The desk of High Colonel Mark Veller, Commander of
the 610 Imperial Legion, was not occupied when his
adjutant came in with the day's schedule and
appointments. The door to the adjoining quarters was
open and had the adjutant so desired, he could have
located his superior officer with ease.
High Colonel Mark Veller was, in fact, standing in
front of the full length mirror, wincing a bit as he
inspected the shiner Tonric had given him the other
day. It was a good one, he had to give Tonric that,
although he was pretty certain Tonric was doing a
similar inspection. The two of them hadn't held back
in their spar, which Mark found himself grateful
He took a deep breath and reached for his pain meds.
It would be awhile before he sparred with anyone as
his ribs healed up. The upside was a good reason to
clear his desk of all the paperwork, the downside
was no escape from all the paperwork. For the
moment, however, some pain meds and breathing
exercises were the key. Any bounty hunters who
arrived now would get Batua to spar against.
Thinking back on the spar, he wondered at the High
Inquisitor's reaction to the injuries infliced. He
figured it could go either way as she did directly
order him to test Tonric's capabilities, but, he was
pretty much benched from any combat requirements for
at least four weeks while his ribs healed. Neither
of them had held back, each were equally bruised.
The spar had felt good though, finally having an
outlet to vent the anger the Bounty Hunters had been
stirring up. For whatever reason, their disrespect
and lack of disciplined had gotten under his skin.
Tonric provided a much needed release that a mere
training exercise couldn't, an actual target.
Having a skilled fighter to vent that anger against
had helped him regain his temper. Though he wasn't
averse to beating down opponents not even close to
his skill level; he had, after all, risen through
the ranks of the Imperial Stormtroopers; he disliked
doing it for no gain, either to himself or his
He chuckled a little bit remembering the doctor's
insistence of a bacta patch for his shiner and the
look of dismay when Mark refused. He hadn't bothered
explaining to the doctor knowing he wouldn't
understand. The shiner had been earned by Tonric,
just as the shiner Tonric sported had been earned by
him. He was not about to disrespect that by covering
Giving a tug to his tunic to make it straight, he
left his quarters and brewed his morning cup of caf.
Bringing a fresh mug to his desk, he sent a request
to Major Eona for a conference on the Bounty Hunters
at her convenience. Once that was done, he settled
back to tackle the day's work.
Major Serra Eona had found herself with a
significantly greater workload after stepping into
Min's old position. It was far from problematic; in
fact, staying so busy with work she was truly meant
to do, work she was quite skilled in, proved
therapeutic. When so much had been going wrong, with
so many delicate plans in the balance and a sector
at the mercy of unpredictable and, more to the
point, unreliable individuals, it was nice to know
there was one mechanism she could ensure ran without
a hitch. Under Major Traebor, Imperial Intelligence
in the Ringali Shell had suffered. Under Major Eona,
things would be much different, or so she intended.
The request from High Colonel Veller reached her in
the morning and, shortly after a review of closing
reports from the previous day, Serra left her
quarters and headed for his own. Unlike the rest of
the high command aboard the vessel, Serra kept no
assistants or even guards. To most outsiders it no
doubt seemed a bit unusual, but among the veteran
agents it was a far more common practice. If an
operative learned nothing else in their service,
they learned to trust absolutely no one.
Rounding the corner to Mark's office, Serra took a
few final drags from her cigarra and dropped it
through a disposal unit before being shown in. While
she generally didn't smoke in the halls, the fact
that she preferred to show Veller the courtesy of
not smoking in his office all but necessitated it,
and by now the Intelligence officer had the clout to
get away with it.
When the door opened she stepped inside, giving a
polite bow in deference to his rank, though she
didn't stand on formalities terribly long. By now
she felt no need. Coming out of the bow was when she
noticed the quite severe discoloration around the
man's left eye and a brow rose, the bruising
stealing her attention for a moment.
"High Colonel. I trust you haven't mistaken me for
medical staff." It was as near to a joke as the
Major was likely to ever come.
Mark looked up from his paperwork as the Major came
in. For a moment, he was confused then realized the
Major was speaking of his shiner. He smiled briefly,
"No indeed. The medical staff saw it yesterday." He
stood and waved Serra to one of the seats in front
of his desk. "Caf?" his brow furrowed, "Though I
might have to brew a new pot."
Mark suppressed a wince of pain as he stood up. His
ribs hadn't been aching and he forgot and stood up
too quickly. His ribs reminded him quickly of his
error. He walked over toward the caf machine. To an
observant eye, he was moving a bit stiffly. "I've
finished my evaluation of the Bounty Hunters and
felt it would be good to compare notes before
delivering them to the High Inquisitor."
