The Tale of the Ready Room
(Authors’ note: This POV started life as a series of in-character roleplays on the Renegade Wing Discord, which have been collated and edited to form this story.)
(or, Extreme Makeover: Renegade Wing Edition!)
Talon and Gremlin
Other Contributions by:
Jalb_k, Syntax, Iggy, Bulldog, Krayt, Angel, Wolf, Lock, Knight, and Stryker
Ready Room, CRS Vigilant; one week after Renegade Wing comes aboard
Lt Col Chris “Jalb_k” Reynolds stepped into the ready room as the double doors whooshed closed behind him. Normally there'd be a couple of pilots sitting around or dozing in one of the half-dozen bunks against the wall, a 'sprint' shift ready to scramble for interception and/or close defence, but the Fleet had staggered the standby flights and had active point patrols with amalgamated flights made up from different squadrons, such was the manning deficit after Endor.
The ready room was part briefing room, part clubhouse, shared by all the flying Squadrons on the Vigilant.
The bulkhead door Jalb_k had just walked through from the flight deck was what they jokingly called the 'service' entrance. It led into the equipment room where pilots kept their flightsuits, helmets and other occupational necessities, as well as their sidearms. It was also the main bulkhead and airlock that, should magnetic containment be lost on the flight deck, would seal to prevent further decompression while magcon was fixed or the physical bay doors could shut. A second bulkhead door led into the ready room where he now stood, looking around. The room itself was 15 metres by 25; at the far end was the exit to HQ country, next to a briefing area that could seat five full squadrons and the rest was … unfinished. The Vigilant was so new and their tenure aboard so recent that the ready room was still mostly unfurnished. Except for the briefing area and built-in bunks, it was bland and sterile.
Jalb remembered the ready room on the Liberty, the slight feeling of awe he had when he first transferred into Corsair and hung out in the same space as Rogues, those seemingly aloof professionals. Put high on a pedestal, they turned out to be the biggest bunch of pranksters, ne'er-do-wells and high-functioning alcoholics he had ever met: he fit right in.
“We need to get some couches in here,” Rogue Lead mused aloud as he scanned the room, “card tables, monitors, holo-screens … but first, I really should find my office.”
Behind him the door slid open again, letting in a blast of noise and pungent smells from the busy flight deck beyond. Overtopping the sound was a voice, clearly audible despite the fact that the speaker was facing backwards, talking to someone in the equipment room.
“It’s just so boring in here! At least on the Morning Star the ready room was comfortable - you didn’t mind spending time in it. This place needs ....” the speaker spun around, arms outstretched to make her point, then paused as she saw Jalb inside the maligned space, “ ... needs a facelift. Don’t you think, sir?” Lieutenant Gemilan “Gremlin” sketched a salute, unfazed by the senior officer’s presence. She managed a pert smile, but the dark circles beneath her eyes hinted at a contrasting story.
Jalb had been about to tap execute on the list of commands he had on his pad for his R2 unit, Skippy, when he heard the service door open. He looked up to watch as Gremlin backed into the emptiness, gesturing around her and talking to Flight Officer Edwyn “Talon” KalDan, who saluted smartly, as she continued her spin. "Indeed it does, Gremlin," he responded as he waved his hand around his forehead in the general vicinity of a salute. She looks tired, he thought and filed that away for a discussion with Corsair's OC. Syntax still had an issue identifying when the 'meatbags' under his command needed rest.
"I was just about to send these requisition orders to my astromech, but since you're here ..." he said as he looked back down at his pad, tapped vicinity and swiped the orders to Corsair Two's icon. Gremlin's thigh pinged and she reached down to her flightsuit pocket to pull out her pad. She spent a few moments scanning it as Rogue One continued, "You will see there should be more than enough tables and hard seating, as well as lounging and reclining for five squadrons there and I think I'll leave it up to you, and the other pilots, as to how you set it out.
“Two things, though - the soundproof divider obviously goes up over there ..." he gave a wave in the direction of the bunks, "and the free weights and gym equipment are for the fitness room behind the briefing area.” He indicated the location, just in case they didn’t know the ready room layout. "The rest of it, well, make it comfortable ... and un-boring. Talon, don’t stand at attention all day! Chop chop!"
Talon relaxed slightly. "Sir! Yes, sir!"
Jalb_k looked at him with amusement and winked at Gremlin. "Carry on, people, I'll check on your progress later," he added as he headed towards HQ country, leaving them both to look around the barren room.
"You can relax, Talon," Gremlin said as the door hissed closed behind the senior officer. "He was teasing you. I’d heard Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds can be a bit of a joker - I get that now!” She tapped her datapad to send Jalb_k’s list to Talon’s pad. "Let's look at this list then, shall we? Wow … he’s requisitioned a lot of kit for this place!"
