In the belly of the Whale – Valentine's Feast
by HoD Ro' Matlh & Eredh Hay'legh & Soghla' Marie St. Helene & Sogh HoS Matlh & Soghla' HIchop Matlh & Soghla' Terri (Tell) Hope & Sogh Marla Varquis & Soghla' Jared

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Title   Valentine's Feast
Mission   In the belly of the Whale
Author(s)   HoD Ro' Matlh & Eredh Hay'legh & Soghla' Marie St. Helene & Sogh HoS Matlh & Soghla' HIchop Matlh & Soghla' Terri (Tell) Hope & Sogh Marla Varquis & Soghla' Jared
Posted   Mon Feb 22, 2010 @ 1:01am
Location   Mess, Deck 3
Timeline   The first evening out

Tell stepped back and admired her work. Not bad, she thought, not bad. Maybe a touch over the top but this was a Valentines party so what the heck.

The mess hall had scrubbed up pretty well. It even smelt better and so it should after the amount of cleaning fluid she had used on it. She didn’t do so well with the blood stains on the floor but had found in the back of stores a deep red floor covering no doubt meant for such occasions and rarely used going by the amount of dust that was clinging on to it.

Red silk covered the entrance to the hall, HoS would open these as guests arrived. HoS, posted there, would present the ladies with a red rose tied with ribbon. The men would have got a small box containing the chocolate replicate of the IKC FHew if she had found some. The only thing the replicator would provide her with, when she asked for chocolate, was a laxative that tasted strongly of coffee.

Then they would walk through a heart shaped arch adorned entirely in red and white heart balloons and be served pink Champagne in crystal glasses or the preferred drink of their choice.

She had hung fine materials from the walls in shades of red and pink. Delicate white voile draped from the opposite walls. Floor lights gave an impression of tall elegant French windows and not bulkheads.

Tell had found some small heart shaped lights to go around the edges on top of the drapes while she was at SB611 but she had left the ceiling alone, favouring instead for a fine net containing red pink and white balloons. These were set to come tumbling down at the end of the evening over the guests on the dance floor.

She had taken more time with the long dining table and had set this to one side of the hall. Tell covered it first with soft pink silken cloth that fell to the floor in subtle folds. She had found a considerable amount of excellent bone china in stores with gold edging and cutlery to match. Candles, red roses with white gypsy grass, and helium filled red heart shaped balloons all added to make a stunning effect.

Three intricate ice sculptures of loving couples were placed along the centre of the table, each holding bowls above their heads that were dripping with succulent fruit. She had found some extra chairs

She was satisfied with the overall effect now there was just one more thing left to do and that was to set up the mobile holo emitters. Tell had put together a holo band of different musicians that all aboard the ship would be satisfied with. While they ate music would play gently in the back ground until they were ready to dance.

She only hoped no one would ask where she had got all this stuff from.

Time to check on the food and then the medic, he was bound to be needed on call.

The stage was set now all that was needed were the actors. She was thinking on her way to her quarters, that maybe her first design choice of a candle stuck in a bottle of wine might not have been a better idea after all.

HoS took his post near the entrance to the mess hall. As cook for tonight's meal, he felt it was his duty to intervene lest either the guests or the food got too lively.

The first person to enter was Ro’. He glanced at HoS at the door and looked appreciatively at the decorations.

“Good job, Tell. This is how a hero should be celebrated. Piercing the still beating heart of his enemies, their entrails hung on display from the roof. I especially like the effect you have made with the table cloth; blood flowing freely around the slaves who come offering tribute. And these bladders which are so easily burst, like the overheated bodies of his enemies, gone in a flash and a bang. This is good! I was worried at first that it would be about soft Human sentiment, but this is strong.”

Tell sighed shrugged her shoulders and went to get a drink.

He frowned at the flute player. “How is she to sing the opera of his victories if she has that stick in her mouth?”

ta’khreen ryak’na The words were out of Hay’Legh’s mouth before she could stop them. She glanced at HoS and wondered how he could stand so calmly in this putrid sea of red and pink fluff. havam Hay’Legh said shaking her head as she made her way to take a seat at the table. The Rihannsu had decided to do a little research on this havam holiday and now regretted her agreement to it. This was no celebration for a warrior and their story but a celebration of love in general. After the murder of her family, it was an emotion that she no longer had room for.