Serra was nothing if not observant and the fact that
Mark seemed the worse for wear was not lost on her.
The wince of pain, the way he seemed to have to
force himself to make every motion. It was quite
evident just what these evaluations had evidently
cost the High Colonel, and it had her somewhat
concerned. Not for his well being, of course. Mark's
body was his own to waste. It was the fact he had
taken such a personal role and left himself in poor
shape for it.
The offered seat was taken and she simply gave a nod
to the offer for caf, fairly certain he would be
brewing more regardless of if she asked for it or
not. While he struggled to move about she sat
comfortably, one leg crossing the other.
"A wise decision. I'm curious as to your findings,
anyway." The training sessions were all logged, of
course, but going back and watching them was
something she simply hadn't taken the time to do
yet. Not for lack of desire, of course, but lack of
Luckily for Mark, there was still some caf in the
pot so he didn't have to brew a new pot. Filling his
own mug and one for Serra, he went back to his desk,
setting one down in front of Serra and then taking
his own seat.
Pulling out a datapad, he send it sliding over
towards Serra, "The main reports and logs are on
that. As you already are aware, El-Nay Darr is a
complete waste. Rasi and Alexis are passable." He
Serra took up the mug, the caf something she had
found to be an acceptable substitute for her usual
smoking habit when she visited the High Colonel.
With a sip she reached out for the datapad, glancing
over the information it had to offer. She would, of
course, be reading the reports more in depth, but
for now this was good enough. She was mostly here to
see what Mark had to say beyond what the reports
A nod was given when he mentioned El-Nay Darr's
results. "Hopefully her continued incompetence will
be enough to convince the High Inquisitor to let us
do away with her. Until then, I suppose two out of
three will have to do. What about Dimona Xiri Nuebla?
I understand she went in for assessment, as well as
the new one traveling with the apprentice. Tonric."
Mark growled slightly at the mention of Dimona, "Dimona
is worse than El-Nay. She has no respect for any
authority. As for Tonric," he motioned to his eye,
'He is the best of the lot. Though if you tell him
that, I will deny I ever said it."
So far it seemed his assessments were more or less
in line with her own. Another plus for Veller, who
had proven to be quite a positive asset since his
arrival. "She lacks respect and she lacks
discipline. The woman is a loose cannon, but so far
she's bumbled her way through enough successes that
the High Inquisitor sees fit to retain her. For now,
we're stuck with that one."
The motion to the eye and the words that followed
regarding Tonric got a huff of a laugh out of her.
"No need to inflate a Mandalorian's ego any more
than it already is, but it's good to know we have
one dependable mercenary in the lot, even if he is
glued to that...beast of his." The distaste
regarding his companion wasn't hidden in the least,
not in Mark's presence. "Tonric and the Apprentice
have quite a bond, however. We'll see how far she
lets him wander. Hopefully far enough for him to be
"Perhaps we will get lucky and this Dimona will get
herself killed. However, another will have to do any
training with her, otherwise I will probably lose my
temper and kill her," he said, "As for the beast
with Tonric, it will probably need to be evaluated
as well. I have assigned two of my best Troopers to
escort him. It is intelligent to take instruction at
the very least. It stayed out of the spar we had."
He looked at Serra, "And just so you know, Tonric is
in a similar shape."
A thought crossed her mind and Serra gave it voice
after she took another sip of the caf. "I wonder if
we aren't investing too many resources into these
hunters. Some of them might be worth further
training, yes, but I think you and I can both agree
this little project has flatlined. No sense in
wasting valuable time and energy trying to improve
them. We'll send them on their missions and,
hopefully, they will fail. If they succeed then all
the better for us and we just send them out all over
again." Killing them outright was always an option,
of course, but the fact was that so far the team had
proven useful. Serra intended to squeeze every
little success she could out of them before they
died, no matter what it cost in losses to the
collection of hunters.
The remark about Tonric's condition elicited what
was probably the most shocking response of all;
Serra actually cracked a smirk. The shift in
expression from anything but cold, dead apathy
seemed ill suited to her, as though it were a
mechanical, inhuman thing rather than any product of
natural emotion. "No need to save face on my
account, High Colonel. Mandalorians...proper ones,
at least...are quite difficult to handle in combat
Mark nodded, "So it would seem. Though El-Nay
doesn't seem to be in the same category. Tonric, at
least, can be useful, after his ribs heal. The High
Inquisitor requested that I evaluate him
personally." Mark took a pill out of his drawer and
downed it with some caf, "if we get an more bounty
hunters in, Batua will have to do the evaluation."
