II - The Wandering Shellfish

The cooking staff at Number One Laudishan Terrace cowered in fear. Cake artists completely lost focus. Their dribbling nibs waved about in pictograms of terror. They completely muddled up pristine icing artworks. This was too bad, as one of their cake art pieces would have been considered a contemporary masterpiece by the rabid critics of the city, of course, until the cake became, well, pieces.

It is day 32, year 1005 S.E, as reckoned by the M&G Conglomerate. S.E, or P.S.E if we’re being fastidious, stands for the post-schsim era. The first few years were murky, so we’ll have to trust their math. There is nothing really special about day 32; and as such, a perfect excuse to have another gala at Number One.

The wait staff had been trained in the latest fashion, delivering an insult customized to the guest with each dish. Biting wit, while biting, was the season’s trend. As such, the wait staff would have been more capable in dealing with the vivacious vulgarity punctuating the scene. But they were upstairs, observing the guests and gathering material.

Amidst the kitchen confusion, a lobster had escaped. It made a break to the outdoor dinner area, up the curving ramp, seeking the water feature it had spied on the way in. It was snatched up and had its tail nibbled idly by one of the guests, who was still having a hard time grasping the new-age concept of the raw bar. There was a well-placed pincer, and a yelp. The lobster was back on the break. The guest, ever dramatic, yowled demise. Jowls quivering with outrage, he called for complete and utter catastrophe upon the devastatingly irresponsible people who let this dangerous, pincering creature loose. His fellow dinner guests then mocked him mercilessly. What an absurd man, they thought as one. Of course, they were also absurd people.

Down in the kitchen below the villa, the scent of exotic food being prepared was replaced by the coppery musk of angry privilege. Alden Caribus was absolutely frothing around the room. Getting lost on the way through his own villa had worsened his bleak mood entirely. With a substantial stop at a cocktail station in one of the minor halls somewhere; chaos in his blood spread to match his brooding gloom. He zeroed in on a young employee, who was frozen with fear, hovering mid-chop in front of a butcher's block. Her colleagues looked on, with pity and no small amount of relief at avoiding Alden’s ire, themselves disappearing slowly under tables, and into refrigerators. What was the issue? Were the slices of this yet unnamed exotic animal too thin? Too thick? Would this aspiring chef be packed into her boxhome and sent cannoning into the scrubland to cook slop, likely at some remote depot managed (barely) by the Meteorological & Geologic Conglomerate, a promising culinary career cut tragically short?

The poor sous-chef stood disbelieving as Alden related his special dinner request, nay, his demand.

To the trained eye, something seemed a little off about the demand. The untrained eye too, in fact. But, Alden’s orders were always followed. In the face of his spit flecked tirade, all reason was moot. At this moment, Alden had decided to remind his unfortunate household employee of the simple fact that even if he didn’t control anything else in this crazy, crazy world; he was damn sure he controlled his kitchen staff.

“I want to give them a show” he roared, eyes whirling, gesturing pointedly. At this, the kitchen went silent. There was sobbing from one of the freezers. “I’m in control. Yes, I’m in control. They’ll see.”

Thump. “Urk.”

The smack of clever on block thudded out across the vast underground room. As one, the kitchen turned and fled. This was past their pay grade; it was now a problem for the wait-staff. The unfortunate sous-chef nearly collapsed, threw her cleaver on the ground, and crawled out after her high-stepping colleagues. As she tailed the kitchen exodus, she banged into a knee - a new entrant to the scene. A solemn woman in strange clothing had glided in against the panicking traffic, wearing a severe jumpsuit unlike anything the kitchen underling had seen before.

“Who can think of clothing at a time like this?” The sous-chef screamed at the mysterious entrant. The strange-garbed woman looked down absently at the fleeing sous-chef.

“Always too late” she mused mildly.

She shed a single dignified tear as the panicked sous-chef scrambled out of the room, soon to throw up liberally in the apron of an unfortunate waiter in the hallway. This poor man would be the first of the wait-staff to investigate. The sous-chef gave the appalled waiter Alden’s final instruction, ridding herself of his final feverish plan.

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