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The Banquet

Posted on Sat Feb 8th, 2020 @ 9:19pm by Captain Kelly O'Connor & Lieutenant Commander Magnus Grey & Lieutenant Iona Vrell & Lieutenant Shri Thais & Lieutenant JG Brian Pendragon

Mission: Mission 7 - Aenerth for an Earth
Location: Aenerthan Capitol Building
Timeline: 2296/02/21 - 0930

The away team beamed down to the given location. They found themselves in a room filled with marble pillars. The stark whiteness of the hall contrasted with the numerous colorful paintings on the walls and area rugs that flooded the granite floors. "Captain O'Connor, what a pleasure to meet you!" The speaker looked down on the Captain, a bit surprised at her size. Recovering smoothly, he continued, "I am Chancellor Kende Rorax. Pandit Joanna Manalu is here on my left. She is my second in charge." He gestured to a caramel skinned woman to his left, who was about six inches smaller than his six feet in height. "To my right is Sri Ravi Sanduval." He gestured to another caramel skinned person, this time male. He was about two inches smaller than the Chancellor.

"I expect that you must be hungry and wish to bunch. Please, please feel free to make yourselves at home. Should you require anything, we are at your disposal. I also expect that you all will wish a tour. Just tell us what it is that you wish to see, and we will."

O'Connor thanked them, a little confused by the complete openness. Part of her looked for the knife. "Yes, we are very interested in your world and your petition to the Federation. Please lead us in."

Iona stayed silent, watching these new people curiously. She was a little shocked at the opennes, especially with how the other Captain had acted. Still, she waited to form a full opinion until she had more information.

Shri listened but more was looking around. She thought that the place looked amazing, but maybe that the people were a bit too accommodating? It made her feel uneasy, but she didn't let it show.

Liliane let out a somewhat audible sigh. She was near the back of the group so she hoped that no one would see her slightly roll her eyes. Not that she minded diplomatic..whatever this was. But they were always so boring. She made a note to ask Brian about that whole...incident. That did not seem boring. If anyone was to make a gaffe today, she was pretty sure she was high on the list. It was also a reason she did not get invited to these things anymore.

Magnus listened closely as well. From their experience with the ship, and what records were available, he managed to learn rudimentary/conversational Aenerthan, and tried to listen to the Chancellor and the others both in the original tongue and through the UT.

Brian was concentrating on keeping his mouth shut, his eyes down and staying toward the middle of the group. Maybe this time he could not accidentally wander into trouble, or have it come charging at him, just this once.

The Chancellor led everyone into a room with a long table. A gong announced their arrival. Several individuals dressed in black slacks and white shirts came and placed dishes before them, as well as a goblet full of a purple liquid. "No expense has been spared for your arrival, Captain. Please enjoy our finest foods." A plate was placed before everyone with orange and green leafy objects and yellow balls found within it. Each individual was given a square utensil with four prongs. A fork?

A gong rang and the Chancellor started to dine.

Again, Iona was quiet. She studied the food in front of her. She hoped that it was palatable and that it was safe for them to eat. Hesitating, she looked to O'Connor for indication on if they were to eat the strange food or not.

Picking up what she assumed was the form, Shri poked a bit at the food, but didn't eat any yet. She wasn't sure what it was nor if it was something she could eat safely.

Having watched the Chancellor eat, O'Connor poked at the food with the odd instrument and started to eat. The food was a bit chewy for her tastes, but the flavors reminded her something of lettuce and pears.

Brian followed O'Connor's lead and made a start, looking for parts that looked at least vaguely foodish and teaming them up with the less visually appealing items, in the hope that his tastebuds would accept the one thanks to the other.

"Don't everyone speak at once," Liliane said, breaking what she found to be awkward silence as she picked up the utensil. She stared at intently for a couple of minutes before she looked around to her crewmates. They all seemed hesitant about eating whatever it was. Except the captain. With their 'bonding' over the shuttle name the day before, Liliane believed she had found a kindred spirit. Well, she considered it bonding. The red-haired captain might have thought otherwise. With a shrug of her shoulders, she poked one of the green things. "Are we supposed to eat it whole?" she asked, not realizing she used her outside voice.

O'Connor tried not to snicker and stay serious as she looked over at Liliane.

Magnus shot the pilot a dirty look, but said nothing.

The Chancellor responded, "You eat it with your utensil. Take what you can in it and chew before swallowing. There is nothing special about it."

