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Notes: I made Chef from Italy, and his name is Antonio. Italian: Buon giorno (good morning/day), Ciao, ragazze. (Hello, ladies.) Ciao, ci vediamo! (Bye, see you later!)Small references to ENT "Two Days Two Nights"
My OC Quartermaster (Master Chief) Antoine Desgauld is mentioned in "Five Weddings (and a Funeral for my Sanity)" and "A Klingon and an Englishman Walk into a Bar"

The shop itself was nothing special, just another stone structure in the middle of Dnayu Three's Marketplace. Yet the smells coming out of it were heavenly: rich, dark and full of temptation. A group of children stood at the duraglass window, pressing their noses against it as they watched the baker cut thick slabs of sweet brown candy with a steel knife. They made chittering noises as the baker sliced the slabs into smaller triangles, wrapped them in clear plastic, and stacked them in full view of the children. The Dnayui had four arms, so the chef made short work of his slab of candy. He grinned at the children, then withdrew further into his shop.

"Is this it?" Ensign Liz Cutler asked. She stood across the street from the shop and breathed in the delicious smells. Her smile widened as she looked over at her friend.

"This is it," confirmed Lieutenant Hoshi Sato. Her dark eyes sparkled with excitement as she read the characters on the sign next to the door. "Exactly where the minister said it would be."

"I think I'll camp out permanently here. This is wonderful! It's like some kind of perfume." Liz took another deep breath, much to the amusement of the nearby shoppers.

"Come on, Liz, let's see what they have." Hoshi adjusted the shopping basket over her arm and crossed the street, Liz close behind her.
Passers-by gave them bright smiles and bobbed their antennae in greeting. Hoshi pushed the door open and stepped into the room.

A glass display case ran along one wall. Each level held multiple trays, with Dnayui desserts piled high in pyramids. Creme-filled pastries, sugar-coated candies, rainbow-colored jelly cookies...Hoshi gazed at them with wide eyes. At the end of the case was a plate of the brown candy triangles, next to a cup of mocha sauce. Canisters of powders and bags of mixes were stacked on the shelves, prominently displayed in their glory. The sellers replaced the sold items as fast as their four hands could move, but they were just keeping up with demand.

Hoshi reached up and took a box of candies off one of the shelves. She tried to decipher the list of ingredients; she recognized "sweet", "love", "yummy (or something like that)" and "dessert". Dnayui characters resembled the old Hershey bars from Earth: rectangular and divided into sections. Each letter looked like someone had bitten a piece off the bar in a different location. Hoshi couldn't help but grin at the resemblance.

The baker waved his four arms at them from behind the marble counter. "Come in and be welcome! Warm your hearts at my hearth!" he called in Dnayui. Then he pressed his hands together and bowed in a gesture of hospitality. "Please, allow me to serve your needs. What are your desires?"Hoshi tried not to blush at his words, for his deep voice caressed them like poetry. This language was rich in hyperbole and innuendo, so she decided to take the words at face value. She turned her attention to the delicacies on display.

"We have heard of the wondrous items in your shop, Master Baker," she answered in the same language. "and were curious as to their making. Is it true your delicacies are as delectable as they tell us?"

"May I recommend the mokka, my Lady? I cooked it just this morning." The baker gestured towards a pitcher filled to the brim with the brown liquid.

Hoshi nodded, and he deftly poured some of it into two mugs. He gave Hoshi one of the mugs and gestured for Liz to take the other. Both women bowed to the Master Baker, then took a deep gulp of the liquid.

A bloom of pure ecstasy erupted on Hoshi's tongue and she saw stars. The rush of contentment was so strong that it startled her. That quickly turned into delight as she peered into the depths of her half-full cup. "Wow. That was—"

"—amazing," Liz finished, her word little more than a sigh.

The Master Baker laughed, a deep rumble in his chest. "The first taste is bliss, then it becomes a constant friend. It will always be a comfort to a tired soul or a loving heart."

"Waxing poetic?" Liz asked, her voice still hushed.

"The mokka is more than a dessert. It is an art, My Lady," he objected, with no judgment or malice in his voice. He blinked, his long lashes sweeping across his cheeks like tiny feathers.

