A Heart of Glass ~A Broken Heart~
“Hmm, this is bad.”
“Yep, it’s pretty bad.”
Miki-Tei Catering: serving delicacies so bad that it makes you want to say it out loud.
“That’s not true!”
The Polypod Ball’s manipulator arm was adjusted to the height of a standing counter table. The girl with the ponytail re-tied her hair and shot an unfriendly glance at GIMM and BALL, who skillfully used their chopsticks to cram the noodles into their mouths. They weren’t very good at slurping them. It seemed like she was associated with the Japanese soba noodle catering shop that GIMM had ordered from.
“By the way…”
BALL struggled to unravel the noodles in his bowl, which had lost their moisture and were clumped together into a bird-nest-like substance as GIMM threw his chopsticks down as a sign of surrender.
He saw that the young man who had delivered the noodles was waiting for them to finish beside the legs of the Zeta Gundam, which was parked in a standing position.
“It’s hard for us to enjoy our meal when you’re waiting on us like that.”
“And these noodles are making matters worse.”
BALL finally gave up and poured his dipping sauce over the noodles in an attempt to loosen the soba noodles.
“We’ll let you know when we’re finished.”
“It's a hassle to return to our shop in satellite orbit,” the young man said impatiently. He seemed nervous about something.
“Then why don’t you use disposable bowls?”
“We’re an authenticity-oriented service,” the girl said to GIMM.
“But why...” he started while struggling with the soba noodles tangled to his chopsticks. “Why would you open a store in space? Your noodles are bound to stretch out.”
‘They’re not ‘bound to’ stretch out.” The girl turned to the young man.
“At least, they weren’t stretched out before.” The young man looked away.
It was an awkward and uneasy moment. BALL asked GIMM why he even chose the place. “It was the only place that delivers in GBN!”
GIMM tried to reply without using any words.
“Throw it away if you don’t want to finish it,” the girl said, and the two boys quickly turned towards her.
“But you’ll have to pay for your meals,” she continued.
“Yes! Of course!”
“We pay for what we receive, the basics of capitalism!”
The duo were noticeably relieved as though they finally had the chance to get a breath of fresh air. With the store owners watching, they were pressured to cram down the content of their bowls… But they had no time to lose, and there was especially no time to lose because of horrible dry noodles. They had to find a Legendary Gunpla as fast as they could to obtain a Golden Poly-cap and logout from GBN. They didn’t care how many Force points it would take, willing to pay ten, hundred, or even a thousand times of the original price of their meal to get it over with... but then they remembered something, making them both gasp. They had used up all of their Force Points at the (fake) golden poly-cap scooping attraction.
The young female Diver was named Celica, and the rather slender young man was named Yoshi. Miki-Tei, the name of their catering service, was taken from Yoshi’s actual name. He was in charge of the cooking and catering, while Celica managed the business and did the remaining tasks. This was why Yoshi called her “Commander.” She had come to the Amusement Dimension, where GIMM and BALL were, to look for new customers. By the time the two had heard all this, they had already broken six bowls. Celica went on with her veins in her temple pulsating with frustration.
“We used to have quite a few Force members before, but now with only me and Yoshi around, I’m not even a platoon leader, let alone a commander.”
She laughed bitterly.
“There’s only two of you?” BALL remarked in surprise before he saw the mountain of messy dishware. “That’s why you haven’t caught up with the dishwashing.”
Yoshi and Celica’s Force Nest floated in orbit and was a store created by renovating a space station. It and had no dining space since it only offered catering. It only had a kitchen, a hangar to dock Gunplas, and a catapult. There seemed to be living quarters and an office area in the back, but there seemed to be no sign of anyone else other than Yoshi, who was preparing soba noodles on an isolated kneading table.
“So everyone left your Force? But why? Was it because you were embarrassed because of Yoshi’s soggy soba noodles? Or was it because Yoshi was such a soggy little loser?”
“I told you,” Celica began while rolling up the sleeves of her shirt to help GIMM find the sponge he had dropped in the bubbly sink.
“We used to be able to deliver our orders no matter how far our destination was. Even if we did go anywhere far, our noodles were never soggy. He wasn’t a soggy little loser…”
The sound of soba noodles being pounded had abruptly stopped.
Yoshi’s back was visible as he fled the kitchen.
“… until that day.” Celica muttered in a barely audible voice without looking towards where Yoshi went.
