Too Much Spare Time
"Yeah, just wait till you get to your fighter tweety bird," Hellcat said in the softest, evilest voice he had ever spoken in. Though no one heard him, Krayt saw the look in Hellcat's eyes when Condor walked out of the Lounge to do his patrol with one of the newer Corsairs. It wasn’t surprising to see Hellcat looking at Condor like that, they tended to bait and tease each other mercilessly, but Jon had been a bit over the top rubbing it in on the birthday drinks thing. After 2 or so minutes, Hellcat got up and paid his bar tab then walked out of the Lounge toward the main hangar bay where Condor was heading. Curiously, Krayt got up and walked out as well. This seemed to also attract some attention from Jalb, so he too got up to see what was going on.
Being careful not to be seen by Condor, Hellcat rushed his way to the hangar bay, but little did he know that Krayt and Jalb were following close behind him. When Hellcat finally got to the bay, he waited patiently for Condor to gear up and get into his A-wing. The moment finally came when Condor slipped into his cockpit and closed the canopy. Hellcat continued to watch with serious intent.
Condor let go a contented sigh. "Another boring patrol duty coming right up. Suckers didn't even figure out when my birthday was, and I got away just toooo smoothly without having to buy drinks," Condor finished off with a small chuckle while going through the ignition sequence. The green light came on indicating that all systems were checked and good to go, so Condor hit the switch to kick in repulsors. However, not only did the engine kick in, but a white-cream pie came out of nowhere smacking Condor right in the face with a *splat*. Hellcat jumped up and down and hurried over to Condor's fighter, whose canopy was opening up again.
"You really thought you had us all fooled Tweety bird?" Hellcat asked in almost a hysterical tone of voice and then continued. "Well, although you got away with not buying drinks, you didn't get away with outsmarting the kitty." After saying this, Hellcat walked away laughing hard enough to bring tears to his eyes, while Condor just looked dumbfounded at his receding back, surprised to find that Josh actually had the smarts to pull the gag off. Krayt and Jalb on the other hand just looked at each other then back at Condor and started laughing, as well as the rest of the hangar crew.
Jalb_k continued laughing until Hellcat had exited the hangar, then effected a rapid transformation. A thoughtful expression upon his face, he stared a few moments at the door Hellcat had just gone through, then turned his attention to Condor, who was in the process of removing cream pie remnants from his face, helmet and the headrest of his A-wing's couch. Krayt was still near doubled over, wiping his eyes free of his tears of mirth, when he realised he was no longer accompanied by Jalb's laughter. He straightened up and took control of himself, slowly.
"Haha... ha... he... ahhh." A deep breath. "Well, it was funny," he said in response to Jalb's arched eyebrow. Jalb smiled, a sly, malicious little twist to his lips.
"Yes, Krayt, it was, it was indeed," he said ambiguously, turned and strode off towards the accommodation decks with Krayt staring at his receding form, more than a little perplexed.
[A few hours later]
Hellcat was strolling back towards his cabin and noticed Jalb working on something near the door of his. He stopped, being the curious cat he was, and had a gander at what Jalb was doing, and was surprised at what he saw.
"Man! Jalb, a Cryptocypher III? Whaddaya need that sorta security for?" Hellcat asked, stunned that anyone except Ops and Int would use a lock like that. Unless you had a spare hour, the thing was virtually unbeatable, apart from a door charge. Jalb glanced over his shoulder and affected an air of nonchalance.
"No particular reason, Thylvethter, it was one of those free gift type things, you know, 'and get this set of vibroblades free' kinda deal. I thought I may as well use it since I got it."
Hellcat stood a while to let this sink in then said, "Fair enough" and continued on his way.
Josh 'Hellcat' Kinney palmed the entry to his cabin, the door swooshed smoothly open and he was pinned to the bulkhead behind him by a two foot round, giant cream pie!
Matt 'Krayt' Houseman strolled into his cabin and noticed his R2 unit out of his alcove and squatting in the middle of the cabin. "Hey Volt, wassup?" he asked his astromech droid.
"Toot toodle pip bwoop! BzzzzzzzzzzZAP!"
"Yeeooww!" Krayt exclaimed, rubbing his butt to lessen the sting. "What's got into you,
"Yow! Quit it!"
