Humans, being mortals, grow old and die, and Hao Shue was no exception. It was a wonder he’d lasted as long as he did—many moons had he passed inhaling rocket chemicals, switching from grav to micrograv and back again, starving as he gave the few crusts of bread and watery soups to others in prisoner-of-war camps. It pained me greatly to see this man, once so full of vigor, wither away before my eyes.

As he, as the old man who owned the noodle shop before him, lay dying, he bade me come over to his cot. He pointed at a case hidden under his bureau, conspicuously modern and shiny amid the worn, vintage trappings. I opened it, as he directed.

Three CenturySealed containers lay arrayed inside, he explained—one each for the three of us who met at the noodle cart all those years ago in University City. This soup had been made at the old man’s hand, still as edible as the day he boiled it.

“I give you…” wheezed Hao Shue, smiling over the protests of his dying lungs, “the greatest wonton soup…in the universe.”

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