2019-01-19 - TIMELINE 2: Vengeance! Let's Make A Better Cat Cafe!

From Battle Fantasia MUSH
Jump to: navigation, search
Title: TIMELINE 2: Vengeance! Let's Make A Better Cat Cafe!

Mikoto and Mai have a bad cat cafe experience, and realise that between them, they have the power to make something much more amazing.


Mikoto Minagi, Mai Tokiha


Yamanote High City - Linden Baum Cafe

OOC - IC Date:

2019-01-19 - 2014-04-17

.***************************** Yamanote High City *****************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Linden Baum Diner +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
 Bright and airy, this establishment serves delicious Western food at
 reasonable prices, and for that entertains an enormous student contingent
 alongside families with young children and the occasional informal business
 lunch. This combination makes for a frenetic waitstaff under enormous
 pressure, but their plum, pink and white uniforms (vests, bow ties and black
 slacks for the boys, puffy white sleeves and vaguely french maid yet not
 unclassy ruffled aprons for the girls) are an unspoken draw to customers as
 well. They can be seen at all hours, frantically ferrying parfait, pancakes,
 salads and steaks across the squeaky clean (and slipper when wet) hardwood
 floors, from the invisible-but-for-occasional-plumes-of-steam kitchen to the
 bouncy magenta leather booths.

 A single-story building made of brick but mostly windows, Linden Baum
 proudly proclaims its name in English above the door, alongside its
 signature linden tree. Inside, tiny cream crowns are etched into the beige
 wallpaper, with more abstract but vaguely gothic etchings done in the glass
 that separates dining areas. Large portraits of various delectable items
 (with Japanese translation and price) adorn the walls, while each
 ivory-painted wooden table sports tableware rolled in bright white napkins
 and fold-out menus done in the restaurant's signature magenta.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVU-Il8clN0 Toby Fox - Can You Really Call This A Hotel, I Didn't Receive A Mint On My Pillow Or Anything

It's been over half a year since the new batch of autumnal transfer students flocked to Tokyo. The boat ride in was eventful -- a pitched battle saw several floors of the cruise liner demolished by a strange and vicious girl, attacked by a mysterious girl who seemed to have a single-minded interest in keeping them away from Ohtori.

These girls turned out to be MIKOTO MINAGI and NATSUKI KUGA, respectively, and later encounters revealed them to be: an adorable and remarkably feline girl who just happened to also have a huge destructive sword, and a stubborn loner who worried way too much about her conspiracy theories. Thanks to the tireless work of one MAI TOKIHA, who got involved entirely by unlucky chance, they've gone from being ready to tear into each other's throats to being good friends.

Mikoto, in particular, has been utterly inseperable from Mai ever since Mai gave her The Best Ramen In The World, for better or for worse. Certainly, she's spent a lot of time convincing Mai to do things other than work - or trying to, at any rate. One such success story, in the past, led them to a cat cafe in Akihabara Electric Town, home of a thousand themed cafes.

"These cats aren't happy," Mikoto complained. "Food's bad, too."

The trip itself was, of course, a disaster. Mikoto couldn't stop pointing out how the cats had nowhere to escape and be cats without being bothered. Of course, it wasn't Mikoto who first gave the owner a piece of their minds. Mai's irritation ended up encouraging Mikoto's own complaints, and one thing led to another, and long story short they ended up banned for life.

Mysteriously, Chie Harada ended up running a piece in the school newspaper about the worst cafes in Akihabara not long afterwards, and mysteriously that particular one ended on the list.

But in its wake came the most SHOCKING REVELATION OF ALL...

"We could do it better!"


The afternoon sees many students flocking to Linden Baum, with its delicious cakes and weird twisty bread things. And, for once, Mikoto isn't going there to harass Mai while she's on-duty!

Employee discounts have got to be good for something, after all.

Instead Mikoto drags Mai in, clad in school uniforms instead of a waitress's garb. (Mikoto, herself, has just started wearing high-school orange; the new year has seen her advancing past middle school, almost as soon as she entered.) She snags a booth with the complete confidence of someone who has come here often, waving to the waitresses she knows.

