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JP - Anethra and Aristren - A Promise to Keep


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((Promenade, Miranda VII, Early 2378))

What had drawn Nestira Aristren to the Trinity Sector and surrounding areas was the fact that it had remained relatively untouched by the devastation of the Dominion War, which made it the preferred location for anyone trying to get away from haunting memories and remaining obligations.

And while the Klingons and Federation were focussed on rebuilding, there were several smaller and larger groups that benefited immensely from the lack of regulation that opened up creative ways to trade and seek entertainment.

The Rodulan found observing these customs a worthwhile passtime, but despite having been on Miranda VII for several months, never partook in either, and with each passing day, she grew more desolate.

She was lonely. She wanted to interact with the different species that called the spacedock their home or came here for business, but had quickly learned that blending in was far more difficult than it seemed. She couldn’t quite understand why that was, she only knew that it… was. There was a Trojan class I spacedock closeby - Starbase 118 - that Nestira considered visiting, hoping for the officers to be a little more accepting. But not now. 

For now, Nestira was content to simply observe and try to figure out what to do next. Tucked away in a quiet corner of a not-so-quiet establishment she kept her eyes fixed on the beverage in front of her, and on blocking out the vibrant minds of the people who had come here to relax, celebrate, or simply grab something to eat.

Anethra was on Miranda VII for one reason. To seek out new pieces of art. One didn't open a gallery with nothing to show in it. The war had not been kind to her trade, and in fact many people had been hoarding various pieces of art, secured away in vaults all over the quadrant. War was not good for business.

But the war was over. And the Ferengi had another saying; Peace was good for business. Anethra certainly hoped that was the case.

For now though she was hungry, and hunger overrode pretty much every other desire. So the Rekarian had made her way to a mostly full eatery on the Promenade. It was noisy and there wasn't much seating, so when she found an empty seat at an otherwise occupied booth she decided to simply ask to sit.

Anethra: Is this seat taken?

The Rodulan looked up in something that was supposed to convey surprise, but in reality looked like her staring the woman down, wondering what species that one might be. Vulcan? But Vulcans all had the same haircut, and this one did not conform. Interesting. 

Anethra stared back at the dark-eyed woman in front of her, waiting for an answer. She couldn't say she was enjoying the gaze she was under, but again, hunger overrode most things, so she waited still.

Nestira, who had fixed her gaze on the woman, returned her attention to the mug in front of her. Or rather, she sensed her discomfort and decided to alleviate it by simply looking away.  As she responded, her tone was flat and unanimated.

Aristren: This seat is empty.

Silence spread between the two women, and Nestira realized a split second too late that she should probably say something more. The telepathic undercurrent of her statement relayed interest and an invitation to join her, but of course the Vulcan-eque female was unable to perceive it. Perhaps, Nestira considered, she should ask a question in return to show interest. She just wasn’t sure what. 

Anethra in the meanwhile glossed over the fact that it wasn't a yes or a no. She shrugged, choosing to sit anyway. If the woman hadn't wanted her there, she would have just said so.

Once a waiter had provided food and drink, she turned her attention to the Rodulan woman on the other side of the table.

Anethra: So what brings you to Miranda VII?

Aristren: Visiting. ::there was a long and somewhat awkward pause as Nestira convinced herself to ask a question of her own, and then had to think about what to ask the stranger:: Is there something wrong about being here? 

While the woman considered her response, Anethra took a bite of her food, savoring it.

Anethra: Nothing wrong, just don't normally see a Rodulan so far from home. It makes such an encounter unique…

Rodulans were indeed rare - many did not want to leave Basul Rodul. Which in turn meant that many other species weren’t even aware they existed, which explained why Nestira struggled to blend in.

Aristren: I decided to travel. ::pause, then a sudden raising of her eyebrows as she finally thought of a question to ask in return:: Do you travel?

Anethra: I do. :: She chewed for a moment, then continued after swallowing. :: Quite often in fact.

