Space: Terran Minarchy
Star system: Omia
Planet: Omia Prime
Colony name: Applecrate
Population: 158562... and counting
The aroma of freshly baked bread was almost maddening and John saw Evelyn's left ear twitch. From the inside, this bakery looked even more spacious and after one glance at the owner's face, he instantly gathered why. The bulky shape of a tall gorilla, wearing a full set of baker's gear topped by a colorfully embroidered apron, moved with animalistic grace, hands pulling the heavy trays out of the ovens with ease. Just before they entered, Evelyn mentioned that the baker had precious little time today – something to do with the Harvest Fair preparations. Nevertheless, this client, a Martian gorilla by the name of Kobo, would at least sell them a few loafs of bread. The rest was reserved for the Fair and, after watching the gorilla stack tray after tray of piping-hot bread on a metal rack nearby, John smiled - nothing beats capturing raw footage of artisans doing what they did best. Crackling his neck, the baker sighed, turned around and smiled at them, one hand removing the heat-resistant, beautifully crafted vacfoam glove.
“Welcome to my bakery, Patron and you, Eve!” - Boomed Kobo's powerful baritone as he shook both John's and Eve's hands. He saw how her ear twitched again, looked at Eve's happy grin and smiled himself – there was definitely something special about this town. John was prepared to spend extra time here on Applecrate, soak more of this place's allure, he was an H-logger after all!
“Pleasure to meet you, Kobo, my name is John and I am an H-logger. Can I snap one short holo-vid of your bakery?” - and John shook the baker's powerful, blistered hand. It was the hand of someone who spent his days toiling, working hard and obviously loving what he did. The baker then waved over his desktop computer and a holo of the bakery's entire inventory soon glittered in the air. Flour from the desk floated through it and, caught by the holo's light, incidentally turned into strange, snowflake-looking particles. The bulky gorilla nodded affirmatively, tapped his apron, creating one very aggressive, quick flying cloud of flour and grinned.
“Sure, why not, fire away! I am maybe somewhat old-fashioned, Patron, that and the bulk of my time is spent baking.” - He made an encompassing gesture and John again looked around the bakery, catching more details with his holo-cam - “I love watching cooking shows more often than not but will check your channel too. Anyways, feel free to pick something up from the list, John. Just... don't steal half my inventory, ok?” - Chuckling, Kobo pointed at the list and, while John counted how much of the storage space in his stasis unit he could spare for bread, the gorilla casually asked Eve:
“What are you doing now, coming for yet another 'little bear', eh?”
“Well, I could get another one, if you still have some of that cheese. Otherwise, Amy gave me tour guide duties, Kob! See?” - She respectfully nodded at John, who had just tapped the holo, ordering five loafs, and paid for them. One credit per loaf? That was somewhat steep but considering that was the one and only, the best bread maker of Applecrate, he gladly counted the cred chits and placed them on the counter. John's mind then quickly processed what the baker asked Eve and suddenly he realized that he did not recall what 'little bear' meant. Since his holo-cam was rolling and the baker was free at the moment, he decided to ask:
“Kobo, excuse me, but what is a 'little bear'? Is it some special type of cookie, a croissant, or something?” - Both Eve and the baker shared a look, that special look between old friends, who, giddy with excitement, could not wait to share something cool that only they knew, with others. Reaching with his hand, Kobo picked one of the smaller loafs; the rye bread cracked when he sliced it in two with his sharp knife and steam came out, the aroma again assailed John's senses. Then, the baker produced one small stasis unit from under his desk, opened it and placed two packages on a cutting board. One was clearly Swiss, herb butter and the other bore Slavic letters. John's eyes widened a bit after he recognized the package of prized Bulgarian white cheese, made from the best cows milk on Earth. The holo sticker on it came alive instantly, after picking up some of the background light and he saw a smiling, mooing cow. Indeed, that was the logo of this limited edition white cheese, of which he knew only two million units were packaged and sold each year. John also could easily read what the label said: “Smiling Spaska”. That was, as far as he knew, the name of this centuries old cattle and dairy farm's first, prized cow, the same one all of their bovines today were descendants of. With another knife, Kobo hollowed out both limbs of bread, used another, smaller knife to butter their insides and then, opened the cheese. Perfectly preserved inside the stasis unit, this cheesy goodness too attacked John's senses. Kobo pulled another, specially crafted to cut cheese knife and after slicing two of the cheese lump's edges, carefully wiped the blade clean. Then the pieces found their way inside the hollowed out bread, and were stuffed with the still steaming pieces he'd cut out earlier. The whole process took Kobo no longer than a minute but to John it seemed like one entire hour had passed. Evey ray of sunlight, the flour floating through his desktop's holo, and heat coming from the still working ovens, behind Kobo's back, John's holo-cam captured all of it. That and the sounds of slicing bread, buttering it, then cutting that prized, one of a kind white cheese... He reached for his purse but saw how Kobo waved at him to close it. The gorilla then canted his head to the side, one hand pointing at some old, wood-carved sign hanging above the door. Smiling, John read:
His fingers now held the 'little bear' and despite it burned them a bit, he took a small bite. The heavenly combo of freshly-baked rye bread, Swiss butter and Bulgarian white cheese was something which he had never tasted before. For one very short, too short in John's humble opinion minute, their happy snuffles and intense, quick chewing vanquished every other sound in the vicinity. Before he could realize it, the bread limb was gone, devoured; John, with slightly saddened eyes, looked at Eve. She was picking odd bread crumbs and tiny pieces of white cheese from the paper wrapper Kobo served them this amazing treat in. He spent a couple of minutes thanking the man, picked up his well-wrapped in vacfoam bread and walked out of Kobo's bakery. That he did, but not before the Martian baker promised to give him an interview for his channel, later, either during or after Applecrate's Harvest Fair. In another minute he and Eve found themselves again on the move, John's left hand still carried the bag full of bread.
