It was an enchanting night. In the air was the alluring scent of blossoms, as well as the sweet smoke of campfires. It was as though an ancient magic was in the air… From the moment he had arrived on this world, Picard's imagination had been captured. The only other place he could compare it to was the Ba'ku planet in the "Briar Patch." The primary difference, of course, was that Anij was not there. And there was the fact that the Ba'ku were not particularly fond of the arts of war, as were the Nua Breizhians.
Picard was in his dress uniform, together with the rest of the bridge crew. They were attending an outdoor reception in their honor. It was also in honor of the Romulans, since they had also come to help defend Nua Breizh. With defenses already in place, there was nothing to do but wait. A gathering with music and dancing, it was insisted, would be good for morale.
Upon arrival, the guests were greeted with a drinking ritual, in which a cup was passed around the group, and each person was meant to take a sip. The Romulans participated reluctantly, but they said nothing. A band began to play a series of rustic reels, rousing marches, and lovely waltzes.
Picard walked over to the bar. "What can I get you, Capitaine?" the bartender asked. Picard ordered a glass of wine from the local vineyard. Tomalak was already there, enjoying his glass of Romulan ale. "Romulan ale is the last thing I'd expect to see here, General," Picard commented, thinking that an opening remark about the weather would be too obviously contrived.
"Ah, but Captain, we have been trading with Nua Breizh for nearly fifty years now," Tomalak replied matter-of-factly. "Not many of us have actually set foot here, however; which is a shame because it is such a charming planet. I really had no idea." He drained his glass. Picard had a feeling that everyone there was going to end up perhaps drinking more than they should. Dr. Crusher prepared for what she believed was inevitable, and brought an alcoholic antidote with her.
"Yes, I had an opportunity to see some of the city earlier. It's quite remarkable." Picard attempted to keep up the dialogue.
"This place is just full of surprises. It's ironic isn't it? I never thought we would ever share a drink together at a party, though I dreamt of it once."
"Oh, really?" This is interesting. What exactly do Romulans dream about, anyway?
"Yes, we were talking about what we each do in our spare time."
"Well, Tomalak, just what do you do in your spare time?"
The Romulan laughed jovially, "Why, I used to plot against you, to tell the truth. Now I am consumed with plotting against the Dominion. If I had the opportunity, I should like to try fishing."
"I'm told the seas here are excellent for fishing. Perhaps we should try it after the battle?" Picard could not believe he just said that, but it was already out. He really needed to be careful. The alcohol here was real, not the replicated liquid that his brother Robert said had dulled his senses.
"I would like that very much. Enjoy your evening, Captain," Tomalak raised his drink and went over to Lord Tierney to start another conversation.
That was easier than I thought it would be, Picard thought. He heard someone clear his throat behind him. "Captain Picard?" Turning, he recognized Stefan DeSeve. The man looked markedly different. It was the haircut, he decided. Yes, the last time Picard saw him, his hair had been cut to conform to a Romulan style. Now it was closely cropped, which made him look like a different man altogether. He looked less worn and tired than he had previously.
"I just wanted to thank you for your efforts on my behalf," he said.
"Oh, don't mention it," replied Picard automatically, still surprised to see him there. He mentally went back to LaForge's informal report about the escape from the Cardassians, in which the engineer mentioned DeSeve's more personal reason for leaving Romulus. That report gave credence to Picard's belief that DeSeve's original explanation had sounded canned, rehearsed. There was a sad remorse in that wayfarer's eyes that he unsuccessfully tried to hide. To be sure, there were elements of truth in his profession about "matters of perspective," but Picard could tell that there were deeper reasons DeSeve chose not to share. "And on Romulus," he later stated, "you learn not to volunteer information."
"I suppose you weren't expecting to find me here," DeSeve chuckled nervously.
"No," Picard admitted cautiously, "but the Allaires are very generous. No doubt they are grateful to you for rescuing their sister."
"They have given me a second chance, and I don't intend to waste it."
"I'm glad to hear it," Picard said. "See that you don't." He truly hoped that DeSeve meant what he said, but he until he saw otherwise he would keep his expectations neutral.