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The Southern Queen, North End, Freedom City

June 27, 2020
9:00 PM

 

Starlok

 

Ever since Ori-Bath had met the Praetorians, two things had been on her mind. The first was that all Lor bureaucracy was trash and the Praetorians should be able to help her overthrow her brother if she wanted them to. The second was more relevant to now: She had to meet the one known as ‘Maybelle McQueen’, alias ‘Queenie.’ Partially to recruit her to her cause, but also to eat some of the delicious Terran food she was apparently quite deft at making.

 

It had taken some time to track down the place - it turned out that humans were very uncreative and called many locations ‘the North End’, but she finally tracked it down with the help of the Terran mass-information network.

 

Unfortunately, getting there posed even more problems. She had attempted to ‘rent a car’, but apparently that required vast amounts of documentation from the American Empire she simply did not have. And apparently government workers did not know who she was nor did they care. They kept calling her British, too, which was just patently incorrect. So instead, she had to have her servants pilot the Pale Rider to hover over the Southern Queen’s parking lot, causing an awful din.

 

As papers and plastic bags were thrown about by a ship the size of a jumbo jet hovering over the restaurant, a lift descended down from the ship’s base, carrying on it Ori-Bath, Countess of Nos. She had decided to go formal for this, forgoing her normal wargear and instead wearing a fancy, frilled royal blue evening gown and makeup that had the strange feature of using blue wherever a human would use red, namely lipstick and blush. Her long, dark hair was done up in an updo. She felt she conveyed the very image of grace.

 

Sending her ship off, Ori-Bath simply waved off the crowd of people who had gathered to see what exactly was happening. “Do not be alarmed,” she cried in perfect English, speaking with a flawless recreation of a High Received Pronunciation accent. “I am merely here to sample the food. Return to your business!”

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Queenie

 

Maybelle McQueen, chef extraordinaire, was busy in the kitchen when Starlok arrived. Despite being the head chef and part owner, she still put in more hours than anyone else. Superheroics permitting, of course. The dinner rush had about faded, and she was considering taking a break for a while. Of course, her taking a break meant working on one item instead of several. The Ring let her multitask in a way that was kind of awesome. But then there was a commotion outside. And, of course, the engines of a spaceship the size of a jumbo jet weren’t exactly quiet. Seems she had late guests from way out of town. Only natural, she’d been with the Praetorians for a while now, word probably got out in Space™. But still, there were rules to this. So Maybelle casually walked from the kitchen to the front of the Queen, reassuring people along the way.

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Starlok


Ori-Bath, for a rare occasion, actually felt bashful. She really hadn’t intended to draw as much attention to herself on this planet, but it seemed even when she wasn’t trying, she would make a memorable entrance. She managed to keep her head high regardless, maintaining a sympathetic but ultimately detached air about her as she made her way inside the Southern Queen.

 

“I apologize for my entrance,” she said as the Pale Rider soared off into the sky. “But rest assured, things shall go smoothly from here. For I am Ori-Bath, Countess of Nos, alias STARLOK! And I know courtesy.”

 

She marched forward towards the maitre d’s desk. “I would like to procure a table for one,” she said. She then slapped down two solid gold coins the size of her palm. “I think this should be enough to buy a seat, yes?” she asked. She knew that Terrans liked ever so much to commodify everything. They even sold seats to their arts!

 

She smiled, revealing her fangs.

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Queenie (and employees! :D)

 

The Maitre’d ( so to speak) was Rory. He a was relatively unthreatening looking Caucasian man, who look at Ori-Bath, and then down the coins. There was just enough time to wonder if he’d been stunned into silence by her arrival, and then he spoke. He was solidly an Englishman. “Being seated is free, ma’am. It’s the food and service that costs money.” An honest fellow, that Rory. He was perhaps a bit perturbed by the fangs, but he hid it well. He turned his head to speak to a tall redhead who had approached. “Amy, love. Table for one?” Amy jerked her head at the arriving Maybelle McQueen. “Ah, ‘Belle. One of yours?”

 

Maybelle smiled. “You better believe it.” She’d been…was briefed the right word? She didn’t know. Anyway, she knew who Ori-Bath was. “Let me escort you to the special table, all right?” By special table, she meant her own. Like, literally the table in the restaurant where she and people she allowed to got to sit. It was, of course, technically the worst seat in the house (right next to the kitchen), but the exclusivity tended to negate that in most people’s minds.

