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A Commanding Breakfast

Posted on 27 Apr 2023 @ 8:18am by Commander John Reynolds & Captain Harvey Geisler

2,391 words; about a 12 minute read

Mission: Milk Run
Timeline: Mission Day 2 at 0730

John usually just took something from the replicator for breakfast before heading to the office. This morning, though, was a different story. He was going to have breakfast with the Captain in the Captain's Mess. Maybe that meant actual food as opposed to replicated food. At any rate, part of him wondered if this was a business breakfast or more relaxed. Not was rare that a Executive Officer got like that with their Commanding Officer...just relaxed.

He'd gotten up a little earlier for his holodeck stroll along the Thames River and made it back in time to change. It was quiet and refreshing as always. Now, he stood in front of the door to Captain's Mess and rang the chime.

The door opened immediately, and the Captain was nowhere to be found. Instead, a Bolian was inside, wearing a white uniform with the pips of a Petty Officer. "Good morning, Commander." He gestured to a nearby beverage station where a selection of juices, hot water, and a carafe of coffee was waiting. "Help yourself to the drinks. Also, I'm happy to take your breakfast order."

Early, John thought to himself. Fantastic way to start a new assignment...beat the Captain to his own Mess for breakfast. "Good morning, Petty Officer." He looked at the beverage station and nodded. John was fond of tea and glad to see the hot water there. "Breakfast, huh. Well, I think I'll have an order of back bacon, a tomato cut in half and grilled, a couple of mushrooms sliced and grilled, a small serving of baked beans, and two scotch eggs." He gestured to the beverage station. "I can see to my own cup of English Breakfast tea. Thank you."

The chef nodded and immediately left the room. This left John alone until either the chef returned or the Captain arrived.

Sure, it was a large breakfast, but he'd worked up a decent appetite on his early morning walk. Besides, it'd be relatively fresh as opposed to straight replicator. John went over to the beverage station and prepared a cup of English Breakfast tea. He picked it up and walked over the window while it steeped. It wasn't a bad view at all. Kind of lent itself to ruminations. He picked up the teabag by it's string and bounced it in the tea a couple of times before letting fall back into the darkening liquid. He turned around from the window and leaned back against the wall and took a sip. Almost perfect.

The door to the mess opened, permitting entrance to none other than Captain Geisler. "Morning," he acknowledged his first officer while crossing the room to the beverage station. Of the 50-odd people he'd managed to retain from his prior command, Harvey was pleased that that number contained the chef. Harvey had encountered few people who could expertly craft the perfect roasted bean-to-hot water ratio, especially the elusive Watkins brand. This creature comfort would be one Harvey could not live without.

Harvey poured himself a glass from the carafe, and took a moment to inhale the sweet aroma. He exhaled, closed his eyes, and smiled. "That's a damn good cup of coffee."

John watched as the Captain entered and headed for the coffee. He removed his tea bag and carried to beverage station for disposal. "I used to drink coffee by the pot when I first started in Security. Never could find the perfect replicator recipe though. That, or a place that could make good fresh. People got tired of the irritability, anxiety, and insomnia so I had to cut back. Switched to mostly tea then." He took a long inhale and let out a sigh. "It sure does smell good, though."

The Captain gestured to the carafe. "You're welcome to a cup if you like. Keeping a supply of fresh beans on hand is a logistical miracle out here, and I'm happy to say it's one that I've been able to keep up despite all of the craziness." He sipped his coffee once more as he navigated the small room to his seat at the table. "It's our first morning out of Spacedock. How's your assessment of the mission so far?"

John nodded and took a sip of his tea. "I'll be sure to remember that. Might grab a cup when I'm done with the tea." John followed and took to the other seat. "Seems like a standard run from what I've seen so far. But in my experience, nothing is ever standard around here. Around the Fleet I mean."

"What was it someone said once?" Harvey mused before taking a sip of his coffee. "Weird is part of the job? Such is the cost of wearing the uniform some days."

John slowly nodded. A few things had been going through his mind as he'd been reading mission reports and looking at the amount of transfers. As well as where some of them were coming from. But he didn't want to dump it all on the Captain at once during breakast. "Yes indeed, Captain, yes indeed." He took a sip of tea and set the cup down. His straightforward honesty in expressing his thoughts was probably why he was still a Commander and only four years younger than Harvey.

"I'm new here, Sir. It's going to take some time for you and the crew to trust me...if you all ever do. I've noticed this crew lost a lot of people when they changed ships. I imagine most of that was due to the weird stuff?"

The timing of John's question couldn't be better as at that moment, the doors opened. The Bolian chef entered, quickly and cleanly placed a plate of food in front of the Commander and then the Captain, and swiftly departed. Harvey, without hesitation, picked up his fork and cut into his vegetable omelet. "Turnover has always been high on the Black Hawk. In fact, I think there may only be one or two crewmembers that have been with me since I first transferred out here to the Gamma Quadrant. It's better than it was, but it's still awful."

He took a moment to chew a bite and swallow. "We lost a lot in the ship downgrade, going from nearly 800 to 500. The weird stuff has always been a factor. We've seen a lot more gruesome than we have beautiful. Twice this year, we dealt with a malfunctioning AI, and also alien spores. Both tried to kill us. It's hard to keep people on a ship that attracts death."

John had taken a bite of the baked beans and the back bacon while he listened to the Captain. That was something, that there were one or two left since he'd been out here. "Well," he said after swallowing, "malfunctioning AI and alien spores is...definitely weird. Sorry to hear that you've seen more gruesome than beautiful. I'll say this though, it takes guts and mettle and hard-ass people to serve in a place that's got that kind of reputation. In the current state of the galaxy, not every assignment is going to be the maiden voyage on the Enterprise-D. Sometimes you just have to punch omnipotence in the face and move on." He sliced off a piece of grilled tomato and mushroom and stacked them together on the fork.

