Unexpected Almost Dinner Meeting
Shore Leave: Welcome to Drozana
Location: Rec Lounge Delta, Veralan-Hydrae Station
Timeline: Before Areinnye departs the station
There were many things Areinnye disliked. And a few she truly hated. One of those things was the Romulan secret police. The Commander saw the group as a state-sponsored terrorist organization, using psychological trauma to instill loyalty that could be won by better virtues.
But that was a fight she didn’t have the luxury of partaking in tonight. Tonight Areinnye needed to play the part of the Romulan Commander with little to fear in this environment.
“Besides” she said to herself. “They’ll have Kali-fal and perhaps some amusing gossip on the station.”
She glanced at herself in the mirror briefly. It would have been lovely to wear something other than her uniform. But in the current social climate, a Commander’s uniform brought a level of respect and recognition that served much like body armor. So she merely straightened her shoulder pads and made for the door.
The officer’s lounge was subdued, considering the amount of occupants. Most, of course, chose seats which allowed them to keep their backs to the bulkheads and eyes on the entrance. When one is taught the art of espionage, they see spies everywhere.
There was a patron more conspicuous than the rest. If not for his unorthodox seat near the middle of the room, then because of his hulking form. It dawned on Areinnye that he was with the mercenary group. She couldn’t decide if he was foolish or quite smart for choosing to be here.
When Hatham had arrived in the bar several steiin ago the tables at the back had been nearly full. That would normally have been his preference too, but appearing to be 'all brawn, no brains' had often been a useful act when listening for gossip, impressions, or anything that might be useful. He'd felt some questioning eyes on his back when he'd first sat down near the center of the room but not for very long. The Tal'Shiar uniform helped, but it was his bulk that sold it. That and a scowl at one of the men too obviously staring. The speed with which the man looked away had made Hatham think of the joke from one of the Starfleeters he'd met during the war: 'Where does a 350 kilo gorilla sit? Anywhere he wants to.'
He was unsurprisingly still sitting by himself when the Galae Commander came in. Hatham couldn't help but smile at the sight. The passion and resolve as she laid out her plan were very attractive qualities (provided they were in fact genuine), and wrapped in an equally appealing package. However, she was a Commander, so he quickly averted his eyes, returning to seeming contemplation of the ale he was nursing.
Areinnye slid down into an open seat opposite the man uninvited. “It would be better if you didn’t appear alone. You’re rather conspicuous” she explained while motioning for a server.
Hatham couldn't quite conceal his surprise, but settled his eyebrows back into place. "I usually stick out even in a crowd," he chuckled, letting it pass as a joke though he had to wonder if she knew exactly what he was doing.
“I’ll have the Baratan breeze, with an extra shot of Kali-fal. And a dinner menu.” She told the server. “I hope you don’t mind. I haven’t eaten yet...what is your name, anyway?”
"I'll have another, and bring a menu for me too," he told the server. Once he had moved off, Hatham inclined his head politely the Commander. "I'm Hatham and I don't mind at all. I can always eat. Obviously," he added, turning open hands toward his body.
What the Commander wanted was to ask Hatham about his leader, the snow-haired woman known as Raven. But that conversation couldn’t take place in such company. So she switched to more suitable topics. “Tell me, Hatham. From where do you hail?”
There was no reason not to answer honestly; it would be easy enough for someone in her position to look up his records if she wanted to. "I was born on ch'Rihan, Kazaak province, but I haven't been home since I was discharged almost a decade ago." He might have returned the question, but (sadly) she wasn't just a beautiful woman who had joined him for a drink, she was Commander in the Praetor's guard.
Areinnye nodded while she glanced at her menu. “And that, of course, will make me ask my next question..” she said, letting the obvious hang in the air.
"Why?" He lifted his brows slightly. "I'd put in 20 years, and my parents were retainers in a House left to worthless heirs after Shinzon, so when the estate was sold off they were cast off. I needed to provide for them." There was no need to say anything of mercenary work, especially as this wasn't the place for it. Anyone listening would assume that meant he'd left regular service and taken a commission in the Tal'Shiar.
The Commander’s answer was paused by the return of the server with drinks. “I’d like the Travit stew, and a platter of the jumbo mollusks, if they’re fresh and not replicated.”
"I'll have the meatroll platter."
The server paused, about to advise that the platter was meant for three, then took a good look at Hatham. "Will that be all?"
Areinnye’s tone at once became sarcastic and menacing “No, would you mind gawking at us a bit longer? I do love feeling like an animal being studied”
At the chiding, the server retreated. The Commander sipped her drink before returning her attention to the colossus in front of her. “So you’re a family man. That’s something I can respect. What of your... associates. Are their motivations as noble as yours?” She asked.
He tipped his head side-to-side. "Some are, some aren't. Honestly, I can't speak to speak to motive for most of them. It's not something we generally discuss."
“They certainly are a motley group. It’s like each of them has been given the task of drawing as much attention to themselves as possible” she remarked dryly
"Well, it's hard for me to be inconspicuous," Hatham laughed, hoping to deflect from that line of conversation since he didn't like criticizing his crewmates, and particularly his superiors (even if both Rogers and Raven were indeed rather ...dramatic... in some ways).
The Commander took the opportunity. “Indeed. I’ve found it difficult to concentrate my attention elsewhere” she said honestly.
He almost laughed, assuming she was joking, and then was stunned just moment when he realized she wasn't. It wasn't that he wasn't used to drawing female attention - he was, and more than most men - but a woman like the Commander... that he hadn't expected. "I have to admit the same, though I've tried since you are so far beyond my class."
Areinnye was rendered speechless for a moment. She had assumed that he wouldn’t be cultured enough to realize the difference in social standing. Conveniently, the inept server returned carrying enough food for an entire scout ship’s crew.
The server placed her order in front of her and then, after a moment of hesitation, placed the meatroll platter in the center of the table and a plate in front of giant man and one to the side for the woman. He opened his mouth, about to ask the standard question, but in light of the woman's response last time thought better of it. "Enjoy your meal," he said, with a quick nod and hurried away.
"Think you scared him," Hatham chuckled. "That's usually my job."
The device beneath Areinnye’s sleeve chirruped quietly. “Commander, you’re needed back on the Dominus” came the voice. Of course, just as the food had arrived.
“Excuse me, I’m afraid I’ve been recalled.” Said the Commander.
"Of course," Hatham stood, as was proper when someone of her rank did, but also polite. "If you wish, I'll have the server box this and send it to your ship for later."
A wicked idea crept into the Commander’s mind to ask Hatham to deliver it himself. But that would be a step too far, given the circumstances. Instead, “ Thank you.” Was her reply before exiting the lounge.