USS Vesta

A Play-by-Nova roleplay game.

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Cookie Conundrum

Posted on Mon Jan 4th, 2021 @ 8:31pm by Ensign Rufus Marocain & Commander Jonathan Mantell & Lieutenant Asahi Kita

Mission: When the Bough Bounces
Location: Deck 6, Holodeck 2
Timeline: MD01
2330 words - 4.7 OF Standard Post Measure

Asahi's most recent counseling session left a lingering bitterness in his mouth. Friends. He had friends, though 'had' was probably the most accurate word for what was left of his original circle. He couldn't exactly call up most of the Viking crew and see what they were up to. There was luck with Soraya and Luka.

He did not need more friends than that, but Ildri's words nagged in the back of his mind. So, on pure impulse, Asahi extended an invitation to whomever was sitting at the table in the mess with him to join him later for some baking. He went so far as to take ingredients from his personal replicator as opposed to simulating them in the holodeck.

With Hojo and a cart of baking supplies and goodies in tow, Asahi made a point of reserving one of the holodeck rooms for a couple of hours, with the promise of cookies to anyone he may have interrupted. He was lucky; no one seemed to mind.

The scene he simulated was a preset, as it was not like him to spur of the moment bake anything at all. But it seemed the Vesta accommodated that, and as he began to set up on the marble countertop, the brightly lit kitchen rendered around him. There were multiple ovens surrounding the sizable island that Asahi had all the ingredients set upon. At his heels was the ever-present black and white furred Hojo, just waiting for a chance to help out.

"No no, we have to wait till they're baked," he said with a chuckle, calling up the recipes he had plucked out the database on the wall console. "Which means we have to wait till our new friends arrive."

The entrance arch briefly appeared, admitting a much larger and upright version of Hojo. "Ooo, real food!" Rufus' tail wagged as he smelled the fresh baking supplies - holodecks never completely got scents right, so these had to be actual edibles - and lifted a small bag of his own. "I brought some cookie fixings too."

He set the bag down and began unpacking. "Maple glazed bacon bits, peanut butter, cream cheese icing, and chopped liver icing." He gestured to the offering arrayed on the counter, then tipped his head thoughtfully to the side. "Hmm, I probably should have brought some bone broth for flavoring. I can go back for it if you want."

"Nah, I knew you were coming." Asahi stated plainly, console screen landing on a recipe for Kainan-friendly cookies. He pointed toward his cart of supplies, where a jar of tannish liquid was among them. "I didn't gather quite as many ingredients, but I wanted to give some of these recipes a shot." He looked up and over toward Rufus, blinking momentarily as he registered exactly who was talking to him. "It's Rufus, right? I think I've seen you around."

"Yes, sir," Rufus answered cheerfully. He was impressed. Not many humans thought of trying Kainan recipes, but then this one had a dog who maybe he had a better concept of what tasted good. "I'm usually at the helm, but enjoy the arboretum, and of course," he grinned, "the mess hall."

"Who doesn't enjoy the mess hall?" Asahi commented, pausing to stop himself from tripping over Hojo, who had noticed the Kainan and had his head tilted to one side. "... It's okay, Hojo. Rufus is a good. We like Rufus." The pup looked over at Asahi, back to Rufus, and then back to Asahi again. "He's a Kainan. Don't be rude." To Rufus, he offered an apologetic smile. "Looks like Hojo hasn't met you yet. He'll warm up. I am expecting Jack to come around too, so we can get this going and I'll figure some dough out for the Commander..."

Cookies? Did anyone really have to ask twice when it came to cookies? Sure, cookies of any sort were just a replicator command away, but baked cookies? That was the sort reserved only for good memories. Of Marissa and her snickerdoodles, of T'Prev and her salty N'gaan biscuits, and perhaps, as a fleeting glimpse in a dream, of his mother and her chocolate chip masterpieces. Baked cookies were a magic that could make any day incredible, no matter what happened. So of course, the boy considered as the doors to the mess hall parted to reveal Asahi and Rufus already assembled before the humble ingredients, why wouldn't he agree to that? "I was told," Jack, grinning from ear to ear, announced to the pair, "there would be cookies!"

