Power Punch - Chapter 66

Published at 13th of April 2023 08:14:30 AM

Chapter 66

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"Hello. A table for two, please. In lower area, if possible." Letty says to the waitress standing by the door, and I immediately notice the drastic differences between this place and the rare times I was in restaurants on Gaia. Or even rarer in pubs.

The waitress is a rather short woman with slightly grayish skin, soft face, and long blond hair in a loose braid. She is dressed in a simple dress bordering on bodysuit hugging her figure and emphasizing her generous curves with delicate blue lines flowing down her waist and legs. She lightly nods her head to Letty, then turns around and starts walking deeper inside the building without a word. No reaction even to my wings, huh?

The building itself is a very large one, one of the largest in its vicinity and good fifty meters across at the base, making me wonder what takes up so much space. I could check in my perception field, but there is completely no mana there and I haven't really tried looking at things without any supernatural energies, even if I know I'd be able to do that easily. Especially after what mom told me.

Anyway, as we follow the woman quietly, I take a good look around the open establishment. What's similar to most of the buildings in Homestead are spotless surfaces, rounded edges almost everywhere, and simple orange lines on the walls and furniture. I can see some people sitting behind tables further in the back, though I can't hear their voices. Some kind of insulation, most likely.

One thing I note is that while all of it is still built on the base of hexagons, it's only on the base of them, and only flat horizontal surfaces seem to be shaped this way.

What catches my attention though are plants. On Gaia it was common to put small potted plants as decorations, but here it's taken to another level using small crevices filled with leafy plants and mosses in vibrant green colors on virtually every corner and edge, for example around the smoothly descending walkway or on tiny orange ledges on the walls. On the ascending walkway on the other side of a hexagonal hole in the floor as well, but we're walking down.

Combined with the rather dim lighting and soft lights coloring the plants from behind, the whole place looks sort of... I don't know actually. It's open, but it feels smaller than it is really because of the attention going to the greenery. I like it though, and it's cozy in that peculiar modern way that doesn't involve any fireplaces or blankets.

A while later we come down to the lower level and I need to stop myself from exclaiming something in awe and wonder. It's a little new world of its own.

If you imagined an expensive, modern sauna with plants on the walls and other places in the same style as what was above, only replaced the pools with booths, you'd more or less get what I see now. It's basically a large open space, decorated with orange lines and vibrant green plants, separated into a few hexagonal sections by tall walls crowned with leaves.

In each section there is a table in a shallow hole rounded with greenery, a few separate smooth seats in half a circle that give the impression of those you can also lie on, and a lot of decorations, plus something that looks like dance floor for all I know. Moderately large open space, basically, but there's a symmetrical hexagonal pattern on it and I've no idea what else you'd use it for if not for dancing.

I reign my amazement in, noticing that a couple of those seem to be occupied and that the waitress doesn't show a sign of stopping, and follow her deeper into the building. At least I see a good reason why it so huge. If each booth has well over a hundred meters squared at first glance and every floor is over four meters high, because that's another thing I only now notice, then Letty's deck on Abyssa suddenly starts looking pretty small.

We pass three of the sections on both sides till we reach what looks like the edge of the building to my magic sense and the waitress leads us into a section that seems to be squeezed between two hexagons and two walls in a diamond shape. When I walk in, in one corner I immediately notice a small table, and in the other two seats, both identical to those in the larger sections. The corners themselves are occupied by two unusually large patterns filled with plants and mosses.

I look away from the room and focus on the waitress as she walks up to the seats and presses her palm to a small pole next to them. I start wondering what she is doing, and quickly get an answer when the whole room suddenly comes to life. Holographic screens pop up next to both seats, on the table, next to the door, and on the wall in the middle between the seats and the table, and additionally the inside of the hole with the table and most of the plants light up with soft glow.

The woman turns around at this point and leaves without a word, though not before doing a small bow to us, without looking at either. The more I look at her, the more I think she is a robot, because I don't see a human or a Mechanical doing what she is doing.

So we are left alone in the room, and I glance at Letty with raised eyebrows. She smiles in response and waves her hand to me as she turns around and lightly hops down into the hole and to the table. I follow her quickly and take a seat across her, promptly getting surprised by the comfortable seat that sinks significantly when I put my weight on it, and yet doesn't feel soft at all.