Micheal 'Vidster' Videlka saw a datapad on his desk where a datapad hadn't been left. He walked over to the device and picked it up. He looked at the blank screen and keyed it on. Words scrolled across the display.
"Hello, and thanks for activating me...Get ready to run... I am a bomb... 4... 3..." Vidster dropped the pad and dove behind his bunk, banging the heck out of himself at the same time. There was a tinny recorded bang followed by silence. He slowly raised his head only to hear a familiar sound issuing from the pad.
"Hahahahaha... Yes, got'im!"
Vince 'Stryker' Rambo was at the bar. "Yeah, give me a canister and a glass Mixer, I've got a fair bit of work to do." he said with a rueful grin. He grabbed the insulated canister and glass and headed over to his usual table. He placed the glass down and stood to undo the lid of his Ion Suckers. After the smoke and confetti cleared and he found himself sitting on the floor he glared around. All the crew that had been openly laughing and smiling suddenly found table tops intensely amusing.
Bob 'Blindman' Lin was still chuckling about Stryker's indignant ranting as he walked back towards his cabin. He'd heard this mystery prankster had caught out a few Renegades, and although accusations were aplenty, they were well short of proof. "Oh well, no real harm done," he thought with a wry chuckle. He palmed his door open, walked into his cabin and the world turned upside down, inside out and shot through with psychedelic swirls.
"What the?" His perception all wonky, he reeled backwards and the world returned to normal. The door of his cabin remained open and everything appeared fine. He gave himself a shake and stepped across the threshold and reality fled again. Another stagger back and all was well. "Hmm, I think I've been got!" he said to himself as he turned off his visor and sensed his way into his cabin.
Adam 'Guardian' Burns made his way into Stryker's office for the hastily called Wing CO meeting. He acknowledged Stryker, Vidster and Blindman and pulled the chair closest to the entrance in with him. He positioned it near the desk, turned and sat. "Brrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaap!" The look of astonishment on the others faces mirrored his own.
"Well," said Stryker, "that was fairly juvenile considering what he's pulled so far..." Guardian stood to inspect his seat...
"Fwoof!" Vidster failed to hide his smirk as the powder cleared and a chalk white Guardian coughed once to get it out of his mouth. Stryker lowered his head to his hands.
"What have I done to deserve this?" he asked rhetorically.
"The question is," interjected a grim Guardian, "what are we going to do about it?" All three looked at him, intense eyes staring out of a dead white face, and broke up laughing. Guardian was slightly miffed, then saw the funny side of it and joined in.
Two Ensigns overheard the gales of laughter coming from Renegade CO's office as they walked by. They stopped and listened for a moment. "I haven't heard 'anyone' on this ship laugh like that in a long time," one said to the other. "You're right you know, It's good to hear though!" And both stepped off again, little smiles on their faces and a lift in their stride.
Hellcat was amazed at all the things this loose prankster had done aboard the Liberty and was sitting in the Lounge pondering over who could be so brash that they risked getting the CO's and Rogue XO involved in a prank. Just then Paladin walked in and looked at Hellcat quizzically, and thought to himself, "Hellcat looks like he's thinking about something...," the thought left his mind just as fast as it entered when he roared with laughter. Hellcat looked at Paladin and asked, "What are you laughing at you lug head?"
"Just the fact that you actually looked like you were thinking about something," continued Paladin, still laughing.
Hellcat felt annoyed and answered, "Well for your information wise guy, I was thinking. I'm wondering whom it is that is coming up with all these pranks. Whoever it is doesn't seem to care too much about getting caught by the brass. Did you hear what happened to Stryker, Vids, Blindman and Gman?"
Paladin stopped laughing at this point and answered seriously, "Yeah, now that you mention it, what d'ya think they'll do to the prankster when they catch ‘em?"
Hellcat thought a moment longer. "Make him clean out the garbage chutes, run tug duty for a couple months...I know what I'd do." Hellcat trailed off with an evil grin on his face.
"Well? What would you do you furball croaking thing?" Paladin asked with a smirk starting to form on the corners of his mouth.
