Writer's comment : Disclaimer : First of all, let me say that I have no problem whatsoever with vegetarians or vegetarianism. Such are personal choices. On the other hand, I DO have a problem with :
A. People who try to force their on beliefs on others, especially on young children.
B. People who are absolutely humorless about their vegetarianism.
Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's continue on with the story! Oh, and there's some Jaheira bashing...
Hearty Steak 'n Beef
"Well," Valen smiled as she met Viconia in the halls of the University and headed to the teacher's lounge together, "you seem to be walking on air..."
"It's a special occasion," Viconia grinned like a shark.
"I gathered that," Valen chuckled. "So... what's the occasion?"
"Oh," Viconia smiled as they rounded about the corner, "it's personal..."
"TELL ME!" the vampire, who was known as one of the biggest gossips in town, squealed at the top of her lungs.
"I got the mail this morning," Viconia replied.
"What's so special about that? So did I!"
"Are you going to let me finish?" Viconia smirked.
"Go ahead, go ahead!" Valen smiled
"In the mail, was a letter from the bank... Saying that I paid off my entire mortgage," Viconia smiled, "my house is just that now... MY house! So Vierna and I are having a mortgage-burning dinner tonight. I'm cooking..."
"You? Cooking?" Valen smirked. "Better have the fire department standing by..."
"Haw, haw," Viconia smirked as they reached the door to the lounge.
"I bought this gigantic pot-roast to celebrate the fact that we don't have to spend so much money on mortgage-payments every month, and that we have plenty of money left for some more fun things now..." Viconia smiled blissfully.
Before they entered the lounge they heard strange combat noises and explosions coming from beyond the door. Sharing a look of confusion, the Drow and the vampire entered the room, only to find Vierna and Joneleth sitting on a bench watching the small TV Joneleth had brought with him to make the teacher's lounge's designation as their 'second home'. This was not a strange thing to do, since the lounge already contained their faithful coffee maker, their comfy set of chairs, a small kitchen and access to all three of their offices.
"So," Joneleth asked the girl sitting next to him, "who's that big green fellow again?"
"Oh, that's Piccolo, the Namek," Vierna replied.
"No, no, no, not the one in the cape," the lanky elf replied. "The one who sucks up people through his tail!"
"Oh, that's Cell!" Vierna giggled. "And he's not sucking them up, he's absorbing their power-levels..."
"Ah," Joneleth said and resumed watching again.
"Well, it seems Vierna has been winning souls for Dragonball Z," Valen said as a huge explosion could be seen on the screen.
"Vierna?" Viconia yelled out. "What are you doing here?"
The tiny Drow squirmed on the bench and turned around to face her mother. "Hi, momma!" Vierna giggled. "I came to get you! I want to be really sure you come see my game today!"
'Ah' Viconia chuckled. She recalled how Vierna had made her into her own private mascot. She always came to watch both Vierna's trainings and games, but, one day, Dean Odesseiron had called a last-minute budget-meeting and she could not attend. As a result, Vierna played a disastrous game, the normal star-player did not hit a single ball. The quality of Vierna's play had dropped so phenomonally, that coach Fentan had practically begged Viconia to attend all of the games, something Viconia definitely did not consider a chore. And considering Vierna's team : The Charging Chimps, were having a championship-game this day, Viconia's presence was more than required.
"Sure, kiddo," Viconia smiled. "Let me just check my messages in my office and then we'll be off..."
"Yay!" Vierna giggled and jumped off the bench.
"Good morning, monkeys," Dean Odesserion, wearing his usual red blazer, entered the lounge holding a clipboard. "I have here a list of the latest budget-cuts."
"Unless you're interested in trying to swallow your own clipboard," Valen threatened, "I recommend you forgetting about those budget-cuts and returning to your den of corruption otherwise known as your office. We all know you skim off the top!"
"Well, Joneleth, I see you are spending valuable work-time on watching tv," Edwin shook his head. "Have you not seen the latest research on mind-numbing media? (which was on TV, paradoxically)"
"Huh," Joneleth said, while still staring blankly at the Dragonball Z rerun.
"Figures," Edwin sighed. "Anyhow, has any of you seen the lovely Viconia? (I will get that date with her one day and then... Well, as soon as I have that brat of hers shipped off to that Swiss Boarding school we could see to making some brats of our own!)"
