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Danny was as surprised as everyone else when Hue opened the door. The first thing he noticed was the apron she had on. The second thing he saw was the large meat cleaver she was holding. Was that blood on it? The apron appeared to have some drips on it, too."

"Oh God, we are witnesses to a murder," Danny said. "Or at least the dismembering of a body! No wait, we've not seen anything yet. Disregard that! We didn't see anything at all... or hear anything. None of us know anything. At least, not me! No one else saw anything suspicious either, did they?"

Danny quickly glanced between Aaron, Matt, Meg and then back to Hue.

OOC: I forgot Danny briefly met Aaron. I was thinking this was his first time encountering him. I edited my previous post slightly to fix it.
Hue Nguyen (played by Semegrex) Topic Starter

Hue looked stunned for a brief moment, looked down to her tool, and hid it quickly behind her back. She started to look kinda embarassed.

"No no no, dont get me wrong, I was just so deep in my cooking. This..this... It must look really creepy, but I just forgot to discard it on the way to the door. You see.. im making traditional dish called "Chicken ginger". It is a lot of work, and I need strong tool to do it.. you wanna see?"

Hue tried to smile, but she clearly was in bit of distress. She left the door open, walked back to kitchen, wrapped a tissue around the meat cleaver and quickly stuffed it into her fridge. She then came back halfaway to the door with her both hands now empty.

"Please come inside, and see." Hue said, and clearly displayed her two empty hands.
Meg was caught off guard when Hue opened the door with a large bloody meat cleaver in hand and a slightly dirty apron. Had they walked in on a murder in progress? Danny beat her to it, clearly making a joke. Before Hue explained what was going on, Meg had already pieced it together. She was chopping something up and busy cooking.

It was surprising how much noise it made, though. Hue quickly put the cleaver away and came back to the door empty-handed. She invited the group in. Meg filed in behind the 3 guys and closed the door. She was curious to see what Hue was working on given the amount of noise all the chopping had made.
Hue Nguyen (played by Semegrex) Topic Starter

Once they arrived to kitchenette, there was large wooden cutting board next to stoven. On the cutting board was about a half of a chicken as a chunk. Next to the cutting board were two plates, one bigger and one smaller. The bigger plate had chunks of chicken, chopped through the bone. Chicken looked like ordinary, so it wasnt unusually bloody or such. Red drops on Hue's apron were more likely from the bone marrow than just blood splashes. Each piece was small enough, so that they would fit into the mouth. Cuts were rather clean, but there were some pieces that had sharp edges and partially crushed structure. There were also some small bone fragments around the kitchen. On the smaller plate was long and thin sticks of raw ginger.

Cutting board had taken really serious beating. Along with the deep cuts and holes, there were small pieces of bone fragments from the chicken. It appeared that as Hue had been chopping the chicken in pieces, the cleaver had also cut of some pieces of wood from the cutting board. She may have looked small and gentle, but since she was capable of doing such damage to piece of wood, she clearly had quite a physical strenght as well. No wonder her cooking made such a loud noise.

”Im about halfway through the process here. Once im done with the chopping, I will make caramel sauce. This is kinda big portion, but I prefer to make bigger dish to eat for a while. This is not the most guest friendly dish, since you have to watch out for sharp bone fragments. Some of my friends don’t dare to eat this because of it, even tough this is very tasty. Soo.. I can let you try once im done.” Hue explained the conditions as everyone was looking around her kitchenette.
Danny surveyed the kitchen. "Well, I know who I'm calling if I ever need a body dismembered," He remarked. "You sure know how to go about it."

"I don't know," Meg protested. "That was pretty noisy. I think the whole complex heard it. She's definitely good at cutting things up. Cutting things up subtly, not so much!"

"Well, dirty deeds don't come dirty cheap ya know," Danny replied. "So, sorry we interrupted your chicken dismemberment. How much more do you have to do?"

”Im about halfway through the process here. Once im done with the chopping, I will make caramel sauce. This is kinda big portion, but I prefer to make bigger dish to eat for a while. This is not the most guest friendly dish, since you have to watch out for sharp bone fragments. Some of my friends don’t dare to eat this because of it, even tough this is very tasty. Soo.. I can let you try once im done.” Hue explained the conditions as everyone was looking around her kitchenette.

"I"m all for free samples," Danny volunteered eagerly.

"I kind of figured you would be," Meg said, rolling her eyes.

"Hey, I'm all about free food, even if it's a taste. I'm with Hue. Ordering too much, for a single meal is a great plan" Danny agreed. "Pizza is a good example. I can usually make two, maybe 3 meals out of it if I get breadsticks and an extra large. Anytime I can get a large portion of something that reheats well, that saves me from having to order more food immediately. Remember kids, microwaves are your friend!"
Hue Nguyen (played by Semegrex) Topic Starter

"I can give it a try too, don't worry about the fragments" Matt said enthusiastically.

