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JL | Danielle Atarah, Kalina Zett, RAdm Indi Hawk | Friends and Enemies

Posted on 241709.20 @ 2:58pm by Rear Admiral Indi Hawk & Danielle Atarah

Mission: Non-Plot Log
Location: Earth

"I'll wait to order," Dani shook her head at the waiter, who promptly nodded at her, then at Zett, and then left, promptly, towards the kitchen. Zett picked her wine glass, sipping at it slowly with an amused smile, watching Dani fidget.

"Waiting to see your friend?"

Dani glared at her.

"Oh, come on. It's starting to feel like you're in line for the principal's office."

Dani muttered and reached for her glass of water, her sarcastic eyeroll serving less as a rebuttal and more as an affirmation. Zett's smile grew in amusement.

"Should I play the concerned parent here, ask for leniency?"

"Oh, don't you dare." Dani's eyes shone warning, and Zett laughed into her glass. "Don't worry, D, I'll behave."

"Yeah. I hope we all do."

Zett sipped again, placed her glass on the table, and reached to squeeze Dani's thigh in encouragement. Dani gave her a miserable look, then took a breath, straightened herself, and placed her arm on top of the Trill's.

"Let's try not to end up killing anyone tonight, okay, physically or metaphorically?"

"I'll see if I can manage," the Trill joked, and Dani shook her head with a smile.

Indi walked into the restaurant and saw Dani sitting with another woman. She'd received the message that Dani wanted to see her for both personal and professional reasons. Right then, she didn't care too much about the professional ones. It were the personal ones that had finally convinced her to come. A quick check on the restaurant confirmed her suspicions about the location. She hadn't brought backup though. If Dani wanted to kill her, well, she could just go ahead and get it over with. "Dani," she nodded as she approached. With another nod, she ackowledged Zett's presence.

Dani took a quick breath and let out a smile that didn't even attempt humor, blinking away a headache that once again planted itself deep in her skull. She nodded back at Indi, but before she could say anything, Zett rose, gesturing at the empty seat in invitation, as if Indi needed one. A waiter rushed to cater to the new guest at what was clearly the VIP table.

"Admiral Hawk. Good to have you here, I'm Kalina Zett. It's good to meet one of Danielle's long-time friends." Her smile was genuine enough, pleasant, and friendly, but her stance was strong, authoritative, confident.

Dani looked at Zett carefully, and then at Indi, nodding slowly again, watching the woman's reaction.

"Miss Zett," Indi returned the introduction with a smile of her own. The introduction was unnecessary, but she wasn't about to skip the pleasantries if it was part of the dance. A small voice inside her head was shouting at her to stop considering this like a dance, and to actually try and make something of it. With an inward sigh, she briefly glanced at the waiter and at the rest of the personnel in the process. They looked that: restaurant personnel. She could easily take all of them. Right then, she was more concerned for the men she didn't see. "You have information?" she continued after her visual check, which she hadn't even attempted to hide.

Zett sat, noticing the Admiral's glance around the room, swallowing a smile that carried a healthy measure of respect in it. Careful always, alert always, well. Starfleet didn't make them inept after all.

Dani nodded, noticing Zett's smile, trying to consider which of the Admiral's actions warranted it, and chose to investigate that later. "Yeah. We have a common interest in a ship in the fleet," she jumped right in, not bothering with more pleasantries. They've been through this before, and it failed. Now, the Admiral seemed to jump right into business as well. So be it.

"I have a good friend there, so I've been keeping tabs on them." She plucked a PADD from her bag and leaned to hand it to Indi, nodding at it. "This is all I have about the Vindicator and its disappearance." That was almost true, but whatever wasn't in there was irrelevant and minor. What she had in that PADD was the relevant information she collected from all of her assets through the quadrant, and they were not so few. Some of that, surely, Starfleet didn't yet obtain.

It would be of some value to the Admiral, Dani knew, though it was probably more the sentiment that counted in this case, than the information itself, which was, as of this moment, practically nothing. "I know Ivanova personally," Dani bit her lip, then smiled, lopsided, defiant, "She's not even remotely close to her ninth life yet. She'll bring them home." She didn't have to outright mention Indi's son; the implication, the personal affect, was clear.

