Dust of the Deep: Breakfast Scene

Here you go, just for fun. This is also the first scene where Quinn shows up in the series. Quinn is a lot of fun to write and probably one of my favorite characters in this whole universe… you can see that he tends to make a real strong first impression on the crew (and most everybody else he meets as the series goes on).

From Chapter Three of Dust in the Deep…

When Ethan stepped out onto the mid-deck looking for a quick firstmeal, and maybe another cup of real coffee if it was available, it surprised him to see three of the tables pushed together in the center of the room. Someone had draped a pink and white checkered cloth over the top of the tables, and place settings were ready all the way around. Off to the side, covered dishes and several pitchers sat on another pair of tables.

The entire crew stood around the table staring at the display in confusion.

“What’s this?” Ethan asked as he slowed to a stop and looked around like he wasn’t sure he was awake yet.

“Breakfast,” Nuko said.


“Breakfast. It’s another word for firstmeal,” Kaycee said.

“I know that,” he said, rolling his eyes, “but what’s going on with … breakfast.”

“I think it’s supposed to be real food,” Rene said.

“It smells like it,” Angel said.

As far as the captain knew, the only person on the ship who knew how to cook was Nuko. “Aren’t you supposed to be flying the ship?” he asked, looking in her direction.

“I am capable of piloting the Olympus Dawn without human supervision,” Marti said.

“I know that, too,” he said. “All I’m trying to figure out is who cooked real food?”

“Morning, Cap’n,” Quintan said, appearing from the galley carrying a full urn of coffee and a platter covered with strips of puckered … something. It almost resembled meat protein. Maybe?

Ethan blinked several times, not just because the smell that came from whatever it was he was carrying was overwhelming, but also because the mountain of human flesh was wearing a pink-checkered apron. It matched the tablecloth, complete with ruffles.

He would have sworn that Rene gasped.

“Everybody, please sit. Before the food gets cold,” the handler said with a big toothy grin.

Nobody moved.

“Sit down,” he insisted. “Momma always said breakfast’s too important a meal to let it go to waste.”

The captain grabbed the back of the nearest chair and crashed down into it, as much to keep from falling over, as that he felt a strong need to preserve his life expectancy.

“You cooked this?” he finally managed, as everyone else dropped into seats in various states of disbelief.

“Sure did,” he said. “Breakfast’s a tradition where I grew up, so I figured it’d be something I could do here.” He set the coffee pot on the table and landed the platter of shriveled meat slices beside it. “I’m always up before the cows, so it’s no skin off my fanny to cook some grits and gravy.”

“Some what?” Kaycee asked.

“What are cows?” Rene whispered. Ethan shrugged.

Pulling a long pinching tool out of a pocket in the front of his apron, he handed it to the captain. “Get yourself some bacon and pass it along.”

“Bacon?” Angel asked, her eyes going wide. “I’ve heard legends about bacon.”

“Well yah, sort of,” he said, turning and grabbing another of the platters of food from the second table. “It’s as close as I could get with the synthesizer. Real bacon’s made of pig meat.”

Ethan stopped in mid grab and would have changed his mind except the smell was impossible to resist. Gingerly he picked up one slice and held the tongs out to Rene.

“No, no, get you some,” Quintan said, snagging the tongs and dropping at least a half dozen slices on the captain’s plate. “I know it’s not real, but it’s not bad.”

Uncovering the second platter, he revealed a stack of golden yeastcake disks. He tossed one to each of them around the table. “If you want gravy with your biscuits help yourself to an extra. I made plenty.”


“Yah, it’s just dry bread yeastcakes, but it’s close to momma’s recipe, so passable too.”

“And you eat this with … gravy?”

“You can, or you can eat it with butter and honey,” he said, pulling a slab of pale yellow slimy stuff and a small knife off the other table and setting it in front of the captain. “Me personally I like my grits with butter and pepper, and my biscuits with gravy, but each to his own.”

“What exactly is, grits?” Rene asked. He still hadn’t put any of the food on his plate and was clearly questioning Quintan’s sanity. “Other than an abrasive that is. I assume you don’t mean that kind of grit, right?”

