Posted Sept. 19, 2022, 10:34 a.m. by Lieutenant Junior Grade Serral Echei (Science Officer) (Nicole Cline)
Posted by Richard A 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 Ensign Kastarak (Doctor / Counsellor) in Risa - Trust Me, I’m a Chef (Tag Kastarak, Serral)
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.”
Girl, Kastarak noticed in his mind. Sega’a had used the word girl about her. It only fuelled Kastarak’s confusion. He had earlier discarded his first hypothesis – that Hago was Sega’a’s child – in favour of his second hypothesis – that Hago and Sega’a had formed a bond of companionship – perhaps similar to marriage, depending on culture. However, the young age had been a confusing problem, though Kastarak had earlier put it down either to Hago belonging to a fast-maturing species or to a culture that continues to measure their years according to the solar cycle of their own homeworld.
But the usage of girl was problematic, unless, perhaps… He remembered that on Earth, and among humans, adults could refer to their unmarried companions as boyfriends and girlfriends, which could be shortened to boy and girl. A most illogical construct, he had deemed it, because parents could sometimes introduce their children as “this is my boy” and “this is my girl”. Moreover, someone’s female friend was not necessarily their girlfriend, and someone’s male friend was not necessary their boyfriend.
Kastarak noticed in himself a growing frustration. While he was sympathetic and udnerstanding of the feeling in this situation, this was neither the time nor the place for such frustrations. He had better purge it quickly.
And so he did.
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.
It certainly did seem strange to Kastarak, but Kastarak had over the past year grown rather fond of Sega’a, and Sega’a’s eccentricities were somewhat endearing to Kastarak, though Kastarak struggled to consciously admit that to himself.
Serral had learned long ago not to question the oddities of others. There was usually a logical reason. Or a reason that was logical to them at any rate.
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.”
Hago was not what Kastarak had thought in his head. Was she a pet? Or was she a sentient being? While bipedal humanoid species formed a majority in the Federation, they were not necessarily the only form of sentient life. The way Sega’a had spoken of her made her appear rather sentient to Kastarak, and while Kastarak had never seen Hago’s species before, he had to assume she was as sentient as everyone else.
Kastarak straightened his back, looked into Hago’s face (avoiding the eyes, as in many cultures, that was considered rude – a near-direct gaze was the best compromise, Kastarak had learnt). He raised his right hand in the direction of Hago and brought the fingers into a Vulcan V-shaped salute.
“Greetings Hago,” he said with a voice, half an octave lower than his usual. “Peace and long life! I am honoured to attend the reception in commemoration of the anniversary of your birth. My name is Kastarak, I am a –” he quickly struggled between calling himself colleague or friend and decided on a compromise, “friend and colleague of your companion, Mr Sega’a.”
Sega’a grinned, amusement teasing his eyes. He could not help but find Kastarak’s reaction the slightest bit adorable. Was that the right word? Maybe not, but it was entertaining and appreciated. He considered Hago family, and it delighted him to see others treat her with the same respect (whether or not she reciprocated). Adjusting Hago so she wasn’t haging in his arms, he glanced over to gauge her response to Kastarak.
Hago studied him with narrowed green eyes that, despite their glossed-over appearance, had a glint of unmistakable intelligence. Was it sentience or a product of feline-esque sass? Sega’a could never tell. She maintained her silence for three agonising seconds before finally acknowledging Kastarak with a sound similar to a warble or a hollow-sounding grunt that emerged from the depths of her throat.
“I think she likes you,” Sega’a laughed but the sound dissolved into a puzzled look, “or she’s telling us to move on so she can go back to hiding under the couch.”
“I see. Neither you nor I understand her language?” Kastarak asked discretely, not wanting to cause embarrassment to the emotional members of the party, and Hago especially. Kastarak had learnt that cross-cultural/cross-species communication was difficult and easy to cause difficulties. He particularly remembered studying that time that Captain Kirk was tasked with negotiating a treaty between the Teenaxi Delegation and the Fibonan Republic, and failing utterly because of cultural misunderstanding after offering a gift of truce, which was seen as provocative. While this was no interaction between great powers of space, the same situation applied here. This was a first contact between Kastarak and Hago, and Kastarak had been invited especially to honour Hago’s anniversary of birth – to all appearances it was an important rite, perhaps similar in worth and meaningfulness to the rite of Tal’oth, a sort of coming of the age ceremony which was the closest Vulcan equivalent to a birthday party he could think of.
But he did notice the aura of quiet intelligence in Hago. Perhaps it was so that Hago too did not understand them, but she and Sega’a had forged a bond, an agreement, of mutual survivability. Ah yes, they depended on one another, outcasts from their respective planets, and despite not understanding each other’s language – their brains must be on different wave lengths – they had come to respect and depend on one another.
It was a remarkable feat, Kastarak thought, and he immediately understood why it was so important for Sega’a to mark this occasion. Kastarak would not admit it, but he most likely sensed some pride for his friend Sega’a here.
Serral blinked when what Sega’a pulled from under the couch was… some kind of small animal. Regardless of what exactly that thing was, it was obviously Sega’a’s pet. Glancing at Kastarak’s saluting the creature with a raised brow, Serral instead simply looked to Sega’a, assuming the creature to be of lower intelligence like the cats humans liked to keep on Earth. There was no need to greet such a creature for it had no concept of offense. “This is who the party is for?” Serral asked politely.
‘It’ seemed to have some concept of offence because she responded with a low growl. Again, was it happenstance? Who knows. Sega’a chose to view it as she was over this interaction and ready to move on to whatever was next on ‘Hago’s laundry list of things to do today’, which consisted of sleeping, clawing at the furniture and unleashing chaos wherever she went.
“Who else would it be for?” He asked without the slightest deflation in his enthusiasm. Hago writhed until he lowered her to the chair, where she quickly scampered off to torment some unassuming streamer. “Sorry about that. She’s not the most social creature I’ve met, but she’s got a heart a gold. Most of the time. Anyway! Who’s hungry?”
“Is it food from Hago’s culture?” asked Kastarak, hoping to get another glimpse into the culture and customs of Hago’s people. “Either way, I am able to eat at this hour.”
(OOC: Bump! Let me know if y’all want to continue. :) — Trin)
I certainly do! — Ric
(OOC: I do too… Just having trouble keeping up everywhere.)
Serral shook his head, “I’m not sure Hago’s people are doing much inventing of foods. Unless you’re into raw meats.” Serral’s implication being that it was merely an animal which hunted to live. He made an effort to smile, not wanting to ruin Sega’a’s mood. “Whatever the food is I am sure we can give it a try.”
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