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Old May 24 2012, 02:35 PM   #1
jespah
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"Local Flavor" (May 2012 Out of Uniform Challenge Entry)

Travis Mayweather brought the shuttlepod to a gliding stop on the surface of Lafa II. “Last stop,” he joked, “Retirement Acres.”

“Very funny,” said Lili O’Day, who had been the sous-chef on the NX-01. She and her boyfriend were young to retire, but they were leaving Starfleet just the same. She absently scratched a tattooed arm covered in silvery scrollwork.

“Aw, c’mon,” Travis said, “I don’t mean anything by it.”

The console on the shuttlepod showed the date – November the sixteenth of 2157.

“I know ya don’t.”

“Oh, the captain said to tell you he was sorry he couldn’t see you off personally. Lieutenant Reed said the same thing.”

“Oh? They’re such sweet guys.”

Travis just nodded – he didn’t think anyone had ever described Archer or Reed as sweet before. He got up and opened the hatch. She got out and her boyfriend got out, too. They both sniffed the air and smiled.

Her fellow was Douglas Jay Hayes, the counterpart to the deceased Major Jay Hayes. The Enterprise had come to the Lafa System several days before. No one – at least, no human – had known about mirror universes and counterparts. But the entire Lafa System was psionically charged, and Lili had dreamt of a man. And in the mirror, on the other side of a proverbial pond, Doug had simultaneously dreamt of her, and they had fallen in love. The Calafans understood this and were able to briefly drop the veil between the two universes and get Doug over permanently. This was through meditation and a boost of power from the NX-01, the ISS Defiant and even sodium vapor flares from the two smallest stars in that quadruple star system. In gratitude, Doug and Lili had decided to settle on Lafa II as the Enterprise was sworn to secrecy and the entire episode was deemed classified.

There was a native Calafan waiting to meet them, Lili’s new business partner, Treve. He and his family had been instrumental in bringing Doug over. They were the only Calafan friends that Doug and Lili had.

He was human in appearance, save for solid silver arms. Plus he was completely bald. Both of those details were signs that he wasn’t yet thirty years of age. “I’m so glad you’re here,” he said, accent clipped and cultured, a product of a privileged upbringing. Lili’s PADD was a little slow with the translation, but the context could be readily inferred. “Let’s get your bags into my vehicle.” Doug helped him.

Lili turned to Travis. “Gonna miss you guys,” she said.

“I’ll miss you, too,” Travis said, hugging her. “I will also miss your strawberry shortcake.”

“I see how loved I am,” she joked.

“Oh, I almost forgot!” He produced a box from under the front console. “Chef gave this to me to give to you. It’s an eventual wedding present, but he says you can open it now.”

“How wonderful! But I don’t think we’ll get married until Reversal is up and running.”

Reversal?”

“It’s what we’re naming the restaurant we’re going to open up.” She looked at him. “It’s funny. We’ve scarcely got two nickels to rub together, but we’ve got friends. So we couldn’t possibly be poor.” She was a little teary. She hugged him again and waved as he took off.

Doug touched her shoulder and she turned around. “Just you and me,” he said, “well, except for our chaperone.” She looked up at him and they kissed.

“Come along now, children,” Treve joked. Lili was over forty and Doug was in his mid-fifties – they were hardly kids. “I have found you a place on Enne Street. Enne curves around a lot.” He began to navigate as Lili clicked on her PADD and Doug looked out a window at unfamiliar Fep City.

“Good thing Hoshi rigged my PADD so I can read Calafan script,” Lili said. “Doug, Enne means water.”

“Treve, do you know where I can get a name change?” Doug asked.

“Name change?” asked the Calafan after the PADD – which was slower than a Universal Translator – had converted Doug’s and his words.

“Yeah. I, uh, immigrants used to sometimes do this on Terra – I mean, Earth. They would go somewhere and would reinvent themselves, and have a fresh start. So I want to change my last name, to my mother’s maiden name, Beckett.”

