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IKS Kajunpak't: Madsen's Guide to a Successful Navigation of a Morning Mess

[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mess Hall | IKS Kajunpak't | In transit to rendezvous with Theurgy] Attn: @Cheshirewild

It was human nature, near any species’ nature, to form groups of preferred beings with whom they fellowshiped. Sometimes the groupings were made in opposition to another group, whereas other times, they were made from temporary necessity. Far too interested in understanding people, knowing their stories, and finding connections, Enyd had always been the type to flow from one group to another. True, she had her own internal preferences for the character attributes found in a kindred spirit. As a more curious and open-minded individual, she was attracted to like-minded individuals. As someone who appreciated a well-worded comeback and strong wit, she also gravitated towards those who displayed these qualities.

But Enyd had discovered over the years that her own biases and prejudices could be successfully blown out of the water and challenged into a place of growth when she took the time to surround herself with individuals of whom she wasn’t naturally attracted. It had surprised Enyd how readily her heart had softened towards Javec on Cardassia even with all their differences and had been further flabbergasted when her grandmother had readily expressed a desire to meet and welcome the Cardassian official into the family—proving to Enyd that she came from good stock. But romantic endeavors aside, Enyd had to connect with strangers in her line of work, strangers of character and of mind. She had to reach past her own cultural boundaries to grasp another’s, all hoping to find something from which to launch diplomatic ties.

A roar of laughter pulled Enyd sluggishly from her thoughts. Not for the first time, Enyd was thankful for her small stature as she quickly weaved under the animatedly waving arms of a pair of Klingons on her journey to the mess hall. Neither of the Klingons reacted to her movements, too engrossed in their loud conversation to even notice. Enyd appreciated their mirth, even if she didn’t understand what it was about. She just wished their mirth wasn’t quite so loud, at least not until she had more than a few mugs of coffee.

So far, it seemed the Klingons didn’t quite know what to think of her. Though Enyd was far from fluent in their language, she was adept at reading body language and had recognized the sneers of judgment thrown her way whenever she came by. Some looked at her as if she were a child in an adult’s uniform, whereas others had thrown glances her way that Enyd would use only on a piece of chocolate. But thus far, it hadn’t brought trouble. Her unassuming stature, if anything, had allowed her to pass relatively unnoticed among the crew.

Being on a Klingon ship was not easy, but she welcomed the task. Her integration into the Cardassian culture had been a cakewalk by comparison. Granted, contextually, that had been a long-term assignment, and their style of argument and reasoning was naturally more in line with her own. In contrast, this situation was temporary and Enyd didn’t have a bone in her body that could identify with the methods of argument and aggression the Klingons predominantly displayed.

Enyd had only been here a matter of hours, one meal and a fitful night’s rest, in fact, yet already she’d encountered more than a few instances of, “Oh…that’s how things are here.” It was too early to describe any of those particular surprises as either positive or negative, but they were all already noted in her head for further study. It was essential to see if they were only contextually appropriate or something common for the race regardless of circumstance.

Upon entering the mess hall, Enyd grimaced. It wasn’t so much the smell that made her pause, though that was quite strong. It was the noise. The mess hall wasn’t even packed yet—many of the tables lining the walls were still empty—and yet those Klingons who occupied the room were making enough noise to wake the dead. Enyd appreciated a good rowdy bout of fun as much as the next person, but never before significant amounts of coffee.

Enyd’s eyes fell on the table where Starfleet personnel had already gathered. She sighed. It hadn’t been an unpleasant experience, sharing dinner together the night before, but it hadn’t been helpful either. She’d had so little exposure to Klingon culture before this that Enyd knew if she insulated herself by sticking with the “known” of her Starfleet peers, she severely cripple her ability to assist in any future missions that may include Klingons and the “unknown” they presented. Sparing a nod and a polite wave to those who saw her enter, Enyd retrieved her food before making an intentional move to the closest unoccupied table. It could seat three, but for the time being, she was alone. Leaving Enyd was curious who might approach, if any.

Of course, it was a risk, for there was assuredly someone(s) on board who’d love to challenge any Starfleet personnel who set themselves apart from the group. But sipping at the Klingon version of coffee, a steaming mug of raktajino, and eyeing her breakfast of Rokeg blood pie, Enyd weighed the risk worthwhile. If chaos ensued yet she could learn more about Klingon culture, perhaps even prove herself worthy to a few Klingon individuals, then a bloodied lip, bruised ego, and spilled coffee would be worthwhile.