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Starlok


Ori-Bath nodded, retrieving the coins, and smiled at Rory. “Thank you, I am unaware of your customs. I’m sorry if I offended. Have a good night,” she said before she was lead away from him by Maybelle. Ori-Bath smiled today more than she usually did, as she considered herself something of a gourmand and thought nothing better than being able to receive especially good food.

 

As she took her seat, she felt the need to apologize once more. “I hope I did not upset your guests. It is incredibly hard to acquire a vehicle on Terra. Er, it’s actually called Earth in your dialect, isn’t it? I do not intend to seem dismissive of your culture,” Ori-Bath.

Normally, she would not be so cautious, but Noktonian chefs head a very special and important place in their homeworld’s culture. Given that politics were so vicious on the Night Moon, one had to stay forever in the good graces of those who served you food, lest they agree to one’s enemies’ proposition to put silver in their food. As such, chefs, waiters and cupbearers were effectively as sacred and untouchable as priests were in other cultures, and were to be treated as such.

 

“I am excited to try your food, as I have heard tell of it even from my distant corner of the galaxy.”She paused, and then felt the need to explain things. “I understand I resemble a creature known on Terra as a ‘vampire’. I would like to clarify that my species’ taste map correlates strongly to Terrans, and as such you need not take any precautions for the purposes of food preparation. Oh. And, while this is embarrassing to admit, I cannot touch silver cutlery for very long or I will begin to develop ulcers on the affected area and may potentially get what you call ‘tetanus’.”

 

She frowned. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to sound demanding. I merely wish to list… health concerns.”

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Queenie

 

Maybelle only smiled. Ori-Bath was kind of adorable in her attempts to placate. “No problem for me, sunshine. But UNISON might be grumpy about unauthorized spaceships almost landing in the city.” Her tone was gently teasing. Why did she know this? A long talk after she first learned she could fly into space. “We do call it Earth, you’re right. Silverware is just what we call it. Most of the time it’s just stainless steel.” The chef’s table was, as previously stated, next to the kitchen. “Have a seat. What can I get you? Do you have any allergies other than to silver?” Not that humans ate silver to begin with, but whatever.

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Starlok

 

Ori-Bath considered for a moment. "Nothing else food related," she said. "At least, nothing that grows on Earth, as far as I am aware. As for Uni-Son, I am certain she and I can come to an arrangement." She did find it interesting that a Terran woman had the same name as her maternal great aunt. Perhaps Noktonians had influenced this planet in the past? 

 

She folded her hands in her lap, smiling up at Maybelle. "Food in the County of Lugo is primarily vegetarian, so I am especially curious to try your dishes. I understand Southern food is very meat-heavy from what cursory research I did before I came here."

 

There were some other thoughts she had, like the fact that the woman's  name was 'McQueen'. Did that mean she was royalty? Or was the "Mc" an indicator of servitude? There was also a place called 'McDonalds' that served food. Perhaps the position of cook was hereditary here on Earth. Questions for later.

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Queenie

 

Maybelle blinked. Obvious confusion flitted across her features before she understood the misunderstanding. “No, sunshine. UNISON isn’t a person. It’s an organization. They cover international security and law enforcement. That covers space, too.” She remembered that nice long talk with them she’d had after the first time she’d flown into space. At Mach 13. Well, it was in the past. “I’ll start you off with something basic. Chicken tenders. Domestic flightless bird, with the meat seasoned, breaded and fried.” She went into the kitchen, but was not there long. That had been one of the things she had been cooking, naturally, and her kitchen staff was well trained so that they’d take over if she had to run out and do superhero stuff. So a minute later she returned with a small plate of chicken tenders, a glass of ice water, and a menu. She placed all three on the table. “I don’t know if you can read English, but that there is what we serve here. I do special requests when I can, but since you’re from around here I probably won’t know what you’re talking about.” She flashed a grin.

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Starlok

 

The Countess blinked. Oh, of course, it was probably one of those acronyms the Earth sorts seemed to love more than life itself. Well, she would have to deal with that later. Wait, she had been to this planet before. Did they know about that too? Oh, she hoped not. She hated having to scream at bureaucrats.

