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Working On A Theme

Posted on Mon Sep 4th, 2023 @ 9:32pm by Rianne Edei (*) & Mykaia Kylo-Zahn

Mission: Fractures
Location: Mess Hall Galley
Timeline: 28th January 2398 20:00
2404 words - 4.8 OF Standard Post Measure

A playful wager had arisen among the crew members one drunken night when they had been talking about what they had missed. They challenged Rianne to create a dish that could evoke a specific memory. Determined to prove her prowess as a chef despite her older years, Rianne delved into her memories, searching for the perfect inspiration. She remembered a childhood picnic on Betazed, where she had savoured warm, fragrant herb bread baked by her grandmother.

With a glint in her eyes, Rianne set to work. Her hands danced over the ingredients, her mind projecting love and nostalgia into the mixture. As the aroma of freshly baked bread wafted through the mess hall she smiled as she noticed someone in the doorway. "Can I help you?" She wondered softly.

In his own, awkward way, Curtis had inspired Mykaia to step outside her private melancholy. It had been an unintended pep talk, she was reasonably sure, but the provocation to grasp new opportunities instead of worrying about how displaced she felt had given the Risian courage to contemplate the world outside her quarters and work responsibilities. If nothing else, she needed to eat and that brought with it the realisation that she was part of a larger service group she'd never met. Reserved, at least by cultural standards, but never shy, Kaia had dug deep to find the determination to fix that.

She lingered in the doorway though. Encroaching on another person's workspace, whilst they were working, was at the very least impolite. "I only came to introduce myself," she observed quietly. "I don't want to be a distraction though."

“Introduce?” The older woman laughed. “You have been onboard months we might not have spoken but I do know who you are, Mykaia.” The woman said turning to take in the woman lingering in the doorway and not coming any further in.

That, at least, was enough to make the Risian flush. "I am aware of that," Kaia replied with a slight hitch of laughter. "And I know we have spoken in passing, that's not what I meant. I realised I had never properly sought you out in the spirit of friendship, all our interactions have been discussion about what the crew are putting in their mouths." She placed her hand over her chest. "My people have a lot of customs around how we welcome people into our lives. I've not done a very good job with the people here yet, and that is my fault."

Rianne smiled more. Not many crew sought her out in the spirit of friendship but she knew why. She was the chef and she was hidden half the time in the kitchen out of the way from everyone so it made sense and she did not judge. “It has been a busy couple of weeks.” She assured indicating for the woman to come in.

"I suppose it has, yes." Not unlikely the cook, Kaia's main interaction with the crew had been as a background presence as they sought each other out for social relaxation. Several had fronted up to the bar alone, which had allowed for amicable enough exchanges but the bartender had delved enough into self-reflection to realise that she hadn't been very present for those conversations. Adapting to change was difficult and adjusting to being utterly alone in this new adventure for the first time had taken more energy than she'd expected. She was emerging from the shock, however, and couldn't really see value in staying unconnected. Drifting over, she peered at what the older woman was doing. "What are you making?"

“Betting bread.” She announced with a glance at the ovens that were preparing the items for tomorrow's breakfast. “Several engineers doubted cooking and challenged me to create a dish that could evoke a specific memory.” She moved to where a saucepan was bubbling. “Tea? It’s jasmine and Jaxtus fruit?”

"It smells delicious," Kaia commented, pulling over a stool to prop herself up on the other side of the bench. "The bread, that is, though the tea sounds lovely." One thing that came from growing up on a tourist resort was that you developed an expansive palate. Risian cuisine tended to simply be variations on whatever the visitors expected.

"Thank you. What does it make you think of?" She asked the woman as she set about making two cups of the jasmine and Jaxtus fruit tea. It was a mix of species tea with the jasmine coming from Earth and the Jaxtus coming from Hysperia but it was lovely to the Betazoid. There was always someone coming in and out so she always make more than was needing as it was versatile and shimmered easily.

The question seemed to surprise Kaia, who wrapped her hand around the cup once it was handed to her and then lifted it to hover just below her nose so she could consider the aroma with a little more intent. "It smells a little of the small soap vendor on Hysperia," she eventually admitted, somewhat awkwardly because she was sure it wasn't much of a compliment. "I couldn't carry nearly enough of their supplies in my luggage, this is similar to the bath salts I really like."

"I meant the bread but I can see what you mean about the tea. It reminds me of some very nice spa days that I have attended." She admitted sitting down opposite the woman savouring the smell as she put the mug under her nose taking in a deep breath. "I bet you could not but if you run out of something let me know. I did not skimp on my luggage."

"I haven't really accumulated a lot, it's been difficult to know from one job to another just how much I can carry." It had been such a strange thing to grow accustomed to, the notion of only maintaining exactly what she needed. Kaia hadn't realised how sentimental she was until there was no scope to collect mementos and display them anymore.

"Gregnol wanted a cook so he could put up with my luggage costs," Rianne said simply sipping on the tea with a smile. The Captain had not even batted an eyelash at her demands and requests to join the ship which made her wonder what others had requested to get them there. "So how are you finding the ship?"

"A little overwhelming," the Risian found herself admitting. "It's much bigger than any I've been on so far, which has the benefit of there being far more people to get to know and less chance of any loneliness, but I'm afraid I still get a little lost." Kaia huffed self-consciously. "It doesn't help that parts of the ship seem to be off-limits."

"Not many areas and would you really want to venture into them?" Rianne wondered kindly as she shifted away from the bench to start taking out the loafs of bread she had made from the oven. She put them on top to cool and put in the last five of them.

