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Sal Taybrim

JP: Cmdr Traenor & Ens Foley - A Life Measured Out With Coffee Atoms

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((Corridor, USS Constitution))

 

Maxwell Traenor had both a professional and a personal interest in the subject matter of the social meeting he was currently walking towards. Chip Foley, an engineer that Maxwell had known since they had both graduated from the Academy (improbable as it was that a Commander and an Ensign shared an Academy graduation), had extended him an invitation for coffee. Now, Maxwell was always down for a good caffeine jolt, but Chip had described his process for extracting that dark brew with an exuberance that exceeded even his usual superhuman excitement, and it was infectious. The scientist in him wanted to know how exactly a brewing process, homogenous across many civilizations and stagnant for centuries, could possibly be enhanced.

 

In this day and age of post-scarcity, where a replicator in every room made every culinary whim available at the simplest voice command, a personal touch was rare. Therefore, a hand-drawn coffee deserved a similarly thoughtful accompaniment. Unlike others on the ship, Maxwell had zero culinary skills. He had dined at the tables of friends aboard the Conny and beyond who could be artistic in whipping up savory or sweet concoctions in their spare times, however those skills were forever beyond Maxwell’s capabilities. Therefore, he leaned on the skills of others to bridge his deficiency. When he had found out that the confectionaries at the Brew Continuum were handmade and baked in-house, Traenor made that his de facto source for a visitor’s gift to this social event - a box of caramel tarts that he felt would compliment any good brew of joe.

 

Rounding the corner, Traenor saw the door to Chip’s quarters, and was pleased to see that he was neither early nor fashionably late. Mr Foley struck him as the type who would appreciate punctuality, he mused with humor. Most engineers were a stickler for details, a professional trait surely, but Chip… well, Chip certainly took the engineer stereotypes to a whole other level. Chuckling, Maxwell rang the buzzer located next to the quarters door.


 

((Personal Quarters - USS Constitution))

 

Normally Chip's quarters were - well, not MESSY, certainly. Not chaotic. That was anathema to him. But they were very BUSY. Chip tended to utilize every inch of his living area, with his expansive modular workbench and his meticulously organized tools and his enclosed safety field for more energetic experimentation and his elaborate floating kal-toh set and his virtual computing rig and his microaeronautic drone combat sim table ...

 

... like unpressurized vapor, Chip tended to expand to fill available space. This tendency had quickly led to him being assigned a single occupancy dorm at the Academy. However, it did make socialization in his quarters difficult. Dr. Nygard, his Academy counselor, had worked with him extensively on this topic.

 

"Chip, people need more than the exact surface area required to sit in one place free if they're going to visit you. They'll feel ... constrained! Trapped! Remember when I tried to come visit you at your dorm and I couldn't get past that table with the little ships and one of them shot at me? That wasn't a good visit, Chip. We didn't have much fun, right? I understand you like things where they are, but you need a way to create more SPACE. You love solving problems like that - maybe find a way to pack things AWAY sometimes! Please, Chip. I don't want anyone else who might become friends with you in the future to bonk their forehead into that floating pile of metal bars like I did."

 

So Chip had spent the early hours carefully putting things away, packing away the more space-consuming items. He'd left out a few pieces - things of particular visual interest or "conversation pieces" (he made mental air quotes) - and left a carefully-calculated amount of space for free movement. Now that he'd set his space up in a presentable fashion, his primary focus was the hovercart with his hyperpercolator mounted on it.

 

The hyperpercolator represented years of effort. Experimentation, research, specialized permits, miniaturization of existing technology, security clearances, and the reconsideration of certain theories of phase change in organic matter. He made sure the power modulation was at the correct levels, and checked the stability on the internal forcefields, and then rechecked it just to be safe. One could never be too safe with the hyperpercolator.

 

He glanced up and to the left, a habit he had when restlessly checking the chronometer in his field of vision, sort of the way someone with less internal equipment might check a wrist-worn piece or a wall clock. It was almost exactly time for-

 

The buzzer rang. Well, buzzed.