"Hi," Vierna said, suddenly standing in front of him. "Drow have good ears," she announced while giving Edwin a harsh glare.
"Oh, er, hello there, little girl! (Drat! The brat's here!)" Edwin muttered.
"You know, my momma says," Vierna grinned, "that if she meets a guy, and I don't like him, she'll stop dating him..."
"Oh?!" Edwin put on his best plastic smile. "How about your uncle Eddie taking you to the Zoo tomorrow! I'll buy you candy... and toys... and puppies (Apparently, the brat is the key to the heart of the mother! What a twist!). That'll make you like me, don't you?"
"Too late," Vierna smiled and turned tail.
"DRAT!" Edwin muttered. At that moment, Viconia stepped out of the office with her leather coat on, seemingly ready to be away.
"Ah, Viconia!" Edwin smiled. "I need you to do some overtime tonight. We will have to work closely together to finish the class-rosters for the next semester. Very closely indeed... (She will be mine! Oh, yes... She will be mine...)"
"I'll give you your answer in the form of an SAT-question," Viconia said as she gathered her daughter. "'Viconia' is to 'sexual harrassment suit' as 'Edwin' is to 'penniless'! See ya later, guys!" she smiled while she and Vierna walked out the door.
"DAMMIT!" Edwin exclaimed as Valen had sunk into a fit of roaring laughter and Joneleth was still staring at the tv, often shouting 'Go, Goku! Go!'.
Life is good, Viconia concluded. Her daughter had just hit a game-winning home-run which made the Charging Chimps the local Little League Champions, and she now slipped the key into the lock of the door which led into her OWN house. It didn't belong to anyone but to herself and to Vierna. No more mortgage-payments EVER! Perhaps she even had enough money now to hire a maid...
Beside her, Vierna was beaming with pride over her won game and ran inside. Viconia smiled. No doubt, Vierna had gotten very hungry for the workout. And this saturday, coach Fentan would celebrate their team's success in the most expensive pizza-restaurant in town.
Viconia removed her coat and headed for the kitchen. The deliciously huge roast was still turning slowly in the oven, just where she left it this morning. The sweet smell of the roasting meat made her mouth water. Behind her, at the kitchen table, Vierna had already taken her seat, and was anxiously tapping the wooden table with the butts of her knife and fork. Smiling, she took the already-prepared potato-and-stringbean mix from the fridge and put it in the microwave. Then, smiling again, she put on some oven-mitts, took the roast out of the oven and put it on a huge glass tray. Taking out some warm meatsauce, she poured it over the roast. 'Oh, yes, we'll do days with this roast'
"Food! Food! Food! Food! Food! Food! Food! Food! Food! Food! Food! Food!" Vierna chanted as Viconia put down the potatoes and vegetables, and then followed with the gigantic and delicious looking roast.
"Okay," Viconia smiled while sitting down herself. "Here's the pig. Let's dig in, shall we?"
But something was wrong. Vierna regarded the pig with wide eyes and licked her lips... but an obvious and deep internal struggle was etched on her tiny face. "I... I can't eat that, momma," she muttered.
"What?!" Viconia spoke. "Why not? Do you know how long I spent preparing that roast yesterday evening?"
"I... I'm sorry, momma," Vierna sniffed and ran from the table. "Please don't hate me," she cried and ran from the table, heading up the stairs and to her room, leaving a stunned Viconia behind.
Viconia softly knocked on the door to Vierna's room. Entering, she noticed Vierna was lying on her bed, her face crushed into her pillow. Gently, Viconia sat down next to the crying girl and gently ran her hand through her daughter's white hair. Immediately, Vierna jumped into Viconia's armed and pressed herself against her mother.
"I'm sorry, momma," she sniffed. "I know you worked hard on that roast, but..."
"But what?" Viconia asked gently.
"Our new teacher... she... she told us that eating anything that had a mother itself is wrong... That we don't have to eat meat, and that we will all be happier when we don't... And that we never should eat meat at ALL... She's even talked principal De'Arnise into taking all meat-products from the menu in the school cafeteria!" Vierna sniffed. "She tells us all those sad stories about chickens in little boxes and pigs in small cages and cows never seeing the sun..."