"Something new I surely havent tried. Keep it coming. Im in too." Aaron commented, marvelling the scenery. "Your cutting board seems a bit beaten up, you want me to make you a new one?"
"Umm.. no thank you. I go to work, so that I can take care of my own property, but thank you from the offer." Hue replied with a bit of surprise in her tone.

Hue resumed to her process, giving the first row seats to the group on how to 'punish a chicken'.
"This is not among the easyest dishes in our cusine. I don't do this very often, and I don't plan to make this as a habit. Still, most of vietnamese dishes follow somewhat the same logic: stand in the kitchen for 10 hours and gone i
60 seconds. Also, since I work in restaurant, I also appreciate that I dont have to cook every time. If me or my friends ever come to visit your places, just promise me that you dont serve leftovers. Make something new. Fast food pizza is bareable. Unopened, straight from the shop, you get the picture. Even frozen french loaf baked in oven would be enough. Just make sure you wont bring chicken tenders in tupperware box to the table."

"In Vietnamese community.." (Hue placed largest piece she could find into the cutting position, and slammed it in half with particularily stong blow.) "..we only eat our own leftovers.." (second piece got the samekind of treatment.) "..among our own family"

Aaron turned towards Matt. "#subtlemessages". He whispered. Matt nodded, with shivers. Clearly, Hue did not like leftovers.

"This can look a bit intimidating, but hey, its food. You gotta do what you gotta do. This is my business as usual. What about you all? What kind of activities do you normally do? I do so much cooking I would like to try some new things, that are not related to eating or cooking" Hue said with innocent smile, and chopped last chicken piece in half with a big bang.
Meg was surprised to hear Hue's comments about not being willing to eat other people's leftovers. She'd never heard that before, but she did explain that was how things were done in her culture and Meg respected that. If she was going to have anyone over for dinner, she wouldn't serve leftovers to guests anyway. It would either be ordered fresh or something she prepared herself.

When asked what kinds of activities the others did, Meg perked up. "Well, right now, I'm in a band... well, a duo. I sing and play guitar... well I sing backup. Wednesday is the lead vocalist. We're playing at the Cosmic Cafe off of Stevens St. Friday night," she offered. "No cover charge. We start at 8 PM. We'll play several sets and be there til about 11."

"Cosmic Cafe," Danny asked.

"Yeah, it's a popular coffee shop just off campus. As you probably guessed, it has a sort of alien or sci-fi theme to it. Lots of robot sculptures, the furniture looks futuristic and the walls are black with spaceships and planets painted with neon paint so they glow. The whole place is lit by black lights," Meg explained. "They don't offer a full menu, but you can get pastries and things like that with your tea or coffee. They have a small stage and host acoustic acts like us. Some nights they do poetry readings or stand-up comedy. It's a small place."
Hue Nguyen (played by Semegrex) Topic Starter

"Live music.. well that is something new. I honestly don't remember last time I heard live music. Mostly I just listen something from YouTube. Yea, I could come. The scenery also sounds fascinating. Definitely a whole new place for me. You said there are stand up comedians sometimes as well? For sure I have never seen stand up comedian on live show." Hue said, tapping her cheek.

Hue started making caramel sauce on kettle. She first heated the sugar, so that it turned brown, and added some liquid.
"My brother called me some while ago and said he bought tickets to "Paris By Night". That is a massive music performance spectacle among Vietnamese community. It looks like Oscar gala, but there are no awards given. Very flashy, talented performers and everything is very expensive. I did not ask how much the tickets were. My parents have some episodes on DVD. The show has been running longer than I have lived, so it is a big business with long history. Among my friends and family, that was pretty much the only music we ever heard. Oh, and soundtracks of Korean drama series. My boss loves that stuff."

"Do you listen to K-pop?" Aaron asked.
"Not really. Some series have music from K-pop stars, but usually they put the best songs to the series. Anything else from the same artist is usually just lame. I think people who are into k-pop are primarily just after sixpacks. I can't see the point. Anyone can do push ups, and look fit. I'm not sending my money to some random dude, who sings with autotune without a shirt." Hue said plainly. She checked the sauce, spiced the chicken and started to fry in on a massive wok pan.
"Yeah, not a Kpop fan either. I think that's kind of a chick thing," Danny replied. "No offense intended there or anything. I'd rather support local music, on the rare occasions I do go out that is. Going to see a big-name act in an arena is way too expensive. I've gone to a few major concerts in my life. Most of the bands I like are from the 80s and the bands are either long gone, dead, or in their 70s at this point. I'm not much into modern-day music. I think I was born in the wrong decade." Danny shrugged.

