Log Title: Noodle Niceties
Summary: Noodles Bring People Together
IC Date: {$gamedate}
OOC Date: Wed Dec 19 20:25, 2018
Related Logs: None.
galenacornwinteraseneth

 

 

  • * *

It was a rather brutal fight tonight at the Drome, Galen and his opponent both occupying hopped up beasts of creatures for the duration, horns and scales and claws that did such damage to the modified sleeves as to render them both useless after the bout. Decanting and the anti-frag drugs always leave Galen positively starving, and having spied Acorn in the crowd it means he can probably rope a free meal out of the deal too.

It might have taken some convincing but the men arrive at Master Chan's Noodle Palace after a brief walk. The establishment is nothing more than an outdoor counter underneath an awning with a slap-dash kitchen behind it, yet it's been here for ages and is a local favorite. Thankfully at the off hour, there's some empty seats available. Galen plops down at one of the stools, already reaching for a paper package containing disposable chopsticks while he waits for Acorn to settle. "Man, when I plunged my thumbs into his eye sockets and I felt that pop…" Such appetizing talk.

  • * *

"I must say, I am a purist. I'm not for the…" Acorn rolls his wrist. "…inhumanity. I like a contest of skill between people who look like people. The horns suit you, though." He extends a hand from his forehead and makes a popping sound with his lips.

The gangster is dressed relatively understated for him. Dark wash jeans, a black turtleneck, and a clear plastic rain coat in electric blue with little LED filaments that glow softly. All the better to stand out in the darkness of Carnage's…house of carnage.

"Have you been asked to fight in the lottery bout? If not, perhaps I can make that happen." The lottery bout - a once-a-year event. Anyone can buy a ticket for a relatively modest amount for a chance at a seat at a live, not-broadcasted fight. These days, with easy and plentiful access to entertainment, exclusive and limited experiences are in high-demand. Normal tickets to a non-broadcast Fightdrome match costs hundreds of credits a seat and are hard to come by - where a normal, televised match can be had for at little as $50.

  • * *

Winter is already seated at the mostly quiet counter, a paper napkin across their lap and wooden chopsticks set on a makeshift rest constructed of the wrapper rolled/folded into a clunky little triangle. They're currently in a long skirt colored with various earth-toned dyes and a thick, cream-colored sweater that dips off one shoulder. Their hair is a lazy tousle of chin-length blonde. They look over as Galen and Acorn arrive, and chopsticks are lifted in a vague salute. "Is plunging thumbs into eye sockets something best bragged about in public?" they query with a faint smile.

  • * *

Aseneth is here, having just gotten off work - not entirely cooncidentally to the other recent arrivals; as the synth also came from the Drome, having accompanied a middle-aged financial planner there. Most of the same sort of people who can afford to buy a live ticket to such entertainment without thinking about it are also the same sort of people who can afford to hire some arm candy from one of the Houses for an evening. Walking alone now, and looking mildly stressed out, the synth's features and dress resemble (at first) a popular A-list virtual star from a few decades or so ago, but as Aseneth approaches a stool, the features resolve into those of its default settings; an old-fashioned looking woman with dark brunette hair. The dress doesn't change though; that's real clothing. There is a deep sigh, and a rubbing of the temples followed by a grabbing of chopsticks. Aseneth is silent for a minute or two until Master Chan (or appropriate employee) comes over, and then orders: "I'd like the strongest, most overspiced, disgusting noodles you can give me. Put way too much on them, then double it."

  • * *

"That mean you're going to spring for my DHF back up too?" Galen grins widely at Acorn, showing a little too much of his gleaming white teeth in a show of confidence. He's snapping his chopsticks in the gangster's direction as Winter seemingly chides him for his topic of conversation. His head swivels in that direction, and he leeeeans. "And then my massive foot crashed down on his shin and you could hear the crack of bones in the very last row." To demonstrate, he snaps his chopsticks in half. Okay, so he might be an ass.