"Soon," Rufus said, tongue hanging out in a big canid grin. "We just have to make them. What do you think?" he asked, holding up two of his favorite ingredients. "Peanut butter or maple bacon for the first batch?"

"Oh there will be cookies indeed. At some point." Asahi shot a look back to Rufus. "What's the base of the maple bacon one, that one sounds good. We could do both too. There's three of us here." He paused to let Hojo yip. "And I don't think Hojo's gonna wait when there's bacon involved." Stepping back, Asahi gestured toward Jack. "Come on in. I've got more than just Kainan-friendly ingredients here too, but I figured we could make more all-of-us friendly ones before we got to the chocolate chip."

"The base is bacon grease of course," Rufus smiled. "But I'm fine with using maple sugar. Meat flavors are traditional, but I learned to like the sugary human versions in the Academy." His tongue flicked across his lips. "In fact, that's where I learned about peanut butter."

Make them? Jack looked from Rufus to Asahi, a question playing over his face. He had come to stir flour all over the room and lick the spoon, those were his favorite parts of baking. No one had said anything about doing anything productive. But between the two officers comparing notes about their experiences, he didn't suppose either of them would notice he if helped himself to some of the chocolate chips. They were just sitting there, all piled up in their container, begging for someone to sample them. Taste testing, after all, was a noble profession. "Uhh, sure," the boy said, halting when the intel chief called to him just steps away from the table. Nearly there! He smiled pleasantly at today's pastry chef, assuring the man of his sincerity. "I'm just looking at all the ingredients you have."

"Bacon grease? Huh. In the dough? We could probably try some-..." And Asahi was mumbling off, rummaging about his gathered ingredients. "I mean, we could use some of that real sugary stuff, but I bet there's some of that..." His eyes snapped over to Jack. He was not ignorant to the temptation of giving the more appealing of ingredients a taste, but he thought he would have had a few moments before he had to fend off grabby hands. "For quality or measurement? If it's quality, I mean... the replicator made 'em. If you're after measurements, they're a little overmeasured. You know... just in case someone got a little snack-happy."

"Use the bacon grease like you would use butter, or we could try half and half..." Rufus began to suggest when Asahi caught Jack about to countersurf. He grinned at the engineer. "Go ahead. Chocolate always gives ma sour stomach, so you can snack my part of the chips. Besides, cooking is work - you have to keep your strength up," he added, taking a spoonful of chopped liver icing and popping it in his mouth.

Replicated sugar didn't bother Jack one bit. Sugar was sugar. He never understood all the fuss that adults made about the taste of replicated foods. They tasted just fine, especially with a few tweaks to the patterns. A little higher percentage of milk fats here, substituting the formula for raw sugars there, and —an absolutely essential change— more cheese in the Mac & Cheese recipe. The Miran engineer was pretty sure that the Commodore and Commander Fries hadn't noticed those changes yet. Except, the boy thought as he popped a few of the chocolate chip morsels into his mouth, where it counted. The taste. "Hard work," Jack nodded in agreement to the Kainan, grinning to himself as the chocolate began to melt on his tongue. "Can't think if you don't have the right energy for it."

Rufus nodded sagely, popping a bacon bit in his mouth.

Jack rubbed his hands together, ignoring the slight smear a crumb of chocolate left on his palms. "Now, where do we start?"

"Definitely the batter." Asahi stated, already at working mixing dry ingredients for the maple bacon cookie recipe he had pulled up. He seemed to have it all expertly measured, setting the bowl aside to pull another one out for the wet ingredients. He paused when he remembered... that they were there to bake too. "... Rufus, do you use butter or is there another ingredient you'd prefer? Is there a kind of fat maybe?"

"Just butter is fine," Rufus said, tongues flicking along his lips. "Though a mix of butter with some bacon grease is traditional."

