In 3131, the Temporal Integrity Commission sends Lili Beckett and Naurr to correct a megaotric event involving the Empress Hoshi Sato and some unauthorized cookbooks.
Enterprise, Mirror Universe, Expanded Universes Characters:
Beckett, Doug Hayes, Cavendish, Levi, D'Angelo, Otra, Daniels, Hernandez, Erika, O'Day, Lili, Sato, Hoshi
In Between Days, Times of the HG Wells
25 Jun 2014 Updated:
26 Jun 2014
1. Chapter 1 by jespah
2. Chapter 2 by jespah
3. Chapter 3 by jespah
4. Chapter 4 by jespah
5. Chapter 5 by jespah
Empress Hoshi Sato stood on the bridge of the ISS Defiant, studying the latest map of her Empire. She was trying to decide where to take the Defiant next to expand her Empire. She mused to herself, “I think that maybe it’s time to finally humble the Gorn Hegemony. This could be another gateway to wiping out the Klingons. Hmm, or maybe I could go and deal with those pesky Vulcan rebels again.”
Hoshi pick up the strange finger foods that were apparently called hush puppies. They were the tastiest thing she had ever eaten; light-years better than the usual food her chef normally produced. Hoshi happily munch on them as she plotted her next move.
The turbo lift opened and her most loyal Captain April Duffy who now commanded one of the Empire’s newest ships the Attack Class ISS Chakram emerged escorted by the Empire’s most loyal alien and best interrogation officer, the infamous Caitian, Naurr, who went by the native American name for a jaguar of Nahuel, to show his loyal to the Terran Empire.
Both April and Nahuel crisply saluted and stood at attention. Hoshi smiled at her loyal servants and said, “Ironblaze the Sword of Conquest grows restless, and as Khan reminded Terran-kind, it a case of either conquer or be conquered, so it time for a new offensive, and as the rebels have been all but silenced, I propose that we must…”
Suddenly Hoshi stopped speaking, screwed up her face and grabbed her backside before continuing, “Must ... conquer ... after ... bathroom break.”
There was a loud farting noise and the sounds from Hoshi’s gut were clearly unhappy and loud. The Empress suddenly bolted for the turbo lift doors, screaming as she left, “Nahuel … throw Chef Erika … into the Agony Booth!”
“At once, Empress,” replied the loyal Caitian torturer, his tail swishing behind him.
31st May 2158
Corner of Enne Street and Dary Street
Fep City, Lafa II, Lafa System
The restaurant was packed with Calafans, humans and even a few Caitian traders. A table had been cleared at the front of the restaurant and Doug Beckett; High Priestess Yipran; her daughter, Yimar; and Pkyrul, the Caitian trade ambassador to Lafa II were sitting chatting together.
Meanwhile, Chef Naurr and Lili Beckett were working with Philippe and Cassandra in the restaurant’s kitchen to prepare some of their signature dishes for the entire restaurant’s clientele. Lili was stirring a big pot and making a joke to Cassandra that her new secret for constant stirring was to stir in time with the kicking of her unborn baby.
“So it’s stir - kick - stir - kick then?” asked Cassandra.
“Pretty much,” replied Lili. The two ladies laughed and for a moment the ongoing war with the Romulans seemed all but forgotten.
“While I’m not pregnant I can manage to stir constantly, so why don’t you go and put your feet up?” asked Cassandra.
“Oh, don’t worry, I’ve gotten used to it,” replied Lili. “Jeremiah is one active child. I bet he becomes a kick boxer, or something.”
“Just because you’re used to it, doesn’t mean it’s the way things should be. Now we are here to treat you chef friend Lili for all your wonderful letters of friendship and recipes. So please, go and rest up. Take the time to speak with your mate or the Captain. Show your unborn kitten that it’s very lucky and will enter a world full of strange friends and great kindness,” urged Naurr.
“I think you just want to take over my kitchen,” replied Lili, with a gleam in her eye.
“Well there is that as well,” mocked Philippe.
