It was a pleasant day on board the Cyodrake's Gaze. The winds were fluttering through the sails making the ship float along smoothly. The calm ocean broke gently as the ship glided towards its distant destination. Unfortunately calm tidings could not be heard among the crew members.
Hoban had been curmudgeonly arguing with Captain Tuan even before stepping on deck to set sail. The dispute was over Bonju; the cook that had tossed Hoban overboard in a fit of rage. Hoban, though, had not been so innocent, having yelled at and insulted the Orange Blumaroo instead of leaving him alone.
"But, Captain!" The Yellow Aisha grumped. "Why should he be allowed another chance?"
"It has been nearly seven years. I think he deserves another chance," Captain Tuan said. "Besides, do you really want Orrin to continue cooking?"
"His cooking may be too dry or too salty," the teal haired Aisha pouted, "but at least he doesn't toss the Navigator overboard."
It was no better once they had all boarded the ship. Hoban, the ever present grouch, kept looking at Bonju as if he might try to toss someone over the side of the boat again. Even passive Linae had taken to keeping an eye on the chef. The only one not paying the Orange Blumaroo any mind was the ship's Captain. Captain Tuan was at the wheel with Hoban and Kentari, the two were arguing as usual. This time about direction and wind speed and not a certain galley cook.
* * *
Down in the Kitchen, Bonju was setting up his cook wares and ingredients for the dinner he was to prepare. Sadly, there was so much cleaning to do. Orrin had left such a mess in this place over the last seven years. There were horribly charred and burned food stuffs all over the oven; the silverware had soap spots, and the food storage was the worst. It was too moist in the store room; the food would become mouldy in no time! As his first matter of business he was going to fix the moisture problem in the food storage room. A small crack spewing a fine mist of sea water was the culprit. The mist was very chilly, but made the crack in the wall easier to find. With the moisture problem fixed, he went back to the kitchen. He had a slight headache starting and was feeling a little tired, but he had a job to do. He was determined not to get thrown off the crew list a second time.
He set to work cleaning the kitchen, which Orrin had left in such a mess.
* * *
Up on the deck Hoban had taken up steering the ship. Linae was sitting down beside him with a map and reading co-ordinates to him. The two had started to get along in the last few years, though they still picked on each other.
"What do you think about Bonju being back?" Linae asked.
"Did you really just ask me that?" Hoban replied. "You should know what I think."
"Yeah, but that was a long time ago, you hold grudges don't you?" Linae inquired.
Hoban didn't dare answer that, Linae would accuse him of being bad luck again. Grudges were bad karma according to her. Linae was superstitious and omens and curses were a pointed interest for her.
"At least we won't have to eat another one of Orrin's meals," Linae offered.
"Bah! Tuan should've just made me the cook!" Hoban sarcastically answered.
"Well, now, Hoban! Have you been taking up hobbies?" Captain Taun answered coming up the stairs to the steering wheel.
This made Linae and Tuan both laugh as Hoban turned a bright shade of red. He hadn't meant to be heard by the captain. He had intended it to only be heard by Linae. Maybe there was something to Linae's claims of curses and jinxes after all.
"Hoban, I know you don't like Bonju being back," Tuan started, "But he really isn't such a bad guy, most chefs have tempers."
Hoban wanted to say something, but stopped himself. Tuan would have only laughed some more. Instead he asked Linae for the next set of co-ordinates and the marker and puzzled out where they were going. The sun would be setting soon and sailing after dark was something Hoban hated doing.
* * *
It took a while, but Bonju was nearly done. He had wrestled the charred remains of food off of the oven and rewashed ever last piece of silverware in the entire galley. He also washed the floor, which had been covered in peelings and fallen pieces of last week's corn, as well as dirty shoe prints.
So much work. How had Tuan let this happen? How could he let his crew eat with spotty silverware? Bonju felt a little sad about how the ship's galley had fallen so low in his long absence. That headache of his had grown worse; he was now feeling rather cold. Perhaps they were sailing in one of the cold northern seas now? Bonju had no way of telling where they were down in the galley.
"Bonju, you look terrible," Anshu said from out of nowhere, startling the Orange Blumaroo.
"I just spent the last two hours cleaning," Bonju said. "My head aches!"
"Yes, Orrin did leave a bit of a mess," the old Ruki replied.
"How Tuan could let Orrin make such a mess is beyond me!" Bonju said in an offended tone.
Bonju really wasn't looking so well; perhaps he was nervous about being back on the ship after so long. Perhaps he was stressed out over Hoban's complaining, and the crew constantly watching him, Anshu couldn't tell.
"Sit down, sit down," the old Ruki repeated. "You don't look well."
Bonju did as he was told and sat on a stool; Anshu came over and placed a hand on Blumaroo's forehead. Bonju had a fever and it was certainly not helping him any in his quest to be accepted back into the crew.
"You need to go lie down before your fever gets worse," Anshu said. "I'll bring some medicine by when I inform Tuan of your illness."
