High Colonel Mark Veller was in his office and
almost at the end of that stack of datapads. Almost.
The list of those for his general staff was getting
smaller by the datapad, but there was still more to
go through. A sigh resounded through the office as
Mark picked up his caf mug, only to find it empty.
With a scrape of his chair, he got up and went over
to his caf machine, inspecting the brews he had
available before selecting one. While it was a nice
perk to have his caf setup for his use only, rather
than having to pull it out every time he wanted a
decent cup of caf, he was also finding the
responsibilities to be a bit overwhelming.
Then there was the matter of the ship's commander. A
High Inquisitor. Mark had, of course, heard all the
stories and rumors about them, but had dismissed
them as just that, rumors, made up stories of people
not willing to admit the truth. But, now, only a few
weeks on the job, he was beginning to wonder if some
of them were true.
He rubbed his shoulder slightly, the bruise still
there of his spar with the High Inquisitor. He kept
replaying that in his mind, over and over. She had
been fast and hit hard, not something he expected
from a woman of her build and height. Again, he
sighed and rubbed his eyebrows while he waited for
the caf to brew, standing in front of the machine.
He was just tired and stressed out from the job,
working overtime to show his commanding officer he
actually deserved the promotion. Perhaps things
would settle down once he could get his general
staff fully operational.
Kia had looked up where the High Colonel's office
was instead of trying to locate him through the
Force, it hadn't gone so well the last time she'd
practiced that and she didn't know him well enough
to try it. Checking her datapad readout once more,
she stopped before the door. It wasn't polite to
simply barge into someone's office, even if they
were your Master's subordinate. She wanted to make a
good impression on Serine's officers. The less
people who saw her as some 'kid' the better. Lightly
resting her hand on the chime apparatus, she waited.
The only other movement was to straighten the deep
blue tunic she was wearing over her customary
Mark heard the door chime and, thinking it either
Serra or some other subordinate, he absently said,
"Come in," allowing the door to open, most of his
attention on the caf machine. He did a bit of a
double take seeing Inquisitor Kaen standing there,
the surprise on his face registering for only a
moment before he regained his professional face.
With a slightly bow, he said, "Inquisitor Kaen, it
is an honor. Please come in," he indicated one of
the chairs in front of his desk, "Would you like a
fresh cup of caf? It just finished brewing," he
asked, picking up one of the clean mugs near the
machine that he kept for guests.
Smoothly stepping into the room, Kia looked around
the office quickly. It was a new habit, checking for
dangers and possible threats. Relying not only on
the Force but her own combat senses. Her steps were
purposeful and she stopped a short distance from the
desk. She still wasn't used to people bowing at her.
"Thank you, High Colonel Veller. I would love a cup.
Do you have any Aronil Light Roast? If not, I will
have to procure some for you." She knew his name and
was at least minimally familiar with coffee.
The teenager considered the chair for a moment then
sat. "I am not here on official business. I wanted
to meet you outside of a stuffy function. If you
have a moment to talk." It had been a while since
she had good or even decent caf. Ty had never kept
any and the 'caf' they had on the Warspite was
Veller smiled slightly, "Actually, I will admit I do
not have that roast. What's brewing is my own
personal roast." He poured some into clean mug and
then some into into his rather used mug. "While
Aronil Light is a decent roast, I find I prefer this
one. Please, try it." He picked up a small service
tray with various caf condiments on it and went over
to his desk, setting it down in front of Kia.
Picking his own mug off the tray, he then sat down
at his desk, taking a sip of the recently brewed
He took the few moments while Kia put together her
cup of caf to look over this girl who Serine had
honored with the welcoming ceremony and who had, he
admitted to himself, scandalized him when she knelt
before Serine with all to see. Ice blue eyes looked
at her over the run of the mug, noting her posture
and alertness. There was something about her that
Mark couldn't quite put his finger on.
When she had her mug, Veller bowed his head
slightly, "Truthfully, I have not, but then," he
waved his arm at the datapads that were neatly
strewn about his desk, "if we waited until I did, I
believe the universe would end first. What can I do
for you, Inquisitor?"
Mark put his own mug down, grateful for the hot brew
to refresh him. Instincts told him not to lightly
dismiss her for all her young age. This woman was
attached to his commanding officer in some fashion.
He believed it was in his best interest to know as
much as he could to better let him predict both what
his CO wanted and how his CO would react.
