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Part of USS Columbia: Beyond Borders

Breaking Bread

USS Chawla
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Matthys straightened the corner edge of the rather bohemian-appearing tablecloth, working out the last of the wrinkles. He stood back with his hands on his hips and nodded in agreement to himself. They were several days into their journey on the Chawla as a team and for some reason still unknown to himself, he had suggested they have a formal dinner party with the aim of further getting to know one another. It had slipped out in a moment of weakness and their valiant away team leader, Ensign Bollwyn, had latched onto the idea promptly.

Matthys had spent the past hour or so decorating the back common area of the runabout, ensuring the atmosphere was just right. If he was going to have to endure this evening, he was going to make sure it was done so in style. The room, much like the tablecloth, now had a warm, eclectic and bohemian vibe to it

Bollwyn entered the compartment with his focus on the PADD he had in his hands. He stopped mid-track and looked up. Instantly, he smirked. “Wow, you did all of this?” He asked. 

“You like it?” Matthys looked to his friend for validation. He didn’t want to let him down on this, especially considering how excited he had been since announcing it was a go to the crew the prior day.

Nodding, Bollwyn placed the PADD to his side. “It’s really good, thank you.” Bollwyn appreciated the effort that Matthys had gone through for him. 

“Did you decide what dish you were replicating?” Matthys asked as he started fussing with the table arrangements once more. The group had decided that they would each replicate one of their favourite dishes to share amongst themselves. They would introduce the dish at the beginning of the meal.

“I’m debating between something Klingon or Vulcan. Though I’m not sure what would make our ‘new friends’ happy,” Bollwyn replied. He looked around before returning his sight to his friend. “This should hopefully break the ice with them. We should get ourselves ready.” 

“You’re right… I should finish getting dressed. This is due to start in less than ten minutes. I’ll be sure to bring my special surprise back with me.” Matthys winked at Bollwyn and made a quick exit to change into some casual attire.

Nitala had spent the last few minutes getting ready, though she wasn’t sure what attire to wear to a formal dinner. She wasn’t used to these customs so she quickly tried to do some research to see if she could get any idea of what was formal ware. She picked a nice dress that looked appropriate, light blue color, and ankle length where she wouldn’t be stepping on it as she walked. Once she was satisfied with how she looked, she walked out and headed to where the dinner was located.

Checking the latest information on what has been happening in the galley, Mkana blinked and looked up. “What surprise?” As he sees Matthys walking away “Really, what surprise was he talking about?” Mkana was not the biggest fan of surprises. 

“Must we go to this?” Darman practically barked at his colleague and sighed. He did not see the point of such a useless endeavour as this dinner party. They were here to work and had a job to do. 

“Oh, give it up, Darman. We’re going. It would be incredibly rude to not do so.” Mereska retorted in an equally aggressive tone. Her facial expression dared Darman to push her any further on the issue. “We’ve still a couple of days until we even arrive at our destination; we need to do something to pass the time. It might as well be this. Finish getting dressed, and then let’s go.”

Darman responded with an annoyed groan but complied. “Fine. You can replicate a dish from the two of us. I’m not having anything to do with that.”

Matthys had been quick to change and was glad he was the first one to make it back to the shared common area. He was awkwardly carrying several bottles of liquor, which he ungracefully placed on the table, two bottles of real Kanar and two bottles of Saurian brandy. Matthys had managed to sweet talk their barkeep on the Columbia into parting ways with the beverages before leaving for this mission – he figured some real liquor might come in handy.

“Computer. Dim the lights by twenty percent and play some music. Something relaxing to suit a dinner party but also slightly on the exotic side.” Matthys ordered. The computer responded with a chirp of acknowledgement and the lighting dimmed in the common area slightly, followed by some light background music.

Nitala walked in, looked around to see Matthys, and gave a soft smile. “You have outdone yourself,” she said, almost awkwardly, as she was still not used to social interaction and felt awkward.

“Thank you, Nitala.” Matthys smiled and gestured toward the replicator. “Feel free to replicate your dish and then place it on the table; we’ll get sorted here soon.”

Mereska and Darman walked into the space together; she was behind him, ready to push should he need any encouragement to complete their small journey. Once they arrived, Darman looked around at his temporary colleagues and gave a stiff nod before assuming his place at the table. Mereska took her turn at the replicator and then placed their dish off to the side before she took her own seat beside Darman, ready to jab him should he forget his manners.

“Thank you all for coming,” Matthys spoke to the group as his hands nervously clasped in front of him. He looked to Bollwyn for his own encouragement before he continued. “My grandmother used to say you could learn a lot about someone by what they enjoyed eating. I never quite understood that, but I figured it was worth giving it a go this evening. I’d like us all to introduce what you’ve brought to the table today before we get started.” 

Matthys gestured to his dish, which appeared to be some sort of pie. It had a good amount of steam coming off of it. “I’ve prepared an old favourite of mine. Chicken pot pie. My grandmother used to make this for me as a way to warm up from a nice winter hike. It’s hearty and comforting. I hope you enjoy.”  

Bollwyn smiled grateful at his friend and his efforts for this evening’s gathering. As the leader of this away mission, he took his cue to stand up next and share what he had brought. “Well, I guess I’ll go next. My dish is a spicy Deltan pasta bake that an old academy friend of mine would make once a week during my last year. It was a life saver, and one that became quite popular on campus.”

Nitala looked a bit nervous before speaking, “This might be out of the ordinary and a human dish, but it is something that I found to be my favorite once I tried it during my Academy days from a friend I was staying with.” She began before pausing, “It’s called green bean casserole.” She said with an awkward smile.

Taking a piece of the pie as last as he looked a bit at it, Mkana had only briefly heard of what chickens wear and looked at Matthys. “Chickens are those….birds that can’t fly on…Earth, right?” Taking a fork and taking a bite. He lets himself be surprised by the flavors that hit his mouth and slowly nods in approval. 

Mereska stood and gestured to the dish off to the side of her and Darman. “We wanted to share a favourite of ours. It is considered by other cultures more of a dessert, so you may want to save it as a way to polish off your meal. Larish pie. Each house on Cardassia tends to modify the recipe slightly to their own preferred balance of sweetness. This is my mother’s recipe.” 

The introduction to the various dishes was now complete. Matthys stood and smiled at the group. “Thank you everyone. I wanted to share one more surprise as well,” he gestured to the beverages on the table. “Authentic Saurian Brandy and Kanar. Please help yourselves.” Matthys quickly grabbed one of the bottles of Saurian brandy, poured his own large drink and then took a large gulp.

“We are getting spoiled here.” Mkana smiled softly, taking a glass of the brandy. 

Taking his fork and gently tapping it against the glass on the table, Bollwyn stood up. “If I can get all of your attention for a moment, I just wanted to thank Ensign Clark for organising this evening and ask you all to raise your glasses to the success of our joint mission. May our time together bring our cultures closer together.”