The younger pilot scanned his datapad, then looked around the empty, echoing ready room. “Right. Okay then ... where do we start?" He shook his head. “Dank farrik! This is going to be a big job.”
“Yeah …..” Gremlin propped her fists on her hips, datapad still clasped in one hand. “It’ll take a lot of work, that’s for sure. But I’m glad we’re going to be doing this together!” She grinned at her young squadmate. Talon was fresh out of pilot training, still adjusting to the demands of being part of Corsair Squadron; anything that helped to integrate him into life on the Vigilant was to be encouraged.
However, it seemed that Talon had already been tapping into Renegade Wing lore. Gesturing to the door through which Jalb_k had left, he replied, "I heard that his X-Wing was painted pink once.... never got the full story though.” Abruptly he grinned as a thought struck him. “Maybe we should add a pink chair or couch for him! Just don't let Iggy in here if we do that, though. Who knows what he would do?"
Gremlin laughed; Iggy’s dislike - no, hatred - of the colour was legendary, even among those new to the Wing. “If we go ahead with that idea - and I think we should, it’s brilliant - Iggy will be barred from here forever! I think Jalb would like it, too. He should be able to take jokes as well as make ‘em.” She looked around at the bare walls, considering. “So, Talon - how good are you at painting?”
"Do we really want to pick a color that may have to be painted over at some point?"
Gremlin’s smile deepened. “Oh, that wasn’t the sort of painting I was thinking of!” She beckoned Talon closer, even though the ready room was empty apart from them. “Let me explain ... and once we’re finished here, I bet no-one will call this place ‘boring’ again!”
Simmons Schock Deck, CRS Vigilant, later that day
The lounge was quiet. Only a few of the usual suspects decorated the bar stools or slouched around the tables. Iggy, the SSD’s resident droid bartender, was recalibrating its spigots to ensure every last drop of alcohol was tallied and the cost applied to its customers’ bar tabs.
Talon marched in, smiling as he leaned on the bar. “Hey, Iggy! I’ll have some oil, please.”
The droid didn’t waste time asking what a human might be doing with the beverage. Every sale helped turn a profit, after all. “That is the stuff,” it intoned, filling a stein with hot oil normally reserved for Corsair’s OC, Lieutenant Colonel 9-LOM “Syntax”. With a practised move calculated to microns, it slid the stein over to Talon, who intercepted it with a word of thanks.
Lieutenant Andy “Bulldog” Clark of Buccaneer Squadron blinked as the steaming stein swooshed past his glass of bourbon. “That’s gonna run right through you, kid,” he observed, shielding his drink from further stray steins.
Talon grinned. “Oh, I’m not gonna drink it. It’s part of a … project.”
Sitting at a nearby table, Lieutenant Colonel Alrick “Krayt” Durgan, currently Tactical Officer of Renegade Wing, frowned at the Wing’s youngest pilot. I wonder what he has in mind?
And from the bar stool behind Talon, Lieutenant Jeni “Angel” Courtner, Corsair’s new maintenance chief, shook her head. “Whatever that project is - no!” She remembered all too well the extra work that Talon had already caused with his last ‘improvement’ to his A-wing’s sensitive electronics.
“Oh, are you worried about my plans?” Talon turned to face her, still smiling. “They don’t involve breaking my sensors again, don’t worry.”
“Are you sure?” All too aware of pilot proclivities - she had been one herself, until the terror and torment of her run into the Death Star at Endor - she added hastily, “Does it break another system?”
Talon hesitated. “I hope not …. if it does, I hope I can fix it.”
Angel locked eyes with her nemesis, but spoke to the bartender: “Iggy - give me a whisky, please.”
The droid slammed down a shot glass and splashed an ounce of Corellian whisky into it, pushing the drink towards Angel without a word. She regarded it with disappointment. “Only an ounce, Iggy? Cheapskate.”
Talon ordered another whisky and slid it in front of Angel. “No reason to worry. I’ve got it all worked out.”
The crew chief knocked back her first whisky, then picked up the second. “Why would I worry?”
“Um - because I already broke my A-Wing sensors?” Talon eyed her, wondering what was going on.
Angel winked at him. “I’ll inject more sarcasm next time.”
Talon blinked, utterly confused. He clearly didn't know what sarcasm was.
"Nevermind, Talon." Angel shook her head and looked curiously at the new pilot. I wonder why he doesn't know about sarcasm?
Syntax entered the lounge, giving a mechanical nod to the occupants; he ordered a stein of hot oil, either not seeing or choosing to ignore Talon’s matching drink. Behind him, fellow Corsair Lieutenant Myke “Wolf” Krenn ambled up to the bar and requested a caf. Iggy treated him to a lengthy stare from its photoreceptors.