Sniff, sniff, sniff. "Mai!" She chirps, happily. "They just baked new stu- stu-ru- apple cakes!!" Mikoto has never been able to master pronouncing 'strudel.'

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It's been an eventful few months for Mai Tokiha. Transferring to Ohtori has brought new challenges, new perspectives, new companions. Natsuki and Mikoto have certainly been...interesting people to know, if nothing else.

The less said about that one ski race at Hokkaido, the better.

Mikoto has, admittedly, been a great force for getting Mai to take the occasional afternoon off, instead of throwing everything into part-time jobs or homework or other responsibilities. A few of those have gone wrong, but the feline friend is hardly to blame for one or two youma attacks interrupting a fun afternoon out. The trip to the cat cafe was spared that kind of thing, after all.

"Frankly an Orphan attacking the cafe would have been an improvement." Most of the trips have gone well, but that one...didn't. If pressed, Mai would have no hope of explaining why Mikoto's cat-related complaint warranted Mai channelling the Soccer Mom of the Apocalypse, but turning that occasional work-related nightmare around was kind of...

...something she'll never name.

Still, it wasn't entirely a loss. Mikoto had an idea.

"I've got to admit, Mikoto, something feels fundamentally wrong about coming here on a day off." Mai gives all the waitresses a wave, because honestly at this point she really does know them all...and surreptitiously nudges the pulling Mikoto away from one girl's section, because Chiaki-chan has been taking the manager's directives to heart a wee bit too much this week.

"Still, at least I know what food here's a safe bet...did they, now?"

Mai sniffs the air, curious, but her nose isn't quite as keen as a cat's. She looks to Mikoto, curious but kind of encouraged, and then to the approaching waitress. "The strudels?"

"Fresh out of the oven. Would you like one?"

"Three, a plate of fries with that seasoned salt from the other day, and a large coffee." A moment, while she considers. "...you know where my mug is."

Once the orders are out of the way, Mai digs into a pocket for a notepad and pencil. She flips through, frowning at a few pages, and finally arrives at the day's notes. "...so if it helps, Mikoto, I'm pretty sure that cafe's days are numbered. Charging what they do for food of that quality...even if they weren't being horrible to the cats they wouldn't be able to last. Chie's article is just going to be another knife in the back."

She doesn't bare her teeth at the thought, but she does smirk.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Orphans do seem to be attracted to the HiME contingent, strangely enough. ... it's probably nothing.

"It's weird?" Mikoto asks, glancing back to Mai, as she vaguely protests being in Linden Baum out of uniform. It's not a question given with any particular judgement - Mikoto really doesn't know if it's not right to eat and work at the same place. "Don't worry!" She decides, a moment later, because even if it is weird it seems like one of those rules which the city could really use less of.

Mikoto cheerfully disregards a lot of customs like that.

Mai, on the other hand, can pronounce the apple cakes, and Mikoto nods with an affirmative noise. She brightens as Mai proceeds to order some, smiling to the waitress. She leans over as Mai produces notebook and pencil, peering at the notes.

Yup! They still make less than zero sense to her! Good work, team.

She frowns as Mai brings up that cafe (it doesn't deserve to be named), lips scrunching up in disapproval. "Good!" She insists, stubbornly; she doesn't quite fit in at Ohtori well enough to smile at its fate, but she doesn't bother pretending like she wants it to know anything but failure. "Cats need places to hide when there's too many people. Get stressed if they're out all the time. It's no good not to give cats choices."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mai bites her lip at Mikoto's evaluation, thinking a moment before nodding. Her pencil jots down notes in a shorthand - enough for her to refresh her memory later, if nothing else. "Somewhere they can hide if they want to...honestly, that kind of thing would have made it more interesting. A few big cushions does not an interior design make..."

Her pencil tap-tap-taps the page, and she sketches out a few numbers with this vague memory of irritation on her face. "So it was bad for the cats - and if the cats aren't having fun, then people aren't having fun. If the food had been good enough to distract from that, it might have been okay...but honestly, the coffee I had was burnt and you remember what that ramen was like." She wrinkles her nose at the thought. "They're only staying as afloat as they are by having high prices...hang on, we covered this in class today."

