ice water I ordered came with a slice of lemon. Water, with a hint of rapid on set decomposition."

"I shouldn't," she said, before erupting in laughter.

"I'm sorry, Lieutenant," she said after calming down. "That sounds like it wasn't very funny for you at all."

"Oh it wasn't," Prax said. And whilst his beak was immobile, his eyes shone with mirth and good cheer. "I was furious. I was angry, I had every intention of finding out why someone had thought it funny to spike my drink with something so crass. I even took it up with the Starfleet Academy Commandant. And once I explained that a janu paste was, olfactory speaking, the same as a lemon you know what they said? 'You smell like wet grass'. He then explained to me that what was normal for my world, for my people, was not normal for everyone else. That there were differences, big and small, and challenges to preconceptions. And whilst the scent of lemons might remind me of tragedy and loss, it was something that was unique for myself."

Trenna frowned. "What assholes," she said firmly. "I don't have much tolerance for bullies. Bullying leads to much, much worse." She thought of her father and all of the other Bajorans who had suffered and died at the hands of the Cardassians during the Occupation.

"Yes," Chromis said. "I read about the Occupation, visited the memorial fields and meditation halls when I was stationed on Bajor. It...Kenki do not have a word or linguistic shorthand for what happened to your people. We have fights, but nothing approaching the scale of even a minor border skirmish between two planet-bound nation-states. We don't live long enough to foster such notions. I cannot express myself fully in regard to your loss, it is...quite simply beyond me. Like a vast shape in the dark, inferred by touch but unable to grasp it fully in any detail."

"Thank you. I appreciate that, Lieutenant. I'm one of the lucky ones who got out. So I didn't experience the horrors of the Occupation first hand. But I saw the aftermath. And I've heard the stories and seen the images." She took a long, deep breath.

"Well," she said, trying to move past the gloom they'd fallen into, "I don't want to take you away from your work for too long. I'd like to hear more about the Kenki. Maybe we can have tea after we figure out this situation in the Quimalia system."

"I would enjoy that Captain," Chromis said. "MAybe next time I can be unpacked in a more complete fashion?"


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