This was going well.  A lot better than most of Nestira’s other encounters. She was pleased, deciding to take a leap of faith and trust the woman with her name.

Aristren: You can call me Nestira.

Anethra: I am Anethra. 

Anethra observed the beautiful woman in front of her. A curious sight on a station full of curious sights.

Aristren: What do you do here? 

Anethra: I travel for many things, to see new places. Meet new people. For business and pleasure. :: She paused. :: Currently, I do so for business.

Aristren: What kind of business is it you do?

Now that she had started to ask questions, she was getting the hang of it, and she quickly realized that asking them was not considered intrusive. At least not in this setting. It seemed Anethra enjoyed talking about herself.

Anethra: I am an art dealer. Looking for pieces to go into a gallery I intend to open one day soon.

The Rodulan’s face seemed to light up at that - or at least she no longer motionlessly stared at the other woman.

Aristren: My mother is an artist. Her paintings have been shown in galleries for a long time, and I am very proud of her. My sister was like her, I am more like my father, but perhaps in the future I can learn to create something so expressive. ::pause:: But she paints differently now, my mother. And my sister does not at all.

The words came quickly and with an inflection that seemed …. off.  But it was the most she had spoken for quite some time, which was reason enough to forgive the overload on personal information and context that had not been requested.

Anethra: A shame… I've found most of the pieces that have come out of Basal Rodul to be incredibly beautiful.

Nestira could sense that there was something more to the statement, but after a few minor telepathic incidents, she had grown increasingly careful and almost distrustful of her senses. And so she decided on another question instead.

Aristren: You like our art? 

Anethra nodded, taking a sip of her drink.

Anethra: I especially like the basotile sculptures that I've had the pleasure of viewing.


The Rodulan nodded. Basotile was an integral part of her culture, and the sculptures crafted from it were deeply personal items that were said to contain part of one's soul. Amongst their own kind, those pieces were gifted to each other, and returned when a relationship changed or a bond broke apart.

Many possessed personal pieces of basotile, and Nestira was not an exception.

Aristren: I have one. You can look at it if you want. But I am not an artist.

Anethra’s eyes widened slightly. She nodded enthusiastically.

Anethra: I would very much like to see it, yes.

For a moment, Nestira was hesitant. She did not usually showcase something so personal to a stranger, but in many ways she was starved for social contact, and Anethra seemed.. nice.

Anethra: Shall we go somewhere a bit more private?

Aristren: We can go to my quarters. The quarters I… rented.

Anethra: Sounds good.

((Nestira’s so-called ‘quarters’, Miranda VII, Early 2378))

Calling Nestira’s home ‘quarters’ was perhaps a little too generous. She had rented a small room in a larger apartment, and that room fit not much more than a bed and a desk. There were a few possessions strewn about, but it quickly became clear that she did not, in fact, own much.

Anethra: Its very…. cozy.

 

Anethra hadn't expected much. The Cardassian designed space station did not provide much in the way of amenities. Even her own quarters were not much.

Aristren: I am … not sure I will stay long. It's very complicated. Living here.

Here, on Miranda VII. Here, away from home.

Anethra: How so?

Aristren: I am not yet sure how things work.

Anethra: Ah, I understand. :: She nodded. :: I found it similarly hard when I first started out…


That was interesting to Nestira. Her own species valued and understood progression and development - but also had several centuries to do so. Other species had a much shorter lifespan and her assumption was that they were simply born with a skillset that lasted them for the entirety of their existence.
 

Aristren: When was that?

 

Anethra: Many decades ago by now… it took time to figure out the best ways to blend in… and just what I could get away with.


Another aspect that was interesting to the Rodulan. She enjoyed being apart from the group, but she did notice how detrimental it was to finding a footing in this new environment. Blending in seemed like an appealing skill to have.
 

Aristren: You look and seem just like anyone else here.

Which was her way of affirming that Anethra was, in fact, blending in. 

