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Adding a Little Spice to Life

Posted on Mon Sep 12th, 2016 @ 11:28am by Captain Avin Singh & Commander Jesse Temple & Lieutenant Ibrim Dakar & Anne Chouvie

Mission: 863
Location: SS Tornado | Mess Hall & Captain's Dining Room
Timeline: June - 30th -2388 [19:00 hours]

A few areas of the SS Star of India had been revamped, refitted, and had a damn good interior decorator assigned to them. One such room was the starship's Mess Hall which back in her glory days when she was state of the art ship of the line was a rather small and bland space by today's standards. However, aboard the SS Star of India, that room was no longer serving as the Mess Hall. It had been converted into a small recreational room. Instead, the crew of the SS Star of India would dine in converted VIP quarters. Six tables lined the main dining room in a open floor plan small tables sat two while larger tables sat six comfortably. On some starship's the Captain had his or her own mess or dining room which was cut off from the Mess Hall. Aboard Captain Singh's Star of India, there was a cozy room within the greater Mess Hall that was sectioned off and housed one table that sat four, the Captain and three guests.

This, on the eve before the starship's disembarking, Captain Avininder Singh had asked Chef Anne Chouvie to prepare an evening meal, traditional to his home cuisine back on Earth. It was to be a celebratory meal in the Captain's private dinning room after the hustle and buzz of the scheduled dinner crowd had died done in the Mess. Avin had invited his First Officer and his Chief Engineer to join him at 19:00 hours in the Captain's Dining Room 'casual dress is fine' the invitation. He, himself had honored his words by coming out of uniform in a pair of white trousers and an olive green shirt.

As the meal was being prepared in the kitchen, and the main Mess Hall was clearing out for the evening, Avin took refuge at an observation area, looking out into space with a his fingers laced around a steaming mug of chai tea. The scent of cardamon permeated his immediate surroundings as he waited for his two guests to arrive.

Behind Avin, the door hissed open with the characteristic noise of Federation door servos across the ages. Ibrim Dakar stepped into the room, adorned in an outfit of grey, long-sleeved shirt and trousers. Having received the Captain's invitation, the Cardassian had realized with a moment's panic that he owned very little clothing that could be considered 'casual dress'. He had rummaged through his uniforms until he had found this attire, something he only dimly recalled wearing a handful of times in the last few years. He paused just within the door, allowing it to slide closed behind him. He surveyed the room before spotting Avin, and after a moment's further hesitation he walked across the room towards the human. Pausing a respectful distance away, Ibrim brought his heels together with a click and nodded in salute. "Captain," he said by way of greeting.

The Captain responded by promptly tensing up a bit and straightening his posture to a more militant stance though he himself was anything but militant to say the least. Yes, he had been in Starfleet, but he was always in the Science Department and avoided most combat. "I am glad that you could make it. I am also glad that you came casual...part of me was concerned that you'd come dressed for an interrogation" said Avin with a small smile, a tiny joke to lighten the mood albeit a bit dark for usual human humor.

Ibrim frowned for a moment, unsure of how to take the Captain's comment. Seeing the smile on Avin's face, he decided that the Captain was making a joke and duplicated the smile himself. "I am somewhat unaccustomed to an informal setting," Ibrim admitted, still standing at an attentive stance. "Whilst we Cardassians are great lovers of high entertainment, it is uncommon for us to be out of uniform except in familial situations."

Jesse had been waylaid by his duties and was running late to dinner. He cursed himself - well, it was actually more out loud and using general expletives - as he quickly dug through his rucksack for clean clothes. He found a fresh white t-shirt and pulled that on, grabbed a faded pair of jeans, and shoved his large feet into his well-loved khaki boots, before jogging out the door.

He used his reflection in the turbolift panel to smooth out some wayward strands of hair, finishing just as it arrived at his intended destination. Thanks to his earlier scouting tour around the ship, the Marine already knew a few short cuts to the Mess and managed to arrive just after the Chief Engineer had entered.

Jesse took a breath and strolled in as casually as possible. "Evening, gentlemen," He exclaimed with his usual broad smile.