"Sounds like she's doing more harm than good..." Viconia muttered angrily. Anyone who made her daughter cry would pay for it dearly.
"Miss Jaheira is a substitute teacher," Vierna sniffed, "filling in for miss Liriel while she's recovering from that rafting-accident in the Rockies last week... Miss Jaheira says if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. And I don't wanna be a problem!"
"I see," Viconia said and handed Vierna a plate with only potatoes and stringbeans. "Here, eat something... You'll feel better..."
Vierna smiled and took the plate, only to shovel it in her mouth with verocity. In the meantime, Viconia gritted her teeth and decided she would have a little 'chat' with miss Jaheira tomorrow.
Luckily for Viconia, her roster listed Friday's as a class-free day, so she had plenty of time to prepare and, ahum, execute her meeting with this Jaheira. So, after Vierna had stepped on her BMX and rode to school, Viconia put the remains of the roast in some tupperware, took a shower and stepped in her Ford Fiesta to drive to Vierna's school as well.
Moments later, she was walking the halls of 'Murray'-high, glancing absent-mindedly at the many depictions of a chattering skull which seemed to have been drawn or sculptured all over the building. But skull-motifs were not why she had come here. Glancing through the windows of the doors leading into the class chambers, she continued her path until she came to Vierna's class : She noticed Vierna sitting at the window, glancing outside with a wistful look on her face. Around her, several other children were sitting : mostly humans and gnomes, three other Drow, five elves, the occasional dwarf, and several children of more exotic races. There was a lizardman boy who was also in The Charging Chimps with Vierna, a Yuan-ti girl, a Kenku boy and a Rakshasa girl, all listening intently to a teacher whom she could not make out, but all children were seemingly very afraid of.
"Hey," she heard call behind her. Turning around, she saw a young janitor wiping clean the hallways with a broom. "Do you have a hallpass, young lady?" he smiled.
"Have you ever tried to walk with a broomstick jammed up your ass?" Viconia retorted, not being in the mood for niceties.
Deciding not to argue with a Drow on the warpath, the janitor quickly pointed out Jaheira's office to her.
Jaheira's office was lined with all number of suspicious memorabilia. Against the wall hung a large poster of the hippie-sign of peace, flanked by a smaller poster of the Yin-Yang symbol. Snarling slightly, she regarded the open door to her office, which bore the sign 'Vegetarian Inside' as a parody of the famous Intel ad. 'Not only does she indoctrinate kids," Viconia muttered, "she also misuses the ad-campaign of one of my sister's companies..."
More things of a vegetarian nature were located in Jaheira's office. Several Greenpeace magazines lay scattered on her desk, right next to a horrible pasticy lump of white tofu... 'Probably a snack between ecologically sound meals' Viconia muttered in disgust as she decided to wait for miss Jaheira in her office.
Soon enough, the bell rang and class was dismissed for play on the schoolyard, and only moments later, miss Jaheira stepped inside her office. She was a dark-blonde half-elf, and had her hair tied in several tied braids laid over the top of her head. She wore at first glance, ecologically sound clothes, but... Viconia mused, it was not her appearence, but her manner, her body language, her movements that made her a dangerous and intimidating presence where ever she went.
"Yes?" the ecologically sound teacher muttered when she noticed Viconia. "Can I help you?"
"Yes," Viconia replied. "I am Vierna's mother, you vegetarian nazi!" she said, throwing all forced niceties out the window before they were ever used.
"I see," Jaheira frowned, "a sweet child and a good learner."
"And also an avid meat-eater. Until you came along two days ago!" Viconia snarled.
"Look, miss DeVir," Jaheira said, clearly not used to being talked back to, and certainly not about her vegetarianism.
"That's Dr. DeVir to the likes of you," Viconia said, deciding that using her doctorate title would give her even more of an advantage in this Battle of the Glares.
"Dr. DeVir," Jaheira all but snarled, "Vierna is a sweet child and deserves all the happiness in the world, does she not? So do all the other children!"
"You... actually told them that they will be happier when they no longer eat meat, didn't you?" Viconia muttered.
