Enter the Snowflake's lair... Circulation: 105,101,325 Issue: 206 | 2nd day of Gathering, Y7
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Of Pepper and Kelp

by extreme_fj0rd


Also by year_of_the_fox

"Welcome to Kelp, Madam," the Maraquan Scorchio said pompously.

      The girl standing in front of him--or, rather, floating in front of him--frowned. "I'm a Madam? That's weird, I never knew that. Anyway, thanks," she said, talking over the Scorchio's attempts to go on about the food that Kelp served.

      The Scorchio interrupted politely, "Do you have a reservation? What name will it be under?"

      "It will be under... ADAM!" a girl behind the other one shouted.

      A spotted Kau next to her sighed, "Fox..." he muttered. This was obviously his owner's name.

      A yellow Cybunny sighed. He muttered to the Kau, "Shut up, Haru, this may get us in."

      The first girl, Fj0rd, nodded in agreement with her friend's statement.

      The Scorchio looked doubtful. "This... Adam... is not on my list," he said. Fj0rd blinked and then nodded, whispering to Fox, "It's borovan, not Adam." The Wocky in the group sighed, letting out a stream of air bubbles. "The names are year_of_the_fox and extreme_fj0rd," he said with a bored expression. "YRAEL!" the two owners shouted in unison. The Wocky rolled his eyes, but subsided.

      Fox quickly began to explain. "Yes yes those are our names, but we're under...ummm....Donna! Yes! She's buying us dinner!" she said, looking at the Scorchio and nodding.

      The Cybunny, Momiji, looked around quickly. "What?! Where's Donna?! SHE'S TRYING TO EAT ME I SWEAR!"

      "Yum, Cybunny," the Wocky remarked, rolling his eyes. "Face it, Cybunny. You'd taste horrible."

      The Scorchio looked from one face to another. "Donna, you say?" he asked.

      Fox nodded again, "Yes. I told you, the great Donna is buying us dinner," she said.

      "Erm, Fox? Why would Donna buy us dinner?" Fj0rd whispered to her friend. The Scorchio, however, seemed to think this was a perfectly acceptable statement and nodded. "This way, madams and sirs."

      Fox shrugged and followed the Scorchio. Fj0rd followed her friend happily, skipping a little.

      Haru, the spotted Kau, looked at the Faerie Wocky beside him. "How long do you think they can keep fooling them?" he asked her.

      Yrael shrugged. "I have no idea," he said with a sigh. "All I can say is that I hope it's long enough to give us time to eat. I'm starving!" The Wocky grinned and followed his owner, and the rest of the pets followed.

      The Scorchio seated them, after putting a few tables together and getting a few more chairs.

      Haru picked up the menu and looked at it. "Fox? How can we afford any of this!? You don't even have enough money to buy a bottle of sand!" he said, looking at her owner, then at Fj0rd, and then back at Fox.

      Fj0rd grinned. "We just put it on Donna's tab, of course," she said wickedly.

      Fox nodded; Haru looked at Yrael and shook his head. "Right."

      Lyrian, a Sketch Kiko who seemed the most comfortable underwater--after all, Kikos were a generally aquatic and water-loving species--grinned in response to his owner's statement. "Sugar!" he said happily. "Hey, Fj0rd, can we come here every day?"

      His owner shook her head. "Nope," she said, waving her hand at the crowded restaurant. "We were lucky to get in even once; a lot of people are turned away every time."

      Lyrian sighed and subsided.

      Momiji fidgeted in his seat as Fox looked at the menu. Lyrian glanced across the table at the Cybunny; then his eyes slid sideway to the swinging doors from which waitresses and waiters emerged, holding steaming trays of food.

      Momiji nodded, and then looked at Fox. "I need to go to the bathroom!" he said, getting up and running off.

      The Kiko grinned for a moment, then said to Fj0rd, "Hey, Fj0rd, er, I, have to--" Fj0rd nodded without looking up from her menu. "Go ahead," she said vaguely. Lyrian grinned and floated off after Momiji.

      The Cybunny ran around a corner and stopped, waiting for Lyrian. "Okay, how are we going to get in there?" he asked as soon as the Kiko was beside him

      Lyrian grinned. "We're the new kitchen helpers, of course," he said. He glanced down the hallway they stood in. "One of these has to lead to a supply closet--there should be some spare aprons in there."

      Momiji nodded and took out something from his pocket, then ran down the hall, stopping at a door labeled "Supplies". He looked at the thing in his hand and pressed a button on it; a key came out and he opened the door

      "Whoa, cool. What is that?" Lyrian asked, peering at the thing in Momiji's paw.

      "It's a universal key," he said, slipping into the supply room. "Fox made it for me."

      "Sometimes I think our owners are really thief masterminds," Lyrian muttered, searching for a light source of any kind. There didn't seem to be any; he left the door open a crack, letting light spill in from the hallway. "Okay. Aprons," he said, peering around the half-dark room.

      Momiji looked at Lyrian. "You didn't know?" he said, referring to the thief masterminds comment, and looked around for the aprons.

      "Well, yeah, I did," Lyrian said, bobbing in the air--his version of shrugging. "I think." He paused for a moment, then decided it wasn't worth the time. "Hey!" he said a few moments later. "Aprons!"

      Momiji looked around. "Where?!"

      Lyrian pointed to a row of pegs on the wall. From each hung several crisp, white aprons. The Kiko floated nearer and poked at one of them. "It's completely dry," he said in a tone of wonder. "How do they do that?"

