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5.

"Here you go - dinner." Sam handed him the bag full of food and drink. "Be careful not to tip it!"

They had stopped briefly at the Thai restaurant near Sam's house, and she had gone in and picked up the food she had ordered over the phone before they left her place.

Lantash took the bag." What did you buy?" He looked at the boxes of food. "It smells delicious."

"I'm glad you think so." Sam smiled. "There's one box of chicken red curry with peanuts - and rice, and one box with shrimp lo-mein and stir-fried noodles. You can take whichever one you like - or try a little from both if you want that."

"I would very much like to try both, in that case," Lantash said. "Are we going to eat here in the car?"

She nodded. "Yes, it's faster that way."

Lantash handed her the box with the chicken red curry. "It seems difficult to divide up the food. Perhaps we can just switch boxes after eating half? Unless you mind?"

She took the box. "No, that's fine. I don't mind." She smiled. "It's not like you have any diseases you can give me."

"I assure you that it would be quite impossible," he told her, handing her a package of chopsticks.

"Exactly. So, do you know how to use these?" She held up the chopsticks.

"Yes, I do. They are not uncommon on many worlds. In fact, there are probably more planets where they use that, compared to forks, like your culture seems to prefer."

Sam nodded. "Okay. Good."

"Do the drink cups both contain the same?" Lantash asked.

"No, one is regular coke, the other diet. Hand me the diet - it's the one with the 'D' written on top. I remember you thought diet coke tasted bad."

"I do." He gave her the cup. "It tastes strange. Artificial." He opened his box of food, then dug in to it using his chopsticks.

"Of course, it is artificial. Well, the sweetener at any rate. So, do you like the food?" Sam asked.

He ate a shrimp, and then a few noodles. "It is quite good," he said. He tried to grab a bunch of noodles, but they slid away. "They are slippery."

"Yes." She smiled and took a long drink from her diet coke.

He succeeded on the next try, and carefully stuffed the noodles into his mouth, doing his best to avoid dripping on anything.

They ate in silence for some time, no other sounds heard than that of their eating and drinking.

"I have now eaten approximately half of the shrimp lo mein. Are you still willing to trade that for half of the chicken dish?" Lantash asked.

"Sure," Sam said, looking down into her box. "I've almost eaten half, I think, so let's just switch now."

She handed him her box, and got his in return.

Lantash curiously picked up one of the peanuts and studied it. "Some sort of nut?" He ate it, chewing it slowly.

"It's a legume, actually," Sam told him. "A peanut."

"It is good, though I think it would be better if it was cooked less - the peanut, I mean." He picked out a piece of chicken and ate it. "The rest of the dish is very good. I believe I prefer it to the... lo mein."

"What about Martouf? I'm guessing you don't always like the same things, or do you?" She frowned, trying to remember from Jolinar.

Lantash shook his head. "No, we do not, though we share many likes and dislikes. In this case Martouf disagrees with me. He likes the chicken dish, but he preferred the lo mein."

Sam nodded. "Makes sense. That you have some foods you disagree on, I mean."

They ate the rest of the food, talking about nothing special, and then Sam gathered the trash in the bag.

"What do you do with that? Do they reuse some of it, or is it disintegrated?"

"Disintegrated?" Sam frowned. "Ah, right, the Tok'ra can't risk leaving trash and such behind on a planet - it would just mark it as being used, so you disintegrate it."

"Yes, often by activating the chaapa'ai with bags of garbage standing in front of it."

"Neat. The unstable vortex of the wormhole will disintegrate it completely. Obviously, we don't do that here on Earth, but some garbage is incinerated. Burned for energy production. Not so much here, though. We also recycle some things. However, stuff like this." She pointed to the bag with used food receptacles. "That we throw in a garbage can, or directly into a container, which is later emptied by sanitation workers."

"I understand. So where would I throw it in this case?" Lantash asked.

"Here? Just over in that garbage can outside the restaurant."

"Hand it to me, then I shall go and do that," Lantash said.

Sam gave him the bag of trash, and he walked over and dumped it in the trashcan.

When he was back in the car, Sam immediately started it. "We better get going. It's almost 7PM, and we need to be in the airport at least half an hour before the plane leaves."


"Our luggage will not travel with us?" Martouf wondered.

"Yes, but not inside the cabin. There isn't room. The suitcases are placed in a storage area in the plane instead, and we pick them up when we arrive at the destination."

Martouf nodded. "I see. But that is only the case for some of it, correct?" He held up his smaller bag - with the one he had brought from the Tok'ra inside, as well as a few other things. "It looks as if people are bringing the smaller bags with them."

"You are allowed a carry-on - as it's called - and a personal item. I usually prefer to keep toiletries and a change of clothes there, in case they misplace my luggage. Oh, and you should also keep fragile stuff and valuables there, as I told you."

"Yes, I understand. Mostly, in any case," Martouf said, looking confused. "How can they misplace my luggage if it is travelling in the same vessel as I am?"

"Remember, call it airplane, or plane, not vessel. And trust me, it's possible, particularly if you have a layover - that means, if you're changing planes. But don't worry, it only happens sometimes, and even when it does, they usually find your luggage again. Eventually."

"I see." Martouf frowned. "It is still worrisome. I wish we had a teltac we could use instead."

Sam laughed. "Yeah, I guess it would be faster and more efficient. More convenient too. Well, take it as an experience - an opportunity to learn about your allies.

"I do. Very much." Martouf smiled.

"Good. Come - we need to go through security."

"Security? Is there any danger?" He looked alarmed.

"No, don't worry. Just put your bag on the conveyor band - and make sure to put any metal you may carry in one of those small trays. Then, just go through that portal." Sam pointed. "Pick up your stuff on the other side afterwards."

"Why?" Martouf frowned, looking at her uncomprehending. "Why must my bag and everything of metal travel a short distance on its own, while I walk through a portal? Is it part of a religious ritual, perhaps?"

Sam sighed, but decided to go with a quick explanation. "The portal is there to check for metal - like in weapons - and your stuff goes through a scanner, also to check for weapons."

"I see. Somewhat like what the Tollans do when you go to meet their Curia, and have neglected to remove your weapons before, though their technology is more advanced, and renders all weapons useless." His expression became concerned. "Why do you do this? Is there a danger here?"

"No, it's just... a precaution. Come on - we're actually in a bit of a hurry."

Martouf nodded and followed Sam, still looking mystified.


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