Chuckling Ceeda tried to bring the meeting back on track. “No, my poor Commander Plenk, we will not be bringing that many on board. I was just fully answering Javisk’s question. However, that does bring up a good question. How many Terrans do you think we could on-board without taxing the Vangart and our crew too much?”
Plenk dropped his arm but remained partially reclined while he thought. The rest gave him time to fully calculate the answer. After a minute or two he opened his mouth. “Accounting for our lost crew and assuming three more months in system to manufacture the necessary units, I think we could on-board at least two hundred. If we are here more time and/or get some basic manpower from Terra, we could up the actual total to five hundred if we converted all cargo areas.”
Both Ceeda and Javisk raised their eyebrows at those numbers. Javisk was the first to find his voice.
“Five hundred? Where would you fit them? I didn’t realize there was that much free space even on an O’ondar class ship!”
Plenk looked a little uncomfortable but answered. “Normally there isn’t. As I said, we lost some of the crew. That and standard extra space gives us room for the two hundred. But to be perfectly honest over polite, the area that we would use for the other three hundred is usually taken up by the….” he hesitated, wrestling with how to say it and finally blurted it out. “By the luxuries that we are required to maintain for the Dvane.” He quickly bit into the doughnut in his hand and looked anywhere but the two Dvane in the room as he chewed it.
Both Ceeda and Javisk sat there stunned. Both had been brought up just accepting the privilege that was theirs due to who and what they were. It was just always there and they never had to think about where it came from or what space it took up. To have it put in such basic terms, especially in the situation they were in, was beyond shocking.
“But all our food comes from the processors the same as the crews,” Ceeda finally got out.
“Most of your food, yes. But not all of it. For example, Cereena apparently don’t replicate well so we are required to carry almost half a metric ton of them. And that’s just one of the food stuffs we carry on board for Dvane consumption. But those are actually the smaller things. The big things are the wines and other alcoholic beverages that have been determined not to replicate ‘acceptably’.” Plenk’s expression was a mix of apology and defiance.
There was silence for several minutes as this information was digested. The only one who showed no emotion at all was Sinvara. But then his kind just accepted things as they were. They didn’t see a need to bring emotions into things other than humor from time to time. Which was why his was the first one to speak.
“So, a round of Scava for everyone?” The looks everyone shot him didn’t even phase him. “Yes? No?”
Ceeda gave one more futile quelling look at the Maurin and turned back to Plenk with almost an apologetic look in her face. “It would seem that we desperately need to re-evaluate how some things are done. On one hand, I can understand some luxuries for us. We are the ones who created the Empire and keep… well kept it running. However taking up more space than the entire crew’s stasis chambers is completely overboard!” She looked at Javisk defiantly, daring him to disagree.
But Javisk too was thinking along the same lines. “I’ve been around a lot longer than you have Ceeda. I never even suspected we were that much a drain on resources.” He looked up and saw her defiant look. “If you were expecting me to disagree with you on this, think again. While I don’t think using that space for more weapons would have made a significant difference in the end, it would have made a difference. It actually makes we wonder if we were taking that much wasted ship space for granted, what else were we miscalculating.”
Plenk and Sinvara exchanged looks during this conversation. But both wisely chose to remain silent.
Javisk shook himself, “Regardless, now is not the time to be looking too deeply on this. That is a debate and exploration for another occasion. Now our focus has to be saving the peoples of the Empire.”
Ceeda nodded, “Agreed.” Turning to Plenk, “Do not just throw out whatever extras are stored away for Dvane use only. Have the cooks start integrating it into regular meals. I think everyone could stand for a little treat now. That does not include the alcoholic beverages though. We will have to figure out how to dole that out. I will not have crew drunk on my ship so sharing the good liquor will have to be carefully monitored. And from now on, for my ship anyway, no luxuries that are not shared with the entire crew unless I bring them on board personally to be stored in my personal space.” She looked straight into Plenk’s eyes and even added an Ether push to drive home her directive.
Plenk nodded. “As you wish my Roh.” He could say nothing more. He had never intended to try and make changes. He had just been answering the questions posed to him. He felt something momentous was happening here but didn’t really know how to process it yet.
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