 

Chip beamed sparklingly bright, and moved quickly to the door to tap it open.

 

Foley: Optimal timing, Commander! Almost to the quarter-second! Come in, come in!

 

He gestured grandly with his cybernetic hand at the neatly-appointed quarters, with two entire chairs set out around a small modular table composed of interlocking hexagons, and lots of carefully color-coded boxes stacked at the walls.

 

Foley: Welcome to my humble abode! Although I'm actually quite proud of it. Which still tracks, since I'd be proud, and not the aforementioned abode. Although an abode can't really be humble, either. Humbly appointed perhaps? But isn't humility subjective in that instance? That's outside the point! Which I had originally. Ah! Yes! You're here! Welcome!

 

Maxwell chuckled, by now expecting and eternally amused by the running commentary that Chip was wont to engage in. If exuberant conversation was a spectator sport, then Foley would be the Buck Bokai of that competition.

 

Traenor: Thanks for having me over, Chip. And it’s Maxwell, there’s no pips when coffee and treats are involved.

 

He proffered the box of confectionaries he had brought along to punctuate the sentiment, taking a surreptitious look around Foley’s quarters as the exchange took place. One could discern a fair bit about an officer by the quarters they kept; take Maxwell, for instance. The current scarcity of his own quarters was a telegraph of his emotional state at the moment, a slight feeling of impermanence among recent upheavals. Chip’s quarters? Well, to Maxwell, they were just like the man they belonged to. Fascinating, amusing, and just a bit confusing.

 

Foley: Optimal, Maxwell! ::Chip beamed, his silver eyes glowing with extra lumens as they tended to when reflecting their users’ satisfaction:: Oooh, treats? That’s one of my 71 favorite words! The order of the words’ prominence on the list changes over time but “treats” is frequently highly ranked!

 

He glanced with undisguised eagerness at the parcel Maxwell had, measuring it with his eyes. Measuring, evaluating surface temperature, getting a rough estimate of materials involved in its manufacture ...

 

Traenor: ::nodding at the box:: I’ve found that caramel enhances most coffees, so that’s what I went with this time as well. Hope I’m not proven wrong in this instance!

 

Foley: Ah! Extremely optimal choice! The maltols and alpha-enol adjacent carbonyls in caramel are indeed a chemically perfect pairing with the 2-Isopropyl-3-methoxypyrazine of coffee! Organic chemistry is not one of my PRIMARY interests but I did make a fairly intense - albeit highly specialized and specific - study

of it in the course of engineering my coffee making system! And also a broader study of sugar in general! Mmm, caramel.

 

Traenor took a more in-depth look around the room this time as he made his way towards the seats. In particular, he was trying to eye the by-now much vaunted hyperpercolator. A recent conversation with the ship’s premiere bartender about stills and home brewing - of a different sort from today’s brew, but no less interesting - had whet his appetite about learning the hows, whats, and whys of these particular talents. Any journeyman scientist worth their salt would be engaged in such subjects, he felt.

 

Traenor: ::unsure if he was even pointing at the right contraption:: And is that… is that the coffee maker?

 

Chip grinned brightly, which was really the only way he could grin with the titanium teeth. He moved to the hovercart with the air of an artist preparing to unveil his magnum opus, or a composer tossing back his coat tails and sitting at the bench to play his finest étude. 

 

Foley: Behold - the HYPERPERCOLATOR! I took some time considering the name and ultimately decided that since percolation is key to the delivery of the final product then it suited the device. Also I like the duplication of the “per” phoneme! But yes! The HYPERPERCOLATOR! Patent not pending! Totally open-sourced, but only a handful have been bold enough to attempt its final construction! I like to think of that as a compliment to my dedication and engineering skills and not a commentary on my lack of regard for the risk of annihilation! Never fear - I have STRONG anti-annihilation protocols in place!

 

On the hovercart before the two men sat a cylindrical device, about a meter long, perhaps a third of a meter at its widest with clearly distinguished chambers, much wider at one end and narrowing at the end to a somewhat fanciful chromed tap. It pulsed with energy, and there was the sensation of repressed power not entirely unlike being in close proximity to a warp engine. Chip waggled his hairless brows, crinkling his vast forehead, and his eyes glowed with both good humor and a literal output of energy as a side effect of their extensive modifications.

