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Story 3: Rant

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[5 word challenge: welding, eggplant, kittens, neurosis, springboard]

Maya Baliencheynne started her career as third-under-assistant-sous-chef to the great Rudyard Kipling.

Giving children the names of famous authors and actors has been a tradition on Io for far too long. Rudyard was one of the famous, if not the most famous, chef's from the Galilean moons. He had even been selected to lead the kitchens during the Ousoon conference, the one that led to the Ousoon peace treaty thirty years ago. Rumour has it that the Ousoon delegation offered him a blank cheque if he would only return to their homeworld and open a culinary school. Rudyard declined, stating that he was an Up-Weller and that was where he preferred to be. Regardless of the refusal, if his ego had been over-sized before the offer, it was positively galactic after the offer.

After the peace treaty conference, Rudyard became obsessed with perfecting the art of Up-Well cuisine. Lasting for years, he eventually realized his neurosis had taken over every waking moment. It was threatening to undo the life and reputation he had built for himself. He had lost touch with friends, family, and colleagues. He had resigned his position at Trump Towers Ganymede. He stopped appearing publicly, including the ever popular and widely syndicated Frauline Fruschtetter's Cooking the Moons. He had, however, developed a whole new style of cuisine that was distinctly Up-Well. Some would say, distinctly Jovian. It was the desire to learn this new cuisine style that brought Maya to his kitchen. By this time, Rudyard Kipling had come back to the land of reality, putting his obsessive behaviour behind him. He accepted the position as Chef onboard the ISS Stephen Hawking in an effort to re-integrate himself into commerce, kitchens, and life. He also wanted to foist his new style of fare on as many Down-Well travellers as he could. The new position was the perfect springboard for the interplanetary introduction of his new style of cuisine.

Maya was overjoyed when Rudyard, personally, welcomed her on board. He then stripped her down with a tongue lashing about under-assistant-sous-chef-incompetence. He informed her she would be washing pots and pans, with her primary goal of being elevated to a position that allowed her the privilege of taking out the garbage. If she did this well for a very long time, she may, I reiterate, may be allowed to slice a loaf of bread, someday. Maya had been prepared for the tongue lashing that all Kipling-Kitchen noobs were subjected to. She just hadn't been prepared for the spittle flying in her face as his eggplant-purple face screamed at her.

I don't want it to seem that the unwarranted dressing down was welcomed. It wasn't. Just because she knew it was coming doesn't mean she enjoyed it. This was where she had chosen to be, so she made the effort to put a tight rein on her emotions. She didn't allow her Europan instincts to take hold of her, to rip him limb from limb and then feed himself to himself. The old wives tales of the Europan mafia doing such things were, well, slightly exaggerated. Slightly. That her father was the don of the Fasciet syndicate was something no one on board knew. Had they known, her welcome would have been a bit more red-carpet.

Maya's tall, slender, Up-Well body, fit right in with the rest of the Up-Well kitchen staff. Luckily for all of them, the ISS Stephen Hawking had been built to accommodate the Up-Well physiques of the crew. The Down-Well crew members got used to the eight-foot high doors quickly. If they had never been Up-Well before, it took them time to get used to looking up at the Jovian born humans, not one of the Jovians under seven foot, two inches.

It wasn't only Maya's body that fit right in, it was her personality as well. After spending so long away from Europa, at the culinary school on Ganymede, she finally found some truly kindred spirits. She didn't know that her father had arranged the hiring of most of the galley staff, all on his secret payroll. She also didn't know that he had ... ahem ... arranged her job offer on the ISS Stephen Hawking. Apparently, welding the Stellar Cruise Line's CEO's wife in a metal box, then threatening to Sol-dump the box, worked wonders at adjusting the companies hiring protocols.

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