“No, we don’t want your kitchen permanently, I never fit it on the Ariane,” said Naurr, missing the joke.
The trio of humans smiled and Lili handed the spoon over to Cassandra. “Okay Naurr, the kitchen is yours for now,” said Lili.
Lili walked out of the kitchen and past the fish tank where a group of Calafan children were watching the Earth fish in the tank with fascination. She spotted her husband, Douglas Beckett, at the head table as he watched the Calafan wait staff moving round the clientele serving cocktail drinks and various finger food snacks that Naurr and Lili had prepared earlier. It was no surprise that it was the fresh fruit snacks which were most popular with the star ship crews. Doug could remember from his days on the ISS Enterprise and the ISS Defiant before he changed universes what a luxury fresh fruit was.
Doug was pleased to see that his wife had finally accepted Naurr’s offer of being Reversal’s guest chef for the day, and she was out of the kitchen trying to get some rest and enjoy someone else cooking for a change. He was aware of how big her pregnancy made her and what a little kicker they son was proving to be already. Nevertheless she was still the most beautiful radiant sight to his eyes, so he tilted his head, beckoning her over. She looked at him with a cheeky smile and then made her way over to his table.
Ariane communications officer Savio appeared with a camcorder and announced, “We’re serving up now, so let us all be ready for food.” There was a cheer amongst the clientele, of all three species.
“We’re transmitting,” Savio announced, speaking into a small amplifying device, “to the Ariane NX-04 in orbit above Lafa II. I’m sure you’ll all be pleased to see Naurr’s special multi-species cooking extravaganza from Reversal is ready to serve up here in Fep City on Lafa II. This restaurant is the domain of the legendary NX-01 star chef Lili Beckett.”
“Hardly legendary,” Lili whispered to Doug.
“You are to me,” he replied quietly.
Savio continued, “Luckily, she has kindly agreed to let Naurr be the guest chef in her kitchen and judge the outcome. So the question on everybody’s lips is, can our crazy cook the Cajun Caitian prepare dishes that are equally liked by Calafans, Humans, and Caitians and as good as Lili’s? Well, let me introduce you to our judging panel of experts who will have to make that call…”
Doug added, “Well, it does smell good. I’m eager to try some of that Cajun Caitian cooking.”
“I see,” Lili replied, “maybe don’t like it too much.”
“Oh, are you trying to sway my vote, or I’ll sleep on the couch, or something?”
“Maybe I’ll just make vegan specialties for the next month. How would you like that, Mister?”
“I’ll keep in line,” he promised. “Still…” She elbowed him and they both laughed.
The kitchen doors opened and Naurr led Philippe out. They were carrying two large serving dishes filled with various exotic delicacies. Cassandra followed them out; she was carrying plates and the cutlery. Naurr put the dishes down on the buffet table and once Cassandra had put out the plates, he then began to serve the meal to each of the four judges.
As Naurr served up the aroma fill the restaurant and Doug smiled, “The food’s a lot better here,” he said to Lili, “I feel a little sympathy for everyone back there in the mirror.”
“Burned stuff?” she asked.
“Rotting, burned, tasteless, you name it. If I don’t watch it, you people are gonna make me fat.”
“It’s that much better?”
“You don’t know the half of it, Lili.”
8th December 1980
Stage Deli Restaurant
New York City
It was late evening when the famous pop musician John Lennon and his bride, Yoko Ono, walked into the Stage Deli. A waiter showed them to their table, where Paul and Linda McCartney were waiting for them. As they did so, they failed to notice the two gentlemen and their lady companion discreetly observing them from a nearby table. One of those gentlemen had the look of military services about him, and his Celtic face markings showed that he was from the newest European states that Khan had united into his brave new Terran Empire.
The more American-looking fellow looked casual, despite his smart clothes. He spoke to the one with the Celtic face markings, “Okay, Drustan, why has the TIC sent us here?” His drummed his fingers on his table.