Enyd frowned. Shaking her head at her own thoughts, she took a deep sip of her drink, not caring about its heat. No, spilled coffee was never an acceptable outcome. Closing her eyes, Enyd waited for the moment her body recognized the necessary caffeine to find food palatable at this hour before she even attempted to eat her blood pie. Perhaps it wasn’t the smartest move, closing her eyes in a Klingon mess hall, but it was the only way she could tolerate the environment without heaving a pathetic sigh.

Re: IKS Kajunpak't: Madsen's Guide to a Successful Navigation of a Morning Mess

Reply #1
[ Lieutenant Junior Grade Rem Kile | Mess Hall | IKS Kajunpak’t | In transit to rendezvous with Theurgy ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz

The PADD left by Starfleet Intelligence led Rem to board the Klingon vessel Kajunpak’t, his original mission forgotten. He studied the material provided by Director Anderson in great detail before arriving at the beam-out point. He would not have an opportunity to do so again before reaching his destination, the rogue multi-vector dreadnought, USS Theurgy. He thought back to the final words from his briefing.

[We don’t know if your training with Changelings will help but at this point, we’re taking shots in the dark. We need a reliable way to identify the infested if we hope to beat them. Your priority is to work with Theurgy and her crew in this regard. Secondly, you are to do everything in your power to make sure they survive.]

These thoughts occupied the Betazoid as he made his way to the mess hall. It took his mind off of the ache in his back. He had not slept upon solid rock since his days as an apprentice in the Cave Rescue Corps. It said a lot that he could not tell the difference between that and a Klingon bed. He wondered why they bothered with beds at all as he stepped through the hatch into the mess hall.

'Mess' hall, an apt description, he thought as he took in the sight of the place. A single long table dominated the center of the room. It rested atop two steps, raised from the deck to give those seated a superior vantage of the room around them. Smaller tables, seating up to four dotted the floor along the periphery. They were back in the shadows, more private while glaring red lights shone down through a metallic grate in the ceiling, casting the central table in shadows reminiscent of a cage.

A whole roasted targ lay upon a tray at the center of the long table. Warriors sliced off chunks of meat from the carcass with their d’k tahg knives and heaped food from various metal bowls and trays with bare hands. The upper ranks sat at the central table within easy reach of the food while the lower ranks took their food to the surrounding tables. A barrel of blood wine stood at the end of the table where warriors dipped their mugs, often after having finished drinking.

A replicator stood inset into a wall to one side, unused by the looks of it, save perhaps by the handful of Starfleet transfers clustered defensively around one of the small tables. A single brave woman sat by herself near them, drawing leering stares and mocking smirks from some among the native crew.

She seemed smallish in stature, curvaceous in form with dark hair bound in a loose braided bun. Full lips and ravishing pale skin gave her beauty a delicate cast, marking her as lovely to most but certain to draw insults and derision from the fitter physical specimens around her. She looked tired, nonetheless, her eyes sparkled emerald green in pure defiance of the bloody red light overhead. She sipped something in a small metal cup that drew a wrinkle of distaste before she resumed. A deep metal dish sat on the table before her with a familiar orange filling. Red beet-like root vegetables jutted from the mash, cementing that it was indeed Rokeg Blood Pie. Rem raised his eyebrows, his curiosity piqued that a human would bother with Klingon food. He decided to show solidarity, pushing past a pair of warriors blocking the food to take up a tray. He ignored their indignant snarls as he piled his tray high with a sampling of everything on offer. He eschewed the blood wine and poured a steaming cup of raktajino from the urn nearby. He stepped next to the woman’s table and offered a smile.

“May I sit?” He asked.
"We are all leaves from the same tree whether green, yellow, red, or brown."

Re: IKS Kajunpak't: Madsen's Guide to a Successful Navigation of a Morning Mess

Reply #2
[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mess Hall | IKS Kajunpak't | In transit to rendezvous with Theurgy] Attn: @Cheshirewild

Enyd had just about convinced her stomach that it was time to receive nourishment, despite her preferred intermittent fasting, when a voice speaking Federation standard pulled her from her self-negotiation. Opening her eyes, Enyd looked up to find a tall, quite pale Asiatic humanoid in a Starfleet uniform smiling down at her. He wore the pips of a Lieutenant Junior Grade officer, and Enyd didn’t need to be standing to recognize the fact that he, too, like most others, would dwarf her in height. His dark hair was long, pulled back into a regulation-style ponytail, sharpening his almost pixie-esque appearance. His black eyes appeared kind, curious, and Enyd immediately smiled in return, nodding towards one of the empty seats at the table.

