Insanity @ Work                                                                                                  The Royal Purple

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Major Attack


It was as serious an expression as ever graced the habitually cheerful face of Major Wes Janson.  There he sat, at a small table, completely and uncommonly motionless, bright blue eyes staring vacantly across the room at a blank wall.  It almost looked like he had fallen asleep upright with his eyes open, but Hobbie Klivian knew better.  The wheels of Wes's imagination were turning furiously behind those eyes--planning, plotting, scheming.  It was Wes's true calling.

So Hobbie just puttered around wordlessly in the small quarters they shared, putting away some clothes, scanning through the latest news from across the galaxy, answering some correspondence from home.  He was pretty good at being quiet and unobtrusive, which he hoped Wes appreciated.  Although he doubted Gavin Darklighter or Jenfa Ml'aion would appreciate it, since it was the fires of revenge that were being kindled inside that brain.  Revenge that would lash out at the rookie pranking duo, and leave them humbled in the ashes.

After spending nearly three-quarters of an hour amusing himself, Hobbie was startled out of an interesting article on the grass plains of Arramsetti V by Wes mumbling to himself.  It was the first sign of life in a while.

"Yes, that ought to do it, if I can find the... Could always get one from Lieutenant Sulterz, she owes me one.  So then all I need is…hmm, that could be a problem, but not an insurmountable one... It would just be...Yes, yes, if I can find someone to help..."

Hobbie watched as Wes lapsed back into silence again, scratching mindlessly at the middle of his chest.  But this time Hobbie's curiosity got the better of him, and he just had to intrude.  "Come up with a good plan, then?  Will the Prankster King regain his crown?"

Wes slowly turned to look at Hobbie as if he'd just remembered he was there.  "Hmm?  Oh, I don't think I ever lost my crown... Just a little tarnished, that's all.  But it should have a reeeeal nice shine on it again real soon."  The ugly sneer that began at one end of Wes's mouth and slowly spread to the other didn't bode well for the junior members of One Flight.

"Do you need any help?" Hobbie offered, not one to be left behind when Wes was up to something.  "Can I cause some chaos, too?"

Wes smirked again.  "Oh yeah, I think you can help.  I may need a little more height, and some help with the--"

Disturbed in mid-revelation, Wes and Hobbie's comlinks chimed simultaneously.  "Attention Rogue Squadron, report to Briefing Room A247.  All Rogues report..."

Wes groaned.  "Ah well, I guess I can wait a bit longer for my revenge.  Let them squirm a little more."  He chuckled cruelly, and Hobbie was once again glad that he was (mostly) on Wes's side.

Hobbie slipped off the side of his bunk, climbing to his feet as he set aside his personal datapad to pick up his Rogue-issue one.  "Well, I guess we'd better get going.  We show up late one more time, and Wedge will have our hides nailed to his office wall."

"Yeah.  He can spoil all the fun sometimes, you know?" Wes whined, collecting his own datapad.

"Oh, the fun is yet to begin," Hobbie consoled sarcastically as he headed for the door.  "You may get to continue setting a fashion trend in your stylish purple and orange flightsuit."

"You'll pay for that, Klivian," Wes answered, his voice fading as he his roommate out into the hall.  "If it's the last--"

The door closed on the end of his empty threat, leaving their quarters to settle into silence.

* * * * * * *

Gavin Darklighter was by no means the nervous type by nature.  (A nervous Rogue?  Contradiction in terms!)  Enjoying the prime of his early twenties, he'd now been with the Rogues for years, and seen more action than he ever though possible while dreaming away his days on Tatooine.  But far from dreaming now, he was a competent young man, who took to flying--to being a Rogue!--like a hawkbat took to updrafts.  He was a natural, sure in his talent, relying on guts and instinct to get him through almost any adversity.  So it took a lot to intimidate him.

It was those guts and natural talent that had earned him a place in Rogue Squadron, even when his age and background had been against him.  Many had opposed his inclusion, but Wedge Antilles had taken a chance, seeing something in him that others missed, obscured by their preoccupation with his youth and innocent inexperience.

Guts and talent had gotten him to the rank of captain, too, in the most elite squadron in the galaxy.  He'd worked hard to get promoted, to be given more responsibilities and earn the respect of his fellow pilots.  That respect meant a lot to him.

However, it was guts and stupidity that had gotten him into trouble as deep as a Sarlacc pit.  Now all he had to do was figure a way out of it, or to avoid it.

With the caution of a trained intelligence operative, Gavin glanced carefully around the corner of the hallway, looking down yet another featureless corridor in a roundabout route that would eventually lead him to his quarters.  With another glance over his shoulder to make sure nothing was coming at him from the rear, he proceeded around the corner, keeping very close to the wall as he moved quickly and quietly, trying to remain unseen.

