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Kit Gwynne and Rachel King.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:1:29) in the Essesia system: Interrogator.
Apprentice Inquisitor Kia Kaen and Colonel Mark Veller.

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 armorweave jumpsuit.

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 laughable.

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 caf.

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 mug.

"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 day.

"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, isn't she?"

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 weapons.

"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 means improvements?"

"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 cleaned first?"

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.

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