 

Foley: May I offer you The Hyperpercolator Grand Tour, trademark pending?

 

Traenor: ::eyeing the contraption with the measured respect it deserved:: Trademark pending? I thought you had mentioned it was open-source - or did I mis-hear?

 

Foley: Yes, the hyperpercolator itself is open-sourced but my particular style of dissemination of information on its structure and function is FIRMLY protected by relevant galactic trade law! Hypothetically! I haven’t tried to sell it yet. Although one never knows! Now, allow me to demonstrate!

 

Chip raised his metallic left hand and extended his forefinger - and then kept extending it, an additional 10 centimeters, to act as a pointer. He’d initially developed the extensible digit function to allow better access behind heavy fixtures and into narrow spaces, but it was very helpful for scientific demonstrations! Eye catching! Quite literally, the one time someone had drawn too close during an enthusiastic exhibition of a theoretical design for a plasma-edged rotary saw.

 

Traenor: Let the show begin!

 

Maxwell was no engineer, but he appreciated equipment that led to chemical processes. And make no mistake, the preparation of coffee from beginning to end was a chemical process, which was squarely in his wheelhouse. The selection, propagation and cultivation of coffee trees was the rival of the most pristine of viticulture; precise maturation and maillardizing of the beans were essential; and of course, the solvency of the volatile organics into steeped water with the emulsification of the extracted oils… it was a chemistry slash horticulture lab supplanted onto a kitchen counter. He rubbed his hands together with a wicked grin in anticipation.

 

Foley: So the essence of the hyperpercolator began with my consideration of how to best CONDENSE the essence of coffee. I’d had all the various forms of the beverage - my father is a coffee enthusiast, if not an addict - as well as exoterran varietals like raktajino. I’d researched and reviewed the science on French presses and espresso machines and vacuum coffeemakers, on cold brews and nitrous brews and flame roast and barrel roast. But I felt there was further opportunity. I wanted a way to concentrate the inherent ESSENCE of coffee, to enhance and intensify it. And so I looked to phase change! Specifically to SUBLIMATION.

 

He tapped the wide end of the unit with a little tink, and the hyperpercolator thrummed, the lights within the device pulsing.

 

Traenor: Sublimation! Of course! What an elegant source for distillation!

 

Foley: Precisely! A sufficient application of energy to be able to entirely convert the coffee beans into vapor! Hence the plasma generator that acts as the heart of the hyperpercolator and certainly one of its more entertainingly dangerous components! It took at least a year to be able to determine the exact level of energy output in megajoules and the appropriate duration for the plasma pulse into the bean chamber! There was then the matter of incineration to consider - coffee beans, like most other organic material, are subject to radical carbonization and compressed ash makes a highly unsuitable drink in most cases!

 

Traenor: My first thought is, ‘how do you preserve the volatile organic compounds’? We all know how fragile they are to heat of any degree. Especially purines, which would mean bye-bye caffeine jolt...

 

Foley: Ah-HA! Just so! And so I needed something that would allow the phase state change to take place while maintaining the volatile organic flavor compounds and, naturally, the trimethylxanthine! My eventual solution after extended research was a specified medical stasis field established in the bean depository, miniaturized of course, to sustain the more delicate organic compounds! Combined with a vaporous nitrogenic fixative, this allows for essentially instantaneous conversion of the coffee beans into a pure coffee bean vapor with the relevant stimulants and flavonols intact - and even intensified!

 

Traenor: By the fates… you’ve basically aerosolized the organic compounds in a forcefield-stabilized molecular stream. It took the heat of a tiny singularity to do so, but what a feat! You know, you could revolutionize food replication technology with this...