"You like it?" Letty asks with a grin, leaning back on her own bench.

"...Yeah, definitely." I mutter with a small smile. "It's just... so different than what I'm used that it's hard to adjust."

"Mhm, that it is." She nods and makes that focused expression with subtly raised corners of her lips she makes when she's explaining something. I learned it quite well today. "It's one of the most unusual places here, the other are not so peculiar. It was created by Max Rhobet when he was still alive, and it's been maintained mostly unchanged ever since. He was an eccentric, and it extended to much more than science."

"Mmm, he seems like an amazing person." I muse, looking down at the table and realizing that the holographic screen, shaped like a hexagon smaller than the table and folded in half, is actually the menu.

But what menu it is.

"Let's order first, okay?" Letty says and I look up at her, then nod. "Pick whatever you like."

"Mhm." I mumble, looking at the menu and trying to parse what the hell I am looking at.

There are nine hexagonal buttons with different symbols, and there are no dishes to see, unlike what you usually imagine thinking about a menu.

"Ah, you're new to that kind, I guess? Hm." I look up again only to see Letty's arm before my eyes, and I lean back a bit as she extends her arm over the table to point at my menu. "You have everything divided into a couple of categories." I watch as she presses the first one and a set of hexagons unfolds in a circle. "Here you have meals, snacks, and drinks." She presses the 'meals' and the menu folds up, then the next three hexagon starts glowing slightly. "In the next you have the origin, type, and so on. Think of these things as tags when searching for a book in a library."

"Alright." I nod and choose 'dish' on the next menu that unfolds. The other options were flavored cube, paste, and holographic dish, among others. Then after a longer moment of deliberation I choose 'meat' on another.

"If you want, there is also the recommended tab or individual orders."

"Naaah." I reply, immersed in the menu.

"Okay~, take your time then." Letty says with a smile distinct in her voice from across the table and I look up at her briefly to see her quickly tapping on her screen.

"Mhm." I mutter with a smile, going back to the menu.

Dayum, that shit is insane. I can sort dishes by origin down to planets or sometimes even narrower, by their content, taste, texture, and a whole lot of other things. And there are so many options it's staggering.

Like, I don't know, when I sort dishes by Earth, meat, spicy, and raw, I am left with eight hundred options. Oh, three different versions of lamb's hind leg, of different age... Plus I can add different seasonings and sauces... Though there is the recommended variant, so it's not like I need to go through a hundred options to choose something.

"Um, Letty?" I ask, looking up at her, and see as she looks at me with a smile, resting her head on her arms. Oh~.

"Yeah?" She asks with a smile.

"Just to make sure, whatever I pick, will it replicate the original in everything, or just taste and texture? Um, I guess I'm asking if it's the same on molecular level." That's a pretty important thing, because while I have no qualms about eating raw meat or anything and it doesn't matter much to me, other people might have problems with it. And I'm really curious about it.

"Um, hm." Letty rubs her nose. "All recipes are based on original versions, but they are enriched with more nutrients and cleared of any impurities. Think of it like the difference between natural and lab-grown plants."

"Alright." I nod.

...That doesn't make the choice any easier.


"Why aren't there any price tags?" I ask curiously after finally choosing a dish for myself. "And shouldn't it be, like, really expensive?"

"Hm? No." Letty giggles and I look at her with a questioningly raised eyebrow. "I probably should have mentioned it earlier, but money... isn't really used here."

"Huh?" I raise in my seat in surprise.

"It's... complicated." Letty smiles wryly and stays silent for a while. "Basically, some people here do things for the colony... without being asked for it? They just... do it, because that's what they do. Like this place, everyone can come here and eat for free. It's not like they put it on them and they need to repay it another way, but people simply come here to eat, and that's all."

"Yeah, but what about, I don't know, ships? Or plots? Or... I don't know. Anything you'd buy in shops?" I ask with a frown.

"They can use most things for free." Letty states and I blink in surprise, even though I probably should have expected that answer. "Those fabricators I showed you? Those as well. It's... hard to grasp for outsiders, I guess, but remember that this colony stems from a group of less than three hundred people. There were a couple of engineers, for example, and when something needed to be done, they went and did it, because there was no way it was going to be fixed otherwise. Similar system remains in place even now, and people didn't topple it. Never had a reason to, I guess." She smiles in a sorta... philosophical way.

