Chapter 26:

Vol. 2, Ch. 1: We Shall Forge Stars in Our Kitchen!

The Integrity of the Super Club [Beta version]

It was a peculiar hum—monotonous, refined…obnoxious.Bookmark here

Where is that damn humming coming from…?Bookmark here

The thought occurred to Rover Chork as sunlight met his budding pine needle-colored eyes. As if by reflex, a deep yawn recharged his chest while his limbs stretched to prime themselves for the day.Bookmark here

*Huuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmm…………..*Bookmark here

A huge fly hit the boy’s cheek so hard it stung. Startled, he swatted the fly, but it was stuck to his face.Bookmark here

“What the?!” Half-panicked, he plucked the perpetrator off his cheek and growled at it. “A suction cup dart…”Bookmark here

The dart was decorated with an emblem he recognized as the Interschool AthletaCom logo. As Rover’s sleepiness faded, he caught a glimpse of a flying drone zip out his bedroom door.Bookmark here

His earlier suspicions were now confirmed: his little sister had been approved to bring home an autonomous drone from school. He hopped out of bed, trudged out of his room, and met his sister, Adele, in the hallway.Bookmark here

“Good morning, Grumpy-stank,” she said with a snicker, tousling her bedhead of shiny coal-sheened hair—hair identical to Rover’s, but longer. “Did my little rental pet give you sunrise kisses?”Bookmark here

Rover sighed, wanting to avoid sibling friction so early in the day. “You’d better make sure you pass your acrobat robotics class now, or your robot rental license will really cost you. Too many students are racking up debt demerits from it.”Bookmark here

“Meh, I’m acing that class.” Adele waved dismissively. “Oh yeah, Mom told me to remind you to pack your gym bag before school Mondee-day.”Bookmark here

“I know. Already have,” he replied with a thumbs-up. “The AthletaCom starts then.” He stretched and yawned. “Is anyone in the shower? I wanna get ready and get the groceries as soon as possible.”Bookmark here

“The shower’s clear for you. What time did Quinn say she’ll be here?”Bookmark here

“Ten,” Rover said, checking the grandfather clock in the hall. “Crap, I overslept! It’s after nine already.”Bookmark here

“No need to rush. It’s Sundun-day, we have all weekend to learn some power ramen recipes. Bookmark here

Rover tried to chuckle, but a groan escaped instead. “Right. We’re going to ‘learn the ways of power ramen conquest’ in two days.”Bookmark here

“I don’t know why we don’t go shopping tomorrow. All the best deals are on Nundinum-day.”Bookmark here

“Meh.” Rover shrugged. “My girlfriend does things her own way.”Bookmark here

He entered the bathroom and closed the door, and Adele muttered to herself, “And it’s gonna get her in trouble someday.”Bookmark here

The drone soared up the stairs and down the hall, its AthletaCom banner flapping behind it, flying past Adele as it unloaded more suction cup darts that stuck to the walls. Snickering, she gave chase and corralled it into her bedroom.Bookmark here

26!26@26#26$26%26^26&26*26(26)26_26+26Bookmark here

It was a beautiful day for the four Super Club members to disturb the peace near the entrance of the Yolo Foods Market. Shoppers were directing curt glances at the shining girl with soft mulberry eyes and hair like rose petal lemonade against a summer sunset. After all, her boisterous behavior was far too optimistic for people’s humdrum morning shopping expeditions.Bookmark here

“Mwa-ha-ha-haa!” Quinn Integrity cackled for no reason, echoing across the two-story parking lot while standing akimbo with her hands on her skirt.Bookmark here

“Hey, Quintegrity,” Rover grunted at the girl, “maybe you should stop the nefarious laughter and explain what we’re to do here…”Bookmark here

She calmed down, directing her gorgeous, cheery smile at Rover. “Sorry, I’m just a little excited. I love big shopping trips like this, especially with my boyfriend!” When she wrapped her arms around Rover, he caught a whiff of bakery-like scents coming from her hair as she lifted him off his feet. “We’re here right now because you only live once!”Bookmark here

