SIM:JP - TDakora and YYalu: I'll Eat Anykind of Burger, I'm So Cheesygoing

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(( Burger Nagus, Deck 227/228, Deep Space 224 ))

It was the lunchtime rush at the Ferengi burger joint, and the crowd was bustling. The Ferengi interpretation of historical Earth fast food was, Yogan’s human friends had told him, a faithful recreation of the original in both price and quality. If nothing else, it was an experience, and Yogan had never met a burger he didn’t like. He wasn’t certain whether Talos Dakora would find the cuisine palatable, but this was the only place on the station that served burgers. And the only way to determine if the Betazoid was meant to be an honorary Yalu was to chat over a pair of Double DaiMon Bacon Burgers with cheese.

Yalu:  ::points to menuboard:: I don’t know who DaiMon Bacon is, but that’s the burger I always get. It comes with fries. You can get a salad instead, but they always leave the lettuce in the fryer too long and it gets gross.

Talos stepped up to the counter beside Yogan and surveyed the options on offer. He hadn’t really had an opinion of the Terran meat sandwich that the Trill was so fond of before they’d made the switch, but now the little holographic image next to the DaiMon Bacon burger did cause his stomach to rumble a little.

Yogan’s comment about the lettuce in the fryer caused his nose to scrunch up a bit as he replied.

Dakora:  ::Uncertainly:: I guess I’ll do the fries then?

They finally got to the first place in line, and a diminutive Ferengi with a name tag that read “LARF” beckoned them up to the counter.

Larf: Welcome to Burger Nagus, where you can taste the flavor in your lobes. Can I take your order?

Yalu: Yeah, I’ll have the Double DaiMon Bacon Burger with extra cheese, and to drink, I’ll have an Aquasition.  ::beat:: Oh, can I get extra grolv and the flarn on the side, please?

Larf:  ::shouts back to kitchen:: Extra grolv! Flarn on the side!

Yalu:  ::gestures to Talos:: And whatever my friend would like, please.

Clearly, not all of Yogan’s memories of burger-enjoyment had been shared with Talos, because he didn’t recognize a good portion of the words he’d used to order.

Fortunately, Talos had years of in-depth training that allowed him to adapt and overcome even the most challenging of circumstances. He leveraged these powerful skills as he ordered.

Dakora: I’ll have the same, thanks.

Yogan gestured to a large, illuminated sign above the order counter, on which was written in a dozen Alpha Quadrant languages: “SATISFACTION NOT GUARANTEED.”

Yalu: Probably best not to get your hopes up.

He glanced up at the Trill with a lopsided grin.

Dakora: I accidentally skipped breakfast. ::A growl from his stomach accentuated the point.:: I don’t think it’d matter what they put on my plate at this point.

Yogan handed over a bundle of latinum strips to Larf and received a holo-chip in exchange. On making contact with Yogan’s hand, the chip activated and the number 125 floated ten centimeters in midair, rotating slowly. They waded through the crowded tables to an empty one on the opposite end of the restaurant, and Yogan dropped the chip on the sticky tabletop as he sat down. The upbeat and bustling atmosphere of Burger Nagus contrasted somewhat with the tone of the conversation Yogan wanted to have.

Yalu: So, Talos. How’s your brain?

Thus far Yogan’s mind had sort of blended into the noise of the burger joint’s lunch crowd, but some mixture of their proximity at the little table-for-two and the sudden genuine question brought it to the forefront.

Talos drummed his fingers on the table a bit, nervously.

Dakora: Yeah, uh… ::He smiled unconvincingly.:: Good. Fine. Thanks. How about you?

Yogan had spent the trip back to DS224 and the time since Excalibur arrived pondering the question. He’d asked a few other crew members who’d experienced interspecies swaps if there were any lingering effects on them once everything was put right. Disorientation, confusion, and adjustment fatigue were common, but the extent to which Yogan and Talos had… commingled… seemed to be a peculiarity of the orbs’ influence on a Joined Trill and a Betazoid in particular.

