Meeting of the Minds: The Mythbreakers
The Place of Skulls
Location: Debbie's Diner
Timeline: Mission Day 2 at 1400
[MD 2: 1400 Hours]
It'd been a bustle of a day. With the grand opening of the diner just hours prior -- the holographic environment being the brainchild of former engineer Debbie Gless and Cadet Noah Balsam -- it seemed like there'd been no end to patrons coming in to enjoy the new space. This was a good thing indeed for Debbie wanted the diner to be a place where people could be found relaxing at all hours of the day. Unlike the barren, sterile Mess Hall on Deck 2, the diner was an absolute powerhouse of sensory input.
Rock music from the United States' "Americana" era poured from the speakers as people excitedly chatted in their booths or at the bar. Mixing with their conversations was the sound of the whirring shake machine, clinking silverware and plates, dings from the antique cash register (which was ornamental in purpose only), and the snap-hiss opening of carbonated canned beverages.
Everywhere eyes could see were bedecked with decorations of the 1950's and 60's era Debbie had chosen. An array of old movie posters and autographed photographs of celebrities graced the walls. The floor was a black and white checkerboard pattern while the booths and bar were bedazzled in cherry red -- flecked with glittery sparkles -- and the shiniest of chrome trim. Servers moved back and forth between the tables, taking and delivering orders in rapid succession.
"This place is amazing," Brian Davies said to himself as he entered, soaking in the atmosphere that assailed his senses. He'd gotten the word that the new Chief Science Officer wanted to meet the team here. The entomologist wondered if the environment was conducive enough to such a meeting -- it was, after all, quite noisy with a lot going on -- but as he sidled up to the bar to wait for the rest of the team, he couldn't help but smile. "I'm gonna come here a lot," he chuckled to himself, spying a server on roller skates delivering several plates of food.
"Good, baby! Glad to hear that," came an exuberant voice from behind the bar. "Debbie Gless, proprietor, hostess, and maker of the best damned lemon bars you've ever eaten." She thrust a wrist bearing way too many multi-colored bracelets Brian's way, clearly wanting to shake hands.
"Well hey, Debbie," Brian grinned back, his smile reaching his eyes. "I'm Brian. This is quite the place you've got here! I'd heard good things from the opening this morning," he said, looking around, "but I'd had no idea how cool this would be. I feel like I'm back on Earth!"
"That's the point, sweetie," Debbie chuckled around the chewing of her gum. Wearing a football helmet of violet curls and a pink-and-white petticoat, the woman looked like a lady out of time. Large, hoopy earrings swung back and forth from her ears as the hawkish hostess placed her elbows on the counter and rested her face on her hands. "Getcha anything?"
"I'm waiting for the science team to show up," Brian said, eyeing the shake machine, "though maybe a chocolate shake while I wait?"
"Sure baby!" Debbie beamed before pointing to a table large enough for eight. "Why don't you have a seat over there and I'll bring that over as soon as its up, hmm?" With a grin, she was off and away. "Chocolate shake! Extra whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. You forget the cherry and you'll have me to answer to," she said to someone else working the machine.
Brian laughed as he took his seat, picking one that faced the door so he could spy the rest of the team entering. He'd already met Andrew Munro -- renowned biologist known for his work on Bajor and Risa -- but Brian looked forward to seeing the handsome man again. He knew better than to think beyond surface attraction, though. They were coworkers, after all, and Andrew was partnered. But that didn't mean Brian couldn't enjoy a handsome face in the office, right? As for the rest of his lab partners, Brian wasn't sure what to expect but he was excited to meet them for sure.
Cas entered and stopped short. Bold decor crowded with details that just seemed to clamor for his attention and as he stood there, he found himself compiling a mental list of references he would need to research later. "Utterly fascinating," he murmured and silently appended, note to self, it would help if you knew what everyone looked like. Failing that information, he headed up to the bar where he hoped someone could at least point him toward the right table. "Excuse me," he said to the woman with the most amazing hair.
"You're the new science guy," the woman replied, hands on her hips. "Look just like the picture in your personnel file. I make it a point," she blew a bubble with her gum and popped it, "to know my senior officers." A sly smile crept across Debbie's face as she reached out in greeting. "Debbie Gless. Welcome to my diner," she said, offering her hand in the human custom of hand-shaking.
Cas blinked in surprise and resisted the urge to step back. Questions formed begging for answers. What was that and why form a sphere only to destroy it? New crew he reminded himself. Instead, he smiled and accepted her handshake. "Thank you, Debbie Gless. Its quite the place." More questions in the queue regarding decor choices lined up. "I was supposed to meet my team here. Do you happen to know ..."
"We've got a table set up for you over there," Debbie said, gesturing to where Ensign Davies had seated himself. "Come with me," the woman said, a chocolate milkshake suddenly appearing in-hand from somewhere. "This is for your resident bug guy." It seemed she made it a point to know the junior officers, too. Leading Pell across the way, she delivered the shake to Brian and gestured the Betazoid to have a seat. "You want anything while ya wait?" Debbie asked him.
