Drink and Conversation
Posted on Sat Aug 10th, 2019 @ 12:07pm by Commander Gary Taylor
Mission 2: Heaven On Earth
Timeline: day after the birthday party
Gary walked into the Elysium's lounge and found it relatively empty. A fact he was glad for. He didn't want to see or talk to anyone. Walking to the bar, he sat on one of the stools and waited to place his drink order. Maybe he could drink his guilt away or at the very least forget about it for a couple of hours.
"Commander Taylor, hello", Jessica greeted him happily as she approached him, though when she noticed his mood, she reined in her enthusiasm and asked, "What can I get you, sir?"
Gary looked as the voice spoke, "Jessica right?" He asked, "Can I have a rum and coke if it isn't too much trouble?"
"Yes, since Milla isn't around to remind me I shouldn't be working, and I'm actually on duty", Jessica smirked. "Coming right up." She went and replicated the ingredients but mixed them manually. She enjoyed mixing drinks, even if this one didn't require a lot of finesse. The show was part of the game, wasn't it? "It's quiet in here, most people go down to the planet instead."
He looked around and saw she was right, the lounge was basically empty save for a handful of crew. "Yes, it is." Gary replied, secretly glad it was. Jessica's description of Earth made him smile. "You mean Earth? I suppose they do. It's home for a lot of them, me included."
"And you're here holding the fort?" Jessica asked as she placed the drink onto the counter in front of him. "I had thought you'd leave that to a junior officer, maybe someone whose home is light years away?"
"Someone has to." He replied, as he picked up the drink and took a sip, "Besides we have four weeks, I have time to visit. What about you? Why aren't you planet side?"
"I, uhm, well", Jessica said. "For one, I'm taking engineering classes while we're docked. I want to be useful when something happens so I'm training for damage control. Also, I feel safer here than leaving the ship."
"Damage control? Good for you." He answered. it was refreshing to see someone wanting and eager to better themselves than accepting a handout. "You know you can get someone to go with you, show you around. Safety in numbers." He pointed out. "Take day trips. Pick somewhere you would like to visit, go and return to the ship at night."
Jessica nodded. "I know. Maybe I will." If one of her friends asked her to come with them, she would. But she wasn't much of a traveller of her own accord. "Learn something about agriculture that doesn't involve poisoning the soil, maybe?"
Gary nodded, "You could do that. Or you could just sight see. There are many beautiful places to visit. However, if you really want to see Earth and learn about its people, don't spend all your time at tourist destinations. Go to small out of the way places. See nature, that sort of thing."
"Where are you going?" Jessica asked. "You did say this was home, so I'm assuming that's where you'll visit?"
"My parents have a ranch. With horses and cows, chickens, all the things that make a ranch." He said a smile coming to his face. He loved the ranch, it was home and it was safe.
Jessica's vision clouded for a moment. "I grew up on a farm. It had some good parts, too. I miss them."
"I love it." Gary admitted, "Tell you what, if you like, I'll take you there so you can see it and be one with nature."
"And you wouldn't think it a burden to have me around?" Jessica asked.
"Not at all!" Gary told her, "Mom and Dad would like meet you, show you around and you haven't lived until you had some of Mom's homecooked meals and pies."
"If you're sure you wouldn't rather be spending time alone with your parents?" Jessica asked. "I mean, I am curious."
"I am absolutely sure." He reassured her. "I think you will like it." Gary answered.
"Then I accept", Jessica smiled. "Thank you."
A genuine smile graced Gary's face as Jessica agreed to visit the ranch. "Thank you for agreeing."
"Anything I need to know before going to Earth?" Jessica asked. "I've never been to another planet."
"Just be yourself Jessica." Gary answered as he emptied his drink, "Can I get another please and have got any of those little pretzels to munch on?'
"Of course", Jessica said, getting him a basket of pretzels and mixing him another drink. She tried one of those pretzels herself and nodded. "They're not too bad."
"Nope, not bad at all." He pushed the basket closer to her, "Help yourself." He offered.
Jessica used the next trip to the replicator - even if it was only three steps behind her, it was still a trip - and got herself a cup of coffee. She couldn't be expected to work a shift without any kind of energy intake, after all. "Would you like an actual meal?"
"An actual meal?" Gary repeated. "Only if you have something as well and what are my choices?"
"Well, there's no chef around, it would have to come from the replicator", Jessica said. "I took the liberty of adding Estelle's roast duck to the replicator menu."
"I think I'll pass on the roasted duck." He said with a laugh. "Now, are you going to have something?" He repeated.