"I'd send him into heavily fortified territory as bait." Again, Hellcat smiled an evil grin, but this time Paladin joined him. "All I know buddy is that someone is better than us at doing pranks it seems," Hellcat said with a bit of worry in his voice. Paladin only nodded his head in agreement, and both pilots then began to question who it could be on the Liberty that was doing these things. And not only were they wondering that, but they were both wondering who would be next...the tech crews, maintenance teams, other pilots? One could only wait.
Alli Ralter flung herself onto her bunk and started going through her messages as soon as she got into her cabin. She was distracted by her little yellow furball bouncing up and down gesturing at her wardrobe.
"Pikachu, Pickachu, Pik-A-Chu!!" it cried.
"What's your problem Pika?" Alli whined as she got up from her bunk. "It's a robe, you seen it before... Alright Pika!" She placed her finger on the actuation pad.
Alli found herself sitting on her backside squinting to see through the cold glutenous substance running down her face. She looked around to see a thick layer of the stuff over everything, including her Pokemon, who was happily licking the stuff of its fur.
"Yes Pika, I know you like Jello!"
Allista growled slightly to herself as she brushed the last few
tangles from her wet hair. She was going to smell like raspberry
jello for weeks and Pika was getting on a sugar high.
Silk's sense of paranoia was working overtime. It seemed that all of the pilots, as well as command staff, had suffered from practical jokes. Silk was one of the few remaining that had not suffered from the prankster. Using his espionage skills, Silk was able to slip into the lounge unnoticed, except by the sensors of the droid behind the bar.
"Good day Silk, would you like a martini?" Mixer asked as Silk approached the bar.
"Nah, just water, I need to keep my wits about me"
Silk grabbed his glass and left the lounge. He was walking by the pool when it happened, out of one of the halls a stuffed Ewok came flying. It caught Silk full in the chest, sending him flying into the pool. When Silk surfaced he found a small group standing around laughing. Playing it cool he asked, "So does anyone have a towel?"
Jeff 'Kallysto' Young moved to the front of the small group that was helping Silk out of the pool.
"Did you see who threw it?" he asked the Liberty's FCO.
"Nope, heard a faint 'fwoom' then 'Bam' and I was in the pool, any of you guys see anything?" Silk directed the question to the pilots standing around admiring Silk's drowned rat impersonation, a response wet Bothan fur tended to elicit. The others, Locker, Darklighter, Mighty and Prowler were unable to help either, but Mighty was able to identify the corridor it appeared to come from. All six moved along the edge the pool until they were able to see in to the darkened corridor, which revealed nothing.
"Where's the lighting? It shouldn't be that dark." Locker voiced
"What the?" said Darklighter.
Suddenly the light came on further down the corridor, silouhetting a tall cloaked and helmeted figure with lights flashing over its chest. The figure’s hands came up and its fingers spread towards them.
"You puny rebels cannot stop the Empire!" A deep bass amplified
voice washed over them at the same time as blue lightning erupted
from its fingers and writhed towards the group.
The lightning stopped and the figure doubled over with hysterical convulsions, finally catching it's breathe it turned and ran back down the hallway, a faint "Yes, got'em!" echoing back down to the six soaked crew.
Hellcat had walked into the gym deck just as the group flew backwards into the pool. At first Hellcat started to smile but it faded when he heard "Yes got 'em" echo out of the corridor and he quickly gave pursuit hoping to at least catch some sort of detail. Whoever He was chasing, he was gaining some ground, because he heard the sound of running boots start to get louder. "Whoever this guy is, he sure is out of shape," Hellcat concluded with a smirk on his face and increased his pace. Rounding a corner, he started to make out the build of the prankster, but it was only a back-view and anyone on the Liberty could look like that...he had to gain more ground. Things turned, however, when the figure turned his/her head around and noticed Hellcat giving chase...this caused the figure to increase its pace. Seeing the figure increase speed, Hellcat knew he had been noticed and broke out at top speed to catch up...the distance started getting smaller and smaller as he continued to gain on the figure, however he was going to fast to notice the turn coming up. By the time he could react, it was too late and Hellcat careened right into the bulkhead with his left shoulder, sending a painful shock through his entire body. The last thing he saw as he tried to regain his composure was the figure getting away. His commlink beeped.
"Hellcat, this is Mighty. Did you catch him?"