"Of course!" Jaheira said, taking one of the magazines from the stack. "This latest research," she said while flipping through the magazine, finding a graph and showing it to Viconia, "shows that the quality of life for vegetarians increases significantly due to ingestion of more fruit, vegetables and meat replacement products!"
"And this is in 'EcoBalance Magazine'?" Viconia smirked.
"You can see the title just fine," Jaheira sighed.
"Which is sponsored by the Sylvanus EcoFood Corp?" Viconia asked.
"Which, in turn, is the worlds leading manufacturer of fruit, vegetables and meat replacement products?" Viconia smirked.
"I am not following you..." Jaheira blinked.
"No... Of course not," Viconia chuckled. "But I am telling you to stop this terrible indoctrination!"
"Indoctrination?!" Jaheira was seething at the accusation. "There is no such thing! I merely give the children my view on the matter and they make up their own minds! And, let me tell you, they are a lovely bunch of vegetarians in the bud!"
"I've seen those kids, you tofu-chewing herbivore!" Viconia snarled. "They aren't listening to you and are not making up their own minds: They are SCARED of you! That's why they follow you! It's your whole intimidating manner that has these kids scared witless into submission!"
"That is a blatant lie, Dr. DeVir!" Jaheira slammed her fist on her desk. "And if your daughter is unhappy with her newly discovered vegetarianism, then that's the fault of non-understanding meat-eaters like YOU!"
"Don't you DARE!" Viconia snarled. "I work my fingers to the bone to make my daughter happy and there's no way in hell I'm going to have some ecologically-sound lettuce-eating panda-shagger swoop in and ruin her life! Sure, if she want to become a vegetarian I will respect her decision, but only when she has matured enough to make up her own mind about it instead of being indoctrinated by an aforementioned bitch! She's only six years old, for Selune's sake!"
"Dr. DeVir!" Jaheira snarled. "I just do what is best for these children!"
"HAH!" Viconia laughed. "You wouldn't know what's best for children if it bit you in the ass! How do you expect Gruknass to live without meat? Or those Yuan-ti and Rakshasa girls?"
"Hearty meat-replacement products, of course!" Jaheira retorted.
"Those cannot replace real meat products and you know it! Especially not for those kids!" Viconia snarled. "You are promoting bad health among the children. The only thing you're interested in, is training a bunch of Eco terrorists in there!"
"And why not?!" Jaheira said, her face turning red with anger. "The earth needs protectors, especially now!"
"Then take to dedicated activists, and spread your message among teenagers and college students, but leave the kids alone!" Viconia retorted. "They are too young to worry about such things! Let them make up their own minds when they are older!"
"They will make up their minds next monday!" Jaheira smiled smugly. "When I will take my class on a field trip to the slaughter house, where they will see for themselves how defenseless animals are slaughtered for the ham on their sandwich. No bloody details they will miss!"
"Listen to yourself!" Viconia shouted. "You're talking about showing a slaughter to six-year olds! And I don't remember signing any permission-slips for that field-trip either!"
"I don't need any," Jaheira smiled even more smugly. "The schoolboard approved of the trip already..."
"Is that the same schoolboard which took 'The Wind in the Willows' from the reading-list because it didn't carry a positive enough message?" Viconia muttered. Then, she realized just how intimidating Jaheira could be.
"You were saying, Dr. Carnivore?" Jaheira grinned triumphantly.
"Vierna is the most precious in my life, miss Jaheira," she snarled and stepped to the door. "And if you make her unhappy, you'll live to regret it!" That said, she stepped out the door to Jaheira's office and slammed it shut with such force that the glass place dropped from it and shattered to the floor.
"I don't get it!" Viconia snarled as she entered the teacher's lounge an hour later, hoping that grading some tests would cheer her up. Her students didn't call her Dr. Brick-Heart for nothing, after all...
"Here," Valen said and handed Viconia a cup of coffee. "Drink that, you'll calm down..."
"Somehow, Valen," Joneleth said while glancing up from todays episode of Dragonball Z, "I don't think you grasp the concept of coffee..."
"Regardless," Valen spoke, "I can't be a vegetarian. Vampires need real blood, not some silly replacement product. I would be interested into that trip to the slaughterhouse, though. Some fresh blood would be nice."
"Oh, Jon," Viconia said, "the secretary wanted me to tell you that Bodhi called from prison again. Apparently, she has been shooting paint-bombs at passing police cruisers."
