076 – Overpowering Aroma
Editor: Thor’s Stone
“Hiro-sama, you’re making an amazing expression there……”
This is Hiro speaking. We finally got back to the lodge, and I immediately got busy sampling the four new carbonated beverages I ordered. I opened one bottle, drank a big swig, and an overpowering aroma akin to medicine that’s more than a level beyond Mr. Pep assaulted my nostrils. Mm. This is something I only drank that one time back on Earth. Root beer.
“Does it taste bad?”
“Uh, there are people who like it with a passion, and there are people who hate it just as equally… And I’m unfortunately no good with this stuff.”
“But you’re still drinking it though.”
“It’s not my style to throw away stuff I’d opened even if they don’t suit my tastes.”
It’s a different story if something like an allergy is factored in. But I’m not allergic to this stuff at all. At least, back on Earth I wasn’t.
“That face you’re making makes me kinda want to try some. Pour some for me.”
“Okay. I only ordered one bottle though.”
I poured some root beer into the small shot glass Elma handed to me. The dark colored beverage poured into the shot glass and formed a bubbly layer on top of it.
“……It smells like an herbal infusion.”
I tried to ask Elma, who was making a strangely glum expression, about what she meant. She just shrugged it off though and proceeded to drink the contents of the shot glass in one gulp. And then she made a surprised face.
“Ara, it’s actually delicious and easy to drink. I like how it goes all tingly when it goes down my throat.”
“O-Okay? Wanna have some more?”
I continued pouring root beer into Elma’s shot glass until all the contents of the bottle were emptied. I also took some sips in between of course. I didn’t really like the stuff, but it’s just not my style to leave things unfinished once I’ve started it.
“It actually wasn’t too bad.”
I inwardly trembled in surprise and admiration at how nonchalant Elma is after drinking that stuff. It looks like Elma’s fine with root beer huh. She actually likes it better than Mr. Pep.
“Yosh, next is this.”
“Hiro-sama, don’t drink too much carbonated beverages. Didn’t you say they’ll ruin your stomach if you drink too much of them?’
“One more. Just one more, okay?”
Out of the four drinks that I ordered, this is the only remaining one that’s colored similar to cola. I opened the bottle straight away and brought it near my mouth.
And after smelling the fragrance wafting out from it, I immediately knew what it was.
“Hiro-sama, your eyes look even deader than before……”
I continued bringing the bottle toward my mouth and took a swig. A rich aroma of barley assaulted my senses. Hahaha, to think this thing actually existed in this dimension as well…… Ain’t this strange? Why the heck is this stuff available here while cola’s nowhere to be found!? There’s Mr. Pep, root beer, and now, even something like McCol, but there’s no Coke!? That’s just nuts! What the heck!?
I lost faith in this dimension as I continued drinking the contents of the pet bottle. This overpowering barley scent is just so hateful… This damn barley tea in the guise of a soft drink! Are you picking a fight with me, God!?
“Does it taste really bad this time?”
“I can’t say whether or not this thing is good or bad with absolute confidence since there are people who like it as well, but I really hate this stuff.”
But it goes against my policy to throw it away even if I hate it. One of the remaining two is clear and the other one is light yellow. Judging by how things went until now, I have a strong suspicion that these are just your average cider and ginger ale. They’re definitely not cola, but they’re carbonated stuff nonetheless.
While I was busy drinking the carbonated beverages, a different set of packages arrived at the lodge. Several maidroids brought in collapsible container boxes inside the lodge.
“Are those the clothes we ordered?”
“Yes. We’ve come to deliver them to you all.”
The maidroids brought the container boxes they were carrying over to the sofas we were lounging around on and started opening them in order to take out the contents.
“These underwear and swimming trunks are the items Captain Hiro ordered, correct? What should we do with them?”
“That container box actually looks quite handy. Can we also keep the box along with the items?”
“Very well. But there’s also closets available in your bedrooms if you’re worried about where you’ll store your clothes.”
“Oh, right. Come to think of it, I haven’t taken a look at the closet yet. Can you go ahead and put them inside the closet then?”
“Understood. We shall place them within the closet inside the first room on the second floor.”
After saying so, the maidroid placed the items I bought back inside the container box, lifted it up again, and went up to the second floor. The other maidroids followed after her and carried a container box each. The only articles left behind were three sets of male outfits.
One set consisted of a pair of informal looking short jacket and trousers that resembled a traditional Japanese jinbei that was usually worn during summer. The fabric looked really high in quality though, and the breathability seemed great as well, so it seemed comfy to wear.
Another set consisted of a black colored T-shirt with a skull printed on it, leather pants with a silver chain dangling along its side, and a jacket peppered with silver studs.
And the last one consisted of a formal looking dress shirt, tie, pants, vest, and frock coat.
These are the clothes Elma, Mimi, and Chris chose for me huh. So they had the maidroids leave them here.
“I need to wear these?”
“Well, yeah. We went to the trouble of buying them for you after all.”
Well, since the ladies were demanding I wear them, I guess I have to. I decided to wear them all in turn in order to show them how I looked in each. But I still think dressing up a guy ain’t really all that interesting. But that’s just me anyway. Maybe it’s fun for the girls. I don’t get it, though. Kuh! Let’s do this!
“It looks really comfy.”
“Yes. It does look comfortable to wear.”
“Un, I thought you might like these, so I ended up buying them for you.”
And my one man fashion show began.
These clothes really did feel like Japanese jinbei. Both the fabric and the overall make of the clothes are quite high in quality. The clothes were very breathable and soft to the touch. They really were easy to wear.