"Negative, these damn corridors are so dark and I was so intent on grabbing this guy, that I failed to notice the turn I had to make....so now I'm nursing my shoulder, while running images of the figure, from the back, through my mind."
"Come up with anything?"
"No Mighty Mouse, ‘fraid not."
Chris "Jalb_k" Reynolds stealthily moved down the corridors to his quarters to put away the helmet, cloak, and lights he just used to get the last 6 pilots. Jalb_k was delighted at the fact that he had not yet been discovered. Once he got to his quarters and put away his possessions, he decided to go down to the port side hangar bay to see whom else he could pull a prank on.
He entered the hangar bay and immediately an enormous Bothan, easily topping Jalb_k's 6’1" frame by a good foot and a half, came up and sternly asked him if he was Rogue Nine.
"Excuse me?" asked Jalb_k.
"I SAID ARE YOU ROGUE NINE." yelled the Bothan so loud that everyone in the hangar could hear. The Bothan appeared to be quite agitated about something. Jalb_k took a mental step back and composed himself. He decided on cheerful confidence to hide the little stab of fear he felt.
"Well, yes I am. How may I be of service good Sir?"
The Bothan then asked, this time in a lower tone of voice, "What did you do to my ship?" Jalb_k got a confused look on his face then asked, "What do you mean?".
The Bothan growing even more agitated yelled. "You know darn well what I mean and if you don't make it right I'll toss your butt right through the hangar and off into space!"
Jalb started to get slightly anxious and answered the Bothan "Honestly sir I have no idea what you are talking about." The Bothan produced a piece of paper from his pocket and showed it to Jalb, who read the note which said:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I was playing with a Solar Frisbee in the hangar bay and unfortunately it struck your ship leaving a rather nasty dent on the hull and may have damaged some internal circuitry. Please contact me so I can make the proper reparations to pay for the damage.
Jalb_k, Rogue Nine
Jalb_k's jaw nearly hit the floor when he read the note. He regained his composure and said to the Bothan. "I'm afraid sir that we have been the victim of a prank. I did not write that note and I doubt that there has been any damage caused to your ship." The Bothan considered this and finally proposed "You and I are going to check every inch of the hull of my Shuttle just to be sure." Jalb_k agreed to this.
Three hours later the Shuttle was inspected to the Bothan's satisfaction and the he left the Liberty. Jalb_k wearily found his way to the lounge where he ordered a sundowner and wondered who could be the one that just ‘got’ him.
He nursed his drink as he stared out into space, his mind rapidly going over evidence, trying to correlate facts and pin the perpetrator. Hellcat? No, too subtle for Josh, and he wouldn't have had time to set it up after slamming into the bulkhead like he had. Jalb smiled to himself. Increasing his speed like he had, but staying well off his top pace had just reeled Hellcat in, and the sidestep to the right had been perfectly timed. Jalb could still hear the 'Ooommpphh' Josh made when he hit the turn. He made a mental note to send him some bacta spray anonymously, that impact had to have left a mark.
He knew whoever had done it was canny, and sly, much like himself, however involving the Bothan had been a bad mistake. The 3 hour delay to his departure had incensed him further. Although most contrite and apologetic after realising they had indeed been the brunt of a joke, he had left Jalb with a firm handshake and a solemn promise from Jalb to let him know when he found the person responsible. Jalb chuckled to himself and knew he did not want to be responsible for what that Wookiee sized Bothan could do to someone, but they'd brought it on themselves.
He'd come up with a short list of names by the time he went to see LT Koernig, the Liberty's security officer. If anyone had records of people’s handwriting, it was he. A quick scan of this note and it should have a match in seconds.
"Hehehe, let the fun begin!" he said to himself.
A lone shuttle traveled through hyperspace to its destination on Corellia. Inside the shuttle the pilot, Toban, mulled over the prank pulled on him and Rogue Nine earlier. The Bothan considered the possibility that the prank was solely intended for Rogue Nine, but he quickly dismissed it. Over the years he had know dozens of people that are now in the Rebellion. He wondered if any of them would want to get back at him for something.
