Risa - Trust Me, I'm a Chef (Tag Kastarak, Serral)

Posted Aug. 11, 2022, 4:48 p.m. by Crewman Ngokav Sega'a (Yeoman / Steward) (Trinity Fister)

Posted by Lieutenant Junior Grade Serral Echei (Science Officer) in Risa - Trust Me, I’m a Chef (Tag Kastarak, Serral)

Posted by Ensign Kastarak (Doctor / Counsellor) in Risa - Trust Me, I’m a Chef (Tag Kastarak, Serral)

Posted by Crewman Ngokav Sega’a (Yeoman / Steward) in Risa - Trust Me, I’m a Chef (Tag Kastarak, Serral)
Posted by… suppressed (3) by the Post Ghost! 👻

Sega’a did not recall seeing the name ‘Echei’ on the ship’s roster when he last checked (which happened to be for some notification that he’d since forgotten). Was he new? Sega’a gathered by Echei’s question that this must be the case. His excitement bubbled in his belly to the point it was almost nauseating. He wanted to reach out and welcome Echei to the ship in the most Sega’a way imaginable (though what that entailed was largely unknown and prone to change), but Kastarak spared him the potential embarrassment…

“You are correct in your assessment,” said Kastarak dryly, adding, “on both points.”

Kastarak held out his right arm in the direction of Sega’a, and turned his face to Serral.

“Mr Echei, this is Crewman Ngokav Sega’a, he and I are friends from the Chernov”, Kastarak continued.

– Ensign Kastarak (doctor / counsellor)

“Nice to meet you, Mr Echei.” He refrained from offering a hand. “I work mostly in the galley, so feel free to stop by if you’re ever craving real food. I’d be happy to whip something up for you.”

Then, an idea crept into his thoughts. It was half-baked and probably a little ill-advised, but that’s what made it fun. At least… for him.

“Now that we’ve properly met…” Sega’a cleared his throat to distract from the playfulness in his eyes, “are you two ready to party?”

– Sega’a

Kastarak noticed a feeling of a tiny punch in his gut – why did Sega’a have to do that? Kastarak had expected that only those who were close to Sega’a and his child would be the ones invited. What would otherwise be the significant of it? Sega’a had written that he would enjoy [Kastarak’s] company. But how did he know that he would enjoy Mr Echei’s company? This half-Vulcan?

Kastarak was conflicted. He noticed the emotional reaction within him. He felt relief that his face gave no indication of it, but within him he tried to name what he sensed: Jealousy? Rejection? But why would that be important? Perhaps, if he let the events follow, and attend the party, with a serene state of mind, he could understand their significance. It would be logical. Moreover, Sega’a was the host, and it was the host’s prerogative – in most cultures any way – to decide who would be invited or not to a functioning, within the bounds of culture.

There was another flash of emotion from Kastarak. Serral could sense Sega’a as well, excited and playful for this ‘party’ that was apparently coming up. But Serral found Kastarak’s more interesting, though Serral tried not to ‘look’, so to speak. He didn’t much have a choice in that matter. Was Serral unwelcome? He couldn’t tell. He refocused himself, his own way of purging himself as emotions.

Sega’a, too infatuated with his plan to notice the discomfort brewing in his companions, fidgetted with the fingers clasped firmly before his belly. How would they react to his suggestion? Would they be as excited as him? He hoped so.

As such, Kastarak purged any remnant of emotion, took a deep breath, and sensed clarity and serenity. The sun was still shining, he felt the solar radiation warming up his cheek. The dry warmth and heat on the beach, along with the slight breeze from the sea, reminded Kastarak of his childhood close to the sea…

“Ready to party?” asked Kastarak. “I assume that is a rhetorical question. Vulcans do not party, as you know. I will honour you and the person of honour of this functioning, by attending – as is expected by my acceptance to your invitation. I do not renege on my commitments.”

– Kastarak

“Nonsense!” He scoffed and waved a dismissive hand, a flabbergasted look on his face. “I dare say anyone can party, provided they’re in the right company,” he smiled for what seemed like the millionth time, “and we have that covered.”

Kastarak supposed partying was a matter of definitions. As a Vulcan, he would partake in rituals, ceremonies, and receptions, as was expected of him under his culture.

“I am honoured to attend,” Kastarak said, reaffirming his commitment. If Sega’a would just stop talking and lead them to the reception so that Kastarak could perform his duty as a friend…

“Ready to party?” Serral echoed Kastarak’s question. “What is the reason for this event? Am I expected to attend?” As a Vulcan, Kastarak’s statement applied to him, he did not party. If he had to go, he would attend the event out of politeness. But he was so new, he wouldn’t know anyone there.

~ Serral

“My sweet companion, Hago, turned seven today. We used to go on adventures and play her favourite games, but I’m afraid she is growing too tired and arthritic for that kind of excitement…” his mood dampened, “…so, I decided to throw her a brithday party! Of course, you cannot have a party without foods, drinks and guests. And that’s where you come in.”

Suddenly, Kastarak felt a wave of adrenaline through his body. He immediately shut it down. He tried to unpack what was going on here. Hago was confirmed as not being Sega’a’s child. One would not use the word ‘companion’ for a daughter, at least not in any culture that Kastarak knew of… A companion was something more intimate and egalitarian, like a spouse. In some cultures, spouses were known as companions before their legal solemnization as husbands or wives or other types of wives. Sega’a had used that particular word, companion, and not ‘concubine’, ‘wife’, ‘spouse’, ‘partner’ or ‘daughter’. Then again, many cultures had various definitions of relationships… but it was clear it was not a relationship based on paternal duty, nor one of filial nature.

