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Lt. Vylaa zh'Tisav - An Andorian Walks Into A Bar (Parts 1, 2, & 3)


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I love the worldbuilding @Vylaa has been doing during shore leave on Andoria, and with Vylaa and her family. This series gave some particular insight into Andorian culture, and Vylaa's feelings about it. 

Part 1: Public Display of Affection

 
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((Eketha Street, L’Uvan, Andoria))

The air was crisp that day in L’Uvan.  But then again, it was always crisp on Andoria.  The street was busy.  Vylaa and her thavan walked down the street, dodging other citizens of the city who were in a bigger hurry than they, as well as the occasional crewman from the Gorkon, all of whom acted far too touristy.

You’d think they’d never seen snow before...

Father and daughter paused outside of an older style building.  The sign over the entry way was written in large Andorian script, with a smaller translation in Federation Standard underneath.  It proclaimed the business to be the Crooked Stalk Tavern.

They entered the familiar place.  It was set up with mostly small tables seating only two or three, although there was a large bar along one end.  Vylaa’s shreva preferred more intimate seating in her establishment hence the lack of large tables.

The shen stood behind the bar, where she was eyeing her middle child, one side of her mouth upturned.  Her antennae, well, one of them, were curved toward her husband and daughter.  Her permanently bent left antenna, as usual, pointed off to Ovylaa’s left.

She’d gotten the wonky appendage after being thrown by a zabathu as a teenager.  It’d taken the search party two days to find her, and by then her injuries coupled with the inevitable frostbite had left Vylaa’s mother with the crooked antenna in addition to a permanent limp.

Ovylaa: Well, child, it’s about time you came to see me.

Vylaa slid into one of the tall seats in front of the bar.  Her antennae waggle playfully.

zh’Tisav: Well, you know you could have come to Bajor with everyone.

Ovylaa: Hmm, you know I don’t travel anymore.

Vylaa’s thavan seated himself next to the zhen.  Ovlaa was already pouring him his favorite ale.

Etharith: When did you ever travel?

Ovylaa merely smiled.

Ovylaa: Well, it was before you met me. And then we started having children, so…

zh’Tisav: Do not blame us for your lack of adventures.

Her parents both grinned and eyed each other.  Ovylaa was half-Aenar and had a close mental bond with her mates.  No doubt the two bondmates were sharing thoughts that Vylaa really didn’t want to know.

zh’Tisav: Get a room you two.

Etharith: We did, once.

Ovylaa: That’s how we ended up with triplets…

zh’Tisav: Ew!  Gross!

It always gave Vylaa a bit of nausea whenever any of her parents acted so lovey in public.  She spied a nearly empty bottle of a particular brand of ale on the back counter.  It gave her the perfect excuse to escape the ick-fest.

zh’Tisav: I’m going down to the storage caves.  I’m guessing old Shrev still comes at about the same time, and he’s going to want his favorite.  You two just..  ::Shivers.::  Ew…

As she escaped through the backroom door, she heard her shreva speak.

Ovylaa: Says our bonded zhei with three soon to be four children…

Vylaa knew the route well.  She and her sisters had earned spending latinum at the tavern in their late teens, first as bar-backs busing glassware and trash, then as fill in bartenders.  She slipped through the tiny kitchen, grabbed a hand lamp, and pushed past a curtain at the back.

Behind the curtain, an old staircase descended down into the rock.  It had been carved a long time ago into the floor of a natural tunnel that led to some small caves that Vylaa’s shreva used to store her surplus of alcohol, taking advantage of their natural climate control.

Vylaa passed the first chamber by.  Ovylaa was particular with her organization, and the smaller first chamber was for the off-world stuff.  Less space was needed for it because, frankly, the residents of L’Uvan rarely wanted it.  She needed the next chamber down.

TBC

Part 2: Cotton Candy Galaxy

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((Storage Caves, The Crooked Stalk Tavern, L’Uvan, Andoria))

Vylaa ducked through a low arch that separated a carved stone staircase from a small cavern.  Inside the air was chilly, although not nearly as cold as on the surface, the perfect place to store the dozens of bottles and crates of alcohol stored on rows of wooden shelves.

The zhen’s breath misted in the chill air as she made her way past the many shelves to a natural bench formed into the cave wall where she sat to rest.  She was in no hurry to return to the bar and see more of her parents public display of affection

Vylaa turned off her light and laid a hand on her pouch and immediately the baby kicked, hard.  She quickly lifted her hand.

zh’Tisav: Okay, sorry.  I’ll let you sleep...