"Bacon grease, huh?" Asahi glanced over at the ingredients Rufus brought, before handing the Kainan the bowl. "How about you measure all that out? I wanna try 'em traditional. While you do that..." He turned to Jack, handing the Miran another bowl. "Why don't you measure out some peanut butter and we can get started on those?"

"If I remember correctly, the trick is melting just a little into the butter as you blend it," Rufus explained, oblivious to whether either human was listening as he warmed both butter and bacon grease while stirring them together. When it looked about right, he dipped the tip of a claw in and then touched it to his tongue. "Perfect!" he announced, clicking his jaw and running the tip of his tongue around his lips. "Want a taste?"

By this point, Asahi had fished out more ingredients to mix together, meticulously measuring everything out when Rufus made his declaration. "Huh, sure." He sidled over, peering into the bowl curiously. After a quick swipe of the side of the bowl, Asahi licked his finger, letting the taste melt on his tongue with a curious thoughtful frown. Adding bacon grease didn't sound like quite a stretch for him, seeing as even he could agree that bacon was a favorable ingredient. "... Now I just wanna see what it's gonna do for the cookies."

"Make them good, of course!" Rufus exclaimed, tail wagging. He dipped a whole finger in the mix and licked it cleaned, relishing the taste. It wasn't something he'd normally do, but somehow making cookies was bringing out the puppy in him, thinking of how he'd helped his mother make cookies - along with his brothers and sisters, all of them grabbing tastes, and getting in each others way a bit until there was nearly as much flour, sugar, and grease in their fur as in the batter. He began mixing flour and sugar, sending a puff of flour over the table in his enthusiasm. "Whoops!" He twisted around to show sad eyes and brows drawn together in apology ...and knocked the bowl off the table with his elbow.

Wham! Rufus stared aghast as it hit the floor - What was happening? He hadn't had any hard liquor and he hadn't been this clumsy sober since an adolescent growth spurt. "I, uh, ...guess that why they call them 'drop cookies'," he joked sheepishly.

"Ah it's all good. That's why we're here. Easy clean up." Asahi waved a hand dismissively, reaching over to press a button on the wall. A small hatch opened up, and a tiny hovering robot emerged from the depths, zipping over toward the mess. Out of the corner of his eye, Asahi could see Hojo's ears perk up and his nose twitch in excitement, and it certainly was not for the food on the ground. "You wanna give it another go?" he asked Rufus, as he turned to roll together a glob of peanut butter in his floured hands.

"Absolutely!" Rufus said, spinning around ...and knocking swiping a stack of ingredients off the table with his tail.

Asahi and Hojo's heads both swiveled around at the sound of the crash, both staring down at the mess, then up to Rufus. The cleaning robot chirruped, dashing from the now-clean spot to the newly made disaster on the other end of the floor, causing Hojo to leap up and dash over. As expected, the herd dog's yips ensued, dashing around the robot multiple times before zipping to Asahi. The pup danced about on his forepaws, awaiting a command. Asahi laughed. "Rufus, I think you got Hojo working for his food over here."

He bent down to meet the dog's level, or closer to it. "Go ahead Hojo, right back there." After obtaining the directional from the man, the dog was back off to herding the robotic 'sheep.' "If I had known you were this excited, Rufus, I'd have programmed more cleaning procedures."

Rufus ducked his head, ears and tail drooping. "Sorry. I don't know why I'm so uncoordinated today. Maybe I should sit the rest of cookie making out." He looked down at his fur, which was spotted with flour, grease, and now sprinkles. "Since I've practically turned myself into a cookie now."

Asahi let out a laugh, shaking his head. "Rufus, if I didn't want to make some sort of mess, I'd have invited someone else. Don't even worry about it." He gestured toward the robot, that Hojo had dutifully herded into it's chute. "That's what we have all this technology for-" He stopped to toss the peanut butter ball at Hojo, who skillfully caught it and plopped down to enjoy said treat. "Besides, half the fun is making a mess anyways."


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