"Wow." I mutter. "It's... yeah, it's kinda hard to grasp."

"It definitely helps that most things can be done with machines and robots, so it's not like anyone will go and bother a man because they want to get their projector plugged." Letty continues. "This society is... fragile in a way, but at the same time absolutely amazing. I'd say it's the closest to fictional utopias that has ever been achieved."

"...Gaia was quite the opposite, huh?" I mutter, thinking back to the time I spent on the planet.

"Mmm, not really, I think." My girlfriend disagrees and I look up at her with raised eyebrows, indicating to elaborate. "Gaia, as far as I know, consists of acrologies governed by corporations and the Underworld ruled by gangs, right?"

"More or less." I nod. "I haven't been in the Underworld myself, but I've heard enough about it."

"Well, so it has a lot in common with some models of utopias. It's just not so visible, I guess, because you come from there."

"I have to disagree here. Catherine almost died twice, you know?" I say with narrowed eyebrows and Letty pulls back in surprise. "That's not something that should happen in an utopia."

"...Okay, right. Yeah." She nods slowly. "It shouldn't. I'd say there are always exceptions... maybe I should revise my knowledge on Gaia though. How did it happen, if it's not something better left unsaid?"

"Once, it was four years ago I think, her mother almost killed her. In short, she was addicted to memos because she was cheated on, and when a couple things happened regarding Cathie being trans she pretty much snapped." I say, looking into the distance. "The second was in the few months later on, when Catherine was living alone and barely had enough for food." I shake my head and smile lightly. "She's much better now, she started working properly and she has quite a lot of money, enough for HRT and college."

"Mmm, that's good." Letty nods her head kinda sadly and shakes her head. "Speaking about Catherine, what are you planning about them?" Letty asks me quietly. "You should probably be honest with them about everything that happened."

"Mmm, yeah." I nod my head slowly. "I'm going to explain everything to them when we come to Gaia, but it's a bit... I don't know." I mutter. "I don't want to put it off, but I don't really feel the need to hurry, if that makes sense? It's not like I couldn't go there even right now, but... I'll be there, you know?"

"Hm. Someone could argue with that." Letty muses. "But yeah, you're right. I guess it just irks me a bit that... that all that happened put such a huge rift between you and them."

"Would you change anything if you could go back in time?" I ask, looking at her with a raised eyebrow and small smile.

"...No, I guess I wouldn't." She shakes her head after a moment of hesitation, averting her eyes with flushing cheeks.

"Yeah, I thought so." I massage the top of her hand lightly. "What do you wanna do?"

"What about you?" She asks me back.

"Hm." I think for a moment. "I want to find something exciting. Interesting. Challenging. I wanna be alive. Aaand I wanna relax with you."

"So like you." Letty mutters in response with a happy smile and her eyes jump to the side when I hear a soft ding from the door to the booth.

When I look there, I see the same waitress from before walking is with two white plates covered with, uh, halves of... no. No idea what that shape is called, but it's on the base of a hexagon and built more or less into half a sphere only out of triangles. Hm.

I pull back to give the woman more space and watch as she puts the two plates down, then raises the covers at the same time, revealing the dishes we ordered. I peek at Letty to see if she does anything regarding the waitress, but she only sits there. Whole another world, I guess, and different customs served alongside.

I glance as the woman walks out of the booth and disappears, then I look back at Letty and at my dish on a hexagonal plate.

"Why are there so many triangles and hexagons here?" I mutter.

"Style, I guess? Tradition?" Letty replies, hearing me. "It's been like that for hundreds of years, since building the lift, and no one changed it since."

"Mmm, alright." I nod.

"Speaking about why, what about your dish?" My girlfriend asks with amusement clear in her voice and I look up at her briefly, then grin.

"I was always curious how it would taste, but was never able to try on Gaia. And in VOW... how do I put it... it's magic? It makes it different. Though I'll need to try wyvern meat or something..." I reply and trail off by the end, but then look down at my plate and get to eating.

A raw leg of some lizard, with some spicy sauce poured over and with a mix of fruits, vegetables, and nuts.


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