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Kitchen Duties by Saba

Kitchen Duties

by
Saba


The Liberator’s First Crew Meeting
Blake folded his arms behind his head and sat back complacently against the padded seats of the flight deck. He had a ship, and a crew who had agreed to back him in his fight against the Federation. Oh, life was good. The only minor detail to be sorted was housekeeping. What could be simpler?

“One final thing. The ship is mostly self cleaning. What you do in your cabins is your own affair – so long as it doesn’t disturb anyone else," Blake said, with a sideways look at Cally’s peculiar music machine. "But we all share the kitchen and that doesn’t clean itself. Are there any volunteers to keep it clean?”

Neither Jenna, Avon, Vila, nor even Cally met Blake’s eye.

“I will,” Gan said amiably.

***

After several emergencies and Battlestations alarms when Gan was nowhere to be found, Blake was concerned that the kitchen situation needed revisiting. Gan simply wasn’t learning how to crew the ship, because he spent all his time cleaning up in the kitchen. Blake sat him down quietly one day and whilst Gan said he wasn’t complaining, the history of Vila’s spilt ketchup, Jenna’s congealed falafel and fancy bread mixtures (all low fat) and Avon’s coffee grounds was gradually told. Blake was feeling rather smug until Gan wondered who it was who kept grilling sausages and chops and leaving fat all over the floor and never cleaning the oven. At this, Blake’s celebrated forthrightness deserted him and he found himself shamefacedly listening to tales of biscuit crumbs, Meals on the Move by the Auron press and other books left lying around, the fridge door being left open and beans congealed over the small cooker.

Blake therefore called the Second Crew Meeting.

Avon listened with boredom to Blake’s pep talk. He had his line worked out on the cleaning problem, after all, but he still didn’t quite trust Blake…

Twenty minutes later, he wasn’t quite sure how Blake had done it. Avon now found himself on a kitchen cleaning rota, paired with Cally. Jenna also was surprised to find herself on a cleaning rota, but as she was with Blake, felt she could make the best of it. Vila was asked to help Gan. Gan loyally pointed out that Vila had frequently been very helpful (thinking how lonely it would have been without the moral support). But Vila somehow didn’t mention that this had extended to drinking beer and munching peanuts whilst offering advice from the sidelines, and pointing out the bits Gan had missed.

***

The Third Crew Meeting
“I’m not sure things are working out. Vila, I’ve never seen you cleaning the kitchen,” said Blake in a down-to- business sort of way. “Have you ever helped Gan at all?”

“Of course,” said Vila, offended.

“When?”

“Er, frequently.”

“Do you even know where the cloths are kept, Vila?” asked Cally.

“Yes!”

“Where?” asked Avon, scenting a kill.

“Well, you wouldn’t know either,” Vila replied to him.

“That’s not what I’m asking.”

“Do either of you know where the cloths are kept?” asked Blake.

Avon and Vila looked at each other, finding a surprising common bond.

“Not exactly,” said Vila.

“I’m working on it,” said Avon, evenly.

“Jenna, you’re keeping very quiet,” said Cally, suspiciously.

“Jenna’s been very helpful in the kitchen,” Blake said with immediate chivalry and loyalty, not to mention ambiguity. He was thinking of yesterday's chops and apricots with wild rice and sultanas.

“You two spend hours in there, but it never seems to get cleaned,” Cally persisted.

“I wouldn’t need to spend hours if somebody knew the difference between wild rice and basmati rice and put things back in the right places,” Jenna snapped, with an accusing glance at Cally.

Blake raised his hands. “All right, all right. Clearly the rota isn’t working.”

General murmurs and nods of approval and hopeful glances towards Gan.

“This is what we’ll do…”

“I’ll go with Gan,” interrupted Avon.

Oh, no you don’t, thought Blake. “I’ll go with Gan,” he said, pulling rank.

“Perhaps I can help Vila?” Cally offered mildly.

“Jenna, Avon, that leaves you two.”

Blake wasn’t too sure he liked the thought of Avon sharing Jenna’s delicious and exotic cooking – but he had a few plans of his own up his sleeve in that department, and meanwhile could almost taste those chops and sausages which had become a distant memory under Jenna’s low fat regime. His mouth watered.

***

Avon answered the Battlestations warning covered in coffee-grounds, which he’d tried unsuccessfully to clean off after a "Who’s not pulling their weight" argument with Jenna. She arrived shortly afterwards, stalked to her station, glared at Blake with an And you can forget all about Moroccan lamb and Turkish coffee look, and said not a word to anybody.

Cally found herself patiently cleaning up for 80% of hers and Vila’s shifts and wondered whether he’d sat and eaten peanuts whilst officially 'helping' Gan. She repeatedly thrust mops, cloths and oven cleaner into his hand, but acknowledged it was a losing battle and finally went to have a word with Blake. He was surprised, and said he thought the new regime was working very well. Gan smiled patiently; a team player.

When Jenna and Avon finally refused to speak to each other on or off the flight deck, or to clean the kitchen at all, Blake succumbed and called his fourth team meeting.

***

“Avon, I don’t care how you manage it, but you and Vila must clean that kitchen between you. Vila, I don’t trust that expression - what are you planning?” asked Blake.

“Nothing,” replied Vila, with an injured look.

“Jenna, would you help Gan?" That should be peaceful. "Cally, you can help me.” Blake sadly had visions of his beloved chops and sausages going west again, as Cally offered to cook him Auron vegetarian specialities. Oh well, a leader’s lot and all that. Jenna said nothing; she was wondering whether to engage in Food Wars with Cally. But she was, of course, above that sort of thing.