“Because, HD, they believe an early Alliance time traveler will attempt to prevent John
Lennon’s assassination, so we’re here to make sure that in a few minutes at 11:15 pm, Lennon dies before he can release any more patriotic music in support of Khan’s reign and thus convince more people to go and die in Europe and further reduce future human diversity and numbers,” explained Drustan.
The waitress arrived with their food and put it down in front of the trio of time travelers, “Here you go, a taste of home for you Celtic friends,” snarled the waitress, cackling with malevolent laughter.
HD looked at the three bowls of gruel; they held no appeal to him. But after doing some time on Mirror Universe Temporal missions, he wasn’t surprised at the low quality of the meal nor that Drustan grabbed the pieces of bread on the table and attacked his gruel with relish. Genofeva picked up some bread and she began to shred it into her bowl of gruel. He shrugged. Mirror Universe people seemed to be better able to process the worst of it. Maybe it was in their genes.
HD looked at the bowl of gruel and began to wonder if he could beat McCartney to assassinating Lennon and avoiding having to eat any more of the awful Mirror Universe food, He looked up; it was clear that Paul McCartney was getting very upset about something.
“And another thing, John,” McCartney snarled, “You haven’t given me my fair share of The Beatles’ back catalogue rights payments.”
“Take it up with Epstein!” Lennon yelled back.
“I’ve got better things to do with my time,” McCartney snarled, “It’s a sign of weakness to even talk about this.” He was wearing a leather jacket and began reaching into it.
HD then spotted the Alliance-Cardassian agent, while his surgery made him passable for a human on the surface, his walking gait revealed him. “There’s our troublemaker, just coming in from the balcony” said HD.
“Show time,” said Drustan, with a twisted smile.
Chef Erika whimpered as Nahuel led her by the arm to the Agony Booth. “It is not my fault that the food gave Hoshi the runs,” she complained.
Nahuel interrupted her by twisting her arm hard and Erika screamed. “She is your empress; you are not fit to use any other term to describe her. You had one job. One! It was to create the food and serve it to the Empress. The Empress has been stuck on the toilet for the last solid hour, so you’re going to the Agony Booth for as long as the Empress is stuck there,” threatened Nahuel, shoving her along whenever she dawdled.
“I only want to give the Empress the best food; the recipes in this ship’s cookbook seem better than the normal food,” pleaded Erika. “But I just don’t have everything. I need better supplies.”
Nahuel and Erika arrived at the Agony Booth. At a simple nod from Nahuel, to his deputy, Philippe, a MACO corporal, opened the chamber door and moved over to the controls. Nahuel studied the machine for a second and then gave Erika a dark look. He said, “Hasn’t the Empress clearly said on numerous occasions that the people who made this ship are culturally inferior? They don’t even subscribe in a basic sense to the five signs of weakness. Every school child knows such things by heart.”
“Inferiors in every way,” sneered Philippe.
“Yes, Major,” agreed Erika.
“Yet you dare to use the Empress for your food experiments using their recipes? For that, you shall suffer more, you old hag,” snapped Nahuel. With no further comment, he pulled Erika by her arm and bullied her into the Agony Booth.
Erika screamed as Nahuel shut the door to the chamber and said to Philippe, “Start at level three and increase the level every quarter hour till I order her release, or she dies.”
“Yes Major.” Philippe saluted and rubbed his hands with glee. “This is gonna be fun.”
Temporal Integrity Commission Headquarters
Levi Cavendish stood at the transporter controls when with a hum and a flash of light Otra D’Angelo and Admiral Carmen Calavicci appeared on the pad. Their arms were loaded down with bags.
“Oh, uh, you went shopping?” asked Levi.
“We told you this four times,” Otra reminded him gently. “I even left you a note on your PADD, and a reminder.”
“Yes, I feel much better and ready to lead the TIC Thanksgiving Party,” said Carmen.
“Now, Levi, I managed to find some suitable gifts and a little something for when we next go to see your mother,” said Otra, “I think she’ll like the pentagram I picked out. It’s real silver.”
