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Fleet 15

Finding the mess hall was easier than I had expected. I carried my uniforms in a cloth bag Story had given me and followed my nose and ears the last hundred meters to the door. It was still a little early and the massive room was less than half full. Luckily, it seemed I had guessed right about the uniforms. I didn’t need to wear them to dinner.

I dropped my things on an empty table and quick-stepped to the counter, snagging a tray and dishes. The cook dishing out my food was a broad faced man in his forties who paused long enough to raise an eyebrow at a face he’d never seen, but I ignored it and pushed a pair of plates his way. “Fill them,” I said. “I’m starving.”

He gave a half grunt and shoveled three half pound burgers onto the first plate and half a chicken onto the next. I grabbed sides, buns, and two large glasses of water before heading back to the table I’d staked a claim on.

Janet found me a few minutes later. “You got my message.”

“Hrmmph…” I said elegantly around a mouth filled with cheeseburger.

She dropped her things to the round table top and headed to the counter, returning after a few minutes. Her plate was loaded with scrambled eggs covered in cheddar cheese and dripping sausages. I gave her a look. “Breakfast?” I said. “Weren’t you on duty earlier?”

“That doesn’t mean I can’t still want eggs.”

“I guess, if you want to be that way.”

She shook her head. “It’s been a long day. The eggs sounded good.”

“Okay.” I said and finished my second cheeseburger.

Curtis settled into place at the table roughly between the two of us and pushed his tray of chicken into place. He raised an eyebrow. “Eggs again?”

She glared. “Yes. Eggs again.”

Curtis glanced my way, looking for some sort of support, but I made certain to keep my face firmly wedged in the soft potato bun of my final cheeseburger. He floundered under her gaze and dropped his eyes, tearing into his chicken.

We ate in silence for a few minutes until the awkwardness got a little too much for me. I sopped up the last of the chicken juice with a slice of garlic bread and looked to Curtis. “How did the petition turn out?”

“Captain wouldn’t sign it for the official broadcast, but word is you can watch the whole thing on the network.”

“Someone leaked the video?”

He beamed. “Hey, I ain’t just someone.”

Janet choked on her milk. “You didn’t,” she coughed.

“Hell yeah I did. I’d have done the full commentary too if I could’ve gotten away with it.”

Janet smiled down at her eggs. “Cord is going to be pissed.”

Curtis raised his chicken like a kid in an old style commercial; proud and amused. “Yes, he is.”

I snorted and grabbed what remained of my own chicken, reaching out to bump it against his in an old style toast. Janet rolled her eyes. I finished my plate and leaned back with a happy sigh. “So, what do you guys do for fun around here?”