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Guest Laarell

"Attraction Grows, I"

Bajor. Beautiful in spite of the atrocities committed on her soil. Like Earth, in a way, or Taraalan, Laarell's own homeworld.


She'd picked up a guidebook as soon as she'd landed (in addition to the token snowglobe and magnet), and headed down the checklist of the top-starred attractions (also known as the top tourist traps) before finally giving up -- the crowds at some of the key temples and such were worse than those at certain amusement parks she'd endured on Earth.


So, she'd finally just closed the tourbook, and headed in the direction of the quietest area she could scope -- in this case, a sprawling garden. She wandered, enjoying as she went, and finally stopped in front of a breathtaking overlook of flowers, smiling at the sunlight on her skin.


"You're in my light." The voice came from behind Laarell, and held a distinctly grumpy note.


"Hmm?" She turned, glanced at the origin of the words, and made haste to step aside. "Sorry..."


"Just watch where you're going." The Bajoran bent her dark head over the pad of paper on her lap again. "You're not the only one in the park, you know."


Laarell eyed her for a moment, considering a sharp word, when her eyes fell on what the girl was holding. "Artist?" she asked, peering curiously at the other woman.


The young woman looked up, brushing hair out of her face and leaving a streak of charcoal across her forehead. "It's a hobby," she said brusquely.


"May I look?" she asked, smiling warmly.


Sighing slightly, she shrugged. "I suppose you won't stop chatting until you do?" She turned the sketchbook so that Laarell could see it.


She studied it. "Very nice." Laarell squinted, studied it closer. "Remarkable realism, too..."


"Thank you," said the Bajoran, unbending a little. She slid aside on the bench, making room for Laarell. "You're Starfleet, right?"


"Yeah. Civilian?"


She nodded. "Yes." Studying the other woman, she added, "We don't often get Orions down here..."


A smirk. "We're fairly rare, even for the Fleet. I'd guess most of the ones you see are merchants." Laarell's smirk turned warmer, to a smile. "Sorry -- I'm Laarell. Didn't mean to steal your light and not introduce myself..."


"Meressa." She put out a charcoal-smeared hand.


"Meressa." Pretty name, she thought. "Nice to meet you, and to see your artwork..."


"Thank you." A bit shyly, she hid the picture again. "It's just a hobby, really."


"Mm. Yes, but you're quite good," Laarell reiterated. "How long have you been drawing?"


"Oh, since I was little," she replied. "Just... anywhere, you know? With a stick in the dirt, and such."


"Creative," she admired. "Lived on Bajor your whole life?"


"Yes." She smiled at the Orion. "My family's from Rakantha province -- farmers. I got tired of trying to scratch crops from the soil after the Cardassians poisoned it, and came here instead."


"So what do you do now? Sell your art? You must make a tidy bundle..."


Meressa laughed. "Oh, no, no," she said, shaking her head. "I'm a gardener. At the Dakeen Monastery."


"Ah. Sounds like a... peaceful job." Laarell looked a touch wistful.


"Usually, yes." A wry grin. "Don't ask me after a freak storm in the rainy season, though."


"The plants are outside?"


She blinked. "Of course."


"Ahh. I'm sorry... I think I've gotten used to plants being all under cover. Starship living and all."


"Oh, I see. That would warp your world-view, wouldn't it?"


She grinned. "I think it would. Plants in natural soil."


"That's usually how it's done." Returning the grin, Meressa fumbled for a cloth and wiped the charcoal smears off her fingers.


"How far is the monastery?"


"About an hour by ground-car," she replied. "This park has some of the best landscapes in the city, though."


"Show me." Laarell smiled. "I just got here when my gawking got in your way..."


Meressa stood up, offering a (cleaner) hand to the Orion. "I'll show you my favorite spot, if you like."


Laarell nodded, clasping the Bajoran's hand lightly. "Please."

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