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JL | LtCmdr Viego, Lt Edden-Parami | "Best Served Cold"

Posted on Fri Mar 1st, 2019 @ 8:18pm by Lieutenant Commander Tristan Viego PhD PhD & Lieutenant Alexander Edden-Parami
Edited on on Sat Mar 2nd, 2019 @ 9:10pm

Mission: Permutations
Location: Cold Station Theta

Do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us: revenge is a dish best served cold? It is very cold in space.

Those words lingered in the mind of Commander Tristan Viego, as the Federation Transport he found himself aboard made its final approach towards Cold Station Theta. The words were before his time, uttered by Khan Noonien Singh during his altercation with the USS Enterprise back in 2285, but the recordings had been readily available when he'd passed through Starfleet Academy a decade later, and Cadets had been actively encouraged to familiarise themselves with what had transpired on that fateful training voyage. Tristan had been particularly obsessed: it wasn't his Enterprise - not even the direct predecessor to the Enterprise that had helped save him and his fellow El-Aurians - but it was fascinating none the less. He poured over the transcripts, and comm footage, not just of that voyage, but others as well. Commander Chekov was of particular interest, a man he'd met briefly in the Enterprise sickbay, once a Navigator like Cadet Viego had been in training to be, and who by coincidence - or perhaps providence - had also seen his career become progressively more militant over the years.

He sat back in his seat, considering the reason that those thoughts and memories had wrestled their way to the forefront of his mind. It wasn't a complex enigma to unravel: Cold Station had set his mind wandering down that particular avenue, even though he knew the term had a different specific meaning. That was another mental pathway all of its own, and while the El-Aurian had no qualms about letting himself vanish on voyages into his thoughts for long periods, the gentle reverberating thunk of the docking latches and umbilicals attaching themselves to the Transport reminded him that now was not the most opportune moment.

Tristan's stowed luggage was retrieved from the compartment above him, and he waited patiently, shuffling along a few footsteps at a time as the passengers leaked from the Transport one by one like drips from an ailing faucet. The Commander occupied himself with glimpses of the station through small viewports as he passed, the gargantuan structure large enough to cast shadows and block out stars, looming above and around the Transport that had nestled itself up against. It was hardly his first time aboard a Federation Starbase, and perhaps not even his first time aboard one this large and expansive. Living here though, that would be a new novelty, an entire city in the stars serving as a home for countless sentient beings. He thought back half a century, to the first time he'd laid eyes upon a Galaxy-class starship. The vast maw of the Atlantis has looked as if it was about to swallow his shuttlecraft whole, and he'd sincerely believed it was the pinnacle of Starfleet's grandeur and engineering. Cold Station Theta proved that the Federation still wasn't done impressing him yet, not by a long shot.

The pace quickened as the passengers began to spill out of the airlock and into arrivals, the leaking faucet transforming into a river, complete with flows and currents, bubbling rapids as some passengers bustled to get to wherever they felt they urgently needed to be, swirling whirlpools of near-stillness as travelling companions reunited with each other after the separation of their allocated seating. Tristan let himself gravitate towards the shallows, his eyes taking in the details of his new surroundings, familiar and unfamiliar in equal measure. People called El-Aurians a race of listeners, empathic by nature, but Tristan always saw himself as more of a watcher, more interested in observing the cosmos as it unfolded than in engaging with it directly. There had been a time when he'd felt otherwise, felt entitled enough to grab the cosmos by the throat and demand it answer his curiosity, but that was lifetimes ago, and he had evolved since then, for better and for worse.

That watchfulness, that awareness, drew Tristan's attention to the looming presence of a figure, staring at him from across the thoroughfare. The man was tall, but not overly: in fact, Tristan might have been taller by an inch or two, but was vastly less imposing. Equal parts physique and posture, the figure loomed, exuding an aura that was not to be trifled with. The face was unknown to him, but the essence of it wasn't: those eyes, those cheekbones, and that jawline were all too familiar, though the man to whom Tristan was accustomed to them belonging was far less capable of this particular brand of menace. Like a moth to a candle, Commander Viego felt himself drawn closer, head canted to the side as he peered back at the Lieutenant that was watching him. There was something, a faint flicker, something about the slight curl of his hair, the slight crinkle in the corner of his eyes, something that Tristan couldn't quite shake. As Tristan came to a halt a little more than an arm's reach away, recognition finally dawned.