“Well, we don’t have last names,” Treve said, “so I doubt anyone could do that, or would so much as understand why. I suspect all you will need to do is start calling yourself Beckett.”

“Oh, uh, okay,” said Doug. “I guess I’m Doug Beckett now.”

“Uh, it says here we’re passing Fep Street,” Lili said, grinning a little, “Mister Beckett.”

“Yes, that’s right. This is Fep Street and Imspi Street where my family lives, it’s down over there a ways,” Treve said, pointing, “Ah, and here we are.”

The apartment was a house, squat and single-story. “It’s small,” Lili said, looking around inside the apartment for the first time.

“We’ll save money this way,” said Doug, “And at least it’s furnished.” That was a charitable way of putting it – it was rather Spartan. In the front there was a small receiving area with a single chair. Doorways led away from it. Then in the bedroom, there were open shelves built into the walls, and there was a double bed that probably wasn’t long enough for his lanky frame. Plus there was a desk with no chair. A door opened to a little bathroom with a shower and what looked like a bidet.

In the kitchen, there was a small table with two chairs and an empty open cupboard that was not unlike a bookcase. Next to it there was some counter space and a sink and a small sanitizer unit. Another door opened to a food storage area where there was a refrigeration unit with a small freezing compartment. Just beyond the refrigeration unit was a stove, and then the door to the back. And that was it.

“Yeah,” she said absently. She went to the stove and tried the five burners. They all worked. The control settings were in unfamiliar Calafan script so she fiddled a bit until she figured out how to turn the flames higher and lower, and then off.

“We should unpack,” Doug said.

“Actually, maybe, could we go to a market first?” she asked. “We won’t save a lot of money if we go out to eat every night.”

“We don’t have any Calafan money,” Doug reminded her.

“Here, I can loan you some,” Treve said. He fished into a pocket and produced several coins, all in a dull grey shade. He placed them on the counter.

“I don’t know when we’ll be able to change money, or even if your government will accept ours,” Lili said.

“No rush, I’m sure they can do that.” replied the Calafan. “Now, allow me to explain these.” He indicated the smallest coin, which had a single raised dot on its obverse. “This is an ub. It’s the smallest of our denominations. You can’t buy much with just one. This next one,” it was a little bigger, with five raised dots on the back in a pyramid shape, “is a fep. It’s the same as five ubs.”

“Are all your coins named for the four suns?” asked Doug. Ub was the smallest of the four suns in the Lafa System. The second-smallest was Fep. “So this next one would be an abic?” He pointed to the next-sized coin on the counter.

“Precisely. It’s five feps.”

“So it’s also twenty-five ubs, right?” Lili asked.

“Exactly.” It had five raised pyramids on the back, arranged around a central pentagonal-shaped cutout. “And here,” the Calafan produced a large coin with an image of four stars on its obverse, “is a lo. It’s our main unit of currency, equivalent to one hundred ubs or four abics. Here are two five lo pieces.” They had the same image of four stars but a similar pentagonal cutout like the abic.

“Do you have paper money?” asked Doug.

“We do not. That would be lighter, I imagine.” Treve smiled. “This is why our tailors fashion us clothing with very strong pockets. Otherwise we’d be losing our funds all the time.” He showed off a reinforced pocket on his tunic.

Lili counted. “Uh, looks like this is, um, twelve los and sixteen ubs, total.”

“What could we buy with that?” asked Doug.

“Plenty of things. I’ll take you to the big open air market. You can also get credit for larger purchases. Tell anyone you work with me and I’m sure you’ll get credit. It does pay to be the eldest son of the First Minister and the High Priestess, you know.”

“You’re a life saver!” Lili gushed. Treve looked at her strangely. Perhaps the translation had failed. “Uh, it means you’re very helpful.”

“Ah,” he said, “I’m sure that won’t be the last confusing idiom. Ready?”
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