"Commander Temple, I am glad that you were able to attend. Both of you" said Avin as he finished nursing his mug of tea. "You both are welcome to grab a drink while we wait. Chef Chouvie is in the kitchen finishing our dinner" explained Avin. "I wanted to have dinner with you both to discuss our plans for tomorrow. We will be setting sail as it were and taking on our first load of cargo."

Jesse gave Lieutenant Dakar a gentle pat on the shoulder as he walked further into the room. He saw that the Cardassian was rather neatly dressed, and the Captain was also in a shirt. Suddenly, looking down at his basic tee and jeans, the Marine realized he'd taken the "casual" attire a little too casually. If only he owned a collared shirt.

Jesse spied the open bar and bee-lined towards it. He was about to reach for the whiskey when he remembered his earlier encounter with Jax and thought better of it. Instead, he made himself a soda with ice and turned back to the others.

"Leaving already," Temple commented with an approving nod. "Glad to hear it."

Ibrim gave the Commander an awkward nod in response to the pat on his shoulder. Physical contact with humans was going to take a while for him to find normal. He followed Jesse to the bar, looking over the options available. The India's selection of liquors was impressive, and the Cardassian raised his eyebrow at the unexpected pleasure of seeing a bottle of Kanar. He picked it from the lineup of drink containers and studied its label. 2327; an expensive and highly sought-after vintage. For a moment he considered pouring himself a glass, but seeing the Commander's temperate option, Ibrim hesitated. His training told him that it was important to follow his superiors in all fashions, so the Cardassian reluctantly replaced the bottle and poured himself a glass of ice water from a teeming pitcher. He turned back to the others, the glass in his hand frosting at the edges of his skin's contact with its surface.

Captain Singh gestured for the two men to accompany him towards the private room which housed their table the evening. "I heard stories that Captain Janeway of the USS Voyager had her private Mess made into a proper galley kitchen for her Talaxian cook. Personally, I like the thought of keeping my own private dining room for special events and in the event we have an Admiral or dignitary come aboard" he explained on their way over.

Temple thought back to his own experiences. "I've been a grunt eating slop in a mess tent while officers dined away on cutlery and fine china. It was just part of the career. You started from the bottom and if you were a good soldier, a Federation man, you made your way up the ladder to one day sit at the fancy table."

He nodded to Mr Dakar, "Probably the same regardless of which army you serve, am I right?"

Ibrim thought for a moment about the Commander's assertion. Jesse was essentially correct; the senior officers aboard Cardassian warships often dined much better than their subordinates. Ibrim remembered the junior officer's rations aboard the warship 'Imtar' with an internal shudder. He did not want to appear disloyal to this people or the military that he had served for so long, so he debated how to respond. In the end he decided that it was enough to make an observation without appearing to complain. He gave Jesse a small smile. "I believe your human saying 'rank hath its privileges' is fairly accurate across almost every military force in the known galaxy," he replied. Then the Cardassian's smile got a little wider as a humorous thought - at least to him - came to mind, and he added, "Although in the Cardassian military, being a 'Federation man' is generally not a promising indicator for advancement."

Avin took a seat at the table and admired the cozy atmosphere of the room, being somewhat isolated from the main Mess Hall. "I have to admit that all of this is new for me as well. I've been with the Merchant Marines, but I was with Starfleet before. This is my first command of any sort. The highest I reached while in Starfleet was the rank of Lieutenant and Second Officer, but I was a career Science Officer" explained the Captain. He did not say much more on the matter and omitted any information on the incident that lead him to face court martial and walk away from Starfleet.

Ibrim took a seat about half-way down the table from Avin, leaving room for Jesse to sit closer to the Captain as per the hierarchy of the vessel. He took a sip from his water before placing the glass on the surface in front of him. "I myself have been an engineer all my career," he said. "Most of my service was aboard a Galor-class cruiser named the Imtar. By the time I was demobilised, I was a Dalin - what you would call a Lieutenant Commander." The Cardassian's eyes briefly became a little distant as he recalled the bare metal corridors and the dim, heated atmosphere that was standard aboard a Cardassian vessel. "We spent most of our time policing our borders from raiders and privateers," Ibrim continued. "Although, we did spend a year's tour of duty in the DMZ facing off against the group you call the Maquis." He took another sip of water, a thoughtful expression passing across his features. "They were...persistent enemies," Ibrim remarked.

