At long last they took their seats for dinner. The four servantoids served the salads promptly. Gene and Judy had splurged on new servantoids—this year’s model—but they were only allowed two due to the strict rationing. Their guests, Jude and Ginny, had to bring their own. Gene fumed to himself in his quiet way, and Judy was appropriately embarrassed, though, of course, not a word of it was spoken.
“Dreadful,” Ginny was saying, “just dreadful, this rationing business.”
Jude nodded in agreement while aggressively jamming his mouth full of fresh, crisp romaine lettuce.
Ginney continued, “Why just this week we were denied an additional dish of garlic lemon butter with our lobster tails at Namoria’s Steakhouse—the original, overlooking Hendrick’s Bluff, not that satellite eatery down in the valley. To think, a restriction such as that on authentic lobster imported all the way from Earth. We had to make do dipping our lobster in the béarnaise sauce of our Steak Oscar—Fullblood Wagyu filets from Nyu Kobe, of course. Goodness, can you imagine? It was just dreadful.”
Judy swallowed a great mouthful of Arcturian wine and chimed an affirmation. “Dreadful, yes; that’s just the right word for it.” She held her glass out to the side and her servantoid silently appeared from the shadowed side wall to delicately pour her a refill.
Gene shook his head dismally, holding his fork with menace in his balled fist. “It makes no practical sense. Rationing butter; it’s unjust! Sure, I could stand to use less hydrogen or limit my interstellar travel—it’s all for work, anyway!—but butter? Tell me, what use is there for butter on the war front? None at all.”
Jude thought it polite to pause his inhalation of salad long enough to make a contribution. “You’re quite right; it’s exploitative. It’s Earth’s governments and Earth’s businesses that are benefiting while the colonies suffer one indignity after another.” He stuffed a bit more lettuce into his mouth and spoke around it. “It’s unconscionable. The war will never reach us here. Not in our lifetimes, in any case.”
“Well I can assure you,” Judy lilted, “we enforce no rations here. Tonight we’ll be having duck Wellington with truffle Armagnac sauce.”
Jude again nodded and swallowed violently, raising his glass. “A toast to our gracious hosts, Gene and Judy. Judy, you are a bright star in a dark universe.” They clinked glasses and drank while the servantoids cleared the salad plates. Judy flushed discreetly behind her glass while Gene remained oblivious, and Ginny held out her glass for another pour.