"My concern is all of the new faces coming from the Alpha Quadrant or starbases that don't have that mettle to serve out here. I'd bet your old crew has it, but not so much the transfers. I think we've got our work cut out for us to get this crew up to where they can bear name USS Black Hawk." He put the tomato and mushroom in his mouth.

"On that we agree," Harvey confirmed as he sliced off another bite of his omelet. "This crew is as green as they come. I have full confidence that Camila will get the security team whipped into shape in no time, but it takes every man, woman, agender... crewmate aboard to make or break this ship in a crisis. Everyone needs to be ready, from damage control, to helm, to operations, and even a brilliant science officer at the sensors. We can't afford mistakes. Especially not now."

"I agree," John replied. "That said, I'm not here to coddle the old crew or new crew. There's a counseling department for that. This quadrant, the Dominion, these smaller powers...hell, the going to bite us if we make mistakes."

The Captain nearly choked on his breakfast as a grunt tried to escape his lungs. Fortunately, he'd managed to avoid it. After grabbing a napkin to wipe his mouth, he remarked, "This quadrant is going to bite us no matter what we do. This isn't Alpha or Beta. We're not dealing with Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians... or even Orions. They're all here though. But it's dangerous space."

Harvey leaned forward in his chair and picked up his coffee, "Tell me, Commander. After hearing from your captain, and getting to know this ship and crew. What's the first two things that we need to do to break this crew in? And more importantly, how can we do that without breaking them?"

"Well, we've mentioned the unknown. They should be ready for much as possible. Maybe we can coordinate some unannounced ship-wide drills. The old security officer in me loves drills," he added with a chuckle. "Second, maybe we could let them really see what we're up against out here. Vary away mission assignments, see what the quadrant is like outside of this starship." He took another bite of breakfast.

"Well," Harvey remarked, setting down his coffee, "our group is still tasked with investigating these pirates. I've already started looking ahead for where we should be looking. There's a space station nearby that may yield some information. It's been a few years since I've been there. A placed called Razmena."

"Hmm, Razmena...don't think I've ever heard of it before," said John. "At least not a lot. I take it that the station has a notorious reputation?"

The Captain finished his plate and pushed it ahead of him just a couple of inches. "Something like that. It's an independent station, awfully run down, a couple lightyears from Starbase Unity near the edge of Federation-patrolled space. It's been handy for us before. Even if it doesn't have any leads, it can help our crew learn more about what life is really like for the cultures here in these sectors."

John nodded as he took a couple more bites of the last little bit of his breakfast. "Truly the frontier, then. I like the sound of that." He drank the last of his tea and sat back. "So, a run down, sketchy space station where the crew gets to experience some culture shock and maybe a few bar brawls. Sounds like the perfect recipe. On a slightly different note, since we're looking for leads and intel in a sketchy station near the edge of Federation-patrolled space, will we be in uniform or local clothing?"

"I'm not sure," Harvey remarked. "I suppose that depends on the intel reports. We've got some time before those are ready, not to mention, we've got at least a couple weeks involved in this mission. We'll see what happens."

"Understood, Sir," said John. "Now if it's okay with you, I think I'll grab a cup of that coffee to take with me. That smell," he paused and took a long whiff, "that smell is something you just don't get over." He laughed a little. "Fresh, non-replicated, right?"

Harvey raised his mug which contained only one swig's worth of the elixir. "The best kind! Wilkins Coffee, imported straight from Earth. Be careful though. It can pack a punch."

John listened as he got up and made his way to the beverages. "I like things that pack a punch," he said, filling a 'for the road' mug. "Wilkins, huh. If it's straight from Earth and not a replicator, it can't be all that bad." He took a quick sip so as lower the chances of spillage. His eyes widened. "You were right, damn good coffee."

The Captain smiled and rose to refill his empty mug. "I keep a carafe in my office daily. If you want, I can have Services set you up with one as well. I haven't had supply issues with Wilkins in a couple years, so don't worry about being stingy."

"If you're offering, I'm accepting, Captain," answered John. "The lack of supply issues regarding it is definitely good news." He might have to ask later about getting a bottle or two of his favorite whiskeys on that supply request. "I like my morning tea, but my gut is telling me I should probably get back to some good coffee."

"A good cup never hurt." Harvey smirked as he took a sip of his refreshed mug. "Well, Commander, I think I must be off to morning inspections. Anything else on your mind that we need to discuss?"

"I'm good right now, Captain. You have your morning inspections and I have my morning requisitions and requests to get too. Such is life in Starfleet," said John.

"Indeed it is," Harvey confirmed with a grunt. "See you on the bridge, Commander." After a final swig and nod, the Captain turned for the door. He stopped suddenly and snapped his fingers. "Oh, I forgot to mention. Every now and again, I like to use the official cover. I keep a few in a drawer over there to hand out to guests. Feel free to take one and wear it whenever you like." With that, he nodded and left the room.

John heard the doors close as he turned to the drawer the Captain had mentioned. He liked the old type baseball caps from twentieth century Earth. Everyone had their peculiarities and that was one of his. So when Harvey told him that there was an official cover, he grinned. He pulled one from the drawer and rounded down the bill to give it the curvature that he preferred. Then he put it on and smiled. "Wear it whenever you like," he said as he recalled the Captain's parting words. "You can bet your sweet aunt Susie."


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