The Feast IV
Location: Captain's Ward Room
The bowls of Skyr and the platters of fruits and grains were cleared and replaced with bowls of soup. The general commotion of the diners and overlapping conversations made discussion between different sections of the table impossible. As the Odinskus slurped soup from their soups with great relish, the Independence officers were left with the decision whether or not to drink directly from their bowls.
"Speaking of soup," Kevin muttered.
Jamie sat for a moment, first looking at his soup then looking at his knife and also noticing how other Officers were handling their dilemma. Finally thinking to himself he decided " Definitely can't eat this with a knife; so why not use the knife to mix up the soft boiled duck eggs into my soup then I can simply pick my soup up and drink it right of the bowl." As barbaric as he thought that approach was, he really didn't see any alternative.
As he had done with the fruits, Kevin skewered the vegetables in the soup with his knife. It was less effective than it had been with the fruit due to the sogginess of the vegetables but he was able to get a generous amount to his mouth without resorting to less civilized methods or making a mess. Kera, who was eating the soup with her spoon, looked at him quizzically and asked, "Haren't yoo hoongry? I vould hafe thot you hed vorked up an happetite."
Kevin only grimaced in response.
Jamie had drank about half of his soup and then set his bowl down to finish chewing his vegetables. He happened to look up towards Ensign Devroe seeing her eating her soup in much the same fashion. When she looked up towards Jamie, she smiled while touching her lip. Apparently Jamie had some soup on his upper lip, so he proceeded to wipe his mouth with the cloth napkin provided. He looked back in the Ensign's direction and mouthed "Thank you" as she smiled and mouthed "Your welcome". Then Jamie finished his soup and this time wiped his mouth afterwords.
Surprisingly, the conservation turned toward technical matters, as the two blue robed women discussed the Odinskus' theories on warp fields with Jamie. It was reminiscent of early theories from post-war Earth just before Cochrane literally rewrote the book on the subject. Jamie engaged in the discussion while respecting the Prime Directive and found himself starting to relax.
The Independence crew members cleared away the soup bowl and placed plates with a tubular delicacy one rice covered with a thick brown sauce garnished with green onions and sesame in front of each of the dinners. The blue robed woman on Jamie's left (he had not bothers to remember their names when introduced) said, "Ooohhh, diz remindz me ov zomething!" Jamie felt a hand on his left knee give a soft squeeze.
Jamie had all he could do not to jump out of his seat when the women gave his left knee a squeeze after her comment. He looked at the blue robbed women, who was smiling from ear to ear, and then glanced up towards Ensign Devroe "Not even close!" he thought to himself "But how do I diffuse the situation and keep the blue robbed women's honor in tact; as well as the Mission. Going to take some serious diplomacy."
So Jamie leaned over to the women "What exactly do you have in mind?" he asked knowing full well what the answer would be; especially after seeing Kevin's obvious state of untidiness.
“Yoo vas zo nize to zhow oos yoos hengines,” said the woman on Jamie’s left, taking a bite of eel, “ve vould like zee hopportunity to show yoo hourz.”
"So...let me get this straight...you want to show me your Ship's engines because we showed you our engines" Jamie reasoned, still not quite sure of the answer he would receive.
"Uf kourse," the woman on his right said, "Any halliance requirez hexchangez. Diplometic, teknical, kultural, zocial."
"Ah yez! Zocial hexchangez," said the woman on his left with an exaggerated wink.
Kevin gave an eye roll as his gaze met Jamie's.
"It would be my honor to see your Ship's engines and perhaps it would aid in our navigating to Starbase 10. As far as social interaction, I'm sad to say, this is about as social as I am able to be." Jamie responded, trying to lay the foundation of diplomacy while at the same time noticing Kevin's expression.
"Zuch a zhame," Jamie's would-be paramour replied, laying a hand gently on his face.
"I am interested in your weapons systems," Kevin hurriedly interrupted by directing a question to the blue-robbed woman, "Neither the Sleipnir nor your smaller vessels appear to mount offensive weapons."
"Oh ja," the woman replied, taking her attention from Jamie, "De gods hafe not yat refealed to oos de zecretz of henergy und zpace tradehoffz."
"I am not sure I understand," Kevin followed up quickly, "Would you elaborate?"
"Zhe meanz det the zmaller wessels dont hafe de zpare henergy to power veapons und the Sleipnir dont hafe de room," one of the Odinskus captains next to Kevin admitted between bites of braised eel.
"So you use your ships purely for defense?" Kevin asked.
"Ho no," Kera replied, "De wesselz getz oos klose to de henemy zo ve ken board und zettle dizputez in a more zivilized feshion." To punctuate her point she hefted her axe above her head. There was much pounding on the table and cheering from the Odinskus in response to Kera's comment.
Jamie just sat and didn't utter a word after the robed women's comment. At least now he felt that he was no longer under the gun to do something that he was not wanting or willing to do. Duty is one thing, but that would have gone way beyond any concept of duty. He would have to thank Kevin latter for changing the topic of conversation and getting him off the hook.