"I'll have what he's having," Cas said as he slid into an open seat. "Only about half the size."
"Can do," Deb nodded before vanishing into the crowd.
"This place is something, eh Lieutenant?" Brian looked up from his milkshake and reached across the table for a handshake. Humans were wont to do what humans did, especially when it came to formal greetings. "Ensign Davies, junior science officer and entomologist. It's a pleasure to meet you, sir."
"The pleasure is all mine," Cas said as he accepted the handshake. "Entomology. Spent a weekend helping a friend capture specimens for a project he was working on." He leaned back in his seat and his smile, when it came, was warm and alive with memory. "Thought Michael was going to have a cardiac incident when I brought back two varieties of highly poisonous spiders." He chuckled as he leaned forward in a conspiratorial whisper. "It was a joke. We'd rigged the containers beforehand. Brilliant. Just brilliant."
"That sounds amazing," Davies laughed, imagining the hijinks. "The highly poisonous spiders are the most fascinating. But sometimes the least poisonous are the most reclusive. One of these days I'll tell you about my adventure to collect an Andorian Cave Spider. Her names is Gloria...I'd be happy to introduce you sometime. She's onboard," he grinned, happy at the thought of his new boss meeting his favorite specimen.
Oval-faced and of solid-built curvaceousness, Ensign Jyl-eel Tor, the ship's resident Botanist, strolled inside. In her caramel-colored hands, she cradled a ceramic cup of Tarkalean Tea. Its floral aroma wafted a trail behind her. "Good Morning," she greeted sunnily. She bowed her head at the neck and raised her drink some at Debbie, "Good Morning Matron." She was not exceptionally tall, though perhaps a hair taller than a typical Human female.
"Ensign! Hello there," Deb beamed back, gesturing towards the table with Pell and Davies. "I do believe your team is over there. But remind me at some point to talk plants with you. I've been debating an Ethosian Orchid for my quarters but I'd probably kill it without proper guidance," she smirked, coming around the counter with a milkshake in hand. It was to Pell that she delivered it. "Here you go! A milkshake and another team member," she smiled before flitting away.
Jyl-eel smiled with head bob before the busy diner hostess swayed into her next task. Ethosian orchids were a challenge. Getting the right nocturnal harmonics was the key.
"Hello there!" Brian said excitedly. "Ensign Davies, bug-master. And you are?" Again with the handshake offering, it seemed, as he reached across the table.
The Valtese smiled with a quick, rainbow-shaped wave, "Good Morning. I'm Ensign Tor, the botanist." She sat in a chair, folded knee over knee, and studied the assembly with bright eyes.
"I'm Cassian Pell," he said. His dark gaze darted to the side for a moment and then returned to her, amending that statement. "Lieutenant and Chief Science Officer if you are officially inclined. Cas to most and to some Academy instructors, it was more like 'yo, Pell." He smiled and in the pause, took a sip of the drink then shuddered delicately. "Anybody ever done an ingredient breakdown on this because it tastes as though its mostly sugar."
Jyl-eel smiled around the lip of her Tarkalean tea. "A Human drink?"
Ezra came in and blinked several times, wincing as if the lights were too bright. "Too many colors. Don't like that," he commented out loud, then took a look around before locating his coworkers.
"Um, is this where the smart people sit?" he asked, then shrank slightly as all eyes at the table turned on him. "I shouldn't try jokes," he said, tightening his grip on his PADD and crawling awkwardly into a nearby seat. "E-Ezra Gonzalez," he stated to no one in particular. "A-a-archeology, anthropology, and...autism."
"Please, join us," Cas said as he gestured toward the empty seats. "I volunteered on a dig one summer. Had all these romantic notions of finding something amazing." He smiled ruefully. "Course it was more about brushing away layers of dirt and carefully removing rocks to unearth ... what was it ... oh, right. A piece of pottery. The professor leading the dig held an impromptu lecture at the end of the day on the variations in rim, spout and decoration, such as pigment choices and design,. Worth it just for the lecture alone."
Jyl-eel listened along. While she'd never been on an archaeological dig, she recalled a lovely scene from the planet Kurl. The Kurlans were long-dead and had used up their planet's resources. But the scene was a lovely one- one of those ceramic busts used to house their inner community, shattered and half-buried, wherein a grouping of new flowers had decided to turn the remains into a pot.
It was common in the Academy's Botany 202 source materials for Introductions to Comparative Xenobotany.
"On Valt and Krios," she added, "Pots and pot rims were gender-coded."
"I hadn't heard that," Cas said as he traced a design in the beads of water forming on the sides of the glass. "What was their reasoning?"
Jyl-eel tilted her head at that. "Men and women lived very separate lives on early Krios. There was fear of mingling feminine and masculine souls except in specific circumstances. Men drank from black conical cups. Women drank from white bowls. Don't get me started on the phallic and vaginal design aspects." She smiled over the lip of her drink and sipped again.
Cas made a mental note to get some reading material to take back to his quarters. He knew a bit about Krios but clearly not enough.
