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LtCmdr Tristam Core - "Culture Shock"

Ryan King

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((First Officer’s Office))

::There sat . . . lay . . . the Rodulan in his office, face down on his desk lightly snoring. He hadn’t managed to return to his quarters in time before he finally collapsed unconscious on top of the numerous PADDs waiting for him to sign off. He was out of uniform, having decided upon docking to Astrofori One, he was technically off duty. Or as “technically” as being First Officer would allow him to be off duty.::

Officer: =/\= Astrofori One to Commander Core. =/\=

::It roused him, if only barely, the man scrunching his eyebrows, his nose, before finally straightening up with a half-hearted stretch.

::Seven hours sleep. It was better than none, he supposed.::

Core: =/\= Core here. =/\=

Officer: =/\= There’s a woman here in docking bay 2B by the name of Venxi asking for you. =/\=

::It was a joke. It had to be. There was no way. Why would a Rodulan ever come out to Astrofori One - there was nothing here for his people, let alone *Yanata*!

::Maybe it was a mistake. A lure to get him away from his desk, his oh so comfy desk.::

Core: =/\= Give me a few minutes. =/\=

::Just the idea of having Yanata within arms reach was too much of an opportunity to miss. He had to see for himself. Maybe it wasn’t her, maybe it was a case of mistaken identity - but he had to be sure before he came to a conclusion. So a quick change of clothes and a spash of water later, and he was off to the docking bay.::

((Astrofori One docking bay))

::Yanata Venxi was a dark olive skinned, brown haired, wide-eyed beauty to behold, even if she looked mildly flushed and uncomfortable around other strange looking species and beings Tristam himself had grown accustomed to. Even when standing in a docking bay full of people, Tristam could spot her immediately upon entering - he knew that carefully-planned and executed hair bun a mile away, those judging eyes analysing and criticizing everything around her. Not to mention that she was a comforting void within the buzzing minds of the officers and civilians around him.

::He must have been for her, too, because as soon as he stepped within those doors, her attention went immediately to him. It was easy to identify a Rodulan mentally when faced with about a hundred people’s worth of minds. The Rodulan would be the empty void - a silent buzz, but no sound coming from them.::

::Tristam almost tripped over running to her.::

Core: I can’t believe you’re here- I don’t even- how did you-

Yanata:::scolding:: Broebas Daneil Tristam Core!

::He’d been stunned to silence at the sound of what his full name was when structured within her Krzexxi titling, though he’d snapped immediately back into her heritage custom. As her hands roughly took hold of his cheeks, his own found her shoulders - she was at least a foot shorter than he was and had about thirty years more experience in life, but for the first time since leaving home, he felt as though he finally had a proper equal, someone who would frown at him if he held his utensils wrong, spoke in a slurred and unprofessional tongue (of which lately he’d been doing a lot), to have his manners finally corrected and basotile critiqued. Her eyes bore into his, but not in an unpleasant way. Instead, they displayed her fondness and familiar openness to him, as well as likely judging his scruffiness and rings around his eyes. It felt like a millennia since he’d been able to comfortably achieve this sort of greeting, let alone a form meant only for family. There was only one other woman he’d willing allow to assault his cheeks, after all.::

::He’d been missing home for so long, and here was home, now brought to him by his sister in basotile.::

Core: You’re really here. On Astrofori One, so far from Rodul! Why didn’t you *call* - I would have been here to-

Yanata: If I was capable, trust me, I would have. But it was a last minute thing - and the *technology* is just *unuseable* off world! I do not know how you can possibly stand it at all!

::It takes practice, he mused. The first time he held a PADD, he couldn’t make heads or tails of it. And now, as a components expert, he was considerably better at working with all sorts of tech. Rodulan interfaces were far more simple, and didn’t require learning the meaning of thousands of various numbers and codes to work properly. Then again, Rodulan computers were never designed for space exploration.::

Core: Wha- how’d you even *get* here?