“Does not compute. No alcohol detected in petition,” it declared after a moment. This was a long-running tussle between them; caf was not yet on the lounge’s menu.
Wolf stared back. “Fine. I’ll have a tea.”
“Tea, Earl Grey - hot,” Iggy muttered as it prepared a cuppa for the thirsty pilot, who maintained the staring competition with the droid. Iggy won, as usual.
Gremlin hurried into the lounge. She grinned at Angel, her long-term friend from the days of Red Squadron, and slid onto the empty bar stool on the other side of Talon. “Can I have an oil, please, Iggy?”
“That is the stuff!”
Wolf eyed the Zeltron. “Did … did they replace your stomach with a carburettor?”
“Oh, I’m not going to drink it! It’s for a …. project.” Gremlin smiled sweetly at her fellow Corsair as she held out one hand to stop the stein’s slide.
At the nearby booth, Krayt realized that another new, young pilot had ordered an oil and was talking about a project. Well, this can’t be good …..
Captain Roy “Lock” Callahan, who occupied the bar stool next to Wolf, narrowed his eyes. He’d been Gremlin’s OC for several years and was all too aware what that particular smile often meant. Gremlin, for her part, spotted the white-haired pilot’s expression and injected extra sweetness into her smile.
Wolf, caught between them, sipped his tea with a worried expression and wished he’d just gone to the canteen.
“Well, this was nice. See you!” Gremlin kept her saccharine smile in place as she pivoted from the bar, stein of oil carried carefully in both hands.
“Yep - see you!” Talon joined her and together they walked out.
Wolf hunched over the bar. “All fun and games till Angel decides this is my fault.”
Angel, without a comment, knocked back her second shot of whisky before holding up a finger for another.
Outside the ready room, CRS Vigilant, later that day
Anyone entering the equipment room was confronted by an unusual sight. Obscuring the door to the ready room hung a large sign, written on a pink bedsheet, in Gremlin's distinctive handwriting, with now-cold oil:
BIOHAZARD - KEEP OUT!
The equipment room remained open for use, but anyone trying to access the ready room found that the door panel did not operate. Talon’s skill with electronics was more than adequate to this task.
Bulldog had just returned from a patrol when he moseyed into the equipment room and was confronted by the sign. Is that … Gremlin’s handwriting?
“Anyone smell … shoe polish?” the confused pilot called out into the large, busy hangar bay. After waiting a few moments with no reply he shrugged, changed into his off-duty clothes and returned to the SSD for a drink.
HQ Country, CRS Vigilant,around a week later
Jalb_k left his office and turned towards the ready room with his head down, reading notes on the datapad in front of him ... and nearly folded the pad in half as he tried walking through the sensor-operated sliding door that stayed firmly shut. "What the ….!?" he exclaimed, staring with consternation at the grey steel in front of him. He smacked the manual release to the side of the door a couple of times with no result.
"For kriff's sake!" Looks like I'm going the long way, he thought to himself. And I should get maintenance onto that door. His mood darkened as he walked the several hundred metres from HQ country to the main hangar deck door and the 'service' entrance, only to be confronted with an oily pink sheet barring his way there.
Things were about to get ... raucous! He took a deep breath ready to bellow for the Deck Officer but checked himself at the last minute as he realised what he'd done.
“I'll leave it up to you,” he had said to the two Corsair pilots. Hmph... how bad can it be? Have a little faith, Reynolds, have a little faith. he chided himself as he grew resigned to another long walk.
Inside the ready room, unaware of their narrow escape, Talon and Gremlin continued with their plans.
Simmons Schock Deck, CRS Vigilant, later that day
A few faint splotches of paint could be seen on Talon’s hands as he walked up to the bar. He tugged down his cuffs to hide the worst of the mess. “Hey, Iggy!”
With a sound suspiciously like a mechanical sigh, the murder-droid turned bartender rotated its head to view the new customer but its limbs kept working, re-stocking the top shelf drinks - an all-too-frequent occurrence aboard the Vigilant. Its vocoder buzzed with simulated annoyance. “What?”
“I’ll have a beer, please!” A pint of something amber, cold and frothy slid to a stop in front of him. Talon took a long pull, wiping the froth from his upper lip once he’d finished.
Gremlin glanced surreptitiously around the room as she took the seat next to him. “Hey! How’s things? Needing a break?” She winked. Her cheek was red where she’d scrubbed off the paint smudge before coming to the bar. “Oh, Iggy …. if you don’t mind, I’ll have a Zeltron spiced wine, please.”