Liliane laughed, completely unfazed by what she perceived as simple instructions on how to properly eat food. "Got it," she said, managing to skewer it and bringing it up to her mouth. She discreetly took a sniff of it before she finally shoved it in her mouth. She chewed thoughtfully, nodding her head. "Not bad," she said.

Not wanting to look like a bad guest, Shri followed suit. She did her best to get some of the food onto her fork-looking-thing and took a bite. "A very interesting flavor," she finally said after a moment.

Brian stifled a laugh. He felt sure the way Shri had said "interesting" had the same negative connatation as the old Chinese curse 'may you live in interesting times'...

Finishing her plate, O'Connor said, "On our way here, we met one of your ships. It was a rather interesting encounter. Perhaps you could give us some insight into it."

"Of course, Captain. Whatever you wish," The Chancellor responded, his smile fading slightly.

"The ship seemed badly damaged and crew was dying from radiation poisoning. Do you have a known defect on your ships?"

"Oh, my! No! All our ships are in tip top condition."

"This one was not. Perhaps my crew could better describe it." She looked over at her crewmates, especially Pendragon, hoping that they could explain the situation adequately.

Brian cleared his throat. He didn't want to cause their host any embarassment, but if they had a supply quality issue, then it would be best he knew. "Well, there was..."

It was at that exact moment of Captain O'Connor's glance in their direction that the last of the yellow balls that Liliane had been trying to skewer with her 'fork' decided to take the fastest route off her plate. Dumbfounded, she could only watch it roll onto the table and subsequently the floor. "Ah shit," she muttered as it disappeared underneath the table. She froze with her fork in mid-air and looked around to see if anyone had noticed her faux-pas. I am definitely not getting invited anywhere again, she said, finding it hard to focus on the Captain's questioning of the Chancellor and not where her food had gone off to.

"... um... an issue, yes..." Brian tailed off, the interruption having effectively derailed his train of thought. He glanced nervously at the Chancellor, then hastily shoved another mouthful in, so he didn't have to continue talking, at least for the moment.

Raising an eyebrow at Liliane, Shri sighed and kept eating. She then looked over at the Chancellor, "But, then who's ship would it be if it wasn't yours?"

"Someone in private industry, of course," the Chancellor responded, as if the answer was completely obvious.

Spearing one of the yellow ball things, Iona listened to the conversation. She had many questions going through her head, but she didn't want to ask any for fear that she would cause much trouble. Carefully, she popped the food into her mouth and chewed slowly.

Magnus stopped eating — he was quite enjoying the meal, actually — and regarded the Chancellor. “The worlds that make up the Federation, Earth included, have private industry, but in our experience their ships are very well equipped, sometimes better than Starfleet. They prioritize the safe effective operation of their ships, because injuries and breakdowns negatively affect their bottom line. So seeing one in such a state...it did not seem rational to us.” He set his utensils down, smiled, and said his next two sentences in Aenerthan. “But then, part of our mission is to understand the Aenerthan way. Cultural exchange is a very important part of the Federation.”

Shri frowned hearing about the 'private' industry. "Shouldn't even the private industries be treated the same as the non-private?"

"Of course not," the Chancellor answered. "Private industry is market driven. However, the public as a whole contributes to the government. Why would we regulate the entrepreneurs? It would stifle innovation."

O'Connor did not reply but the second course came out. It appeared to be pinkish and brown, likely some kind of meat. On it were sprinkled some yellow flakes. There was a light yellow liquid that was served along with it. "Enjoy!" the Chancellor told the crew.

The Vulcan side of Shri's pallet was getting a little overwhelmed. But, she wasn't one to turn down food that was being offered. She picked at the food for a moment and took a small bite.

Iona wasn't sure what to make of this Chancellor. Something seemed off with his explanation of how they treat the private sector, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. Instead, she stayed quiet, trying to enjoy the food they were being brought. But the medical side of her mind was busy analyzing each item. Vrell was also busy attempting to figure out if she had ever heard of the Anerthans in the past or even if any in Trill history had recorded the race in their history.

Never one to turn down eating something exotic, Magnus cut a sizeable piece and ate it, flakes, sauce and all. It was strange, but so too were most new sensations when experienced for the first time by outsiders. “Again this is one of those situations where our worlds have historically differed,” he explained to the Chancellor between bites. “On Earth, many governments chose to regulate industry to ensure that corporations did not damage the planet, produce unsafe goods or unsafe conditions for employees, and ensure workers were treated well. Innovation wasn’t negatively affected, and there were other knock-on benefits for society. Interestingly, the Andorians were different again, with most industry falling under direct government control. Every world does things a bit differently. What am I eating, if I may ask?”