Yanata: Cardassian transport system. Part of the political apology was the creation of a transport between Basul Rodul and another spaceport I can’t possibly remember the name of but is within Cardassian space. I think. Honestly, whenever I get off Rodul, it’s just one giant black bowl of pointlessness.

::Tristam blinked. That answered *one* of his questions, he supposed.::

Core: *Why* are you here!? Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the best gifts the Artist has given me in about ten years, but . . . *why*?

Yanata: You have so many questions. Didn’t Taywor tell you?

Core: The reason you’re here?

Yanata: Yes.

Core: *No*! No he *didn’t*!

::The woman gave a deep, Rodulan kind of frown Tristam hadn’t seen for too long, shaking her head in what some people would call over-emphasized. In fact, her body movements so far had made her the most conspicuous thing in the bay::

Yanata: Relations with the Cardassians is better. Much better. So we’re having some talks about trade and what not. I am here as one of the representatives - I’m to relay a couple of deals, give responses, that sort of thing. There is a few of us, actually. The Cardies set up travel documents for us.

::Though he cringed as his sister’s use of “Cardies” whilst in public, he had to muse about the situation she’d presented to him. Rodulans and Cardassians working hand in hand. Tristam sincerely hoped that was so they could milk the Cardassians for whatever they had after the whole occupation apology. It hadn’t been in Tristam’s time, but for some Rodulans, it might as well have been yesterday. Not pleasant, but at least they’d been able to move on without forming any Maquis-like ‘retribution’ groups.::

Core: Why Astrofori One?

Yanata: Neutral ground. Betreka Nebula seems to be uneasy at the moment - one of your Starfleet ships investigated a “distress call”, or so I heard, so the Defense Force is on high alert because of them, and won’t allow diplomatic meetings until their problems have been sorted. Of course, that could take years, and as per usual, they didn’t want to have Cardassians in their space for too long. They were getting a bit nervous. And we do not really want to be on Cardassia Prime just yet, now do we?

::Made sense.::

Core: Okay, well, uh . . . do you have some place to stay?

Yanata: No, I plan on sleeping in a dirty corridor somewhere- of *course* I have accomodation. What’s the matter with you? Did you leave your brain in a bin somewhere?

Core: I’m just trying to wrap my head around the fact that you’re actually here!

Yanata: Well wrap it quickly. I would like to get out of here and settled as soon as possible. I am hoping you can help me around this place because the design seems like an absolute *nightmare*-

::As she took a step forward, she stumbled, Tristam having to catch her before she ended up on the floor. After a few deep breaths, she straightened up, tugging her shirt down a little as she regained her faculties.::

Yanata: I am fine. It has been a long trip.

Core: Long trip worth of space-sickness. Didn’t the Cardassians have doctors aboard?

Yanata:::sighing:: I do not need to speak with any doctors of any kind. ::She paused, gripping his arm a little tighter.:: Though this nausea *is* getting worse the more the station rocks.

Core: All the more reason to take you to medical.

((Guest quarters, Astrofori One))

::A trip to medical had Yanata's symptoms of space sickness sorted, she'd retired to her quarters demanding time to settle and some privacy - given her overbearing nature, Tristam bid her a good night and instead returned to his own quarters for a good nights rest, looking forward to giving his sister-in-baso the tour of the station.

::When she answered the door to her guest quarters, Tristam found her cross-legged on the floor, feet bare, eyes concentrated purely on the clay-like substance currently at her hands.


::He hadn't seen another Rodulan work with basotile since . . . well, since forever. Though basotile was grand in its expression, his family often worked with it in seclusion. Yanata was the only one of the household whom would openly craft. At first it was a quality of hers that he constantly questioned, but now it was something he took comfort in. It felt as though a large weight had been lifted from his shoulders.::

Core: I didn't mean to disturb you.

Yanata: I am almost done. I will be with you in a minute.