Most 'enemies' are when you invade and occupy a planet that does not belong to you. It was only a matter of time before the Maquis or something like them formed thought Avin privately to himself, though he concealed the surfacing of anger. Avin did speak up a little about the topic though. "They no doubt were...persistent. After all, the Bajorans had to be to in order to.... I probably shouldn't say drive out the Cardassians he thought. "Bring about the conclusion of the Cardassian presence" finished Avin. "In Earth's history, the area that I call home had been invaded and colonized by others for centuries. It made for a very unique culture overtime" added the Captain.

Ibrim took a deep breath, debating how far to push the topic. Cardassian pride warred with Cardassian respect for hierarchy and the chain of command. He took a sip of water to buy himself more time, and when he put the glass down once more his response was more measured. "As you say Captain, the Bajorans were persistant. They were, however, entirely of our own making." Ibrim shrugged. "The Maquis are just as much Starfleet's daemon of creation as they are ours. Both sides signed the treaty that created the DMZ and exchanged planetary sovereignties; we did not invade anyone in that case. I don't seem to recall the Maquis being too fond of the Federation either."

"They didn't like anyone unless you were smuggling them weapons or supplies." Anne said as she came into the room with a rolling cart full of food. "I checked all your allergies just in case. Ibrim, yours is missing a couple spices, but I added a few Cardassian spices to counterbalance. Let me know if you have any issues." As she spoke, she set the plates and curry bowls in front of each of them and a bowl of breads and a couple communal dishes in the middle of the table. Then she set a shaker of her hottest spices out as well. It was a larger bottle covered with warnings. "And there's something extra if you want it."

Temple had seated himself between the Captain and the Engineer and politely sipped his soda as they conversed, turning his head back and forth between the two as if he was watching tennis. Of course the Marine had an opinion on the subject; albeit a more simple one. At any given time prior he would have shot either Cardassian or Marquis dead without a single hesitation. But that was a different time.

When Chef Anne entered, Jesse immediately stood up. He was not used to being served sitting down. "Evening, Anne, nice to see you again. This looks amazing."

"Chef" said Avin with a pleasant nod at the woman he had used in his means to recruit an unwilling helmsmen.

The Commander seated himself again, immediately reached for the extra hot sauce and dabbed a few drops of the good stuff into his curry.

Ibrim looked up at the tall, purple-haired woman as she entered the room. The India's chef, he presumed. He remembered from studying the vessel's manifest that her name was Anne. Beyond that, the vessel's database seemed rather lacking in information about her past. Ibrim found such discrepencies in detail to be suspicious by their very nature; in his experience, anyone trying to hide their past would potentially cause problems in his future. He looked down at the food with a degree of apprehension, unsure of where to begin. "I...thank you," he said, looking back up the woman and giving her a polite nod. "I am appreciative of your dietary considerations."

"No problem. That's what I'm payed to do." Anne replied with a smile before retreating with the cart back into the kitchen.

Avin watched as the woman retreated with her kart and headed back into the kitchen. "She's one to keep an eye on" he said with a nod to the two gentlemen. "She may simply be a Chef with an excellent culinary background, but something in my gut tells me there's more to that woman than a fine and tender rack" he said in a calm tone. "Of lamb" he added, looking at Commander Temple. "She makes an excellent rack of lamb" he further explained.

The accidental innuendo seemed to go over Ibrim's head, or at the very least he did not react to it. He picked one of the breads from a bowl and dipped its edge into the curry in front of him. He placed the edge of the bread tentatively into his mouth and bit off a chunk. He raised his brow in an impressed manner and nodded. "Very pleasant," he remarked once he had chewed & swallowed, and took a second, larger bite.