In an instant, the menace subsided, the man's stubbled jaw splitting open into a subtle smile. "Papa Tree," the Lieutenant offered back, both a confirmation and a greeting. The curious and unfortunate name wasn't of his design: his twin sister was to blame for that particular affectation. An only child, their father had no biological siblings to offer to his children as aunts and uncles, and so by some quirk of Terran tradition the terminology had been extended to close friends and respected colleagues. A one-time joke about how the El-Aurian's age made him overqualified for the title had turned Uncle Tristan into Grandpa Tristan, and once filtered through the rudimentary language skills of an infant Takara, the approximated Papa Tree had stuck. It sounded foolish on the ears, perhaps, but Alex liked it: trees were old, and wise, and enduring, everpresent without imposing, everlasting and yet vulnerable, reliable for shelter from the sun and the storm. There had been an oak tree on the grounds of the family home back in Scotland, one that had been there for a hundred years or more, watching the world and the galaxy change around it. Perhaps it was silly, and frivolous, but Alexander had always seen Tristan Viego as much the same thing.

"I heard that you were arriving today," the Lieutenant explained, the arms folded across his broad chest managing to offer a small shrug. "Figured I should come and make sure you didn't go getting yourself into trouble."

Tristan let out a faint chuckle. "Still collecting those care of the elderly merit badges, I see," he fired back, fidgeting with the strap of his hand luggage to rest a little better on his shoulder. The other hand reached out, a warm clap settling itself against Alexander's upper arm: Tristan had never been much of a hugger himself, and from the look of things, the grown man Xander had become was much the same. "Come on," he urged, "I'll let you buy me a drink."


The Commander's brow became a frown as he gazed upon the Federation replicator before him. When Alexander had assured him he knew a place for the two of them to share a drink, he had been expecting something a little more bar and a little less replimat. Not that bars and their ilk were particularly conducive to conversation, he supposed, depending on the time of day and the ambient volume, but the beverages in store hadn't quite been what Tristan had in mind. Then again, perhaps it was for the best that the station's new diplomatic officer wasn't seen drinking in a bar before he'd even made it far enough into the station to drop off his bag.

"One strawberry frappe, please. Extra cream."

The replicator alcove hummed in compliance, and within seconds Tristan was able to reach in and retrieve his blended mix of fruit, milk, and ice. He took a step backwards, throwing an expectant glance towards his companion. The eyes that looked back at him were considerably more stern, and questioning.

Xander chose his next words carefully, selecting between the myriad questions his mind urged him to address. Setting aside the El-Aurian's frivolous pastel pink drink choice for a moment, he focused instead on the errant please that had snuck into the Commander's words. "You realise the computer doesn't care if you're polite to it, right?"

A knowing smile and a few rumbled notes of laughter crept out from Tristan. He could tell that wasn't all Alexander wanted to say, but he commended him for his partial restraint. Defiantly, Tristan adjusted the straw that the replicator had provided him with, letting the synthesised cold and viscous burst of fruity flavour wash through his mouth, immediately delivering a wave of soothing relaxation through his body. He understood that such drinks were unorthodox for a person such as himself. Real Starfleet officers drank coffee, or tea, and other serious, sensible, adult things like that. It was a sign of maturity, a sign of career dedication and adherence to your duties that you'd drunk enough of the often bitter caffeine infusion to not shudder at the taste each and every time. Fun was acceptable, but not displayed, or at the very least contained to specific times and specific places, lest it somehow reflect poorly upon the uniform and what it represented.

Tristan had no patience for such mentalities. For starters, his on and off relationship with Starfleet meant that he'd endured enough reinventions and reconceptions of Starfleet fashion to understand that a uniform was just a uniform. Besides, was his affront to the uniform any different than Alexander's? In the few minutes it had taken them to get here from arrivals, the Lieutenant's demeanour had transformed: the fastenings on his duty jacket had been slackened, exposing more of the mustard undershirt than was strictly regulation, and his sleeves were currently pushed up almost part his elbows. No one would bat an eye at that: he was a yellow-shirt, after all, Operations and Engineering, Security and Tactical, the people with important things to do that made sure everyone stayed alive, and they couldn't be expected to look their most prim and proper while doing it. But if security guards and repair crews could wander the corridors in various states of partial uniform in the interests of practicality, what greater sin was Tristan guilty of if he wanted a fancypants milkshake instead of the same generic coffee in the same generic mug?

As to Alex's actual question, however, the answer Tristan provided came complete with a wistful smile of nostalgia.

"You know, I had a similar conversation with a young Lieutenant a few decades ago. Gomez, I think her name was. Asked her the same question, when I saw her chatting up the replicator. She asked me, 'Why not?', and that always stuck with me. Sure, this particular computer doesn't care if I ask nicely or not: but in the same way that there's no need, there's also no harm. In a situation like that, it stops being about the replicator, and it starts being about you. It takes me no effort to ask nicely, but in doing so I've pushed out a tiny iota of positivity into a universe that is often so lacking for it, and when the computer complies with what I've asked for, on some small subconscious level I feel like my goodwill is being rewarded. Or, if there's an issue and for some reason my request can't be fulfilled, I've set a positive tone for the encounter, and the failure feels like less of a cosmic betrayal."