He'd been performing this little display of his commando technique ever since he'd left the kitchens.  There he'd spent a delightful four hours peeling tubers for the cafeteria staff alongside his wingmate, Jenfa Ml'aion, after their five hour unexpected patrol.  The skin of their fingers had quickly wrinkled with exposure to the water the tubers were in, were just as quickly stained a light cream color from the juices of the tubers.  And the smell!  He thought he may never be able to get that sour stench off his hands, out of his clothes and hair, and especially out of his nose!  He couldn't wait to jump into his shower and wash off the stink, but that would have to wait until he reached the comparative safety of his quarters.  If he reached his quarters.

You just had to take on Janson, didn't you?  Thought you were so smart, that he'd never know it was you, but of course he did.  He's been pranking since before Yavin, and you're an amateur, taking on a professional.  You are so, so dead.

With that distressing thought in mind, he turned another careful corner, and another, waiting for who knew what to jump out and attack him.  But no attack came, although two young ensigns scared the wits out of him, seeming to appear out of nowhere from a turbolift.  He stumbled back, lost his footing, and ended up on his rear.  Surprise and instinct sent him reaching for his blaster (which was luckily in his locker with his flightsuit) and scared the living Sith out of the two women.  They'd retreated into the turbolift again, leaving a rather red-faced Captain sitting in the middle of the corridor.  He clambered painfully to his feet and continued on his way.

Breathing quickly, his pace becoming swifter with every new corner, he neared his quarters.  One full section away, he stopped completely, ducking into an alcove leading to an access hatch, trying to regain his composure.  And come up with a plan.

Ok, check the panel before you touch it.  Check for wires, or any kind of liquid or adhesive.  Would be just like him to give me a good shock, or glue me to the panel.  Or both...  Same thing with the light panel inside.  And take a good look at anything else before you touch it...  Be careful, and he won’t get you.

Making sure the coast was clear, Gavin approached his door.  He bent at the waist, giving the security panel a good look from a short distance, then got a little closer.  When another officer turned the corner and neared Gavin's door, he straightened, doing his best to look nonchalant, patting pockets as if searching for something.  As the officer rounded the next corner, Gavin hunched down again, looking the panel over for signs of tampering.  He couldn't see any.  The screws were untouched, the keypad spotless.

Well, here goes nothin'.

With one eye squeezed shut, the other looking askance, Gavin tentatively pressed one key of the security panel.  Nothing detonated, shocked him, bit him, or glued him.  He continued all the way through his access code without being any the worse for wear.  The door swooshed open, and waited.  Gavin waited.  Nothing happened.  He heaved a silent sigh of relief.

Deciding which part of himself to sacrifice as a scout, Gavin thrust his foot through the yawning door into the dimness beyond.  Again, nothing jumped out or exploded.  He put his foot on the ground.  Nothing.  He stepped into the shadows.  Nothing.  The door closed behind him, leaving him in complete darkness.  Problem.

Gavin of course knew where the light switch was.  He's slapped his hand over it a thousand times when in the dark, or half asleep, or half intoxicated.  But, not being able to see it this time could mean his doom.  That would be right up Wes's alley, to have something attack him in the dark as soon as he touched the light switch.  An enemy you couldn't see was of course the worst kind of enemy.  You can't fight what you can't see.

Dropping to one knee, Gavin felt around for something, anything that he could get his hands on.  He found a boot, and even though he wasn't sure if it was his or Myn's, he picked it up.  Turning slowly in the dark, he held the boot out in front of him, in the direction of the light switch.

One...two...three!

Gavin whacked the light switch with the boot, simultaneously dropping it and throwing himself to the ground, covering his head with his arms.  The light level jumped up to three-quarters intensity, but besides that, nothing happened.  Gavin pressed his forehead against the carpet as the rest of his body sagged with relief.

Maybe he's just trying to make a fool of you... He's probably got you covered with holocams, and he and the rest of the squadron are in some cantina laughing themselves stupid!  The biggest prank of all will be the one that never happens!

Becoming more frustrated than anxious, Gavin slowly climbed to his feet and gently touched his bunk to make sure there were no surprises before he sat on the end.  He pulled off his boots, letting them clump loudly to the floor, and just sat still for a moment, enjoying the calm.

After a moment's quiet reflection, Gavin slowly got back to his feet, beginning to strip out of his uniform as he made his way to the 'fresher and the shower he'd promised himself a hundred times while he peeled and peeled and peeled and peeled...  He again checked the door before he opened it, then checked his toothbrush and toothpaste before using them, both at arms length.  Satisfied that his toothpaste hadn't been replaced by plastic explosives or silicone, he brushed his teeth, then turned towards the shower.

This is it.  This is where he'll get you.  There'll be no warm water.  Or the soap will be tuber flavored...

Approaching the shower stall suspiciously, he checked the door, the seals, the soap, the plumbing, the flow of water, always on the lookout for any telltale signs of tampering or mischief.  Again, there was nothing.  He started to relax.