Galen's elbow nudges Acorn slightly in the ribs, giving an up nod in Aseneth's direction. "On second thought, we should have had a sandwich." Nope. Total ass.

  • * *

"Yes yes, you're a big tough monster. Dumplings, please," says Acorn to the server. "A dozen, yes. And another set of chopsticks, apparently." He may be a gangster, but apparently he's a gangster polite to food service. He picks up the small cup of sake he ordered and sips from it while nodding from Winter to Galen. "I would apologize for him, but that would make it seem like I'm responsible for his actions. And I don't care to go down that road."

He looks up where he's been nudged in time to see the end of the synth's shift. "Aseneth, is that you? Or someone else with the same model of synth?" Galen gets a little eye roll, but also a little smirk. "You couldn't afford it."

  • * *

Winter raises one brow at Galen's further description of carnage, but they don't look to be especially out off, and when a bowl of broth, noodles and meat is set down before them, Winter doesn't hesitate to pick up their chopsticks. The snap *they* make is just pulling the two sticks apart. "I'm not bothered," they assure Acorn. "Merely amused." They look over in Aseneth's direction and offer a polite nod hello, which could be a familiar greeting or just one diner being polite to another seated nearby.

  • * *

Aseneth straightens up, the synth improving its posture to be more feminine, and replacing the stressed out, slightly miserable look with a smile that certainly looks genuine. "Acorn." the feminine voice says. "No, its me. Most of the others prefer to let someone else buy them their dinner these days, it seems, but I'd rather buy my own." The gaze darts towards Galen, then dismissively looks away. "I'll do whatever needs doing when I'm working, but I'd rather pay for food I can taste then have to suffer through overpriced mush that might as well be gruel in this sleeve." Aseneth notices Winter, and gives a polite nod.

  • * *

"He also feeds of amusement, so careful there as well. Ah, number five, please." Acorn's ordered one of the more elaborate bowl, with four kinds of vat-grown pork, vegetables and a tea egg.

"Get your noodles with extra concentrated fish sauce, and ask for extra spicy. And ask for them to bring you the bottle of sauce from under the counter to add your own. Your synth stomach can handle it." A beat, then as he realizes that requires a little explanation. "One of my guys was in a synth for awhile. He said that extra strong fish sauce that's gone off was the only thing that gave the noodles a kick."

  • * *

"Have you uncovered something he *doesn't* feed off of?" Winter asks Acorn, smiling again. They give their noodles a stir with the chopsticks as the lieutenant offers his advice on flavorful synth food. "What did it taste like?" they query of Acorn, though also with a looks towards Aseneth. "Did he describe the flavor?"

  • * *

"Thanks." Aseneth says to Acorn, and makes the order changes suggested. "It's pretty hard figuring those things out sometimes." Another glance at Winter. "I should be able to tell you myself in a few minutes. Generally speaking, taste and smell are muted at best. Eating in a synth sleeve is like…imagine eating everything you do now, but with all of the taste removed. And instead, everything is like a bland gruel."

  • * *

The only reason Galen stopped talking was that he was stuffing his mouth full of some of Acorn's dumplings, cramming two into his mouth before he even started chewing. "Sounds like torture." He replies to Aseneth's comment around his cheek full of food, never having needed to eat when he's in one of the fight sleeves, because he never occupies it for long. "It's a mystery. But if you wanna experiment, I'm game." He grins over to Winter about his 'appetite'.

Aside to Acorn as he holds up four fingers to order that dish off the menu. "Can't take me anywhere, Can you?"

  • * *

"He didn't so much say what the flavour was, but that it had some." Acorn pops a dumpling in his mouth and chews. He starts talking again before he's completely swallowed. "Me, I couldn't do a synth. Even if the shapeshifting thing would be kind of cool. And useful." He kind of drifts off for a moment. When he notices Galen has been sneaking his dumplings, he gives a look. "Nowhere, apparently."

