26: Y Ddraig Goch
The cabin was a cylindrical room as long as the ship’s neck and almost as wide. Groups of seats, arranged around hexagonal tables, ran along either side, where long windows, invisible from the outside, looked out across the Theatre grounds. Pulling his cloak around him, Dante skulked to the far end of the cabin and found a seat by himself.
The table, it transpired, wasn’t just shaped like a cellular, but acted as one, too. Dante was browsing the ship’s menu, hoping to find a covert coffee he could order behind Katrina’s back, when someone slipped into the seat opposite him.
“I guess we could have worse company,” grumbled Alonie Kent. With a tight frown, Shelley Eoghan sat down beside her, a sweep of dark hair falling over her eye.
Alonie leaned over to study the menu. “Can’t say I was expecting something as fancy as this,” she said. “You?” Her red eye darted up to fix on Dante. He shrugged. “Heard they’re sending us to some Seelie place down south that’s supposed to be all Third Terrace and stuff,” she added. “That’s what you said, right, Shell?”
Shelley mumbled an almost-inaudible “Yeah.”
Alonie managed a hint of a smile. “Looks like we’ll finally see if it lives up to the hype, huh, Orpheus?”
“Guess so,” said Dante. The coffee selection was already overwhelming enough—mocha, espresso, Irish and Turkish, Ketherian Black and Tiferetian Silk, he had never realised so many existed. For him, coffee had always been a spoonful of brown powder and some boiling water.
“Don’t get too excited.” It was Chris Shaw. “The reality never lives up to the fantasy.” With a flick of his feathery hair, he took a seat next to Dante. Lance Algar, as always, was one step behind him.
“Hey, ladies!” he said with a grin. Alonie replied with a scowl.
“Is that why you live out here in the sticks?” she asked the Malkuthian.
Chris navigated his own menu with practised precision. “I’ve little choice in the matter,” he replied, “but rather here than there. Say, would you fancy something to eat? They’ve quite the selection. Cake, perhaps?”
Alonie sat back and crossed her arms. “Not at this time in the morning,” she said.
“Dude, I’ll have some cake!” said Lance. “It’s always time for cake in my world!”
The image of a plain white cake appeared on the tabletop screen. As Chris manipulated various options, it started to change, first in colour, then shape and size. “Is chocolate okay with everyone?” he asked. “I can adjust the sugar and calorie content, if that’s an issue?”
Alonie rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, dude,” said Lance, “I gotta watch the cals!”
“I figured,” said Chris. “How about some extra protein?”
“You don’t get protein in a chocolate cake!”
Chris grinned and tapped in the rest of his order. He knew, as Dante did, that the cake could be anything he wanted it to be. That was the miracle of ambrosia.
Alonie’s scowl deepened as the centre of the table opened up and a cake, dripping with a tantalising chocolate cream, rose from unseen depths. A salivating Lance divided it into five equal portions and wolfed down his own in two bites.
“What’s wrong?” asked Chris, as the girls stared at their own share. “A moment ago you wondered if modern technology lived up to its reputation. Well, now’s your chance to find out.” He picked up a slice and took a bite. “See, it’s perfectly safe.”
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Lance is very particular about his physique.