Who could it be pondered Toban. A pilot? A passenger? A crew member? Then he seemed to recall that 2 years earlier that he underpaid a mercenary for a job. The mercenary was discontent at first but since he found something useful in the rubble of his kills he said he’d let him make it up to him later. But that was two years ago and Toban was never very good with names. Toban tried to recall that mercenary's name but couldn't think of it. All of the sudden he realised that he kept logs of all his expenses. He grabbed the strong box from under his seat and procured a data pad from it. "Let’s see," the Bothan mumbled to himself "this job was about two years ago. It must of been one of the ones in the Outer Rim Territories." The Bothan pushed a sequence of keys on his data pad and in came up with a list. The Bothan eyed the list carefully. Half way down the list he recognised the name! It was . . .
"Tolle! Michael ‘Mighty’ Tolle, you sly, devious little bugger." Jalb_k laughed and slapped Kevin ‘Gemini’ Koernig on the shoulder. The rarely in uniform, serious security officer breached his façade and grinned, caught up in Jalb’s ebullient mood.
"Thanks Kev, that’s another I owe ya, tell ya what, how’s Bob’s appetite these days?" Gemini arched an eyebrow in response. "I’ve got a few kilo’s of prime Macquarian beef steak on the way, planning on a bit of a BBQ, and I think I could spare some for him. I’d guess it’s been a while since your sting-ray had any real red meat." Jalb finished with a grin.
Gemini smiled back sincerely. "Thanks Chris, I’m sure Bob will appreciate it."
"Toban, I got your holo and agree, having found the same identity. I’ve got a little something planned and would like your help…" The large Bothan sat back and watched and listened as Rogue Nine detailed his plan, and was openly laughing when he recorded his response.
Michael ‘Mighty’ Tolle was bored. He hated sitting around on sprint team. He tried to keep himself amused by correlating data to directly pin all the pranks on Jalb, but the leads all turned into dead ends and he was rapidly losing interest. He knew in his gut that it was Jalb, yet… wherever he had learned the art of subterfuge he had learned well. Suddenly his comm pinged.
"Mighty, it’s Silk up in Flight Control. I want you to take out the Alert 1 A-wing, we’ve got a strange shuttle just come in-system and it’s not answering our hails. It’s making sensor sweeps, so get out and ID the sucker would you?"
"Roger that Silk, I’m on my way." Mighty responded, already with helmet in hand and halfway to the eggshell fighter.
Jalb_k smiled and turned to the Bothan as he shut down the narrow beam transmission from Silk. "Phase 2 Toban, he’s on his way!"
Mighty goosed laser power to engines to increase his intercept speed and started tracking the mysterious interloper. He intended to make a high-speed run past the shuttle to get the readings he needed for Silk but was shocked out of his complacency when the shuttle turned towards him at 3 klicks out and started locking him up.
"Liberty, this is Rogue Ten, Bogey is aggressive! Do I have engagement authority?"
"Negative Ten," Silk’s voice came back. "Evade and track, do not engage in this sector!"
Mighty screamed in frustration internally but followed orders. He neatly shook the shuttles lock and got in behind it, all the while painting it with laser tone. The shuttle suddenly decelerated, swung 90o and shot into hyperspace.
"Liberty, bogey has jumped. I’d say it’s a short unplanned hop out of system. I have a solid solution for hyper track. Orders?"
"Roger Ten, you are clear to follow and engage. It appears to be a leftover from Vorkin’s lot, launching the rest of the sprint team for backup. Good Hunting!"
Mighty smiled inwardly as he keyed in the hyper track solution and made the leap to hyperspace, and into his worst nightmare.
Jalb sat back and watched the sensors, twelve red blips indicating T/A Avenger arranged in a loose semi circle around the space where… "Bingo!" A lone green dot, designated A-wing Alert. Jalb hefted the small module in his hand and flicked the switch…
Almost instantly lock tone echoed throughout Mighty’s cockpit. "Holy sithspit!" Michael was in deep and he knew it. Sweat drenched his suit as he evaded vertically and punched for hyperspace, to be met by… nothing. He watched in horror as his systems shut down, laser, shield and engine indicators fading to nothing. All he had was life support and targeting, his comms being jammed. He was no fool, he knew he’d been trapped, he just hoped his backup got here soon. Then again, it would take another four Rogues to deal with Avenger in full. His mind was racing, unable to comprehend the presence of the Empires elite, here! His comm crackled.
