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Date, Part 1

Posted on 12 Jun 2022 @ 9:57pm by Lieutenant Commander Harva Taliborn & Lieutenant Callisi Veera

4,255 words; about a 21 minute read

Mission: A New Frontier
Location: Holodeck Three. It's always Holodeck Three.

"El-tee-cee Taliborn to El-tee Veera," sounded a rumbling bass voice, though much of the resonant timbre was lost, the tiny speaker in the comm badge having trouble replicating it.

Callisi was at the moment, off shift. She had just proposed herself a little something to nibble on while queueing up some programming she had brought from home... home...

The comm chime broke her from the moment. "This is Callisi. How can i assist?"

"I'm outside Holodeck three. Was about to celebrate concensus day in a recreation of Monsegvi, the Sirran capital. Remembered I owed you a social meeting. Figured we'd combine the two. Wanna come?" he asked.

She considered her plans, then those offered. "Certainly. What's the dress code, as they say?" the cyclopean rabbitess requested. It sounded festive. Otherwise the odds of it being reolicated in a holodeck would be slim.

"Social-casual, suitable for about 20c. Color is alright, but a bit subdued. Part of the festivities is remembering the fallen of bloody friday," came the easy reply.

"I'm on my way." with that, Callisi recycled the nibbles she had conjured and started to consider an outfit. Casual, comfortable, and after a little math to convert thermal measures, she had her decision.

She arrived at the Holodeck, dressed in a muted red one piece slip of a dress, neck to ankle. Simple, soft shoes on her paws, and her hair casually styled to frame her face... and draw attention from her eyepatch.

"I trust this is appropriate?" She inquired.

"That'll do fine," he smiled as he beheld her, a slight wag of his tail betraying his feelings. There was a reason Sirran diplomats and actors took extensive tail training, and he was neither. For his own part he was dressed in black pants over dark brown leather shoes and a dark red, nearly wine colored button-up shirt that brought out his physique. Long sleeves to cover his scars. A lighter red necktie completed his look, a style element he'd picked up from Earth.

"Thank you for coming. It means a lot to be able to share this part of my culture with a friend," he mused as he opened the Holodeck door for her. Beyond was a pittoresque scene, an old town center, with a cobble road leading to a large town square, with large buildings surrounding it and a large stage at the center of the town - though it seemed this stage was temporary and put up for the event of the evening. Everything about the scene was large, scaled to Sirran physique.

"I've programmed it so everyone speaks Federation common," he mused. "That should make things easier for you. Oh - am I right in assuming your hearing is quite sensitive? You might want to bring earplugs, part of the evening's events might be a bit loud," the big guy explained.

"Of course, I was invited and had a clean skate of a schedule tonight. Thank you for including me." She commented before taking a look out to the simulated environment. "I feel so small." she giggled slightly at the scale of it all. The reverse of how he must feel. At the mention of her hearing she gave a nod, "Sensitive and wider in range. Thank you for the warning. Computer, earplugs, Ts'usugi standard." and the Holodeck complied, providing her with a set of plugs to protect her hearing. "When it gets loud, I'll be ready."

"So tell me a little about this event?"

"It's consensus day, the day we commemorate the two-plus million dead of the Bloody Friday revolution almost a hundred Federation years ago, that saw the deposing of a corrupt capitalist oligarchy. On the same evening we celebrate the change from that corrupt oligarchy to a republic, the consensus," he explained as they walked. Everyone towered over Callisi, even the youths were her size. The cobble street they took towards the square was decorated with flowers and greenery, flags hung from the facades of centuries old buildings of great craftmanship, rich in details, all favoring warm colors.

The humm of voices was thick and heavy, all Sirran having those rich, deep voices same as Harva. "The consensus are a dozen elected Sirran elders, six men, six women, presided over by a single elder that technically stands outside the consensus, but can act as arbitrator and to settle tie votes. You have to be a father or a mother to be eligible for the consensus, and only a grandmother of successful children and grandchildren is eligible for the post of elder," he explained, as he led her towards a cafe, with an outside terrace. Detailed woodcarvings and equally intricate stone-stacking making up the walls added layers of depth to the very old establishment. Greenery and flowering plants were added in tasteful decoration. It seemed that craftmanship was highly valued, here.

