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Home - Part 2

Posted on 19 Apr 2017 @ 7:44pm by Lieutenant Commander Temerant Bast

Mission: Shore Leave
Location: Trill

Temerant Bast pushed open the doors to Le Garde-Manger Tacheté, and walked directly to the pass, where he knew she would be posted. This was the middle of service, and there was a lot of energy in the air. The dining room was packed, and twelve cooks were laboring away in the kitchen.

The dining room was rather compact, but there was so much light that it gave the illusion of being much larger than it was. It could seat about fifty people comfortably. Which was a fairly small crowd, given the restaurant's reputation as one of the best on the entire planet. Reservations were made six months in advance, and the restaurant frequently catered to high-profile diplomatic events. It helped, of course, that the head chef was the daughter of Trill's Ambassador to Andor.

At the pass, a tall auburn-haired woman stood in a white Chef's uniform, checking orders on a display panel, and called out to her cooks.

"Table six. Two grakizh, one seabug, one layta carpaccio!" she spoke loudly.

"Yes, Chef!" came back the reply in unison from three different workstations.

"Torva, I'm still waiting on that dukha for table three!"

"Thirty seconds, Chef!"

Auri pushed back a lock of curly auburn hair behind her ear, absentmindedly scratched her spots, and suddenly caught sight of the person approaching her. She started, since it was highly unusual for guests to come into the back. She did a double-take on his face. This was a face she hadn't expected to see for quite some time - in fact, it was a face she expected to be on the other side of the galaxy.

She looked at her display pad, then turned her eyes back at him, and back at the display, as a plate appeared on the pass next to her. Her professionalism took over, and she examined the plate of dukha, adding a pinch of purple micro herbs on top, and wiping fingerprints off the plate before spinning it over to one of the waiters.

"Hemme!" she called out. "Give me one seabug for my brother."

"Yes, chef!" came Hemme's reply from one of the far stations.

A sudden surge of flames came from one of the stoves, as one of the cooks stirred a skillet. Temerant flinched. There was the sound of footsteps behind him, as one of the customers walked to the restrooms. Another waiter walked behind him to pick up a plate that was ready for service. Flames surging up again. The sound of food sizzling in the pan. His sister calling out an order. A shadow creeping across the pass. An explosion as a champagne cork was popped. A gray-skinned Selamat rising from one of the tables and looking at him.

"Hey!" called out his sister from the other side of the pass, startling him. "Are you okay?"

The Bast symbiont sent out soothing waves, trying to ease his stress levels. He looked back into the dining area, at the gray-skinned Aenar who had risen from his table only to head to the restrooms. At the kitchen, where the cooks were dutifully occupied at preparing the delicious food that would be brought out to the customers. At the waiters who were catering to the customers' wishes. At the sommelier who was busy opening a bottle of wine. He could feel a thin sheen of perspiration on his brow.

"I'm fine," he said, catching his breath.

- - - - -

"So, have you been to see Mom yet?" asked Auri.

Service was done, every table having received their orders, and most of the customers had left or were getting close to doing so. The cooks were hard at work cleaning up the kitchen, and the rest of the staff had begun cleaning up the dining area. Auri was sipping a glass of red wine, sitting across the table from her older brother, examining him carefully after his latest panic attack.

Temerant put down his fork next to his empty plate, and wiped his mouth with a napkin before answering. The seabug had been incredible - slow-poached in layta butter, with a hint of lemongrass and thyme, accompanied by a squid ink rice flan which created a rather stark color contrast and added a natural saltiness to the dish that he had found very intriguing, and roasted pangkor nuts to create texture and add a punch of umami. There was a reason why his little sister was considered one of the best top chefs of her generation on Trill, and this was another demonstration of it.

"No, not yet," he replied to her question.

"Why not?" snapped back Auri. "Did you at least let her know you were coming?"

Temerant had no reply. "How's the restaurant doing?" he asked instead.

"Good," she said. "I had to replace a couple of waiters, and the manager left a month ago when the Symbiosis commission called him up."

"Sorry to hear that," replied Temerant. "I know you looked long and hard to find him."

She waved his concern aside. "That's fine, I already have a replacement lined up. Did you hear they closed down The Hideaway?" she asked, referring to her closest competitor.

"No," he replied. "What happened?"

"Turns out their pastry head chef was cutting corners. He was using replicated ingredients. Replicated eggs, replicated fruit, everything. And advertising that they only used real products. Of course business went south after that."