GIMM turned to BALL to tell him that the awkwardness was back, when GIMM also turned his head at the same time and said to GIMM, “You know, she might be right.”
“Well, I could tell that the soggy loser’s Gunpla, Yoshi’s Zeta Gundam’s Waverider Mode, used to enter the atmosphere from space. Its high mobility mode, used to fly under gravity, uses amazingly crafted Variable Geometry wings attached with wing binders taken from the Zeta Plus. And that’s not all. The gimmick where it removed its flying armor and switched to its wing binders in mid-air was astoundingly smooth. I’m sure he put in a lot of effort and thought into it when assembling it to make it able to make deliveries anywhere, no matter where he was in space or under gravity, to make it the ultimate soba noodle delivery designated Gunpla.”
“Now hold on. A Gunpla designated for soba noodle delivery?”
“That’s exactly it.” Celica quietly confirmed.
Celica had stopped looking for GIMM’s sponge and was blindly gazing at the bubbles in the sink for some time.
“The ‘Zeta Kyanos’, Yoshi’s beloved Gunpla… an alter ego of his passion towards deliveries when he was a still a daredevil…”
“O-okay, then. By the way, can we ask you something?” GIMM couldn’t stand the awkwardness any more and changed the subject. He wanted to tell her that they were looking for something.
“Oh yeah, exactly!” BALL was reminded of their situation.
“Would you happen to know where I can find a Legendary Gunpla?”
Celica thought for a moment.
“…There was one.”
The two leaned forward.
“There was one man… a man who used to be a catering legend,” she said sarcastically.
She was bringing it up again. GIMM slouched over with dread and tried to support himself, but his hand was reaching for the stack of bowls they had just washed. BALL rushed to support the column of bowls and slipped.
The number of bowls they broke instantly reached two digits. It was now faster to count the unbroken bowls.
The gleam of a Commander returned to Celica’s eyes.
“GM Turbulence, cold soba noodles with grated radish, and Polypod Ball, tempura crumb and seaweed soba, ready to launch!”
Commander Celica’s scolding lead to an order for GIMM and BALL to be transferred from bowl washing to delivery, and the two, in a rush to erase their debts caused by not being able to pay for their noodles, took off from the catapult and aimed for the sea of stars. Their lift offset off a rumble that transferred through the space station’s shaft and reached the hangar, where Yoshi was.
But he didn’t seem to care. It was great that the two did his job for him. Thanks to that, he now had the time to admire “it.” He didn’t even seem to notice that Celica was watching him from behind.
Yoshi had changed. He would have never let anyone do the deliveries before. It all changed that day, the day that he had been surrounded in a gleaming light that came from the heavens.
Celica closed her eyes tightly, stuck a note on the catering suit locker door, and left the hangar.
Returning from their delivery, BALL saw the Miki-Tei space station from his Polypod Ball and took a deep breath in the bonito seaweed broth-smelling cockpit. A broken bowl was placed by his side.
“We wash, we deliver, and break. At this rate, we’ll never be able to wipe away our debt. In fact, the more we work the deeper in debt we get,” he uttered, when he saw something in the distance and squinted.
The GM Turbulence was in front of the Miki-Tei space station hesitating to return to it.
BALL booted up his radio and asked GIMM.
“Let me guess, you also broke a bowl, didn’t you?”
“No.” A resentful reply came back.
“Then why aren’t you going back in?”
“It’s not that I don’t want to. I can’t.”
GIMM was in his cockpit that still smelled of hot white radish and had a grumpy face.
“I asked around about Legendary Gunplas without expecting much when I was delivering the cold soba noodles with grated radish.”
“Oh. I also did that too. It was no use though.”
It seemed that GIMM had no luck either.
“No. The customer actually said they knew something like that.”
BALL was surprised and leaned forward.
“The guy said so, and he asked me to make the soba noodles free in exchange of exact whereabouts of a mysterious Gunpla. Of course, I agreed and went there.”
“Was it there?”
“There was in fact, a Gunpra.”
BALL slouched his forward-leaning head.
“Well, the guy wasn’t wrong about the ‘mysterious’ part...”
“You don’t call them ‘mysterious’. You call them ‘wrong’. So I returned to the guy but the party was over. He had already run away.”
