As always, please read the chapter first.
Something I find I do with my writing is have a reaction scene after an action scene. It's in part for the characters and in part for me to take a breather. I hope that the readers also appreciate the lull. The food-like substances have appeared in Shadowrun before; most are from the classic adventure "Food Fight". Stuffer Shack is a chain of convenience stores and, in a home campaign, turned into a running gag by my players where there was always some sort of intrusion into the company's Matrix space. At the time of writing, most cyberpunk fiction foresaw the use of soy and krill in making food, with real meat being expensive due to the amount of land and resources needed. This was before Schmeat was developed. Vat grown artificial meat, shaped by 3-D food printers into the shape of what's desired, flavoured through attachments is a natural addition to the setting.
Charles took a couple of hits at the end of Chapter 6. As a troll, he has a huge advantage in healing, game mechanics-wise, having a high Body score even before spending character points in the stat. Charles is bigger than most trolls on top, so it's harder to hurt him and, if he can be wounded, he still heals faster.
The discussion he and Treehugger have is to get the team thinking about the potential opposition. The hit team seen last chapter was capable but outclassed. The discussion does tie into the plot; it's my way of adding information for the readers without outright saying what's going on. And the discussion gave me a way to reveal the experience each runner has. My goal was to show experienced runners, not rookies. Treehugger is based on the Smuggler archetype from the fourth edition rules; I kept the concept of her being a smuggler and while she doesn't use T-birds*, she still can make trips up and down the Pacific Coast to deliver not quite legal packages.
There's also some name dropping going on, to tie the story further with the setting. Cal Free is the California Free State, which is split into several areas. Japan, using the Imperial Marines, controls the San Francisco Bay area. Southern California was annexed both by Aztlan, formerly Mexico, and by the Ute Nation, which then got swallowed up by the Pueblo Corporate Council. The Metroplex Guards are, essentially, the Seattle National Guard. If it doesn't make sense, don't worry. It's not important beyond cementing the story as part of the /Shadowrun/ setting.
The last scene sets up chapter 8. The meeting that Tarkov is worried about now has a location. While Numbers isn't paranoid, the attacks on Tarkov have her wanting to make sure that their location is secure. Traces can lead to triangulation of the Tarkov's commlink via the equivalent of cell towers.
The commentary catch up is almost complete. Chapter 8's will appear on Sunday, with chapter 9's appearing on schedule. Thanks for your patience.
* Thunderbird-class Low Altitude Vehicles; essentially tanks that use vector-thrust like on Harrier jets.