Mai flips through her notepad for a moment, finding a page she'd made some notes on - English characters reading 'LB' as prominent. "So there was this whole thing about a business needing, well, people to sell things to. Linden Baum here kind of has two groups - families and couples. Half the menu is kind of home-y meals that are just new enough to try every so often, so you get families that show up every month or two to try something. And then you've seen the parfaits and sundaes - really fancy desserts that are good for showing off on a date. The families are regulars, and there's always more flirty teenagers."

Says the teenager.

"Anyway, I think that cafe's kind of doomed - because the cats aren't happy, and the food's both bad and expensive. The cats will get people to visit at most once, and then never come back - so they only make money from people who haven't learned how horrible they are yet." The smirk returns, almost predatory as a massive mug of coffee mysteriously gets placed before her. "That's how Chie is ruining them - she's warning people that it's a terrible place. Does that make sense?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Boring," Mikoto summarises Mai's criticism on the cafe's floor plan, and her laconic assessment is its own indictment. "Bad," is her comment on the ramen, and it might seem like she's going to leave it there.

Oh, no.

"Can't mix beef with sweet sauce like that," Mikoto grumbles. "Works with pork but pork's different, maybe different kind of beef but not that kind, and it's cooked too much, it's cardboard, and vegetables made no sense! Bean sprouts, potatos? Going bad soon too, too limp. Too much salt. Don't they know there's other stuff to put on food than salt?" It was like accidentally inhaling in the ocean.

Mikoto Minagi has Opinions About Food, and normally she uses them for good, or at least to bolster Mai's ego when it comes to what she's cooking for dinner.

Chie has not yet been successful in convincing her to start a food column, but she hasn't stopped trying, either.

Mai helpfully goes on to explain some of her notes in plain Japanese, and Mikoto listens intently, nodding here and there. "Oh!" She chirps, by the end. "So if people know, they won't go there?"

She tilts her head, considering the implications. "But lots people know about Linden Baum," she says, "and whenever someone's talking about it they're saying they wanna go." Mikoto is secretly good at hearing Ohtori gossip, even if she disregards most of it.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

In spite of pending vengeance and bitterness over an eviction mid-rant, Mai can't help but laugh at Mikoto's very detailed review of the ramen. It's always a joy to see the Mysterious Wandering Warrior Girl get so passionate about something, and this certainly qualifies. Mikoto's particular brand of salt is much more enjoyable than whatever was being served at that cafe.

Someday, somewhere, that food column might shine.

Mikoto brings up the Ohtori gossip, and Mai taps the pencil eraser against her lips, contemplating her answer. "It's...honestly class isn't covering marketing until next month, but I'll do my best. It's more about what people are saying. Like you said, lots of people know about Linden Baum - but the people talking about it talk about the admittedly gorgeous parfaits, or about the steak dinner set - the things here that they might enjoy. It's not like most people gossip about the manager's approach to shift schedules." She sets the pencil down, takes a sip from her black brew, and considers how to follow up.

Abruptly, there's a call from the group of waitresses hanging out by what would be the hostess's stand on a busy day. "Or the days off! Narumi-chan got scheduled during one of her bookstore shifts again, Mai-chan!"

"I'll get to the impending coup after Mikoto and I figure out vengeance, Kasumi-chan!" Mai calls right back, before turning to Mikoto. "...so the average Ohtori student isn't actually working here, meaning they don't care about any of that. They just find the food good enough to come back for - that cafe is just using 'cute meowing cats' to lure people in and hoping they can get rich before everyone clues in."

The plate of strudels - three in total, one to be fought over in the impending future - arrive at the table, still steaming from the oven. The apples are aromatic, the sugar crumble practically glistening, and Mai eyes them - but elects to take up her pencil again first. "...so like you said, we could do better. So...let's turn it around. What kind of cafe might make the cats happy, Mikoto?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Well, it's a more appropriate appellation than 'Mysterious Golfer-chan'. The proponents of that noble sport have been trying to lure Mikoto away from the Kendo club for months, now, on the premise that someone who carries her clubs with her everywhere must be some sort of golfing ronin; unfortunately, Mikoto is dedicated to learning how to help other people handle a fight, for some reason.

