Message in a Milk Bottle - Neighbors
Location: 'Marine Country'
Valeria would be the first to admit that she didn't know the layout of the ship precisely. Rather than taking junction sixteen to the airlock to rejoin the Starbase, she took junction seventeen which led her here. A section of the ship many avoided out of some silly superstition between Marines and Starfleet, and while she was of a spiritual people, you don't learn as much science as she learned and still cling to every voodoo story.
She continued down the hallway, her shoes silent in the carpeted halls until she stopped suddenly. Passing a mess hall, full of chatter between marines and the clanks of silverware against trays, amidst all the chaos and cacophany the Ts'usugi spied something that looked so out of place that it almost was impossible.
Not the standard run of the mill Twins, not the 'Two organisms that shared the same mother' twins...
She found herself walking towards that lone table almost on instinct. Dull, reflectionless eyes locked onto the scene as she took each footstep closer to the pair. The chaos around her no longer even mattered, the voices around became just a hollow din to the rabbitess. From across the gulf of space, through countless trillions of miles...
"May I join you?" a Ts'usugi is nothing if not polite. Protocol ran in their blood, it seemed.
The twin forms of Val Seran looked up in unison, and blinked once in sync. Everything they did was eerily synced up, their movements matched perfectly down to their chewing and their breathing. They even cut their meat identical to eachother. In fact, one might be forgiven to believe that one was simply a projection of the other, if not for the fact that one of them wore a black wristband with gold trim and had a prosthetic hand.
"Sure." spoke one of the two forms, as the other motioned to an empty seat at her table. "Have a seat, Lieutenant. What can I do for you?"
The rabbitess took a seat, setting the PaDD she carried off to the side for now. "In my life, I've heard of your people, read of your people... We've all read the reports from the front, history by now but good to know not to repeat it." she paused for a moment, "I've never had the chance to actually *speak* with a Dalacari. If you've the time." Both border conflicts, the one heated skirmish, the surface escalation, the non-aggression pact, the treaty, the ratification of the treaty.
"I'm actually sharing a bit of good news I received with some of the crew that I know better than most." she motioned to her PaDD.
A nod from both forms. "Sure. I've never met a Ts'usugi before either. Heard a lot about you." The other form picked up without losing a beat. "Read about your people. Saw the movies. The news reels." Was taught how to fight your people, Val thought but elected not to vocalise. There was a treaty between the two peoples yes, but some tensions still existed. Still, the both of them were wearing Starfleet uniforms and they were on a Starfleet vessel. There was no reason to not be polite.
"Good news is always good." both spoke in unison, offering Valeria a smile. "I'm Val Seran, company sniper, SFMC 506th." spoke one bioform as the other offered a hand in greet.
Valeria had heard about Dalacari, about their shifting attention, their silent faces while their voices came from another form. Double talk, a harsh racial slur for something that, biologically, they had little control over. The first ten seconds of their conversation were a bit jarring, but after that, Valeria had no difficulty following.
She took the offered hand with a nod, her lengthy ears relaxed and half-drooped, "Valerra Mordeen. Starfleet pronounces it Valeria Mordin. I've grown used to answering to either." another adjustment in the name of science. "I'm the chief science officer." though something caught her attention, "A sniper? I've read reports on the efficiency of Dalacari snipers. They managed to impress my grandfather." a pause, "Not that he ever saw any. Or would know if he did." Valeria actually gave a smirk. Perhaps her grandfather wasn't in any conflict involving the Dalacari.
Val hesitated a moment, observing Valeria's body language and tone of voice. There was no malice in either, which eased her a little bit. "The conflicts were before my time. Though I can't - " focus switched to the other form. " - help but admit that it's newsreels and movies about those conflicts that in part made me want to be a sniper." she admitted, though changing the subject quickly. "So what's the good news?"
"Would you like to see?" she now motioned to the PaDD she brought. "It's barely eighty seconds."
"Sure." said one, the other held out a hand for the PaDD.
Valeria handed over the PaDD so Val could inspect it. It held a simple video, that showed perhaps a youngest sister, obviously excited about something, though the video was in the native tongue of Ts'usu. Then the view switched to show an older brother, after a scramble of hands from presumably the rest of her family. More dialogue, then a hush as an elder male voice spoke before the view switched to an older woman, perhaps her mother... And the little bundle she held. Covered in soft fuzz, not even fur, the youngest addition the family stirred to yawn wide, before returning to his post-birth nap. Emerging into this world takes a lot out of you.
The rabbitess waited until the video playback was complete. "I'm a sister again. His name is Garra, though by the time he's old enough to travel to the Alpha Quadrant, he'll probably be answering to Gary." she said, with that smirk still on her features.