"Ah, I can't leave now! They are going to reveal Cell's origin!" Joneleth said, while still watching the tv intently. "Let her think about her sins for a while... Ack! Dammit! Commercial..." he said and started zapping. "Look Vic," Joneleth said while zapping, "you need to talk to Vierna, but don't start with all that 'freedom of choice' thing. Just treat her like a kid and she'll come around..."
"Ah, brotherly love only goes as far as Dragonball Z reruns, it seems," Viconia chuckled.
"Vic! VIC!" Valen called. "Joneleth, zap back to the local news!"
"HEY!" Joneleth said while Valen wrestled the remote from his hands and zapped back to the local news.
In local news today, the anchorman spoke, a class of children have been picketing at the newly opened fastfood restaurant opened on the corner of third and main... While the anchorman droned on, footage of the picket-line displayed... the children of Vierna's class, shouting and yelling and brandishing signs which had obviously been pre-made and not by the children.
"Look! There's Vierna, Vic!" Joneleth said. "Vic?" he asked, noticing the Drow had disappeared from the teacher's lounge.
"No more meat! No more meat!" Jaheira shouted through a bullhorn, while the twenty five children around her droned slogans in favor of vegetarians and vegetarianism. So loud was the bullhorn that Jaheira never noticed a Ford Fiesta screeching to a halt in one of the parking-spots next to the new restaurant. "We want this restaurant closed, don't we, kids?"
'Yeah', came the unenthusiastic reply from the kids.
"And when do we want it?"
'Now,' droned the kids.
"MOMMA!" Vierna suddenly shouted, and, confused, the half-elven activist turned around... only to see an ebony fist before it slammed against her cheek. Jaheira flew flat on her back, the bullhorn skidding over the pavement.
A collective of gasps sounded from the kids as they saw their scary teacher floored by none other than Vierna's mother.
"I warned you of involving Vierna in your practises!" Viconia shouted at a dazed Jaheira. Now, she turned around to the kids, intending do to some serious damage control. She considered holding a speech about freedom, self-determination... but then considered what Joneleth said earlier. 'If you want to get through to a kid, treat them like kids!'
"Say, kids," Viconia smiled. "Did you know that hamburgers have meat in them too?"
"Ham... burgers?" Several of the kids licked their lips in anticipation.
"And hotdogs too... Very delicious but also a meat-product..." Viconia smiled.
"And... and pizza?" the Rakshasa girl asked.
"Pizza too, but they are all so delicious," Viconia said and took Vierna by the hand. "Are you hungry? Come on, I'll buy all of you a nice meal..."
Deciding that Viconia was actually a very nice person, and someone not to be messed with, judging from the decked Jaheira, they took her up on her offer.
"Och," a dwarven boy chuckled. "Me da be sayin' she be a crazy broad anyway..."
"Miss Jaheira wanted me to eat tofu," the lizardman boy Gruknass muttered.
"Miss Jaheira is crazy!" an elven girl added.
"Let's go eat some burgers!" a Drow boy concluded.
"Yummy," Vierna said as she sat facing Viconia at the end of a long bench in the very restaurant they were protesting earlier. Vierna's classmates were seated all over the restaurant, and the busboys were dragging whole stacks of hamburgers to their tables.
"More ketchup?" Viconia smiled as Vierna took a bite from her hotdog.
"Tphranggs, omma," Vierna muttered with her mouthful. "I'm glad you took care of that nasty miss Jaheira!"
"Yeah," Viconia smiled while she looked at the window, and saw miss Jaheira being dragged into a police cruiser. "No fieldtrip next monday, I'll bet..."
"Miss Liriel will be better next week, I hope," Vierna smiled.
"She's from Baenre stock, so I don't doubt it..." Viconia replied and paid the waiter his money. Luckily, she had plenty of money left.
"Look, Vierna," Viconia said. "If you're really worried, we can now afford to buy some more ecologically sound meat products. Some where animals didn't suffer for..."
"Thanks, momma. Momma?" Vierna asked. "Do you still have some of that delicious roast left?"
Viconia chuckled and ruffled her giggling daughter's hair.
5. Hearty Streak 'n Beef
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