It was not unlike a kitchen you'd find on Earth with brushed steel cabinets and equipment. Al immediately started opening cupboards and looking inside them.
"You'll not find any food in here," assured Troy.
"What's this then?" asked Al, holding up a silver vacuum-sealed packet.
"Food!" exclaimed the Helvetian. He leapt forward, snatched it from Al and ripped it open with his teeth before stuffing the contents into his mouth. Al's eyes boggled in alarm as he gobbled down the green brick of nutrition with all the speed and decorum of a combine harvester.
"For goodness sake, Troy!" I exclaimed. "No one's going to take it off you!"
Troy responded with something unintelligible due to the amount of food in his mouth.
"Hungry, are we?" Al added.
"I've not eaten in five days," spluttered Troy, bits of food spraying from his mouth.
"And don't talk with your mouth full!" I chastised. "If I want to see the contents of your stomach, I'll cut your belly open!" and I wagged my finger at him.
Troy stopped eating to stare at me, trying to figure out how serious I was.
"She's joking," said Al, "but it's her pet hate ... and it is revolting."
"And you'll get indigestion," added Midas picking up one of the packs and studying it. "How long have these things been here anyway?" he added.
Troy shrugged. "Why?"
"I'm just wondering if they're still edible," he said, turning the pack looking for a 'best before' date.
"Well Troy seems to think it is. Come on, let's grab some."
"Oo! Look! I've got ... pink stuff," said Al wrinkling her nose up at a bottle of pink tinged liquid she had found.
"We call that water," said Troy.
"Not in our dimension," I laughed.
"What colour is it there then?"
"It's not. It's clear."
"This is clear," he said holding up a bottle.
"No, that's pinkish clear. Ours is colourless clear ... like glass."
"Oh! How curious," he said breaking the top open and guzzling it down.
We spent much of the next fifteen minutes or so eating and drinking as we didn't know when we'd next be able to find food again. The water turned out to be quite palatable with a slight strawberry flavour to it. The bars, on the other hand, tasted like compost.
"So where do we go from here?" Al finally asked.
"We need a scientist—" I began. Midas gave a little cough. "—to help Troy defeat the Dancers," and I explained the nature of the Dancers and the history of his people.
"You see, our two universes exist in different moments in time, but the distance between those universes is not a constant. The temporal difference drifts due to the pull of a microscopic black hole on the edge of their solar system, rather like the moon does the tides on Earth.
"The mission was to use the kaleg, which is the only thing that can cross the rift between the two universes, to manipulate the black hole and bring his planet and solar system into our realm but leave the Dancers behind."
"So why doesn't he?" asked Al.
"Because that wasn't Troy's mission. Troy's job was to see that the Helvetian specialist, whose job it was, got to the right place."
"So where's his specialist?"
"Dead," interjected Troy still munching on the food bars, although much more slowly.
Al opened her mouth to say something.
"Yes, he already knows that he failed and that's why we need a scientist—" Midas coughed again. "—to help Troy complete the mission."
"Okay, so now what?"
"Like I say, we need a scientist."
Midas coughed again, but it still didn't register with me. Al's sarcastic expression told me I was missing something.
"Don't worry, Midas. She'll get it in a minute," sighed Al.
I turned to Midas and stared at him for a moment, and then the penny dropped.
"Midas!" I shouted. I turned to Troy pointing at Midas. "Scientist!" I beamed triumphantly.
Troy swallowed down the last of his food bar and licked his fingers, apparently unimpressed by the revelation.
"Does he know what he's doing?" he asked coolly.
"Probably more so than you," interjected Midas in a typical cool Vulcan manner.
"Possibly, but you don't look very ... you don't seem old enough to have the experience."
"Hey!" I shouted indignantly. "Brilliance isn't age dependant. It was Luke who figured out the asynchronous temporal plane and it was Midas that figured out how to track the kaleg. Trust me, where I come from, that makes him an expert on kalegs."
"Then I stand corrected. Midas, will you help me?"
"If you can get me to an astrometrics laboratory. Somewhere where I can control the kaleg and monitor the black hole et cetera," Midas asked.
"That I can do. That was my mission and I would be delighted to fulfil it."
Hastily, we grabbed the supplies together and reassembled ready to continue on our way. I found a holdall to stash some of the food supplies in and threw it over my shoulder.
"What about him?" asked Troy, indicating Luke. I knew Troy considered Luke to be a liability, but I wasn't leaving him behind. I took the bag off my shoulder and held it out to Luke. He looked at it and his face screwed in thought. I smiled. It was the first time I'd seen anything other than a vacant expression on his face since we had found him. I knew it was a good sign. His mind was working things through and sure enough, he took the bag from me. Shortly after that, we left the kitchens.