::Yanata wasn't using tools to mold the clay, instead shaping it with her hands. So far, it was simply a cube, patterns traced within it by her smallest finger. She was currently digging out clay from the top.

::Tristam set himself down at the table, staring at his sister-in-baso in a way Gamighan would have likely called 'rude', but one she was not adverse to. When she finally completed the small sculpture, it had taken form of a strange cup. She removed her hands, leaving the basotile on the table as she got up to wash them, toes stretching as she cleaned the remaining craftments from her fingernails.::

Yanata: I am afraid I won't have time for a tour today. My meeting for the trade agreements has been rescheduled for two hours from now.

Core: Did they tell you why?

Yanata: Yes, but I couldn't make heads or tails of it. Something about some random Dennermé conflict. That is how you say it, yes?

Core: Yes. Dennermé. And they’re not exactly known for their subtlety.

Yanata: You have heard of them?

Core: Spoken to a few of them, actually. You’d like them - they’re very . . . critical.

Yanata: Sounds about right, given the Cardassian’s attitude when I asked. You are speaking two dialects, by the way - it’s getting irritating watching your mouth slug over Krzexxi. Choose one or the other.

Core: Sorry.

::Krzexxi often used a precise words, children taught away from using contractions as one of the first three words of a sentence in the Western Gate. Laziness was frowned upon when speaking, and given that Tristam had resorted to using three different languages when he’d had problems talking, he hadn’t broken out of it easily. It was a bad habit.::

Yanata: Do not apologise, just don’t do it. Why are you even in the first place?

Core: It’s a long story. No one speaks Rodulan dialects on Invicta because of the universal translator, so no one has noticed.

Yanata: Consider me surprised Taywor hasn’t pulled you up on it.

Core: We’ve been a bit busy focussing on my actual health.

Yanata: Hmm. I suppose the fact that you *can* talk is a blessing.

::She nodded to herself, pulling a mug off the bench and placing it in front of Tristam.::

Yanata: I come baring gifts.

Core: You didn’t have to-

Yanata: Hush. It was a requirement set by your father.

::And just as quickly as she had sat down, she was up and off again, headed to the couch to pick up a crate, heaving it up and dumping it onto the table in front of him. Tristam stood from the table, Yanata unlocking the mechanism.::

Yanata: These are personal effects Gamighan wanted you to have. ::She pointed to each individually.:: Supply of proper basotile, instead of just the clay import-

Core: What’s the matter with my clay stuff?

Yanata: I am just the messenger, but he said to tell you that clay likely isn’t giving you the workout you need. And since Starfleet doesn’t have a telepathic psychophysiotherapist . . .

::She simply shrugged. Tristam was trying to work out if “psychophysiotherapist” was even a word or if Yanata was just trying to paraphrase Gamighan’s argument somehow.::

Yanata: It may take more time out of your day, but it’ll be worth it in the long wrong. Moving on, there is a couple of blankets, as well as a new copy of the Ozara Sect of Dikken - Taywor thought you might appreciate that. And, of course, an eye of the Artist . . .

::Gingerly, as though she thought she was going to drop and break it, she handed Tristam a chain and pendant. An Eye of the Artist was essentially just a good luck charm, one associated with the belief that the Artist was watching over all, a stainless steel locket, inside holding materials associated with Dikken. The “eye” was the front of the locket, a patterned circle revealing parts of the glow-in-the-dark blue held in a glass container within.

::Because he’d left Rodul, because he was out of the gaze of the Artist, it had felt necessary to keep one with him. It was one of the few connections to home he’d had during his time in Starfleet. He’d lost his original on the Pioneer, having gone missing when they’d rounded up his personal effects to send back to him while he was recovering from the accident (he hadn’t worn it on duty for reason of protocol), and at the time, he was so wound up in losing what might as well have been a limb, that he hadn’t had the capacity for a crisis of faith. It only hit him when he was half-way through his tenure on Seventeen, but he’d been so lucky in his recovery and everything after that, he hadn’t believed it a loss worthy to dwell over.::

Core: Been a while since I’ve seen one of these.