As it did every time - even former murder-droids had subroutines - Iggy flourished a white towel and draped it over its arm before pouring an aromatic, slightly steaming mug of Zeltron’s finest spiced wine.
Gremlin accepted the drink with an angelic smile. “Thanks, Iggy! Mind if I take your towel, too? I think I might spill this wine and it’d be handy to have it to mop up.” She whisked the towel off the droid’s metal arm as she spoke; Iggy just treated her to a long look from its photoreceptors and turned away. There were plenty more towels, after all. It would recover that one later.
Pleased with her successful acquisition, Gremlin smiled at Talon. The younger pilot glanced over his shoulder and leaned closer.
“The RCLS is almost done!” he murmured, taking care to keep his voice low even though the lounge was relatively quiet.
Gremlin mirrored his posture and volume. “That’s great news! And nothing’s broken … well, nothing yet.”
“That could change at any moment.”
“Let’s just keep that quiet!”
Talon finished his beer and ordered a shot; Iggy slammed a shot glass down and splashed an ounce of Corellian whisky into it.
“Hey! Don’t break the glass, Iggy!” Talon shook his head. “He’s gonna break something ….”
“As long as he does it and not us!” Gremlin blew gently on her spiced wine and sipped, enjoying the subtle mixture of flavours. She raised the glass in a silent toast to Iggy’s clumsiness.
“Good thing I’m not wearing pink!” But Talon failed to keep his voice low enough to evade Iggy. One ocular sensor slowly turned in their direction and focused on the Wing’s youngest pilot.
“No!” It was only one word, but it was forceful enough.
Gremlin paused, thinking she’d been caught in the act of tucking the purloined towel inside her flightsuit, but fortunately Iggy hadn’t been speaking to her. She relaxed. “Watch it, Talon! You-know-what alert!” She wasn’t going to repeat Iggy’s least favourite word - not immediately, at least.
“Dank farrik!” Talon shook his head. “Iggy, I’ll have a Zeltron spiced wine.”
The droid flourished another white towel from its seemingly endless supply and draped it over its arm before pouring an aromatic, slightly steaming mug of Zeltron’s finest spiced wine.
Gremlin eyed her young comrade. “Oh, look …. another towel …..”
Talon needed no further reminding. He grabbed the towel as Iggy turned away, whipping it out of sight below the bar. The droid knew what had happened, of course, but it was prepared to overlook such minor indiscretions. The cleanbots would no doubt track the towel down later - some were always found in the bar at the end of the night.
Impressed by Talon’s speed, Gremlin gave him a thumbs-up sign and drank some more spiced wine. “We might have to come back here later and get - I mean, drink some more of this!” She wasn’t referring to the wine and Talon knew it, but he played along.
“Hmm, good idea. I’m gonna …. head out!” He had stuffed the towel beneath his uniform jacket; it wasn’t the best hiding-place but it only had to stay there until they made it back to the ready room.
Gremlin swigged the last of her spiced wine. “Me too!” She put down the mug, licked her lips and gave Talon a conspiratorial grin. “See you later.”
They left together, turned in opposite directions and met up at the ready room a short while later. Phase two of the plan, soft furnishings, was under way!
Outside the ready room, CRS Vigilant, two weeks later
Krayt walked up to the ready room and saw that the door was still blocked by the pink bedsheet, now touched up with several more coats of cold oil. He shook his head, annoyed.
Gremlin and Talon seem like they need some prodding. They’ve been working on this for weeks and we really need this space open for the Wing!
Krayt began the long walk to HQ country in search of the OC of Corsair squadron. Syntax would know what to do.
Arriving at Syntax’s office, he asked the droid OC, “Do you think you could come up with some motivation for Talon and Gremlin? They’re still working on the ready room. I know they have some great plans, but we've got missions to run and I think the techs in the hangar are getting tired of having the pilots stand over their shoulders all day.”
Syntax nodded once. “Understood.” He tapped a button on his desk pager. “Gremlin and Talon, could you please report to my office?”
In the ready room - by now unrecognisable from its previous sterile and boring state - Gremlin straightened up from shifting a chair into place as her OC’s robotic voice came over the comms.
"Uh-oh - I wonder what that's about?" She winked at Talon. They had been wondering how long they would get to complete their renovations, although in between patrols, training and other routine tasks, their time had actually been quite limited. Especially when they'd had to scrounge, make or 'borrow' certain items that were not in the list of requisitions Rogue Leader had kindly provided.
She activated her commlink. "Gremlin here. We're on our way, sir." As the link closed, she took a deep breath and looked around the suite of rooms they had transformed. "So - d'you think they'll like it?"
“I really hope so.”
