Raekira was damn hungry. Stepping Back always made her that way. She stood in the street where she had appeared, looking around Streetside like it was weirdest thing she’d ever seen. Never mind that, in some ways, it totally was. Going four thousand years into one’s own future can do that.
“Excuse me,” Rae said, tapping on the shoulder of a strangely scaly character who she was pretty sure was a female. “Do you have a phone I can borrow?”
“What in the hills are you wearing?” the girl replied, her eyes running up and down Rae’s body.
Rae glanced down at her own silver dress with wide shoulders. It was perfectly normal. The wenthy-girl, whose pant suit with a wide belt and more pockets than a single person could ever need, was the one wearing the wacky clothes. Granted, in this time, those freakish belts were everywhere. Rae knew she should try and melt into the world around her.
“I might ask you the same thing. Do you have a phone or don’t you?” She was never very good at doing what she should.
The girl rolled her eyes and pulled a small black thing out of one of her pockets. “Here. Be quick.”
Rae took the phone, grinning in thanks. Quickly, she punched in the number combination she’d worked hard to memorize and held the device up to her ear.
“Ianthe? It’s Rae.”
Oh, hey! You’re back in…town?
“Yeah. And starving.”
Where are you?
Rae glanced around the street, noticing a restaurant just across the way. “Meet me at a place called…Yazzer’s.”
Rae blinked and looked back at the front door of the diner. Ianthe was there, waving her phone in the air.
“Thanks,” Rae said, handing the device back to the wenth girl.
She took it and walked away without saying anything.
Rae crossed the street, eying Ianthe’s perfectly placed curls and unwrinkled dress. She was taller than Rae, but not by much. “How long did you spend getting ready?” she asked, not hiding the accusation in her tone.
Ianthe rolled her eyes. “Like, an hour. I was in bed when you called.”
“You weren’t hungry.”
Ianthe smiled, like she’d won a bet. “But now I am. Let’s eat!”
“So what’s this place…Yazzer’s?” Rae asked as they walked in.
“Raltalian cuisine. From some planet the next star system over.”
“Right. Never heard of it.”
“Of course you haven’t. You’ve spent most of your life in the freakin’ dark ages.”
“Meh. Just a few thousand years. No big deal.”
Rae looked up at the menu screen that hung on the wall opposite the exit. “What’s good?” she asked.
“Doesn’t matter what I think,” Ianthe replied.
“What do you mean?”
Rae hardly had time to take in all of the pictures on the board before Ianthe was pushing her forward. Rae saw a girl standing behind a counter. “I’m not ready to order,” Rae insisted.
“You already did,” Ianthe whispered.
“That will be sixty drees,” the girl said.
“We’re together,” Ianthe said.
Ianthe paid and ushered Rae past the counter and to a seat. Something about the whole ordeal was strange enough that Rae just nodded and did as she was told.
“What did I get?” Rae asked.
Ianthe shrugged. “I don’t know! Isn’t that exciting?”
“You ordered with your eyes. The screen reads what you look at and gets you exactly what you want. It’s tech that the Raltalians have been using for ages, apparently, but it’s still new around here. Even to me!”
“Just get used to it, Rae,” Ianthe said, leaning forward over the table. She rested her arms there and continued. “Look, if you’re going to be a Chrone who flits about whenever you want, then you’re going to have to get used to all the weirdness. I was born three hundred years ago. I know that’s nothing comparatively, but it’s still different. And you just have to meld into the world around you. It’s part of the whole experience.”
“Yeah. I suck at that part.”
“I’m aware. Did you mug someone for that phone earlier?”
“Oh look! Here’s our food.”
Rae looked at the strange plate of mush that was set in front of her. She heard Ianthe thank the waitress.
“It looks like vomit,” Rae said.
“Just take a bite.”
“I don’t think I can.”
Rae picked up her fork and stuck it aggressively into her dish. Ianthe was already taking a bite. Her food looked just as disgusting, but her face seemed to convey pleasure. Rae reluctantly took a bite.
Ianthe raised a brow.
“Oh, Raim,” Rae said, one cheek puffed out as she chewed. “This is everything I’ve ever wanted food to be.”
“Right?” Ianthe laughed.
“Like, really amazing.”
“Those Raltalians know what they’re doing in the kitchen.”
“I’m from the dark ages,” Rae said, gaping at her plate.
“I told you.”
“I’m never leaving this place. That’s how good this food is.”
“You can stay as long as you want. I have a hide-a-bed,” Ianthe offered.
“Just…eat your food.”