Hydrangea has been teaching contract law and other species etiquette in the Nyal Imperium for months. There is nothing to her life but marking, teaching and going for tea with friends. When one of her friends tells her that she knows of a Nyal food that matches coffee on the molecular level, Hydra has to try it out.
The diner where the forty-seven-ingredient soup is prepared is a favourite haunt of the Guardians of Deyfell 4, four super-beings who risk their lives on a daily basis. Hydra doesn’t care, she just wants her coffee doppelganger.
Starburn notices the strange alien who defies his teammate’s efforts to clear the diner. She has an easy smile and a relaxed attitude that he has not experienced since he became a Guardian. To his surprise she doesn’t know who they are and the ability to introduce himself without the weight of his actions as Guardian is so refreshing, he looks forward to speaking to her again.
When the next opportunity proves that she is still as guileless as he thought at first glance, he makes up his mind to keep her and treasure the gentle heart that she shows to one and all. It’s a simple matter to have a teammate bring her to the base, and once she is there, there is no way home.
Hydrangea Graham looked around at the wreck of the table and heaved a sigh. “I think it may have been an error to ask the students to come along.”
Liskey laughed. “Well, you gave them a decent meal for the week, possibly the term. I was surprised that you were able to get the instructors to loosen up.”
Hydra laughed. “I had the server spike their drinks. Nothing major, just a little more than they ordered.”
Liskey gasped, “You had them intoxicated against their knowledge?”
Hydra chortled evilly. “No. I just had extra sweetener put in their appetizers. It relaxed their dispositions, just like it does during morning breaks. Mind you, my picking up the tab probably did more for their moods than anything else.”
“That was very generous of you.” Liskey smiled and summoned the server again. “My friend would like the forty-seven-ingredient soup, please.”
The server looked at the wreck of the table and nodded. “Of course. Coming up.”
Hydra laughed. “I think we frightened him. So, are you sure this has all the compounds that I listed?”
Liskey waved away her concerns. “I checked it nine times. It is dead on. The texture may be off, but the taste should be the same.”
Hydrangea tented her fingers together as she contemplated that this small, tidy diner on Deyfell 4 in the heart of Nyal space might actually have something that approached a cup of coffee, even if it was disguised as a bowl of soup.
“So, Liskey, you said that this little place had another claim to fame?” She sipped at her water and waited.
Liskey looked around, made sure that they were the last ones in the restaurant and whispered, “The Guardians eat here.”
“The Guardians?” The Guardians were the Deyfell system’s answer to the Sector Guard. Each world had their own super-beings that upheld law and order both locally and regarding incursions by other worlds.
“Yes. Those Guardians. When they have a casual meal, they tend to congregate in places like this. Of course, if they were coming, we would have been asked to leave already, so it won’t be today.”
Hydra didn’t care. She just wanted to try the coffee soup.
When the server brought the forty-seven-ingredient soup, she inhaled before tasting. It smelled like coffee. She raised the spoon to her lips and sipped. Oh yeah, baby.
Her blissful expression must have said it all.
Halfway through the bowl, a strange prickle entered her mind. It was an urgency that she needed to leave and be somewhere else at that moment. Balls to that, she wasn’t going anywhere.