Captain Singh pulled apart a large piece of naan, holding it in his right hand as he studied the various curries carefully before making his selection. Palak Paneer he thought as his eyes locked onto the bowl of green curry. He reached forward and took a swift swipe with his naan into the green curry and brought it to his mouth savoring the fresh hot naan and the satisfying Palak Paneer. "Her Palak Paneer is just like home. Mmm it has been so long since I've been home" he added as he reached for a glass of water to wash the naan down with and clear his throat.

"We will be heading to the Federation station in a few hours. I would recommend a few hours of sleep after dinner, gentlemen. Once we arrive at the station, we will not be there for very long. It is a quick dock and load of our cargo. We will be taking on simple supplies for the Federation colonist on Cestus III" explained the Captain as he thought about the Beta Quadrant colony world. It was rough terrain, a smaller world with a breathable atmosphere and could sustain human and Gorn life. In fact, the colony was home to both Federation and Gorn colonist. Though the planets history was not always so peaceful. in the 2260s a Federation colony had settled on the planet, only to be completely wiped off the face of the planet by Gorn who did not take kindly to the Federation laying claim to the planet. It took years of complicated diplomatic relations well into the 24th century, but eventually Cestus III became a beacon of hope for Federation and Gorn relations.

Ibrim frowned thoughtfully as he chewed another mouthful of bread and swallowed. "If I recall my history, there has been some fighting over that planet before," he remarked. "I'll make sure my engineering team does a full double-check of the shield & propulsion systems before we enter the area." He glanced up and around at the bulkheads of the room. "We may not be able to put up a tremendous fight in this vessel," he observed. "But I can make sure that it is ready to dodge anything thrown at us."

Avin nodded at that response, thinking before replying himself. "There was over a century ago" said Avin "Our cargo has no real significant value from what I've read, but Chief Klem is more aware of exactly what is coming aboard. I could not see anything that would merit pirating, but I'd rather be safe than destroyed" he said in a calm tone. "It is true that the Star of India is not tactically fit for a thorough beating. However, we do have a Yellowstone runabout in one of the Shuttlebays."

"I'd like to run through drills with Grax and his team, just to be on the safe side." Jesse spoke. "I had some extra special toys delivered on board earlier, a little more bang for our buck. I'd prefer not to show off the hardware unnecessarily though. Last thing we need is the Gorn knowing we don't trust em."

The Captain leaned back a bit and thought about the words of his Chief Officer, his XO. "To be on the safe side, proceed with it. Our relations with the Gorn have been at the best they have been since the whole Cestus III incident. We finally seem like we are getting somewhere with them, at least enough to co-colonize a world together" said Avin. "But I do agree that drills would be beneficial. I am also curious how our resident Reman does with his new life aboard a Federation Merchant Marine vessel...no doubt more fast pace than than that War Bird he came off of. The Romulans do take their 'we lie in the shadows' quite literally sometimes."

Jesse gave a chuckle, "He seemed unimpressed with the Security team so far, but I trust he'll whip 'em into shape quick smart. And I'm on hand to help out should he require it."

"Very good" replied the Captain. "I can imagine how unimpressed a Reman would be with the security 'forces' of a Merchant Marine vessel. I do not like overstepping him when it comes to their training, but do make sure that he does not over exhaust them, Commander. The past thing we need is what little security we have not returning to the ship when we dock."

It was the Marine's turn to lean back and consider the other man's words now. Where he came from, folks worked as hard as they could, there was no 'over-exhausting' in his line of work. But Temple knew he had to adjust his way of thinking; these weren't all career officers serving onboard. Some of them were doing it as a means of employment - to get paid - a thought that Jesse couldn't quite comprehend. So of course the Captain was right, we couldn't go treating them like grunts on the first day of boot camp.

"Aye sir," He said finally, though not entirely convincingly, "We'll ease them into it."

"Very well" said Avin as he and the others continued their evening meal together. They would spend the remainder of the hour trading stories and discussing the times, though the Cardassian Chief Engineer was not the most talkative company, he did undoubtedly contribute a few things to the evening. The three would eventually retire for the evening and get a few hours of rest before the big departure.

 

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