“H-Hey! Put me down!”Bookmark here

Freed from her grasp, Rover noticed her shirt had slipped down a few centimetres. His reaction was akin to a stick of butter dropped in a searing hot pan—sweating, steaming, and losing his composure as his molecules surfed on his hormones. Adele snickered at her brother’s dumbfounded response.Bookmark here

However, Lumpy Freeb couldn’t let his best friend melt in front of the Yolo Foods Market, so he spoke up to get their task back on track.Bookmark here

“Quinn,” he said. “Let’s narrow down our recipe choice. You said you had a few picked out?”Bookmark here

“I do.” Quintegrity reached into her assault rifle-shaped purse and wielded a little notepad. “I jotted down the recipes that sounded most scrumptious. Come! To the coffee court where we’ll discuss our options!”Bookmark here

Every Yolo Foods Market had an ostentatious café serving maximum-quality coffee and other treats with hard-to-pronounce names (the prices spoke for themselves, though). Rover, Quintegrity, Lumpy, and Adele sat at a table to sip iced coffee concoctions and review the recipe repertoire.Bookmark here

Lumpy raised an eyebrow at the first recipe. “Gumbo ramen? Uh…so, you need to make a roux? And, what the heck is ‘andwilly’ sausage?”Bookmark here

“That sounds weird,” Rover muttered. “I don’t wanna have to babysit a roux, either.”Bookmark here

“Aye.” Quintegrity flipped the notepad page. “Next up: curried bear-tiger ramen with awesomesauce stock! The protein-packed bear-tiger cutlets will bestow the feral athleticism upon all who consume it, optimal for our classmates during the AthletaCom. Check out the garnishes, too: scallions, bamboo shoots, bamboo ladders, kimchee-giardiniera, squab egg, bonito curls, nori planks, and teeny-tiny tahini weenies carved into octopus shapes.”Bookmark here

“Sold!” Adele slammed both hands on the table at once, a dead-set expression on her face. “That one!”Bookmark here

“Hold on, Adele,” Rover told her. “We haven’t seen our other options, yet.” He peeked at the next page, seeing the words “pizza gravy ramen” in the title, and he swiftly flipped back. “Um, maybe we should go with this bear-tiger one…”Bookmark here

“Then it shall be so!” Quintegrity declared, warranting more callous glares from the surrounding people trying to enjoy their pompous pastries and coffee. “As of now, I hereby dub this fundraiser Operation Ramen Conquest. We’ll divide and conquer. Split up, pillage the market, and meet back at the entrance in an hour! And no worries, my Mythril credit card will save the day! I know Rover’s funds took a hard hit from that ticket he paid.”Bookmark here

“Yeah,” Rover muttered, his face turning sour as he remembered the ticket issued by Sergeant Major Zohar Bloodshank for breaching the Glove Alien Fight terms of service.Bookmark here

“They’re my funds, too,” Adele added, equally grumpy. “Whatever…let’s divide and conquer this store.”Bookmark here

And divide and conquer they did, fronted by the valiant swiping of the Mythril credit card to pay for it all.Bookmark here

26!26@26#26$26%26^26&26*26(26)26_26+26Bookmark here

Because of Quintegrity’s status as the Super Club president, the four members were free to use the facilities at Southbound Thugwood High School at any time. They set up in the Super Club penthouse kitchen on the fifth floor of the Clubhaus High-Rise building, ready to get cooking.Bookmark here

Lumpy peered out the huge penthouse windows at the shimmering field of lilygrass in the vast campus Courtmeadows. The other school buildings were visible from afar, but the absence of students gave the grounds a different feel.Bookmark here

“Feels weird being here on a weekend,” he said.Bookmark here

“Mold that weirdness into ambition,” Quintegrity told him with a gentle smile as she laid out the purchased ingredients on the kitchen’s immaculate countertops. A spark in her eye zapped everyone’s hairs to stand on end. “This is our time, our destiny…our ramen.”Bookmark here

