Deathwalker 9.1

            Setting the meal down with exquisite care, I inhaled deeply, savoring those mysterious scents even as my eyes devoured the enticing mix of colors and textures. The brown and cream shapes reminded me of some of the small grains we commonly ate at home. Some of the bluish shapes looked like leaves, yet the color didn’t match any vegetables or herbs I knew. On the top, there were medium-sized chunks of some kind of protein along with a smaller medley of minced pieces in browns, greens, and reds. They could be nuts, berries, roots, tree bark – I’d been to one planet where meals included bits of clay. They claimed it was good for digestion.
            With slow reverence, I scooped a bit up and lifted it for a closer inspection. As I did, I unobtrusively passed my left hand over the bowl.  Even after sniffing deeply, it was hard to tell which piece was responsible for what smell. An inaudible vibration near my left wrist, however, told me that, whatever it was, at least it wouldn’t poison me.
            Taking a mouthful, I held it for a moment and catalogued each flavor. Savory yet sweet with hints of an almost earthy, even metallic taste. Hmm-ing softly, I slowly began to chew. The consistency confirmed the grains, but some of the other parts surprised me. By tasting each piece individually, I found that what I had taken for some sort of fruit was actually tiny scraps of flavored meats. The others were either nuts or tubers, I wasn’t sure.
            “You do not like it?” Kith’s voice was soft, but somehow it still managed to boom in my ear.
            Jumping only slightly, I looked up – and up. Someday maybe I’d get used to his height.
            “What?”
            “The food,” he repeated with the slow emphasis of someone speaking to an idiot. “You are not eating.”
            “Huh?” I said inelegantly, blinking at him. Glancing down at the food then back up, I did a double-take. Somehow, several members of the crew had seated themselves around me at the table without my noticing. Directly across from me, the black-haired woman rested her head on her hands with an amused expression.
            “Kith isn’t used to anyone eating with such…,” the curve of her lips deepened, “restraint.”


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