Yalu: To be honest, I’m having a bit of a time with it. Your consciousness wasn’t in my body for long, but it was long enough to…

Yogan hesitated. His work in intelligence perhaps being the exception, Talos didn’t seem like the kind of person who lived a secretive life. Still, one should always have the right to choose which personal details to share and which to keep private. Talos was not given that choice.

Yalu: Your consciousness was in my brain long enough for your memories to be shared with the symbiont. In a way, it’s as if you and Yalu were Joined. Just like Yalu was Joined with Zedro and–– ::beat:: well, you know all their names by now. I just wanted to see how you were doing, and whether there’s anything floating around in that Betazoid brain of yours that I could help with.

Opening up wasn’t the problem. Talos was as in-touch with his feelings as any other functional person, but it was the delicate subject matter and the implication of the whole thing that was tripping him up. A polite person might’ve called him a people-pleaser, but trained professionals had called him possessed-of-an-unhealthy-need-for-approval. Whatever. Mugato, Gumato.

Dakora: I guess… ::He shrugged.:: I guess I’m still kind of processing it all. I’m back in my body, but the memories and the feelings they shared with me are making it hard to just… be myself again. You know?

Yogan nodded. It was hard to put into words, and for a moment, he wished he still had the telepathic abilities that belonged to Talos.

Yalu: I know. I’ve spent seven years balancing the seven lifetimes of experience I have from Yalu. And now there’s an eighth one in there. Yours.

Nodding along as Yogan spoke, Talos tried hard to ignore the fact that he’d just seen the Ferengi fry cook drop something on the floor, pick it up, dust it off and put it back on a plate in the kitchen behind him.

Yalu: Your telepathy was overwhelming. Amazing, but overwhelming. I still remember some of the things I ‘heard,’ and so I figured the experience might have imprinted on your memory in a more, shall we say, robust way than a non-telepath’s.

It was an extraordinarily circuitous way for Yogan to ask, “Hey, what all do you know about me, and how worried should I be about it?” Of course, verbal gymnastics were less effective in conversation with a Betazoid, who could just aim their telepathic antennae and get the score. Yogan wasn’t sure whether Talos was doing just that, or if he was simply inferring exactly what Yogan was implying, but either way, he seemed to pick up what was being put down.

Dakora: I’ve still got a lot of it. The memories and, uh, experiences that were explicitly shared with me during the swap are a part of me now. It’s hard to separate them from my own memories at this point.

He shifted a bit in his chair, worried that he’d made that sound like a bad thing.

Dakora: Really, I should be thanking The Four that it was you that’s left fragments bouncing around in my head. You… and they ::His eyes momentarily dropped to Yogan’s abdomen.:: kind of seem like you all have got things figured out.

Yogan laughed at the unexpected observation.

Yalu: I won’t lie. The collected experiences of eight–– ::beat, gestures to Dakora:: nine lifetimes are nice to have; I’ve relied on each of their memories to solve some problem or find a way out of a bad situation. But all of them were flawed, and all of them made big mistakes. Yogan included.

Talos had tried to do his own research in the days following the whole Cytarix-Switcheroo, but there was shockingly little data on how long it took the consciousness of a Betazoid, swapped into a joined Trill’s body to bond with the Symbiont. Weird. Now that it was confirmed that he’d left some or all of his memories behind, he wasn’t sure how he felt about it.

He had lived an interesting life thus far, maybe even unique enough to provide the Yalu Symbiont with a new experience or two. But, then again the idea of someone reviewing a first person account of his more debaucherous moments or worse; his most personal failures, made a bead of sweat threaten to form on his forehead.

Dakora: ::His brow furrowed a little.:: I don’t know how much of me is left behind, but I know I’m sort of a mess. Sorry about that.

Yogan raised a hand, as if to swat the apology away.

Yalu: No, I feel like I should be apologizing to you.  ::beat:: You didn’t ask to be Joined, and you got none of the preparation that Initiates get before the deed is done. I know you didn’t intend to, but you’ve given me a hell of a gift.

His eyebrows rose, seemingly of their own volition. Talos had been wrestling with his emotionally nomadic tendencies and the deeper reasoning behind his preference for shallow self-gratification ever since he’d come back to himself. His head felt kind of like a someone had accidentally turned on the house lights in a dance club and now he could see how filthy and poorly maintained it all had been. To hear all of that referred to as a gift gave him pause.