Gremlin puffed out her cheeks in a sigh. "Me too. Your RCLS is really something, you know?" She elbowed her fellow Corsair gently in the ribs, a teasing gesture. "I don't think the others appreciate the full extent of your skills, Talon! This'll show 'em!"
The two Corsair pilots left the Ready room and walked to Syntax’s office. Talon walked in first, and, on sight of his OC, snapped to perfect attention. Beside him, Gremlin gave a more relaxed salute.
"You asked to speak to us, sir?" the young pilots said in unison.
"I understand that you two have been ... renovating the Ready Room for a while now and while I generally encourage pilots to engage in extracurricular activities, I prefer that they not come at the expense of other duties. I assume you two have been able to keep on top of your other responsibilities?"
Gremlin offered Syntax what would have been a winning smile, only her pheromones obviously had no effect against droids. “Of course, sir!” There was just a hint of reproachful surprise in her voice. “We’ve carried out all our duties - patrols, sim training, everything. We’ve kept the ready room work to our off-duty time.” Mostly. We’d’ve been talking to other crew members as part of our duties anyway. And there've been a lot of negotiations involved in this!
In fact, Gremlin had enjoyed the extra effort of working on the ready room. It had tired her out, so the nightmares about fighting over Endor had almost stopped. Maybe that was why she didn’t want this project to end, but it had to come to a halt eventually. She took a deep breath. “We’ve just been putting the finishing touches to the room, sir. D’you want to come and see it?”
The droid stood, mechanical frame creaking slightly as he rose. "Absolutely. Let's go see what you two have accomplished.”
“Actually, sir,” Gremlin added, with a glance at Talon, “could we ask as many people as possible to be there? It is a Wing ready room, after all. It’d be good to demonstrate all the ... new elements of the room to people at the same time. The other OCs as well, if they’re able to come along.”
Syntax nodded. "You're right, that's a great idea - I'm sure everyone would be happy to see what the new ready room is like." He returned to his desk and tapped the comm. “All available off-duty personnel, please report to the ready room for a special announcement."
Lieutenant John “Knight” Vorwald looked up from the array of reports he was studying. He considered his OC’s announcement and contrasted it with the data pads strewn in front of him. I’m sure it’s more important than this! he thought, collecting his things and making for the ready room.
Having finished her assigned physical therapy exercises, Corsair’s A-wing crew chief had spent the last hour reading in her quarters and trying not to kill the Corellian whiskey under her bunk, settling for tea instead. The announcement was a welcome distraction, so Angel hopped up and headed on down to the ready room. She wasn't sure if Corsair Leader meant all personnel but what the hell - worst thing was that they’d toss her out. There was better caf in the Corsair room, anyway.
Jalb eyed the notification that had just popped up over the current transfer request he was assessing. The only time a comm took focus was if it was a C-Staff message and something from Syntax was usually 'work' related. Off duty, special announcement. Oh, they've finished the ready room? he mused. Jalb swiped at his datapad to disconnect the three monitors on his desk, then stood and put it back into his left thigh pocket.
At this point any distraction will do. This New Republic paperwork ... paperwork, why do we call it that? I don't think I've seen real paper since I was a kid …
Bulldog ambled down the hallway towards the ready room, his curiosity piqued. “I wonder if they have snacks …”
By the time Syntax arrived at the ready room, his two pilots in tow, Gremlin was surprised but pleased to see a good number of pilots and flight crew awaiting them at the entrance. She nudged Talon. “Here we go!”
Talon grinned back. "I'm ready if you are!"
Lock spotted the group of pilots and flight crew starting to amass in front of the entrance to the ready room. Raising a brow, the white-haired pilot decided he was curious enough to see what was going on, while keeping in mind that Gremlin was involved in this and that it would be safe to keep his guard up. He stopped next to Bulldog. "I'd make sure those snacks are safe, first," he mused with a half-grin. "Gremlin earned her callsign."
"Hey!" The Zeltron turned towards Lock, shaking one fist in mock reproof. "The callsign's nothing to do with that and you know it." She bestowed an angelic smile on Bulldog. "I'd never do anything ... to the snacks."
"However, that doesn't mean I wouldn’t ..." Talon gave them a mischievous wink.
Gremlin laughed. "C'mon, time for the big reveal!"
More Wing members had gathered in the equipment room by then and there was a buzz of chatter filling the enclosed space. Talon and Gremlin glanced at each other and grinned. It had taken them a lot of work to get to this stage, but they were eager to see what the squadron OCs thought of the renovations - not to mention their fellow pilots, as well as the flight crews now crowding into the equipment room.
The bedraggled pink bedsheet still hung over the ready room door, bearing its ‘biohazard’ warning in oily letters. Gremlin tugged the fabric down and nodded to her co-conspirator. “You do the honours, Talon!”