"Well, I have quickly grown accustomed to coffee, now that I can have as much as I want", Jessica admitted. "It helps me concentrate, and not drop things on some else's feet."
"Not talking about drinking but eating, are you going to have anything to eat?" Gary wondered.
"I, uh, do you think I should?" Jessica asked. She thought she had already gained some weight and Milla had told her she was looking healthy again. But then, Milla was being as nice to her as she could, so maybe that was a case of being nicer than truth warranted?
"Yes, I do." Gary answered, "I think you should have something so I'm not eating by myself." He said with a smile.
"I suppose my duties aren't exactly grabbing all of my attention at the moment, I could take my lunch break", Jessica smiled.
Gary slapped his hand down on the bar, "Excellent! Then, I will have a roast beef sandwich, with Swiss Cheese and fries. What are you going to have?"
Jessica turned to the replicator, then came back with a tray that held Gary's order, and a second one that held targ stew with two slices of rye bread. "A recommendation from Anya Neeze, which I'm now going to try."
"Thank you." Gary told her as Jess placed his tray in front of him. He looked at her selection. "You sure you don't want some of my sandwich? I'm more than happy to share."
"This smells wonderful", Jessica said. "If it tastes as good, why would I complain?" She ripped off some of the bread, dunked it into the stew and took a bite, making appreciative sounds and nodding.
"Okay, if you change your mind just let me know." Though from the sounds she was making the targ stew agreed with her......for now.
"Would you like to try it?" Jessica asked. "You seem unconvinced."
"Are you going to take some of my sandwich to try? Gary replied.
"Sure, we can trade", Jessica laughed.
"Now you're talking." Gary said as he took half of his sandwich and placed it on Jessica's plate. "There you go. I think you'll like that as well."
"You're trying to fatten me up, Commander?" Jessica asked, taking a bite of the half sandwich.
"Not at all. Just want you to try something else and please call me Gary." He replied as he took a spoonful of targ stew into his mouth. He nodded at her. Mmmmmm." Then swallowed. "That is good." He agreed.
"I love trying out the various options", Jessica agreed. "There is such a wealth of opportunities here, I don't think I'll ever exhaust them in my lifetime. And I'm not just talking about food. I have dreamt of such a place, seen it described in books when growing up, but I didn't think it really existed."
"Yes. Here you are and you are making the most of your opportunities and that is a credit to you, Jessica. You should feel very proud of yourself." Gary remarked.
Jessica shook her head. "I'm just enjoying myself for the time being. There's no reason here for pride. But maybe, if the call takes, I might be able to do something I can be proud of one day."
Gary shook his head, "I respectfully disagree. You came onto the ship, ready and eager to work. You didn't want a handout, you wanted and got a helping hand and you have made the most of it, Jessica. Many people would be crying or complaining, wanting a handout but not you. You are a wonderful addition to the Elysium crew and family. I speak for all of us when I say we're glad you are here."
"Thank you", Jessica beamed at him. This meant a lot to her, even if she hadn't expected it would. "I would like to make this ship my home, if that's even possible."
"You are welcome." Gary smiled back at her. "It's possible and of course you can, Jessica."
"Well, the one issue I see with this is reassignments", Jessica said. "In a town, people come to live when they choose to live there, and they'll retire there and nobody makes them leave. It's not the same on a ship, so I'm wondering if this can ever feel like a real home."
"Jessica. Humans have a saying, home is where the heart is. Trust in yourself to make the Elysium your home. Your friends will do all they can to help you." Gary answered.
Jessica nodded. "I know. But knowing and feeling are two different things."
"True enough." Gary readily agreed. "However you have to stop doubting yourself and let yourself live Jessica. No more worrying about what if? Live, enjoy what you have and keep striving to make it better."
"That, Gary, is easier said than done", Jessica said. "It's not like I'm not trying."
"Yes, unfortunately it is. I know you're trying, Jessica. I see a very strong young woman with incredible drive and determination. So I know if you just keep what you're doing, one morning you're going to wake up and realize you have succeeded."
"Possibly", Jessica allowed. "But I'm sure you know what my real life goal is, freeing Turkana."
"I do and I'm not suggesting you give up on such a noble and worthwhile cause. What I'm saying is make time for Jessica Clarke as well." Gary pointed out.
"I am", Jessica said. "It might not look like it but I really am enjoying myself. I've read eleven books since I arrived here, and Milla... Cadet Brett, she's shown me many things she enjoys."
"Excellent. Just keep doing what you're doing Jessica and I see a bright future for you." Gary replied.
"I'm living it", Jessica smiled.