“— And so he became the 44th leader of the world, and he convinced the aliens to get humanity to safety. Which is why all the humans here say ‘Praise Cheney’ or whatever.” Riker says as he sips his Vesuvian coffee. “Man this stuff is great.”
“Huh” Sabine says with a look of bemusement, “maybe that’s it then.”
“What’re ‘Dah-nishes’?” West asks, looking at the ship’s food replicator
“They’re called Danishes. Here,” Lieutenant Rose Ortega offers, “let me help.”
“I concur Dr. Sabine,” Lieutenant Mercia Jerico says.
“Concur with what?”
“That’s our moment in time.” Sabine offers.
“I don’t get it.” Riker says with consternation.
“Think of it this way,” Sabine grabs some items from around the mess hall, napkin holders, salt and pepper shakers, and a few empty pill bottles. “All quantum realities are different, but generally speaking they all share commonalities. You might end up in a quantum reality where earth is destroyed—”
“But in nearly all of them earth, at some point, existed.”
“So this line of things here is our quantum reality. And in our quantum reality, Bush didn’t die from choking on a pretzel.”
“That was the guy who was president of the world before Cheney right?”
“Oooh! Macaroni and Cheese!?”
“It’s not very good.” Rose says with a playful frown.
“Awww.” West says with an actual frown.
“Well, he wasn’t President of the world, he was president of America.” Sabine corrects.
“Though it was not uncommon for Americans at the time to think the former of themselves.”
“Indeed. So in our reality he lived through choking on bread and stayed President. In yours, Cheney took over and under his leadership,” She starts creating a second row of items which splits off from the first, “the ecological disasters got significantly worse at a more accelerated rate. This all eventually resulted in, what did you say? Less than 10,000 humans?”
Riker sighs, “Yeah. Significantly less.” He can’t help but look protectively at West, still browsing the menu on the replicator.
“So, what is it that you two do exactly?” Jericho asks, leaning in.
“We’re pirates!” West shouts, not taking his eyes off the replicator.
“We’re not—” Riker sighs, “We’re not pirates.”
“You dress like a pirate.” Sabine chimes in with a playful smile.
“No no, you’re thinking cowboy.” Rose offers with a chuckle.
“Ah yes, that’s right. A space cowboy.”
“I… I saw it on an earth movie once.” He adjusts his outfit awkwardly. A poncho over some chest armor with an empty holster strapped low on his thigh. He doesn’t know it, but the film clip he saw was from a movie by Sergio Leone. “We do scuttle work mostly, the occasional mercenary job. Whatever keeps Ohana flyin’ and us fed.”
“So you’re pretending to be the muscle,” Sabine ribs, with a light touch of her hand on Riker’s and a wink, “What about you young man?” She asks West, still not looking away from his current endeavor, “I take it you’re the brains of the operation?”
“Darn tootin’!” West says before gasping. “Pizza! Like Pizza Pops?”
“Sorry kid, afraid we don’t have those.”
“I’ll be right back!” West shouts and runs off.
“Where’s he going?” Rose asks, looking both confused, and concerned.
“My guess? He’s going to be grabbing the molecular coding data and translating it to work with your systems so, you too, can enjoy the blessing of the heavenly taste of ‘Pizza Pops’.”
“No, they’re not actually that good.” Riker replies, eliciting a laugh from the three women.
“No, I mean, he’s going to translate the quantum data? Does your AI do that?”
“Not AI,” Riker corrects with a grin, “him. The guy who found him, who gave him to me, told me he’s a math prodigy or something. He was doing calculus derivatives practically before he learned how to write my name—”
“Riker P. Everest, space cowboy.” Mercia chimes in.
“I run helm control, but he does all the navigational inputs and calculations. Half the time I don’t have a clue what he’s doing.”
West’s thudding feet grow progressively louder as he returns to the mess hall with a data drive and rushes over to the replicator. “Oh, hang on West, I’ll get someone to unlock the—”
“He’s got it.” Riker says interrupting Rose.
And sure enough, within a few seconds West had bypassed the security and installed the recipe for Pizza Pops. He was already ordering several. “It’s Pizza Pop time!” West proclaims triumphantly.
“The security is encrypted how did he—”
“I told you, he’s like a math—”
West tosses down a large plate of a dozen or so Pizza Pops. “Talk time’s done, chow time starts.”
The three ladies smile and each grab a Pizza Pop, prompting a cacophony of quick breathing as the food burns their mouths.
“Well, it was nice meeting you both,” Sabine says after taking a drink of water to cool off her mouth, “but I’m afraid we need to get back to work.” Jericho nods in agreement. “I know Cap isn’t terribly fond of you being onboard but for what it’s worth, you’re both welcome in my lab any time.” She offers with a smile.
“See you around.” Jericho chimes in before turning to Rose, “It’s your shift at yellow don’t forget.”
“I won’t.” Rose says taking another small bit of her Pizza Pop. “So, you’re good with numbers, eh West?” West nods his head, not breaking from his constant intake of Pizza Pops. “Say, you boys think you might want to come with me? Maybe give me a hand with something?”
West looks at Rose, a sad look on his face. “Pizza Pops comes with?” She tries with a smile.
West nods excitedly, and Riker looks on at the scene with some inner peace.
“What’s that look for?” Rose asks standing up and handing the plate of food to West.
“Nothing… It’s just… Nice to make a friend.” Riker offers before following them down the hall.