Opening A Bottle
Episode 4 - The Fires Of Hades
Location: The Ferryman
News whispered in Niska's ear all the time but even she was surprised to see this one walk into her bar. The way she carried herself, the ethereal look. The aura so similar, the sense of her species. El aurian for sure.
It seemed she had a type now and Niska hated that idea.
Fastening her dress up, she had been burned by this species women before, she studied her shoulders. In her mind she was already telling herself ~do not fall for this woman. You left the other place as they are all trouble~
"What can I get you sugar?" ... damn the sugar came out with her even thinking.
This place was crowded, it gave Tia unusual anxiety. There was the smashing of a glass that made her turn quickly and reach for her concealed firearm on her hip, but she quickly saw no threat and pushed her hands back down. The projection of a Starfleet uniform, one of the ones she had seen here, would only keep up appearances if she didn't pull weapons out of thin air.
Before she knew it she was at the bar, he usual observing spot. You could learn a lot from people if you watched them get themselves drunk enough, and that was even without the use of her peoples ability to get information out of people.
Upon hearing the question from behind her she thought for a moment if she should turn around or simply leave. She turned.
Seeing the Orion gave her pause, was she real or part of this possible trap that had been set for her? To lull her into a false sense of security so she'd drop her guard and the Dominion would learn things she wanted kept hidden. Tia felt the knife shift under the cuff of her sleeve. The correct movement would push it out and place it in her palm to use, but she decided to see how this would play out... even if the Orions were not to be trusted.
The thought of any sugar was welcome, it had been so long since she had anything that actually resembled a real drink, or even food. "You wouldn't happen to have something called a raktajino, would you?" Tia asked with a little hope, but not much. It had been 20 years since she had tasted that sweet, sweet nectar.
"I have the best and "only" raktajino" presently on the station," Niska stated. How they had not managed to fix the replicators yet bemused her but her ability to make it from scratch the "old" way was making her place very popular right now. She poured her a cup and placed it in front of her.
"You look like you need a double."
Tia watched as the liquid in the cup vibrated as the Orion placed it down. For a moment she was lost, this couldn't be real. An actual raktajino.
Her hands shook a little as she reached for it. Malnutrition would do that to you, but she was more than happy to restart her caffeine addiction even if she did still not believe where she was standing was real.
Tia picked up the cup and smelled the aroma of the drink, all her olfactory senses going in to near overdrive due to the fact it had been that long since she had even smelled regular coffee.
She took a sip and nearly melted, "Thank you." was all she could say. There was a thought that even if this had been laced with anything, even poison, she was happy to go.
"Your not a typical El Aurian are you?" she commented trying not to gaze at her hair flowing down her shoulder as she drank from the cup. Something about this one was very different to Aer yet familiar. "Here," she nudged some Bajoran cookies she had been practicing baking in her direction. "Apparently they compliment Raktajino well."
"Depends on what you consider a typical El Auran to be?" Tia asked as she noticed the baked goods in being nudged in her direction. Her eyes grew as big as saucers and she took one, albeit hesitantly.
Tia looked the woman over, using what energy she had into her observation skills. "I would imagine not many people see you as a typical Orion seeing as how you are of mixed heritage."
"Niska is unique," she informed her. "A mystery, excitement. Many think they can work me out. Many try, many fail. You i feel prefer to be in the shadows. Also a mystery."
"Shadows, and mystery, bring safety and security." Tia responded. "Mysteries are stories, hearsay and speculation. Sometimes finding out the truth can be dangerous, bring people to you that you could cause you pain or hurt those you love." Tia spoke of her experience over the past 30 years of hiding. "That, and a lot of things can be seen from the dark. It has been where I have worked from for the past 30 years." she had kept things quite vague at the moment. No need to make her look to be that insane patron who thinks she's from another universe... well, she is but that is not the point.
"Very true, but sugar you're a fleeter on a small station now. Less shadows to hide in. You're going to have to come more into the light," Niska told her. "Its really not that scary. Some beautiful things here."
Tia caught a flicker of a smile from the Orion, "Yes, there are some." Her gaze hung for a moment as she stared into the woman's eyes before a smashing glass broke her attention. "However I can promise you there are more shadows on a station than most are aware of, but I suspect you already know that." she offered a small smile. It seemed to take an effort as her surroundings grew a bit more comfortable.