“We’re going to see my mother?” asked Levi. He then thought for a moment. “Oh, yeah, there were five notes on my PADD about that.”
“Who else is here so far?” asked Carmen.
“Oh, um,” he checked a display, “Right now we’re only missing Drustan, Genofeva, and HD, who are still covering Lennon’s murder in the Mirror Universe. But they do have the Mirror time-destroyer, DeLorren. So they should be here very soon regardless of the time it takes,” explained Levi.
The doors opened, and the huge half-Gorn Kevin O’Conner walked in and commented, “Admiral, Otra, I take it from all those bags that you were successful? Levi, go make yourself useful and beam the ladies’ bags to their quarters and then we can get the party started.”
“I suspect we both need to freshen up before the party. I need to change my clothes so no one thinks I’m Genofeva. So Levi, just beam us straight to our quarters,” said Carmen.
“Levi can beam my bags after you’ve gone, Admiral. I want to have a word with Levi and Kevin about the catering arrangements for our colleagues from the Mirror universe,” suggested Otra.
“As you wish, children, see you soon,” said Carmen as she stepped back up on to the transporter pad.
Levi worked the controls and the Admiral vanished in a beam of light. Otra put her bags down on the transporter pad and watch as they too disappeared in a beam of light. “Okay, Otra, what do you want to do to Drustan and Genofeva that you don’t want the Admiral to know about?” asked Kevin.
The TIC Party was in full swing and Admiral Carmen Calavicci sat at the head of the table watching her TIC team tuck into the banquet before them. Everything seemed normal, well, it was normal for a TIC event. Yet some sense was itching to tell her something below the surface wasn’t right. Carmen picked up her PADD and linked it to the main TIC computers and ran a check against temporal projections. It took the computers a moment to come back and reported that everything was as predicted with the exception that alcohol consumption was below expected levels.
Carmen raised her eyebrow at that conclusion and quickly looked again at the table trying to work out who wasn’t drinking at their normal rate. She looked at her female officers, in particular Otra and Genofeva, to see if they were on water, meaning they were going to break some new family news to her soon. However, both of them seemed to have their favorite tipple in front of them. A quick look around confirmed that an unexpected pregnancy wasn’t behind the lack of normal drinking.
Then Carmen spotted it: Drustan had nearly a full pint of mirror ale rather than his usual quench of whisky in front of him. That was very strange, normally give Drustan a chance to drink and watch the pints and whiskey bottles disappear in record time. Carmen reached the conclusion that it meant he was trying to keep a clear head, which meant he was planning something.
Her PADD beeped and she saw that she had an urgent message from the Head of the Daranaean Temporal Division, something to do with the USS Bluebird. Cursing, Carmen rose from the table and announced, “Sorry, children but something has come up in the Daranaean sector. I need to attend a briefing. So in my absence, play nice and I’ll try to be back in time for the disco.”
As she left the room, Carmen tapped her left ear, twice, to engage her implanted communicator. “Yes, Richard Daniels.”
“Agent Daniels, kindly keep an eye on Drustan; he’s unusually sober.”
“Got it. Daniels out.”
Carmen raced off to her office for the meeting.
Several hours later…
HD had the disco in full swing when he noticed Genofeva’s drunken antics meant she was now dancing with Daniels and flirting with every single male on the floor and not with Drustan. In fact he couldn’t spot Drustan in the room. That Mirror oaf must have passed out already from his drinking. It’s a shame; I lined up some classic Becki Patron disco and that Ozzy Osborne folk music he likes. I mean, yeah, I was a little over the line earlier supporting Otra in saying that Mirror Universe inhabitants have taste bud deficiencies, but I bet that explains their crap food, he thought quietly.
It never crossed HD’s or Daniels’s minds that Genofeva’s drunken antics was keeping them all distracted while Drustan carried out his plan in the nearby temporal transport room.