She didn't let the slightest bit of disappointment
show, the last time she'd had a good cup of Aronil
was a good time ago. New things were good too
though. Kia inclined her head slightly as the tray
was set down. Taking a small sip of the hot liquid
she made an appreciative sound. "This is delicious!
I'll admit, I was wary at a personal roast, but this
is really good. It has a rich nutty flavor with a
hint of... cinnamon if I'm not mistaken. Is it a
medium roast, it's too bold for a dark roast." She
hadn't added cream or sugar to the drink.
She held herself in a straight backed but at ease
posture, as if she were ready to duck and roll or
draw a weapon at a heart beats notice. She was still
working on the coiled spring readiness and combat
fighter's grace, it wasn't far off though. "In my
time away, I started learning practical fighting
skills and weaponry. I wanted to ask if you would be
open to a spar sometime. Live or practice weapons."
His comment about time caused a contemplative look
to cross her features. "Would you like a secure
protocol droid to assist with some of the more
mundane tasks? I can arrange for one, if you'd like.
At any rate, I would like to have a spar against you
when you have time."
Mark smiled at the compliment about his brew, taking
it with a nod. He studied the young woman for a few
moments, his ice blue eyes devoid of expression,
looking the part of a ruthless and uncaring military
officer. He set his mug down on the desk and leaned
forward a bit, lacing his hands together as he set
them on the desk.
"A spar?" he asked, his right eyebrow raising a
little bit, "Do you really think your skills good
enough for live weapons?" his tone just a touch
insulting on purpose to gauge the reaction and
control of his young woman before him. "Does the
High Inquisitor approve of this?"
Live weapon spars were only possible with people who
had excellent control over their weapons. Otherwise
the spars most likely end were people dead or
injured with no net gain. Until enough control was
learned, beginners were dangerous because of their
unpredictability, hence only those who had mastered
the weapon were allowed to spar with them as they
could handle that unpredictability.
Studying Kia, he revised his estimate a little bit,
respecting her request. Not many would have the
courage to straight up ask him to take time out from
his duties to spar. Most he figured would wait for
orders from the High Inquisitor. Her readiness and
awareness of her environs hadn't missed his eye. It
made him smile to himself as she looked like a
spring coil ready to explode. He mused, his icy
blues watching, someone's been teaching her, but she
hasn't learned yet how to mask that readiness. Her
confidence wasn't quite natural yet, but there was
potential for it.
Once he mentioned the High Inquisitor, he was pretty
certain orders or a request would be crossing is
desk to take her under his wing for weapons training
the High Inquisitor didn't have the time for. Might
as well start the process now, he thought, it would
give him a head start on something at least. He
ignored the offer of a protocol droid for the
moment, he wasn't exactly confident of the offer and
preferred to acquire them new. Droids were faithful
to their programming and it was nearly impossible to
know exactly what that programming was in full if
the droid had a prior master. Besides, he needed to
keep his officers busy. Duty onboard an ISD, while
prestigious, was also boring if there weren't any
surface combats to get involved with. Perhaps, when
he knew this young woman a bit better, he might take
her up on the offer.
Reminding herself that he didn't know her was the
only thing that kept being offended at bay. "My
training with Master Thanor focuses on melee energy
weapons. I am looking for sparring with more
conventional weapons. Also, if you want me to go
through her. I will. Wasting her time with a request
I could handle on my own doesn't seem like it would
be the wisest course of action to me though." His
stare did little to phase her now. She had faced the
first of her trials and the events on Corellia had
numbed her somewhat. It wasn't an order, but she
would see how he reacted to common sense. She took
another long sip from the cup of caf, it really was
a good blend.
Mark's eyes lightened up a bit, losing some of the
cold. This kid had guts, he had to admit. "Well
spoken," he said, nodding slightly, "Which weapons
would you like training in? I am proficient in many,
but no one can be proficient in all. If you are
interested in learning how to shoot a blaster, that
training I can easily provide." He picked up his caf
and took a sip, considering Kia over the rim of his
"That training comes with a single rule that if
broken, I will not continue training you," he said,
putting his mug down on the desk once more. "If I
consent to train you, all rank is discarded at the
door, my word is law. Break it, and you will no
longer be welcome. And I will have your word of
honor before any training is started." His ice blue
eyes went cold again, "I will give you my word to
train you to the best of your abilities in return."