Almost like she has a friend who's new to this or something.

Mai tries to explain frankly complicated concepts of marketing and worker's concerns versus those of the public, and to her credit Mikoto tries valiantly to follow along. She nods, with affirmative noises, and manages to understand... some of it.

One thing she does understand is strudels are delicious, and when they arrive she grasps one and munches on it, happily. It disappears in a mysteriously short time frame. She does, to her credit, remember to swallow before she starts talking. Mai's managed to get that lesson to stick, at least.

"Give cats a room for cats where people can't go," she says, "so if they're really stressed they don't gotta stick around. Make lots of perches so cats can get high up and look at what's going on, cats like being high up. Make sure cats can travel high, too, if they want." Mikoto's hung out on enough roofs to know. "Get boxes and cubby-holes so cats have places to sit which aren't in open. Put out catnip and cat toys so cats got stuff to do outside. And make sure there's warm spots, like in sun."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It's so mysterious, that Mikoto might feel protective of someone who feels protective of someone who feels protective...

Oh well, an endless chain like that won't break any time soon or anything.

In spite of not actually being scheduled today, part of Mai wants to join the waitresses in solidarity. Plot some kind of payback, or dream of a vengeance scheme. Something - but maybe it can't be today. She has another subject she's discussing, one which warrants some attention.

But strudels are delicious, and Mai nibbles at one while Mikoto gives her earnest opinion on cat happiness. That leaves one left on the plate as Mai jots down notes. "So...privacy, some odd ways in and out, let them get high up..." Mai trails off for a moment, eyes flickering to where her secretive, window-egress-abusing, roof-hopping roommate sits enjoying baked deliciousness.

She doesn't say it, but knows that she's definitely thinking of it. In the meantime, she enjoys a bit of black coffee, interspersed with the odd note. "...and warm spots. Okay. So...I think that if the cats are enjoying themselves, and those high-up things are visible, people would...probably like seeing the kitties. Assuming the food isn't terrible, at least."

Her pencil taps the page agin, thoughts from those Business Administration classes beginning to run through her head. "...it'd be hard to get a loan for getting all this started. There was a whole bit about 'unproven business models', and the main advice I heard from my classmates was 'just spend more money', which...doesn't help things."

Leaning back, Mai muses...and then an idea strikes. "It's spring, so we have a school festival coming up. I wonder if we could arrange for...some kind of stall. Try making some food and keeping a few happy cats, and see if that's enough to make for happy humans." She smirks, and jokes aloud, "Do you know any stray cats who'd be interested in that?

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Don't forget seeking out warm spots to nap. Like, say, Mai Tokiha.

Mikoto has learned a lot from her cat friends-!!

"If cats are happy," Mikoto points out, "they'll wanna be with people, too." It's perfectly logical; stressed-out people aren't very interested in socialising, either, but content people like to be friendly. This is surely a truism which holds just as well for beleagured waitstaff, but that's a problem for a different day.

But even though Mikoto is an expert in cats (for some mysterious reason), she's no expert in business. Mai, in her typical practicality, wonders how they're going to get the money to get this started, and Mikoto hums consideration as she tilts her head.

She opens her mouth and -- wait, no, she's not allowed to steal things, she can't just grab some Ohtori girl's wallet while she's busy bullying someone. And so Mikoto closes her mouth again, scrunching up her face as she thinks very hard.

Nope. She's out of ideas. Money's still relatively new to her.

Luckily, Mai is here to save the day. "Oh! Festival!" Mikoto brightens, immediately. She's not really used to school festivals, either, but if Mai says it's possible, it must be. "Yup!" She chirps, nodding eagerly. "There's Haruto, he's friendly, and Moriko, she can sleep anywhere, and Chiyoko loves attention, and..."

Mikoto just keeps listing off Ohtori-adjacent cats who might like the position. Every one of them has a name and a perfectly-understood personality.