“Please do.” She sat up straighter and thanked the caffeine in her drink that she now felt energized enough to engage in polite conversation beyond grunting. “I rather placed myself as bait, sitting over here alone, curious whom I might snag.” Enyd paused, tipped her head to the side, then sighed out a soft laugh. “I’m sorry, that sounded rather ominous, didn’t it? The caffeine must not have taken as much hold as I’d hoped.” Enyd picked up her mug and frowned at it as if the liquid were to blame for her verbal quirks. “What I was trying to say,” after taking another quick sip, she smiled at her tablemate, “is that I am a member of the diplomatic corps, and I felt sitting apart from the larger group of Starfleet personnel would afford a greater opportunity to observe and understand the Klingon culture. Without continued exposure to anti-Klingon biases.”

She hadn’t meant the latter as an insult, merely as a statement. But understanding that this could be interpreted as an invitation to shove off, Enyd was quick to channel open friendliness into her voice when she added, “Still, despite the uniform,” she winked, “you are most welcome.” Enyd reached a hand across the table before she could think better of it. “I don’t believe I’ve met you yet. I’m Lieutenant Enyd Isolde Madsen.”

Re: IKS Kajunpak't: Madsen's Guide to a Successful Navigation of a Morning Mess

Reply #3
[ Lieutenant Junior Grade Rem Kile | Mess Hall | IKS Kajunpak’t | In transit to rendezvous with Theurgy ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz

The woman seated before Rem possessed a most intriguing accent, lilting and melodic with crisp consonants and emphasis on the long vowels. He closed his eyes bent his chin to listen more intently. It was then that he caught a very subtle fragrance, cool, sweet but slightly tangy with a clean, verdant, slightly earthy undertone. The smell of sweat, metal, meat, and alcohol permeating the room nearly overwhelmed it but its unique character stood apart as if in pure spite, demanding its place among the senses.

The Betazoid blinked his eyes open when the woman stopped, his brow creased in disappointment, as he quite enjoyed the experience. He noticed the hand then and a conflict roused in his mind.

Once, long ago he craved physical contact. Elsarian society depended on it for comfort and communication. Betazoids as a race thrived on physical intimacy even among casual friends, but war burned his tender impulses. A life filled with violence, both endured and inflicted left him with deeply rooted shame. A hint of pleading entered his gaze but pleading for what? Did he want her to spare him from the pain of healing, or did he plea for more, a return to a time when he embraced freely and loved without condition? He did not know and he felt torn with a simple gesture. He took her hand, haltingly at first but once they touched he warmed and returned her greeting with more confidence–and relief. He held on too long and withdrew with a flush of warmth in his pale cheeks.

“Enyd Isolde Madsen,” he weighed each syllable as he pronounced her name. “It sounds very delicate with hidden strength. It suits you. I am Rem Kile, Lieutenant Junior Grade. A pleasure to meet you. How did a member of the Diplomatic Corps end up here?”
"We are all leaves from the same tree whether green, yellow, red, or brown."

Re: IKS Kajunpak't: Madsen's Guide to a Successful Navigation of a Morning Mess

Reply #4
[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mess Hall | IKS Kajunpak't | In transit to rendezvous with Theurgy] Attn: @Cheshirewild

He was a most attentive listener, Enyd noted. With his eyes closed and his head tipping ever so slightly as if to hear more clearly the deeper nuances of her words, Enyd couldn’t help but feel her own interest build. Few were inclined to find interest in vocal patterns, and from her experience, those who did were typically from cultures that possessed a certain hypersensitivity. Enyd smiled, curious if this man before her was from one such culture. Or perhaps he just liked voices?

When he opened his eyes again, Enyd was amused to see disappointment first and then an intriguing hesitation. His hesitation to take her hand was like sounding an air horn in the room. She quickly noted in her growing mental file on this man that not only was he hypersensitive, yet to be determined to which senses in particular, but it seemed he was also touch averse. Though he did eventually take her hand and seemed to warm up to the whole process of shaking it, she mentally kicked herself for offering it in the first place. She should’ve known better. One of the many rules of diplomacy: just because it looks like a duck doesn’t mean it’s going to sound like a duck, eat like a duck, or waddle like a duck, so don’t treat it like a duck unless you know it is truly like a duck.

Watching a blush touch his cheeks, strangely still noticeable despite the horrendous red glare the overhead lights bathed them all in, Enyd didn’t bother to hide a blush of her own when he complimented her name. Taking her hand back, she pushed a little at her hair self-consciously. It still safely covered her ears. Dropping her hand back to her mug, Enyd smiled.

“Mister Rem Kile,” Enyd raised her mug in his direction and finished her drink. She then frowned at its empty bottom. “Why is the raktajino gone?” Heaving an overly dramatic sigh, Enyd looked back to Rem as she picked up her fork to begin on her pie. “If I told you why I was here,” she waggled her eyebrows at him, “I may have to kill you.”