She looked from face to face, being to being. She wasn't as self-conscious around simulated people, because she knew they were not real, not true. She listened as he explained their overthrow of the greedy and oppressive, and the embrace of freedom and community. "The ever present need to be free." she remake softly. "Though it takes a thousand years, the impoverished will be free."

She ran a hand softly over some of the woodworking, "Beautiful." She spoke softly, despite that it was just her and he in the room. "So, how does one properly celebrate?"

"A feast? Revelry?"

"I was planning to mostly just sit here with a good meal and enjoy the show and the company," Harva flicked an ear, pulling out a large chair at an equally oversized table for Callisi. "There's usually some drunkards at these events, but - well, I wasn't planning to be among them," he added. The Sirrans in the simulation ran the spectrum of fur colors and patterns, from off-white to golden brown, to mottled caramel to gray and black. Men and women, adults, teens and the elderly, and all of them just treating Callisi like she was one of them, nothing odd or unusual about her.

She gave a nod, taking the offered seat with little difficulty. "Then that makes two of us. I don't enjoy where being drunk takes me." she stated, looking around. "As for a casual festival of food and company, seems every culture has those. A day, a night, a moment to just be around friends and family, and enjoy the time." she offered. There certainly were events like that back home.

She admired the diversity between individuals here at the event, nevermind that they were holograms. Holograms that had to either be based off fact, designed from memory, or born of fancy. She turned her attention back to Harva. "I'll admit, with your build, I imagined your worlds and colonies would be cooler. I'm pleasantly surprised."

"This is what counts for a very warm climate for Sirran standards," he mused, taking the seat opposite her on this table-for-two. He seemed to be in high spirits. "'Quality time' seems to be a universal concept, yes. I have noticed that," he smiled, tail giving a lazy wag. Something not uncommon among the Sirran in the simulation.

Not long after they'd taken their seats a waitress approached the table, carrying herself with poise and confidence, wearing a ready smile. "Good evening, sir, madam. Would you like something to drink?" then, turning to Callisi, "We have most foods and drinks from across the Federation available."

"Well it's more then that, it's the notion of quality time being the means to commemorate. Otherwise every two people walking down the street are celebrating something." she said with a soft smirk. Amused at the notion. Personal holidays. The arrival of the waitress brought her attention up, and up to the Sirran. Across the Federation.... in a way, such diversity. In another, so limiting.

"Bourbon, neat, and a glass of cherry pop." she started, then turned her glance towards Harva. "And the gentleman?"

"A beer. Sirran-sized," Harva gave a nod.

"Certainly. Ma'am would you like your drink Sirran sized of standard Federation sized?" The waitress asked with a warm smile.

That amused her, "Standard please. I'd rather not go for a swim." a pause, "As for something to eat..." she glanced over towards Harva, "What would you recommend?"

"The diversity snack platter, please," Harva mused after a moment's consideration.

"Excellent choice, sir," The waitress agreed, then as if in explanation turned to Callisi, "The diversity snack platter is a platter of assorted cooked, baked grilled meats in snack sized portions, along with various sauces and seasonings. I can recommend it, it's one of our best selling meals."

Callisi gave an approving nod, "An excellent choice indeed then." she offered, "Make it two." she settled the notion. Platters to Share weren't something they did back home, but humanity had tons of platters sized to be enjoyed by many.... and they had certainly influenced many species beyond their own space. The notion of a sharing platter was still a little... unusual to her.

Once it was just them again, she returned her glance to Harva, "Thank you for asking me here. I was condemned to another night of snacks and archived footage."

"You're very welcome," the large Sirran smiled. Though if the others around were any indication, Harva was actually fairly average for a Sirran in height and build.