He waited for his reply, sitting at his desk and
managing to look graceful even while staying still.
Kia favored him with a small grin at the compliment.
"I would like to continue in hand to hand and
varying ranged weapons. Rifle and pistol. I'm a
decent shot, better than I was the month's ago. When
you stop learning you die." As she processed the
'condition' she flushed pink. It looked like she was
able to be provoked after all. Though likely not for
the reason he expected. Deliberately she set the cup
back on the tray, fixing him with a flat angry look.
"Do I strike you as some fluff brained Courscanti
noblewoman? Someone who can't bear to be told what
to do and when? Someone who can't follow orders
because they know better? A teacher student
agreement doesn't include rank from outside of the
room. You could be a Grand Moff and when you start
learning a new skill you are a novice. Otherwise you
or yourself, your teacher, and others in harms way
or risk killing them." She folded her arms and kept
staring back at him. "You have my word. I will not
make that mistake."
Satisfied at her micro-rant, she picked the cup up
again, taking a sip.
Mark nodded to Kia, amusement in his eyes at the
rant. "I believe in making certain things known at
the beginning of a relationship. Not everyone
follows the same rules I do in the sparring ring and
it is best to establish these things before things
go south," he said, picking up his mug again, but
not drinking from it.
"I mean no disrespect, to either you or the High
Inquisitor. The High Inquisitor and I had a similar
agreement when we sparred. It was ... an interesting
experience," he paused a moment, lost in the memory.
"But we established the rules beforehand. Since you
have agreed to my condition, I hereby give you my
word to training you to the best of your and my
ability." He downed the last of the caf in his mug
and set it down on the desk, then stood up, "Since
you are here, and I wish a break from all these
datapads, perhaps now is a good time to see where
your proficiencies lie? One of the perks of being a
High Colonel is a training room reserved for my use
alone." He walked over to the door and motioned for
her to precede him, his uniform still fresh and
crisp as if he hadn't been sitting at a desk all
"Making things known I understand. That felt like
you were trying to say I was going to turn into a
dainty little flower, or a tyrant. I am neither."
Once they had settled that small matter, she nodded
once as if it were well and truly done. "You sparred
with Master Thanor? She is great to fight against,
Kia quickly downed the rest of the caf, looking
suddenly eager, "You have an entire training room to
yourself? I probably could if I asked for one. This
ship has so much space! I'd be happy to start right
now." She set the cup back on the table, then hopped
to her feet. It took her a moment to realize that he
wanted her to go first. That surprised her, but in a
good way. She walked through the door, her outfit
not really mussed.
Veller escorted Kia to his training room. The lights
activated as he entered and he said, "Blaster
range." The IA running the training facility changed
the configuration of one of the walls to reveal a
target range. Mark walked over towards one of the
apparent blank walls and tapped an innocuous button
to reveal a weapons rack with a wide variety of
ranged weapons. He decided to test ranged weapons
first, the melee rack Serine had destroyed wasn't
fully repaired yet. Pulling out two E-11 blaster
rifles, he checked the safety then the charge on the
"Very well then, rank is left at the door. While I
am training you, I will call you Kia, and you will
call me Mark." He tossed one of the E-11s to her,
"First rule of handling any blaster?" he asked.
Kia followed Veller to the training room, a little
giddy at getting to do more sparring or training.
She had gotten to be a fair shot with Tonric's X-45
sniper rifle. An appreciative whistle was given at
the amount of weapons available for use. "The first
rule? Is that don't point at something you don't
intend to shoot? Or know how to take it apart and
put it back together before you shoot it?" Nodding a
few times, she actually felt a little more
comfortable without the titles. "Mark it is, then."
Mark nodded, "Good rules to keep in mind. And while
it is good to know the proper maintenance on a
weapon, one certainly doesn't need to know how to
take apart and put together a blaster before
shooting it. My preferred first rule is always
assume the blaster has a charge loaded into it and
is therefore capable of shooting. These particular
ones are practice weapons. They have the exact same
feel and respond the same way an actual E-11 would,
but their power output isn't even enough to stun."
He turned to the target range and went to the firing
line, indicating for Kia to join him here. "This may
seem insulting, but indulge me with a few shots
downrange so I can see what bad habits will need to
be corrected." Waving a hand at the targets about
ten meters away, he said, "Shoot when ready."
