Location: Shuttle hanger
Timeline: Day 1 at 1915
The industrially sparse interior of the newly christened "Ulysses Station" was still foreign to her. With help from Kahlil, she had managed to turn the metallic box into something called home. Most nights, after duty, she would have shed the Starfleet Uniform six paces from the door; but now, her uniform was one of the comforts which remained. Dinner would be another comfort, a fulfilled promise from Lieutenant Wilson after a job well done on the former Ulysses. The two had always been "too busy" to cash in on the reward, but now sharing a meal was no longer just a luxury.
The visage in the mirror appeared to be a meager imitation of the young woman she remembered before ending up on the station. Cupping her hands beneath the faucet, she watched as water sputtered between pockets of air. She noted yet another task to add to her list of schedule maintenance, allowing her mind to review the growing list while she waited for a steady stream. The water wasn't something she would have drank, but it was useful for splashing a little life back into her cheeks. She patted her face dry and tried to summon a smile that would leave all that weighed her down so as not to depress the mood with her old friend. She summoned what she could and took off to meet Peter in the Mess facilities.
Peter was at a table, or what was passing for a table. A couple of empty crates upside down to work as a table and two chairs. Part of the hanger Bay was being used as the makeshift mess hall until they could get life support to more of the station. There was only a dozen table areas around, but with so few people, the mess area did not need to be very big.
He saw her walk into the mess area and he brushed some dirt off his uniform and parted his matted hair. He would have took a shower, changed cloths and shaved his stubble, but that was all on hold for survival. He smile and waved her over.
"Hey, you made it!" He said with a joke. "I see we both came dressed up. Did you also take off your makeup?" He joked referring to the dirt and oil they both had more or less covering them from crawling around trying to get the currently explored places operational.
"Did you prefer my 'surviva-flauge,'" she replied, extending both her hands still covered in splotches of greying black. "You may find my other line, 'Grease Monkey's Delight' to be even more attractive," she tittered, taking the seat across from her colleague and friend. She was pleased to see him smiling, to see anyone smiling, after everything the crew had gone through. She leaned in, resting her forearms across the table, feeling a little like a high school gossip about the share a secret. She was in good spirits and she could feel it reflected in the smile on her face. "This isn't exactly where I imagined this dinner would be happening," she chortled glancing around the two of them at the makeshift Rec-Center & bar.
Peter looked around and nodded in agreement. Metal walls, boxes for tables and chairs, and a much more limited menu. "I didn't either. I had a better idea going originally with a wider menu, flexible clothing attire and some cocktails would have been in order. However, we do at least have Starfleet's finest rations we can share together."
He looked to his right. "This restaurant at least comes with a gigantic window." He said looking out the magnetic forcefield that kept the atmosphere inside but allowed spacecraft to enter. With a slight blue hue, you could see stars in the distance. All new constellations that he was not familiar with giving him no idea where they were.
Jocelyn turned towards the 'existential void' which lay just behind the powered forcefield. She grimaced as the concept from Philosophy 101, echoed through her mind as she recalled the profound words "the total incompleteness of being" which now felt more real on this remote moon on the far reaches of familiar space. However, she wasn't quite so alone and that was something to hold onto.
"A fresh batch of stars, and a four course meal," she added, turning her attention to the civilian server opposite 'the window'.
Peter smiled as the server brought glasses of water out for them. It wasn't much, but it got a slight bit of normal for everyone. "I didn't realize you went all out for this. Even glasses!" He chuckled. With all that had happened, glassware was scarce and replicator use was limited.
She winked with her left eye adding a gleeful smile to her laughter, "well, someone once told me 'the good things in life are built by the little details'". She leaned back and observed the server placing the glasses of water on the table, followed by the plated rations; the ones made by simply adding water. "Besides, it might be sometime before we have some of the more basic details again."
He chuckled. "I'll gladly take basic details." He put a little water onto his ration and watched as it reconstituted. It did not look like much or look very attractive, but it was nutrient and calorie dense. "I got the rib eye with mashed potatoes." He mentioned looking at the soft brick of rations. "What did you get?"
"Meatloaf...and Mashed Potatoes....I think," she replied with surprised laughter, as she peered into the back watching the dehydrated rations take an amorphous shape. With her fork, she probed cautiously into the ration pack. "I guess there is only one way to find out".
Peter nodded and took a bite. "Wow, it's so full of...." he trailed off looking for a word. "Flavor." It was far from flavorful, but at a nice meal it would have normally had flavor. He took another bite. Survival was about calorie count and nutritional value in every gram of food. The Federation made sure that flavor was a second thought to well, everything else.
"I'm not sure there is a word to describe the utterly simple palette," she replied, wincing with every bite. "It is definitely salty," she added reaching for he glass of water. The texture was exactly what would happen if a replicator synthesized a warm pear with a Styrofoam block; a hot soggy mess. The flavor was even more atrocious, "Its a giant moist salt lick, Peter." She couldn't remember the last time she had laughed so hard, but it felt good so good.
He laughed and smiled with her. Their laugh echoed slightly and sounded louder than normal in the makeshift lounge. There were few smiles and almost no other laughter to mask it. The few people around them in this area looked, but then smiled seeing the two making the best of the situation.
"Ok, I'm thinking first order of business is finding a water reclamation facility, ensuring we have ample water and make shower stations." He paused and pulled on his uniform neck. "I want to get a shower before this uniform bonds to me." Peter looked at her and back to his uniform. "I don't get it. I know you've been crawling around tracing wire too, yet you look normal day clean."
"Peter, I can't just give away a millennia of feminine hygiene secrets," she winked with amusement, "but I think you are right. I'm not sure those secrets were meant to hold up for more than 72 hours". She took another bite of salty condensed meatloaf, chewing as quickly as possible to get it down. "These salty rations might be the first thing to kill us without clean water to wash it down".
Peter grinned at the wink. It was like this whole craziness hadn't happened. For this "meal" things were almost normal. "I knew there was a secret of some kind." He watched her eat and took a bite himself. "Yeah, water for sure. I guess we don't have to worry about anyone stress eating this stuff." He said with another bite. "The good news, if this does kill us, I'm sure it will be in under 72 hours, keeping your secrets safe."
"At least I can die in peace," she replied, taking another bite of salty composite.
He continued eating. Hopefully they could avoid the die part and just get the peace, although with his current luck, it may be the opposite.