 

That was just so. In order to maintain the complex flavorant compounds in food when setting replicator recipes, transporter technology to break down products to their constituent molecules was used. However, it had its limitations, as anyone who compared replicated food to its naturally prepared version could attest. Transporters were highly efficient at breaking down matter to the atomic level, converting it to an energy stream, and recompiling it into an exact replica of matter at the other end. However, your average replicator didn’t dematerialize a peanut butter and chocolate ice cream sundae behind your quarters wall and reconstruct it in the alcove you reach into. It had a gross approximation of the matter reconstruction protocol, and used inert matter stores as the base to make a degraded facsimile of your request. Ergo, not quite “right’. The same concept was in play when one tried to reinvent the wheel with coffee brewing. The extraction of the myriad chemical compounds that produced a fine cup of coffee was borne of a specific method - mainly, the dissolution of those compounds from coffee beans into hot water. You try to change that too radically, is it even coffee anymore? With enough advanced applied theoretical engineering and chemical sciences, the answer was apparently yes.

 

Foley: Ideally! The technology for this application was quite exact, but once the guidelines of securing volatile organic cellular chains within specified miniaturized stasis fields utilized in micronic pulses and powered by a plasma chamber are understood generally, particularly by the Operations oversight committee of Starfleet … it would certainly make using a replicator more energy consumptive, and the process may not be suitable for every application, but I suspect it would make certain delicate flavors much more accessible! Imagine how shipboard dinner conversations could be improved without people either lamenting or defending replicated food or discussing the limited resource-heavy workarounds to replicated food and drink they’d come to, generally with varying degrees of smugness!

 

Chip was at maximum eagerness, gesturing broadly with both the organic and inorganic hand, moving his beryllium-titanium fingers in delicate patterns as if to demonstrate the enclosure of delicate imidazoles, swishing the extended pointer finger with its glowing green tip, from the base of the device where the fusion cell and plasma chamber were built, to the secured and shielded coffee depository, through the narrow glowing chamber through which everything was theoretically forced, and to the wider slightly belled end with a tap on the very tip and a neatly installed blue-glowing cube that was recognizable to the science officer as a small hydrox generator.

 

Foley: From here the coffee vapor is pressurized, slowly forced down into a liquid state, pushed along this condenser and into the distillator where it’s combined with pure extractive water created from absolutely pure hydrogen and oxygen, on demand! I once tried drinking the condensed coffee vapor as a pure liquid - and I did not sleep for 5 days, nor could I taste anything adequately for another 22! The INTENSITY, you see. It exceeds the normal capacities of the gustatory cells! Thus, the condensed distillate requires a VERY specific temperature of water at an absolute purity and a specified vacuum-bound micro-aeration in order to become remotely palatable but still maintain its character!  And that character, I must reiterate - is INTENSE.

 

It had been a very long while since he had researched the subject (for a prank on a much younger and much more haughty instructor at the Academy) but Maxwell was brought to mind of the effects of caffeine overdose, or caffeine intoxication as it was sometimes known. Restlessness, excitement, periods of inexhaustibility, rambling flow of thought and speech… nah. He was sure it was just a coincidence. He smiled at Chip, urging him to continue.

 

Traenor: Well, the proof is in the edible non-newtonian fluid, as they say! Brew me up a jolt and let’s see what you’ve got here.

 

Foley: As you wish, my good sir! Make yourself comfortable! Stand at ease! Be of good cheer! Oh - ah, yes! Ha ha, nearly forgot! In addition to all the comfort and good cheer, there is some required … precaution to be taken!

 

The hyperpercolator was mounted on its hovercart in the center of the room, of course. Just beside it, with a chair on either side, was a pedestal table made of interlocking hexagons. In front of each chair was a small ceramic cup, big enough for just 0.5 ounces each, and sat neatly between them was a toolkit with a few essentials that might come up in standard operation of the hyperpercolator: a heavy-duty shielded tricorder of the sort used in evaluating high energy discharges, a spare krellide power cell, an EJ7 interlock, a plasma torch, what appeared to be a field tissue regenerator, and a pair of heavily tinted polarized goggles, which Chip handed cheerfully to Maxwell.