"I can see that," Hoshi said, as she watched the same group of children pay for their desserts and file out the door with their treasures. She grinned at Liz and added, "Well, I suppose we ought to decide what we want to get."

Liz sighed and regarded the selection with an eager eye. "Hmmm...decisions, decisions..."

They spent the next twenty minutes with the Master Baker and his assistant, as they described every confection in their shop. Twenty different kinds of candy alone, plus the cookies, bars, pastries and drinks. Hoshi chose a bag of cookies, an assortment of fudge, and a liter of the liquid mokka. It was enough to replenish her secret chocolate stash and then some. Liz decided on a small tray of sweet pastries, a wrapped container of cookies, and some thick slabs of solid mokka.

"Chef can make a killer cheesecake with this," she said. "If we run into him in the Marketplace, we'll have to tell him about this shop!"
As Liz paid for her purchases, the Master Baker drew Hoshi aside and pressed a small tray of candy into her hand. They were shaped like little gold ingots, wrapped in shiny maroon foil. Hoshi counted nine rows of ten ingots...ninety pieces of candy.

"Share this with your friends," the Master Baker said. "This tray is meant as a token of comradeship and togetherness."

"Thank you, Master Baker," Hoshi said with a grin. "I'll be sure to share it with the crew."

When she and Liz made their way back out into the warm sunshine, Liz asked, "What's with the free tray of candy?"

"The Master Baker asked me to share with the rest of the crew," Hoshi explained. "I'll probably ask Chef to distribute it during Movie Night this week. It's a token of friendship and hospitality."

"That was really nice of him." Liz smiled as a familiar figure made his way out of the market stands. "Chef! Over here!"

Chef turned his head at Liz's shout. His broad face brightened at the sight of them and he made his way to their side. He balanced a clutch of baskets in both arms. Hoshi glanced at the unfamiliar fruit and vegetables, with tubes of spices wedged between them. Chef had been making good use of their stop to replenish his food supply.

Buon giorno, Chef,” Hoshi greeted in Italian.

He grinned and sketched a bow, as best as he could while laden with foodstuffs. “Ciao, ragazze. Are you enjoying yourselves?" he asked.
"We just found the best chocolatier this side of Antares," Liz told him. "You'll never believe the kind of stuff they have in there..."

As Liz rambled on, a flash of fabric at a nearby stand caught Hoshi's eye: a thin, gauzy material cut into a sleeveless dress and hemmed with delicate gold thread. The same design was in several different colors, a fiery red, a royal blue, and a delicate lilac. A set of matching slippers and jewelry accompanied each piece of clothing. The scent of perfume wafted from another stall, a combination of roses and jasmine, with a slight undertone of citrus.

Sight, sound, color, smell, touch. The Dnayui reveled in sensory stimulation of all kinds. As a result, they boasted many specialties, some legal, and others not-so-legal, depending on one's home world. Hoshi compared the culture to the height of the Roman Empire, or to the exotic trading posts of Rigel or Draylax. Such decadence appealed to her in ways that she never expected.

Soft silks, beautiful music, delicious chocolate...anything and everything goes. It was a different sort of freedom from what she was accustomed, especially on a starship. Her own childhood had been bound by the rules and customs of Japanese society. Here on Dnayu, nothing was held back and nothing was taboo. It was scary, yet liberating at the same time.

Hoshi took another deep breath and smiled at the scent of the mokka in her basket. This was why she enjoyed visiting new places and experiencing new cultures. It was more than just her job; it was her passion.

Chef's booming laugh jolted her out of her thoughts. He inclined his head to Liz and said, “Well, I should check this place for myself, then. Point me in the right direction!"

"Less than half a kilometer back that way," Liz replied, pointing in the direction they'd come. "You can't miss it with all the people coming in and out of it, Chef."

"Buono!”

Hoshi reached into her basket and pulled out the tray of candy. “The Master Chef wanted us to have this to share with the rest of the crew.”
He chuckled as he accepted it. “I shall distribute this to the crew personally. Thanks for the tip, ladies! Ciao, ci vediamo! " With a wave, he headed in the direction of the Master Baker's shop.