Drustan smirked as he placed a pair of books on the pad and re-checked his coordinates. He had correctly bypassed the security alerts. He quietly muttered to himself, “So Otra and HD think they can insult the Mirror’s staff by implying our food isn’t good enough to share at the staff party. Well, let’s see what they think when I beam these famous Federation cookbooks back to the ISS Defiant.”
Drustan stopped for a moment and try to decide how much trouble this would get him into if discovered. He looked at the temporal projections, which seem to suggest that the change would be limited to the ISS Defiant and the royal line. They would be no great change to the timeline.
“Now,” he said to himself, “when Otra says that elekai with Tellarite harvest vegetables was a luxury food that the Mirror had missed out on due to their lack of creativity, I’ll be able to prove her wrong.” He clicked around some more. “But I can’t save the Mirror version of Charlotte Lilienne O'Day from the house fire where she and her parents were killed. Saving that one life would create a massive unpredictable ripple in the timeline. Too megaotric.”
He stopped for a moment to consider if this was an overreaction and if just giving Otra’s chavecoi a pruning while she slept would be a better act of revenge. Then Drustan became aware of someone else in the room; he turned and found himself standing face to face with his Prime Universe double – Douglas Gorrim. “You’re a hallucination; you’ll disappear into the dark of the night forgotten by everybody after a few days,” said Drustan, hoping he was right about that.
“Maybe I’m a hallucination, but you know why your mind brought me forth, to remind you that for all my failings, I command through respect. I had people crying over my disappearance, while your command was based on fear. And your disappearance into the far future was greeted with all-night parties on the ISS Ares – led by Nahuel,” Gorrim reminded him.
“Why are you dragging up that painful truth?” asked Drustan.
“Because we both want to make things better for the common soldier, but while I did that, all you ever did was take petty vengeance on people. You have no courage in your convictions; that’s why you won’t beam those books back. You’re just going to take some gardening tools to Otra later,” noted Douglas.
“Is that so? Just watch me! I’m a Terran warrior; I’m prepared to improve the lot of the common soldier.” With that, Drustan hit the energize command.
The hallucination of Douglas vanished along with the cookbooks. Drustan had a moment of triumph before one of his temporal visions hit like a runaway train.
On the dance floor Otra dropped to the floor as she was hit by a similar vision, and together the pair screamed as they saw…
There was a parade of strangeness, mysterious and foreboding. Odd little scenes flashed in their minds. It was the Breen, and the Borg, and the Undine, fighting the Klingons. A new race, utterly unexpected, done up in whiteface and trapped in invisible boxes, a bit of lunacy spiked with menace. There was Empress Hoshi Sato, doubled up on a toilet and yelling; her face purple, something about … mimes? The two visions were close, nearly the same, except Drustan’s included the mime ship which, inexplicably, resembled a large hush puppy.
Carmen was on her way back to the party when she heard the two screams. “Oh, great! Visions; just what I don’t need,” she cursed and began to run.
Upon entering the mess hall, Carmen found the TIC was clearly divided into Prime and Mirror groups, each shouting loudly about the situation.
“CHILDREN, THAT’S ENOUGH!” Carmen shouted.
Meekly the TIC agents all turned and looked at Carmen. She put her hands on her hips and asked in a quiet voice. “What the devil is going on?”
“It seems that Otra and HD’s earlier insult about the Mirror Universe’s food has led to our Mirror colleagues getting together to beam cookbooks back to the ISS Defiant. Judging by the vision that Otra and Drustan just had, it caused a cascade temporally collapsing in both of our verses, after Mirror Erika Hernandez gave Empress Hoshi the runs for a couple of days, which meant she didn’t launch her invasion of Gorn space. While the Defiant’s crew was awaiting instructions, they were attacked by the Tholians and a race they were not supposed to meet, one they called the mimes. Without orders, the Defiant and its crew were destroyed, including the Empress. This ripped a hole into fluidic space and our universe. It was quite the megaotric event,” reported Daniels.
“Seriously? Sometimes I despair of the lot of you. Well, it should be an easy fix for once; just beam the books back before they are discovered,” said Carmen.