Jenna found cleaning with Gan surprisingly restful, after Avon. Blake, on the other hand, entered the kitchen and looked down at the table with horror. Cally was standing modestly next to her open cook book, Raw Root Vegetables and Edible Fungi of Auron. It was too much for Blake. He muttered incoherent excuses, vanished into an overall and then set to with a mop, humming to himself to drown out all offers.

However well Blake cleaned the floor, it was nothing compared to how spotlessly clean the kitchen was to be found after Avon and Vila’s shifts. And both of them seemed to be on the best of terms. This naturally rendered the rest of the crew suspicious, but Avon and Vila were proof against Blake’s direct and Cally’s indirect questions. One day, however, they left the door tantalisingly ajar. Jenna spotted it and called Blake; he motioned Cally, who called Gan. They watched, aghast, as Avon and Vila shuffled, dealt and gambled for the stakes of cleaning the cooker, floor, sink and so on.

“How many things can you clean?” asked Jenna.

Just as they’d staked 'Tidy the spoon drawer', there was an unfortunate disturbance at the door. Avon flung it open; no thief caught in the act could have looked more conscious.

“Come on, Vila.”

“Looks like the game’s up,” said Vila.

And with that, Avon and Vila pointedly refused kitchen duty again, but instigated their own 'Cleaning Night' where the stakes were rather less constructive.

And so Blake called the fifth team meeting...

***

“Avon,” he said, “with me. Jenna, you and Vila. And for goodness sake, get some work done, the two of you. Cally and Gan, I’m sure I can depend on you.”

Cally had modest hopes of weaning Gan off his fast food diet of pizza and burgers and on to a more healthy regime. Blake, on the other hand, quietly took Gan to one side and offered him a secret supply of sausages and chops. Man to man.

Blake, it had to be said, had a passionate secret, which he kept in a plastic box in the bottom of the freezer. He’d told no one.

Blake and Avon dealt with their first cleaning experience together in a very mature and sensible manner. Blake made suggestions to Avon (he didn’t tell him what to do, oh no....), they discussed gadgets and electronics, and pretended they didn’t have so much as a sponge cleaner in their hands. They emerged, with an air of that wasn’t so bad, was it? both of them looking with considerable superiority at Jenna and Vila, the former of whom emerged uncharacteristically dishevelled, having set a very good example cleaning out the back of the cupboards, whilst Vila was exceptionally grumpy, having had to keep up with a breakneck cleaning pace set by Jenna.

Blake and Avon’s second shift didn’t go quite as well, when Blake pointed out after an hour that so far Avon had cleaned only the coffee machine, and Avon had replied that whilst he would deal with the other messes Blake made, he drew the line at mopping the floor for him. Blake therefore set a good example by climbing on to a chair to sort out the boiler (“What are these peanuts doing up here?”) and Avon climbed another chair to put the coffee grains back into 'Use by' order. (“What are these cashews doing here?”)

And so it was that Vila was able to triumphantly enter the flight deck and announce to anyone who’d listen to him (you’ve guessed it...) that it reminded him very much of a comment Avon had once made about Blake and Travis.

Sadly, Blake and Avon’s maturity didn’t last long and their cleaning rotas became increasingly bad tempered. The remaining crew members heard them snapping and snarling and rushed to intervene; Gan holding Blake back against one wall, with Jenna doing her best to prise open his fingers and get the kitchen knife from it (but she’d realised on the London that this was not her forte) and Vila and Cally holding Avon back against the other wall. He seemed so aghast that they had invaded his personal space that he’d dropped his paring knife and was looking positively astonished.

***

Blake’s sixth team meeting
“Will this thing work?” Blake asked Avon.

Avon managed to look both astonished and affronted at the same time. “Of course it will work,” he growled sardonically, and of all the crew, Cally looked very impressed.

Before them was a security robot, which Avon had 'salvaged' from Centero, and was now modified. Attachable to its arms were a variety of mops and dusters. Avon explained the programming to the crew.

“Ah,” said Vila, grabbing the remote control and pushing a button accidentally. A metal flap opened on the robot's front and an alarming nozzle appeared, firing a jet of detergent over Blake.

“Don’t snatch!” said Avon, looking secretly very pleased. “It will even clean out the freezer,” he continued, “which is long overdue. I tested it earlier.”

“You did what?” asked Blake.

Avon looked nonplussed. “Why, I didn’t...”

“My Sushi!” said Blake, pathetically.

“What?” asked Jenna.

The crew sat round the curved flight deck seat, listening to another of Blake’s sad experiences. “I used to eat in Sushi bars. When I was an engineer in the Domed City. Before Travis. I managed to locate some and kept it.”

Jenna sighed. She had never envisaged pursuing Blake with a raw fish. But if that was what it would take... She rose, and made a dignified exit.

“Well, that’s the end of cleaning duties!” said Vila happily. “Coming, Gan?” and they wandered off together.

“I just want something from my cabin,” said Cally.

Blake and Avon stared at each other. “The solution was obvious, Blake.”

“Thank you, Avon.” Then, unwilling to leave the flight deck first, Blake went and fiddled with the controls on a console. “I just wish you hadn’t got it all over my shirt,” he muttered.

***



Kitchen Duties was originally published on Horizon's previous website

All original fan fiction hosted on Horizon is copyright to the individual authors. No attempt is being made to supersede any copyright held by the estate of Terry Nation, the BBC, B7 Media, Big Finish or any other licensees or holders of copyright on Blake's 7 material.

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