Dakora: A gift!? ::He softened his shocked tone.:: I polluted your collection of the wonderful minds of people who had accomplished great things with… whatever I am.

He tried not to look as downcast as he felt about the whole thing, but probably failed.

Yalu: Talos, you love life. I can feel that in every memory I have of you, even the difficult ones. I walked around the station and saw ships departing, people meeting, people flirting… ::chuckles:: Talos Yalu finds excitement and adventure and potential in everything. It’s a hell of a way to live your life. So, thanks for that.

A part of Talos understood that. Though, that was the part that was being crushed under the weight of the maturity the Yalu symbiont had thrust upon him. Yogan’s words did have some small effect. The Trill’s optimistic review of his core being gave him one of the first glimmers of hope that a happy-medium might exist.

Dakora:  ::A half-felt grin.:: Yeah, I’ve always been fond of snatching excitement from the jaws of monotony.

Yogan couldn’t help thinking about his conversation with Karrod Niac. There was some overlap between Talos’ philosophy and Niac’s, and when two people tell you the same thing, it’s probably best to listen. As Yogan’s stomach growled with hunger, he thought about Yalu, tucked away in his gut, and what kinds of experiences would really elevate the symbiont to the next level. Surely the long-lived vermiform was overdue for some seizing of the day.

Yalu: And what about you?  ::beat:: Hopefully getting to know Yogan this way wasn’t permanently scarring.

Talos’ brow furrowed

Dakora: Not at all. ::He paused.:: You’ve worked hard for everything you have, even when it didn’t come easy and somehow you still have a relentlessly positive attitude. The only scarring part is when I start comparing myself to you. What’s that bit about the thief of joy, or whatever?

Yogan nodded, and despite himself, let out a chuckle of camaraderie.

Yalu: So you’ve got the jist of being Joined, then. I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I had at first. All of their lives just seemed–– ::beat:: so much more important than mine. It took me a few years to realize that it’s not true.

The shoddy holo-chip chose that moment to emit a half-hearted buzz as their floating order number changed to an less-than-pleasant greenish hue in celebration of their imminent feasting. Thoughts of greasy food served to drag Talos from the depths of the funk he was experiencing. At least for a little while.

Dakora: That’s us. ::He pushed away from the table.:: Good thing too, because I was getting desperate enough for that fried lettuce to sound alright. ::He stood.:: I’ll get it

Yalu:  ::nods:: Aye aye. Thanks.

Talos crossed the bustling eatery and found the tray on the counter with the correct number and traded the holo-chip for it. He wasn’t sure if the amount of grolv was sufficiently extra, but he was too famished to care. Returning to the table, he set the tray down between them and took his seat, and in an effort not to seem too desperate to throw down, picked their conversation back up.

Dakora: Where were we? ::He screwed up his face in thought.:: Oh right. I think it’s just a time and distance thing. You know? Eventually I’m sure I’ll be able to embrace all of the great things I learned from being Talos Yalu, but maybe without judging Talos Dakora so harshly?

Yalu: This whole experience taught me a few things too. Not least among them, that it’s a beautiful galaxy out there, and it’s OK to appreciate it. I think I can work on that.

Talos nodded as he picked up the large burger and both hands and took an ambitiously large bite. Instantly, he was met with an explosion of meaty, fatty, cheesy flavor that set his taste buds and heart aflutter with each actuation of his jaw. It was all he could do to keep his eyes from rolling back in his head as he swallowed the delicious greasy bit.

Dakora: Holy strokes. ::He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.:: This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

Yogan picked up his Double DaiMon Bacon Burger and held it tightly to keep it from coming apart before he could get it to his mouth. He raised it slightly, as if toasting with it.

Yalu: Welcome to the family.



Ens.Talos Dakora

Intelligence Officer

USS Excalibur-A



Lt. Commander Yogan Yalu

Strategic Operations Officer

USS Excalibur NCC-41903-A

Justin D238804DS0

Return to Talos Dakora