By that time a number of Sirran of varying genders and fur colorations but all with similar, non-military uniforms of white and red with gold accents, started ascending the stage. Harva smiled and shifted his chair so he had a good view of the presentation, even as the humm and hubbub of voices dimmed and everyone seemed to be turning their attention to the stage as well.

"It's about to begin," Harva spoke quietly. "It's alright if you want to use your earplugs, nobody will judge."

None except her worst critic. With a bit of a nod, she slipped them in as her attention turned to the stage. Her lengthy ears flopped down to rest against her head, perhaps in the attempt to hide the protective wear from casual view, though the reason for it was something she kept to herself. No need for her to draw attention to herself.

Whatever it was, she expected it to be loud. Whatever it was, she expected it to be low. She held onto the edge of the woodworked table, as though to hold herself in place against the tide.

The Sirran on stage lined up in two rows - the women in front and the men behind - and started singing. Low was right - and though perhaps not as loud as Callisi might have expected, there was a rumbling depth to it. The men began their slow, low, resonant lamentation, a song in Sirran, though the universal translator would take care of the words. A threnody of oppression, and of suffering. Of exploitation, and a great divide between the haves and have-nots. And one realization that happened was that whenever Harva spoke, in his 'normal' tone - that was him holding back, near whispering - if the resonant power of these voices were any indication.

The song went on, now the women joining in. Higher voices, yes, but still thick and round and warm. Lyrics of patience breaking, of uprising. The waitress wordlessly brought them their drinks, ears perked at the song, quietly stepping back and taking the time listening as well. Even as the song rose up, going from lamentation to a song of resistance, to a melody and harmony of hope. Rousing words of revolution, of the tide of weak and oppressed banding together, standing up to the few, fighting for theirs, for their own.

The tone of the song shifted again, to that of victory. Of hope. Of change. But always with a hint of sadness, harmonies in major and in minor, speaking of the lost, and how monumental their sacrifice, so that the rest may live in prosperity. Words of family. Words of friends. Words of harmony, sung in harmony, until finally the song ending with the promise to do better.

The words moved her. The tone shook her. Literally.

She closed her eye, still braced against the wooden table, though after a few bars she pulled her chair closer to actually lean her torso up against the solid structure. She had trouble sitting still during the performance but didn't make any mention of it. The words, the story, she followed it all as best she could. From her seat of mild discomfort.

When the tone wasn't so low, she was able to far better appreciate the event, appreciate the story that was being told. Freedom, friendship, and the hope for the future. When the song had concluded she released her grip on the table, and leaned back slowly while dabbing at her only remaining tear duct with her napkin. The song was moving, the story it told one to be celebrated. She just felt bad that she couldn't fully appreciate it. "It was beautiful." she said, honest, as its beauty had lost nothing due to her presence.

"It's called 'we have to do better'. It's been tradition to sing this song every concensus day to commemorate the fallen of the revolution," Harva mused, taking a big swig of his beer. Seeing her so moved his hand reached out to nudge hers in a comforting manner. The choir on stage vacated their place, to be replaced by instrument of unusual, but still familiar design. Seemed that some things were universal.

She gave his hand a gentle tap, acknowledgement of the gesture. "I'll be alright, parts of the song just rattled me is all." she paused for a moment, "I'll be alright now. I'll just have to prep a bit more if this is going to be a regular occurrence." the rabbitess offered.

"Hearing a choir of Sirran sing with their full voices can be quite an experience, yes. I'm glad you're here to share it though," he mused. "Right now they're setting up for the band, not sure who's playing, there's a randomizer and a list. Once the band starts the fireworks will as well."

"As long as the band can't hit the tones their voices did, I'll be able to fully enjoy them." she quipped. "Fireworks. It's been a while since I've just sat and enjoyed fireworks. They.... look weird to me now." Callisi said, her glance going from the sky above to the tabletop, then back up slightly to Harva. She took a slow sip of her drink, like a pro. No grimace, no twist of the face. Smooth and clean, like the drink itself.