  • * *

"Sometimes its harder then other times." Aseneth agrees. "Really, its a lot like having an ONI, except…moreso. That part is nice." Aseneth finally gets the order of noodles and the bottle, and slathers the noodles in said bottle, and then digs in with the chopsticks. "How does one end up fighting in combat sleeves?" Aseneth asks Galen. "Seems as if, even with the cost of the tickets, the time it'd take to grow or print a combat sleeve would make it expensive." Expensive is something Aseneth can relate to. A glance towards Winter, while the synth continues to chew. "It does have some taste. Its like a mild…spicey flavor." There's enough fish sauce on those noodles that the awful reek of it can probably be smelled from a fair distance away. Definately not something they'd serve in one of the Houses.

  • * *

"Hmmm," Winter muses, either for the flavor of the noodles or the experience of being inside a synth sleeve. "How interesting." They catch a couple noodles in their chopsticks and pop the ends into their mouth, slurping up the rest until they can chew without noodle dangling from their lips. Considering Acorn and Galen as they eat (Winter does *not* speak with food in their mouth), they say once they've swallowed, "I do enjoy a challenge."

  • * *

"We don't use them all the time, only when on special ticket nights." Galen explains, leaning back to rub his hands over the green knit sweater that covers his torso. "You're looking at the sleeve I usually fight in. Scars are sexy, am I right?" Of course he's right. Or at least his demeanor says so. He lurches back forward to accept his bowl of noodles in the cup of two grateful hands as his stomach rumbles. "Too bad I'm going to be in a food coma soon, or we could start on that tonight." Winter gets a wink that he reserves for …well, anyone when he's trying to get what he wants.

  • * *

"Ah yes, I remember that scent," says Acorn as the fish sauce comes his way on a breeze from a passing flying taxi. His response to that is to start shovelling noodles into his mouth. He uses the chopsticks like a pro, so this stand and ones like it are likely regular haunts.

"It's funny how food can taste different even from sleeve to sleeve. Since I've been resleeved…" he reaches out and pointedly moves his plate of dumplings in front of him to try and prevent Galen from inhaling them. "…I've started to like spicy food again. I couldn't handle it in my old sleeve."

  • * *

Winter works through a few more bites of their own bowl, and though they're clearly listening with interest to Acorn's thoughts on flavor and sleeves, they don't offer any thoughts on their own sleeve's sense of taste. Once their mouth is empty again, they ask Galen, "You mean to say you fight in the sleeve you live in? Is that typical?" To Aseneth, they ask, "How *does* it taste?"

  • * *

Aseneth eats in a polite and civilized fashion. At least when around other people. The synth chews food slowly and methodically, and does not talk when it eats. The chopsticks are handled with a fair amount of precision. "I've noticed that too." Aseneth says. "It begs the question. We are all bits of personality and memories inside the stack. But the other half of us is muscles, nervous systems - brains. This has at least as much to do with what we feel, how we perceive the world, what we enjoy - as anything physical. So what does that mean? When you like spicy food is it you, or is it your body?"

  • * *

There is a grunt from Galen as the dumplings are moved away, but as he now has a bowl of noodles he doesn't complain beyond that. With a pinch of his chopsticks, he manages to ball up a giant wad of noodles, "Only if you're good, because there is always the chance of real death. Sometimes sponsors will spring for a DHF back up if they like you, but my last one is ancient." He answers Winter with an unsubtle verbal hint hint, nudge nudge at Acorn. "I think it has to do with the fact he had a delicate female stomach. No offense." He motions vaguely around them to include whomever might take it as such before he shoves that entire knot of noodles into his mouth.

  • * *

Aseneth, "Like I said. A mild spicey flavor. Not really fishy, though." to Winter.

  • * *

"If I still had a delicate female fist, it would break your delicate nose," says Acorn to Galen. There's not a lot of heat to his words, but with him, that's actually more of a warning. He opens his mouth to say something else, but then he gets the faraway look of someone messaging via ONI. "Shit." He reaches out with a chopstick to grab another dumpling. While he shoves it in his mouth, he presses his finger on a scanner to pay for his food and slides off the stool.

