A Little Excursion
Shore Leave: Drama At Arcadia
Location: Starbase Arcadia
Ian was just relieved that there was at least a lull in the war with the Klingons, at least as far as the Defiant was concerned. They had arrived at the Starbase for some much needed repair work for the ship and a much needed shore leave for the crew. He'd used the computer in his room to see what amenities the station had to offer and discovered that they had a civilian commercial district, or a promenade that contained; restaurants, bars, theaters, a concert hall, stores of various types and an arboretum.
Now that they had arrived, he wanted to do some exploration, but he didn't want to do so by himself. So, after taking a long shower he changed into some civilian clothing. At first, he thought about wearing one of his Akadian robes, but knowing that would make him stick out, when his goal was to blend in, he selected something more Terran. He put on a pair of black slacks, a grey turtleneck and a pair of black, lace-up boots made of a soft, supple, leather.
He'd already spent some social time with the Captain and wanted to spend time with more of his crew members. After, part of his job as a liaison officer was to see if the Akadians should make their alliance with the Federation official and the best way to do that was to spend time with the different species that made up the Federation. He'd not really spent much time with Tophen, who was a Betazoid, at least not much time not in a crisis situation, the only thing that he really knew about the man was that he was a Betazoid and a telepath like himself.
He stood now in front of the Communication Chief's cabin and pressed the chime on the door.
The past few days seemed as though they were grinding to a halt. Today was Tophen's first free day in a while. So far, he spent it sitting on his couch listening to Bolian wind-chants and reading Starfleet news, hoping to find any news about the USS Yeager, or anything. He almost didn't hear the bell, excusing it for part of the music. He lowered his PADD and turned down the volume nob. He wasn't expecting company, or if he made plans, he forgot them. "Come in."
As the doors hissed open, Ian stepped into the room. He gave Tophen a small smile and said, "Hey, Tophen, I hope you don't mind the intrusion, but I was getting ready to head over to the Starbase and thought you might want to join me. How 'bout it?"
Tophen stood up from the couch. He'd known Ian from some on-duty incursions but didn't to talk to him much off-duty. He wasn't planning on visiting the Starbase, but it made for a good distraction. "I was expecting a boring day in, but going 'out to town' sounds like a better idea. Let me grab my shoes." He quickly retrieved his shoes and filed out of his quarters. The corridor seemed pretty empty. Tophen figured most officers would be away and having a break. There aren't many opportunities to take a leave of absence on the frontlines.
"So, Akadia. Does everyone have telepathic abilities? Or just some, like you?"
"The majority do, much like your planet, I imagine, "Ian answered him as they moved towards the turbolift. "Only about ten percent of the population isn't at least empathetic. There's another minority that can actually not just read minds, but influence thoughts. I'm not one of those. So, what about Betazed, is that how you pronounce it, is everyone telepathic there?"
"Just about. It's considered a mental disability on our world if someone is born without telepathic abilities," Tophen said. Sometimes, he wished that he couldn't hear everyone's thoughts, and a silent mind would be a blessing. Though, without it would be the same as losing a limb. They entered the turbolift, which Tophen directed to head to Airlock 4. "And how is the Federation's bid for membership of Akadia going? I know it's a complicated long process, but I'm sure your leaders have some sort of idea."
"You're right," Ian replied as he leaned against the back of the turbolift, "it is complicated. Not everyone in our Council, our government basically, is in agreement. Right now I'd say we are eventually going to be part of the Federation, but it will probably take another four or five months. How long did it take Betazid?"
"Quite a while, if I remember correctly. Many federations species were uneasy about letting in telepaths. I understand, if I weren't able to hear thoughts, I wouldn't trust those that do," Tophen said with a shrug. "So, did you have any place in mind that you wanted to visit on the starbase first?"
"I mostly wanted to just walk around and see what's going on, but, if you like Terran Jazz, there's supposed to be a good place on one of the lower decks, at least it's supposed to be a good place according to the PR piece on the Starbase computer."
Terran Jazz was something that Tophen had heard but never delved into. It was on his list of cultural pieces to study, but he never got around to it. "I'd love to join. And perhaps we'll see something interesting on the way."
"Perhaps we will," Ian agreed as the two men stepped into the Transporter Room. "Hopefully it won't be quite so much an adventure as the last time I went on shore leave. Did you know I took the Captian home not long ago? My mother thought we were a couple, Chris and I, then it really got interesting."
Tophen raised a brow. "Oh? Now, that's a story I want to hear." Every time he contacted his mother, Tophen was barraged with questions about a suitor. It was intriguing to see it happened even in other species—especially when it concerns the captain.
"It was really quite amusing at first. Akadians have a very different understanding of intimacy, I'll put it that way. You should have seen his face when she told him the two of us would be sharing a room. But to his credit, he handled it well. He managed to get out of the situation without insulting anyone. Kind of a shame in some ways. Then the... the shit really hit the fan."
The betazoid chuckled at the hilarity of the story. It seemed like the Akadians had quite an openness to sexuality than some species that Tophen has encountered. His laughing stopped when Ian finished his statement. "So what happened next?"
"Well after we slept in separate beds and rooms, we decided to do a little sightseeing, "Ian replied, "then things wen... how do you say sideways. We were kidnapped by an old enemy of mine. That was definitely NOT funny. We barely made it out alive. Way too much drama for me."