Taking a modest bite, Enyd grimaced. It wasn’t so much the taste, or even the texture, as it was the fact that it was food in her mouth in the morning. She’d learned years before that her body operated more optimally on two meals alone, preferably at the midday and early evening. Enyd had only come here and thought to attempt a breakfast so she could observe and potentially integrate into the culture while she had the chance. It seemed, however, that her body was going to betray her mind and rebel against her diplomatic efforts.

“Blast,” Enyd set down her fork, “please excuse me a moment, Mister Kile, I’m going to need another mug of raktajino.” She stood, stared at the challenge that was to be her breakfast, and sighed. “Make that two more mugs of it. I’ll be right back.”

Enyd moved swiftly and silently through and around the throng of Klingons congregating around the mess hall. It had already filled to nearly double the occupants from when she’d first arrived, making the “coffee” retrieval process far more difficult than before, though, blessed be, not impossible. She had two mugs in hand, a triumphant smile touching the edges of her lips when she turned to make her way back to Rem.

A living wall walked in front of her and stopped. By wall, it was an exceedingly large, broad, and strong-smelling Klingon man who, when she tipped her head up and nearly had to rock back on her heels to see him fully, snarled an ominous grin at her. Enyd sighed and, without preamble, took a sip from one of her mugs. She knew she needed more caffeine for whatever was about to happen.

“What is a puq doing in a Starfleet uniform?” While the intended insult was in his native tongue, he spoke a heavily accented Federation standard to ensure Enyd understood his intent.

An only slightly smaller, though no more handsome Klingon man, shifted to stand beside the first, further barring her path. His eyes undressed her. Enyd got the feeling he was assessing how many cuts it might take to get to the center of her body, like one’s assessment of a lolly when thinking of licks.

“Perhaps they are so desperate for bodies to throw at their enemies now they recruit pujwI' ghu into their ranks.”

The men laughed at their own joke, at her expense, while Enyd schooled her features into a neutral expression.

“I’m afraid there is only one more seat at our table.” Despite her size, Enyd knew how to modulate her voice for it to sound strong and commanding. For this situation, she did just that while also maintaining a diplomatic veneer of geniality. “If you want to join my friend and I,” Enyd used their momentary confusion in response to her robust voice and her seemingly unfazed mannerisms to dance around them, “you will have to fight each other to the death for that honor.” She raised her mugs in their direction, added a broad smile, “Have a nice breakfast.”

Her smile was still on her face when she sat down across from Rem. She slid the extra mug into the space between them.

“I can’t promise I won’t drink both of these, but if you beat me to that one,” Enyd indicated the extra mug with a tip of her head while she raised the other to her lips, “I won’t fault you for it.”

After taking a long drink, again not caring at the drink's temperature, Enyd sighed in momentary contentment.

“To answer your question in mostly truth,” Enyd returned to his question as if there had been no interruption, “an old family friend directly recruited me. He believed my unique background and more recent experiences might prove useful to the Theurgy. As I had no other pressing offer aside from remaining on Vulcan,” Enyd gave a half shrug, “I no longer have family ties on Earth or elsewhere to worry about when thinking of joining a ‘renegade’ crew.” She smirked at the description, certain Rem had been given near the same briefing as she regarding the truth behind Theurgy’s recent decisions.

Stabbing the fork back into the pie, but seemingly more interested in moving the contents around than to eat them, Enyd threw a coy smile across the table at her companion. “A question answered for a question posed.” Leaning conspiratorially closer, Enyd whispered, “So long as you don’t have to kill me by telling me,” she let the mirthful words hang between them before she continued, “but what is your true opinion on gagh?”

Re: IKS Kajunpak't: Madsen's Guide to a Successful Navigation of a Morning Mess

Reply #5
[ Lieutenant Junior Grade Rem Kile | Mess Hall | IKS Kajunpak’t | In transit to rendezvous with Theurgy ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz

The Betazoid expected something different, perhaps more personal or prying, which might have spurred him to make up something, but did he need to? This was a deep-cover assignment only in the fact that no one back at Command knew he was posted to Theurgy, and Enyd just confirmed what he had suspected, that all of the Starfleet personnel aboard Kajunpak’t were transferring to the “rogue dreadnought.”

“My opinion about gagh?” He blinked with owlish surprise and sat back, then broke into a grin of pure delight that encompassed his being. He pulled a metal bowl from his tray, full of wriggling half-meter worms. A few attempted to escape but he poked them back as he absently fingered them, considering an answer. He dangled a handful over his mouth and chewed them down, talking around his mouthful as he munched in an authentically messy Klingon manner.

