It's been a long journey, 10 weeks since leaving the Orion spur. I stopped off at Colonia some 7 weeks, 115,000 light-years and 1700 jumps ago, but since then I've been out there in deep space on my own, with only the ship computer for company. I am slightly nervous about the prospect of being around lots of people again. Maybe all that time away has altered my personality slightly, am I going to be able to function `normally` around others?
I approach Garay Terminal. its been seven weeks since docking a ship come to think of it, so taking care not to break anything on the way in. I carefully land the Anaconda down onto the pad, she’s done well and still in good shape, though needs an overhaul and a re-paint. The maintenance guy I meet makes one of those sucking noises with squinty eyes, the type of expression that precedes notification of excessively large costs. He estimates his repair costs, including a complete re-paint (at 0%, although I can still see plenty of paint on there). I accept, then head to the main terminal.
I promised myself a slap up meal in a fine restaurant and Garay Terminal has some of the best station food in the bubble. But as I order some scallops for starters with a glass of water, I begin to feel uneasy, out of place. I'm surrounded mostly by couples, some clearly enjoying a one off fine meal, maybe for a special occasion or anniversary. But for others this seems to be a regular thing. They are dripping in wealth. One lady in particular seems to look down her nose at me, as I pull up a chair on my own, slightly under dressed in my Faulcon deLacy casual wear that came as a freebie with the ship.
She looks about 60, but with the right money and surgical works these days, she could be 90 or older. Her husband looks closer to this age. He’s clocked the arrival of the battered Anaconda into the station and has linked it to me. He probably knows that a long journey out in those things can actually bring in a lot of exploration money.
Just for fun, I call the waiter over and ask for another drink.
“How much is a glass of the Red Jameson Château Lafite from 3286?" knowing full well it’s the most expensive on the drinks menu.
"300000 credits sir," he replies.
"OK, I'll take a bottle of that, and bring a pint glass with a drinking straw too please."
Its funny how I was longing to be back among humankind once more and the familiar planets and systems, though now I’m here, I almost want to head straight back out again to one of those distant Earth like worlds I found.
My lesson learned for today, as far as fine dining goes, is to stick to what you love, rather than what you think you might like with additional cost. Paying over the odds does not always give the best experiences. I need to head out and meet up with those people that I feel more comfortable with, for a proper meal. Then, I’m off to see Palin – he has a contact I may be interested in meeting.