 

When the tenders came out, Ori-Bath inclined her head politely, and using a fork and knife, cut off a small portion, and chewed thoughtfully, letting it travel over the different portions of her tongue, before taking a small sip of water and swallowing. She considered the flavours and the textures, before finally saying.

 

"They're good. There's a similar dish on my home planet made from fried mycoprotein. The family chef would make it for me when I was going through my picky phase as a little girl. It was all I would eat for a few months. It's... Very nostalgic, thank you." she said with a small smile.

 

Her eyes scanned the menu for anything she remotely recognized, her expression becoming more lost with each passing moment. Until her eyes settled on the drink menu.

 

"Oh! Sweet tea. I will have some sweet tea, please. As for food... I... Whatever dish you are most proud of here? I don't know any of these but I enjoy trying new things."

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Queenie

 

Maybelle thought for a little while. It was a bit stumping. Dish she was most proud of? Eh…oh! That’s a great idea! “Okay, so sweet tea, coming right up. Rose?” She grabbed the attention of a passing blonde waitress. “Fetch my guest some sweet tea, please. I’ve got pulled pork and mac ‘n cheese to make.” She flashed a fierce grin and bustled into the kitchen. The pulled pork was more of a “put together” kind of thing. It wasn’t something one made in time for feeding guests who were already there. But the Mac would be fresh. Maybelle threw herself into the task with gusto, but she always did that.

 

Rose did not take long with the sweet tea. “If you need anything else, just call for me. All right? The boss is going to be busy for a little while cooking.” With that, Rose left Ori-Bath with her sweet tea and chicken tenders.

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GM

 

Not too far in the distance, another spaceship entered into Freedom City and lowered itself invisibly onto a rooftop in the North End. Silently, several men clad in high-tech armour and armed with blasters stepped out, observing the Southern Queen from afar.

 

They had come with one purpose: to capture a member of the Praetorians. After considering each member, they had settled upon Maybelle McQueen, reasoning that if they moved swiftly and decisively, they could wrangle her without having to worry about the Terran law enforcement’s woefully underdeveloped weaponry. As long as none of the local heroes showed up, they would have one major asset.

 

Watching the windows through a scope, they prepared to spring their assault.

”Remember, no casualties. Weapons on stun. We’re here to take her in live so we can press her for info. Any information she has is going to be a gold mine if we can get the Khan’s agents to buy our intel," said one, dressed in all black, a reflective mask covering his whole head and molded over the features of his face to form a sort of mirrored visage. 

The men nodded, and bided their time for the right moment to move.

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Starlok


”Thank you,

Ori-Bath sipped her sweet tea thoughtfully, taking in the restaurant around her now that she had time to herself. She found herself watching the patrons around her. Despite herself, she found herself comparing the people here to the people of Nokton. She listened to the way they spoke, and while it was more… rudimentary, she could hear flashes of something she might expect to hear in Castle Lugo’s dining halls…

 

Ugh, now was not the time to be riddled with nostalgia.

 

She produced her data pad so that she might record her thoughts on the food. She had become something of a diarist in recent times, cataloguing her thoughts during her temporary exile from her home. She wrote personal little reviews on the food she tried in more peaceful times, something to remember to bring back with her when she regained her rightful throne.

 

Things were going fine until Ori-Bath began to notice that her data pad was suddenly on the fritz. The screen wavered, before dissolving into white noise. The Countess looked up to see other patrons looking quizzically at their own devices, trying to get them to work. They only began to look up from their when a series of armed individuals began to make their way into the building through the front door.

 

“Gentle diners and staff!” Said a man in a reflective mask, speaking in a thick Lor accent. “I apologize for the interruption. Please, remain in your seats and no harm to come for you. We are only here for… Maybelle McQueen.”

 

Ori-Bath glowered, dragging her nails across the table. What a terrible time to be without her Panoply.

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Queenie

 

Maybelle, unfortunately, was deep in “cooking mode”. This meant the world outside her kitchen would have to put in some work to get her attention. The usual clatter inside a professional kitchen did not help, either. The pulled pork was premade due the sheer amount of time involved in prepping it, but the mac n’ cheese she could easily do fresh. And that’s exactly what she was doing. She’d slide the dish of pulled pork into an oven (on very low, just enough to warm it up).The macaroni was boiling on a stove. On a counter top she mixed together her proprietary cheese blend with spices and a few extra touches.