Andrew smiled as he walked back into the diner for the second time that day. The atmosphere was so warm and friendly that it lifted his mood merely by stepping into it. He thought that if Debbie could manifest herself as a room it would be something like this, then realized that the holographics had allowed her to do just that.
His arrival hadn’t gone unnoticed, she was already making her way over to him.
“I’m back,” he teased as she embraced him in a hug.
"Hey, a visit from you every few hours is always a good thing in my book," Debbie positively beamed. It was clear that, for whatever reason, she'd clearly taken a shine to Andrew. "As much as I want to chat..." she trailed off, eyes sliding on over to the man's team of coworkers...
“I shouldn’t keep them waiting,” Andrew replied with a nod as he backed in the direction of the big table. ”Can I get a coffee when you have a minute?”
"Of course, baby!" came Deb's reply. As Andrew moved off, she went back behind the counter and got to work.
As Andrew approached the table, he recognized Brian and Ezra already seated at it but was unfamiliar with the others. “Hi, I’m Doctor Munro.”
"Hello," Cas said, figuring that he would the one requiring the introduction. "Cassian Pell. Please, have a seat. We were just discussing rims and spouts, believe it or not. And before that insects. Our entomologist has one as a pet and I helped set up a brilliant prank with a a pair of holographic spiders that the professor I was pranking now keeps on his office desk. Says he likes to scare his students awake now and again. So, what's your specialty?"
"Thanks," Andrew replied whilst taking a seat on the opposite side of the table from Cas. "I'm a biologist. For the past few years I've been doing conservation work on Risa and before that, habitat restoration on Bajor."
Jyl-eel waited for her turn and finished her tea. She watched the speakers until she had a moment to introduce herself, "Ensign Tor, Botany." She extended her hand in the Human way.
Andrew accepted the handshake with a smile. He'd learned not to expect them, especially this far from Earth, but there was something comforting about an introduction accompanied with one. "Pleased to meet you Ensign Tor."
It was then that Deb arrived, depositing a cup of coffee -- doctored just the way Andrew liked it -- in front of the biologist before patting him on the shoulder. "Looks like the gang is all assembled! Have a great meeting and if you need anything, just holler, ok?" Another popped bubble of gum and she was off to the races once more.
"Where does she get all that energy?" Davies wondered aloud with a smile. "If we could but bottle it, think of the latinum we could make." The entomologist smiled wide, excitement at spending time with his team alive in his eyes. "So we're the science team. That sound a little stuffy to anyone else?" he asked. "Maybe we could come up with a nickname of some kind? I hear the assistant chief officers are all called 'The Second Stringers.' I kind of like that! But what could we be?"
For once, Cas was without an answer. Giving things names wasn't his specialty; his cat probably still wouldn't have one if Declan hadn't gotten himself involved. "Any suggestions," he asked the group.
Jyl-eel looked back at the waltzing waitress and matron who was the target of fascination. She didn't have a solid answer on that one. And instead, she turned her idea into this nickname business. What a Human concept, nicknames. She had overheard a group of Yeomans asking themselves the same thing, until a pale one shut the whole business down. But she just did not consider herself witty in the way that seemed important for this. "The... Mythbreakers?" She said tentatively, ignorant of its parallels.
"I like it," Andrew grinned. "They do turn to us to find an explanation for mysterious phenomena."
"And they say nicknames are hard to come up with!" Davies exclaimed, nodding enthusiastically to Andrew's commentary. "That's so very true. I think it's perfect," he grinned, the boyishness of his smile downplayed a bit by the grizzly-ness of his beard. "Scientists have been the enemy of myth for generations. Might as well officially codify it, eh?" he said, turning his smile from Jyl-eel and Andrew to Pell. "What do you say, Lieutenant? Does it trip your trigger?" It was a human aphorism but the young scientist hoped his meaning was clear.
Jyl-eel smiled at that, pleased that she had landed a winner despite not being a native speaker of Linguacode.
Cas smiled back, couldn't help but do so given the infectious quality of Davies' grin, and found himself nodding in approval. "It works," he said. "Is this something we're having emblazoned on coffee mugs?"
"You mean these?" a hawkish voice piped up from nearby. It was Debbie, who had returned carrying a laden tray atop her right palm. Bending at the knees -- because it was, of course, better for the back --- the woman lowered the tray to table level and started passing out the ceramic mugs she'd just replicated. "Hope you don't mind a certain amount of eavesdropping now and then. You did pick a public place, after all," she let rip a throaty laugh.
Each mug was colored in Starfleet Sciences' blue, the official logo of the branch twinned on the front- and back-facing sides of the drinking vessels. Emblazoned beneath the logo in tall, shaky white letters was a stylized tag line: "The Mythbreakers."
"Had them made out of sturdy stuff," Deb smiled wide. "Should keep them in one piece if they fall off a desk or two when this ship is rattling all around us. Enjoy em," she said, waving her goodbyes before vanishing back into the crowd of people once again.
"Thank you," Cas said as he accepted his mug and watched as the others did the same. In all, a good first meeting, he thought. And more importantly, a good team.