056 – Tastes like Chicken
Editor: Thor’s Stone
“Well then…… I can’t think of much to else to say anyway, so cheers!”
The three ladies followed my gesture, held up each of their glasses filled with chilled noncarbonated beer, and clinked them against each other. Me? I just drank my noncarbonated cola as usual.
“Puhaaa! This is some fine beer!”
“We got it from the factory tour we went on recently. It did cost quite a bit though.”
“I think it was 100,000 Enels right?”
“T-That’s just a paltry sum of money for mercs like us, okay……?”
“Isn’t your sense of money strange?”
“I-I’m not like that. It’s just Hiro-sama and Elma-san who are weird……”
“Like you’re one to talk. Didn’t you also buy a lot of expensive stuff with Hiro, Mimi? Like those bath fixtures, washing machine, high-performance auto-cooker, among other things. Didn’t those cost, like, 300,000 Enels or something?”
“Yep, I think you’ve also gone to the deep end as well.”
“N-No, I haven’t! I think?”
Man. Guess it’s true what they say. Three women really is a crowd. They didn’t have any particular topic to talk about, so their conversation kept rapidly changing subject. Are their conversation abilities equipped with jump drives or something? It was getting hard to follow their haphazard stories with my meager abilities.
The rate of their conversation finally tapered off until all their focus was turned to the 『imported』 foodstuffs piled up on the table.
On top of the table…… a universe was spreading.
Well, not really. It was just a figure of speech guys. There’s no ‘universe’ spreading on top of the dining table. It was just filled with all sorts of rare and unusual-looking food. I chose to pick up the plate closest to me.
It was pasta. At least it looked like some sort of pink-colored pasta. I-It should be fine. It’s not wriggling or anything. I kept telling myself that, but my imagination kept holding me back. Eventually, I picked up my personal chopsticks and decided to try one piece. Yup. It’s pasta. At least it didn’t feel like it was a worm or something.
I chewed the piece I picked up with my chopsticks. It tasted… uh, salt-flavored. It didn’t move around in my mouth when I chewed on it. Guess it’s safe. The texture and taste were kinda like that of sea urchin. It had plenty of umami and was actually pretty good.
As I was enjoying my meal, I noticed that the three ladies froze up and were staring at me with aghast looks.
“Um, is that tasty?”
“I don’t hate it, at least. It has a subtle flavor and… Uh, what’s with you guys?”
“Um, t-those are actually called uuchiworms–”
“Aaah! I can’t hear you! This is urchin pasta! Sea urchin flavored pasta made with the latest tech!”
“What a splendid way of self-deception.”
Just why did you buy this sort of weird stuff, Mimi!? No, this is pasta! Right. Pasta. It’s nothing weird! It’s just pasta!
“Well, just try it, you guys. It’s tasty you know. Urchin pasta.”
“Uh, I’m a bit–”
“I’ll pass as well.”
“Um, m-me t……”
“Now you’re not saying the one who bought the food herself won’t actually try tasting them, right?”
“You’re not, riiight!?”
Mimi tearfully picked up a piece of uuchiworm… uh, urchin pasta and brought it to her mouth. She then proceeded to chew on the stuff. Her expression changed afterward.
“Huh. It really is tasty.”
“Right? It’s nothing much if you just think of it as sea urchin pasta.”
“I guess so. I don’t know what urchin pasta actually is, but this is tasty.”
Elma and LtCdr Serena’s gazes met after seeing me and Mimi continue to eat the sea urchin pasta on the plate.
“U-Uh, let me try some then……”
“Y-Yeah. You’ve gone to the trouble of preparing it after all……”
Elma and LtCdr Serena also tried out the urchin pasta. Their expressions were tense at first, but they gradually loosened up as they continued to savor the taste of the food.
“It really is delicious.”
“It’s a delicacy……”
“By the way, was the fact that the plate with this stuff was placed right in front of me made with other intentions in mind, perhaps?”
“I-It’s just a coincidence, right?”
“Y-Yeah. It’s a coincidence. Coincidence.”
“But why do I feel all the suspicious stuff is piled on my side of the table……?”
Mimi and Elma started panicking when I gave them a hard glare. Oh well. I’ll stop pursuing this for now. For now, that is.
“So let’s try this one next! Go ahead, Mimi!”
Mimi yelped in a strange voice when she saw the contents of the plate I offered. Within the dish were black spheres the size of marbles. Their black-colored smooth surfaces shone brilliantly and really did resemble glass marbles.
“What’s wrong? Weren’t all these stuff ordered by Mimi?”
Mimi tried to muddle through by acting cute. Yep. That’s cute alright. But I won’t let you get away. I thrust the plate at her once more while displaying an encouraging smile.
Mimi tearfully reached out with trembling fingers toward the plate with black marble-like things, picked one up and brought it to her mouth. And she finally chewed the stuff.
Mimi’s expression suddenly turned blank. Eh? What the heck is with that reaction? It’s scary you know.
“H-How is it?”
“Uh, um… tas… ty……?”
Mimi answered falteringly to LtCdr Serena’s question. After seeing that curious reaction, my gaze, along with Elma and LtCdr Serena’s, were all drawn to the black marbles on the plate. After looking at each other’s expressions afterward, we all nodded in unison.
“What the heck is this strange flavor……?”
It was sweet, salty, and sour – all at the same time. It was a peculiar flavor. How should I describe it…? Yeah, it’s like sea urchin flavored pudding slathered in soy sauce, I think… Or rather, I can’t find any suitable words to describe it!
