Hellping

“—This is my report, Colonel Millize.”

“Good work, Captain Nouzen…this is tiring.”

They had retaken their base, and were in a room in the temporary office when Lena, who was prone on the desk, smiled bitterly. It was already lights out, but the Operational Commander Shin and the Tactical Commander Lena had many other things to deal with. They had spent countless times making reports and meeting, and hardly had any time for any small talk.

Lena stood up and stretched.

She picked up the teapot, poured some of its contents into a paper cup, and handed it over.

“If you do not mind…it seems you have been tense for quite a while.”

“Yes…”

Shin agreed so. While he was not unaware of it, it was to a point where Lena could see it on his face.

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay. Even I would feel tired after a battle like that.”

The paper cup Lena handed over was filled with clear red-colored tea. It had a chemical-like fragrance. This was the instant tea that was part of the United Kingdom army’s field rations.

Seeing that, Shin chuckled quietly.

“You can’t brew tea yet?”

Hmph, Lena pouted.

“Sorry about that, but this is all I can do. Although…”

She said, suddenly sensing something, and her silvery voice grew weaker.

“This hot water…was freshly boiled in the kitchen.”

The corners of Shin’s mouth rose up, and he turned away, before laughing while huffing his shoulders.

Even he did not realize that he was naturally smiling for the first time ever since the end of the siege.

Lena, who saw this, giggled as well.

The moment the tea was cooled to the appropriate temperature, Shin paused and took a sip. He then tilted his head.

“How does it taste?”

“…Very sweet. Too much.”

It was a little unacceptable hard for Shin, who disliked sweets. He could not help but frown.

Lena, who was giggling, picked up her own cup and poured a little too. She took a sip like a little bird.

“Yes. It is too sweet.”

The calorie intake of field rations was meant to be high for the United Kingdom army, given their main battlefield that were the cold snowfields. Surely the sweet tea must be part of it.

“The tea is filled with jam. I guess that the United Kingdom sometimes does that, too, right?”

“I asked the United Kingdom army’s maintenance crew before the battle started, but there isn’t such a tradition in the core culture of the United Kingdom. They do boil fruits and flowers in sugar and put them in teabags though.”

“Is that so…too bad.”

For some reason, Lena was a little reluctant as she gaze at the deep red water surface.

For Shin, he could not fathom how it would taste after adding more sweetness to this already sweet liquid. Frederica too was the same. Perhaps there was a different in tolerance for sweetness between men and women.

“Shin, which do you prefer? Coffee or tea?”

Shin, who had been asked, was deep in thought.

On the other hand, he did not dislike it per say.

“I’m used to drinking coffee. Well, either one is just a substitute.”

Coffee beans and tea leaves originate from the south and east areas of the continent. Given that they were disconnected by the large group of electromagnetic interference of the “Legion”, the fates of the countries there remained unknown.

Unlike the synthetically engineered substitute tea made through the production facilities, coffee was a substitute easily accessible to the Eighty Sixers, including Shin. Thus, this was the reason why they have a slight preference to coffee.

“I guess so…I cannot remember how coffee originally tasted like.”

She gave a faint, bitter smile. Lena was only about seven years old when the war against the “Legion” started. She did not like the bitter coffee or the uniquely astringent tea.

Shin had no recollection of what he liked either.

“…One day, I want to know which is the one you truly prefer…until then”

Lena, holding a paper cup in both hands and gazing at the red water, smiled.

She looked like she was praying, as though looking into the distance somewhere.

“In any case, I have to learn how to brew it well too.”

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