 

Foley: The plasma pulse combined with the photonic output of the multiple field interactions can be slightly retina-scorching to the unprotected eye! Another challenging aspect of bleeding-edge coffee generation! Make use of those - unless of course you’d like a fetching pair of prosthetic eyes like mine! Always a viable alternative!

 

Traenor: ::fumbling quickly with the goggles, speaking in a tone not unlike a squeak before clearing his throat:: Yes, hmm, I think the Conny crew can do just fine with one set of enhanced eyeballs. Let’s just slip these bad boys on.

 

Chip chuckled, and began to set about the delicate processes of setting the device up. Most adjustments were made virtually - Chip did not fully trust analogue controls since they were subject to alteration from exterior forces, so most of the controls were adjusted purely digitally, through a PADD interface built into the hovercart. The percolator thrummed, almost crackling with energy that slowly increased. Delicate adjustments were made. The exterior lights began to pulse.

 

Foley: The beans are the strongest and most robust I can find - although the hyperpercolator extracts the most essential properties of almost any breed of Coffea Canaphora, the amount of energy expended in its use means that I want to get the best possible return on investment, as it were! And it were, in this case, optimal to use the most intense beans I could find! These were bred by a clinically insane botanist on an asylum station near Exo III - an interesting fellow! We played tri-D chess by subspace for a while. He always led with his bishops! But he grows EXCELLENT coffee. And apparently talks to the plants! Evidently they occasionally talk back, according to some of our idle chatter between chess moves. I assume that was mostly metaphorical, but it’s difficult to confirm!

 

Chip opened a small magnetically sealed box full of exactly 3.75 ounces of unroasted stones from the coffee berries provided by the mad botanist, ideally not from talking plants. At a tap of Chip’s control pad, a port at the wide base of the hyperpercolator irised open, and he tipped the stones in. There was no point in an external roasting process, Chip had determined, since the pulse of hyperpercolator’s sublimation chamber was 277760 degrees Celsius. He secured the bean depository, and there the slowly rising harmonic of a sweep by the scanner of the adjusted stasis system, miniaturized and built into the strange device. It pulsed louder.

 

Foley: Payload secured …. And now we initiate MAXIMALLY OPTIMAL COFFEE!

 

He said it in the tone that another hypothetically intense scientist may have once shouted “GIVE MY CREATION LIFE!” in a lightning storm, and instead of a large knife switch he tapped the console on the hovercart. The plasma generator thrummed, the cart shook slightly - and Chip’s eyes automatically shifted from glowing silver to a dulled polarized gray as there was a massive corona of light, a huge FLARE of energy. Everywhere there was suddenly the intense smell of roasted coffee - so intense that it went beyond what mankind previously imagined as that smell, transcending it. It was the scent of PLATONIC coffee, roasted in the heart of a star, secured by forcefields at the cellular level and made sublime.

 

Foley: Compression initiated! THIS PART IS ALWAYS SOMEWHAT INTERESTING FROM A RISK-ASSESSMENT PERSPECTIVE!

 

Traenor: ::cupping his ears:: WHAT! ::determining it was futile:: NEVER MIND! I’LL JUST WATCH!

 

The two had to begin shouting here as the hyperpercolator pulsed and began to cool the superheated vapor, releasing the stasis fields, the fixed nitrogen flooding the chamber and a level 6 forcefield just 10 centimeters across began to compress everything into the central body of the hyperpercolator. Now it became clear why Chip had mounted the device on a hovercart - it would have shaken apart any moored surface. The vibrations were intense, even with the hovercart’s antigravitic stablizers, like a ship passing into the higher warp factors.

 

Traenor had never seen a steam engine in real life. The archaic and highly inefficient motive device preceded the scientist by a good 5 or 6 centuries on his forebear’s home planet. However, it was still a romanticized device among humans, so he was familiar with it. Maxwell surmised that in an alternate reality, where steam technology progressed through an algorithm like Moore’s Law to supplant internal combustion, nuclear energy, and eventually M/A reaction to become the dominant energy force of the 25th century, then such an engine would look like this. He found himself shrinking back into his chair involuntarily.