Hoshi grinned at the new spring in his step and thought, To go where no gourmet has ever gone before...

"How about if we check out that fabric stall?" Hoshi said. "I thought I saw a dress there that would be great for my next shore leave."

Liz looked at the dresses hanging on the stall frame and gave her a wicked look. "Red dress, chocolate, British armory officer...hmm..."
Hoshi blushed, but only laughed with her best friend. “Liz!”
She waggled her eyebrows at Hoshi. “Gotcha. C'mon, we both need something new in our closets.”

Hoshi rolled her eyes, but willingly followed Liz to the clothing stall. Live a little,she thought to herself. You won't get this chance again.

The fabric artisan saw their approach and greeted them with folded hands. She batted her green-golden eyes at them and trilled, “Ah, welcome to my shop! I am Depara. How may I serve your desires?”

Hoshi smiled and pointed to one of the dresses that hung in the stall. “I noticed your gowns hanging there and I was wondering if I can try one of them?”

“Of course, my Lady. There is a curtained area where you can change.” Depara reached for the red gown with two hands and steered Hoshi towards the changing room with the other two hands. “Let me know if I can assist in any way.”

She needed Liz's help with tying all the laces and affixing all the straps and eyelet hooks. The opaque crimson fabric clung to every curve of Hoshi's figure, with gold threading placed in strategic locations to preserve some sort of modesty. The cut left her midriff bare, and the skirt began low on her hips, brushing against her knees. The slippers were more like soft socks than actual shoes and felt wonderful on her feet.

“Wow, Hoshi, you look good!” Liz said with a smirk, “even if the whole ensemble looks jury-rigged with glue.”

Depara chuckled as she craned her neck around the curtain. “The design is such that you will not lose any covering that you do not wish to lose.”
Hoshi blushed crimson to her hairline, but she grinned widely. “Thank goodness for that.”

“I see that you've purchased some mokka. It is the perfect complement to such a lovely ensemble. Are you planning a night of sensation?”

Hoshi nearly choked and Liz burst out laughing. Depara blinked slowly once, then realized her words might be considered offensive. Liz's reaction certainly didn't help things. Hoshi sighed and rolled her eyes, then said, “Perhaps. I haven't decided yet.”

“Ah! Such an endeavor requires a subtle touch. Permit me to make some suggestions? After all, we Dnayui consider this an art form in all sense of the word, from our food to our clothing.” Depara put a hand on Hoshi's shoulders and glanced at Liz. “As for you...the colors that suit your friend will not work on you. I can find a suitable gown for you as well.”

“Sure. It isn't often I get to dress up,” Liz said with a grin. “It's all harmless fun, Hoshi. What do you say?”

Hoshi laughed and made her decision. She smoothed down the red dress and replied, “Why not? Let's do it.”


Lieutenant Commander Malcolm Reed sighed as he sat on the steps leading to the market's main fountain. He shook his head in disbelief as he watched Commander Trip Tucker standing nearby. Trip chatted with the native Dnayui, who seemed in awe of his hideous orange-and-yellow Hawaiian shirt. An artist had set up his easel and was painting his rendition of the eyesore.

"Your shirt should be classified as a dangerous weapon, Commander," Malcolm said with dry humor. "Or at least an unsightly magnet."

"Hey, I'm minglin' with the locals, just like the Cap'n told us to do," Trip shot back without rancor. "We just found a common point of interest."
"Ghastly costumes qualify as an interest?"

"You know what they say, 'when in Rome...," Trip replied with delight. He turned his attention to a young Dnayui female who was a fabric designer to answer her question about the material of his shirt.

Perhaps he'll start a trend. Dear God, save us from the thought. Malcolm allowed himself a slight smirk, then brought his attention back to the crowd. It was high noon, the busiest time in the Marketplace, and the farm workers came by for the midday meal. The aroma of the food stands tickled his nose and his stomach rumbled in response.

"Many pardons, sir," a sweet voice said in his ear. "Will you accept a token of hospitality?"