Conscious of the watching senior officers, the young pilot stepped up to the control panel which he had secretly reprogrammed to stop people taking a sneaky peek inside and palmed the access button. At the same time, he pressed the activation segment on a small device inside his pocket, disabling the lock and allowing the heavy blast doors to slide aside, revealing the space within. Gremlin couldn’t resist saying, “Ta-DAAA!” as people crowded inside, looking around with interest.
Previously, the ready room had been bare, empty apart from some functional bunks for the sprint shift and a briefing area at the opposite end with a single holoprojector and scattered group of folding chairs. The harsh overhead lighting had made it as welcoming as a prison cell and any atmosphere or ambience had been sorely lacking.
Now the lighting was low, carefully focused on different parts of the large room, creating the effect of different zones. The walls were decorated with the crests of each squadron aboard the Vigilant, including RWSS, all painstakingly painted by Talon and Gremlin. Though neither of them were artists, they had projected the images onto the walls to ensure they had the proportions correct and Fossil, the Martigrade ACHO, had kindly provided them with leftovers from repainting the fighters and bombers in their new squadron colours. They’d had to mix the paints together to achieve the correct colours; the resulting shades didn’t always match the squadron logos exactly, but they were close enough. Lights set into the ceiling shone on each crest, illuminating the names.
“I’ve used the lighting to give each part of the room a different feel. There’s bright lights for the wing briefing room over there,” Talon pointed to the far end of the ready room, where the Renegade Wing logo could be spotted on the wall and curved benches, requisitioned by Jalb, now replaced the temporary chairs. “They can be dimmed for the presentations, of course. There’s also something more subtle for the seating area over there.”
As Talon pointed to each area, he pressed the device in his pocket so the lights brightened, highlighting the location. For someone with his skills, it had been a relatively easy task to add the new lights and rewire them; the real challenge had been sourcing the docking bay landing lights in the first place. Hopefully nobody would realise they should actually have been fixed to the deck, instead of the ceiling.
“We’ll take you over to that area soon.” Gremlin was grinning with excitement. For the first time since Endor, she was genuinely happy. Tired, but happy. “The caf dispensers are there, as well as the snacks,” she winked at Bulldog, “and other drinks too, but nothing alcoholic. Iggy threatened us with dismemberment if we took away his best customers!”
“The lights are low here,” Talon indicated to the bunks near the main door, where the group was standing, “so the sprint pilots can get some rest. And these are the soundproof dividers, sir, around the bunks as you wanted,” he added, glancing at Jalb. “Over here,” he pointed to groups of chairs set around low tables, “this is the furniture you requisitioned. There are lamps set into the table-tops so they won’t be too bright for the sprint shift.”
“We thought this area would be good for anyone wanting some quiet time - a chance to sit and rest,” Gremlin explained, “that’s why there’s cushions and throws here.”
The cushions bore a vague resemblance to the white towels used by Iggy in his shipboard cantina when he was pouring Zeltron spiced wine. They had been tie-dyed, folded in half, stuffed with some unknown compound and sewn shut with offcuts of flexible electrical wire in various colours to give a decorative effect. Rebel-issue blankets liberated from the Vigilant’s storerooms softened the chairs and various potted plants were scattered around the rest area, growing in old boxes and crates scrounged from the discards piled neatly at the edge of Fossil’s clean hangar deck.
“Before anyone asks,” Gremlin eyed the crowd with a challenging look, “we were allowed to dig up these plants from around the lake!” She carefully left out the circumstances in which the plants had been obtained: she’d been flirting with a Mon Calamari officer and had charmed her way into getting permission to remove them.
"Well, well, well! Someone's been busy ..." Colonel Vince “Stryker” Rambo wandered into the ready room, waving aside attempts to salute him. "At ease, at ease.” His gaze swept the room, though his Mandalorian helmet prevented his expression from being visible. “It looks quite a bit more interesting in here now."
“If you’ll all come over here,” Talon indicated the other end of the ready room, close to the briefing area, “this is where the fun begins!” He led them across to a mismatched collection of chairs - most repurposed from snubfighter couches - which were grouped around a range of tables. A number of the chairs were covered with bedsheets, obscuring the structures beneath, but the others could clearly be identified as former flight couches.
“Thanks to Angel and the other crew chiefs who donated some seats from, ah, unwanted fighters, we should have enough chairs to go round. They’ve all been cleaned, of course, but one of ‘em came from an old ship of Bulldog’s so you might want to choose carefully,” Gremlin added with a grin at the former Buccaneer, now a member of Rogue Squadron. “These tables,” she gestured in their direction, “are a mixture of holo-games - my grandfather is a holo-designer, so I’ve downloaded several from my own collection; Porg Drop is one of my favourites - and just plain tables, for sabacc or drinks or … well, anything you’d want to do at a table, really,” she shrugged.