He flicked an ear, placing his full undivded attention on her now. "You gon' be alright? If it's uncomfortable for you we can go take a walk or do something else. It's no problem."

"No." she offered quickly, proud and stubborn to the end. "Some of the notes were hitting a little too low. I'll be alright now that I know. As long as they don't start singing again." she offered after a moment. "This is your heritage, you asked to share it with me. I'll be alright now."

"We can take a walk if you wish." she offered, giving a way to save the scene if such was needed. The ever present 'way out' clause.

He contemplated for a moment, considering his wish to ensure her comfort as well as her desire to give him the freedom to share his culture with her, her respect for said culture. "Well, we did order a drink and a meal. It would be impolite not to enjoy it," though he tapped his comm badge and gave the computer a few commands, mostly selecting a band that was going to play and lowering the overall volume, as well as adjusting the tone mix. "There. Cooperation and compromise is the basis of any working relationship, whether it be a professional one or one of friendship. Thank you for indulging me in the sharing of my culture," he smiled, tail giving a lazy wag.

"Of course." she offered first, "And yes, it would be quite rude."

"You're proud of your heritage, your culture. Its history is rich in such negative traits, but it's the overthrowing of those traits that ensures the culture will endure." she continued. "Yours isn't the first species we've encountered who register on those low notes. Though, yours is much easier to talk to." she offered with a soft smile. "Thank you for sharing this with me. I wish I could return the sentiment, but while you are free to share and show what you wish, there are limits to what I could show you."

"Protocols, limits, imposed at the state level to forever ensure Ts'usu is safe."

"Don't worry about it," Harva waved dismissively. "I'm doing this because I want to share, not because I'm expecting anything back. It's not a trade," he offered, taking another swig of his beer. By now the band would start playing. It was a folk-y type music. Instrumental, catchy, the feeling of traditional music. At the same time the fireworks display started, drawing Harva's attention, a flick of the ears at the initial noise - though it was quieter than one might expect from such a broad and broadly colorful display.

Her glance was drawn upward towards the fireworks. Such vibrant colors and flashed of light. The blast, the pulse, the thunder. She had a somewhat unique perspective to it, seeing the display through both the eyes of the natural and the artificial. What it must look like to her...

The display captured the inner child within, and she sat there in silence, watching the display with a soft smile on her features. It was good to know that something as magical as Fireworks made it to so many people across the stars. She also felt relief that she could enjoy them. She knew a lot of people that just couldn't.

He glanced at her with a smile, then turned his attention back to the music and the firework display. Well, some of his attention, enough was still focused on his company. As they sat in silence just enjoying the show their food was brought out, the waitress again respecting the show by keeping silent as well. She set the two plates down, a massive one for Harva and a smaller, more federation standard sized one for Callisi.

In silence, Callisi nodded to the waitress for the service. Respectful of the display, but also for the service. She'd examine the fare after the show.

There was still something almost magical about a good firework display, even a simulated one at that. She hadn't seen actual fireworks in a long time, and for a moment she wondered how she'd handle them. Bright lights, loud pops, all too familiar sensations. Her time served was far from the front lines, so maybe...

Her musing was halted by a particular pop from above, which brought her back to the here and now. She glanced over at Harva, who was glancing at her, before her gaze returned skyward. Perhaps he was enjoying the show vicariously? Or perhaps he was just enjoying a different view. Either way, for the moment, she didn't mind. Rather SHE be the focus of attention rather than her injury. Rather be admired than shamed.

It's true that Ts'usugi were mysterious and difficult to read. Part of their culture seemed to be bent on cultivating this mystery, and their eyes did not speak nearly as loudly as those of, say, humans. But Harva found that he could read part of her mood, her experience, on her features anyways. It helped that as Sirran he was innately keen sensed and noted subtle twitches of ears, tiny furrows of brows, all subtle signs of what the other was thinking.

Or, rather, that the other was thinking. Anything deeper than that would require a lot more practice first. "Penny for your thoughts? I think that's how the saying goes," he asked after a few moments, reaching for his plate - though pausing when he also noted she hadn't reached for hers yet. "You not gonna eat?"

