Chapter 8:

The Celestial Barbecue ( 1/2 )

Chaos' Game

A pair of eyes glanced through an ajar manhole cover. Ensuring that nobody was in sight, soon the cover got removed. Sneaking out of sewers in a gloomy back street, seven persons appeared, one after another.

“Still, it's a pity. I was barely beginning to have fun.” a voice complained.

“Don't be like that Ling, you'll have plenty of other opportunities.”

     Taking a few steps out of the darkened street, Woodle took a look behind him. The entire Players's gang was reunited after their successful introduction to Asperian people.

“Let's worthily celebrate our first come on stage!” the leader added.


     Reisig didn't skip to reply with great enthusiasm, raising up his fist while their boss led them to a building with a huge scarlet double door. Haru glanced at the oldster with a slight gentle smile.

“You will end up putting them out of business! Last time they ran out of dishes.”

“You…!!!! That was just an unfortunate turn of events… The eatery was crowded…” he argued turning his head away, a hand scratching the back of his neck.

     Seeing him, Haru couldn't help but laugh.

     After getting beyond the entrance, the hallway conducted them to stairs. As soon as the Players stepped on it, the mechanism fluidly rolled off and the steps automatically lifted, reaching upper and upper till the latest level.

     There, another door. This time it was of a pure white, decorated with crossed golden skewers. Above these appetizing engraves, a thick night blue pennon was filled with golden letters and formed the name of the restaurant. The Celestial Barbecue.

     As they passed through the doors, a waft refreshed them. Heady scents of grilled meat and Teriyaki sauce enticed the Players straight to a large table on the roofs. Upon their heads, a few stars that the city lights couldn't drive away glistened proudly.

“As requested, the restaurant was wholly reserved for your party tonight!”

     A middle-aged man with shaggy beard had joined the gang to welcome them with a hearty grin unveiling one or two missing teeth.

“Very well, we thank you for that Gustave!” Woodle replied.

“Thanks dude!” Reisig didn't delay to add, thumbs up.

     Like most of the people at this hour, the owner knew what happened earlier on Mobelius's Square. He knew who was involved in this act of sabotage. However, did he mind? No, of course. Gustave Ruggle daily dealt with riffraff at their very worst. It was his business in this lawless neighbourhood of Asperia.

“No problem, don't restrain you to eat till bursting your belly!! As usual for the beverages?”

“Yes, please!” they all answered, except a single soul.

“First time I see you in person, miss. What would please you?”

     Approaching Marnie with curiosity, he observed her with the same grin. The 7th member of the Players. Some rumours already spread about her, wasn't she that innocent she looked like?

“…A strawberry milkshake? Can I ask for that?”

     Her sweetie face stared at the owner's, with her cutest smile.

“Oww, sure you can my dear!”

     Without losing any more time, Gustave Ruggle went off. One after another, the Players soon stood up to go collect various plates among salvers of raw pork, beef, even cuttlefish and many other varieties together with trays of vegetables, mushrooms and sauces. They were presented along stands bordering the space where were distributed customers' tables.

     Back to their own, everyone began to put on their skewers pieces of multiple ingredients. Koff slid on his first wooden stick a kikurage, a piece of pork, a piece of pork belly, another kikurage…

“I still don't get a thing… We didn't we tell the citizens of what Merlish is fiddling with things behind their back?

     Woodle laid his beef-and-cheese filled skewer on the middle of the table, a consequent heating grill bordered by a purple luminescent led strip.

“Should we?”

“Why not? It would have unsettled them and the mayor would have lost support she benefited from.”

“Are you sure of that? Things aren't that easy. It has been nine years since she's ruling. People rely on her, even adore her due to her saint image and she always acted to enhance life of righteous citizens. But… In nine years, with all the experiments she led, do you really think they noticed nothing?”

     While Koff meditated upon these words, Marnie has been preparing herself a skewer of baby squids.

“You mean…”

“They granted her with their silence. By unveiling her mischiefs today we would have lost an advantage. Instead of this, we'll let them hope, think that she can save them and then dive them into despair and delusion.” the leader explained collecting his skewer. “Afterwards, Asperian will be ready to accuse her at first occasion.”

“Ooh. Far more elaborated. That's our leader.”

“I look forward to seeing her fall from the top of the reputation she has forged herself.” added Mekko banging a fist on the table. “To make out of me a guinea pig… I will never forgive her.”

     At this moment the owner came back bringing their beverages to the gang. He got around the table and placed the glasses near their recipients.

“And a strawberry milkshake for the Miss! Have a hell of a time.”

“Thank you!”

     Then he smiled to them through his shaggy beard and got back to his bar counter.

     Mekko took a sip of her lager before resuming her complain.

“If I hadn't the chance to encounter you after escaping that insane laboratory, they could have caught me back in no the time…”

“Lucky we found you. I remember at this time I already heard the rumour that Merlish had been investing in Orwell Labs to sustain experiences on humans. But it was hard to find survivors and get more data about it…” Woodle commented, remembering a year and a half back in time.

The woman with short brown hair opened her eyes wide.

“Even remembering that these so-called doctors put on my head all these sensors and electrodes… If not that sudden breakdown, I couldn't escape… Uhhh…”

     She seemed utterly disgusted thinking of what would had happened to her precious grey cells.

     That day, the police car supposed to transport her to jail was diverted, delivering Mekko to the good care of Orwell Labs. But her case wasn't an exception. An increasing number of criminals were proposed – in private for sure – contributing to science in exchange of a remission. They signed a confidentiality contract and were driven to the laboratory instead of prison…

     Fortunately for her, Mekko had witnessed a young man discretely driven out of the experimenting room in a wheeling chair, drooling and staring into space… Doubts invaded her mind whilst entering the room.

“Free your mind for now and...” Reisig interrupted her thoughts as he avidly bit two pieces of rare beef, chewing it with delightment. “...and enjoy the meal!”

“Still, we don't know why she's looking for by investing in experiences on human brains…” Woodle reflected.

“You're right Reisig! Enough unpleasant memories for tonight. This was a great introduction today, may the continuation change for ever this city. Enjoy your meal!”

Haru Yumera