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Rumari Are Seldom Bored

Posted on Fri Sep 10th, 2021 @ 1:09am by Lieutenant Serana Zhaan

Mission: The Place of Skulls
Location: Local Hangout, Starbase 2
Timeline: Mission Day 17 at 2200

Her passage through the crowded bar betrayed in equal measures her Rumari upbringing and her dancer's physique, practiced and graceful. She slid to the side to step out of the path of a lurching crewman intent on a young woman whose feigned disinterest was offset by the avarice bubbling up and out of her dark eyes. A small movement, slide and step back but only just enough. The crewman lumbered on and she hesitated, for a moment, debating the wisdom of interfering with what was only potential.

She stepped up to the bar and her gaze, gray threaded with flecks of sunlight yellow, automatically went to the bartender. Round-face atop a muscular frame only just starting to soften with the onset of middle age redeemed by eyes the color of a Risian lake. He came toward her, his own gaze frank and assessing. She liked him immediately. Experienced. Aware. Not a fool.

The lighting in the bar picked up the red-gold highlights in her long hair as she leaned forward somewhat. He came over at once and she thought, marks for being attentive. "May be nothing but ... there's a woman behind me, across the room," she said. "Tight dress, dark colors, with a purse on a long chain."

The bartender's gaze traversed the room and caught sight of the woman. "Third time this month," he said and punctuated his pronouncement with a spattering of colorful language she couldn't quite make out. He gestured toward his bouncer, a tall man with broad shoulders and the kind of physique that made all but the worst fall back. The bouncer plowed through the crowd in a direct line for the woman which left her free to get on with her evening.

"Good instincts," he said as he pulled down a bottle of surprisingly good scotch. "He's Starfleet security and my cousin. He helps out when he has the time." He nodded in the direction of the woman who was already heading toward the entrance, trailing invective as she went. "She keeps this up, she's going to end up in a cell." He poured her a glass and passed it across the bar. "On the house. Course around here, on the house means you get what I give you." He grinned cheerfully and the act seemed to strip years off his lined visage. "Enjoy."

"Thank you," she said. She found a seat at the bar and turned far enough on the stool to watch the band setting up on stage. Casual clothes showing signs of wear, they paid little to no attention to the room as they went about the well-honed movements of a group that knew their collective rhythms. One bends, the other leans over his hunched back, while a third scoots through a thin opening in the rear. Awkward poetry. She found herself checking for holo-emitters and finding none, settled in to watch the performance.

They readied and the crowd fell silent as an elderly man, bald pate gleaming under the lights, stepped up and without introduction, began to play. The music was different. Complicated rhythms, picked up and elaborated on by each member of the group, and guided by a pounded drum beat that demanded participation. Not that anyone responded. In a crowd of dedicated drinkers, nothing much got through. Except the woman who found herself stopped at the door by bouncer. She smothered a chuckle, tendrils of sunlight yellow driving the gray out of her eyes for a moment, as she watched the woman bounce off the hard planes of the man's chest.

A young couple near the front, unable to stay away from each other, found the courage to take the dance floor. The music encouraged abandon and they complied, turning the dance into private worship. Serana finished her drink and headed out onto the floor. Slender and relatively petite, though among her own people she was considered average, she paused for a moment, eyes closed, and let everything fall away.

She followed the plaintive notes of clarinet, hips moving in slow undulations as her arms reached upward pulling the length of her hair with it. The gray fell away, sunlight and rubies glowed in her gaze, as the musicians responded, moving into a riff. She extended one leg upward in front of her and then brought it down, curving into a sensual pirouette. She felt, more than saw, the bodies joining her on the floor, some in awkward imitation, others following the young couple in heated adoration of their partners. The weight of their bodies pressed against her, brought restraint to her movements, tethering her to the ground and she lost her connection to the beat. She inclined her head toward the band and then made her way back to the bar, eyes downcast, as she brought her feelings under control.

"Another of the same," she said. And when she met his gaze, her own was gray again with flecks of sunlight yellow.

"You know," he said as he poured her a drink, "you should come here more often." He looked at the crowd who had sloughed off their lethargy, come alive to the music and each other.

"Thanks," she said as she accepted the drink and made arrangements for it to be marked against her account. "But I'm only here for a short while, I think." She shrugged, a slight and graceful lift of a shoulder. "Starfleet."

"The best ones are," the bouncer said as he returned to the bar and grinned in her direction. "Think she's gone now," he said. "Guessing she'll try that Bolian place next. Want me to give them a heads up?"

"Nope," the bartender said at once as he poured a glass of ale for his cousin. "He didn't let me know about that freighter crew looking for trouble, now did he?" He pulled a clean rag out from below the bar and began wiping down the area. "That lot was trouble."

"True enough," the bouncer said as he grabbed his glass and turned so that his back was against the bar. His dark gaze swept the room in slow arcs. "The big one," he added in a voice that hinted at admiration for a feat well performed, "even managed to break my nose before I got him subdued."

She looked at the bouncer's physique, 6'3" maybe taller, and all of it muscle and wondered just what exactly he would consider big. "Klingon," she asked. "Naussican?"

"Nah," the bouncer answered before taking another long swig of ale. "Iowa farm boy, like me." He grinned cheerfully. "We had a long talk after he sobered up and apologized. Extended mission and a girl friend that had decided waiting for him was not an option she was willing to consider. Poor sod. So, I introduced him to my roommate's cousin. Think he's bouncing back. Excuse me," he added as he set the glass on the bar and waded back into the crowd.

Took her a moment to spot the problem but she found it. She was Rumari and she knew, as all of her people did, that if you are not aware, not watchful, trouble would find you … especially on alien soil. She had worked enough market days to know the signs, from small fights to wholesale riots. On a scale of one to ten, she estimated this to be about a five. Maybe six. "He might ..."

But the bartender was already coming around the end of the bar, barely 5'10" but he moved with confidence and intent. Seeing the way they worked, she dropped her estimation to a three and settled back. When someone bellowed for a beer, she slipped behind the bar and served him because hadn't Tanti Carine taught her what she needed to know back in the days when they all believed market days would be her life.

Though it didn't turn out that way, it felt familiar, comfortable. And so, she worked the bar, encouraging them to partake and even order appetizers because Tanti Carine would have expected no less. She had a drinking game going when the bartender finally returned, cleaned up and grinning. "You sure you aren't going to be staying," he asked.

She grinned and kept pouring.


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