Hichop had not been interested too much in a party celebrating something human. Still HoS was a good cook and so the food would be at least edible. He was pleasant surprise as he got to the door and found that everything was blood coloured. He was sure this was not the human’s intention but decided that it was better to just stay quite unless someone asked him what he thought of the decorations. Hichop moved to a drink that looked like diluted blood wine but instead was some sort of fruit juice. He managed to finish the cup but was sure that it was going to make him sick by morning. Feeling out of place and with nothing to say, and concerned that the delegation and humans on board were not really expecting a true Klingon Party, Hichop found himself a wall to lean on and started to think more about the equipment he needed to learn, catalog and store than the party he was at.

Jared, the TiQ science officer entered largely unnoticed, as usual. He paused for a moment after entering - looking around at the scene in astonishment. He felt like he was inside a lolly. He wondered how the Klingons would cope with all the... daintiness.

Where in the galaxy had Tell found all this stuff? She must have had it planned for weeks, and secretly got it all from the human starbase. He was pretty sure that the ship's stores were light on for balloons and red silk.

As well as his normal fork implement, he seemed to have something slightly shiny and angular in his hands. As he sat in his seat, he reached over and placed something small and metallic in front of Tell and Hay'Legh. They looked close, only to find it was a thin sheet of polished copper, folded into the shape of an animal. Tell's was a horse. Hay'Legh had some kind of bird she didn't recognise.

"Happy valentine's day. Technically the information I read on this holiday suggested the appropriate gift for the men to get the women was flowers. But they seemed to have romantic connotations in other texts, and... I suspect I'm a little old for you both. These are based on an old earth art called 'Origami', although I've improvised with some copper sheeting and a couple of borrowed microinduction coils."

"I didn't realize how pointy they'd be. Best not to throw them at anyone!"

“Thankyou Jared,” Hay’Legh said as she held up her bird for perusal. “It looks a little like a nei’rrh though hopefully this one will not be venomous,” she said with a small smile.

'Oh my goodness its beautiful' said Tell 'Thank you Jared' She was totally surprised by this unexpected gift. Tell was not used to being given presents and loved the little horse. Though the sight of the copper made her heart sink for a moment.

He looked at the Captain, HoS and HIchop, who were staring at him.

HoS raised an eyebrow at Jared as he folded his arms across his chest. "No one throws anything 'pointy' on this ship except for me. And, pointy or not Jared, I'm content to throw you out the airlock anytime you like." But it was clear that Jared wasn't listening as he was talking again with barely a breath drawn...

"Sorry. There didn't seem to be any references to men giving other men presents. There wasn't very much information in the computer."

Jared had learned it was best not to react to HoS being menacing. It happened too often to be worth getting upset about. It wasn't that he didn't like you, particularly. He just didn't seem to like anyone.

He took his fork an stabbed it into some escaping Gargh. Jared had no problem eating Klingon food, but preferred not to eat with his hands. Plus - the fork extended his reach.

Ro’ thrust his hand in to the Gargh bowl and thrust the fistful into his own mouth. Jared could see he was trying, but it was obvious he was in a mood even these festivities couldn’t lift.

It didn’t take Marie long to find her new bunkmate – all she had to do was look for someone old. Not that Jared looked all that old as such but he carried an air of age about him that stood out. Venerability, she supposed if she was being charitable and tonight she felt like being charitable. Maybe it was the champagne; maybe it was that HoS hadn’t snarled at her on sight for the first time she could remember.

She offered Jared a slight bow. “Good evening, Ancient One,” she said.

"Happy Valentines day, Marie!" Jared said as she sat. He placed a folded copper lion in front of her.

Marie picked up the proffered gift. “Why, thank you, Jared. Did you make it yourself?”

"Yes. The design is an old earth art based on folding paper. But I didn't have any nice paper, so I used some sheet copper and a couple of borrowed Microinduction coils. They're back in place now of course!"

Marla walked into the room, and looked around. It was very red, and it made her very uncomfortable. She found an empty seat, and sat down.

"Happy Valentines day to you, Marla!" Jared said as she sat. He placed a folded copper creature in front of her. It was snouted, and a little spikey.

"It's supposed to be a Targ," he said. "There wasn't a design for that. I used the design for an earth pig and improvised."

Anor, the Bajoran Ambassador, is the last to arrive. He seems genuinely surprised at the décor and activity. He wanders amongst the paraphernalia looking slightly bemused. No one seems in any rush to speak to him though. He eventually finds a plate and begins to help himself to the Rokeg Blood pie, with every appearance of enjoyment.

The Feast
Ro’ bellowed, “Eat, Drink, Music. Give us a Ballad of St Valentine!”

Marie laughed. “He really doesn’t know what this is all supposed to be about, does he?” she said to Jared. “There isn’t one, HoD” she yelled out.