“These clothes can actually be used for everyday wear, sleepwear, or house wear you know.”
“Don’t wear them outside the ship if possible, okay.”
“Okay. They’re perfect for when I’m relaxing inside the ship. Thanks a lot, Elma.”
I can see how Elma always focuses on practicality from her choice of clothes. It really was like Elma. I was a bit worried she’d buy some animal print pajamas for me or something earlier though.
I put on the skull print T-shirt, leather pants, and leather jacket next. Oh, and there’s also a belt huh. These clothes are easy to move around in, but they don’t look that different from my usual mercenary get up actually. But they do feel a bit weird.
“It looks wonderful!”
“It doesn’t look all that different from his usual get up huh.”
“It looks a bit too flashy, I think. But I think its overall feel would change if we replaced the T-shirt.”
Mimi was raving about it, but the other two’s reactions were normal. I guess these types of clothes were more to Mimi’s taste. Well, it doesn’t feel too bad actually. I can wear my gun belt with these on, so it might be a good idea to wear them when I go for a date with Mimi.
The last set I wore was the one prepared by Chris. It’s been a while since I had to put on a necktie. I put on the dress shirt, neck tie, pants, vest, and frock coat without much trouble. It feels a little hot though.
“Ara. What a surprise. You actually look nice in those.”
“How wonderful…… You look like a noble, Hiro-sama.”
“It really does suit you.”
Elma sounded impressed, Mimi had both hands together with her eyes all sparkly, while Chris approached me and fixed some small details. Mm. These aren’t that different from the recruitment suits I wore when I was working at the office back on Earth. But those didn’t look as fancy. Chris was fussing over some details, so it seems I got some of them wrong.
“Your neck tie isn’t knotted in the Imperial style, isn’t it?”
“I-Is that so?”
So there’s something like an Imperial style neck tie knot huh…? Chris undid my tie and put it back on me herself. This feels kinda embarrassing, to be honest.
“There, it looks perfect. You seem very used to wearing these types of clothes, Hiro-sama. You don’t look stiff at all while wearing them.”
“Well, there’s all sorts of reasons for this.”
“Yep. All sorts.”
“Is that so?”
She’s on to me again. Well, it’s not like I can’t understand her curiosity. But even so, she just lost her parents and people are after her life, but she doesn’t look perturbed at all. Is this really normal?
“Hey, Chris. I’m sure you’re worried, but you don’t have to push yourself okay.”
I put my palms over Chris’ shoulders as I consoled her, but all I got back was a puzzled stare. Uh, I’m the one who’s supposed to be puzzled here. What’s with that reaction?
“Well, I did promise to protect you, but still……”
How can I say it? You don’t have to flatter me? You don’t have to fawn over me? I’ll do my job properly so it’s okay? Saying those kinda feels rude to Chris.
“Are you trying to tell me not to act so desperate perhaps, Hiro-sama?”
It was Chris who finished my words in the end. No… Uh, well, yeah… But… I can’t seem to find words to answer back.
“It’s true that I feel sad about losing my parents and I also feel afraid from the fact that my uncle is after my life. However, my acts of goodwill toward Hiro-sama are definitely not a way to distract myself from my anxiety and fears. Having special feelings for the brave knight who saved them from danger is a privilege of noble ladies in the Empire.”
She spoke those words clearly, without faltering even once. Wait, wait, wait just a minute there young lady…! Eh…? Is that a thing? Is this one of those incomprehensible customs over in this dimension? I turned to Elma for help. Elma made a troubled look in return.
“Don’t ask me for anything you don’t understand… It’s not like I’m familiar with Chris’ thought process anyway. But there’s a good bit of eccentric individuals among Imperial nobles you know. In fact, you’re already familiar with one.”
I suddenly remembered that beautiful but pitiful unruly drunk of a lady. Yeah. Imperial nobles are certainly weird. And Chris kinda feels similar to her as well. They’re both quite assertive after all.
“Excuse me, but I have some misgiving about being labeled as an eccentric.”
“Let’s just say you’re ‘unique’ then, Chris-chan.”
“But I think everyone else here are pretty unique individuals though.”
‘Well, if you’re going that far, then it’s not just us humans that feel unique, but Miro as well.”
I gazed toward the spherical terminal parked on the pedestal in a corner of the room. Miro’s terminal blinked in multicolored lights in response.
“Every existence possessing intelligence is unique. That applies to you all and to me as well.”
Considering that those words came from an advanced positron AI like Miro, it felt like they had more weight to them. Come to think of it, there’s something I’ve been curious about for some time now.
“I now understand that Chris is more on top of things than I gave you credit for, so I’ll try not to give you any unnecessary consideration any more. Sorry about that. Anyway, let’s change the topic a bit. How do people in the Empire treat existences like Miro?”
“Existences like Miro-san?”
Mimi tilted her head in thought after hearing my question.
“In other words, artificial beings granted intelligence and emotions via highly advanced positron brains or similar stuff.”
I chose my words carefully and asked again. There’s always a chance asking questions like this is considered taboo, but it looks like it was an unnecessary worry in the end.
“In other words, you’re asking about AI equipped machines, right? In the Empire, they’re given something similar to human rights, but in a more limited fashion. Wouldn’t it be better to ask Miro-san directly about it?”
“Yes. A majority of Imperial citizens aren’t all that familiar with existences like us after all. I shall explain it to you from the beginning if you so wish.”
Miro said so while sparkling in a multitude of lights on its pedestal. And so, it began relating to us the history of relations between the Empire and autonomous artificial intelligence. And it was something even beyond what I was expecting.