 

Traenor: ::still speaking quite loudly as his ears were ringing fiercely:: Was it supposed to do ::waving vaguely at the overwhelming sensory overload provided by the device:: that?!

 

Foley: Everything is OPTIMAL! We are approaching MAXIMUM COFFEE ENGAGEMENT, MAXWELL! Sorry, I don’t actually need to shout since the vibrations have ceased but I’m always very excited by this point in the percolation process! It's so SPARKLING!

 

Traenor: ::with an uncertain grin:: I’ll risk life and limb on a good cup of coffee. Er, I mean that metaphorically, of course.

 

Foley: Yes! Metaphorically! There’s only a 7.25% chance of significant device failure leading to possible catastrophic injury and-slash-or maiming! If that! Frankly I was a bit generous with those probabilities, erring on the side of caution! Which I find is frequently the best side to err on when considering possible disastrous outcomes! It’s always better to plan for those in advance, particularly when you’ve lost 25% of your limbs. But behold!

 

The process had indeed quieted. After reaching nearly 1800 Hz in vibrations, and pulsing with energies that lit the entire room and likely would have triggered alarms in Main Engineering AND the Security Complex had Chip not carefully registered his device with the relevant authorities … the hyperpercolator now just quietly bubbled. The sublimated coffee vapor had been condensed and had mixed with pure di-hydrox, pure H20 condensed at the atomic level. The dispensation chamber burbled cheerfully as the two liquids were aerated together and adjusted to an optimal temperature by way of a heat transference panel.

 

At last the bubbling stopped, the glows all faded - and there was a cheerful DING!

 

Foley: Optimal coffee achieved! :: he grinned brightly :: At least based on prior experimentation! Now for PEER REVIEW!

 

Chip carefully brought each little ceramic cup over to the shiny chrome tap of the hyperpercolator - its only really analogue component - and twisted the tap, dispensing steaming near-black liquid (approximately 19-1111 TX on the Pantone scale). The bald man set a cup formally down in front of Maxwell, moving with that curiously liquid way he had and delicately holding the cup between two metallic fingers, and then sat eagerly in the chair facing the commander, cradling his own cup in one hand.

 

Foley: Cheers! No, that’s more appropriately alcoholic. To your health! Well, no, that’s not entirely accurate with the effect this has on your metabolism. Oh! No, wait! A cadet at the Academy informed me of an appropriate toast -  'IwlIj jachjaj! ::it was pronounced with the sort of awkward care only made possible by a rigorously obsessive student repeating after someone over and over while not understanding the language, each syllable chiseled and isolated::

 

Maxwell brought the goggles up off of his eyes and rested them on his forehead, completely cementing the pulp fiction image of two mad scientists cackling over their doomsday device. The actual scientist narrowed his eyes in consternation at Chip’s use of Klingon, which Maxwell had never fully learned and was extremely rusty on. It SOUNDED like something to do with parentage and the scent of elderberries, but that certainly couldn’t be right.

 

Traenor: I, er, don’t think I know what that means. Or at least not what I think I heard.

 

Foley: I was advised that it means “May your blood scream!”, although it’s used proverbially as a toast! Although hyperpercolated coffee has been known to occasionally cause pulse rates to increase to the point that blood forced at that impelled velocity over a sufficiently acoustic surface COULD likely produce a certain scream-adjacent sound effect!

 

Traenor: ::a confused expression belying his words:: Ah. That makes more sense.

 

Though hardly any more reassuring. Before Chip could query him about what he thought he heard initially, since how could he possibly explain that, Maxwell interjected right away with a segue back to the topic at hand. He took up his own espresso cup and wondered why his eyes were starting to water.

 

Traenor: This will likely be a revelatory experience for me, won’t it?

 

Chip paused a moment in consideration of the various meanings of the term “revelation”, and decided that there were a sufficient number of religious traditions that utilized mental or physical challenges in the pursuit of enlightenment - and thus revelation - that it qualified.

 

Foley: Indeed! It very likely shall! Let us leap!

 

They both tipped the cups back.