“It’s a delicacy on Elsaria,” He explained, taking careful note as the three Klingons that accosted Enyd did not seem ready to give up their fun yet.
"We are all leaves from the same tree whether green, yellow, red, or brown."

Re: IKS Kajunpak't: Madsen's Guide to a Successful Navigation of a Morning Mess

Reply #6
[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mess Hall | IKS Kajunpak't | In transit to rendezvous with Theurgy] Attn: @Cheshirewild

Enyd could tell her question had both surprised and disarmed him. Perfect. Of course, she had no malicious intent; Enyd just found a disarmed individual a far more genial companion than one who had mental walls erected so thick and tall a Cardassian expeditionary force would find them difficult to scale. She watched the man demonstrate his delicate regarding the worms and laughed. She couldn’t quite work up the nerve for the beasties and would stick to the pie for now.

“Elsaria, hm?” Enyd gave up the food poking and settled both hands on her mug, resting her elbows on the table as she directed her full attention to Rem. “I’ve heard of it, vaguely, but I’ll admit I know very little and would love to hear more about it.” She raised her mug then, in a toast of sorts. “Whatever you care to share, I am happy to hear.”

However, whatever Rem had begun to share was lost to Enyd when she saw her earlier walking wall and his counterpart move towards their table, this time with a third Klingon in tow. Why the rule of threes appeared to exist in Klingon culture as well, how delightful. Enyd made eye contact with Rem briefly, giving a head jerk upwards and to the side to alert him without words of their fast-approaching company. Enyd didn’t wait for the Klingons to speak once they stood in a semi-circle next to Rem and Enyd’s chairs. She pasted a pleasant smile on her face and raised her mug once more.

“Have you brought your own referee for the suggested fight?” Enyd nodded to the third Klingon before gesturing towards Rem. “My friend and I were just sharing stories. My understanding of Klingon culture is that much rests on the importance of stories.” Enyd was no empath, but there was an assured tenseness about the Klingon’s bodies in the way they’d puffed up their chests and in the exaggerated downward look at herself and Rem. Enyd slowly lowered her mug and shifted in her seat, angling her body to face them more fully. Her eyes moved slowly, deliberately, from one Klingon to another before she purposefully smiled again. “Are we about to create a story together then, here, now, in the mess hall?”

Enyd quickly nodded to Rem. “If we are to create stories, I believe it is customary to share names, no? So the stories told may declare the glorious prowess of those involved?” She wasn’t trying to come across as sarcastic, as what she said was part of what she knew of the Klingon culture, but considering the situation, Enyd knew it was highly likely her words would be interpreted as sardonic at best. “I am Lieutenant Enyd Isolde Madsen, and this is my friend Lieutenant Rem Kile.” Glancing back up to the three musketeers hovering by their table, Enyd gestured in the air between them. “And you are?”

As she waited for their response, be it a “polite” introduction of physical blows, Enyd hoped Rem was better suited for a physical altercation than herself. She’d half-expected posturing Klingons to approach her table this morning, and it seemed Klingons truly hated to disappoint. But just because she’d expected it, and had basically set herself up for it in the name of understanding the culture, didn’t mean her new acquaintance Rem Kile was as keen on a cultural exchange of such a physical nature. Enyd looked back over to him, hoping she conveyed accurately via body language and facial expression the notion that she wouldn’t fault him for getting out while the getting was good if he desired to.

Re: IKS Kajunpak't: Madsen's Guide to a Successful Navigation of a Morning Mess

Reply #7
[ Lieutenant Junior Grade Rem Kile | Mess Hall | IKS Kajunpak’t | In transit to rendezvous with Theurgy ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz

The Betazoid was frankly surprised it had taken this long for the Klingons to test the mettle of the Starfleet transfers. Rem encountered enough of them during his time aboard the Shirkahr and later, during the war when the Klingons supported the Alliance. He knew what to expect. They always found his appearance puzzling and like curious felines of Earth, they could not help but bat him around to find out how he might react. He could handle himself. He had no doubt that Madsen possessed hidden depths. She was Starfleet and as such, she was certainly no slouch, but Rem worried how she might fare against three warriors. He considered his options as the big, barrel-chested brute beat a fist over his heart and announced himself loudly.

“I am Daq’SIQ, son of Ramqaw!” He hammered their table, rattling the trays and causing a minor spill of raktajino–a crime against civilization in any empire. He smacked a palm back against the chest of a shorter, thickly muscled, and round-faced specimen with a comically frizzy mane of brown hair and a bushy goatee, then “companionably shoved” his friend from earlier, a bony, cerebral sort with long, thin black hair and an aloof sneer framed by a long, thin mustache.