"Koku, actually. Unless pennies are the human word." she offered, never breaking that soft smile. "And it only just arrived. Apologies, I spent my Three watching for the source of bright flashes and loud pops. Hard to turn that off." a pause, "Don't change it. It's comforting."

She took her attention from the fireworks display to the food, amused at the difference in portion control, though it was to be expected. "It's been too long since I had the chance to enjoy a fireworks display. I... I didn't realize how different it would look to me, now, but I'm glad I can still enjoy them. I hadn't seen one since my injury and while, yes it looks different I can still appreciate it." with that, she turned her patched glance to the plate in full, though every pop of the display made her ears twitch. Not in panic or concern, but more in that reflex that only comes from watching for enemy snipers. She was safe here, and she knew it. Reflexes, though...

Reflexes that were shared among species across the galaxy, the synchronized twitching and flicking of Sirran ears at every new pop or firework scream showed, from Harva's to all the simulated Sirran. "Might I ask, how is fireworks comforting, when you have the history you have? What makes for the difference?" he asked, his low rumbling voice resonant.

"The delay." She responded. "I see the bright display before i hear the pop, so there's a part of me that knows that they're connected, and it's nothing to be concerned about." She paused for a moment, "First few months after discharge, after clearance, was a different matter. Avoided big festivals or anything that might end in big displays, or even chain poppers. The first big show I could make it through without panicking was quite the achievement for me. So now, every show I can sit through is another win. Another comfort."

She took a nibble off her plate. "That's how."

"I am glad to hear, though I still feel that I should apologize," he offered, voice quiet, ears laying back. "I try to be thoughtful and kind. Was raised to be. But didn't think to make sure you were ok with fireworks before inviting you, and for that I apologize."

She waved off the concern with, well, a wave, "Forgiven, but unnecessary. You had no way of knowing what I had done during my Three, and even after. You wanted to be thoughtful, be compassionate, and be proud of your heritage. I couldn't think to take that away from you. And if you asked how I felt about fireworks, loud noises, popping sounds, jumpscares and pop up surprises.... why it would take all the spontaneousness out of anything. Would it have been appreciated? Possibly, but I also have to learn to deal with life. I can't wait for the universe to pad my room for me." she offered, "Not all of someone's trauma is as evident as the nose on their face. You did the best you could, and hoped it was good enough."

"And it was. It is."

There were things he could say, but he didn't speak them out loud. Just thoughts in his mind they remained. It was not something worth discussing, and he respected her enough not to belittle her words with a 'but'. Instead he just gave a nod and a soft smile after a moment of thought and took another swig of his beer. "Thank you," he said instead, and he meant it. Though with a glint of amusement in his eyes he added, "Are you sure you're not part Sirran?" Beat. "It's meant as compliment. You're as thoughtful as the best of us."

She offered a soft smile. "I can see the resemblance." she looked up, "Big ears, big feet."

"It's standard upbringing for a child of Ts'usu to put the considerations of others before our own. It's.... it's been a while since I had the chance to practice those teachings. I've mostly kept to myself in polite company, and kept a low profile in impolite company."

"The challenge is not putting aside your needs for someone else's wants," Harva mused quietly. "I just wish it were easier to tell them apart some times."

"That is always the issue. To be able to declare what you need amid the desires of others. To remain yourself, and still be what others want. Or to have the courage to remain yourself and leave behind those who would want too much of you." she offered. "A delicate balance indeed, but in the end, standing up for your own virtues might lead to lonely nights but they are nights you can sleep soundly."

"Telling them apart, though, is the trick indeed. We can't just ask someone what they want."

"Sure we can," Harva chuckled, enjoying another chunk of meat. It was impressive how much he could shovel into his mouth and and how quickly it was just done. "I've found that you can get a lot done by just asking politely, but directly. And smiling," he added, amusement in his eyes, as he flashed a very impressive set of dentistry, rows of razorsharp fangs, with canines the size of daggers.

(To be continued)


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