Protocols

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Lili O’Day sat in the galley of the NX-01, looking over her PADD messages and reminders. The date was displayed in the lower right corner of the screen – October ninth of 2153. The time was almost fourteen hundred hours. Behind her, the sanitizer chugged away as it cleaned that day’s lunch dishes. 

She looked up when she saw Chef William Slocum walk in. “It says here that it’s Captain Archer’s birthday,” she said, “the big four-one.” 

“Yes. We’ll bake a chocolate cake and then you’ll decorate it, all right?” 

“Chef, why chocolate?” 

“I’ve made him a chocolate cake for two years now. I haven’t gotten any complaints.” The man was, perhaps, a tad defensive. 

“Well, haven’t you noticed, sir, that when we have toast, who takes which type of jam? Major Hayes takes the blueberry every time – without fault. Lieutenant Reed takes the orange marmalade. Ensign Sato varies – she doesn’t seem to have a set preference. Commander Tucker takes butter and doesn’t bother with jam. Commander T’Pol takes her toast dry.” 

“And the captain?” 

“He and Ensign Mayweather always take the strawberry. Although when I made cashew butter that one time, Travis spread it on everything. I swear I could’ve put it on his PADD, and he would’ve eaten that.” 

Slocum chuckled a little. “So you want to make strawberry shortcake instead?” 

“Uh huh,” she said, “and if he doesn’t like it, we can go back to chocolate next year.” 

“All right,” Will said. He sighed. There was a very real possibility that there wouldn’t be a next year. The Xindi weren’t letting up as the search for their ultimate weapon continued. 

=/\= 

Lili hummed a little as she decorated the cake. She had already covered it with a white vegan frosting made of powdered sugar, silken tofu and tiny chopped bits of vanilla beans. She projected the outline of an image of a shuttle on top, using her PADD. She traced the image with red icing and then added accents with blue icing, including the NX-01 insignia. She then did her best to draw the captain standing next to the shuttlepod. She finished by spelling out Happy Birthday Jonathan! 

Chef looked over her work. “Captain’s not gonna like that,” he said. 

“Yeah, I think I made his nose too big.” 

“Not that, O’Day. It’s that you shouldn’t take liberties. You should have written Happy Birthday Captain Archer.” 

“Oh.” 

“Too late to fix it now,” Slocum said, “he’s been in a lousy mood since that Loque’eque virus. And you’re serving tonight.” 

“Thanks.” 

=/\= 

Dinner in the Captain’s Mess was for Captain Archer, Commander T’Pol, Lieutenant Reed and Major Hayes. Lili had cleared away the dishes from the entrée and they were talking as she stood in the back and fiddled with the coffee maker and then a tea kettle. “We need the space to do drills and workouts,” Hayes was saying, “And there isn’t enough room with Security there as well.” 

“Captain, if I may,” Reed said, “Security also requires full readiness. The Xindi could come aboard at any moment.” 

“If Tactical lets them in, then yeah,” Hayes shot back to him. 

T’Pol said, “Gentlemen, aren’t there rest days that are required? Why not simply use the training facilities when the other department is on a rest day?” 

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