252 – Procuring Food
Editor: Thor’s Stone
Amidst the din of battle that was taking place in the far distance, we huddled in a corner of the temporary shelter with only the dim light of the portable data terminal to rely upon and held our breaths.
“Uh, we really don’t have to hold our breaths, right?”
“Yeah. Even so, there’s not much we can do in this situation anyway. Should we just sleep?”
“How about confirming our plans for tomorrow?”
“Now that’s what I call a meaningful topic.”
As per Mimi’s suggestion, we started to talk about our plans for tomorrow.
“I think it would be best to basically just stay put and wait for rescue, but do you guys have any other opinions?”
“Nope, I ain’t got any.”
“I’m glad we all agree on that then.”
Since we couldn’t get online using the data terminal, we were in a situation where we couldn’t even look up a decent map of the area. Since we don’t know which direction we should head toward, it was far too dangerous to randomly wander around the forest. It seems that some of the native creatures on this planet were quite dangerous, and getting into accidents while trying to navigate an undeveloped forest is really scary as well. Things like poisonous insects and other such dangerous creatures are bad news. Staying put inside the camp is the smart thing to do after all.
“The problem is food. I think the food packs we brought should last us a few days, but it’s gonna be bad if the rescue takes much longer than expected.”
“That’s true. I think it would be best if we gathered all the food we have and then pace ourselves so we don’t consume more than necessary.”
“Okay then. Let’s bring them all out and place them in one spot in the morning. Are there any other suggestions?”
“Um, wouldn’t it be better if we gathered some food too, Boss? Forest like this has lots of edible stuff in it, right?”
“There’s also the option of hunting animals for their meat. I read that back in the museum.”
Tina and Whisker were both gung-ho on food procurement. Un, they were thinking of the same thing as me huh.
“The problem with that is we don’t know what’s edible and what’s not. We don’t have the ability to tell them apart after all, and blindly eating stuff can be dangerous.”
Sometimes, fruits that look delicious in appearance were actually highly poisonous to people, grasses that look like your average weeds actually hid edible tubers below, and seemingly harmless plants were actually potent skin irritants. Things like that were commonplace in forests. You really can’t make accurate judgments through an amateur’s eyes.
“Oh, we’re actually fine regarding that. I managed to download a scanning app that can be used offline on my data terminal before we headed out.”
“Why’d you think of downloading such a thing anyway?”
“Um, we were going on a forest tour, and you mentioned we couldn’t go online Hiro-sama, so that’s why I got it.”
Mimi replied while displaying a smug smile. Well, uh, that’s great and all, but…… do you intend to scan each and every plant and creature in the area just to see if they’re edible or not?
“Well, I didn’t expect you to prepare such a thing Mimi, but it really would help us out a lot. Okay then. Tomorrow, Mimi and I will explore the area to see if we can gather some food. You’re in charge of guarding the camp while we’re away, Elma.”
“What about us, Boss?”
“Try to improve the camp using the molecular composition device and see if you can make something useful. One of our biggest concerns right now is water. Also, can you try piggybacking that useless distress beacon to a data terminal and see if you can send out a distress signal that way?”
“Mm. I’m not sure if it’s doable, but we’ll do our best.”
I guess that wraps it up for tomorrow’s plans.
“But the battle’s still not lettin’ up huh.”
“I’m also worried, but it’s not like we can do anything about it. Let’s just go to sleep.”
I’m not sure how large the force the Red Flags sent out to attack, but I doubt it would turn into a situation where they’d annihilate the system garrison and completely overrun the place.
Anyway, Mimi and the others made some simple beds earlier, so I got onto one to sleep. The bed had a simple skeleton frame with an elastic sheet placed on top of it, and it wasn’t bad at all. I then used the chameleon thermal cloak in place of a blanket. Yep, the temperature management was perfect.
I woke up after noticing the presence of another person. I opened my eyes a bit and saw that someone was using some chameleon thermal cloaks as a makeshift blind to change clothes or something behind it.
“Hyii!? B-Big Brother!?”
Whisker’s voice rang out behind the makeshift thermal cloak blind. I see.
‘I’m gonna cover my face with my cloak for a bit. Tell me when you’re done.”
Once I covered my head with the cloak, I could hardly hear the rustling of clothes. I was just about to fall back to sleep when someone shook my body, and I finally woke up fully.
Whisker returned my morning greeting with a red face. It’s not like I saw her naked anyway, so I don’t think she should be that ashamed about what happened earlier.
“Shall we get up?”
“Yes. Everyone’s already outside.”
“Okay then. We better bring our luggage out too.”
We grabbed our backpacks and exited the shelter. After getting outside, I saw the other three busy with transferring the contents of their backpacks into black boxes.
“Good morning, Hiro-sama.”
“Good morning guys. Do you have one for me too?”
“Yep. We already made ones for you guys. Yours is over there, Whee.”
The boxes were an armful in size. We stored our clothes and other things that we won’t make use of immediately inside them. We would then gather the food inside a separate box.
“Mm. If we ate normally, we’d be able to make the rations last until tomorrow night.”
“Aside from Hiro, we each only brought a day’s worth of food after all.”