He shrugged, taking another sage sip from his straw. "It is really any weirder than an engineer frustratedly swearing at a console when something inexplicably doesn't work?"

Alex's mouth fell open as if he was about to speak, but no words came, and no conflicting thought managed to form in his mind to back them up. It was a fair point, he supposed, especially that latter twist: he could think of more than a few times when data errors and unresolvable faults had managed to feel strangely personal. He drew in a slow breath, bolstering himself for a temporary surrender to the point that the El-Aurian had made. "One cold brew." A beat of silence. "Please."

The replicator hummed happily in compliance, and Tristan's face adjusted in satisfaction as Alex retrieved his drink. Silence persisted between the two of them, and for a few awkward seconds the two officers merely stood, each holding their respective cold beverages, waiting for the other to speak first. "It's always cold by the time I drink it anyway," Alex explained, cracking first. "I figure it'd be best served cold on purpose."

"No judgement," Tristan immediately insisted, raising his glass almost in slow motion, the straw finding his mouth without his eye contact ever breaking from the Lieutenant, an audible slurp escaping from the container as a vacuum formed inside what was probably a scientifically fascinating fluid. He allowed a few more quiet seconds to pass. "So are we just going to stand here, or -"

"Please no," Alex replied, the tension dropping off him in an instant, and immediately he was in motion, off in search of a table.

Tristan followed along a little slower, fighting to keep an errant grin under control. "So, how long have you been aboard?" he asked, as much to keep his facial muscles occupied as anything else. Table located, he slid himself into a vacant seat, sparing Alex any additional seconds of standing that politeness and deference to a senior officer might have required. "And how many other familiar faces have you got lurking behind the bulkheads."

The laugh that Alex responded with was genuine, but thin. "Just me," he assured, and for a brief moment a flicker of sadness sparked in his eyes, "And even I've not been here long. Transferred here from Three-Two-Six, what, a few weeks ago, couple of months? Something like that." He shrugged it off as if it didn't bear thinking about, but his fingers quickly began to fidget with his cup of cold brew. He treated himself to a mouthful, keeping the unwanted activity at bay. "Figured I was about due for a change."

To Tristan, the words carried more weight and meaning than perhaps was even intended. As a child, Alexander had never been fond of change. He knew that Starbase 326 - a familiar locale for the both of them - had been Alex's first assignment out of Starfleet Academy, and to hear that after so long he had sought new surroundings, voluntarily, left him wondering if something deeper going on. He didn't press the point however, respecting whatever boundaries for conversation the Lieutenant decided to set. "That must be tough. You stay in a place like that long enough, and people start to feel like family."

"So that's what happened, huh?" The humour was defensive, but good-natured. "You folks just stayed in the same place too long, and Dad decided to adopt you all as uncles?" More chilled coffee, and a welcome surge of caffeinated consciousness interrupted his words. After a contemplative pause, his thoughts furrowed his brow into a faint frown. "I lied, actually. About the familiar faces. You just missed Takara, and Commander Luka too. They were here a few days ago, before shipping out on the USS Vindicator. It was -" There was a hint of hesitance, a slight reluctance to show any form of vulnerability, that Alex managed to work his way past. "- nice to have her around again. Will be nice," he corrected. "It's been a long time since the two of us had assignments close enough together that there wasn't subspace lag on the comms."

Tristan knew not to delve further: the honesty and sharing was atypical of the male Edden-Parami twin, and like a man confronted with a startled wild animal, he didn't want to risk spooking the poor creature. Instead, he focused on the less personal, but more revelatory part of what Alex had said. "They pulled Luka out of retirement as well?" he asked, in mild disbelief. Ironically for a member of a race so short-lived, the Bajoran in question was arguably even more dedicated to the hobby of aborted retirement as Tristan was. "Recruiting quotas must really be down."

Alex threw him a shrug. "You know what they say: even the bottom of the barrel gets scraped eventually."

"I'll drink to that!" Tristan replied with a chuckle, hefting his glass from the table.

The Lieutenant followed suit, letting his cold brew clink against the Commander's frappe. "It's good to see you again, Old Man," he offered, with as close to a respectful tone as he could muster.

"Yeah," Tristan agreed, a satisfied smile making itself at home on his features. "It's good to see you too, kid."


Lt. Commander Tristan Viego
Chief Diplomatic Officer
Cold Station Theta

Lieutenant Alexander Edden-Parami
Operations Officer
Cold Station Theta


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