Malcolm jumped in surprise, his hand going for the nonexistent phase pistol at his hip. An attractive Dnayui perched on the step above him. She wore a gauzy summer dress that reminded him of the ones worn by classical Greek goddesses: one strap casually draped off the shoulder, the fabric fitted at the waist and slit on both sides to reveal cream-colored skin. Her lavender-colored tresses were done in a careless style, and the large aqua eyes enhanced by cosmetics. Two of her hands were on his shoulders, one lay casually at her side, the fourth touched his cheek. He blinked as he felt the blood rush to his face.

Oh, bloody hell. He struggled to keep his composure, especially when the scent of her perfume enveloped him. Dnayui possessed powerful pheromones, which they used in their cosmetics. Travis had likened it to what the Deltans had. Malcolm suddenly understood Travis's teenaged confusion, but he wasn't a fifteen year old boy.

"Ah—what kind of token, madam?" he stammered. Brilliant. You're certainly acting like you're fifteen! Stop it! Think of something else, anything else...

The woman chuckled and pressed a card into his hand. The green Dnayui script glowed on the silver rectangle; Malcolm guessed it was a name and a number. A disk wrapped in red foil was attached to the lower right hand corner. He smelled a rich aroma coming from the disk and identified it immediately: Chocolate, or the local equivalent.

"I promise you—"her sultry voice grew husky at the next words, "—you will not be disappointed."

He swallowed hard and grasped at any shred of sanity. "I'm sorry, but I must decline your generous offer. Perhaps another time.”

Luckily, she didn't seem upset at his refusal. In fact, the aqua eyes lit up at his words. “Perhaps. If you change your mind, just follow the directions on this card. I will make your visit worth your time.” She gave him a smile, then wandered off, leaving a befuddled Armory officer behind.

Trip came up and stared at her until she vanished into the crowd, then turned to Malcolm. "Whoa. Did I just see her try to proposition you?”
Malcolm tried to regain his composure. "I firmly and politely rebuffed her offer, Commander."

"Hoshi's got you trained, Malcolm. She's got you trained good."

"Commander," he said with a note of warning in his voice. "If you're implying that she's 'housetrained' me, I would beg to differ. We aren't married."

"Yet. Mark my words, Malcolm." Trip stretched and turned his head towards the food stalls. "How about some lunch? The smells coming out of there's pretty good. Let's check out what they have."

"Good idea." Malcolm got to his feet, stuffing the card in his pocket. Despite what Trip implied, he was still his own man, not subject to a woman's whim. Not yet, Trip repeated in his mind. He brushed off the incident and followed the commander to the food stalls.

They were soon seated at one of the public benches with some sort of meat-and-vegetable shishkabob, some kind of wheat crackers, and a mug of honey-colored alcohol. The Dnayui treated food preparation as a sacred art, and it showed in the taste and presentation. Malcolm found that he rather enjoyed the meal; it rivaled the street food he had eaten in Malaysia as a boy.

“Whatever they put in their food is pretty good,” Trip agreed. “I bet Chef's envious.”

“Chef will probably ask them for recipes, and the Dnayui are likely to oblige him. They seem to be a rather open-minded lot.”

“Yeah, in many things. Subtelty is definitely not one of their strong suits.” Trip took a deep sip of his mug. “I think it's refreshing after dealing with people who hide things all the time.”

Malcolm chuckled and regarded his own drink. “A good point, Commander.”

“It's Trip. We're off duty, and neither of us are on the ship right now.” He savored another bite of the shishkabob. “I hope Chef does get some of those recipes. They can do some things with spices and marinade.”

“I definitely agree.” Malcolm settled back and watched the crowd as it bustled around them. The food, the alcohol, the warm weather, and the congenial atmosphere all conspired to relax him. He tried to remember the last time he felt this way. Risa. Before that incident at the club. He winced at the memory, then reminded himself, This isn't Risa. No shape-shifting thieves, no 'underground gardens', no wine cellars.

Still, old habits were hard to break, and he kept a close eye on his surroundings. Large crowds unnerved him, even if there were no signs of criminal activity or mischief...

“Malcolm. For God's sake, relax.”

He started and shook his head at Trip's admonition. “Sorry.”

Trip finished his food and sat back. “That woman really spooked you, didn't she? She snuck up on you without any warning.”

“It was disconcerting, Com—Trip.”