Ro’ looked dumbfounded. He turned to Jared, “You said you researched this hero. Gives us a ballad, Ancient one. Show them how one sings of one’s victories!”

Jared looked thoughtful, "There wasn't lots in the database. Many human songs wouldn't be appropriate - especially ones about St Valentine. There was one obscure peice you might like however. It's the story of a lonely wander who takes an animal for food, and is accused of theft. Rather than let himself be captured by superior weapons and numbers, he slays himself, and his ghost haunts the site singing and calling to passers by."

Ro' nodded, "Yes the ancient ghost that refuses to die. That suits me well tonight. SING!"

Jared starts the ballad in hearty voice. He knows his audience well, and gets the Klingons to pound their mugs on the table on the second and fourth beat, and the last three beats of the bar. Several even join in the chorus once the figure out it's the same every time. Although their pronunciation is rather brutally Klingon.

He finishes with a nod to the audience and the captain, as always, before he re-takes his seat.

After a few more drinks Tell takes to the stage and after changing the instrument's in the band for some thing with a little more rock. Tell herself picked up a skeletal violin.

'Right this one is called Valentines Ship, tells of love found and lost and found again, and it has a chorus'

Cheers went up around the hall as Tell sang the chorus.

'I will put my ship in order and set her among the stars, call out to my true home, where my heart longs to be'

The song started and told of Captain Valentine trapped in time and forced to live as a human on Earth until he repairs his ship to go home.

Jared leaned over to Marie, as the feast progressed.

"By the way Marie," he said in a low voice, "I was reading a little about your culture when researching this holiday, and I noticed it was the cultural norm to quarter genders separately. But given we're in together since the re-shuffle... would you find it helpful to put a curtain up between the bunks or something?"

This definitely caught Marie by surprise. “Ancient One,” she replied. She was definitely feeling diplomatic now – something that could most assuredly be put down to the champagne. “If you feel you must preserve your decency then do what you wish. As for me, I’ve seen more naked men – and women – in my life than I care to remember. You’ve probably seen far more than me; far, far more. Believe me though when I tell you that Matlh did you a favour putting you in with me. I have absolutely no interest in you. No offence but it’s the simple truth.”

Jared nods. "We won't worry about it then. I hope you won't take it the wrong way when I say everyone aboard just seems very... young to me. My culture tends to regard those under 100 years old as you might regard a child of five. With similar taboos."

“And it’s been said of me – on more than one occasion – that I throw tantrums like a child of five. Ancient One, I think we’ll get along famously. Actually, a curtain wouldn’t work anyway. If accommodation on this derelict is up to Klingon standard, you’ll find the bunks are one above the other.” She paused as something else occurred to her. Now was as good a time as any to broach it. “Jared, I suffer from an annoying condition. Don’t worry,” she added hastily, “it isn’t contagious. It’s just that sometimes my legs twitch at night and I can’t sleep. I could take medication for it but I prefer not to. Magnesium tablets are good too but I find that simply going for a walk settles the muscles down. I only mention it because it would be easier if I was on the bottom bunk. That way, I won’t disturb you if I need to rise in the middle of the night.”

Ro’ could sense that some people were keen to get on to dancing and/or fighting so he stood up and bellowed, “Listen Up. I have something to say!”

He waited for the hubbub to die down, draining his mug and wiping his mouth on his sleeve, “Today marks our first mission as members of Task Force 86. The Federation has given us clearance and accepted us into their fold. On the Day the Federation go to war, however, we are on a peaceful mission, carrying Ambassadors and Medical supplies.”

He glances over to Anor, “No offence.”

“None taken,” the Bajoran smiles his characteristic half smile.

Ro’ continues, “Apparently, however, we make Starfleet a little nervous. They don’t like the idea of a high ranking Captain having free range of one of their facilities. So, in response to this vast opportunity for honour we can earn for ourselves for carrying mail, the House Matlh and Klingon High command have agreed to the Federations requests and demoted me to la’! [Commander]”

Ro’ paused while the information settled in. He smiled slyly, “How does a Klingon respond to this political NengFa [#*@!]? He accepts it and does as he is ordered. NO! That is how a Federation Officer would react. A Klingon fights! So, as my first act as la’ of the FHew I hereby promote All of you. HoS, HIchop, you are now full Sogh (Lt.) with all the Pay, pips and Honour that goes with that. Jared, Marie, Tell, Marla. You have been drawing beq pay for to long you are now all officers, ne’ [Ensign] rank. Hay’legh, if the Federation fear Klingons then they will be terrified of the Tal Shiar. I hereby reinstate you to Eredh [Romulan: Tal Shiar Lt], and encourage you to wear Romulan insignia as much as you can around the Humans. Also, if any of you humans would prefer Starfleet ranks I will allow it.”