"Your lucky day, Galen. You can have the rest of the dumplings." He does up the transparent raincoat which engages a few more lights. "Aseneth. I have a job coming up that you might be perfect for. I'll make inquiries through your House. Just an escort. Nothing too sordid." He nods once to Winter as well, then shoots Galen a 'be good' look, before he moves off towards the nearest taxi.

  • * *

"Does that mean nobody has liked you in quite some time?" Winter asks Galen, their tone (mostly) teasing. "So, you fight in your own sleeve for bragging rights? To prove your skill?" Their hand lifts in a lazy soft of farewell wave when Acorn heads off. They have a spoonful of soup as they consider Aseneth. "Mildly spicy," they repeat thoughtfully. "I wonder what else you could taste. I wonder if you could taste *better* in VR…"

  • * *

"I have a lot of experimenting left to do with what this body can taste." Aseneth comments. "It can handle a fair bit, but it doesn't taste things well, as I've noted. I don't really mind, par se, but it is annoying." The synth glances over at Galen. "So Acorn's your sponser?"

  • * *

It's amazing how fast Galen's bravado can be shut down with just a change of tone from Acorn. It's almost as if he's been wrapped on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. His shoulders roll forward and he sort of hunches over his bowl giving a nod in acknowledgement as Acorn catches his taxi. "I fight in it for money. Bragging rights aren't worth the paper I wipe my ass on at the end of the day." He flicks a glance aside to Aseneth at her question. "Just a friend." He mumbles.

  • * *

"Powerful friend," Winter muses, which maybe refers to Acorn's criminal ties or maybe refers to the way Galen's shoulders have rounded. "You fight for the money," they allow, "but that still doesn't explain why you fight in your long-term sleeve. Or does that come down to money as well?" To Aseneth they say, "I wonder if there might not be a credit or two to be made in devising a cookbook of recipes specifically for synths."

  • * *

"That's not a bad idea." Aseneth says to Winter. "It'd take a lot of time and dedication to eating awful things though." Another glance at Galen. "We all need money." the synth says sympathetically. "We all do what we have to do, and no less."

  • * *

Galen gives a nod of agreement with Aseneth, which may be why that he's plucking the remaining dumplings off the plate and putting them in a napkin to wrap up for later. "Because the more organic damage that's done, the higher the betting, the bigger the payout. And replacing my main sleeve once in a while - if I manage to lose, that is - is cheaper and less traumatic than continually popping into a combat sleeve. Which like one of you said, are costly and take a long time to produce."

  • * *

"'Manage to lose'," Winter repeats, sounding softly bemused at this choice of phrasing. "I see. So, higher risk, but higher reward. Reasonable enough." They watch as Galen packs up the dumplings. To Aseneth they add, "In the case of a synth, awful may just mean 'no flavor' which, at least, wouldn't be wretched. Hmm." They tap a finger briefly against their lips. "How do you feel about being a taste tester?"

  • * *

"How many permanent sleeves have you gone through?" Aseneth asks Galen. "That comes with its own set of risks. Not that I'm criticizing. Life is life." A glance back towards Winter. "Right, thats pretty spot-on. I mean, I don't mind being a taste tester if you want to come up with recipes. Its a good business idea."

  • * *

"I'm still an original." Galen preens, his machismo perking back up a little bit even as he humbly slips the wad of dumplings up and shoves them into a pocket. "Good luck on your new business venture." He tells them both as he stands, paying for his noodles. So much for a free meal, thanks for nothing Acorn! "And don't forget to bet on Sparks."

  • * *

"Have a good night then, Sparks." Aseneth says, assuming that's Galen's name. She goes back to eating her food.

  • * *

"Good luck to you, then, 'Sparks'," Winter says as Galen takes his leave. They sip down the last of their own bowl and breathe out a pleased sigh of fullness. "I'll send an ONI message, then, when I have something worth tasting," they say to Aseneth.

  • * *

"Sure thing." Aseneth says to Winter. "Have a good night."