“But ...” Gremlin paused for effect, “both Talon and I felt our OCs deserved somewhere special where they could rest their weary bones. Or weary chassis, in one case. Talon?” She turned to her co-conspirator, who walked towards one of the covered chairs and pulled off the cloth with a dramatic gesture.
Underneath was a super fluffy, stuffed armchair in the colors of Corsair Squadron, with the Corsair logo on the back. There was so much stuffing in the chair, it looked like it would burst. Talon declared, "Lt. Colonel Syntax! I present to you, your chair! It is stuffed to the max to ensure your ultimate comfort! Also, hidden on the side is a charging port so you can recharge AND beat the wing at sabacc at the same time!” He indicated that the droid could take his seat as Gremlin bundled the covering sheet into her arms.
Jalb looked on with a puzzled grin. A couch, indeed an armchair, for a droid? "I'm sure Syntax's metal butt will appreciate it, I'm just not sure whoever will need to clean the oil stains will!" he said, with a smile at Syntax. Corsair Lead's ocular sensors swung around to focus on Jalb but before he could vocalize, Rogue's OC put his hands up in a placating manner. "Hey, no need to look at me like that, age gets to us all, and we ... 'leak' a little around the, ah, undercarriage," he finished with a laugh.
"Speak for yourself!" Gremlin muttered, then interjected in a louder tone, "Well, sir, we wouldn't want Syntax feeling left out, would we?" She gave Jalb a honeyed smile. "He is our OC, after all, and surely he deserves a personalised chair .... just like all the other squadron leaders?" she added with an innocent blink and a lift of her purple eyebrows.
Amazed at the amount of work that had gone into renovating the ready room, Syntax made his way to the overstuffed armchair. He turned and sat down, the armchair making an audible "pffffppfpfpfpfppppffff" sound as he sank into the fluffy material. "This is incredible - a chair truly fit for a droid!"
Talon walked over to the next covered chair. “Lt. Colonel Tolle! I now present … your chair!” He pulled off another cover sheet, revealing an old B-Wing seat for Buccaneer’s OC, Lt. Col. Michael “Mighty” Tolle. “We have added features to this which allow you to do things like this …” Talon pushed a button on the arm and side tables popped out, along with a wing on the top, resembling a mini B-Wing.
“The sides can be used for many things, including holding your drink. One more feature on yours is the wheels! I added fold-away controls, so now you can traverse the ready room without ever standing up.” Looking slightly bemused at the options open to him, Mighty took his seat as Talon pointed out the appropriate controls.
“Kid’s definitely improved his tech skills since he joined the Wing,” Gremlin observed to whoever was standing nearby. “I tried this chair out and it actually works!”
As the presentations continued, the Wing’s personnel were torn between watching the revelations and taking in the changes to the previously bland space. Among them was Wolf: bleary-eyed and half-hungover, the Corsair pilot had followed Jalb’s message like a zombie following a herd. Fingers itching for caf, he had stood in the equipment room, smelling the cocktail of disinfectant, off-gassing oxygen tanks, and that lingering smell of sweat that never quite came out of gear. When the ready room was unveiled, however, it took a couple minutes to really soak it all in. Colors had changed. New emblems displayed. And ... a caf station. A ton of work had clearly gone into this, so he turned to Gremlin and Talon, lifted a shaking finger towards the caf station. "I think I love you."
“Awww, Wolf!” Gremlin smiled at their fellow Corsair. “You’re such a sweetie. We had you in mind when we designed the refreshment area - go and grab a caf, if you want! You can still see the presentations from over there.” She made little shooing motions with her hands. Wolf’s caf addiction was well-known to his squadmates. Probably the whole crew of the Vigilant was aware of it by now!
Talon, meanwhile, was continuing with the reveals. “Lt. Colonel Reynolds. I assume you are ready to witness the splendor of Rogue One’s chair?” Talon pulled off the sheet, unveiling a hot pink, X-Wing pilot’s seat. “I’ve been asking around and this chair was inspired by the actions of one of the most famous pranksters in Renegade Wing history: Hellcat!” The armrests were lightly worn, and had built-in size-changing cup holders. Talon then pushed a button on the side of the chair and its color wavered, then changed to black with gold accents. “Of course, I couldn't leave you with a plain pink chair, when we also have to recognize your efforts and commitment to Rogue Squadron. So! I have updated your chair with color tech and you can upload even more color schemes into it to give you whatever cosmetic combo you want!”