"Oh, I have no desire to explore anything I'm not supposed to, I'm just worried that I'll wander into them without meaning to." It sounded like a childish concern now that she spoke it out loud but it had bothered Kaia, the sense of disorientation and knowing that she was meant to navigate with an understanding that she didn't have access to everything. She could find her way through an entire resort even after a particularly long night celebrating and yet not getting turned around in these corridors that seemed to look like mirror images of each other was proving challenging. Kaia wasn't entirely certain that it was normal to struggle so much.

The older woman laughed softly. She could understand that worry but no one onboard was going to judge for silly mistakes like that. "And if you wander into it you wander in and then wander out." Rianne had gotten lost several times when she first got on board but there had been nothing to see just blank canvasses ready for organising and painting.

"I suppose you're right."

It was exactly the advice Lyndon would have given, that devil-may-care optimism tempered by logic that tended to ensure he never suffered from self-doubt for very long. Though she had grown up embracing many of her people's philosophies, Kaia had always been too much of a deep thinker to get away with easy-going spontaneity. Leaning forward, she propped her chin up in her hand and watched the older woman work.

"So, were you a chef back on Betazed?"

“I was many moons and sun cycles ago.” She explained trying to not think on what made her leave Betazed in the first place. “But since I left I have been all over the universe. I move as the mood takes me. What about yourself?” Rianne shifted the conversation back on the woman and not on herself. She did not want anyone to feel sorry for her not been back to Betazed in decades and no telepathic abilities to speak of, it was a sorry state of affairs to many.

"I hadn't left Risa until a little over eight months ago," Kaia confided. "But after a while, with so many people bringing aspects of their culture to us, it felt only natural to want to experience some of it first-hand. It's been...quite a learning curve," the Risian admitted.

"Big change for you," Rianne commented with a smile as she looked over to see that she was being observed. "Anything I can do to help with the learning curve?" She wondered thinking she could remember the issue herself.

"I'd love to know how to cook what you're preparing." It was likely an unexpected response and, in many ways, was not something Kaia herself had fully anticipated. Sitting idle felt a little rude, however, and beyond that there was an odd sort of affinity that she couldn't explain but also found difficult to deny. She missed having people to work alongside.

“This? Just more bread. This ship seems to love carbohydrates more than anything else. You sit and drink your tea, dear.” The betazoid assured with a a final poke at the dough. It would need to rise overnight for it to be put into the oven in the morning.

"I don't think I've ever made bread," Kaia replied wistfully, adding some context to her initial query. If she was honest, she'd never really cooked much of anything, for all she was reasonably successful in pairing drinks with certain flavours and textures. It wasn't, she realised, without some attempt made by her mother at times. A younger version of herself had just been far too likely to lose herself in daydreams to commit complex kitchen science to memory.

“Well you come here tomorrow after the lunch serving and I will show you.” Rianne assured with a nod. Making bread was easy in her opinion anyone could do it with a great amount of success. The girl looked sensible so she was sure that she would easily pick it up.

Surprised by just how much that simple offer perked up her mood, Kaia sat up a little straighter. "Are you sure? I don't want to get in the way."

“You are not in the way now and you will not be tomorrow.” It was one of the many reasons why she had a little table and chairs set up she enjoyed visitors watching her work. She rarely had them on this new ship. “People are always welcome.”

"I can always let you in on a few trade secrets when it comes to cocktail recipes, in exchange," Kaia joked. "I actually thought on the way here that we could perhaps collaborate somewhat when it comes to the weekly menus. The last bar manager really didn't skimp on stock, I'm almost positive that I'll be able to come up with a complimentary drink list to match your dishes." She hunched a shoulder. "I thought the crew might like it."

"Maybe like a themed night?" The older woman wondered. That sounded like something she could get behind for sure and give her cooking some focus for sure.

"That could work," Kaia agreed, being more than familiar with the concept. One might easily have argued that every night was a theme night in a Risian resort. "It might break up the monotony for the crew a little, Hysperia is quite an act to follow."

The Betazoid nodded. It very much was a hard act to follow but decent food whilst out and about had made the last three months a lot better since they had left Hysperia. "It is a date then," The older woman declared with a nod.

"Maybe I should try to find out what the crew might like." It was at this point that Kaia made possibly a sizeable mistake by not adding as a follow-through to her line of thinking that asking Curtis might be of any assistance. It wasn't so much that she hadn't noticed the other Risian's occasional awkwardness, or that she wasn't aware on some level that he tended to exaggerate, she just didn't take him seriously enough to understand that he was over-compensating.

Rianne nodded. That would be easier for the young woman than her especially as it seemed the woman at least had seemed to make friends from what she had observed. “Can I leave that in your capable hands?” Rianne wondered looking at the loafs and started to citing up and buttered it offering to the woman.

Genuinely surprised by the gesture, Kaia hesitated only a moment before reaching out to accept the slice. As always, she held it first to her nose and closed her eyes to smile appreciatively at the waft of warm doughy comfort that resulted. "Of course," she eventually responded, pulling apart the bread delicately with her fingers to anticipate her first taste. "I'll see what Curtis thinks and take it from there, he'll have a better idea of who to ask."

Rianne nodded. That sounded like a good plan in her opinion, the man knew had been onboard long enough to know the ins and outs. Maybe it would be a boost to the ship for several people to be onboard with the idea. Many hands make light work after all. “Sounds good to me.”


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