Kia accepted the E-11, she'd studied the
specifications on the weapon extensively. She'd
needed to turn a power pack into a bomb on one once.
Turning the weapon over in her hands a few times,
she tested the weight, pointing it away from him and
brought it to her shoulder, it was a getting to know
you session with the weapon. Satisfied, she flipped
the shoulder stock out, and adjusted her hand on the
weapon's grip, resting her finger lightly on the
trigger. Keeping the weapon pointed down, she
stepped back to the firing line and brought it up to
a firing position. Her feet shifted to a fighting
stance as she sighted down range. She had read about
the kickback, but this was a completely different
weapon from the sniper rifle she'd worked with
mostly. They had focused a bit on rifles, but she
enjoyed the sniper rifle more. With a soft tug, she
pulled the trigger back twice, shifted her aim to
the left slightly, and repeated the double tap,
ending with what she hoped was a two shot burst to
the head. If her aim was on point, it would have
been gut, heart, and head. Lowering the weapon, she
looked over at him questioningly.
Mark nodded as the shots were close enough to the
kill zones. Rather outstanding for a recruit, he
thought. Rather than say anything, Mark swiftly
raised the weapon and in the time that it took her
to take out one target, took out three with similar
hits in the kill zones every time. "With enough
practice, this is what can be achieved, though your
position may not demand such a high skill level."
He returned the E-11 to the rack and then went over
to stand behind and to the right side of Kia. After
telling her to raise the weapon, he did some minor
readjustments to her stance and she could tell it
felt easier and more natural to hold the weapon.
"Once you get a true feel for where the weapon needs
to be, it will matter less where your feet are. You
will be able to shoot accurately enough when off
balance. But first, we master were the weapon is
supposed to be for the optimum shot." The next
thirty minutes are spent drilling raising the weapon
until it starts to become second nature and Mark's
adjustments to Kia's stance become fewer.
She let him make the adjustments, watching how he
altered her position and posture. "I understand. It
does feel.. better here. How was my shooting at
first? Just because my position doesn't require it,
doesn't mean I can't attain it. There are a lot of
things that aren't required that I enjoy."
She hadn't embraced the Force once throughout this
drill session, it would have been cheating even
though it would have steadied and sped her up some.
She wanted to master the weapon without the Force to
be even more proficient with it. She was pleased
that he was adjusting her less. "Fewer adjustments
"Indeed," Mark said, "fewer adjustments does mean
improvement, for the moment. It will take more
practice for your muscles to remember the position.
Do not be disappointed tomorrow if I have more
adjustments for you. As for your shooting,
acceptable for a recruit," he said. His comlink
chimed a timer sound, "However, I believe we both
have duties that must now be attended to, at least I
do." He nodded to the weapon rack, "Always put the
weapon back." He bowed slightly to Kia, "Inquisitor
Kaen, it was a pleasure and an honor. You make a
very willing student and a welcome change from the
bounty hunters. The next time you are available for
training, please contact me."
Kia gave him another smile, she really did enjoy
learning things. "Well, I've only been firing ranged
weapons for less than four months. I look forward to
learning more. As for duties, probably. " Peering
over at the weapon rack, "It doesn't need to be
Mark chuckled slightly at her question, "Look at the
barrel. What this weapon has been emitting is a
faint laser light. There is nothing to clean. When I
am confident of your control, we will graduate to
live weapons and then you will need to clean it.
There is an entire training class for Stormtroopers
on weapon cleaning and maintenance, but we found it
more efficient to first teach the marksmanship.
Cleaning can be learned at any time, marksmanship is
better learned on the range before it becomes a
matter of survival."
"I understand." She replaced the weapon in the rack.
"What I know about ranged weapons, I learned in a
very short time from one of those bounty hunters.
Thank you for taking the time to instruct, High
Colonel." She returned his bow.
"Hmm ... that bounty hunter would be Tonric.
Probably the best of the lot, though if you tell him
that, I will deny I ever said it. A fair number of
the others..." he stopped and shook his head
slightly. "You are welcome, Inquisitor Kaen." He
then escorted Kai out of the training area and
returned to his office. Perhaps, even amid the ocean
of paperwork he found himself having to tackle,
there would be a few bright spots. The young
Inquisitor had a good base to build on.