“Well grits is… uhm, well, grits just is,” he reached over and grabbed a big bowl and set it in front of the engineer. “It’s this white bumpy stuff that you boil or fry and then you eat it.”

Rene looked down into the mass of lumpy goop and shook his head.

“Trust me, you’ll love it,” Quintan said, spooning a blob out onto the engineer’s plate. It landed with a disturbing splat. “You’ll want that with butter, or gravy. It’s pretty dull otherwise.” Reaching back over to the side table, he picked up a wide-mouth pitcher and proceeded to pour a beige, lumpy glop all over the small mountain of grits. “You look like a gravy sort of guy.”

“Is that a lubricant?” the captain asked.

Quintan laughed. “Close enough. It’ll help them grits go down smooth.”

“What else have you got?” Rene asked, leaning back and trying not to examine the inelegant mound of stuff in front of him.

“Oh yah, now the good part.” Quintan said, grabbing the last two platters off the table and uncovering them with a flourish. “Hash browns and eggs.”

Ethan looked at both platters, neither had anything he could identify as food.

“Hash browns?” he asked, pointing at the yellow plastic looking stuff that looked like the residue from a protein extruder failure.

“Eggs?” Rene asked, nodding toward the stringy brown dirt-colored stuff on the other plate.

“No.” Quintan rolled his eyes. “You people never eat real food, do you?”

“Not if they can help it,” Nuko said, covering her face and trying not to laugh.

“What are hash browns?” Rene asked, picking the platter up to sniff it cautiously.

“Plant food, sort of,” he said. “Potatoes are nodules of starchy stuff that help make plants grow. You dig them up out of the ground and then cook and eat them.”

“Do they look like this when you dig them up?” the engineer asked. Ethan could tell from his face he probably didn’t want the answer.

“No, you shred them to look like that. They look like … uhm … testicles sort of,” he said.

The platter hit the table so fast that everyone jumped.

“You’ve never seen a potato before?”

Rene shook his head.

“I don’t think they grow efficiently in bulk food processors,” Kaycee said, winking. “I’m sure you shouldn’t tell him what eggs really are.”

“Probably not,” Quintan agreed, managing to look truly heartbroken.

“It’s alright Quinn, don’t let them get you down,” Angel said. “I don’t care what it’s pretending to be, or where it might have come from, it smells good enough that I’ll eat their share,” She’d been piling some of everything on her plate and looked like she intended to do it some severe harm.

“Me too,” Nuko said. “If that tastes half as close to bacon as it smells, I’ll fight everyone on the ship for the last piece.” She bit into one of the strips and collapsed back against her chair with an expression of bliss that made Ethan laugh. “You have to try it, Boss. Really.”

She was right. As soon as he got his first taste, he was a believer. Bacon was indeed worthy of legend.

“Where did you learn to make this?” Nuko asked, as they all busied themselves packing down as much of the meal as they could.

“I grew up on a farm in New Hampshire,” Quintan said. “I was a tad domestic by nature, so while my older sisters worked outside with papa, momma taught me to cook. Probably better, too, since I was always a sickly sort.”

“Hampshire’s a colony in the Centaurus Sector isn’t it?” Rene asked.

He laughed. “Might be, but the one I’m talking about is a place in the Old New England Sector of North America. Way back, my family hails from Kaintuckee, but when it got too hot down there, great-grandpa picked up a homestead up north where you could still grow crops.”

“And you ate like this all the time?” the captain asked.

“Every day. But we ate the real stuff,” he said, shrugging. “When I decided to join the Handlers Union, one of my uncles came up with the organic formulas for all the food I liked. He did it so momma wouldn’t be so worried about me staying healthful when I was away from home. I brought all the elemental recipes with me.”

“Well, I could certainly get used to this but damn, I feel like I could eat myself stupid,” Ethan said, packing in another mouthful of the plant testicles. “We’ll need to upgrade the exercise room if you plan to keep cooking breakfast like this.”

“It’d be my honor, Cap’n,” Quintan said. “Breakfast’s always been a good way to keep the family strong.”

“And fat,” Rene added.

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