The furry tailed, heat-emitting captain of the Halcyon let out a funny purring, gurgling sound as she curled her tail around herself even tighter in the niche under a stove. Her maned wolf ears flicked every now and then, sending sparks fizzing about.

Above her, Leon stirred a pot full of meat sauce diligently. His moisture climate helmet sat on a clean counter nearby, ready to be grabbed at a moment’s notice. The humid heat from the kitchen fondly reminded him of some of the smoker seas back on his home ocean world Syrenia, although he was more of a reef and swamp dweller.

“Oh, Captain~” he scooped a little of the sauce with a separate ladle and crouched down. Blowing gently to cool the mixture down and to diffuse the aroma to her, Leon grinned as Keona’s nose twitched and followed the spoon. But instead of her eyes, her mouth opened, waiting for the contents of the spoon to enter. Chuckling softly, Leon tipped the sauce into her eager mouth and waited.

She smacked her lips. Leon glanced to the jars of dried herbs and spices, wondering if an addition was needed. He turned back to the sleeping captain expectantly. Her eyes remained closed, but she held out a thumbs up and smiled. Giving her a pat with a webbed hand, Leon stood up and stirred the pot again.

From the kitchen doorway, MARS leaned in silently, watching Leon work. Her large yellow almond-shaped optic lenses detected the heat source of the stove was residual thermal emissions from the strange human-animal hybrid she acknowledges as captain; and the meat in the pot gave off traces of Chunais’ four-legged quails. The Syreni chef was busy prepping other dishes apart from the pot of meat sauce-stew, possibly for the Tikkori brothers who probably did not consume a variant of their bird-like species.

“MARS?” a voice whispered behind her. If she had the proper nerves installed, she would have jumped. With a swish of her purple asymmetrical synthetic hair she turned around to find Luc craning his neck to look into the kitchen above her head.

“Doctor!” she squeaked.

The tall Antaresian stood behind her, his hands folded politely behind his back. A small smile rested on his face, and the glint in his purple iridescent eyes twinkled mysteriously as usual. “Something interesting happening?” he looked down at her.

MARS straightened. “Just analysing Chef’s meal of the day. I have a question!” she chirped.

The doctor raised his eyebrows in surprise and leaned in.

“Do Tikkori eat birds? I seem to be missing information on this in my databank,” she tilted her head, mimicking human confusion.

Luc held back a knowing chuckle and nodded his head. “Carnivorous appetites are quite common on Tikkori. It may appear cannibalistic to most, but it’s actually very natural,” Luc explained properly. As if the pilot and navigator heard them talking, whooshes and loud squawking came steadily closer down the corridors on the way to the kitchen.

“Crepcica!!! We smelt it all the way from cockpit! Chunais pigeon?!” Fang and Talon scrambled onto the dining table and snatched up a handful of cutlery.

“Ah AH AH! FEET OFF THE TABLE!” Leon swung his ladle at them. Meal times was possibly the only other time they would feign obedience apart from chaos with Keona. Smoothing their feathers down, the Tikkori twins plopped themselves into their chairs and stared at the pot as if to will it to zoom to them.

Keona groggily emerged from the bottom of the stove counter and wandered to the table. Spotting MARS and Luc in the doorway, she purred a hello and waved them over. Luc nudged MARS into the kitchen, and smiled to himself when he noticed Leon soften slightly at the sight of the sentient android.

Luc pulled out a chair for both MARS and Keona, a chivalrous habit; and sat facing Leon, staring mischievously at him. Although facial expression was uncommon for his kind, the Syreni’s exposed neck-gills flared and his eyes narrowed, a trait he acquired from being around air-dwellers for so long.

As Royan and Jai finally joined the dinner party, Leon expertly served the meal, drawing mumbles of thanks and awe from the crew. MARS, who obviously lacked the organs to process food, moved her chair away from the table and beamed at the strange assortment of creatures she acknowledged as ‘family’, watching them descend into various topics of conversation. Leon rummaged around in the kitchen a little while longer, and came to the table bearing a little blue can.

“A new condiment?” MARS high-pitched voice buzzed. Although her internal database contained the Ritamaoe galaxy’s top 239784 best foods, the little can was not known to her. Leon’s ear fins twitched in mysterious pleasure as he cranked the can open with a mini plasma tool and poured the contents out into a little pudding glass.

“What the grob is that?” Fang’s beak full of meat sauce spluttered at the sight of black gunk squelching out of the can into the glass. Keona crept towards the glass and sniffed. A strong fuel smell penetrated her nose and she withdrew almost immediately, her face scrunching up in disgust. “YEALGH! That’s not food?!” she stuck her nose into the steam of the meat sauce, trying to clear it.

“Oh, but it is. Just not for us,” Leon smiled, placing a decorative leaf in the black sludge and presenting it to MARS. Her pale yellow eyes glinted a brilliant amber, a conscious expression of delight she had learned to configure in attempts to notify her friends of her new-found emotions.

“You can ingest it through your charging port. Jai and I managed to come up with a mixture of charging crystals and mechanical emollient that would function as a little battery of sorts for you,” Leon beamed proudly at his little science experiment.

He watched expectantly as MARS gently tipped the mixture into the charging port located in her collar, almost as if she was daintily sipping from a champagne flute. Her eyes flashed bright green for a moment, before settling into a swirling glow of gold-like hues.

“How wonderful! The electrons of the emollient and the spark of the crystals are giving me little surges in power levels!” MARS tittered.

“Wow. I think we just made a literal cocktail for her,” Jai clapped his hands together in delight.

Writer’s note: This was supposed to go up last week D: for some reason, suddenly my Saturdays are so busy I can’t keep up with myself 😦 Pardon for the late posts, and the missing out on this week’s one >^<