He considered for a moment, "Are there any missions
we have to send them on now?"
While it would be a stretch to call the report good,
it was certainly thorough, at least when it came to
most of the hunters. Nothing beyond what she
expected to hear, and while it was somewhat
disappointing that none of them had shown great
merit other than the one Kia was keeping, there was
some consolation in the fact that Mark saw in them
the same lack of potential that she did.
"None at the moment, though there are a few
operations in the pipeline that might suit them.
Waiting on full details before finalizing anything,
though. I don't want to hand them anything too
"Hmmm," Mark considered the caf in his cup, "So they
are to be used as distractions?"
Speaking of distractions, the door to Mark's office
suddenly flung open and a Stormtrooper went flying
across the room and hit the wall hard. He slithered
down the wall to lay in a small crumpled heap. Mark
leapt to his feet, ignoring the pain in his ribs,
reaching for the DL-18 at his side. There was a
female voice outside.
Theo stayed out of the way, something he was very
good at. He had gone down the list of people as
Master Thanor had ordered. Most of the time, he was
met with disdain and it took Inquisitor Kaen to make
them listen to him. His crest feathers had gone from
blue to a light grey pretty fast.
Now, at the last stop, the Stormtroopers guarding
the office had stopped the two of them, stating the
High Colonel was already in a meeting. Inquisitor
Kaen hit the ceiling and so did the Stormtrooper to
the right. Then, the other one went through the
The teenager had gone from optimistic about their
miniature mission through the ship to inform people
to disgusted at the way that Theo was looked at and
treated. It had been wise of Serine to set her as
his protector for this trip. Kia had been making
notes of the names of the officers who had given the
two of them flak. The stormtroopers should have
known better. Someone 'above their paygrade' wanted
to talk to their boss. It shouldn't matter who she
was or if he was in a meeting. As she flung her
right hand to her side, the stormtrooper on the
right went careening into far wall. The unfortunate
trooper on the left was the focus of her ire. He was
the one who had spoken to her. Her left hand came
up, then shoved forwards. She glowered at the
doorway and the flying stormtrooper. "Did I ask if
he was busy? No! I said ... we need to see the High
Colonel. Do they not teach Basic at the Academy any
longer, or did you fail that class too?"
Serra was about to further discuss the hunters when
the commotion outside began. Voices at first, which
wasn't overly strange, but then the sound of a body
thunking into durasteel, and just as Mark was going
for his blaster, so too did she. The Major's hand
disappeared behind her and, just as the door was
coming open, the DL-18 was slipped free from its
She was on her feet, the blaster aimed at the door,
moving with a programmed reaction that years of
training and experience had imbedded in her. She
didn't lower it until it was clear that the person
who had perpetrated the interruption was Kia...but
still the blaster was in her hand, a nod given to
the apprentice before her eyes shifted to the
creature with her. Well, another alien to add to the
Mark lowered his blaster as well, looking curiously
at the creature with Kia. "What, may I ask, is going
on here?" He glanced at the Stormtrooper now
crumpled on the floor in his office and could see
the other one partially through the open door. Mark
thought about asking why he had Stormtroopers flying
across the room, but decided against asking at the
Theo edged his way into the office just barely. His
crest feathers, perked up just a bit that this human
wasn't yelling at him. "M-m-master Th-thanor had
Theo rearrange Master Thanor's schedule, then
ordered Theo to tell about changes." He pulled out
his datapad and consulted it. "High Colonel Veller
and Major Eona report at same time now." Theo's
voice became more confident as he spoke.
Mark merely raised an eyebrow in Kia's direction
questioning the presence of an alien slave onboard a
Kia stalked in behind the Fosh, her eyes were not
far off from Serine's when she was angry. She was
tired of people already today and truly hoped she
wasn't going to be adding these two names to the
list to give to her Master. At Mark's glance, she
shrugged one shoulder. "He represents the High
Inquisitor in his news. I would advise listening and
treating him with at least part of the respect you
would show her." She didn't even look at the
stormtrooper, or care if he was still alive. Her
gaze took in both of them and it was rather obvious
she was acting on Serine's orders.
This was quite unexpected, indeed. As Theo stuttered
and then found his footing, Serra just stared at the
thing, taking in its words. She slipped the DL-18
back into its holster and, for now, didn't concern
herself with what had happened to the troopers. They
were Veller's responsibility after all and she full
well trusted he could handle it however he saw fit.