“And why’s that?”
“Uh, we didn’t exactly expect we’d get involved in a crash, Boss……”
So I was the odd one out for stuffing a week’s worth of rations inside my backpack huh. Mm. But even so, we’d still be able to make them last until tomorrow night, so I guess it’s fine.
“Nah, it’s fine. I’m the one who’s weird for bringing this much. Anyway, let’s go ahead and do as we planned yesterday.”
“Right. Be careful out there, okay?”
“Yes! We’ll do our best to bring back some food!”
It looks like Mimi was raring to go. I hope her motivation doesn’t go to waste later though.
By the way, she was able to charge the data terminal using a connector to tap into the energy packs for use on the thermal cloaks, so we were fine on that front for the time being.
“Be careful guys.”
“Please don’t get yourselves injured.”
“We’ll be going now.”
I plan on raising signal fires today as well using the remaining raw wood we chopped yesterday, so I marked the trees as we walked along to ensure we’ll be able to find our way back to camp. This made the reality of us being stuck here sink in even more and it’s no laughing matter.
“We’re unfamiliar with the lay of the land, so let’s proceed carefully. There’s no need to rush.”
Our backpacks were almost emptied of their previous contents and only held two servings of rations and self-filling water canteens along with our equipment inside them. I had my laser gun and portable data terminal in mine. I also took some spare energy packs and an emergency nanomachine unit. In Mimi’s case, she brought her own portable data terminal, a tablet terminal, laser gun, and spare energy packs. It seems she also stuffed some small women’s articles inside her backpack as well.
“I’ll keep watch of the surroundings. You can go ahead and scan for things that might be edible, Mimi. I’ll match your pace, so go nice and steady.”
After a few minutes of walking, Mimi finally managed to get a hit.
“Ah, Hiro-sama. I caught something with the scanner.”
“Hou, let’s see. Where is it?”
When I looked at Mimi’s tablet terminal from the side, it seemed it was reacting to a vine that was wrapped around a tree trunk.
“Ah, there’s something up there.”
“Fumu, it looks like some kind of gourd.”
Mimi pointed the rear camera of her tablet terminal at one fruit and the scan was completed. Apparently, the plant really was a member of the gourd family that was called kokiri, and its fruit was apparently edible. The fruit’s skin had mesh-like patterns and it seemed it was fine to eat it fresh. It was just a little bit bigger than my closed fist. In my eyes, it resembled a small muskmelon.
“Let’s take the ripe ones.”
“We’re not collecting all of them?”
“The plants might not be able to continue propagating here if we take everything. It’s not good to take more than necessary at times like this.”
After saying so, I began harvesting the kokiri fruits my hands could reach. The vine was wrapped around a fairly sturdy tree with plenty of footholds, so I was able to harvest quite a bit.
“Yosh, this is a good start.”
The fruits seem to have plenty of water content. Since we were strapped for drinking water, this was definitely great for us.
“Right! Let’s continue searching.”
We continued our search but didn’t have much luck this time around. Well, being able to find some kokiri straight away was lucky enough as it is. I suppose this was just normal.
“We’re not finding anything.”
“Don’t mind. Let’s take a break for a bit. How about trying one kokiri fruit for ourselves?”
Mimi cheering up was always a welcome sight. But we didn’t bring a knife with us. And so, I ended up using my short sword to carefully divide the kokiri fruit into four pieces. I had to be extra careful because one wrong step and I might lop my fingers or limbs off accidentally.
“Let’s try to make a cooking knife when we come back to camp. Handling food with a sword is pretty scary.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
It might be a good idea to start carrying a utility knife aside from my swords from now on. We might not get into situations like this that often, but a utility knife was always a handy tool to have that can be used in a variety of ways apart from being used as a weapon.
My short sword was still too long to double as a cooking knife after all. I could only use it to roughly divide fruits into four like this.
“Fumu, it’s looking more and more like a melon.”
Just like its outer appearance, its insides also resemble a muskmelon when I cut it open. The color of the flesh wasn’t orange, however, but instead yellowish white. A white-fleshed melon huh.
“We also had a similar fruit where I’m from. Those grew on the ground though. They were also larger. About this much.”
I used my hands to illustrate the average size of an Earth melon to Mimi.
“How did it taste?”
“It was juicy and sweet. We only eat a melon’s pulp back where I’m from, but I wonder how it is for kokiri though?”
“It looks like you need to scoop out the seeds and eat the flesh.”
“About the same then. Alright.”
I used my fingers to scrape out the seeds and took a bite of the kokiri’s flesh. Mm, delish. It had a slight grassy aftertaste and wasn’t as sweet as I would have liked, but it was plenty tasty as is. I guess this was normal for wild fruits that haven’t undergone selective cultivation.
“It’s not bad.”
“It has a bit of a grassy smell, but it’s delicious.”
The fruit’s size was similar to a large peach, so the two of us were able to finish one up immediately.
“Yosh, let’s buck up and continue searching, shall we?”
“Yes! Let’s bring lots of food back and surprise the others!”
It looks like Mimi’s mood was lifted after having a snack. Let’s proceed with the search while being careful not to overdo it.