 

Anethra: As I grew older… I stopped caring so much…

 

Nestira was unsure how to reply to that, and simply opted not to reply. Instead, she made her way to the desk, where her travel-crate was sitting. Opening it, its contents were revealed, and they were …. not much - largely clothes. Clothes which seemed to cushion the sculpture settled in the middle.

While light-reflecting glass was popular on Basul-Rodul, the variety of basoltile that Nestira had chosen for herself was ivory in color and its sharp edges had something tribal, almost feral about them.
 

Anethra’s eyes widened slightly taking in all the various facets of the ivory coloured sculpture. It was unique, though pretty much every Basotile she had seen was, but most of the ones she had seen were much more flowing in contrast to the one in front of her now, with its sharp edges and comparatively muted ivory colour.


Anethra: Wonderful. Simply wonderful. :: She looked to Nestira. :: How long did it take you to create?

Aristren: It takes a very long time to make something like it. I practise a few hours every day.

Because she did not have anything else to do. She hadn’t made any friends here, and she spent far more time alone in this room than she cared to admit.
 

Anethra nodded slightly.


Anethra: You said you weren't an artist, but you sell yourself short.

 

Aristren: I disagree. 

 

She gestured to the sculpture.

 

Anethra: I know many who would desire such a thing, simply for its unique beauty.


Curious, but understandable.

Aristren: I have found people desire a lot of things.

And she had no intention of gifting her basotile sculpture to someone else. Because that was what she assumed was meant.
 

Anethra knew the significance basotile held to Rodulans. She nodded slightly.


Anethra: That is true… have you ever considered selling it, however?

The Rodulan frowned deeply and pressed her lips into a thin line - an expression she had seen on others, and was now trying for herself . Sell it? That seemed like an utterly alien concept to her.

Aristren: I did not know someone would want to buy it.

Anethra: As you just pointed out, people desire a lot of things. Most will pay to acquire what they desire.

 

That gave her pause. She had hoped to find some kind of work to do, but with her current adjustment issues, that was… difficult. And eventually she would run out of funds and have to return home, much earlier than she was planning to. 

 

Anethra: If you plan on travelling for long, having latinum to spend will be an unfortunate necessity.

 

Aristren: Do you know people who would want to buy it?
 

Anethra nodded again, considering for a moment just who might make the right buyer.


Anethra: Yes, I think I know just the right buyer for such a sculpture. A collector who can appreciate its elegance and beauty.
 

She nodded. She had seen those people who visited Miranda VII to conduct business, and who showcased their wealth with intricate jewellery and costly looking dresses and robes. Part of her had liked what she saw.

Aristren: And can you show me to appear like them? You said you learned, I want to learn too. But I don’t want it to take me a long time.
 

That hadn't been an expected request. Yet it was intriguing. Anethra smiled faintly.


Anethra: I can't say how successful I’ll be, but I can try to teach you how to blend in more.

 

Aristren: Good. 

 

Anethra: But first–

 

She looked back to the sculpture, then to Nestira.

 

Anethra: You are certain of this? If it is sold, it may not be easy to reacquire, and certainly not for a small sum.

 

After all, one didn't get repeat business by taking advantage of people, and Anethra tried never to do that.

 

Aristren: I am… very uncertain ::she admitted::  Can I think about it first?

Anethra: Of course. I will be here for a while yet. There is no rush.

Nestira gave a nod. She did not truly want to part with something so precious to her, but the alternative was having to return home because she had failed to blend in and explore the galaxy. And that would turn her promise to Elidi into a lie.

The loss of a piece of basoltile was a small price for keeping a promise.

END SCENE
 

Lt. Nestira Aristren

Strategic Operations Officer

Starbase 118 Ops

J239809TA4

 

and

 

PNPC Anethra

Wandering Art Dealer

 

as simmed by

 

Lt. Commander Solaris McLaren

Director of Intelligence

Starbase 118 Ops

C239210SM0

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