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Star Ocean The Second Story

2001: Another Star Odyssey (Home Again)
By Paul Beaudoin


* Chapter 14: Shopping for Weapons (Kind Of) *

The group walked into the grocery store in Armlock. "Let's split the list, shall we?" Claude said. "It'll go faster that way." They did so, and soon the list was in four relatively equal parts.

"I've got the meat and dairy products," Claude said.

"I have fruits, vegetables, and breads," Rena said.

"Non-perishables here," Chisato said.

"I have toiletries and..." Noel gulped, "feminine products..." Laughter echoed throughout the store.

* * *

Claude walked down the store aisles, his basket about half full of meats and dairy products. "Hmm, Cottage Cheese," he said to himself, looking at the list. "Excuse me," he asked a passing worker. "Do you know where the cottage cheese is?"

"Aisle 7," he said, and went back to work. Claude walked through the store until he came to aisle seven, above which hung a sign listing the products in that aisle.

"That's odd..." Claude thought before heading into the aisle. "All it says is 'Cottage Cheese'. " When he entered, his curiosity found an answer. Cottage cheese of all sizes, flavors, and fat contents lined the refrigerated shelves of the aisle.

"Crap..."

* * *

Rena waited patiently in the fresh produce section of the store, standing behind an elderly woman who was carefully inspecting each piece of fruit she saw, picking them up, squeezing them, smelling them, and occasionally looking at them in the lights. She sighed impatiently as the woman scrutinized the fifteenth apple in as many minutes.

"Dammit, will you just grab an apple and move?" Rena yelled impatiently.

"Now, now, now..." the lady said in a calm, orderly fashion that, considering the situation, would make most people want to rip her throat out. "You have to be very careful when selecting your fruit, if you want to get the best you can. They have to be ripe, you know..."

"I'm sure several of these pieces of fruit have ripened sufficiently..." Rena said. "Besides, it'll all be the same in a few hours."

"That's the exact same attitude that nearly lost us the war, you know..."

"What war?"

"You know, the war."

"I highly doubt an entire war hinged on fruit selection."

"That's exactly what's wrong with today's youth! They have no clue about how history really happened!"

"Listen, just continue looking for an apple, and save me the preaching..." Rena said, exasperated.

* * *

Chisato walked down the canned food aisle of the store, happily munching on an opened bag of chocolate cookies.

"Excuse me, miss," a worker said. "Please refrain from eating the merchandise until you've paid for it."

"I already have," Chisato said.

"Ah. Sorry to bother you, then."

Chisato giggled to herself. "He believed me," she said in a voice so quiet only she could hear it.

* * *

Noel walked down the women's hygiene product aisle, his face as red as a beet. "Listen," he said. "I'm embarrassed enough as is. You don't need to go flaunting my discomfort to everyone..."

Author's note: Oh. Sorry about that.

"No problem," Noel said.

* * *

Chisato wandered into aisle seven, her list almost entirely finished. "Hey Claude," she said. "What're you looking for?"

"Cottage cheese," Claude replied.

"And why don't you grab some?" Chisato asked. "There's an entire shelf of it right there."

"That's the problem!" Claude shouted. "There's an entire shelf of it!"

"Huh?"

"Look," Claude started to explain. "There are different consistencies, different curd sizes, different tub sizes, flavored cottage cheese, cottage cheese with pieces of fruit in it, and to add insult to injury..." Claude sighed heavily, "Low-Fat versions of every kind! The list just says 'Cottage Cheese!'"

"Well," Chisato said, grabbing a random tub of cottage cheese, "Mirage will just have to settle for Creamy, Small-Curd, Plain, Low-Fat Cottage Cheese with Peaches, in a large tub."

"That won't do," Claude said.

"Why not?"

"It's past the expiration date..."

* * *

Noel walked out of the women's hygiene aisle with two paper bags on his person. One was holding the items he selected, the other covering his head out of embarrassment. He made his way to the produce aisle, where he found Rena carefully examining pieces of fruit.

"Why so choosy?" Noel said, taking off the brown paper mask. "Just grab some fruit and let's go."

"Listen," Rena growled. "I've just spent an entire hour just waiting to select. You damn well better be sure I'm going to get the best fruit I can lay my hands on!"

"Okay..." Noel said, backing off. "Just...don't hurt me..."

* * *

Once all four lists had been checked off, the group went to the front of the store to check out. Claude eyed the Express Lane for a moment, but quickly shrugged it off. "We've done the fruit selection joke, the man in the women's aisle joke, the 'I've already paid for it' joke, and the way-too-many-choices-for-a-simple-item joke. We are not doing the too many items in the express lane joke," he said.

"Who are you talking to?" Rena asked.

"Umm...no one..."

"Well, let's just pay for this stuff and go," Chisato said. "I'm almost out of cookies." They entered the shortest line they could find, and soon were at the checkout stand. The cashier checked all the items, and then turned to face Claude.

"Your total comes to 3109.62 Fol, sir," she said in a pleasant tone.

"Right," Claude said, reaching for his wallet. "Umm..." he said, as he realized that it wasn't in his pocket. "You guys have any money on you?" The other three shook their heads in unison. "Well...uh...Chisato, you want to run to Mirage's house and get some money from her? I...kinda...lost my wallet..."


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