On Food, Home, and Animals
General Sim Postings
Location: Mess Hall
Timeline: The day before briefing posts
Dr. Jane Sinclair’s morning had been rough. Many patients due to a minor accident in the fighter bay. Busy but thankfully not difficult. She was glad to be finally out of sickbay and in the mess hall for a late lunch.
She replicated herself a Caesar salad with breaded chicken and a cola and found a table by the window.
Entering the mess hall at the quiet time of night, Leland had stifled a yawn. The Brown haired, hazel eyed former FCO, were now the Assistant to the Chief of Engineering. He was enthusiastic in the new position. Reporting to the Chief, which was Dodd prior now were Lieutenant JG Taggart.
Glancing over at the petite female officer, Leland were surprised. "I stay up late every night and realize it's a bad idea in the morning..." Hawksley broke rooms silence. The long haired officer with blue highlights turned to look from her work and looked to be dinner.
“A good night sleep does the body wonders,” Jane said. She looked up to him and smiled. “That and healthy eating.”
"Myself..." Hawksley had looked at his plate of oatmeal chocolate chip baked cookies. With his glass of milk. "These are protein cookies. Supposed to taste like.. A cookie." He eyed the plate a bit concerned now that he had replicated them.
Jane raised an eyebrow at him. “I see. A healthy meal alternative…that happens to look like and taste like cookies.” Then she grinned. “I’m messing with you. I won’t judge, least not today.” She gestured to the open seat across from her. “Please join me. Jane Sinclair, Assistant Chief Medical Officer.”
"Thank you." Leland had relaxed and chuckled. Late at night, he found the time to eat, and was happy to speak to Jane. The cookies ain't bad. But really are like holodeck, all scenes, no fresh air." Interested in the Department. "Assistant you say Jane?" He raised a brow. "Looks like we started our own club here. Assistant Chief of Engineering. Leland Hawksley."
“Pleasure to meet you, Leland,” she said with a warm smile. “And we all know the secret to a good department is good Assistants,” she joked.
“That is true. You speak the Truth!” He grinned.
"So are you the remaining Doctor in those 9 out of 10 doctors recommend commercials?" Hawk cocked his head slightly looking at Jane. Sinclair seemed really easy going, approachable.
“Oh, definitely,” she replied, a mock-serious expression on her face, but the mischief clear in her eyes. “But that’s just because I’m contrarian and difficult. Nine other doctors say to avoid sugar? I’ll recommend sugar out of spite.” She grinned and winked. “How about you, Leland? Do you say something takes four hours and fix it in one like you always knew you could?”
“Well. The thing with that is, everyone has wiggle room.” Hawksley conversed. He took a drink and set it down. “The Captain knows this. The trick is not to make it too technical—a mixture of part inventory issues with the replicator formatters. Then, you have your standard EPS failure that involuntarily knocks out two starboard thruster ICS assemblies. Then, you got a ship that is stalled for a few hours. What can we do about it? The Captain asks, What Can I do about it? I say. Well, Sir. If I bring on an extended team, parallel Alpha with Beta. We get the ship running in 34 minutes, tops. Who did it? Who fixed it so fast?!”
Leland chuckles. “So you tell me, Doc. What got you into the Medical Profession?” Sinclair was chill. He was feeling the vibes. He liked it.
“Long story,” answered Jane. “But I grew up on Vega Colony, in the farmland and lake country. Worked a lot with animals and became a vet. Then I enrolled in medical school to treat sentients as well as animals. The vet work helps, actually. Physiologically you have much more in common with an Earth dog than with a Vulcan. We’re expected to treat so many kinds of people that the line separating veterinary medicine from the regular kind is vanishing.”
Hawksley paused a moment. He couldn’t help but stifle a cough as he started his meal. He was taking a sip from his drink and setting it back down. “Uh. Did you call me a Dog?” Leland didn’t believe so, but it had sounded almost like it. “I’m so kidding!” He laughed.
Jane joined him in a laugh.
“I understand. Sentient life is emerging into every corner of the universe. Today it’s almost a sin to step on a newly discovered moss or fungus on unchartered worlds. How do you get through science academy with knowledge constantly in flux?” Leland enjoyed Engineering, as science was a script, as were technical processes, and documents concrete. He liked his science as so.
“And, Vega Colony. That’s a beautiful world, Jane. You’re lucky. Living and working with animals sounds like an ideal upbringing. Is your family still on Vega?”
“My parents are,” she answered. “And my sister, with her husband and daughter. My little brother is off exploring the galaxy. He writes all the time but I have a hard time following it!” She sighed. “But I miss Vega sometimes. Our farmhouse was right up against a crystal clear lake. I’d go swimming every day. I’d lay on the sand to dry in the sun. There was an island where we would camp sometimes. A little slice of paradise.”
"That sound's awesome, really it does." Hawksley was impressed. "I was born on New Mars Colony. We didn't have as much wilderness. There was some accelerated arboretums, but nothing of a true forest and farm."
Leland then took another bite out of the protein cookies. "Are you sure you wouldn't like to try one. Very, very good!" He joked.