“This is Qu’moD and Hay’worgh,” he introduced them respectively, ignoring their fanged hisses for smacking and shoving them.

Hom ghupu' do not eat adult food.” Hay’worgh took Rem’s bowl of gagh and shoved some in his mouth.

“Hah, they should be nursing their mothers!” Daq’SIQ bared his fangs in a blatant challenge.

Qu’moD rolled his eyes at his cohorts, “Why challenge them? They show respect and offer to trade stories.”

“Perhaps then we should put them to bed for stories!” Daq’SIQ laughed.

Petaqpu'….” Qu'moD pinched his brow and heaved a huge sigh.
"We are all leaves from the same tree whether green, yellow, red, or brown."

Re: IKS Kajunpak't: Madsen's Guide to a Successful Navigation of a Morning Mess

Reply #8
[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen | Mess Hall | IKS Kajunpak't | In transit to rendezvous with Theurgy] Attn: @Cheshirewild

The Klingon posturing did not faze Enyd. She’d studied enough about the culture to expect this behavior and was strangely pleased to see it firsthand. It was always nice when one’s assumptions were proved correct. After the introductions, however, Enyd had to bite her lower lip and briefly close her eyes. Don’t say it. Enyd clenched her jaw and looked between their new Klingon “friends” and her tablemate. Don’t you dare. Enyd sighed and ducked her head over her mug. You are a blasted diplomat in Starfleet. She was going to say it. Damn.

“So,” Enyd raised her head with a smile, “what’s up, Daq?” She assumed no one else at the table would know the ancient Earth reference, but that didn’t stop her from chuckling at her own joke. She also couldn't stop herself from adding the very unprofessional, "I see no one is interested in taking the high road, then."

Is there something in their coffee? Is it their sweetener? Caffeine alone does not usually do this to me. Unless I’ve had ridiculous amounts.
Enyd made a mental note to do a comparative analysis later of the amount of caffeine she just ingested with this Klingon drink versus her normal morning black coffee.

Despite her newfound jumbled concern over the amount of caffeine she’d already drunk, Enyd took another sip of the highly addictive drink before throwing another smile up to the three Klingons.

“So what happens next, now that the pleasantries have been traded?” Enyd was genuinely curious. Yes, there was an inkling of prudence attaching itself to her spine with each second that ticked past. But Enyd understood that this was not a life or death situation. At least, not exactly. They were most likely pushing for a fight to establish dominance or form a friendship—the latter being the more intriguing part of their “courtship” rituals. Either way, only stupidity would get her killed. Glancing down, Enyd assessed she had within her immediate vicinity quite a number of objects she could use as defensive or offensive weapons if necessary.

Enyd turned her gaze back to Rem and leveled another look that she hoped he could discern as cautionary.

“What are your thoughts on the matter, Lieutenant Kile?”

The Klingons projected their emotions with the subtlety of holiday fireworks. Rem gleaned helpful insight, but Enyd, as a Diplomatic Officer, possessed the skill set to make the best use of it. He could not simply tell her with them looking, so he opted for the next best thing.

~Lieutenant, forgive my intrusion but you might want to know what we’re dealing with in these three.~ He projected his thoughts into her highly caffeinated mind. ~The ‘frizzy’ one, Qu’moD is directing irritation at his fellows. He projects curious interest, I suspect he might be sincere about trading stories. ‘Doc Sick’ seems delighted by our presence. My guess, he likes to roughhouse for fun and sees an opportunity. ‘High Road’ finds our presence disgusting, but I don’t know why. It took less than a second to pass on this knowledge telepathically. Rem knew human minds well enough, but they tended to be ‘slippery’ and chaotic. How might Enyd receive his information, if she noticed at all?

Enyd's eyes widened. She felt a strange tickle in her head and suddenly Enyd had thoughts she knew there was no way she could've known on her own. While, yes, Qu'moD had frizzy hair, but aside from observing his body language, there was no way she could've discerned his irritation was aimed more at his fellows, or that he harbored a genuine interest in the stories. Neither could she have known on her own the concept that "Doc Sick" actually enjoyed the prospect of roughhousing, whereas his counterpart "High Road" found them disgusting. Enyd also rarely referred to herself by rank when using internal dialogue. With no other culprit, Enyd looked to Rem, an eyebrow rising. Was her new companion a telepath perchance? Regardless, the information was helpful, and Enyd intended upon using it.