She leaned back against the rough rock wall and waited as her eyes adjusted to the eternal darkness of the small cave.  Soon she started to detect a faint pink light above her, and as her eyes further adjusted it resolved itself into a delicate web of light, as if a giant spider had built it’s web of cotton candy..

It was a rare species of lichen that grew underground in certain cave systems.  The symbiotic pairing of fungus and algae lived down here and slowly ate away at the rock.  The bio-luminescence was a part of that; each colony of glow lichen gained it’s hue from the mineral composition of each cave system where it grew.  Each was different and Vylaa counted herself as one of the few people who’d ever seen this particular shade of bubblegum pink thanks to it being a privately owned cave.

The zhen glanced down and returned her hand to her pouch.

zh’Tisav: The science nerds would love to see this place, Tyvya.

She sat there under the pink spidersweb of light for a while longer, having a one sided conversation with her youngest child.  She hadn’t told anyone, yet, that she’d settled on a name for her, or even that she’d already done a scan and learned she was another zhen.  It was her secret, but somehow, she didn’t think anyone would mind or object to the child being named for Sallia’s birth-zhavey.  

((Timeskip))

Vylaa must have lost track of the passage of time sitting there beneath her private bubble gum galaxy.  From the rooms entry, she heard a faint voice calling her.  It seemed she couldn’t escape any longer.  She rose, found the bottle of ale she had come down here for, and reversed her steps up the rough rock steps.

She passed her shreva at the top of the stairs.  The older woman pierced her with a curious stare.

Ovylaa: You took long enough.

zh’Tisav: Well, are you two done embarrassing me at the bar?  ::She hooked a thumb over her shoulder.::  Because I can go back down...

The zhen led them back out through the backroom, ignoring her mother’s frown.  Her thavan was still sitting at the bar where she’d left him, chatting politely to a friend.  She smiled as she passed.  At the end of the bar, where he always sat, was the reason she’d retrieved the bottle she held in her hand.

His name was Shrev ch'Shaalil.  At first glance, well, at any glance, he was rather shocking to see.  Rather frightening, actually.  He wore a permanent scowl which made his damaged face all the more fearsome, and the zhen knew any conversation with him would not exactly be pleasant.  As a child, she’d been terrified to be around him, now she felt bad for him.

  He had been serving with a ground unit during the war when a Breen weapon had ended his career and nearly his life.  Instead, he’d permanently lost his right antenna and part of his skull.  An Andorian with only one antenna was only half an Andorian, a creature to be pitied.  Children feared him, and no bondgroup would have him.  And so, understandably, he was bitter.  His keth had given him a place as one of the clan’s archivists, those who recorded the clans day to day business and preserved it with their history, but mostly they expected little from hm.

The former soldier spent most of his time here, on the same stool at his third cousin’s watering hole, drinking away his war pension.  Light from overhead glinted off of the metal plate that peek from between the ragged edges of his scarred wound, and he glowered at Vylaa as she poured him a glass and set it and the bottle in front of him.  He paid by the bottle here.

Shrev: Vylaa….  Bringing another brat into the world I see.

zh’Tisav: Good to see you too, Shrev…  When are you going to stop being an ***hole?

The chan waved a hand through the space where his antenna should be.

Shrev: When I get this back.

zh’Tisav: Wishing for a miracle?

Shrev: They don’t exist.  ::Pause.::  Do you know what the brat’s going to be?

zh’Tisav: An Andorian, hopefully...

TBC

Part 3: It Ain't Easy Being Blue

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((Crooked Stalk Tavern, L’Uvan. Andoria)

Vylaa stood behind the bar at her shreva’s place, chatting to one of the regulars.  Or at least, trying to chat to him.  Shrev was a bitter old war veteran who now hated the world.  Vylaa felt bad for him, and so despite his unpleasantness tried to be a friend.  She imagined his was a lonely life.

Perhaps he reminded her of her own charan.  They both had suffered head wounds from service during the Dominion War.  The difference was Shrev’s had stolen an antenna, and to an Andorian losing an antenna, even temporarily, was absolutely devastating.  Many chose not to live with such a curse.  Vylaa had heard rumors, that he had tried many times, but a savior had always come along just in time.

zh’Tisav: I’ve always wondered, why do you drink that particular brand?  It’s pretty rough.