Yet, what confused Kastarak more, was the age of the companion. Hago was seven years old – and, Sega’a, speaking in Federation standard, would be familiar with the convention of using Earth norms for weights, measures, and time, when speaking in Federation standard. It was the way of the Federation. Sega’a was moreover a trusted friend, he would not play a trick on his guests like this, surely? Then again – birthdays and celebrations of jubilees tended to be heavily dependent on their culture of origin, and the calendar of that culture. In what culture, that Kastarak knew of, would a seven year old have lived about as long as Sega’a – the egalitarianness of the word ‘companion’ led Kastarak to believe that the two companions would have to be somewhat equal in age.

Kastarak struggled to remember.

He moved on to his second hypothesis – that Sega’a was actually speaking in the norms of the Earth calendar – in which case the companion would be seven years of age, the equivalent of a prepubescent child on both Vulcan and Earth, and most likely most other Federation planets, and of Orion itself. Kastarak had heard of sentient species living only ten to twenty years, thus being adults by the age of five or six, but they tended not to be warp-capable. The accumulation of necessary know-how, science, culture, and so on, through generations would demand more time per generation for simply learning the accumulated knowledge. There wasn’t enough time to make progress. But still, it might be possible that Sega’a’s companion was a mature and adult member of her species, capable of intelligence and rational thought as belonging to adults, and that she might make a fine spouse or wife to him. A sense of sadness moved over Kastarak as he had that thought. But why did he feel sad? He didn’t have time to explore it, so he purged the feeling and continued his cognitive exploration of the situation.

Would it be impolite to ask more details of Hago’s species, planet and culture of origin? Kastarak wanted to know, but it was not necessary for him to know in order to attend the function. He decided to remain quiet.

He knew it sounded strange to hear an Orion talk about trivial celebrations like brithday parties, but Hago wasn’t from Orion. Frankly, he didn’t know where he was from. He assumed based on her snarky behaviour, unkempt tabby-esque fur and cloudy green eyes that she was what humans called a ‘cat’. So, he celebrated accordingly… with an Orion twist.

“I won’t force you to come,” he assured, “but I think it’ll be more fun with you both there. We can share a fabulous meal, a few drinks, and get to know each other. If you hate it, you can leave – no questions asked. Sound reasonable?”

— Sega’a

Kastarak felt a rumbling in his stomach. “Reasonable,” he confirmed. He definitely wanted food. What would the food be like?

– Kastarak

Serral did not assume this ‘companion’ was romantic in nature. The child may not be Sega’a’s specifically, but maybe the child of someone Sega’a knew. Either way, Serral would attend to be personable. That seemed to go over well - both with betazoids and humans. Though the betazoids always just read him and knew he didn’t want to go. “These are reasonable terms. Attending would be my pleasure,” said Serral respectfully.

~ Serral

“Wonderful!” Sega’a clasped his hands together and gave them an excited shake. “The hotel is a short walk from here.”

He flicked his wrist in a general direction and whipped around, guiding them down a winding avenue with slender trees that towered like palms above and more tourists than Sega’a cared to count. They walked for about five minutes before he veered toward the sandstone doors of a resort that seemed to emerge from the cliffside forest. He yanked open the doors with a soft grunt and ushered them into the lobby. They soon entered a room adorned with tapestries emulating the ocean in their wave-like rhythm and shades of blue, wood-woven furniture with perfectly plump cushions, and native plants housed in tiny painted clay pots. It wasn’t much different from the other Risian hotels – but just as magnificent.

“I reserved a patio,” he jabbed his head down a nearby hallway, “it’s just down there.”

He smiled and led them to a door several metres down the hall that, when opened, revealed a sizable patio partially enclosed in a transparent glass that overlooked the oasis-like pool area. Though typically quaint, Sega’a had decorated the space with yellow streamers and purple holographic balloons (those were Hago’s favourite colours) that matched the sloppily wrapped gifts he stacked on a random chair. But more potent were the aromas wafting from a corner table.

If either allowed their eyes to wander, they might notice the mix of Orion and “Cat” foods. There were ratatouille-like dishes with Orion fruits, grilled roots with candied nuts and a dark drizzle that looked like a red-tinted balsamic, a poofy fried bread and various dips, and many smaller appetizers that ranged from stuffed fungi to fritters. Then, of course, there was an intricate “cake” that Sega’a whipped up with Hago’s beloved meats, notably local fish and shrimp.

“Welcome to the party,” he released his arms in an encompassing gesture, “I’m sure our birthday girl is around here somewhere.”

Sega’a glanced at the abandoned bed near the doorway and followed the slightly dragged blankets to an adjacent couch. ‘Huh…’ he mused inwardly and walked over, kneeling to peer into the cavern below. To Serral and Kastarak, it might’ve seemed strange to see him lift the couch and shove his head under it, searching for who he lead them to believe was a child (and she was… to him). But Hago was nothing if not predictable. When she was scared or feeling antisocial, she shimmied her way into the smallest space she could find, like under beds and couches… anywhere just slightly too small for her.

A delighted sigh escaped his lips when he saw the light refract off her greenish-grey eyes as he reached and wrapped his hands under her forelegs in a gentle, coaxing tug. She didn’t budge. It took a little bribery to convince her, but she soon gave in and let him pull her out and wrap her in his arms. ‘Her’ being a raccoon-sized creature with patchy and unkempt fur, judgemental green eyes, and a not-so-little fang hooked on her lip. If a targ and a cat had a baby, her name would be Hago.

“Kastarak, Mr. Echei…” he lifted her up a little higher, earning a discontented growl, “meet Hago.”

— Sega’a

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