Temerant raised his eyebrows at that. High-end restaurants only replicated things like flour, salt and spices, never anything more complex, and prided themselves on the freshness of their ingredients and the proximity of their suppliers. For an upscale restaurant to be caught using replicated eggs and fruit was an unimaginable dishonor.

"So you recruited him," surmised Temerant.

Auri nodded. "He didn't know what was going on," she explained. "And he had that dining area running like a positronic clock."

"Good for you, then," said Temerant.

"Alveron Tempi was always an arrogant frak," she said, referring to the Hideaway's head chef. "This should teach him a lesson or two."

Temerant chuckled and hung his head. He loved his little sister, but she had a mouth on her that would put a freighter deckhand to shame.

"So how long are you going to be back home?" she asked.

"I don't know," he replied.

"What's the name of your ship again? The Albatross?"

"Black Hawk," he corrected her. "It was the Black Hawk."

"Was?" she picked up.

"We lost her in battle last week."

She paused, put down her glass of wine, and looked at him more closely. "Are you all right?" she asked, genuinely worried.

"I'm fine," he said again. "I wasn't on the ship when it happened."

"That's a frakking load of bull. You're not fine, you're a mess. You can try to lie to Mom, to Arliden or Denner, but not to me, Temry," she replied, addressing him by the nickname she'd given him when they were children."We heard the reports on the Federation News Network. The insurgency and all. What was it, something like twenty ships lost? Mom was scared to death."

"And I'm sure Father did his best to put her mind at ease. From thirty light-years away," he countered. His father's position as the Trill ambassador to Andor had kept him away for extended periods of time even as his children were growing up, and Temerant still held a bit of a grudge because of it.

"Now that isn't fair," replied Auri. "He was telling her as much as he could, under the circumstances. But even he wasn't getting much information. There was nothing coming through the wormhole, remember? The first time we heard anything was three weeks ago. And there was no mention of your ship."

Temerant looked down at the table. Three weeks ago, the Black Hawk had been trapped in an alternate reality, following the battle with the Valdore.

"What happened to you?" she asked, after an uncomfortable silence.

Temerant remained silent, looking down at the table and his empty plate. There were things he wasn't allowed to say, things that were classified, and things that a big brother simply couldn't tell his concerned little sister.

"Was it a woman?" she asked, after waiting for an answer for a few beats.

Temerant ran his finger around the rim of the plate. "There was a woman involved, but that's over with. But there was other stuff, too."

"You fought?"

"I was in battle, yes."

"Were you hurt?"

Temerant looked at his little sister, and wondered how much he could tell her about that. Frak it, he thought. He looked around at the few remaining customers, making sure none of them were within earshot. Then he told her that yes, he had been hurt. He told her how his mind had been assaulted and violated by the Selamat, how he had lost his sense of free will, and been used to attack his friends and colleagues. And how it had almost happened again, how he had been able to prepare for the mental attack, and get the upper hand on the Selamat. He told her about the battle to retake Deep Space 11, and the demise of the Black Hawk.

It was dark outside by the time he finished telling her the story. She leaned back in her chair, mouth agape, and stared blankly.

"Frak me," she said finally. She took a sip of her drink. "Sounds like Mom was right to be worried."

"Don't tell her about all of this," he warned her. "Don't tell anyone about what I just told you. This is just between you and me."

She looked down at the table and was silent for a minute, finally reaching up and wiping away a tear, giving a simple nod in agreement. "I'm just glad you're back in one piece."

Temerant reached across the table, and took her hand into his. "I'm fine," he said again. "I'll be fine. I've been in contact with counselors from the Symbiosis Commission, who specialize in post-traumatic stress. They'll be helping me through it. And if I do get reassigned somewhere, there's going to be a Counselor there, too. And I've got Bast to help me."

"Well," she said, her voice suddenly hoarse from the emotions. "At least now you'll have something to talk about with Dad."

Temerant let out a laugh. For some reason a conversation with the Ambassador wasn't something he was particularly looking forward to.

"Is he even on Trill?" he asked.

Auri nodded. "He got in last week. Says there's some sort of diplomatic conference in a few days. I'm supposed to cater for the event. The Trill, Vulcan, Andorian, Klingon, Bajoran and Earth ambassadors will be there."

"Lovely," replied Temerant, in a tone that implied it was anything but.

"If you're around, I'm sure he'll insist on having you there."

"Then I'll do my best to not be around."

"Oh no you don't. I'll be there because I have to cater for the thing. You'll be there as moral support for me."

Temerant raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Can't I just send you flowers or something?"

 

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