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Memry had been so excited to take the helm of the Vanguard that she’d barely looked inside, but even the most eager pilot must eventually take a rest. She climbed down the ladder, letting Cabanela take over for a while as they wended their way back to Mobliz, and looked around with a sigh.

The Ladybird had been a work in progress, of course, but she’d just about had it the way she’d wanted it before her life had thrown into chips of Figaro’s pile. Rindge, however, had either stripped the airship, or (more likely in Memry’s oh-so-humble opinion) had never bothered to make the place even somewhat resemble a home. Really, it was just like him. Memry sighed. He’d always had someplace to go, a place on land he’d wanted to be, whereas for her a staid house on land could never be enough. That didn’t mean she didn’t want some of the touches of home though.

This room, for instance, was bare. The floor was stained, the walls… was that wallpaper? Wallpaper with a brick pattern? Really? The captain’s room was empty, only one chair left and that sitting squarely in the center of the room. What good was that supposed to be? She shook her head. Yes, the Vanguard was faster than the Ladybird, with so little in it, but with the way these people…accumulated, and no telling how long she’d have to play housemother to this little dorm, a little domesticity was in order. For the gods’ sake, Rindge, not even a door to get into the airship. Only a hook? She sighed again. A little domesticity and quite a few renovations.

In Mobliz, after the initial excitement with the demon and the cats deciding to come with them after all, Memry grabbed Kamila and Cabanela and they went thrifting in houses where the once-denizens no longer needed their belongings. Two couches. Some lamps. A victrola, even, although Memry winced at the only record it contained. A large bed. Some chairs. A little application of Float magic got them back to the ship and up and over the rails without needing the much-maligned hook.

Back to South Figaro after Alma was found, and, with the application of a little prodding to the castle chancellor, the addition of a ship’s chef, a galley kitchen, and, finally, a door. Not before time too, Memry considered. Cabanela had taken to just floating everyone down, but this was much more civilized than either option. If the ship wasn’t quite as fast, if the couches were constantly hairy from cat, and later dog, and later still, Yomiel and Cait Sissel, well, the ship was alive and it was still fast enough.

The only real problem, Memry thought much later, after the world had been set to right, was that she had never considered the fact that these accommodations to the crowd had made the Vanguard a home, albeit temporary, to all. When it was all cleaned and tidy, (most of) the animal hair cleaned up, and everyone gone their separate ways, somehow it didn’t feel like her home at all.

Making a permanent dock somewhere was out of the question. Rindge would never, ever let her live it down, and the world was too big, too interesting, and so she busied herself with errands and slowly replacing things. A painting here, getting rid of the horrible wallpaper there. A cat tree in the captain’s room—Catanela clearly preferred being the tallest around. Changing the colors, prodding at things as one would a broken tooth. Some things stayed, some things went.

Amelie running away from her mother one final time as she grew old enough to make that choice made the ship less lonely, as did the chef, who said he’d never get the hang of cooking on the ground again after years of cooking at high altitudes. More additions to the ship. The Vanguard was getting heavier again but Memry couldn’t really mind it, especially as Lynne rejoined her as permanent executive officer (as somehow, she said, she just couldn’t bring herself to accept the title of First Mate.)

At long last, the work of years done, the new Figaro fleet arose with Memry, of course, at the vanguard. She stood with Lynne at the wheel, letting Amelie wave from the prow, and watching the young new queen of Figaro delightedly wave back alongside her chancellor. Perhaps she hadn’t ever needed a permanent dock, she thought, only to know that once again the skies were friendly and she too wasn’t alone. She looked around her airship, festooned with decorations and bunting and the detritus of her entirely life, and knew she was home.