Wes was on patrol with you, you were only in the kitchen for four hours, he didn’t have time to pull anything elaborate.  He's probably waiting until he can do it right, when you let down your guard...

Throwing all remaining caution to the wind in favor of lovely warm and cleansing water, Gavin started a steady stream, pulled off his shorts, and stepped in.  It was sheer heaven, soap lathering over his skin, the smell of tubors flowing down the drain, taking his cares and worries with it.  Until--

"What the--?!"

Purple water!  Thick purple water was streaming out of the shower head, raining down over Gavin to pool between his toes.  He sputtered as he turned under the water, cascading down over head and shoulders, and tried as quickly as he could to turn it off.  But it was too late...He'd been had.

He jumped out of the shower, bypassing his towel to make straight for the sink.  He turned on the faucet, uttered an exclamation of thanks as clean water poured forth, and started to splash it all over himself.  A lighter purple water started to collect around his feet, and he tossed his towel down to stop it going too far.

After successfully removing the dye from his skin, he filled the sink with clean water, then dunked his head into it.  He left it submerged until his lungs burned with the need for oxygen, then pulled it out.  As he gasped and spluttered, he grasped on the shelf above the mirror for another towel, scrubbing it across his face.   He looked in the mirror...

"Oh-no-oh-no-oh-no!"

What had been medium-short, dirty-blond hair was now a bright purple.  Whatever the dye was, it had come off his skin, but bonded to his hair like Insta-Seal.  He dove into the shower after his shampoo, squirted a handful into his hair, and started to lather it up, heedless of the water and suds splashing all around the fresher.

While purplish soapy foam streamed down over face and back, Gavin drained the sink and refilled it with fresh water.  He dunked his head again, submerged for as long as he could stand, hands rubbing frantically.  Grasping for another towel, he stood, water streaming, and looked in the mirror.

As he looked at the unruly purple that was now his hair, he could almost hear Wes's voice:  "Gotcha, junior!"

* * * * * * *

Wedge settled into his chair, Tycho taking a seat beside him.  "It's quiet.  Too quiet," he commented.

Tycho glanced across the faces of the ten or so pilots and support crew already gathered for the early-morning briefing.  "That's because the real troublemakers aren't here yet."  He turned to look at his wing with a grin, which was mirrored back at him.

"I suppose that's true.  Think he hit his target?" he asked next, falling back on pilot jargon to screen their real topic of conversation.  Wouldn't do for people to think that he approved of such antics.

"Wouldn't be like him at all to avoid such a tempting target," Tycho mused, scratching at his chin.  "Maybe he--oh, speak of the Sith, here he is."

Hobbie entered the briefing room, closely followed by a sauntering Wes, who looked like the Hutt that had come across a free shipment of spice.  Wedge saw him wink at Myn just before he sat down beside him, and Myn in turn nudged Inyri, who spoke to Corran, who whispered to Ooryl, who...

"It's a hit," Wedge whispered out the corner of his mouth.

Wedge felt more than heard Tycho's chuckle.  "Can't wait to see this.  It ought to be good."

"Remember," Wedge chided, "no matter what it is, keep your 'stern-I-don't-approve' face on."

"Yessir," was the quick and sniggered reply.

So they waited.  Wedge wouldn't start the briefing until the last two of his pilots entered, in whatever condition Wes had left them in, and would no doubt cause a commotion.  He could also see that the rest of the pilots were all waiting on the edge of their seats.

* * * * * * *

Gavin slowly approached briefing room 247, his feet dragging.  He didn't want to be late--never had been late--but he also was dreading giving Wes the satisfaction of pranking him, and making a fool of him in front of his squadmates.

Just as he rounded the last corner, Gavin spotted Jenfa Ml'aion hesitating by the door to the room.  A purple-headed Jenfa Ml'aion.  Gavin had to smile.  "So, I'm not alone in my shame," he joked, stopping beside her.  She immediately broke into a shy grin.

"At least we match," she teased back.  "I'm just glad all the attention won't be focused on me."

"Oh, you'll get your share," Gavin replied with a sigh.  "I guess we should get this over with?"

Jenfa nodded reluctantly.  "Sooner I can get my helmet on, the better."

She started to move closer to the door, but Gavin stayed her with his hand on her forearm.  "Listen, I'm sorry I got you into this."

She smiled up at him.  "You didn't get me 'into' anything.  I knew the legend of Wes Janson, but I went along with you anyway.  I guess I was looking for the thrill of adventure, the challenge," she ended with a shrug.

"You wouldn't be a Rogue if you didn't like a challenge," Gavin laughed.  "Ok, let's go."

With a deep breath, the wingpair approached the door, which opened when it sensed their presence.  The briefing room erupted into a roar of laughter and applause that echoed through the hallway.
 

 

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