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By Philippa Watts
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Avon stalked down the corridor of Xenon base, not in the best of moods. A couple of days previously he had, in an idle moment, calculated the interest that would have accrued by now had he managed to pull off Almost the Greatest Computer Swindle of All Time. As a result, he had been feeling tetchy and headachey ever since.

It was his turn to do the supplies run, and he was looking forward to a few days away with only Orac for company. This was the opportunity to buy some more of the particular herbs and seasonings which, on one of the rare occasions he had cooked, he had used in a soup (the only thing he knew how to cook) which had so impressed Soolin. He smiled at the memory of just how grateful she had been that evening, and made a note to search out the ingredients again.

The problem was having to try and accommodate the personal needs of each member of the crew, as always happened with supply runs. Dayna had recently taken to attempting to recreate some of the dishes her father used to cook from long-remembered recipes, which often demanded scarce ingredients. Last time it had been dandelion leaves; luckily that time it was Tarrant who had to explain when he returned empty-handed.

Avon braced himself and entered the rest room, where the others were in various states of relaxation, Vila in particular. "I'm leaving," he announced. "This is your last chance to tell me what you need." He sighed. "Dayna?"


Avon opened his mouth to either protest or ask what she could possibly need a cauliflower for, but then thought better of it and wrote it down. "Tarrant?"

All that could be seen of Tarrant were his boots sticking out from under a counter. "If you don't get the parts I need to repair this refrigeration unit properly," said the boots, "You can forget trying to keep any of the fresh food you're intending to buy."

"Right." Duly noted. "Soolin."

She was absent-mindedly combing her hair with her fingers. "I broke my last hair elastic this morning, would you mind finding me some more?"

Avon scowled, about to suggest that she use string, or some other similar accoutrement, but then thought of just how pleased Soolin would be if he found what she wanted.

Vila was sitting in his usual pose of feet up, hands behind his head. "For days now," he said, "I have been dreaming of scrambled eggs for breakfast."

Avon closed his eyes and counted slowly to five. "Any particular sort?"

"As long as you can scramble them, they could be Tarzian Warg Strangler eggs for all I care."

"They don't lay eggs, Vila," Tarrant's boots said. "And last time you cooked, those peas turned out like bullets, remember? I'm not sure it's wise to let you near the kitchen."

"They were good for target practice though," Dayna chuckled.

"Except that it was 3 days ago and we're still finding them," Tarrant countered.

"Well, whatever. And we're almost out of booze..."

"Not this time, I have to be able to carry it."

"OK, whatever, just the eggs then. And I promise to seek out and clean up the remains from last time."

Soolin laughed. "Even the one that fell in Orac's casing?"

"Er... no. I think I'll leave that to the expert. There you go Avon, that'll keep you occupied on your trip," Vila said brightly.

Avon frowned, and added it to his 'to do' list, secretly pleased to have the excuse to tinker with Orac's innards. "Right then." He gave his sweetest smile and picked up the supercomputer. "I hope you all have fun without me."

"Oh, I'm sure we'll manage," Dayna replied, exchanging glances with Soolin.

Avon made his way out to the landing bay, the memory of the women's exchange of looks in his head, wondering what it could mean. He thought about Soolin, and how pleased he wanted to make her, and then a memory of their previous encounter popped into his mind. An unconscious, but obvious reaction she had made when he had got close to her.

She had recoiled at his breath.

Feeling embarrassed at the recollection, he put Orac down and added one last thing to his list, determined he was going to seek out mouthwash or breath mints, even if it doubled the length of time he spent on the planet.

Sitting down at the controls, Avon started Scorpio's engines and looked at his list, slightly daunted by what he had to accomplish in the next few days. This made Almost the Greatest Computer Swindle of All Time look like a breeze. He sighed. The list read:

Soup; a cauli; fridge; elastics; eggs; pea; halitosis.

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