Hello, and welcome back to my pretentiously titled science fiction series! I hope you enjoy it.
Richard realized he was standing in the hallway staring off into space. Literally, this time, since there was a window. He headed to his room with his bag of clothes. The room was small, but it had a bed, and that was all that it really needed. Fortunately, these rooms customized themselves somewhat to their occupants, so he didn’t have to worry about using one of those stupid rock-hard slabs called standard beds. By the time he got himself settled in, the announcement for take-off came in over the communication system. He felt nothing as they took off, but it was interesting to watch the screen of the view beneath them as they took off. Within a minute, they were outside the effective gravitational field of Colossus. It was his first time feeling true weightlessness. Then they turned on the 1.5 standard gravitys (what the gravity at the other end would be). He wasn’t really prepared. His own planet was closer to .8 g’s. (A standard gravity consists of 10 m/s2 acceleration, Earth being at 9.8)
After picking himself up off the floor (slowly) he decided to look around the ship. The duration of the trip was supposed to be something like forty hours, since they had to travel close to gravitational fields of Colossus and various other moons on the way to Maropa. It was mostly a ride through orbit around Colossus. Because of the frequency of travel between Colossus’s moons, running transportation services that were as comfortable as possible in a limited space was important business.
Richard was hungry, so he choose to take a look towards the cafeteria area (although it was more of a long hallway). They were very busy, especially the ones that looked appetizing, so there wasn’t really anywhere for him to eat. He trudged along slowly until he spotted a small place that only had a single customer sitting on the leftmost stool of the five at the counter. Behind the counter was a chef with six arms. Richard didn’t know what his species was called. He supposed he would have to learn that for school, being a biology major and all. Six arms wasn’t that much of a deviation from the norm.
He sat down at the counter. The chef took note of him and walked over, “You’re a human, ain’t ya?” he said. “Not to be rude, but I doubt we have anything here you’d enjoy. Either that, or you wouldn’t be able to digest it. Too many heavy metals and all that.”
Richard responded, “Ah, and I was just thinking I would try out something different.”
“Plus everywhere else is full up.”
“Yeah… that too. You don’t mind if I sit here and rest for a bit? I’m not really used to 1.5 g’s.”
“Sure, no problem kid. Just be ready to move if we run out of room” the chef laughed, “It’ll happen some year. Although I suspect you’ll be ready to go before then.” The man said with a smile.
Richard looked at what the other customer was eating. It looked like some kind of noodle dish, although there really wasn’t much that would make it a dish instead of just pure noodles. His stomach growled. “Hey, that doesn’t look too bad. Can I order that?”
The chef looked up at him with a curious eye. “Can’t say there are many people willing to try a Xevarionian dish. At least not more than once.” He thought for a moment, then said, “You should be able to digest it, but I’ll warn you that good Xevaronian cooking has very… subtle… taste.”
“That’s fine,” Richard replied. “I’d like to try it anyway. I’m not terribly picky. At least I know someone enjoys it.” He looked over at the (apparently) Xevaronian eating. He didn’t look that different from a human besides slightly yellowish skin and hair, as well as being rather large. It was hard to tell exactly since he was sitting down. His limbs were long and not terribly thick, but he still looked sturdy. He also appeared to have four nostrils. That was a bit odd.
The chef just shrugged his shoulders and cooked up the meal.
Richard’s first observation was that the food didn’t really give off much of a smell. It smelled mostly like steam from pure water. He took a bite. He chewed thoughtfully. Subtle may have been an understatement. Richard couldn’t really taste much of anything. It didn’t taste bad, certainly. The texture was rather nice, he supposed, but not enough to make up for the lack of flavor. He continued eating, however. He thought about what it would be like for a Xevaronian like the one next to him to eat this meal. Their tongues, noses, even their brain chemistry and wiring must be different. He imagined a rich aroma, no, multiple aromas, coming at his nose from all different directions. He was really hungry for some reason, and it’s not like he had anything negative to say about the meal.
On the last bite, just the tiniest bit of spices were picked up by his sensitive tongue and his taste buds tasted sweet, salty, sour, and many more tastes that humans can’t even begin to imagine. The food practically flowed across his tongue, and as he swallowed he wished he had more. A large variety of smells assailed his olfactory system, and he knew he was smelling heaven.
At least, that was what he imagined it would be like. He got kind of caught up in the moment and actually felt like he was experiencing that for a second. “I see what you mean about it being subtle, but I have a feeling that you’re a very good cook. I wish I could experience it the way it’s meant to be eaten.”
The cook looked over at him and smiled, “Well, that’s the first time I’ve seen anyone but a Xevaronian finish off a whole plate of their food- those portions aren’t small you know. Plus, most people give up after the first bite. Truth be told, I perfected that recipe only through the sacrifice of a dozen brave men, willing to try my horrible creations until I finally ‘got it right’. I can’t even taste it myself, unless I make it strong enough to bring tears to their eyes. I only did that my first time.”
Richard thanked him for the meal and left. The Xevarionian watched him with a peculiar interest as he walked away, although Richard did not notice. “That last bite… he twitched. He did a scrunching of the nose and puffed his cheeks like one of us. It’s a natural reaction. But he is obviously not a Xevaronian.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” said the chef. “I didn’t see his expression change one bit.”
“Well, it was very subtle.”