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Challenge #01273-C178: The Coffee Oath

"It is caffeine alone..." You know the rest of this quote. Have fun. -- KnitNan

Theobromine was dangerous for most species, but humans took it in several different preparations. This was the waking preparation, as the ship's human went about their post-somnolence ritual.

Humans could push themselves to operate for an entire standard day, if they needed to. Their human had just done so, and proceeded to sleep for an astonishing twelve hours. Now they emerged, still in their sleeping clothes, to prepare theobromine.

It was a fascinating process, and K'vorth watched through the armoured window, where the human had their own, segregated-for-safety food preparation zone.

First came the sniffing of the cup. If it failed this test, it was washed and dried. Then came the spooning of the sugar. Granulated plant sap, refined in certain ways. (Humans grew sucrose, can you imagine?) Before they came along, Sucrose was a reliable and firm building material, especially for indoors. But humans ate it.

After the spooning of the sugar came the adding of the drinking chocolate. Another form of theobromine, usually used for emotional balance. Then the mixing of the powders before the human inserted the prepared cup under a curious device and loaded it with foul-smelling pellets.

Then came the ominous grinding noise. Most of K'vorth's fellow T'kiin hid or ran away when it began, but K'vorth had been steeling herself for weeks just to watch.

Steaming, dark liquid issued from the grinding machine and poured into the cup. It was a slow trickle, and the human watched the process in a form of hypnotic trance.

It had taken K'vorth weeks to ascertain that the scratching of the posterior was not, in fact, part of the process.

There was the first stirring of the cup, and the adding of the bovine lactate, and the second stirring of the mug. And finally, finally, came the oath.

Their human said it so quickly, almost all in one breath. It had taken quite a long time to divine the words in the entire mutter.

"It is caffeine alone that sets my mind in motion. By the beans of Java, my thoughts acquire speed. The hands acquire shakes. The shakes become a warning. It is caffeine alone that sets my mind in motion."

And then, at last, they drank it. K'vorth had so many questions about this ritual. Which parts were necessary, which were solely their ritual, and which rituals were shared.

Theobromine was deadly. At least for T'kiin. And lots of other species in the Galactic Alliance. And yet, the making and ingestion of it completely fascinated K'vorth. Perhaps, some experts were correct. Human's insanity might just be catching.

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