Zett organized her table cloth and nodded at the waiter, giving the two women a moment to exchange whatever Starfleet-related news they were dealing with. The waiter nodded, silently, and left for the kitchen.

A combination of apprehension and relief washed over Indi's being. Not because of what Dani was saying - she knew there would be little information on the padd that she didn't have yet - but the fact that Dani still cared enough to exchange this information first and foremost. Then again, the mere mention of the Vindicator caused the kind of apprehension you could do without in a hostile environment. She slowly closed and reopened her eyes before focusing her implants on those of Dani.

By now, she'd read through Dani's file. She knew that Ivanova had been the XO when Dani lost her eyes. It was something she wasn't thrilled about. An XO should never let a crew member get hurt that bad. An XO had to do better. Then again, if Ivanova was half the Commodore she was now, she'd berated herself enough and had lost enough sleep over it. It still didn't keep her ship from getting lost this time. She'd be sure to have a talk with Ivanonva.. if they were ever found again.

Accepting the padd at last, she quickly scrolled through it. She'd read it in more detail later. "Thanks, Dani, I appreciate it," and she really meant it.

Dani nodded, pursing her lips with a small understanding smile. The waiter came again, with a posse; two men with trays, a carafe of water, and a bottle of wine. They began pouring and arranging the plates, the waiter quietly organizing them, occasionally glancing at Zett, who nodded at him with a smile.

"I took the liberty of ordering hors d'oeuvres for us. There's water, wine, and, of course," The waiter bowed and revealed a bottle of original Coke, as if it was fine wine, pouring it gently into Indi's cup. "Coca Cola, the drink of the Admiral." Zett smiled, and picked her glass, tipping it in a gesture of 'cheers', and sipped from it, smiling. Dani shook her head and joined in, tipping her glass and sipping from it, taking the time to gather herself and avoid the awkwardness that would, quite assuredly, have fallen on the remainder of the conversation.

If she wanted to impress Indi by the fact that they knew her favorite beverage, it didn't work. Aside from that however, she had to admit a coke was welcome. Tipping it carefully, she also drank. If they wanted to poison her, coke was a good means to her. At least she could enjoy it then. It felt wrong to be sitting here though, apparently at the start of an elaborate meal, with her son missing in the Beta quadrant. With the first pleasantries over, she leaned back in her chair slightly, feeling a weariness she shouldn't be feeling in the middle of a meeting like this.

Dani finished her long sip and cleared her throat, Zett gave her a sideways look, and the smaller woman shook her head, though her eyes cleared a bit of the frustration that seemed to appear there for a brief second. She shrugged, and pulled a second PADD out of her bag.

"I have another gift for you. Something I couldn't really give you the last time we've met, but I hope you'll accept now." She showed the PADD and slid it across the table. Zett watched, but said nothing, eating a piece of bruschetta slowly, as if to occupy herself while the two do their business.

Indi eyed the padd with the same kind of weariness she was feeling. She felt teamed up, cornered on the other's terf, and she was pretty sure she wouldn't like what she would find on the padd. Then again, she also felt so tired and concerned about Michael, that all of this seemed to matter just a bit less.

Picking up the padd, she didn't read it just yet. "Let me guess, you want me to take care of something for you?" she asked. Over the years, she'd mastered the art of not letting her feelings show. She was afraid though that the weariness would show though. Especially to Dani. Dani would feel it in her gut - or rather, her mind, but Indi didn't think Dani had made the connection yet - and she had no idea how the other woman would act on it, or if she would at all.

Dani, on her part, started having a headache again. She shook her head, but Zett's amusement showed before she could speak.

"Wow," Zett noted, swallowing a chuckle with another bite of her appetizer. "Starfleet doesn't do much with manners, does it?"

"It's a list of names you might be interested in, Admiral," Dani tried to ignore Zett, but the Trill was too amused to be quiet, and Dani's headache intensified. "You had some trouble finding -- and convicting -- most of those in that list. I figured we could lend you a hand." She gestured at the PADD. Zett, still amused, still chewing, watched her reaction with interest.