The intensity of Celica’s scolding because the two had broken more than ten washed bowls was extraordinary. It reminded GIMM of the time his father was furious because he tried to dye his beloved pet dog Janice’s fur wine red by using the whole bottle of his father’s precious 1990 Bourgogne. BALL, on the other hand, was reminded of the time his oldest sister was furious at him for using her “lucky” bra as a flag for his whitewater river raft. Then they thought about how angry Celica would be, and came to a conclusion that she would probably die from anger if they told her that GIMM didn’t receive his payment for the delivery.
GIMM and BALL let out pathetic sounds.
The two had returned to the apron (the place where their Gunplas were parked), and admitted the truths of their mistakes, having prepared themselves enough to be able to jump from the top of an opera house. But Celica welcomed them with a calm smile.
More surprisingly, she asked them, “Please...take me away from here...”
Her large eyes were slightly tearing up. She unraveled her ponytail, releasing her soft, wavy hair. The two hadn’t realized that Celica was this beautiful.
Yoshi didn’t know how much time had passed while he was mesmerized by “it.” There was another rumble that could be felt in the hangar, and he finally came back to his senses. Did they receive another order? Who was cooking the soba noodles? He was sure that Celica would take care of things, sinceー
“By the way...”
Yoshi finally realized that Celica’s presence had been long gone, and found a note stuck on the door that kept his catering suits.
It was Celica who decided to go to a war-torn space colony that was once used as a battlefield. The city was burned with the flames of war and was a Dimension that was recently growing in popularity among Divers who were fascinated by ruins.
However, GIMM and BALL had even forgotten why they were brought there.
“So you mean, you want us to run the store?”
“Exactly. You two and me. The three of us.”
The Polypod Ball’s cockpit that smelled of broth was now filled a refreshing scent of citrus, which tingled BALL’s nose. It was a scent with a fragrance different from what he breathed in his everyday life with his many sisters, and BALL felt his heart pounding hard.
“The three of us… But what about Yoshi?”
“I don’t want to even hear his name.”
Even GIMM, who was in his cockpit alone, forgot his frustration from losing a game of rock paper scissors over ‘who gets to sit with Celica in their Gunpla’ and asked her.
“But, seriously, why?”
“Do I have to have a reason to want to be with you two?”
“Well, you know. We just met, soー”
“Are you making a lady say more?”
But the two had something else to do. They had to find a Legendary Gunpla, obtain a Golden Poly-cap and leave GBN as soon as they couldー
“To come to think of it…I don’t think I need to leave GBN at all!” GIMM declared.
“As long as we can be with a cute girl like Celica, don’t you think that there’s no point in leaving?”
“You’re right!” BALL agreed without a hint of hesitation.
“Think about it! Reality never was all that great! You look left and right and see people looking down on you or feeling sorry for you, and they all make me angry!”
“People honk at me when I’m texting and crossing on red!”
“My house is cramped, my mom’s loud and annoying, and my sisters are running around in their underwear and I don’t want to see that!”
“Summers are hot!”
“Winters are cold!”
“All hail GBN!”
It was at that moment that a single shot from a directed-energy weapon disintegrated the three-story building in front of the GM Turbulence and the Polypod Ball.
The proximity alarm went off following the attack and the three raised their heads in surprise.
A sharp silhouette was heading their way with the sun behind its back. Its form did not look like a Gunpla.
“Is that a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle)? No, it can’t be… ”
BALL flipped through the encyclopedia of instruction manuals he had in his head and shouted, “It might be a BWS (Back Weapon System) from a Re-GZ? But it’s not quite right!”
“No, it’s a PBWS (Prototype Back Weapon System)!” Celica shouted back.
The GM Turbulence reflexively aimed its rifle at it. However, the PBWS overwhelmed the line of fire with an astoundingly complicated rolling maneuver, fired warning shots with its Beam Smart Gun, pierced through the flames of explosions, performed a steep climb the next moment, and vanished in an instant. GIMM forgot to even blink during the few seconds.
“That thing’s too fast!”
“What the heck was that?”
BALL gasped. Celica told them.
“Yoshi’s Zeta Kyanos. It’s coming!”
GIMM and BALL squinted at the sky.
They saw no signs of a Gunpla.
Instead, a transmission came from a guard channel (an emergency frequency), and the three heard a voice.
“How dare you two approach us to kidnap Celica...I'll never forgive you!”
Celica poked her tongue out in a teasingly manner.
GIMM and BALL faced each other dumbfoundedly over their communication screens.