“Only it’s not,” said Kevin, as he entered the room with a visibly shaken Drustan over his shoulder.
“How come?” asked Carmen.
“The time drives on both ships don’t work and the temporally transporter can only beam things forward in time and not back,” explained Kevin. He turned to Drustan, “That was some stunt. Honestly, people, Deirdre and I won’t be able to fix any o’ this nonsense. Stupid ….”
“Ai yi yi,” said Carmen.
“Well, the answer is still obvious,” said Genofeva.
“It is?” asked Levi.
“Yes, going on the projections, all we need to do is make sure Erika doesn’t accidentally poison Hoshi. Since she can’t cook we just need to beam someone from before 2190, someone who can successful cook the recipes,” explained Genofeva.
“But there is nobody in the Mirror Universe who can cook,” said HD. The Mirror Universe staff shot him a hard look. A pint glass flew over his head. “Just saying,” added HD as he ducked down. The glass shattered on the wall behind him.
“I think you’ve said enough today, HD,” said Carmen.
“Oh, wait, I get it,” said Otra before adding, “But can we risk just beaming Lili O’Day onto the ISS Defiant to teach Erika to cook?”
“Looking at the temporal cascade speed, I think it’s our best option,” said Kevin.
“But my projections show she’d just be tortured to death by Major Nahuel as a stowaway if we beam her alone onto the ship,” reported Daniels, looking up from his PADD.
“Well, the temporal transporter is only capable of beaming two people at the moment and I can’t say how long we’ll have that ability, so who is the best option to beam with her?” asked Kevin.
“Her husband?” suggested Genofeva.
“Nope, he has been branded a traitor and would just join her in the booth,” explained Daniels.
“How about Douglas Gorrim? It’s his fault, he was taunting me,” said a groggy Drustan.
“Okay, who put cinnamon in his food? Don’t you people know it makes him hallucinate?” asked Carmen.
To avoid owning up to that one, Otra feigned further post-vision weakness.
“Got it,” said HD, “let’s sent Chef Naurr as the Major Nahuel will listen to him. Maybe.”
“The projections show that has over ninety percent chance of working,” reported Daniels.
“Okay, make it so,” commanded Carmen.
Corner of Enne Street and Dary Street
Fep City, Lafa II, Lafa System
The judges had finished their tastings and Naurr stood patiently waiting for their judgments on his dishes.
He saw Doug Beckett give him a reassuring wink. “Well, that was a good sign, wasn’t it?” Naurr quietly asked Philippe.
“Mate, I wouldn’t worry about his vote,” replied Philippe.
“Given the speed which those dish were eaten, and the fact that your sister is still licking her paws, I think you’ve got two of the three species’ votes sewn up,” whispered Cassandra.
“That is kind of you to say, but in truth the Calafan vote is the one I’m worried about, as I don’t know how to judge the Priestess and her daughter’s reactions,” admitted Naurr.
“Well the only person who might know that is Lili, and she keeping things close to her chest,” said Philippe.
“Won’t that be sore on her mammary glands?” inquired Naurr.
“Figuratively, Naurr not literally,” said Cassandra.
Savio stepped forward and quietly asked the judges, “Are you were ready to reveal your opinions on the food?”
They looked between each other and Doug gave a quick thumbs-up.
Savio reactivated the video link and said into his amplifying device, “Welcome back to Reversal, it’s the moment of truth for Naurr’s cooking. Let’s go to our judges for their views…”
Naurr’s ears pricked up as he heard the hum of a transporter and he saw the light form around Lili but before he could react, he felt he was also engulfed in light and being sent … somewhere.
Naurr found himself standing next to Lili. She was standing next to a chair in a primary-colored room. On the wall, there hung a red flag showing a gold sword through a planet that Naurr felt he should have recognized.
“Naurr, what just happened?” asked Lili.
“I don’t know, but it seems to be like the Ariane’s transporter. But this clearly isn’t the transporter chamber on the Ariane,” said Naurr.
“So we’ve being abducted, then?” said Lili.