"Anyway, we should go to Meg's shin-dig just to support her if nothing else," Danny encouraged. "So, how is the food coming Hue? It smells good!"
Hue Nguyen (played by Semegrex) Topic Starter

Hue stared intensively her dish, while stirring it around.

"Looking good. It just needs a little bit more. "

She stopped for a short while to put the noodles boiling. They looked smaller than the ones in Pho earlyer.
”My dad always made a big issue on supporting local communities. I also feel better for buying from someone I know rather than bigger nationwide companies. Many of my relatives have small business somewhere. My uncle actually runs a small shop in the town. He sells food and kitchenware.”
Matt noticed the size of the noodle, as he looked over the kettle.
"What are these? They look different." He said, peeking to the kettle.
"That is because they are different. Pho and chicken ginger use different types of noodles. There are many noodle variants, and they are often purposed for a single dish. You could basically use them in other dishes as well, but everyone who know the original dish will look at you like 'what's wrong with you, did you ran out of noodles?' You got Bán Phở previously and this is Bún Tươi. In our cusine we use like 10-20 noodle types more or less on a daily basis. I heard italians have over 200 pasta types, so I don’t think that our noodles are overly complicated in comparison.”
Meg nodded in response to Hue explaining that her family were also big on supporting local business.

"Sure," Meg replied. "But do realize that not all big brand name stores are corporate owned. There are a lot of smaller mom-and-pop stores that are basically their own brand, like Cosmic Cafe. However, there are plenty of local owners who own a franchise, like a McDonald's. Sure, it's a big name brand, but it has local ownership. There is a lot of benefits to owning a name-brand store as a franchise and going under a trusted brand name as opposed to say Meg's hamburgers."

Matt was studying the noodles and asking about the differences.

"Noodles are noodles to me," Danny commented as Hue explained the different types of pasta.

"I agree with Danny," Meg said. "I'm not really up on the difference, but I'll trust the experts on that."
Hue Nguyen (played by Semegrex) Topic Starter

”Oh, yea.. indeed”. Hue said while trying to smile.
She had a flashback from the school. Franchising was the key word. Of course she should have known that. She did recall teacher talking about it, and it was supposed to be common knowledge, but.. she just made herself look silly. She was supposed to be business professional.. or at least to become such. At this point Hue figured that perhaps she was little bit too much inside her own community box and ignoring the surroundings. Or perhaps she was just working too much. At any rate, she decided to keep the poker face, smile, and keep the show going.

By that time she had finished with the noodles, so she took them to cool down and finished with the main course. She tasted the sauce, and picked up dishes. She felt that she really needed something new to her life.

"Ok, ready”

Hue started loading portions for everyone. Aaron was the nearest, so he got the first portion.

Chicken ginger was soup like thin sauce, that was poured over noodles. It was strong and salty, but not particularily sweet. Ginger gave some spicy flavour, but it was not as strong as chili.
"Oh yeah, this is pretty good," Danny replied when it was his turn and he tried the dish.

"Speaking of franchises, you should start one right above me," Meg teased. "Not that I'm not okay going to the restaurant to see you."

The rest of the evening was spent making idle chitchat and enjoying Hue's dish.
Cosmic Cafe
Friday Night, around 7 PM

The Cosmic Cafe is a local mom & pop-type coffee shop just off of campus. It's a popular hangout for the college crowd and even some high school kids. Since they don't serve any alcohol, there is no age limit. The small cafe holds about 80 people and has an outdoor patio, an indoor lounge area, and an inside bar-style area where people can sit around. Inside there are shelves with books and magazines and another shelf on the opposite wall with classic board games.

The venue is not a full-service restaurant and does not serve complete meals, so items like pizza and burgers are not available. It does however serve snack items that pair well with coffees and teas, particularly pastries. Although coffee and tea are the main beverages, which are home-brewed and not commercial brands, they do serve Pepsi brand sodas.

The cafe's theme is science fiction. A metal robot sculpture stands outside the door. Similar characters are found in various corners inside and on the patio which is fenced in by a 4-foot metal railing. The figures are stationary and do not move. The inside walls, including the restrooms, are painted black. Spaceships, aliens, planets, and stars are painted on the walls and ceiling with glow-in-the-dark paint. The entire interior is dimly lit with blacklights, causing all of the paint to glow as well as neon and lighter colors on people's clothing. The whole place has an odd purple glow.

The venue has 2 small stages for comedy, poetry readings, and acoustic music. There is no room for a full-sized live drum set and most electric instruments are out of place, although sometimes music acts might use an electric synthesizer or electric bass guitar. The stages are comfortable for 2 or 3 performers. You could probably squeeze up to five musicians on the platform, which is only about a foot off the ground, but it would be a tight fit. One stage is inside and the other is on the back patio. Pre-recorded music is playing over the sound system currently and is at a low, comfortable volume for people to easily talk over.