"I propose we approach this two-fold, gentlemen." Enyd used her foot to kick back the empty chair sitting between herself and Qu'MoD. "How about you and I trade stories while," Enyd looked past Hay'worgh to Daq'SIQ, "you and my friend Lieutenant Kile can decide who is better at some sort of physical game." She wracked her brain briefly for the terms she'd begun learning only days before. Thankfully, her brain supplied a less life-threatening option within seconds, "B'aht Qul." Rem hadn't walked away yet, had carried himself in a physically assured manned, and Enyd was again gambling on the fact that he hadn't walked away when she'd given him the opportunity to do so. Looking back to Hay'worgh Enyd sneered in much the same way he had, "You can act as nursemaid to your friend when he's beaten."

Enyd was curious if this would play out in the best possible manner, in which case they walked away entirely. Or in the second-best possible manner, in which they'd do as she'd instructed. Or, knowing her luck, if it would descend into utter chaos.

Three Klingons performing a double-take tore an unexpected laugh from the Betazoid, who waved them off. Qu’MoD bared his fangs at Enyd, a menacing display that came as close to “friendly” as a predatory warrior race got. “I accept your offer, but we must move to another table, before–” Doq’SIQ threw wide his arms with gleeful abandon and howled “B’AHT QUL!!!”

Enyd and Qu'moD shared a look equal parts amusement and disappointment at their exit being so bared. Heads all over the mess perked up with interest. The Starfleet cadre huddled in the corner cast anxious glances as warriors banged their metal goblets on their tables in a rousing chant. “B’aht Qul...B’aht Qul...B’aht Qul!!!”

Enyd tried the word out on her tongue and finding the sound a ticklish delight took to the chanting along with the equally disappointedly amused Qu'MoD.

Doq’SIQ swiped the table clear with a raucous clatter, sat, planted his elbows, and raised clenched fists at Rem in grinning challenge. Enyd frowned at the spilled drink. That was a sad bit of collateral damage. But sometimes sacrifices needed to be made. Enyd looked up to the "High Road" and internally rolled her eyes. Hay’worgh drew back with a sour hiss at the prospect of touching the aliens.

“That,” Qu’moD heaved a heavy sigh as warriors pressed in close from all sides, jostling and cursing as they strained to get a better view of the competition.

"Your arms are so skinny, Starfleet!” Doq’SIQ taunted Rem. “I shall not break them, in the interests of diplomacy.” He sneered the word ‘diplomacy,’ winning a surge of amusement from his cohorts. The Betazoid gave Enyd a peering smile before he planted his elbows on the table and smacked the backs of his fists against Doq’SIQ’s clenched palms. The crowd roared with approval as Rem played the teasing game.

Enyd knew of the game in theory and despite her genuine desire to share stories with Qu'moD was half glad they were unable to "run away" by the press of the audience. It afforded her a front row seat so to speak to the game. She rolled her eyes at the loose use of diplomacy but couldn't keep a smile from touching the edges of her lips.

“I have carried men your size on my back as I climbed over molten lava and I was only a child. I shall drink your tears when I win.”

Enyd smirked. She would have to remember some of these lines for the future. It seemed Klingons had a love of poetry, even if it was poetry that basically lauded who had the biggest testicles. She could work with that. Enyd had won a few poetry competitions in her youth, and could perhaps just tweak a few previously written ones to feature more blood and gore and they'd be a hit among the Klingons.

A flash of yellow and red uniform had Enyd tipping back in her chair just long enough to see the cohort of Starfleet coagulate near the mess hall door. It seemed they were about to call the calvary if this went south, if they hadn't already done so. Enyd shrugged. She was far too caffeinated to care at this point, and even if had wanted to retreat with Qu'moD, which had been the original plan, there was no doing so now. One Klingon's groin was pressed against her shoulder while she felt the putrid breath of another hot on her neck.


Rem had, in fact, carried a man the size of Daq’SIQ, along with full kit as the Betazoid navigated a sheer incline over molten lava but what he faced now reminded him of arm wrestling a hydraulic press.

Unlike Earth arm wrestling, competitors in the B’aht Qul challenge did not clasp hands. Instead, they touched fists. The challenger folded his arms inward while the challenged one attempted to force his opponent’s arms outward. The first to force his opponent’s hands to the table won. Rem held Daq’SIQ for three seconds before the Klingon closed his arms with steady, relentless pressure until Rem’s knuckles slammed the tabletop. Astonishingly, the Klingon did not break a sweat, nor did he take his gaze from the Betazoid during their match. He squeezed Rem’s hand once more before pushing back. The crowd roared with glee with much chest smacking and passing of bets between winners and losers.

Hay’worgh bared his teeth mockingly at the Starfleet officer. “No one wins against Daq’SIQ!”

“Enough, he has the heart to test me,” Daq’SIQ called for blood wine. One of his friends slapped a tankard into his hand and he drank messily. He demanded another and offered it to Rem. “I will drink with you, Starfleet.”