"But I can't rest, I need to cook!" Bonju protested. "I need to prove that I've changed!"
"You're not to blame this time," the Ruki said, trying to calm the chef. "Everyone gets sick now and then."
Bonju seemed to accept this statement and went off to his room to rest. The poor Blumaroo was truly trying very hard, and that may have been what had caused him to fall ill. The next manner of business was informing Tuan that they needed a new cook. Anshu could only hope that Taun wouldn't send messy Orrin, Bonju had just cleaning.
* * *
"Hoban, where'd you put the telescope?" Tuan asked.
"Kentari has it," Hoban answered.
"I gave it to Shumi, I'll go and find him," Kentari replied.
As Kentari left the deck, Anshu appeared. He looked worried, as he walked up the stairs towards the Captain. Come to think of it, Anshu rarely looked worried, he was usually very calm.
"Captain, I have some bad news," Anshu said politely.
"What is it, old friend?" Tuan asked curiously, noting the worried look on Anshu's face.
"Bonju is unable to cook; he's come down with a rather high fever," the Ruki said, much to the dismay of Tuan.
Tuan thought for a moment and then grinned. Hoban had made that comment earlier about wanting to cook, so why not let him try his hand at it? Yes, Hoban would be the replacement. It may also teach him a lesson about respect.
"Hoban, you're cooking," Tuan told the Aisha. "Don't look at me like that, not after the comment you made earlier."
With a sigh, Hoban let Tuan take the wheel and went down into the galley to begin prepping the dinner.
* * *
"Ok, this shouldn't be too hard," Hoban said to himself, "Let's see, tonight's dinner is... Zucchini casserole."
Hoban laughed, a casserole, surely this couldn't be too hard to make. He washed the zucchini plants carefully. After selecting a knife he tried to cut the vegetable up. It was hard to do, maybe this knife was just not sharp enough, so he grabbed a bigger knife. This new knife certainly looked sharp. He began to cut the plant into pieces, but the pieces looked too big.
He trimmed the pieces down by lopping off ends and corners, until he had managed to dice them all. Now the pieces seemed too small, what did Bonju's recipe say? He decided to forget it and began making the rest of the casserole, a few diced turnips and some cheese. How hard could this be?
"I'll prove I'm a better cook than Bonju!" Hoban said to himself. "So what, I goofed on the Zucchini, but I won't anymore."
He toiled away in the kitchen and finally got the casserole into the oven, he felt an odd pride in his hard work. He just didn't like the idea of having to clean up, but he did it anyway. He knew Tuan would have the "respect the work space" talk with him if he didn't clean up a bit.
* * *
Bonju was comfy; he had missed his ship's quarters and the gently rocking of the waves. It seemed to dull his headache down a bit. He was starting to drift off to sleep when Anshu entered with some remedy or another for fevers and pains.
"Don't worry about cooking," Anshu said to the nervous looking Blumaroo. "Hoban is doing tonight's cooking."
Bonju wasn't sure whether to be scared or burst out laughing. Somehow this all seemed terribly ironic. Though no one had ever tasted Hoban's cooking, for all Bonju knew, Hoban could be great at it and this was scary.
"Don't look so worried, Hoban can't be all that bad," Anshu said. "Linae said this was some sort of longstanding jinx Hoban had."
Bonju agreed with Anshu on that one; Hoban did have it coming after his stunt seven years ago. The rotten nerve walking off leaving his plate full of food, Bonju had worked long hours to prepare such a wonderful meal. Then to make matters worse, the Aisha insulted him to his face in such harsh tones. It did seem as if Linae was right, and Hoban had it coming. Bonju could only hope Hoban was a terrible cook.
* * *
"Well, Hoban, let's see how ya did!" Captain Tuan said, taking the first piece of the casserole, followed by Shumi.
When everyone present at the table had their piece of casserole, they all tried it. Linae made a sour face like she'd eaten one of Kiko Lake's sourest candies. Kentari contorted his face like he didn't know how to describe what he'd just eaten. Shumi seemed indifferent; the little green Scorchio would eat just about anything. The looks of his crewmates told him just how well he'd done, and it wasn't too impressive on his part. Even Orrin seemed offended by the taste and he was a lousy cook to begin with.
"I think I'll be making some scrambled eggs for Bonju," Linae said. "For what it's worth, I don't think he needs to know how bad this is."
Hoban rarely laughed, but at Linae's comment he couldn't help but burst out laughing. Tears streamed down his face as he laughed, soon the entire crew was laughing. Laughing at the horrible casserole, laughing at Hoban, and laughing about how much they all had missed Bonju. Even though the dinner was horrible, they all found a way to make it better. Laughter was always the best medicine.
Bonju found out a few days later about Hoban's kitchen nightmare and laugh just as hard as the rest of the crew. He now had that feeling of appreciation he'd wanted for so long. He also decided to offer the crew cooking lessons every Tuesday.
It made him feel a lot better.