"Michael Tolle, you are under arrest! You are a Rebel traitor and a spy! You will be taken away! Initiate personal magcon and exit your craft. You will be tractored aboard."
Mighty considered just popping his canopy and letting vacuum do the job, but he couldn’t end it like this. He knew he was in for a rough time, but he would escape. Somehow, sometime, he would get away. He unstrapped, turned on his magcon and prepared for the icy chill as he opened his canopy. As an afterthought he tried the self-destruct timer. "Dead too, damnit!"
He pushed away from his disabled craft and after floating 100 or so metres he was caught by the implacable grip of a tractor beam. It was then that he noticed the movement at the shuttles open hatch. One by one he watched twelve very familiar probe packages entering followed by a black-suited figure exiting with a hand held nullgee thruster, getting closer. He grimaced and thought, "You bugger!" as Jalb sailed by with a wave and a big grin. Then he heard a familiar Bothan voice through his personal comm.
"Ah ha Michael. He who laughs last laughs hardest! I believe that is the human saying?" Toban guffawed heartily. "Myself and the esteemed Rogue Nine offer our compliments on your little joke, however, we believe some time in contemplation of the error of your ways will suffice as retribution." Jalb had strapped himself into the couch and enabled the A-wings systems, and added his own cheery laugh and heartfelt sentiments.
"Indeed Mighty! You have forced my hand. I had to let a lot of people into the loop on this one so I believe my days as the ‘Mystery Prankster’ are numbered. But I feel that this one has been my best and you can float here awhile, calm in the knowledge that you have been the brunt of the finest, and look forward to your deck reception when I let Hyl know where you are. And I am SO looking forward to that party!" He added with a big chuckle. "Cheers mate. I’m not going away angry, I’m just going away!" Followed by, "Yes, got him!" With that the two craft leapt past him into hyperspace. Left adrift, he could do nothing but appreciate the scale of the prank that had been played on him. He floated calmly awaiting a pickup. Michael ‘Mighty’ Tolle was bored.
"Chief!" Hellcat yelled out towards the technician crew working on Jalb's fighter. The chief technician, quickly strutted over towards the pilot, "Something I can help you with Lt.?"
"Yeah, Jalb told me to give you these orders for his fighter," Hellcat handed the technician a datapad and the technician looked up with a puzzled expression shown across his face.
"The Lt. ordered for this to be done to his fighter sir?" the technician asked with a hesitant voice.
"You see his signature right there at the bottom don't you?" Hellcat pointed towards the bottom of the data pad. With a sigh of acknowledgment the technician said, "Well if that's what the Lt. wants then that's what he'll get. Guys..." was all Hellcat could hear as he walked away smiling proudly to himself.
*ONE DAY LATER*
Jalb was walking towards the hangar, relieved that he was finally getting off the ship and doing some flying, even if it was just a patrol assignment. Whistling as he walked towards the hangar he ran into Hellcat, whose smile alone could make a man suspicious, but Jalb wasn't until...
"WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO MY FIGHTER?!?!" He screamed out, causing an echo within the large hangar bay of the giant Mon cal cruiser. "Chief, just what do you think you were doing when you did that to my fighter?" Jalb asked pointing towards the freshly painted pink fighter that caused a bit of attention in the hangar bay.
"Sir, Lt. Kinney handed me a datapad with your signature I might add, asking for a repaint of your craft into that colour."
"I should have known something was wrong when I saw that fiendish smile of his," Jalb said letting out a low growl indicating he was not too happy. He had expected something now that his secret was out, but this was beyond what he had envisaged. Just then, Condor and Krayt entered the hangar hearing that there was a commotion going on. As soon as they saw Jalb's fighter they couldn't help but burst out into tears of laughter pointing at the poor man's ship at the same time.
"Hey Jalb, nice paint job buddy! I'm sure you wouldn't need to kill the Imps, they'll die laughing just looking at that thing."
Jalb was a little miffed at the attention his fighter was getting, and he remembered that he had a patrol mission to fly in less than 5 minutes, "Chief when I get back I expect that...that...pink thing to be painted back to it's original colour."
Then Alli walked in and commented, "Hey I think it looks nice Jalb. It shows your feminine side." Again the hangar burst into laughter, even if Alli wasn't trying to make a joke out of the comment she'd made.