When Kia started talking her eyes moved to the girl,
her face having long since returned to the cold,
dead expression she usually wore.
"The Interrogator is an ISDII class warship,
representing the latest in Imperial technology. This
includes a full complement of encryption secured
holoterminals and an internal comms array, along
with other systems intended to facilitate immediate
communication between Imperial staff and servicemen.
Should the High Inquisitor have need of me, I
recommend the use of these systems. Messenger
fynocks have been outdated for several thousand
Her tone fairly dripped both indignation and anger.
"I will be *certain* to inform the High Inquisitor
that her messenger 'inconvenienced' you, Major. I
had honestly expected better from you of all people.
I guess everyone can be wrong about people.
Regardless of your personal feelings towards her
staff. You will respect and adhere to the revised
schedule that is being given to you."
Mark bowed slightly to Kia, then holstered his
weapon, "It shall be as the High Inquisitor
commands." His ice blue eyes took in the alien
slave, noting the red robes similar in color to the
ones Serine wore. "Interesting choice of staff."
To Theo he nodded, "Thank you, Theo isn't it? I
shall amend my schedule. Is there anything else?"
His tone of voice was a bit frosty, whether because
of the interruption, the two down Stormtroopers or
the knowledge of a slave on Serine's staff, it was
difficult to say.
Serra stared at Kia as she talked, not truly a glare
but certainly not a pleasant look either. She was,
as usual, quite difficult to read; but her opinion
of the slave that Kia and Serine seemed interested
in keeping was no doubt quite obvious.
"Indeed, it seems everyone can be, from time to
time. The creature is no inconvenience, I assure
you. I was simply offering more efficient
alternatives, but make use of whatever method you
deem most appropriate." Serra would, of course,
adhere to whatever schedule Serine saw fit to
assign. As much as she might despise the beast they
were making use of, the Major was smart enough to
know that it wouldn't benefit her to push against a
Sith. She pointedly kept her attention on Kia, not
bothering to so much as acknowledge Theo's presence.
"Will that be all?"
"The most efficient method is whichever one Master
Thanor deems fit to pick. Unless you disagree with
that as well? I believe you two were the last Theo
had to inform." Kia looked to Theo questioningly,
she hadn't bothered to look at the officers they
would be informing since she wasn't the one doing
Theo shook his head slightly, his feathers not quite
the same shade of grey they were a few moments ago,
"Theo has no others on list, Inquisitor Kaen, High
Colonel Veller and Major Eona being last." He
cringed a bit, recognizing the look in Major Eona's
eyes. Now he was certain ancestors still angry at
him. Surrounded by humans who didn't like Theo, not
like nice Inquisitor Kaen did. "Theo ready to return
to Master Thanor now."
There was a sound outside the office of other
armored feet entering. Mark shook his head at them,
telling them to stand down.
Serra offered a polite bow to Kia, and then to Mark.
"If the two of you will excuse me, then, there are
matters which require my attention." She turned
then, headed to make her way around Kia and Theo to
show herself out. The slave did get a final look
from the Intel officer; one that he would no doubt
recognize as easily as the first. It was the same
sort of look one might give a maggot unexpectedly
found crawling over food, an undesirable thing best
done away with at earliest convenience. Between this
thing and the bounty hunters, Serra found herself
questioning the judgment of those she served, and
she needed time to wrap her head around the full
implications of such thoughts.
Unless someone stopped her, Major Serra Eona was
headed back to her office, and back to a much needed
Kia gave Vellar a nod, and a slight inclination of
her head. "I'll let you get back to your day, High
Colonel." Titles only meant nothing in the training
room, but she did feel a little bad about barging
into his office. "Come along, Theo. Let's get back
to Master Thanor." Turning towards the exit, she
still didn't look at the fallen stormtrooper as she
walked back out of the office.
Mark let out a deep breath he hadn't realized he was
holding when Kia and that bird thing left. He wasn't
exactly sure how he felt about an alien slave
wandering around on a warship and serving the
commanding officer. The possible security breaches
alone were enough to make him shoot the creature.
However, if the High Inquisitor wanted the creature,
he had to trust there were measures in place to
He nodded to the troopers to tend their fallen
comrades. Next time he would have to be sure they
weren't dumb enough to try to bar an Inquisitor from
his office. The door closed and he sat down, staring
into the half-full mug of caf, close to wishing
there was something stronger in with the caf.