 

Imagine if you will the difference between powdered milk and real, fresh organic cream. The difference between the recirculated oxygen of a pressurized aircraft and a rushing mountain breeze. The difference between Beethoven played through a small portable speaker sat on a particle board desk and the same piece in a symphony hall played by a 100-piece orchestra. To Chip, at least, that was the difference between standard coffee and the hyperpercolator’s brew - they were the same thing, but one was magnified. Intensified. Everything one considers in a cup of coffee - the acidity, the bitter notes, the complex roasted elements, the strong body thanks to the scientifically-suspended oils - it was all present, but AMPLIFIED. It activated every relevant taste bud at once, coating the whole mouth. And the sensation of caffeine uptake was almost immediate - it was like a hit of a Medical stimulant, like the hyposprays used to bring people out of sedation. Chip’s eyelids lifted and he smiled in contentment, his whole face animating.

 

Foley: Ahhhhhhhhh.

 

It was a sound of radiant satisfaction, like a steam release valve being slowly opened. Chip’s energy output was so constantly high that this was like refueling. He immediately seemed more ACTIVATED. His hairless brows rose in curiosity.

 

Foley: So! How do you find the brew?

 

Maxwell was gingerly trying to pick himself up off the floor where he had fallen out of his chair. His pupils were dilated at different rates, and the room was buzzing… buzzing? Yep, definitely buzzing. A few minutes from now, when he could feel his tongue again, Traenor would start to wonder why he chose to chug instead of sip. When he spoke, it was with a ragged breathlessness.

 

Traenor: ...smooth…

 

Foley: Oooh! You’ve achieved supinity! Sparkling! Ah, I remember those heady days of early experimentation, frequently finding myself awakening in strange postures in the culinary lab after caffeine-related syncope. You’ll find the second cup is much less traumatic, although I recommend considering a waiting period before you indulge! That can vary, of course, based on your particular neurochemistry and your willingness to embrace danger!

 

Chip rested his elbow on the table and leaned over, peering curiously at Maxwell, his cheerfully glowing cybernetic eyes roving and evaluating the man’s skin temperature and heart rate for display in Foley’s optical HUD - both elevated, but not to any immediately lethal point. The commander was also returning to his chair at a reasonably careful speed, so Chip opted against getting up to come around and drag him up. After all, hyperpercolator brew sometimes lent an intense dermal sensitivity that could make being touched challenging for a few moments after ingestion.

 

Foley: So! Maximum veracity! On a scale of 0.1 to 28.7 how would you rate your satisfaction with the overall flavor, complexity, and neurostimulation? Don’t pad your evaluation on my behalf! Objective experiential data is the KEY to improvement!

 

Back in his chair, finally, and trying to re-establish at least the air of respectability, Maxwell regarded the question. Well, regarded might not be the best word. Devoured? Assimilated? His brain felt supercharged, turbocharged. The caffeine rush was exquisite, even if the tremors weren’t.

 

Traenor: Ooh, flavor! Complex, fine acidity, bitter notes of cacao and vegetals and definite undernotes of terpenes! Sweet toasted sugar notes! Atomic crunch tooth rattles! Wait, that’s not a flavor but a sensation. Hmm, I’d give it a 𝞹 times 9!

 

Wait. Maxwell didn’t know pi past the first few decimal points off the top of his head, let alone how well enough for off-the cuff equations. He looked at Chip with awe. This was damned fine coffee in so many ways - if you could ride out the side effects, of course.

 

Foley: Good, good! Optimal! SPARKLINGLY optimal! We are approaching scale maximum AND in an appealingly precise fashion! Explicate! Have you noticed any curious distortions in perception? Any indication of dissociation? Alteration of primary sensory capacity? Also, and this is crucial, should we eat those caramel tarts NOW or would you rather wait until some of the aftereffects fade?

 

Traenor: ::settling in with a grin:: Man, we have a lot of coffee talk to get through! Grab them tarts.

 

END

--

Commander Maxwell Traenor

Science Officer, USS Constitution

A239111MT0

 

and

 

Ensign Chip Foley

Engineering

USS Constitution-B

C239704CF0

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