Chapter 133: A Gustatory Experience
by Tim Lasko
We still have wounded nephilim somewhere. But we have to wait for our android medics to be, um, readied. In the meantime, several of us (Kate, Katrina, Dafnord, Markel, Gannar, and Robbie) have checked into Colonel Walker's Inn in New Sydney. It is time for dinner.
We decide to try the dining room of the Inn for lack of any better recommendations (except for Gannar, who stays in the room), and are challenged by the host. He seems to object to serving Robbie--probably because he looks like he could be an android in his plasticized appearance. After some polite fumfraws, and with no one actually mentioning the word "android," we rummage in our pockets and produce our Outback visas.
Taken aback by the legal paperwork, the host then performs the classic manuever of giving us the worst table in the house. We then abuse the help in various ways, demanding the next table over, insisting that the busboy not clear off the perfectly set table, and generally making minor nuisances of ourselves for an hour.
The rest of the Inn's patrons all seem to be clumped together on the better side of the dinning room and they occasionally look our way and laugh about something. Being more hungry than confrontational, we ignore them. To keep us from taking bites out of the help, Robbie contacts Tom and asks him to open a pantope door to the table and deliver some munchies from the ship. Suddenly eating food seems to eventually draw the attention of a waiter.
We ask what they are serving, expressing interest in local meat and vegetables. We end up choosing dragonsteak and neo-lamb, avoiding the beefsteak for now. After what seems like another long delay, we're brought steaming platters of a large purplish rindy meat--must be the dragonsteak-- and a heaping bowl of rather unappetizing local vegetables steamed or fried to within inches of whatever life they had.
We flag down the waiter again and ask him to confirm that what we're looking at is dragonsteak and vegetables. (The spiny bits and the large spiky thorns look particularly unappetizing.) We then grab him again when we find a large bug in the pile of vegetables. The waiter tries to explain that the bug is part of the local vegetation and this seems to be confirmed by other diners, who are using the thorns to spear the little critters and eating them live.
Dafnord and Markel decide to brave the local dragonsteak and eat a few slabs. It tastes rather odd and we realize that it is actually more of the same vegetation in the bowl. Robbie has the presence of mind to contact Tom again and ask him to look up information about Outback "dragonsteak."
The neo-lamb is also somewhat over the top: heavily minted (possibly part of the genetic modification) and covered in an overspiced sauce. Barely edible to most palates--except Kate, who doesn't understand why so much spice is being wasted on meat that hasn't turned. To the Inn's credit, the beer is actually rather good.
Tom comes back to report that the sources are mixed. There are quite a few recipies for dragonplant--from which dragonsteaks are carved and the bits left are used as vegetable--but also quite a few warnings that the plant is mildly toxic. (Spffffttt!) Oh well, we have eight field hospitals if we need them. The bug is in fact part of the plant--a sort of mobile seed pod.
Hoping that the third time is the charm, we ask for the beefsteak. It arrives flash seared: black and crispy on the outside and bleeding inside. (We make rude comments about taking one of them to the Munch's autodoc to save it.) At least the sweet course is mostly edible, although we're not sure about the cactus jell.
Shortly after the final course is cleared, Dafnord succumbs to the local flora. Fortunately, the next to worst table in the dining hall is rather close to the facilities. After an unpleasant episode, Dafnord cleans up and is tut-tutted by a local and told he's a little too small to take on the local cuisine. Shortly after we return to our rooms, Markel succumbs as well. Both of them spend the evening in the autodoc.
The next day, while the two gustatory adventurers recover, Kate, Katrina and Robbie go to see the sights of New Sydney. Unfortunately, the sights mainly consist of important rocks and stretches of flat land. The main sports appear to be ballooning and gliding. We're likely to die of boredom if the local food doesn't get us first. Fast forwarding until our androids are finished looks better and better.
©2001 Tim Lasko. All Rights Reserved.