      "I don't know..." he said, but grabbed two. He gave one to Lyrian, then put the other one on himself.

      The Kiko bobbed in the air again as he tried to fasten the apron; eventually he just tied it over his head like a kerchief, having run out of ideas on how to tie it around himself. "Ready?" he asked.

      Momiji nodded and slipped out of the supply room. He locked it again, locking Lyrian in.

      "HEY!" the Kiko yelled, all caution forgotten.

      Momiji opened the door. "Shh!" he said, and closed it again.

      "YOU LOCKED ME IN, YOU MORON!" Lyrian shouted.

      The Cybunny opened the door again. "Fine...just SHHH."

      "If you hadn't locked me in, I wouldn't have yelled," Lyrian said sulkily, bobbing out.

      "Soorryyy," he said.

      A Maraquan Uni came down the hall. "You there! What are you doing? Get back to work!" she said

      Lyrian looked sheepish. "Sorry, ma'am, we were just on our... erm... coffee break," he said.

      She sighed. "Right. Just get back to work," she said and went into the kitchen.

      "Yes, ma'am!" the Kiko said, saluting. He beckoned to Momiji and floated into the kitchen regally, as if he had every right to be there.

      Momiji followed. No one even seemed to notice them in the confusion of the crowded and busy kitchen.

      Lyrian grinned. "Okay," he said quietly. "What now?"

      "I don't know...Umm...let's get some free food!" the Cybunny said with a nod.

      "Good plan!" the Kiko said happily. He floated over to a counter of promising-looking food, only to have it snatched by a Maraquan Uni waitress who bore it away and out the door as if it was as light as a Weewoo feather.

      Momiji watched the Uni waitress and then reached up onto the counter they were sitting behind, after groping around with his paw for a bit he found something and grabbed it, pulling it off the counter just as another waitress pulled the tray away. He handed part of it to Lyrian and stuffed the rest in his mouth.

      "So, what now?" Lyrian asked through a mouthful of food.

      "I dunno," Momiji started to say.

      "Hey, you two there!"

      They both looked up and saw a Maraquan Lupe, wearing an apron and chef's hat, scowling down at him. "What're you doing down there? Make some more Kelp Gazpacho, we're nearly out," he commanded, herding them over to a counter.

      Momiji and Lyrian looked at each other and shrugged, and then looked at the contents of the counter.

      "So, uh... we just mix stuff together?" Lyrian asked.

      "Yeah," Momiji said. He put some seaweed in a bowl and added pepper--lots of pepper--and some sugar.

      "This is awesome!" Lyrian said, grinning. "I haven't had this much fun in ages!"

      Momiji nodded in full hearted agreement, then looked at the contents of the bowl, "Hmm..." he said, "I think... it... needs more pepper. It doesn't look right."

      Lyrian looked over at the cybunny, "Well. Taste it and see if it tastes right."

      Momiji rolled his eyes and tasted some, then shrugged, though didn't have time to respond as the Lupe grabbed it to prepare it into something that looked fancy.

      "Well? How did it taste?" Lyrian asked.

      "Meh," Momiji said, shrugging. "It was fine."

      "Okay," Lyrian said. "Now what're we going to do?"

      "We could wreak havoc among the waitstaff..."


      "...or go back out to the table..."


      "Or I guess we could always steal more food."

      "Yeah!" Lyrian said. "Let's do that!"

      Momiji grinned and looked around for something to take.

     --Meanwhile, back at the table.-

     Haru looked down the menu, "Everything here is expensive!" he said, and looked at his owner, "How can we pay for this?"

      Fox looked at him, "Haru, what are you talking about? Adam is paying for us."

      "Oh, so it's Adam now?" Yrael asked sarcastically. "Or are he and Donna splitting the cost?"

      "Right, I meant Donna," Fox said quickly. "Donna is paying for us."

      "Adam paid for our lunch!" Fj0rd put in. "At the Golden Dubloon. Don't you remember?"

      "That would be because it didn't happen," Haru said.

      Yrael rolled his eyes. "Leave it, Haru. There's a chance they'll believe our owners." His tone made it very clear that he didn't think anything of the sort was going to happen.

      "So would they believe them before or after they chased us all out, with a stick?" Haru asked.

      "No! Haru! Donna is actually coming to eat with us! I swear! I wasn't really just lying to get us in!" Fox said.

      Fj0rd nodded, "Yes! We won a contest so she's taking us out for dinner," she said.

      "But she's very, very late," Fox added.

      Both owners nodded.

      "Riiight," Haru said, rolling his eyes. Yrael made no comment, but by his expression, he was in full agreement with Haru.

      They both looked quickly back at their menus to hide their laughter.

      The Scorchio waiter came up to their table. "I suggest the Kelp Gazpacho," he said, bowing deeply.

      "Waiter!" said someone, and then there was a thud as the same someone fell heavily from their chair onto the floor.

      "What was that?" Haru asked, springing to his feet.

      "What was that?" asked everyone else in the restaurant, flinging down their napkins and standing up. The waiter at Fj0rd and Fox's table whirled around.

      "Wait," Fox said, confused, "did he say 'waiter', or 'water'?"

      Haru and Yrael shrugged.

      The occupants of Kelp fell to the floor, unconscious, complaining of burning mouths, some going through convulsive sneezing fits. All except for four, who stared around; even the waiters had fainted.

      Well, six--Lyrian and Momiji peeked out of the kitchen a moment later.

      "Momiji," Lyrian said slowly, frowning. "I think we may have put just a little too much pepper in that food."

The End

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