“You weren't expecting her to throw herself at you, either. Travis warned us about how forward the people are here.” Trip's smile held a bit of sympathy. “It takes some getting used to. Remember, you don't have to accept anythin that makes you uncomfortable. The Dnayui understand.”

“For which I'm eternally grateful.” Malcolm sighed and regarded his mug.

Travis munched on a thick mokka cookie with fruit filling as he walked down the narrow alleyway between stalls. He smiled at the traders and businessmen in the marketplace, who tried to sell their wares among the Dnayui. The more unique and exotic the item, the better a chance for a successful trade. Travis filed the information in his mind; his brother Paul would need to know that if Horizon ever came in this direction.

His knapsack bulged with gifts and trinkets for his family. Travis made sure to pick up little items that would make his mother and his brother smile. A holopicture of a Dnayui beach for Rhianna, a diagram of a Dnayui cargo ship for Paul, and a delicately-wrought gold filagree necklace for his sister. He had even found a good bottle of brandy for Captain Archer, a pair of silver earrings for Hoshi, and the equivalent of a palm-sized energy converter for Trip.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Enterprise's quartermaster in the middle of a group of Dnayui courtesans. Master Chief Antoine Desgauld appeared embarrassed at all the attention, but Travis noticed Desgauld made no move to get away from them. The Dnayui were more straightforward about their thoughts and desires, almost to the point of being tactless, but Travis knew that was just how they were.
Different cultural attitudes, different ways of living. Travis was used to this kind of thing, but other members of the crew weren't. It usually led to all sorts of misunderstanding, humorous or not. The Dnayui's viewpoint on sensual matters—including love, courting and sex—made some of the crew uncomfortable. Again, Travis understood it was a personal preference. There was nothing wrong with that.

Don't judge a race by their eating habits, as Commander Tucker said. Or their literature. Travis spotted a row of stands that displayed colorful scrolls on the tables and walls. Hoshi had compared the written language to 'half-eaten chocolate bars' and Travis thought it was a pretty apt, if funny, comparison. Some of the scrolls had been translated into Vulcan, Andorian, and half a dozen other languages, including Earth standard. Travis's eyes passed over a few and his mouth dropped at some of the contents.

Okay. I knew mokka was supposed to be a versatile food item, but I didn't know you could use it like that. Any old port in a storm, I guess. Wow. And I thought some of the Draylaxian stuff was pretty weird...

He turned a corner and to his utter shock, he saw Commander T'Pol at one of the stands. She held a delicate scroll between her hands, gold letters against an emerald background, with Dnayui on one side and Vulcan on the other. Travis watched as she negotiated the cost with the skill of a master trader. The calligrapher agreed to her terms, and T'Pol reached for the coin pouch on her belt. After the successful transaction, the calligrapher pressed his four palms together and said something in Vulcan, to which T'Pol responded in a soft voice.

“Lieutenant Mayweather. I trust you are making good use of this time?”

He blinked and managed a nod at T'Pol's question. “Yes, Commander. I've been picking up little gifts for my family and other members of the crew.” He nodded at her newly-purchased scroll. “It looks like you've been doing the same.”

T'Pol didn't quite smile, but Travis heard the humor in her tone. “The Dnayui apply their love of aesthetics to their scientific endeavors as well, Lieutenant. This is a treatise on the bio-nucleotide arrangement of their mitochromosomes.”

His eyes glazed over at the terminology. “I thought it was a piece of poetry.”

“In a way, that is also a fair assessment. Their sense of aesthetics classifies science and art in the same category, with minor differences. A different view from the Vulcans, but they are no less precise in their observations.”

“They just express it a bit differently. Yeah, I can see that.”

“Very differently,” she agreed. She inclined her head at him and added, “I shall be returning to Enterprise early. While this has been a unique experience, it has also been quite taxing.”

Travis nodded in sympathy. “You need a ride, Commander? I can pilot the shuttlepod.”

“I would not interrupt your visit--”

“I can always come back later. It's not a problem.”

“Then I would be grateful for your assistance, Mister Mayweather.”

Travis only smiled. “That's what I'm here for, Commander.”

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trekwriter151

May 2012

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