Indi hesitated. She briefly glanced from Dani to Zett and back again. If she accepted this, she'd be in their debt until she repaid it. She didn't like being in anyone's debt. Especially not a criminal's debt. And that's exactly what would happen. Then again, if the list was as extensive as Dani made it sound, perhaps it could be worth it. If only her mind was more clear so she could think this through. She didn't want to do anything that she'd regret tomorrow, but she didn't think she'd have another shot at this. Dani's message had that made quite clear. "Why are you doing this?" she asked, focusing on Dani. It wasn't the kind of question she usually would ask. It was a show of weakness.

"Because we're not the horrible no-good terrible people you make us out to be, Indi." Dani muttered, her headache preventing her usual sacrastic humor. Even Zett noticed, though she said nothing, her concern only showing, and only slightly, through her eyes.

"And because these are people I, too, don't really want to see out and about in the street."

"I never said you're horrible no-good terrible person," Indi sighed. Their last meetings had all gone to hell before they'd really started. She missed the good times. She missed being able to goof around with Dani. Get some serious work done, with one of the best Engineers Fleet had ever seen, and then to relax and have fun afterwards. Was that why she'd been so harsh on Dani? Because she felt betrayed? Threatened? Was she wrong in those feelings? Dani was a criminal. Her companion was a criminal. And here they were sitting, enjoying an elaborate meal. It was wrong. And yet it felt good to be able to just sit with Dani for a while. "Neither am I though."

Zett picked up her glass again, glancing at Dani. Dani shrugged. "Then accept this PADD, and stop being such a hard-ass, Admiral. We have more things in common than you think."

At that, Zett coughed, swallowing. Dani glared at her, and Zett shrugged apologetically, signaling the waiter to refill their cups. He obeyed, wordlessly, and Dani finally picked a piece off her plate and bit it, chewing, looking at Indi with a sigh. "I haven't changed, you know. I am still the same person I was, just new experiences and new surroundings and," she smiled slightly, ignoring the headache, "a new profession. But I'm still me. And you know me, even if you insist that you don't."

Indi flinched at being addressed as 'Admiral'. If she was truly an Admiral, she wouldn't be here humoring these criminals. Friend. Criminal. Oh, this was all so confusing. If only Michael would be alive for certain. A headache of her own was growing, and it had nothing to do with the connection to Dani. Over the past couple of nights, she'd had less dreams. The connection was fading. She was glad for that.

Resigning herself to what she knew she would regret in the morning, she fired up the padd and glanced through it. There were some interesting names on it, indeed. But at what cost had the obtained this? She suddenly felt so very, very tired, all the energy drained from her. Instead of replying, she focused on downing her coke.

Dani continued nibbling on her appetizers, waiting for a reaction. Zett glanced at her with a look that usually accompanies rolling one's eyes, but Zett was a better player than to actually follow up on the gesture. Dani shrugged, an entire conversation passing through the two women by mere gesture, expression, and small shakes of the head, while the women were waiting for Indi to speak - to approve or deny or whatever else that was bound to happen between them.

So far, Indi hadn't touched the food yet. Slowly, she reached out to one of toasts close to her and started to eat slowly. Everything in slow motion. Meanwhile, the padd that now lay in her other hand was burning it. She wanted to throw it across the room, but for what? Of course the information on it was important. But if her friend had been able to acquire this information, it also meant that her friend was on the wrong side of things. Still her friend though? She hoped so, anyway. Finally stuffing the padd in one of the pockets of her jacket, she glanced back up at Dani. "I'll see what I can do with this information," she spoke, admitting defeat.

Dani nodded, allowing a small smile. In truth, if Indi didn't take care of the people in that list within a few days, Dani would have to make sure someone else does. No one on Earth and in the system would benefit from the likes of them roaming around loose -- but that was for another day.

For the moment, she was just as content to get even this small concession. There might be hope for the Admiral yet.

"Well," Zett chuckled, reaching for her glass of water, "that was exhausting." Dani sighed and Zett sipped, her eyes watching the Starfleet woman across the table with amused curiosity, as if the battle that happened in Indi's mind was plain to see, and fascinating.

"Maybe now that we're all friends, we can get to eat something. I hear the chef prepped for the VIP visit, I wouldn't want to disappoint him." She winked, but the smile was mixed, and Dani tapped the Trill's thigh gently, hoping to dial whatever-that-was back. Zett acknowledged, bowed her head a bit, and signaled the waiter, who approached quickly with small delicate menus and retreated almost as fast. "This is the best Italian restaurant in the western hemisphere. Well, outside of Italy."

