By Green Lakitu
Chapter 1: A Graduate Only in Name
At the doors of Mushroom Culinary College, a great day is just coming out of the oven. Today represents the end of a chapter in the lives of experienced graduates, a new revelation in the lives of returning attendees, and the beginning of a chapter in the cookbook of the lives of the new students. Many students, Goomba, Koopa, Yoshi, and Toad alike flock out of the doors, confronted with the euphoric reality of finally being able to do anything they want to do with their lives, only bolstered by their shiny and new degrees. As the professors clear out their belongings for the summer, one - an elderly Goomba named Professor Goombart - remains at his desk reminiscing about the good times, or lack thereof, of the preceding year's Beverages 2 class via the yearbook.
Professor Goombart: "Kandi Koopa, what an attentive student. Her Yoshi Pediatrics class came in handy. Who knew Yarnell was allergic to Green Berries? Kelly Koopa, I'll never forget the day she took over teaching the day I was having heart surgery. And I thought it was a mistake leaving the teacher's edition book on my desk! Now Kep Koopa... he had ambition."
Prof. Goombart looks out the window, and he sees a pink-shelled Koopa skipping along the sidewalk.
Kep Koopa: "Hiya, Klay! Sorry for bumping into your cart! It won't happen again! 97th time's the charm!"
Klay the Koopatrol kustodian collects his belongings, including the sawdust container whose contents are now on his shell.
Klay Koopatrol: "Yeah kiddo, go along. Have fun with your piece of paper. Who knows, maybe you'll become a Super Koopa with your 'cape'?"
Kep: "That's a good one! I mean, who could have fun with a degree? It's the scalpel that shapes my destiny!"
Kep sits on a bench at the university nature preserve, collecting his thoughts.
Kep: "And they said I'd fail! They'll eat - or drink! - those words after I open up my new coffee house! Time to break the mold of this stuffy old kingdom!"
Kep hails a taxi to ride to Princess Peach's castle. He walks to the park beside it, and sticks a sign in the ground - "Future Site of Kep's Kaboose - Now Hiring".
Kep: "Okay, time to shape my destiny! Not even the Star Spirits can strike me down!"
Kep ducks into his shell, charges up, and slams into one of the trees in the park. He collects the wood, then brings it back to the restaurant site. A royal Toad guard is waiting for him.
Guard: "And who do you think you are?"
Kep: "Kep Koopa, owner of Kep's Kaboose! I ask not if I may take your application, but if you may allow me to take it!"
Kep bows as the guard rolls his eyes.
Guard: "Nice place you've got. You're using wood from a rare Pink Berry tree imported from the Forest of Illusion, and you've got a scenic view of our Princess's castle."
As the guard writes something up on his notepad, Kep beams.
Kep: "Why thank you, good sir! If you want to spread the word, take this informational flyer!"
Kep hands the guard a piece of paper with "KEP'S KABOOSE INFORMATIONAL PAMPHLET: TO BE DONE" on it, but the guard hands Kep a piece of paper in return.
Kep: "'You are under arrest for illegally using royal land, destroying property of the Mushroom Kingdom, and being a menace to endangered tree species.' Do I get an extra credit assignment?"
Guard: "No, you get this!"
The guard takes out his calculator, types in some numbers, and prints a bill - a fine of 150 mushroom coins.
Kep: "A free receipt printer! Thank you! I will dedicate this building to you!"
The guard, taken aback, looks at Kep.
Guard: "Top billing, you say? I've never gotten that level of recognition! Well... as long as you don't disturb anything else, I'll allow you to build this establishment, okay?"
Kep: "Thanks for the encouragement, officer! ...Now where will I get a hammer?"
Will Kep's dream be seen to fruition? Will Kep be able to avoid arrest again? Am I kidding anybody on that second one? Find out in chapter 2!
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