Esculent

by Domenika Marzione

"I wonder if we taste like anything," Reletti mused as he watched the sky. Lorne didn't think they were at a high risk of encountering the Wraith -- there was no indigenous population, so no reason to visit -- but appreciated the urge to keep an eye out.

"Girls say I taste fine," Suarez said smugly. "Like candy."

"It's about the size of a Tic-Tac," Ortilla agreed.

"Fuck you, man," Suarez growled. "I got an all-day sucker."

"Sir?"

Lorne had been willfully not hearing the conversation by trying to walk and read the Ancient PDA at the same time. Safir, without the PDA to use as an excuse, was just ignoring them.

"What do we taste like in what context, Sergeant?" he asked carefully, since if he'd learned anything from his brief time leading these marines offworld, it was better to be clear on such things before contributing to the confusion. Of course, this was Reletti, who was perfectly capable of supplying the necessary confusion all by himself.

"To the Wraith, sir," Reletti elaborated. "Do we taste like anything to the Wraith?"

Lorne had suspected that this had been the question, but still had no answer. "Ask Doc."

Safir gave him a pointed look for blowing his status as the Invisible Man, which Lorne ignored. If he was going down, he was not going alone.

"Bob and Steve did not address those issues," Safir said with a shrug -- or about as much as one could manage with a backpack. Lorne didn't know which doctors were Bob or Steve or if they were still in Atlantis. "As far as we can tell, it's less about taste than... sensation. They feel hunger and satiation, but I don't think they have cravings or tastes the way we would. But we really don't know. We could taste like chicken."

"Pork," Ortilla corrected. "We're supposed to taste like pork."

"That an informed opinion, Staff Sergeant?" Lorne asked, knowing he probably shouldn't.

"Survival training, sir," Ortilla said with a grin. "I'm too big to live on bugs and leaves forever. Push comes to shove, I'm voting for the Donner Party."

"I'll keep that in mind," Lorne said. "Although you should know that most officers taste like shit because that's what we're full of."

Laughter all around. None directed at him per se, since they were still establishing boundaries in that regard. The marines would laugh with him, which was a milestone not to be disregarded, but they would not yet laugh at him (for values of mocking that were allowed considering the rank disparity).

"Are we kosher, Doc?" Suarez asked as they paused at the top of a hill. "If we taste like pork."

"We wouldn't be kosher if we tasted like gefilte fish," Yoni answered. "Although I'm willing to entertain the notion that some of my colleagues are really non-sentient vegetables, in which case they're fair game."

"If the Wraith are going to treat us like their personal cattle herd," Reletti said as they negotiated down the far side of the hill, "then I'd rather be Wagyu beef than just some average free-roaming bull. Regular massages, regular beer, nice music to encourage me to eat more..."

"Go back to San Diego," Ortilla told him.

Reletti flipped him off, then grinned smugly when Ortilla slipped and stumbled.

"I had Kobe beef once," Suarez said. "It was good, but it wasn't worth the price. Fifty bucks, I can get beer and potatoes and a good steak and not miss the fancy food."

Suarez did not like exotic food. He ate everything, because marines were trained to be human garbage disposals, but Lorne knew that given a choice, Suarez would go for an MRE over local fare.

"You had the American kind," Reletti said. "The real stuff in Japan is fucking-A. Blew half a paycheck on shochu and Matsusaka beef one weekend in Tokyo."

"Shochu -- that Japanese for 'hookers'?" Ortilla asked innocently.

"Hooch, you fucker. Unlike you, I don't have to pay for anything."

Lorne was about to direct the conversation toward a more productive goal when Reletti managed to do it for him first. Or, rather, Suarez did it first.

"Oh, not with the fucking pixies again," he groaned. "Wasn't the whole point of getting you out of the city so that you'd stop with the Norman Bates crap?"

Lorne knew by report rather than by his own witnessing that Reletti, like the other ATA carriers among the marines, was still very sensitive to Ancient technology. Ortilla, as team sergeant, had made a point of both warning Lorne while also promising that it wouldn't interfere with their work. He'd made it sound like Reletti was an epileptic; Suarez, meanwhile, had gone for the insanity defense. Later on, Lorne had laughed privately with Yoni because neither of the marines had understood that Reletti's genetics were, in this case, a feature and not a bug. Were also undoubtedly the reason he'd been selected for the Stargate program in the first place, since the Corps had not been willing to part with anyone from Recon voluntarily.

"I'm not doing it on purpose," Reletti groused, sounding embarrassed, then turned to Lorne and pointed west. "There's something over there, sir."

The PDA in Lorne's hand dutifully indicated such to be so. His own, weaker version of the ATA gene did not so much as tickle.

"Lead on, Sergeant."

feed me on LJ?


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16 June, 2008