“The honor is mine,” Rem offered the winner a toast. He tipped back his mug and drank deeply, wiping his mouth on his sleeve in solidarity with his messy hosts. He burped, “To diplomacy!”

That brought a roar of amusement, but it seemed Hay’morgh was not satisfied. Without warning, the Klingon slapped the mug from Rem's hand and growled out a slew of curses Enyd had no clue about the meaning. It was shocking enough of a move, to even his peers, that both Daq'SIQ and Qu'moD surged to their feet with snarls, the latter throwing another string of words at the huffing Klingon. Enyd looked around the trio back to Rem, curious if this was where the chaos began. However, either by luck or just the fact that now that they were standing, the empty chair between Enyd and Rem was the only one not occupied in the mess hall, an older Klingon man blithely maneuvered through the grumbling mess of warriors and plopped down at their table. There was no request, no demand, just for one moment he made eye contact with Enyd and gave a slight head nod as he sat down.

The older Klingon, now calmly spooning some of Enyd's blood pudding onto his own dish before pouring some sort of drink into an empty mug and shoving it in Rem's direction, drew more wrathful attention from Hay’worgh by way of sneering insults--even without knowing the language well Enyd could read body language well enough. Neither Daq'SIQ nor Qu'moD were fast enough with their reply, however, as the older Klingon spoke up in perfect Federation Standard without taking his eyes from his food.

"Your unit's time in the mess hall is over. Now is the time for the engineering and science units." He took a heaping bite of Enyd blood pudding and gave a happy nod. "You should not waste your time on matters beneath your attention."

Hay'worgh looked ready to come to blows, again, but his companions pulled him off and the trio, along with the remaining members of the warrior unit, left the mess hall to find their stations. Curious that they would have the mess hall open to different units instead of everyone together. But, Enyd pursed her lips as she watched this older Klingon continue to eat her food, and Rem's, as if they'd invited him too,  perhaps their society was so ingrained with different castes that there was no other way to keep the peace. The other warriors, when this Klingon approached, had given wide berth as if they found his presence barely tolerable.

"How's my blood pudding?" Enyd smirked at the Klingon.

He nodded again, taking a sip from the very mug he'd offered to Rem, and cleared his throat, "My granddaughter makes better, but it will suffice. You should eat you gagh faster," he nodded to Rem's plate, "it only takes minutes for them to lose their freshness."

Enyd raised a single eyebrow, glancing first at Rem, then back to the newcomer, "I am Lieutenant Enyd Isolde Madsen, and this is Lieutenant Rem Kile. I would love to greet you by name should we meet again after this glorious morning."

The man muttered a name that at the moment sounded more like a grunt over food but upon seeing Enyd's continuous blinking, he leaned back, smacked his lips, then repeated his name, "Rik'evet of House Konjah. I am in the science department." Enyd was careful to shield her surprise, but it seemed the grizzled older Klingon was used to that reaction and spoke as if she had shown the emotion nonetheless, "Though it may surprise Starfleet officers that Klingons have science departments on ships like the Kajunpak't. We can't all be of the warrior caste, as much as they might like to think."

Enyd was immediately intrigued. Rik'evet's tone of voice and body language alone spoke volumes of rich cultural detail she would be smart to glean while she could, but added to that the way the others had left the vicinity as if he were a social pariah added another level of mystery that Enyd felt thrumming energy in her desire to unwrap this cross-cultural gift. Of course, that could also be the insane amount of caffeine she'd just ingested.

Enyd picked up Rik'evet's empty glass and poured him another drink, "I promised stories to a Klingon and to have some in return this morning but it seems the original Klingon has fled and I have a far more intriguing one in his stead." Enyd grinned at the scientist as she raised her own glass towards him, "What say you to a round of storytelling?"

The scientist shrugged, nonchalantly picked up the glass, and lightly clinked it against Enyd's. "Sounds like a waste of time. If you have questions about my work or my place in society, ask them."

After sparing a glance of surprise at Rem, Enyd leaned her elbows on the table and launched into a barely disguised interrogation of the somewhat willing scientist. When his round in the mess hall ended he somewhat reluctantly allowed Enyd to follow on his heels to his station. After bidding adieu to Rem in the corridor outside the mess hall, Enyd stuck to Rik'evet like a bloodhound, dogging his heels and peppering him with questions. That the Klingon didn't murder her was testimony to his uniqueness within the Klingon society. Enyd was quickly realizing just how delightfully useful this transfer was going to be in expanding her cultural horizons, making her that much more useful to the coming posting on Theurgy.

Joint post written with permission from Cheshirewild.


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