|Ratchet and Clank Future: Diplomacy
Author: Paul G PM
The Leonid Stories continue as Big Al is about ready to open up the newest branch of his roboshop franchise on New Fastoon in Leonid. Many of Ratchet's friends will be there for the grand opening, along with a few other VIPs as well.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Adventure - Chapters: 16 - Words: 47,106 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 2 - Published: 05-27-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8156612
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
President Phyronix watched as his daughter left for the day. She was running herself ragged, trying to keep up with the duties of the office, he thought. The last thing she needed was something else to worry about.
The old cazar watched the door to the administrative wing close, and then glanced at the door to his private apartment. Shaking his head, he turned back to his desk and looked at the reports. Energy production, interstellar bickering, promotions and service anniversaries - not a single important thing in the entire pile. Sure it was work, but it was just busywork that any clerk could do. What's the point?
He thought back to when their lives changed so drastically. It was only days, but it seemed so long ago that she had knocked him out and had taken over the presidency in all but name. And the latest rumor in the halls outside his office was that she was meeting with Centauri from Gadgetron on a top secret matter.
As much as he wanted to blame the lombaxes and Clank for this, he knew that the only person he could really blame was himself. He knew that it was wrong right from the start: ordering an assassination against the lombax minister and the robot. He would never have done that in the old days. Clank would regret what he had done someday, and whatever construct he associated with was certainly the most lombax-like creature he had ever met. Maybe it was true - maybe it all was just a misunderstanding. He didn't know anymore; it was so confusing. But, looking down at the reports on his desk, it didn't matter anyway.
The cazar let his eyes drift to the dimly illuminated grav ramp behind him. He never looked there when his daughter was around. The escape pod had been returned to its normal programming of course, and would take its occupant to the nearest safe haven in an emergency. But it was not the pod that he was thinking about; it was the airlock. Sometimes, he could not stop thinking about it. Sasha looked so exhausted. Maybe it would be better for everyone if he...
There was a knock on the door frame that led to his private apartment, breaking his thoughts. "Yes?" he called.
A chef appeared with a hovering table set with a series of dishes. "Are you ready for lunch, Mr. President?"
The cazar chuckled bitterly to himself at the title. 'Mister President' indeed... "Sure," he said cheerfully, carefully hiding his real feelings. "Thanks."
The cook guided the portable hovertable into the office and set it just to the side of the president's desk. Phyronix turned to look at both the table and the chef. The hovering platform was covered in white linen, with various drinking vessels and beverages for him to choose from. There was the standard formal place setting, along with a large soup tureen. A small bunch of blooms was tastefully arranged in a metal vase in the corner, with a single crimson spike (with a slightly dulled tip) in the very center.
The chef was wearing a typical fur containment suit composed of thin gauze that loosely covered the kitchen worker from head to foot. The gauze itself was pristine white, but the chef's fur underneath gave the uniform a slightly blue-ish tint. He did not have a tail visible, but suits like these were designed to keep the fur of the wearer inside and away from the food they were preparing, so that was not surprising. The cazar noted what looked like a bulge running down the back of one of the chef's legs under the suit, so he probably did have some kind of tail. The head covering seemed overly large, as though there were large ears...
The president froze. "You're one of them, aren't you?" he asked in a very quiet voice.
"One of what, sir?" the chef answered cheerfully.
The president sighed. "A lombax..."
The chef nodded. "Yes, Mr. President."
The cazar shifted uncomfortably. Ever since that damn holovid, or was it a surveillance... He shook his head slightly, trying to focus. Returning his gaze to the waiting chef, he guard faltered for an instant and he said, "Please don't call me that."
Phyronix could not see the lombax's eyes, yet he felt them anyway, as though they were somehow peering into his very soul.
"They don't have to do this, you know," he said, staring at the headgear where he knew the chef's eyes would be. "I know what happened. I'm not the president anymore." His gaze dropped to the table in front of him, and the empty soup plate uppermost in the place setting. "Just call me Boris."
"Okay, Boris," the chef said easily, completely comfortable even in the tense situation. Tilting his head slightly, he asked in a probing voice. "Why are you so depressed?"
"I'm not..." the cazar started to reply, heat in his voice. But he just couldn't... He was just too tired to care... And there was something about those eyes, even though he couldn't see them... "It's..." Boris Phyronix began, halting at times as his emotions stirred. "It's... Cazars are born to serve. I served the people of this galaxy for nearly four decades, sacrificed... I lost my wife early on, and my work became everything. And my daughter, of course. But now..." He turned to look at the desk, picked up a document at random (a TPS report), and threw it back down again. "Now I'm obsolete," he whispered.
"Give it some time - it'll work out," the chef said, compassion evident in his voice, even if his features were hidden by his uniform.
The cazar lifted his head to scoff at the glib reply, but his response died on his lips. "Maybe," was all he could say.
"Why don't you try the soup," the chef said, preparing the tureen. "It's a very old recipe. Gallus peep soup and pasta dumplings..."
It looked almost as though the cazar had been struck with a tesla block. His fur bristled slightly, his eyes opened wide and he jaw dropped. But he regained his composure almost immediately. "Gallus peep...?" he responded, his carefully casual tone trembling with the inner turmoil of stirred memories. "My mom used t' make that for me all the time when I was a cub. You can't even find the ingredients anymore..."
Boris's words fell away as he looked at the head of the chef. Was it his imagination, or could he feel the lombax smiling at him?
The chef ladled out a large serving from the tureen, making sure to get plenty of gallus meat, and a generous quantity of dumplings. "Try it while it's still hot," he said.
The cazar did not need the invitation. All of his previous thoughts forgotten, he turned his attention to the soup. "It smells just like..." He took a taste.
Conversation halted for the next ten minutes as Boris Phyronix enjoyed the soup that had been presented to him. He did not stop until the tureen was empty.
When he was finally satisfied, the cazar looked up in gratitude to the chef. "That was the best thing I've had in a long time," he complimented. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," the chef answered, clearing the dishes away. Pausing briefly to look at the president, the chef added, "Sometimes a good meal can bring back a lot of happy memories." He gathered up all of the dishes and serving vessels and prepared to leave. Turning back, he added, "By the way, I'll be your personal chef for a few weeks, if that's okay with you."
Boris nodded. "That'd be great. Thanks!" He did feel a little better. It wasn't just the soup, though. There was something about this chef, this lombax of all things...
"I'm sorry," the former President of the Solana Galaxy said, calling after the departing lombax as shyly as though he was just applying for his first internship as an administrative clerk. "I didn't catch your name."
Boris once again felt as though the chef was smiling, even though he could not see anything except a haze of blue through the gauzelike cloth. "Just call me Nathaniel..."