 

So, it was left to Rose (the head of the waitstaff) to deal with the armed men. “I’m sorry, she’s a bit busy at the moment. She’s cooking for a special guest today.” Her voice was quite clearly nervous but attempting placation so no one got hurt. It was not every day or even every month that armed men burst into the restaurant, after all. “If you like, I can get you a table and a drink. She shouldn’t be more than twenty minutes. But if you’re impatient I can try and fetch her.”

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Posted (edited)

GM

 

The armed men looked between each other, shrugging, until the man with the reflective mask finally spoke up, chattering to his men in the language of the Lor. Three peeled off from the main group, moving around so that they could secure the back entrance as well, leaving five, including the apparent leader, in the main room. Then, he turned to Rose.

 

"I think fetching her would be a very good idea," he said in a low, restrained tone. "You should go do that now. Oh, and if she tries to escape, I would like for her to know that I will feel compelled to take out my frustrations on her staff."

 

He gestured to his men again, and then to the patrons. "Do you see what they are carrying? These are guns. You've invented guns, right? That means no heroes today. None. Or we will use our guns."

 

He turned back to Rose a final time. "Now go. Before I become impatient."

Edited by Shofet

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Queenie

 

Rose ran into the kitchen. Maybelle was annoyed at the intrusion at first, but then she understood the situation. With a sigh, she instructed her sous-chef, David, to keep an eye on her Mac (as she put it in a oven) and of course the pulled pork. Rose did not leave the kitchen, but Maybelle certainly did. Sauntering casually and smiling as she went, she reassured everyone with her mere posture that everything was going to be just fine, even if her silvery forcefield was up. She knew alien technology when she saw it, too, and this was far from her first band of armed goons. “Well then, sunshine. You’ve come an awful long way to just to see little ol’ me. How can I help you today? I imagine you’re not here for a reasonably priced and delicious supper.” An idiot, she was not. She’d been in the hero game long enough to know whatever they wanted wasn’t a good thing. You didn’t threaten a building full of people for what you could get by saying “please”.

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GM
 

The man in the reflective mask's face obviously could not be seen, but there was a palpable sense that he was smiling like a jackal when Maybelle made her way into the dining room. He seemed to regard the forcefield for a moment, before briefly tilting his head to one of the other individuals, who proceeded to make a small nod.

 

"Excellent, excellent. You saw reason. Hostages can do that, of course," he said, clearly pleased with himself. "Maybelle McQueen, please come with us. We have many questions to ask, and you have many valuable answers I plan to sell to the highest bidder."

 

He held out his hand for Maybelle. "Unless the safety of your patrons no longer concerns you. Then we could do things the hard way, instead," he cooed.

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Starlok

 

Countess Ori-Bath simmered in silent anger at the intruders. Not only had they ruined her meal, they threatened her hostess and her fellow guests. However, she was faced with a conundrum. Her gear remained aboard the Pale Rider, leaving her less effective than she would be normally. To make matters worse, the signal jammer ensured that she wouldn't be able to call it back either. Not unless she could find the machine responsible and break it.

 

Still... Something had to be done. 

 

She looked over at Maybelle, hoping to lock eyes with her. She intended to follow the chef's lead in this matter, given that it was her place of work and these were her guests. Still, should the opportunity to strike arise, Starlok wanted to take it.

 

Thankfully, it seemed as though, given she was at the back of the restaurant, she had not yet been noticed. That, or these intruders weren't aware of that grey women weren't very common on Terra. She wasn't yet sure which.

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Queenie

 

Maybelle kept her pleasant smile right in place, and her thumbs hooked casually in the back pocket of her jeans. She was exaggering her normally slight Southern accent, as well. “While normally I’d be delighted to visit with some of Earth’s neighbors for a spell, but…I don’t mean to offend you, honest I don’t. But it seems like your hospitality would be a little…lacking.” Again, Maybelle was many things, but an idiot was not one of them. “Tell you what. Why don’t you and I have a set down right here in my place? You can ask me whatever you want.” The implication being that her guests would remain hostages, but she couldn’t have everything. “I’ll even treat you and all your friends to a free meal. I’m sure you’re awful tired of ration bars and nutrient pudding. Be nice to have a change, don’t you think?”

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