"Yikes." Tophen took in a deep breath as the sight of the transporter room disappeared, and the starbase's interior rendered into view. He nodded to the transport officer before heading down the platform and out to the promenade. For what seemed like weeks, his eyes opened wide in excitement. "So, where to first?"
"How about getting something to eat?" Ian suggested as he looked around. The station was incredible. With breathtaking views it looked almost like they were on a planet somewhere, not on a space station. "this is an incredible place, but I admit I have no idea where to go. I guess we could ask someone. Maybe we should start with what kind of food you're in the mood for."
There were too many options. Signs cluttered the deck with the many cuisines from dozens of cultures. Tophen realized then that he hadn't eaten all day. His stomach rumbled as he scouted the restaurants. He spotted a sign with a blue silhouette. "Have you have Andorian food before?" Before Ian could answer, Tophen continued. "They have this dish called Necreena. It's a smoked meat sandwich. Simple, but delicious." Even the thought of it made his mouth salivate.
"Hey, I'm easy to please," Ian answered, as he started walking towards the restaurant that Tophen had pointed out."I love smoked meat and I'm not squeamish. I'll try anything once."
"Andorian ale is also one of the better drinks the Federation has to offer," said Tophen as the entered the place. It was decorated in traditional Andorii style. The climate systems were probably changed to fit the homeworld, as it made the Betazoid shiver as the cold air first hit. He looked for an empty table for two and took a seat. He looked through the menu, even though he already knew what he wanted. He peered over the folder to Ian. "How are you getting on with the other crewmates on the Defiant? I find that the telepathy makes a lot of them nervous."
"Well, I'm being careful who I tell that I'm telepathic, but you know how scuttlebutt is, I'm sure most of them know, though I'm careful not to pry into their minds to find out for sure. For the most part, I'm getting along well. I'm not exactly shy though, in fact, I've had the opposite problem and I've had to, how would a Human say, dial it back a bit. What about you, you've been here longer than I have."
Tophen took in a sharp breath. "I've had my run-ins, for sure. I guess I could understand the distrust if you didn't have the ability. But, I find it freeing to not have to be embarrassed by anything." The waiter came up, and Tophen placed his order in Andorian language. The server was unimpressed and moved on to Ian's order. "Like I said. Distrust." He turned in his menu. "Definitely makes relationships harder with those who aren't telepathic."
Ian didn't understand Andorian, but that didn't bother him. "Well, I trust you Tophen," he said. "Then turning back to the waiter whose expression could charitably be described as neutral said, "I'll have what he's having." The man, Ian assumed he was a man, gave a curt nod then turned and walked away.
"Are all Andorians as pleasant as that?" he said turning back to the Betazoid.
"I daresay, a majority are," said Tophen. "They tend to be isolationists, given that their planet is only inhabitable on the subterranean level. Though, I've met my fair share of hospitable Andorians." He leaned back in his chair, watching the server put in their orders. His eyes switched back to his comrade. "So, Ian. Tell me about yourself. Where'd you grow up on Akadia? What's it like there? Got any family?-Besides your mother, of course." Tophen wasn't the sort to hold back on getting to know people. This rapid-fire succession was more out of curiosity than interrogation.
"Well, to begin with, I think it's safe to say, no pun intended that Andoria and Akadia are polar opposites of each other. Most of my world is arid, not quite like Vulcan, but close. I was fortunate to live in one of the few tropical regions. And we're all about community and relationships. We don' even really have concepts like straight and gay, those kinds of things. We're very community minded.
I don't know my biological parents, so I may have siblings out there somewhere I don't know about. I was adopted I'm an only child, but in many ways not really by myself. Lots of cousins and other relatives. And my parents arranged my marriage for me. Something neither he or I really wanted. It was one of the reasons I went into space. What about you, what was your life like before you joined Starfleet."
Hearing about different cultures was always interesting to Tophen. He shrugged when a question was reciprocated. "It was interesting, to say the least. My parents were traders, so I grew up on a starship that was equal parts a freighter, shop, and home—a complete junker. My mother and father are the only family I have, and the three of us travelled all across the Alpha Quadrant trading cargo everywhere. I met so many people from so many different planets, and it was always a fascination to see how my parents would communicate with them. I guess that's where my linguistic interest really stemmed from."
The server returned with the order. Without any word, he retreated back into the kitchen. The betazoid raised up his glass of Andorian ale. "Cheers." He took a sip before taking a bite into the crispy, yet dense nacreena sandwich. "So, I don't mean to pry-," which was a lie, "But I didn't realize you were married. Are most marriages in Akadia arranged?"
"I'm not married, it's why I joined our space fleet. I don't know if my parents would have ever forgiven me for bringing shame to the family but then when the ship I was on made first contact, it was brought us fame and power, that was better than marriage so now I'm a favorite son again. And most marriages are not arranged, maybe about twenty-five percent or so. It used to be higher though. What about you, I assume you're single."
Tophen let out a chuckle, "Assume?" He wasn't offended, but it gave him amusement. "Yeah, between the war and the listening post I was stationed at, I've never had the time to settle down. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've had a few relationships in my day. Just nothing that amounted to something more." His smile sunk slightly as he reminisced on the few people he's been involved with. "But, I still hold out hope. Maybe when the war's over."
"Well then perhaps we should pray to our respective deities that the war will be over soon and that the right side comes out on top."
The thoughts of war faded with every bite the Betazoid took of his nacreena. Once again, he raised up his glass. "Now that's something I can toast to."
"To peace," Ian replies lifting his glass he held it out to the other man. After the glasses had clinked together he took a sip.