It didn't take Indi long to choose an antipasta and a pasta. She wasn't hungry, but she did acknowledge that she had to eat. Her mind was working overtime trying to figure out who she was having dinner with. If it was her friend, she'd start about old times. If it was the crime lord, it was a matter of saying as little as possible. Poking at the bruschetta a waiter had set in front of her, she glanced between both women on the other side. She was almost envious at what they had between them. Then again, a lot of people were envious at what she had with Cintia as well. It was great to be with the love of your life.

"Why Earth?" she finally asked, rolling the wine around in her glass before taking a mouthful and tasting it carefully. It was excellent wine of an excellent year. Light Italian red wine. She liked it. "Why did you decide to take over activities on Earth of all places?"

Zett, on her part, remained in a state somewhere between amusement and fascination, watching the Admiral as if she was examining a rare animal at an exotic zoo. The entire situation, the whole emotional game of being torn about this decision fascinated her, but didn't surprise her at all. It was, after all, a career Starfleet person. They're so predictable.

"I came here when I was a child, I've lived here most of my life, I have family here," she glanced at Dani, and then turned her gaze back to Indi, speaking as if answering a question that wasn't actually the question asked. "When it came to starting a business, it was an obvious choice." Zett finished with a smile, her eyes glinting with something else, and Dani waited to see where this was going.

'An obvious choice'. Indi had no idea what to read into that, and she wasn't sure she wanted to. As minutes passed, and the anti pasta was set in front of them, she slowly settled in a bit more. Her shoulders dropped from the Admiral stance just a tad lower. The weariness showed more on her features. She wasn't quite on top of her game yet. Hadn't been since she'd returned. Hadn't been since Dani had pulled her back. Dani had done that. The career criminal - friend - had risked her life to pull her back. She was probably already regretting it. "I'm sorry we're on opposite sides," she mumbled at last, half hidden somewhere behind her glass of water. She was sorry. She didn't want to lose Dani as a friend. Perhaps she should have realised that days ago.

Zett groaned and Dani kicked her under the table, the Trill turned the groan into a sigh, and gave Dani a look that tried to say she'd stop, but had no real apology in it. Dani rolled her eyes at her.

"We don't... really have to be on opposing sides all the time, Indi," Dani smiled, rubbing her temple instinctively, trying to relieve the soft thudding in her skull. "We can help one another without putting each other in places that either one of us would find against our moral compass." She nodded. Zett took a breath and shoved a spoonful of pasta into her mouth, chewing.

There was something about Zett that Indi liked. She was cocky and confident, ready to rule the world. Which, in her case, was exactly her intention probably. Leaning back a bit, she looked straight at Zett for the first time and held her eyes there, eyes that looked very much like Dani's. "You don't think much of me, do you?"

Zett's smile expanded as she swallowed, the humor returning, the appraising look, through the disdain in the back. She reached for her glass of wine and tilted it towards Dani, her eyes glinting again. "She does."

Indi had to admit that Zett was even more of an artist at this game than Dani was. "I wasn't talking about Dani, I was talking about you. I can tell you that I admire you for your strength and your love for Dani."

"I do have that going for me," Zett's smile shifted sideways, her eyes reflecting amusement mixed with sarcasm. Dani knew the look too well, and wasn't sure she liked it. The Trill held her glass in her hand, twirling the liquid like a professional wine taster, keeping her gaze at Indi. "This evening is, after all, about the two of you."

"I thought it was about the three of us?" Indi asked, puzzled where this was going. She didn't like the entire conversation that went back and forth between the two other women. She knew neither of them well enough to read much into it. She was definitely at a disadvantage, and it made the hair at the back of her neck stand up.

"This is about us," Dani gestured, "and what I hope is our friendship intact."

"Friendship is everything," Zett nodded, and the smile lost some of its sarcasm. "Please, let's enjoy the meal and concentrate on the things that can actually bring us together." She nodded at the waiter, not waiting for approval. "I think you'd like our array of desserts. The Chef makes everything in house, with the best ingredients on Earth, I guarantee, they're unforgettable."


Danielle Atarah
Earth Syndicate

Kalina Zett
Earth Syndicate

RAdm Indi Hawk
Commander, Alpha Quadrant Security


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