A new birth. The universal symbol for innocence. Both bioforms smiled warmly, though only the one not holding the PaDD vocalised the "Awww!", even as the other handed the device back to Valeria. "Congratulations!" spoke one of them. Val didn't know why Valeria would share something like this with complete strangers, but then, she didn't know all that much about Ts'usugi customs. Maybe, the Dalacari figured, this was just an attempt to break the ice and start the conversation and working relationship off in a positive manner. It was working.
"He's so cute! The little fuzzball." spoke one, hoping 'little fuzzball' wasn't an insult to Ts'usugi. The other form took over speaking duty. "And those ears, all droopy! And that little nose."
If it was an insult Valeria certainly didn't take it as one. She was suddenly aware, however, of how droopy her own ears were. Relaxed and drooped, rather then perked and alert, or down and angry. Just casual droop.
Her own nose gave that little wiggle at the mention of his little nose, entirely free of her own decision. Her smirk became a full smile, "He's going to be quite the troublemaker when he gets old enough to appreciate it. He's the latest addition to the family. He makes ten. Though, it'll be quite a while before he's ready to help out on the farm." she said, actually amused.
"Any family back home?" the rabbitess inquired.
At that innocent question, Val's expression instantly dropped. "Just - ... My mother and father. I'm an only child." spoke one. There was a slight pause before the other took over, the one with the wristband and the prosthetic arm. "And my husband." She held up the arm with the wristband for a moment. "Though he's in a care home."
Behind those lusterless eyes was a conflict. Two trains... one marked CURIOSITY and the other marked FOR THE LOVE OF THE ANCESTORS DON'T ASK were on a collision course. Though, if it was one thing Valeria was gracious at, it was knowing when not to ask. She was silent for a moment as she gave the Dalacari across from her a slow nod.
The trains missed a collision by inches, mentally speaking.
"I apologize for bringing up such a sensitive topic so carelessly." Slowly, the rabbitess' glance slid up to finally meet Val's again, her posture back to sitting up, ears at half-droop. "You're an impressive and powerful woman, Val Seran. One that I'm glad to have gotten to know."
"It's ok. No need to apologize." offered Val. The compliment though brought her smile back, if only a small part of it. "There's no secret here." spoke the other bioform. "Tell me Valeria, how much do you know about Dalacari duality and single Dalacari?"
"Only what I read in Advanced Biology at the Advanced Prep. And 'Our Neighbors', in University, back home." a pause, to confirm her reading history. "I know that *A* Dalacari is composed of two forms. Pain, emotion, and sensation are shared." entirely academic knowledge. It's possible she learned more sitting here than in two years of standard prep.
A nod from both forms, though only one spoke, as per usual. "Correct. We are one conciousness shared between two bodies. Everything is shared. Thought, sight, hearing, taste, scent, touch. The common - " the other took over, allowing the first bioform to resume eating. " - wisdom is that our soul is 'too big for one body'." she made airquotes.
"With that comes that if we lose one bioform, we lose half of ourselves. Half of our connection to the world. Our - " " - footing in reality. Our place in existance. Everything becomes distant. Surreal. Unreal. Only about one in one thousand Dalacari who lose a bioform - " Another focus shift " - are strong enough to remain capable of functioning in society." A moment's pause. "Ten Federation years ago there was an accident. I lost an arm. Jorem, my husband, lost a body."
Part of Val wondered why she was telling the Ts'usugi this. Maybe it was to repay the gesture of sharing news about the family, though she wished her story was more happy.
And in that, it explained or outright answered many of her questions. Valeria all but consumed the explanation Val offered her and after a moment she gave a nod to indicate that she was following and understood. She even smiled at the airquotes. Though, she never truly could comprehend... but the part at the end, she could certainly follow. "I'm beginning to appreciate why your people don't engage in military actions." though after a pause, she shook her head again.
"I don't know how to properly express my sympathies."
Val gave a soft chuckle. "You just did."
"You can imagine that we take safety very seriously, back on Dalacar. In fact, one of my first impressions when first visiting another world is that other races seem almost reckless to us." Val mused, the other bioform taking over the speaking duties. "Just a difference in culture. I'm sure when you met your first alien they must've seemed rather rash and almost rude, not sharing your people's love of protocols as much." It was a matter-of-fact statement, there was no disrespect in the Dalacari's tone.
Valeria gave a smirk, and a nod, "I almost stormed out of Academy over a perceived slight." and she actually gave a little giggle. "But that's why we step out our quarters every morning. Discovery, and speaking of..."
"It was an eye opening experience to meet you Val Seran. I have places I must be and people to share a little joy with." she motioned to the PaDD as she reclaimed ownership of it. "Feel free to intrude in the Sciences labs if you ever need anything."
"It was fascinating meeting you too, Valeria." Val smiled. She took a chance in calling Valeria by her first name instead of her rank, but figured that if the Lieutenant was one to stand on protocol, she would've called Val Gunnery Sargeant instead of Val Seran. "I might take you up on that offer."