Jane held her hand to her face a moment, to hide a reaction. “Leland, I’ll be honest. I cook and bake as a hobby and that cookie does not look appetizing. You want a protein rich cookie, give me a few days and I’ll bake you something amazing.”
Hawksley had pondered. "Jane. That would be great." He perked up. "What... How... What would you do." Leland was highly skeptical of baking, as he was a baker in himself he liked to think. "I would like to hear your opinions, methods." He leaned in quite interested.
Jane grinned. “Let me experiment. Come to my quarters on the station, three days from now, after dinner. I have a little kitchen area set up there. I’ll be glad to show you my process.”
"Do you miss working with the Animals. Well, I guess out here. In this universe anyways, there is animals on a lot of worlds." He had asked.
“True,” Jane said, nodding. “A lot of frontier colonies still domesticate animals for labour or food, so there’s much to do.”
"What would you do if you came across the most adorable little furry creature. Beautiful pleading watered eyes staring back at you... A small purring to it." He posits. "And then you find out the adorable animal is sentient, and it is being used as food stock?" As an animal lover and advocate, Leland had found himself in similar situations on past missions. "It is hard to decouple yourself from not wanting to take that creature in your arms and bring it home with you."
“Sentience is the key factor in what you’re saying,” said Jane. “But I’ll get to that. We do our best to treat our non sentient animals humanely. Across all Federation space, those planets that continue the practice of animal husbandry must follow very strict regulations so the animals aren’t made to suffer in their lives. Even the culling is completely painless. The concepts of ‘factory farming’ of old Earth, where some amount of cruelty was tolerated to maximize food production and profit margins, haven’t been legal since before my homeworld was settled.”
She held up a piece of chicken with her fork. “The question of cuteness is an interesting one. You’re right that I wouldn’t want to eat a cute kitty cat, but I also know that there were cultures on old Earth where that was acceptable. You can find recipes for lots of small cute mammals across thousands of cultures. Have you eaten rabbit? It’s delicious.” She grinned. “The person who discovered Tribbles considered their use as a food source before he died.”
“But yeah the crux of the issue is sentience,” she concluded. “Cuteness becomes irrelevant. I find out it’s sentient, aware of what’s happening, and doesn’t like it, I’ll do everything in my power to stop it.” She recalled the story of an Ensign named Mariner, who helped the Selay resist being eaten by the Anticans. She let out a little laugh. “Sorry, I might’ve been a bit intense there. But I love to cook, and to eat, and I love the animals that help me do that. But some lines must never be crossed.”
Hawksley understood well Jane's feelings toward animals and sentience for being. "I concur. Rather, I have an old friend of mine. Hercules. Herc is a golden retriever. He has been with me for years, through good and bad times. A senior of 16 years. He's a fully functioning AI. He has his likes, his dislikes, and he develops his character traits over time."
Leland took his last sip of cold milk as he finished up his protein chocolate chip cookie.
"The traits. They can be amusing to downright odd. It is funny to think that his AI can be attributable to an evolving set of algorithms mimicking the processes of an animal. Yet he can keep tabs on me. Commander Dodd." Hawksley had chuckled. "Remy down in Engineering crafted a new holographic interface so Herc can go jogging with me around the ship. Herc even has a special indicator when he barks, allowing him to contact me."
“An AI dog!” Jane squealed. “I love it!”
Leland had laughed as he watched Jane's response. Often Officers who had met Herc fell for the golden fluffy mass. "Speaking of Herc. He just had his nails clipped on the holodeck. I should go and check on him. Your welcome to join me." Leland had nodded with a grin.
"His AI, the I portion. Wow. Sometimes I think he could probably take on a few positions on this ship. Maybe the head of squirrel defense. But it's a possibility."
“You never know,” Jane said with a laugh. “I’ve heard of ships getting infestations. Tribbles, ever since their reintroduction. Cardassian Voles. Insects that might have snuck into cargo containers. There might be a job for him. As for seeing him, perhaps another time. I need to get back to sickbay soon.”
"That's a shame, I know he was intent on meeting you."
"Oh?" Jane said. "How does he know about me already?"
"Herc has an AI interface. He can hear my conversation. Herc has sensed that your voice is new, so. He did get antsy in my quarters." Hawk lent a smile. "It shall be another time. I should be heading back to Engineering myself."
"Well, if you can take him off the ship, then bring him with you when you come try my baking," Jane suggested. She finished the last bites of her lunch and gathered her dishes together on the tray to be taken back to be recycled.
"Of course. And baking." Hawksley chuckled. "That would be awesome."
Jane stood, picked up her tray, and began walking towards the recycler on the way to the door. "Good meeting you, Leland."
Replying with a affirmed nod. Leland felt that meeting Jane would lead to yet another good friend made onboard the Tomcat. Turning to his own plate, Hawksley found his way back to the Warp Core.
Lieutenant jg Jane Sinclair
Deputy Chief Medical Officer
Lieutenant JG Leland Hawksley
Deputy Chief of Engineering