“If that means the same as being kidnapped then I do agree with you,” said Naurr.
Lili saw the flag on the wall and her jaw dropped. “Oh dear, the Terran Empire,” Lili whispered. “This is not good.”
“The Terran Empire? Who are they?” asked Naurr.
“The Terrans are the night time universe version of humanity. This twisted empire is where my husband Doug escaped from,” explained Lili. “He never wanted me to come here.”
“Does that knowledge help us?” asked Naurr.
“Beyond the fact that we need to get escape as soon as possible, not really,” admitted Lili.
Naurr’s ears perked up and suddenly he turned and opened a door to an inner chamber. Inside he found an old grey-haired woman in a dirty chef’s whites and his best but older mate, Philippe, standing outside a booth.
“Chef Philippe?” asked Naurr.
“Captain Erika Hernandez?” asked Lili.
“Major Nahuel!” exclaimed Erika.
“Captain? I am no captain,” Erika explained.
“You’re no chef, either,” snorted Philippe, the MACO Corporal.
“Philippe?” asked Lili.
“What? How’d you know my name?”
“I just do.”
“We should take Erika here to the galley,” Naurr said, “and finish cooking the meal, there is a mission.”
“You can’t leave,” Philippe said, “Empress’s orders. Major Nahuel’s, too.”
“Huh.” Lili thought for a moment. She sidled up next to Philippe. “Maybe we could make a trade.”
“Tr-trade?” asked Philippe. There were so few women on the Defiant, and this one was new. And she was, inexplicably, interested in him.
“Sure,” Lili cooed in his ear, and blew on it a little, an act that made him shiver. “You let us borrow Erika here for, I dunno, two hours, let’s say?”
“And, uh, then wh-what?”
“Then I’ll show you what I really use the olowa paste for.”
“I, uh, I never did it with a pregnant woman before.”
“Not to worry,” Lili smiled at him as seductively as she could, even though Jeremiah was kicking her something fierce, “we can even say this one’s yours. But give us two, no, make it three, hours.”
“Three hours it is,” Philippe squeaked out.
The walk to the galley was a fast one. It was a dirty place, with dusty shelves. A small greyish bundle of fur brushed along Lili’s foot, and she jumped. “What the hell was that?”
“Mice,” Erika shrugged. “I hear the infestation started in ’57.”
The mice, Lili realized, were directly related to Doug being brought over to their universe, but she kept quiet about that. “Let’s see. What’s in your stocks?”
Erika brought out the spices. “Nutmeg, cardamom. I think we’ve got cinnamon and sugar. We might have some hotter stuff, but the labels are off about half of the spices.”
Naurr opened up the refrigeration unit. “There is whole milk, it seems. And I do not know what this is.” He showed a huge carcass that looked like a large squid, but with fourteen legs.
“That’s prako,” Lili explained. “Huh, we can roast the prako. It tastes like deli when it’s raw, and like barbecue when it’s roasted.”
“She’ll want dessert,” Erika said. No one needed to be reminded of who she was.
“Naurr, what’s in that smaller container? No, to the left. Your other left.”
“I have another left? Oh, yes, I see it.” The Caitian opened up a square plastic container with something orange in it. He sniffed at it, his whiskers twitching.
“That’s pumpkin purée,” Erika explained, “I use it to bait the mouse traps.”
“Is it poisoned?” asked Naurr.
“No, it’s just bait,” Erika said, “no poison. I can never have anything like that. Empress Hoshi wouldn’t stop at the Agony Booth if I had any poison in here.”
“Got it. We can use this,” Lili decided.
It was an hour or so later, and they really had something. The mysterious spices turned out to be garlic powder and onion powder. There was also some oregano and thyme, and cayenne pepper powder. Naurr added salt to the mixture before rubbing it onto the huge prako. “This is Cajun spices,” he explained to Erika, as she took notes on her PADD.
