"As you were," Shara commanded and everyone retook their seats. She noticed that two seats were left unoccupied.
I will deal with the devil in the details later, she thought as she sat down. Her crew greeted her warmly. She saw that everyone was on the mend and, like her, had gone native. Although they were safely tucked inside, away from the ferocious Alforian winter, one still needed to wear a light fur robe, jacket or vest over their clothing. Since she was more susceptible to the cold, Shara's robe was heavier.
The idle banter ceased when servers appeared with platters. Systematically they passed out bowls of savory stew, freshly baked black bread, salad greens and urns of hot spicy Grass Tea.
As the servers took their leave they began digging in and the companionable banter resumed. Doctor Gomez closely gauged the crew as they ate and compared notes with his commander. Although Shara had officially taken it upon herself to do the bulk of the scientific studies, she'd encouraged everyone to do likewise, and to take and compare notes.
Everyone had a pair of Track Kits to raise and train except Doctor Gomez who claimed he wasn't a cat person. He liked and respected the creatures, but didn't care to have a pair of them attached to him like barnacles. They, being intelligent and intuitive furry creatures, politely kept their distance.
The doctor also noted how well the crew had adjusted to the fact that their Vulcan commander consumed meat. It was a closely kept secret for many years until she was outed by the Vulcan science team. Being raised by a human couple Shara was taught to thank The Creator and eat what was put before her. So she saw nothing wrong with it.
However, the Vulcan science team saw differently and attacked Shara in a manner akin to the Salem Witch Trials.
All they needed were torches, pitchforks and hooded robes, Gomez thought as he slathered vegetable spread on his still warm bread and took a bite.
She'd finally put her foot down and told them to “Either shut up or you will leave my ship in a most unconventional manner." They'd wisely chosen the path of least resistance and left the "heretic" alone.
That battle had been fought in private. Only Gomez knew the angst and torment his commander suffered over simply eating meat. Today she was able eat in peace.
I wonder if she's glad they’re dead, he pondered. For a supposedly open minded people, that particular Vulcan science team had been rigidly intolerant of one of their own.
It's no wonder she'd threatened to space them. If she hadn't I would've, Gomez thought as he downed the last of his stew.
Their dinner nearly finished, Ensign Drummond excused herself and winked at the Doctor as she slipped from the room. Shara didn't notice.
Good, she probably assumes she went to the privy, Doctor Gomez thought as he smiled rakishly. When he did, ladies thought he resembled Captain William Riker. However, Doctor Gomez thought he was handsomer.
Drummond returned with a server at her side. This time Shara looked up and frowned. The server was bearing a large cake on a tray: Chocolate, by the look and smell of it. Wordlessly, Shara turned an accusative stare at Gomez who sat at her right. Gomez quickly wiped the smile off his face and stared straight at the ice wall.
"Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you...," her crew sang.
Indeed 75 years ago T'Shara Hercules was born. She was originally and orphan, born to a single Vulcan mother who'd abandoned her at an Earth orphanage. Six months later she was adopted by Elijah and Denise Hercules, a human African American couple. Both were distinguished, retired Star Fleet captains and instructors at Star Fleet Academy.
Shara had not forgotten her birthday. She just assumed it wouldn't be practical to celebrate here in the wild. Obviously her crew had thought differently. She silently watched as the cake was sliced and handed out. Ensign Drummond gushed about how the crew had worked with the Alforian cooks to first scrounge up the ingredients then bake the cake.
"Thank you for what you have done." Shara said as she was handed her slice. She made sure she made eye contact with everyone, saving the scornful eye for Doctor Gomez. He merely smiled in return around a fork full of chocolate cake.
Another job well done, he mused.