“By the way, what are these…… No, on second thought, you don’t have to answer that.”
“I think that would be for the best.”
After looking at Mimi’s peculiar expression, I decided to refrain from continuing to ask about the true identity of the mysterious marbles. I’m sure I’d regret it if I ever found out. These were probably eggs of some sort of creature. They were the eggs of a creature that would force Mimi to make such a peculiar expression. Let’s just let sleeping dogs lie.
“So, are these the only truly strange ones among the food you ordered?”
“It seems like it. The rest look somewhat proper at least.”
There were smoked manga meat skewers, fruits I’ve never heard about before, some tarts using said fruits as ingredients, fish flakes, black-colored meat jerky, and boiled shrimps the size of an index finger.
By the way, the boiled shrimp-looking things were placed near my end of the table, just like the pink pasta and black marbles.
“Whoa, get a load of these tasty-looking shrimps! Give em a try, Elma!”
Elma and Mimi jerked up in surprise. Those reactions…… Like I thought. These were also suspicious, right?
“U-Uh, well, I think it would be improper for me to eat before you do, Hiro……”
“Hahaha, don’t worry about it. Go ahead and try them. A〜hn.”
I won’t let you escape as well……
By the way, the ‘boiled shrimps’ were actually moderately steamed larvae of some sort of mystery creature. Just why did you order stuff like this, Mimi……? They were quite creamy and tasty though.
After finishing off all the food, all that’s left were the drinks. But, as I was weak to alcohol, I didn’t drink any.
“They told me we were late the moment I arrived you know! I was busy leading an operation to wipe out pirate scum and that’s what they say to me the moment I report back!? At least protect your own damn colony yourselves, you freaking idiots!”
As you can see folks! I need help!
Elma was just happily chugging sake in the corner, so she’s kinda okay. But Mimi wrapped herself around me like an octopus and refused to let go. LtCdr Serena was busy furiously venting out all her frustrations from work at me as well.
“There, there, LtCdr. Calm down……”
“And you! You just suddenly brought out a power armor and protected the docks, rescued Inagawa Tech’s affiliated general hospital alone while destroying creatures along the way, as well as assisted in the successful production of nanomachines designed to wipe out those monsters! Man, it looks like you mercenaries are far more reliable than the independent fleet (lol) huh! Like I said, we were busy doing important stuff on another sector of space you damn idiots! And they had the gall to say I didn’t make use of my men properly! They even blamed me for a bioterrorism incident happening right under my nose while I was stationed here! The nerve! Don’t make me laugh!”
LtCdr Serena grabbed my collar and shook me back and forth while spewing out complaints left and right. What an unruly drunk. Well, she’s drunk, so I guess I can forgive her this time. And it seems LtCdr Serena is also keeping a lot of stress bottled up.
“Ohm…… Be pacified. Be pacified, wayward soul.”
She finally stopped shaking me after a while.
It looks like she got tired from shaking me back and forth with all her might. LtCdr Serena plopped straight down on the table. She was completely knocked out. It seems she fell asleep.
“Does this lady realize she’s on board a guy’s ship? Isn’t she too defenseless?”
“Nfufufufu, you wanna do her?”
“Stop making those obscene finger signs, you drunk elf!”
Elma was thrusting one of her thumbs in and out of a circle formed by her index and middle fingers while making a lewd grin.
“If I really wanted to do it, I’d rather do you, who’s conscious right now, rather than these two, okay.”
Elma’s teasing grin was wiped out of her face after hearing my retort. Hahaha, what a nice face she’s making.
After getting a fill of Elma’s embarrassed face, I peeled the unconscious Mimi off of me and made her lie down on the sofa. I then held up the sleeping LtCdr – in a princess carry.
“Eh…… You’re really gonna do it with her?”
I grinned at Elma’s question.
I then tossed LtCdr Serena inside the med pod when I got to the med bay.
I really can’t afford to do the usual 『I did it. Tehee.』 while drunk template with this lady, guys. I’m sure it’s gonna head straight to the 『Please take responsibility, okay. (wide grin)』 development, leading to the fiancée route. Or rather, it’s even more likely that I’d be buried six feet under if LtCdr Serena’s parents ever found out. In other words, it was way too risky. This person was akin to an anti-ship reactive torpedo-class mine waiting to explode in my face with devastating force.
I’m not so stupid that I’d willingly step on an obvious landmine.
“Huh? You’re back? You couldn’t get it up?”
“You really lose your morals once you’re drunk, huh.”
I knocked the top of Elma’s head. But I didn’t fail to notice her dispirited expression brightening up the moment I came back. She really was cute, sometimes.
“Hmph. What’s with you? Putting on airs like that. Even though you’re completely under my and Mimi’s thumb. You act like some sort of gentleman, but aren’t you really just a beast instead?”
“I don’t deny that. Men, you see, are all animals deep down inside. It’s merely the chains called reason keeping all that back.”
“What’s up with that? Are you trying to act cool or something?”
“Oh? What? You really wanna have a go?”
Elma’s ears moving up and down is a sign she actually wants me to take care of her, despite her harsh attitude. Purposefully riling me up with words like that, even though you feel exactly the opposite. Are you an elementary school boy or something? She really was seriously cute.
“Okay, okay. Here, I’ll drink with you. I’m an extreme lightweight, so I won’t be drinking any alcohol though.”
“Hmph. You little boy.”
Elma filled my cup with the noncarbonated cola while grinning happily.
Now then, shall we accompany this surprisingly sensitive little rabbit for a few rounds.