Out on patrol Jalb couldn't help but notice the fuselage in front of him, it was so bright but, something about pink teased his memory.
"Hey Skippy," he called to his astromech droid. "Did you download all that stuff on Macquarian history like I asked you?" He smiled as he heard a couple of beeps and an indignant bwoop! He didn't need to read the screen to understand that!
"OK, OK. Do a search on camouflage, a couple of centuries back. I recall reading something about pink being used by the armed forces of the day."
A few moments later text started printing out on the screen.
"During trials of the new armoured fighting vehicles several accidents were caused by ground vehicles failing to notice the large tracked vehicles sharing the public highway with them. Ironically, the colour pink, thought to be least associated with warlike activities is also a colour that the eye tends to ignore, as it blends well into any surrounding."
"Woohoo! I knew it. All I have to do is tone this down a bit, add a bit of grey and black on the edges like those holo's there and we have a perfect paint job. Haha, you have SO made me happy Hellcat, talk about yer backfire. Skip, do up a holo of our ship here, dull the pink and add the grey and black." Jalb watched as a small holographic depiction of what he described appeared near his right hand.
"Bingo, that's perfect. Save and log that for maintenance. It might look out of place on the deck, but we are gonna be near invisible out here."
The Lounge was full. Nearly all the fighter wing, and quite a few fleet types, had responded to the anonymous invitation, and all were openly curious. The excited babble of the gathering quietened as Chris ‘Jalb_k’ Reynolds stood up on a table near the bar. With a wink to, and a nod from his CO, he began to orate.
"Ladies and gentlebeings, most of you will by now know that I was the perpetrator of the string of pranks and practical jokes over the past few weeks. Fortunately everyone I ‘got’ saw the funny side and, in some cases, were able to give as good as they got." A light chuckle rippled through the crowd. "Yet, I had to be unmasked at some stage, so, instead of waiting for an intensive investigation to unearth my nefarious urging, I let a few people in on my secret and went hat in hand to the CO to turn myself in." This was met by a united groan of condolence at which Jalb laughed out loud. "Oh ye of little faith," he quipped "COL Stryker is far from the Ogre some of you would portray him as. Apart from a little extra duty, of a nature I won’t explore in this forum," to which he added an exaggerated grimace "he ordered me to recompense those that suffered my wit in a way in which I saw fit. So, to continue in the frivolous vein that inspired me to boost ships morale, I have managed to talk the Wing and Fleet CO’s into giving us 36 hours downtime for those not on essential duties." A huge cheer met this! Jalb raised his hands to try and settle the glowing throng. "We’re gonna fire up the barbie and have a few steaks and, Mixer, Sundowners all round!"
A few minutes later most of the Rogues were standing around reminiscing over some of the better pranks and sipping free Sundowners when Stryker spoke up.
"Well Jalb, I think you can cancel those last few refuse Tug duties," he looked around "You’ve done a good thing here." He finished with a smile and took another pull on his drink. "Mmmm, while I’m at it, although it lacks the finesse of an Ion Sucker," this was met by guffaws all round "these Sundowners are quite mellow. I’ve been meaning to ask the story behind these for a while, is there one?" A shadow seemed to briefly cloud Jalb’s face but his effervescent grin was soon back on.
"Well Sir, there is, but it’s rather long and deep and, well, I guess it’s another tale Sir!" He finished with a roguish smile.
Chris ‘Animal’ Stephen laughed and said "I’ll drink to that, but, then again, I’ll drink to anything when it’s free!"
Krayt broke through the ensuing laughter. "Speaking of which, how are you paying for all this Chris?"
Jalb looked up with a sheepish grin. "Heh heh! Remember Animal’s little device?" he said holding up a datapad. All present knew of the slice that Animal had worked on Mixer with his datapad and Hellcat’s pay.
"Aw no, tell me you didn’t" Josh Kinney whined.
Jalb laughed again. "No mate, not you, but everyone bar Rogue Squadron is going to be a couple of credits up on their bar tabs!"
Stryker tried to pin Jalb with a stern stare, but couldn’t quite pull it off. "Reynolds, you’re incorrigible!"
"Ha ha! That I am Sir, that I am!"