“Hmm…” Adele read the recipe directions. “We gotta make the kombu dashi two days in advance, which is today…and cook the meat and stock one day in advance, which is tomorrow on Nundinum-day…and then actually prepare and serve it on the third day, which will be Mondee-day. Wow, this is gonna take all weekend.”Bookmark here

Nodding, Quintegrity said, “Of course! Power ramen is a gift from the gods, and like all omnipotent entities, they prefer drawing out their processes rather than snapping them into existence.” She saluted the club members and everything else under the sun, a cute smile masking her raging passion. “We shall honor the full pantheon of power ramen gods by following their procedures to the precise atomic activity taking place on our stovetops.”Bookmark here

Rover snorted. “You’re really exaggerating things, aren’t ya?”Bookmark here

“Nope!” She thrust a megaton-tipped finger at Rover, then gestured to the array of wacky appliances filling the kitchen. “I mean precise atomic activity, manipulating the entirety of the Periodic Mesa of Small Stuff! That’s why I have these interdimensional tools at our disposal. We’re doing more than cooking ramen here, ya honorable knaves. We shall forge stars in our kitchen! Tee-hee-hee!”Bookmark here

“Oh.” Adele reread the recipe. “That explains the hydrogen, arsenic, mercury, uranium, and radon on this list…”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry,” Quintegrity told her, waving her hand, “we’ll simmer that stuff out.”Bookmark here

Lumpy looked at the plastic shopping bag donning the biohazard symbol. “I’m surprised Yolo Foods Market had those things on hand.”Bookmark here

“Because,” the beaming girl said, “you only live once, Lumpy! To experience the full swath of flavor perceptible by the human palate, you must realize that the most exotic experiences often crouch behind poisonous fangs!” She held up a cordless drill with an eggbeater attachment on the end. “All righty then, it’s rocket time! We’ll definitely defeat whatever paltry ramen the Cryptozoology Club churns out. Rover, you’re in charge of prepping the deadly stuff!”Bookmark here

“Me? What for???”Bookmark here

“It’s your punishment as a cheater.” Nobody knew if she was joking.Bookmark here

With nary a comment, Rover got to work filling the test tubes with soy sauce, volatile venoms, mirin, and sake, making sure to follow the instructions to the exact atomic weight (which was easy with the machine Quintegrity called the atom dropper.)Bookmark here

I didn’t know ‘parts per gazillion’ was a real measurement, Rover thought as he input the commands on the atom dropper’s control panel. Here’s to hoping I don’t blow up the school or poison anyone…Bookmark here

For the rest of Sundun-day and all through Nundinum-day, the Super Club engineered (not “cooked,” per se) their curried bear-tiger power ramen. The swirling aromas permeated every nook and cranny of the penthouse, traversing throughout the Clubhaus High-Rise infrastructure and soaking the entire school’s campus.Bookmark here

When the faculty arrived before the crack of dawn on Mondee-day, they were the first to fall prey to the illustrious allure of the Super Club’s power ramen’s essence, having their noses tickled by savory godliness as soon as they exited their cars—they could sniff Quintegrity’s funky vibes, and it smelled perfect.Bookmark here

*******Bookmark here

<<<STATUS>>>Bookmark here

Rover… Lvl 999Bookmark here

All Money… {T}63,100Bookmark here

Allowance… {T}62,100Bookmark here

Food Slip… {T}1,000Bookmark here

<<<EXPENSE GOALS>>>Bookmark here

Anti-Grav Skateboard… {T}499,999Bookmark here

<<<CURRENT EQUIPMENT>>>Bookmark here

Weapon… ScribblyBookmark here

Armor… FASCAR ShirtBookmark here

Acc. 1… Candle BadgeBookmark here

Acc. 2… Heist HoovesBookmark here

<<<SPECIAL NUMBERS>>>Bookmark here

#1, #2, #5Bookmark here

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