ENTRY 096: Break Bread
Miners returning with a load from the Belt melt comet-ice on the starch from their dry rations, and bake their bread with the heat of the lift-off engines. Martian colonists in the lowlands east of Mons Olympus process high-nutrient genetically engineered potatoes into a starchy paste, then lay out their dough beneath lenses that focus the sun’s rays, then come back at lunch when it is brown and ready. Jovian surface laborers slip foil-wrapped flatcakes next to the chemical heaters in their suits, and come home at the end of the day smelling of fresh-baked bread. Artisanal bakers on Luna produce low-gravity bread-chain helixes, impossibly light and fluffy. Scumbarge sourdough rises thanks to strange spores mutated from too much exposure to cosmic radiation. Everywhere that transhumans go, in habitats from Mercury to Neptune to the xenoplanets beyond the Pandora Gate, bread is a sign of food and life; simple to make, adaptable to many conditions, versatile in flavor and nutrition.
Break bread is most traditional to microgravity habitats and scumbarges, and became popular shortly before the Fall. The eight-centimeter square loaves are designed for long-term nutrition storage, little more than starch bricks with a minimum amount of water, salt, and nutrients to prevent spoiling. With enough water, a square of break bread will last the average human biomorph a week, crumbling off a little at a time; one flat reportedly survived off nothing but break bread and recycled water for three years before micronutrient deficiencies began to set in. Many scumbarges combine break bread with severe symbiotic yeast infections, which can metabolize and ferment the heavy starches in the scumborn’s stomach to produce an alcoholic haze. Most habitats with biomorphs contain a supply of the easy-to-store foodstuff for emergencies—some even use it as insulation, packed into the very walls—and of course special industrial bakeries still churn the stuff out by the kilogram and the kiloton.
- Local busybodies have performed a statistical analysis on economic traffic, which has revealed someone is stockpiling break bread. This could indicate a major terrorist threat to a local food supply, or simply someone quietly outfitting an expedition—either way, they want to hire the player characters to find out why as they buy up the remaining break bread stocks, causing local price surges as the common foodstuff becomes scarce.
- An industrial accident has occurred. A bakery worker in the local break bread factory oven has mixed transhuman cremains from exsurgent terrorists into the dough of the latest batch—and the thousand kilograms of adulterated break bread have been sent through a gate as supplies for a xenoplanet survey mission on a two-year tour. Contact with the expedition has already been lost, and Firewall asks the player characters to go see if the break bread was tainted with the exsurgent virus, and if so to destroy it.
- A local break bread gourmand festival is being held in the habitat, and the biomorphs among the player characters are asked to be judges of the local produce—which might put them in the middle of a number of local feuds. If they survive, they get a year supply of break bread.