"The Decline and Fall of the Old Republic: The Clone Wars. Chapter 9: A Grand Army of the Republic." La'an shut off his player, removing the bulky headphones he'd been wearing for the last few hours, using a spare hand to press his dark hair back into some semblance of order. He'd lost track of time somewhat and if he was honest would have struggled to hear a general alert or ship wide broadcast. He made a mental note not to let himself drift away with such reckless nostalgia for a history now decades past. Glancing around the wing recreation space he noted that he was, for a change, completely alone. The 'crash cantina', as it had been labelled, was best described as a worn compartment, roughly split between six U-shaped couches and a central area dominated by a polished beverage and food dispensing station. Each area of the room carried the hallmarks of the specific squadrons that formed Wing II.
Sigma's area, much like that of Lambda, Psi and Sin, were models of efficiency, every soft furnishing neatly tucked away or straightened out. The low tables and data terminals were polished, surfaces free of marks or any sign of wear. Theta's had a significantly more battered appearance, generally clean but well worn, as if Yods or Gilad had only woken up, from a distinctly horizontal pose, moments before. The groove matching the shape of Theta's present squadron commander was moulded firmly into the centre of the largest couch, as clear a sign of ownership as La'an could think of.
Kappa's area, well, Kappa... A cleaning droid operated from the dispensing station, quickly removing discarded or dropped food and trash - but it had clearly learned to override its programming, with a distinct line marking the no-man's land that the Kappa squadron area represented. Crushed cans of their particular, assuredly non-alcoholic, home brew littered every level surface, with the glint from beneath the couches suggesting that a stockpile had been poorly hidden. Hidden from the Wing Commander, La'an expected, despite the fact that his presence in this space was effectively forbidden by decree of every pilot onboard. This had been enforced after repeated warnings through the simple expedient of blocking his access, keycards and rigging a sensor that announced his presence - giving every pilot in the space a 10 second window to head in the opposite direction.
The smaller entrance led on to a broad access corridor, much like thousands of others piercing the Warrior and carrying her crew about their business. The opposite bulkhead framed the main exit hatch, whose wide doors led straight into the hangar at ground level. Paired service turbolifts nestled either side of the hangar exit, leading straight up to the gantries allowing access to the racked TIEs some 50 metres above their heads. La'an took another moment to look around the room, eyes passing over the trophies, honour banners, framed squadron and wing insignia, grafitti in Kappa's corner and the general evidence that this was home to 72 combat pilots. The shuttle fliers and transport jockeys had their own distinct space adjoining their area of the hangar, with both spaces enjoying a healthy rivalry - including raids on their opponents territory and generally kidnapping their youngest pilot in exchange for a ransom. He smiled, remembering countless lively evenings spent with friends. He frowned as he remembered just how many of those friends were gone forever, or on to other things.
Bloody nostalgia... it would be the death of him in the end, an absent-minded thought or daydream and a real X-Wing or pirate scrapheap would find him too easy a target to avoid. That at least shouldn't be an issue during the exercise currently being run by the TC Command Staff - he had to hand it to them, this time they'd changed things up and made it interesting. The last few missions had proven to be challenging, with losses incurred the as yet indistinct aggressor force - every 'rebel' they killed was clearly being recycled into the fight, while their own losses were held at a central reserve area until the exercises end. In all honesty, he expected some pilots to 'die' quickly and spend some time doing very little back at whichever station was being used - although, cynic that he was, he expected that they wouldn't be doing anything vaguely relaxing at all. So far engagements were tentative and piecemeal, but as the Warrior crawled forward, its questing escorts reaching out to find the enemy, a big scrap couldn't be far away.
"You've got that weird look you make when you're thinking too hard." Schueler added from behind him, La'an resisting the urge to jump with every fibre of his being.
"It's an underused muscle, I'll give you that. Orders?" La'an queried his superior, eyebrow raised quizzically.
"Got it in one, next mission, no prizes for guessing... another recon run! Flights 1 and 2, looks like we're off to hack a local sensor grid. Apparently, the CS have restricted its use for the exercise, so we're going to slice it, real casually." Schueler looked genuinely pleased at the thought of breaking into highly encrypted military hardware to cheat the test conditions.
Understandably, as La'an was looking just as pleased to do exactly that.
"When do we leave?" La'an asked, waiting for his commander's answer as he simply pointed to the broadcast speaker affixed to the bulkhead, frowning and opening his mouth to speak...
"Theta Squadron report to the wing recreation space at the rush, Theta at the rush to the wing recreation space. That is all." The speaker blared, cutting off as soon as the message ended.
"After we finish that and let 3 Flight know they've pulled CAP".