::As if it’d been his original, he pulled it over his head, the pendant settling against his chest as if it hadn’t been years since he’d last had one on. Yanata was trying to hide a smile, pulling the crate off the table and out of the way.::

Yanata: It’s not all I bring.

::She moved off as Tristam continued examining the eye around his neck, heaving up a much larger crate and all but dumping it in the place the other had been.::

::One of the problems he’d had whilst being away from home was the constant over-stimulation of flavours. Eating non-replicated meals had been a nightmare, and even then, he’d had to endure the use of nutrient pastes for years on end (the Medical Starbase he’d been a resident of for that brief tenure had many a creative solution to this problem) before he finally got around to programming meals or altering them. To this day, he couldn’t prepare a proper meal for Roshanara without instruction to make it more flavoursome and she couldn’t prepare anything for him lest she accidentally burn his tastebuds off. It was a never ending problem, his Attraxan tongue being too sensitive for it’s own good. He was often stuck with eating fish and unseasoned vegetables, soups or stews, customized replicator pastes (essentially what he’d been living on since boarding the Invicta due to it being a quick meal and lack of time to program anything else), or the worst of the bunch, nutrient and protein shakes, but even then, there was the occasional problem.

::But here he was, peering into this ridiculously large crate that Yanata had somehow managed to get aboard a Cardassian passenger transport with likely few questions asked because it was Yanata Venxi doing it and you better have a damn good reason to not let her do it thank you. All he saw were baking ingredients, fresh food, syrups and more.

::It wasn’t even the only crate. She was back over at the couch moving another one towards him.::

Core: How did- what- *why*!?

Yanata: Taywor said you were complaining endlessly.

::Where was he two years ago!?::

Core: The Menthar Corridor doesn’t exactly accommodate for Rodulans far away from home.

Yanata: I am painfully aware of this. I have been here one day and already I despise everything I smell. You have been living away from home for *years* - I don’t know how you stand it.

Core: You get used to it.

Yanata: Well, regardless to what you’ve done to work through the fifth sense pain, here is a temporary solution. This is all fixes for tastes. It is not much in the scope of things, but essence of ytic, strom and selt, extract of det, esir and regayo; I figured you could combine those as much as you like and change things up a bit. Herbs and spices as well. Uh . . . ::she held up a cetbe fruit:: fresh produce, fruit and vegetables, obviously. I also brought some diluted vinegar since you love your fish so much. Sweeteners and syrups, so forth. Oh! I called up your personnel office and asked if these can be programmed into your replicator - they said you shouldn’t have a problem and that if you do, you should talk to operations. I did not bring any flour or thickeners or water or anything of the like but I assume you can find substitutes?

Core: I’m sure I’ll find something.

Yanata: Oh good, because Gamighan was concerned that I should have brought five crates worth.

Core: I don’t think you’d have gotten away with that. And I thought you were in a hurry? How’d you manage to find time to call Starfleet yet not call *me*?

Yanata: I had two days to prepare. Completely last minute - this on top of all the reporting I had to finish up, you’re lucky I managed to pull anything together at all.

::Yanata was nothing if not efficient. Tristam couldn’t help but glance back at the crates. They’d be his first legitimately Rodulan meal in *years*. He cracked a smile, huffing a laugh, before finally pulling Yanata into a hug.

::He was hugging his sister-in-baso. He hadn’t hugged her in years, hadn’t heard her voice in person for just as long. But here she was, shoulder warm against his chin. Not only that, but she’d showed up on his doorstep and brought his *culture* back.::

::He had to take a shaky breath to stop tears from forming.::

Yanata: Tristam, are you alright?

::He only held her tighter.::

Core: You have no idea how much I missed you.

Tbc . . . 

LtCmdr Tristam Core

First Officer

USS Invicta


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