"You are currently eating Ghost. It is a very tender, what you would call, meat dish. The au jus is there to add flavor to heighten the taste buds," the Chancellor explained. "Do you enjoy it?" he asked eagerly.

"I do!" Magnus replied with a smile. "It's different from any other meat I've tried. But it's very good. Tona mi-luko." ("Thank you", in passable but heavily accented Aenerthan)

"It's...interesting." Shri stated and took a bite without the au jus. "Both with and without the au jus."

A somewhat surprised Chancellor replied to Magnus, "Luko Mi-Walaka." ("You're welcome.")

O'Connor blinked and looked sharply at Magnus. "I hope that you just did not make a declaration of war, Commander."

Magnus smiled at his Captain. "I would hope you'd have slightly more faith in me than that, Captain," he said, half-jokingly.

The Chancellor simply laughed. "Captain, you have nothing to fear. Although his accent is atrocious, he just thanked us for the food. I replied that he was welcome."

"Ah," replied O'Connor. "I would have hated for there to be a misunderstanding. We have had that before." O'Connor's gaze set on Pendragon.

Brian froze like a rabbit caught in headlights, fork suspended in mid air. It took a full four seconds of pregnant pause, before he was able to take a deep breath and a large gulp of the light yellow liquid. Setting the glass down again a little more forcefully than necessary, he kept his mouth shut rather than risk making a faux pas.

"We're a peaceful people, Captain," the Chancellor assured her. "Besides, it would take at least a good 24 hours before a formal declaration of war could be made."

Shri raised an eyebrow at the statement. "I don't believe we are wishing for any declarations of war, 24 hours later or any other time in fact., Chancellor."

Amused with the conversation, since nothing bad was officially happening, Iona continued to nibble at her food. She was curious to know when Magnus had learned their language and was kind of jealous that he was able to pick it up so quickly.

"Still," Magnus said as he smiled and ate, "it's good to understand how the process works. You never know when it might come in handy."

The Chancellor gave Magnus a quizzical look at his last comment, wondering if the Federation had ill intent.

O'Connor first snickered at Brian and then glared at Magnus. "This meal is quite more than we are used to, Chancellor. Perhaps we can talk about our visit here."

"No, no. Not yet. Certainly you must not forsake dessert," the Chancellor beseeched.

The Captain looked over her crew and asked, "Can you handle more?"

Brian opened his mouth, ready to state that he was pleasantly full. It wasn't true, but at least it would get him out of this socially awkward situation and the Captain's occasional digs, but before he could, the others had already started.

"Can't hurt to try," Shri said, even though she was quite full.

"There is always room for dessert," Iona said cheekily.

Brian closed his mouth again - it was obviously too late to stop them now.

The Captain laughed at her newest friends and said, "Very well. Surprise us!"

What came out looked more than a little familiar. It was creamy, but pink. On it was a chocolate looking syrup. It was served in a delicate cup with a tiny spoon. The Chancellor said, "Enjoy!"

Picking up her spoon, Iona examined the dessert. It looked good, and more familiar than the rest of the meal had been. But at the same time, she didn't want to be the first to dive in.

Picking up her own spoon, Shri took a small scoop and looked it over. Her scientific mind taking over as she did so. But, just like Iona, she didn't want to dig in first.

O'Connor did not wait. She delved right into it and audibly replied, "Mmmm. Near enough to a hot fudge sundae as ever. I think every culture should have these." The Captain looked at her crew, specifically Iona and Shri and gave them a wondering look.

"I suppose you could say it is close to that. Though, honestly, Captain, Vulcans don't have anything close. As for my human side, I got spoiled on hot fudge sundaes." Shri smirked and took a second bite, having take her first when O'Connor had taken one.

O'Connor gave Shri an approving smile. "Well, this should hit the spot then. I feel myself gaining weight already," she replied with a forced laugh.

The Captain's description of the taste was enough to sell Brian. He took a generous spoonful and was delighted for find that, for once, the O'Connor hadn't been winding him up, it really did taste intriguingly like a hot fudge sundae. He ate the rest, musing to himself how two disparate planets, disparate cultures could manage to produce such a similar taste and texture. Was there some kind of inevitability for sapient species to evolve hot fudge sundae?

Iona shook her head as she delved into her own dessert and enjoyed the taste. "It is interesting, in a good way," she said before taking another bite.

The Chancellor beamed at Iona. "I am delighted to hear you say that. Now, perhaps we could get to business...."

 

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