All Times, All At Once
by Laurie Tom
Angela loaded pads of dough with morsels of barbecue pork and pulled up the floury
edges to pinch them into pouches ready for steaming. She had never been particularly proficient in
making cha siu bao, and her grandmother always nagged her about being such a lousy cook. A
year-long space expedition allowed time enough for self-improvement.
This wasn't for Grandma. It was her recipe, but Angela was making it for herself, not
because it would impress Grandma.
The only thing she missed was Sunny's yipping. The shih tzu was probably the only one
who appreciated it when Angela cooked. She'd take anything for scraps. Mom called her the
fastest vacuum on four legs.
But Sunny was light years away now, staying with Angela's mom until the Starfish
At least she wasn't with Grandma.
"Such a good little foo dog," Grandma had said about her.
"She's a shih tzu," said Angela.
"I know," her grandmother agreed, "but she looks a bit like one. And foo dogs aren't really
dogs at all. I used to know a few. They always liked the bao I made them."
When Angela looked up what a foo dog was she found out they were the stone lions
outside temples, and Grandma simply said, "They aren't really lions, either, but once you meet one
you never forget. They don't bark or roar, and their voices rattle like bones in a cup."
Grandma was a little senile. Not enough that she couldn't live on her own, but enough that
Angela didn't like to visit.
She set the first batch of bao in the steamer and glanced at the time. Julian would be here
soon. After all, a cook needed someone to eat their food, and if anyone understood crazy Chinese
relatives, Julian did.
They'd have something to talk about while waiting in orbit around Yuno. The Starfish was
being diverted to assist after the frontier colony sent out an alert for technical assistance. Yuno
paid into the emergency fund, so if anything went wrong, the nearest ship was obligated assist.
In this case it was the Starfish, and its crew would be compensated for their time when
they returned, but it added another month to their expedition.
She'd heard the report.
Captain Vu had responded immediately, but now that they approached, no one was
answering. The satellites seemed to be up, but that didn't rule out a problem on the planet's
surface, so the first thing the captain did was send Marco and Priyanka down to make contact.
A chime rang out, and Angela's home assistant projected a two-dimensional holo of Julian
standing outside the door to her quarters. His face was deadly serious, but that was almost a joke
"Hey, Jules," she said. "Come in."
"Sorry, Ang," he replied. "I've been sent to get you. We're going down to Yuno."