A Week From Wednesday, the duo that Meg is half of is performing tonight and the only act for the evening. They'll be using the outdoor stage since the weather is pleasant. The band starts at 8 PM, but Meg encouraged her friends to come around 7 or 7:30. Danny rode with Meg and is serving as her roadie. As people arrive, there are two stools on stage along with 2 boom-arm mic stands. A pair of speakers are on either side of the stage along with 2 monitors face the performers. Meg and Wednesday's acoustic guitars are sitting on stands.

Meg and Wednesday are wandering around the porch area talking to different people. There is a wooden deck towards the part of the patio facing the street with furniture. The area between the deck and the stage is open. Anyone that wants to be up close to the band has to stand. Danny is off on his own in the corner and looks a bit out of place. He's staring at his phone screen and scrolling through social media while sipping on a beverage- it appears to be water.
Matthew Smith (played by Semegrex) Topic Starter

Matt and Aaron wanded to the scene. They had left their bikes nearby and locked then to one street lamp. They both seemed a bit lost, yet they admired the looks of the place.

”So, Meg is supposed to be here somewhere?” Aaron asked while looking aroud. Around this time they spotted Danny.
”Yup. Anyone alse we know? Matt asked shortly.
”There is Danny” Aaron said quickly, and they both started to walk towards him.

A dreadful shriek suddenly came out from Matt's pocket. It was the same ”monster rooster” Aaron had heard before. It was truely a hidious sound. Matt pulled his phone out. By this time, more or less everyone was staring at him.

”Have you concidered to change that ringtone?” Aaron asked.
”But this thing is effective. I never miss a call, no matter how loud the surroundings are.” Matt shrugged.
Screen indicated that Hue was calling.

”Hi Hue, are you far? Ok…no, you are not late.. just take your time. See ya”

Matt closed the call and looked towards Aaron. ”She is nearby already. ” He said. Around this time they stopped in froth of Danny.

”Hi Danny. What’s up?” Matt asked
”Hi Danny. What’s up?” Matt asked

Despite the obnoxious shrieking ring, Danny had been caught up in his own little world and was unaware of Matt and Aaron until he was addressed.

"Oh hey," Danny said looking up from his phone. He took a sip of his water. "I ordered some things on Amazon and it says they are out for delivery. I was just checking in on it. It looks like they are out for delivery so they should be on the porch when I get in later. Uh, Meg is wandering around here somewhere. They start playing at 8 PM. I helped carry her stuff tonight. I'm just hanging out until then."

He looked around and noticed Hue wasn't with them. "Is Hue coming," He asked. Meg had been hopeful that the whole group would show up to support her this evening. Across the patio, he saw Wednesday, the other half of the duo talking to some guys. Meg appeared and Wednesday looked up and said several things to her. He couldn't hear what they were saying over the recorded music currently playing over the speakers, but it appeared Wednesday was a bit annoyed from her body language. She was pointing at the stage. Meg seemed to nod apologetically and hurry towards where they guitars were sitting in their stands.
Matthew Smith (played by Semegrex) Topic Starter

"Hue called a short while ago and told she just found a parking place. She is nearby already. We will go find something to drink while waiting" Matt said briefly.

The duo headed for the counter, that had sign of selling something. They noticed Meg running with her preparations, and waved a quick greeting to her. At the counter, Matt chose water just like Danny and Aaron picked a tea. After that they rejoined with Danny.
Hue Nguyen (played by Semegrex) Topic Starter

Hue walked in, with her head spinning like an owl. She was used to large crowds, but in strange place she was definitely a bit unsure. She was constructing in her head the layout of the cafe. She memorized doors, windows, exit routes and fire extinguishers. She had read about so many incidents of mass shootings, fires and other tragedies, so she tried to optimize her survival through some preparations. After her safety routine was complete, she seeked for familiar faces. She saw Meg preparing the instruments, but figured that she was propably too busy to have a chat right now. After that she saw rest of the group sitting with their drinks. Hue headed to the counter to get some tea and snack. Once she found what she wanted, she walked to the table to join the others.

"Hello, how are you all doing?" She asked, smiling with a happy face.
Matthew Smith (played by Semegrex) Topic Starter

"Hi, welcome along. You came with a car?" Matt asked.
"Yes. I usually have long distances to travel in the town, so car is a must. Its a tiny four-seat Kia. Nothing extra, but it gets the job done." Hue said.

Hue's general looks was about as natural as in the restaurant. Matt noticed that either Hue had very little or no makeup at all. Also her clothed were rather ordinary. Matt was bit surprised, since usually all ladies he had spent time with tended to put on somewhat more "bling" when they went out.

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