“I think purple would look good with that pink,” Gremlin murmured, winding a long strand of her purple hair around her fingers and eyeing the result. She was recalled to her duties by Talon.
“Also - we can’t have Rogue Lead getting out of practice, can we?” Talon nodded to Gremlin, who walked over to a nearby locker and retrieved a flight helmet bearing the Rogue Squadron logo. She handed it to Jalb with a grin as Talon continued, “This is one of my most interesting projects.” He pushed a button on the side of the chair: a flight stick folded out from where a footrest would have been, and a panel on the left armrest swung in to make way for a throttle. “I will not bore you with the details, but I put a flight simulator inside a computer inside the helmet. When you put the helmet on, it reads all your head movements, and the screen moves where your head moves. Now you can relax and stay focused, all at the same time!”
One by one, chairs for the OCs were revealed until only one remained. “Colonel Rambo! This one is especially for you, sir ….” Talon whipped off the cover, revealing an X-wing chair painted in the colours of Stryker’s Mando beskar’gam with the Renegade Wing crest proudly decorating the back. “There are plenty of places to store your armaments,” he pointed out the hideaways, “and there’s even a rangefinder that pops up from the back to tell you how far you are from the caf over there. Or you can use it to order an Ion Sucker from the SSD - Iggy’s said one of his serving-droids will bring it up to you, but he’s warned that he won’t be responsible for anything that happens outside his cantina.”
Stryker approached his chair and looked it up and down, spun it around once, and sat down. "Excellent," he pronounced, looking around for the caf dispenser. It was definitely close enough. Yes, this would do!
Talon grinned at Gremlin, who gave him a double thumbs-up in response. He was enjoying the experience of demonstrating all the new aspects of the ready room, but the best - as far as he was concerned - was still to be revealed.
“Are you ready for another feature that comes up at party time?” Talon pulled a device out of his pocket, and tapped for a couple of seconds. Gliz music started playing over hidden speakers, techno beats mixed with a smooth, swinging tune, and coloured lights began to flash in sync with the rhythm of the music. This was Talon’s RCLS - Remote Controlled Lighting System - and as the music grew louder the lights stayed in sync, fading and flashing, striking more reflections from the semi-circle of mirrored electrum crystals that had popped out of a box attached to the ceiling to cast a net of stars over the room and its inhabitants.
“Now this is more like it!” Gremlin started dancing, her long purple hair swinging as she waved her arms to the music, slim hips moving in counterpoint. “Anyone else for a dance? Or try out the rest of the chairs, of course. Sorry they’re not all personalised … yet!” She winked at Talon. They had plans for the future ….
As the beat kept going, more people joined in the dancing while others gathered near the caf dispenser, enjoying the range of savoury and sweet pastries which the Vigilant’s cooks had kindly prepared for the occasion. There was a wide variation in the dancing: Angel’s sense of rhythm was hopeless, but her enthusiasm more than made up for it. Even Jalb managed some impressive dance moves, much to the delight of the crowd, before he returned to his hot pink chair. As the song slowed down near its end, the lighting eased too, with longer periods when only a portion of the ceiling was lit up at one time. Finally the colours flowed through the room, rippling from one end to another as the music finished and the lights returned to normal. The electrum crystals retreated into their box and the area became a ready room again.
“So,” Talon began, looking around at the pilots and flight crew of Renegade Wing, “what do you think of the ready room, then?” Gremlin stepped up to stand beside him, awaiting their verdict.
There was a chorus of shouts, cheers and claps which the pair accepted with relief but then Jalb stood, looked pointedly at Talon and Gremlin and arched an eyebrow. They watched him anxiously as he glanced around at the 'caf crew' that had already gravitated to the area around the caf dispenser under direction of Wolf, who seemed to be recalling his favourite bean grinds, to all the others moving around the ready room and checking out the details. He looked down at the other OCs.
Syntax, while having the appearance of low power mode, was definitely reclined and, although barely perceptible, seemed to be shaking a metal 'foot' to an internal rhythm. Mighty was on his way out into Officer's Territory at a speed one would not have thought possible on a recliner and then there was Stryker, whom Jalb was sure he had just heard snore.
He turned briefly to Talon and Gremlin, who were both looking nervous, then deliberately walked away to the caf dispenser, shouldering Wolf aside. Jalb poured himself a cup, added a dash of blue milk and went back to 'his' chair. He turned, lowered himself slowly, leaned back and crossed his right leg over his left and only then gazed directly at the two Corsair pilots.
They watched, amused now, as Rogue Leader brought his caf mug to his mouth, the pinky finger of his right hand delicately pointed and took a sip, all the while watching the pair. He took another sip, nodded to them both and uttered a single word …