"Niska knows many things," the half Orion informed her yet deliberately giving her nothing further. She knew the woman in front of her thought she was beautiful too. This just got far more exciting, scary, interesting all at the same time. "Yet she does not know your name," she smiled at her. "As a bar tender I have to call you something. Most get fed up of sugar unless ...." she smiled wickedly ..... letting it hang she shook her head. "Never mind ..."
She moved out from behind the bar to go brush up the broken glass one of the younger ensigns had knocked over. "I'm sorry Niska," he said wobblily. "I think maybe I have had ..." he stood up and wobbled ... "Enough."
She nodded. "For this evening anyway. Try not to make it a reoccurrence. I'm limited to unique glassware here. Emily your quarters are in his direction yes. Perhaps you would be so kind ....."
The green skinned alien chuckled inwardly knowing both had been mooning over each other yet not summoned the courage to go talk to each other.
"Yes, yes. Yes .. of course Niska... yes. Ryan... let me... I could help get him home," the shy and demure human said quickly pulling his arm over her and helping him out.
Niska crouched down affording areas of her dress to gape as she started picking up glass shards. She turned her attention back to the other woman. "The truth more confines people than scares them. You choose how you decide to react. Like now you have a choice. Keep to the shadows or brave coming further out."
"I can brave plenty without having to share myself in the light. Sometimes there is great bravery in letting truth drip out and not pour." Tia replied. "My name though, I will give you a little truth, is Tia." she smiled a little nervously. "The rest I am sure we can work on."
It was the truth too. Niska could sense it. "Tia," she repeated the name. Already feeling giddy as it left her lips. "Its a very beautiful name." Damn it this was the exact opposite of what she wanted to be happening. What was it with El Aurians? It seems she really was a moth to the flame.
"What are you doing in my neck of the woods then Tia?" she asked returning to the bar and pouring herself a shot and then refreshing the other woman's Ratajino. She could sense she was hungry too. That biscuit hadn't touched the sides.
"And have you had dinner?"
"Well Tia is short for something, a 'nickname' if you'd like to call it that." Tia said as she pondered the thought of revealing more. Usually the more one revealed the closer they got to people, also on the flip side of that is that the more you tell the more people could use that against you.
"To be honest I don't really know." She shrugged. "I was actually looking into a signal one night and kind of ended up here... but no, its okay. I don't have any credits on me to pay you for anything else." Tia said almost downtrodden at the thought, at the words that left her lips.
“Details details,” Niska fussed. She had food leftover.
She loaded a plate on placed it in front on her. “On the house. I can’t have someone go hungry when I have food that will not be sellable tomorrow. And,” she smiled at her loading up a further plate realising she hadn’t eaten since breakfast, “you can keep me company while I eat my dinner.”
Tia smiled as the plate was placed down in front of her. All the different bits of food, so much of it a forgotten dream as she had been starving herself on old rations, MRE's and what ever she could scrounge up when out in the dangerous universe. "I like the idea of company. It's been a while since I've felt safe enough to comfortable enough to eat with someone."
"I can understand then why you seem more comfortable in the dark," Niska commented. "This dinner is too good for just coffee," she stated simply pulling a bottle of Andorian wine from under the counter. One she knew would compliment the spices she had used. "One of the advantages of being the proprietor is you always have access to the good stuff," she winked at her as she proceeded to uncork the bottle.
"I haven't seen a bottle of that in 12 years." Tia commented as her eyes drifted up and down the bottle. The sound of the bottle opening sent flashes through Tia's mind. Of memories of moments past... moments of joy such as promotions, parties and such when she was in Starfleet, toasts to battles won... but also moments of sadness at funerals, toasts to fallen heroes and such.
This might be a new moment, but as of yet the connection of good or bad had yet to be made.
Niska poured the drinks waiting to see how the meal between them would fair. There was something ... something in the way she looked at the bottle. Lost in her mind. Aer used to do the same and she never could fathom it. It was always around opening a bottle. Like it was of some big significance to her species. Perhaps she ought to have asked but she knew she would have just fobbed her off. She always played her cards close to her chest. Except with that lug Patton of course.
What could it be though? she wondered. Why were El Aurians weird around bottles being opened. In fact the more she thought of it Aers cousin, Aers brother had equally been weird. Maybe she would get to know this one well enough to broach that question?
occ - a good place to end?