Lili mixed the cinnamon, sugar, pumpkin purée and nutmeg together with a pinch of cardamom. She was able to approximate a dough by mashing up flour with water and prako fat. She molded it and poured the filling into it, and baked it in the oven.
“What’s that going to be?” asked Erika.
“Pumpkin pies,” Lili said. “Do you have a hand mixer?”
The Empress was back, albeit a little pale. She sat in her private mess, awaiting the evening meal. “And you said it would be good this time?” she asked Philippe, as Naurr, Erika, and Lili arrived with the dishes, walking through the doorway from the common mess.
“Uh, yes, Empress,” replied Philippe. “That’s my understanding.”
“That’s not good enough,” snarled the Empress. “Now serve me!”
Erika and Naurr bowed as they offered the roast prako meat on a large plate. The Empress looked at it skeptically. “What the hell is this?”
“MACOs brought down prako recently,” Erika explained, “including Philippe here.”
“Oh, really?” complained the Empress, raising an eyebrow.
“Y-yes. The Eska hunters we tortured said it was good.” Philippe shifted from foot to foot.
“We’ll see about that.” The Empress waited for Philippe to eat a bit of the roasted meat first. She stared at him, waiting to see if he’d been poisoned. When he clearly hadn’t been, she asked, “Well?”
“It’s a little spicy. But it’s good.” While he was eating, Lili prepared the dessert and topped it with whipped cream that she had specially made for the occasion. Philippe’s mouth watered. Despite the fact that she was enormously pregnant – and maybe fifty years old and none too attractive – to have his own woman; and one who could cook? That was a bonus. Even the men on board with hotter women would surely envy him for that. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a small packet of white fur running along the side of the room, hugging the wall. “Excuse me a moment.” The mouse was near the door, which led to the Defiant’s main mess hall. Philippe opened the door and the mouse ran through.
But the mighty Empress Hoshi Sato didn’t notice. She was too busy eating. When utensils proved too slow, she began eating with her hands like a cavewoman, shoveling the roasted prako into her mouth. “More!” she commanded; mouth full. “This is the first good meal I’ve had since, since forever! Except for those hush puppies! Make me hush puppies next time!”
“Yes, Empress,” Erika bowed as she responded.
The door was opened again, as Philippe returned. “It’s like a mouse army out there,” he reported.
And it was true. There were most of the Defiant’s crew members, but there were also hundreds, if not thousands, of mice. “Close the door!” yelled the Empress, between bites, but the onslaught of mice was too much, and they were enough to force the door open.
Erika, Naurr, and Lili were ankle-deep in mice. “Attack!” yelled Naurr.
“Save the dessert!” yelled the Empress.
“Do you want it?” yelled Lili, thinking of Doug, and how the Empress had mistreated him.
“Yes!” yelled back Hoshi, her face turning purple in her fury and lust for the pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream.
“You asked for it!” Lili yelled back, hurling the pie at Hoshi. As the mice struck, Hoshi was hit in the face with the whipped cream-covered pumpkin pie.
The weight of the mice held the door open and the Defiant’s crew got a full sight of Hoshi’s face caked in whipped cream. In her blindness, Hoshi stumbled and knocked the table over and sent all the fine food to the floor where the hungry army of mice ate well. “You’re going to the booth for this! And then we’ll leave you on a rock!” she screamed, whipped cream flying everywhere.
Just then, Lili and Naurr were bathed in a blue light as they were temporally transported back to 2158 and Reversal.
Temporal Integrity Commission Headquarters
“Did you wipe their memories?” asked Carmen.
“Yes,” replied Drustan.
“And you will stop sending unauthorized cookbooks to the past?”
“Yes, Admiral.” Drustan bowed his head. “The mime attack has also been stopped, by correcting the timeline.”
“Good. And now maybe you won’t be doing this again, despite what HD Avery says to you about your universe’s cooking skills?”
“Yes, Admiral,” replied Drustan, “you have my word.” But he had his fingers crossed behind his back. As she departed, he said to himself, “Maybe I can send recipe cards. She didn’t say anything about recipe cards.”
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