HIchop was still up against the wall. Nothing was amusing him about event, least of all being promoted in this way. What sort of Klingon would accept a promotion without someone dying or being killed?

He waved his arms wide, “Now, We should take the opportunity to celebrate. FeH’ler knows, there will be little enough cause on this mission.”

Tell went to the side of the hall to arrange for the balloons to fall on everyone. Should cause a laugh if nothing else on this rust bucket. Reaching for the control in her pocket she tapped in a response. It worked before why isn't it working now she thought and she tried again. This time it resulted in the device short circuiting and that meant no balloons would fall tonight, but sometime they would and she smirked at the thought. Ah well they covered up the stains on the ceiling perhaps no one would notice.

Marie reached out her hand to Jared. “Now that we don’t have to dodge those stupid balloons, would you like to dance, Ancient One?” She used the title with a slight chuckle, as if it amused her. “Don’t worry, I might only be five but I won’t break.”

Tell walked over to Hay'legh she hadn't had a chance to speak to the Eredh yet since this evening.

'Are you enjoying the evening so far' she asked her

"I would prefer to be elsewhere. If I had known before what this Saint Valentine's day was really about I would not have agreed with it," Hay'Legh said as she looked critically around the room. "I am surprised that we have not had a fight break out as yet. A mix of Klingons and alcohol usually ends up with an all in brawl."

'There is still time Eredh' Tell smiled conspiratorially 'Why would you like to start one?'

Hichop had heard the conversation but was not drunk enough yet to desire to enjoy this party. Besides some of the medical equipment supplied looked equally useful for torture and this was proving a great distraction. Sill if anyone started a good fight Hichop would be in.

Marie spotted the First Officer and the Engineer talking together. Jared had turned to speak to the person sitting on the other side of him so Marie rose and wandered over to them.

“Evening,” she said cheerfully. “Happy Valentine’s Day.” Hay’legh turned her head full on to Marie. The look on the Romulan’s face did not exactly reciprocate Marie’s mood. “I’m sorry, did I say something wrong? Look, Eredh, if it’s about this afternoon, then I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have shot the messenger. I was in a foul mood about the shoddy stowing of vital equipment and I took it on you. I apologise, OK?”

Hay'Legh's expression did not change. "I thank you for the apology...but my current mood has nothing to do with our conversation this afternoon." She turned back to look at the near empty dance area. "Love has no business being on a ship of war. Love has no business being anywhere near me."

Tell looked on and sighed 'What did you expect on a Valentines night; ghoulish masks, ghosts and popcorn, because we already have some of those?' she stopped there. It wouldn't do her any good to speak what was on her mind and get angry. She would end up in the brig or worse in the larder.
She changed the subject quickly.
'Do you need an extra pair of hands to help out Marie?' she asked

Marie could see both sides of that argument. She had no time for the mawkish sentiment of Valentine’s Day. It had long since lost any religious significance it might have once had; not that any such would have interested her. As far as she could see, it was probably invented by some Ferengi to shift a load of otherwise unsaleable, tawdry merchandise. Someone probably made some innocent, offhand comment about some historical character and he thought: Here’s an opportunity too good to miss!.

Then again, something needed to be done to draw this crew together. Heaven knew, she’d done nothing to assist in that vital process. Hope had seen a peg to hang the feast on and run with it. Good on her! She’d shown initiative and ingenuity and the more credit to her for that.

Marie smiled at the engineering officer. “No thanks. I’ve cleared the worst of it. I’ll finish up in the morning.”

Suddenly the mess hall was plunged into darkness.

Ro's voice bellowed a familiar phrase from the blackness, "TELL!"

There was a scream as someone found the wrong end of one of Jared's copper toys, and then a thump as someone struck out a fist in the dark...

Sudden Interruptions

By the time the lights came back on a good natured fight was in full swing. It was stopped when the Holoband began a redition of Ode to Motlock. The words were hard to make out, as it was an old TIQ tune. Apparently Motlock had less than the usual ammount of something and it made all the Klingons roar with laughter as they sang it.

Suddenly a klaxon sounded and a voice came over Comms, "Ship approaching! Command Staff to stations!"

Ro' looked at Hay'legh and HoS, Nodded and then turned to Jared, "You best come too, TIQ."

OOC: Feel free toc ontinue the party in our absence... for now.