Shrev: ::Taking a sip.::  It’s cheap.  Stretches my latinum, so I can keep coming here for the thrilling conversations.

zh’Tisav: We’d all rather you found something else to do with your life other than searching for what’s at the bottom of a bottle.

Shrev frown, the action making the stump of his severed antenna dip toward his eye.

Shrev: ::Sneering:: Like what?  Wander the streets and count how many children run from me in fear?

zh’Tisav: Well, from what I hear, you were an amazing fighter.  You should pass that on to our Guards.

Shrev continued to sneer, which pulled the skin of his damaged face into a more gruesome visage.  It was likely he’d heard the same song and dance from many others.

Shrev: So they can end up like me?  I’ll pass.

zh’Tisav: You had an unlucky run.  So did my charan, he lost a damn eye.  But your skills might save the next Guard.  Or a whole unit.  Think of that.

If anything the old chan seemed more angry.  As if she’d struck a nerve.

Shrev: Your charan got off lucky.  And he had a family, he had you.  That makes a difference.

That gave Vylaa pause.  Her entire life, Shrev had been a dour-faced, untouchable presence in her shreva’s tavern.  His distaste for everything and everyone was, admittedly, a constant in her life.  She had never considered that he’d actually missed having a family.  She wasn’t sure what to think of this revelation, and cast about for something to say.  She recovered quickly, and grabbed the now half empty bottle and put it up on a high shelf.  She wasn’t going to contribute to this mess any longer.

zh’Tisav: You’ve had enough.  Go back to your keep and dry out.

Shrev: ::Snarling.::  Give that back!

He had stood almost instantly, his seat sliding back a few inches.  He was much more menacing not bent over a bottle.  But his attempt to intimidate the zhen was for naught, given that his eyes barely reached her collarbone.  The zhen just crossed her arms while Shrev wobbled on his feet.

zh’Tisav: No. ::She turned her head to the side and pierced her shreva with a glare.::  Your keth may be fine with you killing yourself slowly, but I won’t help anymore.

Vylaa heard her mother’s familiar uneven limp behind her.

Ovylaa: You heard her Shrev, go back to the keep and sleep it off.

Shrev looked about ready to jump over the wide wooden bar, but unseen to Vylaa her thavan rose to his feet and fixed Shrev with a forbidding stare.  Recognizing he was outnumbered, the chan instead turned and shuffled to the door, his shoulders drooping.  Once he’d left the tavern Ovylaa spoke softly.

Ovylaa: You could have handled that better, Little One.  He may be a belligerent old drunk, but he looks forward to seeing people here.  It’s one of the few places he’s treated like a normal Andorian.

Vylaa picked up an empty glass and filled it with water and took a long drink.

zh’Tisav: I only did what should have been done a long time ago.  He needs help, and letting him drink himself to death isn’t helping.  You’re his kin, you should have stepped in a long time ago.

Etharith: ::Quietly:: The gods chose his path, and this is how he chooses to walk it.  Andoria is harsh, and some get left behind.  It’s the way it’s always been.  We must be a strong people.  I know it’s hard, but you’ll understand one day.

Vylaa had heard it all before.  It was the same rhetoric taught to every Andorian schoolchild since time immemorial.  The species survived on the backs of the strong, the weak had to go.  Losses were inevitable, and sacrifices had to be made.

Only, this wasn’t ancient Andoria.  Things should be different now.

zh’Tisav: I don’t think I want to understand.  It seems a lot of our ways are just convenient excuses for ignoring people who need help.  We ignore Shrev’s drinking when it’s right in front of us.  We stuck Sallia’s zhavey into an asylum and forgot about her.  It’s all a bunch of kritkraw s***. ::She set her glass down with a loud thunk, grabbed her coat and moved for the door.::  I think I’d like to be alone for awhile.  Sometimes… it’s not so great being Andorian.

She put her long coat on and stepped out into the cold.  She frowned up at the sky; a snow squall had blown in from the ocean to the north. It hadn’t reached it’s full intensity yet, but it would soon drop visibility to a few meters.  The zhen reached into a deep interior pocket of her coat and retrieved her skating blades and carefully clipped them to her footwear.  

Properly kitted out, she carefully walked out to the track of ice that ran down the center of every street.  Skating would get her home and out of the storm the quickest.  She pushed off, putting distance between herself and her parents as fast as she could.

 

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