“So... what now, Eve?” - Mumbled John, the taste of cheese, bread and herb butter still on his tongue.
“We wait for the shopping drone I've just ordered to roll its metallic ass here. Then we go to 'The Tumbling Apple' and order some drinks. You got to try Amy's hard cider, John! This is somethin' most spacers who work around these parts constantly dream of. Or at least that is what they claim...” - The bunny chuckled and looked around, scratched her chin, both ears at attention.
“The drone is already coming? Wow, that's quick an efficient service!” - John saw the small machine whizzing down the road, coming from the direction of Applecrate's marketplace.
“We might be in the boonies 'ere but that still is Terran space, John!” - Eve took command of the drone and gave it a couple of orders via her PDA, while he placed the bread bag inside one of its compartments. The tall little machine was equipped with a Tesla engine, had one tiny fusion core and moved with respectable speed. It should since the chassis was basically that of a small, quad wheeled scooter. The drone's top was basically covered with shopping baskets and had a PDA, which the engineer who built it, used as a central processing unit.
“How cool, it even has a small stasis unit!” - He then noticed the label which said that using said stasis unit costs one credit extra, per day. After a few seconds spent in thought, John decided that was reasonable pricing and, wired the extra credit. So far he'd spent virtually nothing and most, if not all of his street food budget was covered by grateful patrons. His holo-cam was still rolling; while still inside Kobo's bakery, John decided to make this stroll into a G-net stream. There were a few million early birds who were watching and had already spammed a couple holo-screens full of “I am so hungry!” and “What is this, I want it too!” comments. Few H-loggers could master the art of an impromptu stream but John was a true master. When it came to record holo-footage, talk or ask people the right questions, he was voted one of the best in Terran space. Omia Prime's G-net node was now chalk full of links but since their hyperspace satellite was brand new, there wasn't any lag. Or at least nothing notable, because his subscribers would've instantly informed him about it and he'd say what he usually said - “Please refresh the link on your PDA!”
Walking next to Eve, he could see the four stories tall building of Amy's inn getting ever closer, and decided to check what his shopping drone was doing. His guide was indeed skilled with computers; the bunny gave this unit a couple of commands and made sure it veered away John's constantly turning holo-cam. Indeed, a drone like this one was something mundane, nobody wanted to look at it since marketplaces across Terran space were full of them. Simple machines like this were an everyday sight; just like the FTL capable starships almost everyone had, and the knowledge that one could freely travel anywhere they wished. Within his star nation's space, John could visit any space station, or planetary settlements, and enjoy warm reception. Not only that, but with the Space Boat he could finally plan a trip into Star Alliance space, maybe even travel the Kil'ra Empire. To successfully achieve this, however, John needed more than one assistant! Evelyn's ears twitched again and he looked at her head from above; she was probably stressing out, thinking about the test her perspective employer was about to put her through. He smiled and then proceeded to whistle the same old song; beside him Eve just as earlier, hummed along, the whizzing of his shopping drone's engine filling the background. He pointed at Amy's inn and, this time addressing his viewers, stated:
“Everyone, we are going to 'The Tumbling Apple'! Stay with us and later, after our next guest, the Spacer Sonny links us, we will stream his interview. I can only imagine what exciting, riveting stories will that wizened, old space wolf share with us! Remember to wave those links quick, and save G-net node traffic, so that others could also enjoy the stream.” - John felt full but that local, gentle breeze, which constantly carried the aroma of cooked food around, thought otherwise.
Stay with John as he interviews another one of the locals, the Spacer Sonny. Perhaps he will learn more about a well-guarded, Applecratean secret? A mystery most elusive, shrouding the days of Applecrate's founding and so successfully, that no H-logger had so far learned anything about it. That, and much more in the next installment of JATB!
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