The training facility looked sparse. The walls
seemed bare and the mats on the floor the only
decoration. What mattered were the holo-generators
that lined the walls, capable of rendering any
landscape programmed in. Then, there was the matter
of the droid station behind one of the walls.
Various combat droids waited their turn to get
punched, shot and otherwise mangled if the
combatants were good enough.
One section of wall hid the many racks with training
weapons. One rack with a variety of ranged weapons,
one rack with standard melee weapons and the other
with a changing variety of exotic weaponry.
Mark Veller stood there and surveyed the place,
nodding to himself noting the modifications he had
ordered were mostly complete. He had to admit he
indulged himself shamelessly on the training
facility once he realized his new rank held the
authority to order it. The Interrogator had room to
spare. This 30m by 30m room, even taking into
account the additional space required for the
supporting systems, was hardly the biggest on the
So it was that Tonric and Sarrick found themselves
politely escorted there after having a bit of time
to settle in. The two arrived just to see Mark
standing next to a weapon rack and that rack sliding
back to be hidden behind the wall that slide down.
Mark, impressive at his 1.85m height, was dressed in
loose-fitting pants and snug shirt. His ice blue
eyes turned to see the two enter, a hand
automatically coming up to brush an errant lock of
hair back. Mark would never be considered
over-muscled, but athletic and trim. He moved with a
graceful stride to the middle of the room.
"I trust your accommodations are acceptable?" he
asked. "Thank you for coming." He nodded to the two
Stormtroopers waiting at the entrance, dismissing
them. Both came to attention for a moment, then
stepped out of the training area, the door closing
Tonric had persuaded his escorts to reveal their
destination, and retained his armor in the hopes of
a good challenge. Kia's training was going well but
it had been a while since he'd been pushed to any
degree. The facility was an arena without the stands
and Tonric smiled at the potential bouts. The high
Colonel stood by some elegant weapons that he felt a
slight itch to examine.
Veller's word registered a few moments after he
should have responded. "Acceptable is the perfect
word High Colonel." Sarrick moved to the corner near
one of their escorts staring until the Stormtrooper
took several steps back. Sarrick moved his gaze back
growling into Tonric's ear "Tell him we do not need
watchers!" Tonric disconnected the helmet and
earpiece before continuing. "Thank you for your
courtesy, may I ask why we were...invited here?"
Mark took note of the fact that bounty hunter
appeared in his armor. With everything going on, he
couldn't remember if he had asked the bounty hunter
to leave the armor behind. His attention went
briefly to the creature beside Tonric and noting its
behavior and the sounds it made, decided it was best
to err on the side of it being sentient.
"You were invited here because the High Inquisitor
asked that your combat skills be evaluated. As the
highest ranking Imperial Army representative, that
duty falls upon me. Hence, we are both here to see
how good you are. I have a few simulations to test
ranged abilities," Mark paused a moment as if making
a decision, "If you like, we can have a friendly...
contest, to see who scores the best."
Again, there was a pause, "After that is done, there
would be a test of your physical combat
capabilities. If you wish to remain in your armor,
then I will don mine. Though, I insist that all
weaponry be deactivated and practice weapons are
used. I believe we both have people to answer to who
would be upset if we killed one another," Veller
glanced towards Sarrick, "I would also request that
your ... companion sit the spar out."
Tonric grinned beneath the helmet, at least they
were starting with the fun not the interrogation of
course they would probably call it background
screening. It was a bit of a quandary to to choose
which one to demonstrate. Starting with hand to hand
meant physical strain while the shooting contest
meant mental strain. Either way he did not know
Veller's endurance, but maybe it was time to ripple
the water. "Interesting and what if we spar first?"
Veller considered for a moment. Usually people
wanted to do the ranged combat first as a spar would
leave one's muscles fatigued which often took away
from one's sharpshooter abilities. Interesting that
this fellow wanted to do it in reverse. For himself,
he didn't mind, having trained his shooting when he
was dead tired. He admitted his score was lower, but
it was still in a high range. Yet another reason
Veller was among living.
"A spar it is then. I prefer to do them without
armor, as I feel one should be able to fight without
as well as with. But for this exercise I will
entertain a spar with. Your decision." With his
statement about fighting with or without armor, it
was oblivious he considered it a weakness to insist
on fighting in the armor. That one time you got
caught without your armor would be that one time you
died because you too heavily relied on the armor
that was no longer there.
The Colonel's insinuation was not lost on Tonric,
and he began removing his armor arranging it with
respect and not far off. Sarrick had worked out the
Codru-Ji was protesting with the light chuffing
sound filling out the silence. "Do not growl, shout,
or I will not turn this back on until you emerge
from your chrsillis!" The mutter was almost audible
and Tonric bit his tongue at the carelessness.
Flicking the com unit Tonric braced for a moment "Do
not allow him the delusion of a chance." The words
were excited and Tonric matched them with guttural
Walking to the center he took up the Mandolin core
stance open palms, left foot forward.
Mark nodded to himself as he watched the Mandolarian
take off his armor and then take a stance. The move
looked trained and Mark was intrigued, always eager
to test his own against another style.
He squared off against Tonric, taking a relaxed
stance himself. He waited a moment, then began the
opening moves. Circling his foe, seeing the
reaction. He darted in for an attack, not surprised
when it was parried. Nor was he surprised at the
followup attack. It was all pretty standard moves to
get a feeling for one's foe.
Mark nodded in appreciation. This one had a good
degree of discipline, something he had found sorely
lacking in the others. Perhaps Kia had chosen well
in her companion. Again and again, the two clashed
as they warmed up to each other. Mark's icy blue
eyes narrowed in concentration as they traded blows,
the parries resounding through the training area.
Getting in close, the two of them wrestled for a few
moments, Veller hissed, "Not bad, for a Bounty
Hunter," before they both broke apart to continue
circling. Mark wasn't quite ready to end this spar,
though he had a good measure of the man and his
skill. He always felt better on the mat, working out
his anger. And now, this Tonric was presenting too
good a target for that anger, at the insolence and
disdain his had to put up with from these bounty
hunters. Serine wanted this one tested, so he would
Tonric kept pace with Veller, never showing his back
and keeping his stance. The early exchanges felt
like handshakes and Tonric did not hesitate to
squeeze hard whenever he could counter.
The Colonel reminded him of a viper, attacking and
learning waiting for the ideal opportunity. The man
took his role seriously and Tonric did not want to
underestimate this viper.
The words were...disdainful and and Tonric mimicked
the pejorative tone "Not bad for an officer." This
man was demanding he prove himself Tonric was
resolved to oblige with a cracked rib or three.
Veller just smiled tightly, circling his opponent.
He almost wished Batua was here as a witness, but as
well, this was a type of defeat to keep private. It
was just the two of them and one was going down.
Both of them were eager to fight, Veller was happy
to let him know he had been in a one.
An opportunity opened and Veller took it, even
though he knew it would open him up for a counter
blow. First blood would be his in any matter.
A blow to the face, perhaps a shiner, but at least a
split lip. For that Veller took a solid hit to the
ribs and grunted, disengaging. He would be sore
there for a while and made a note to himself not to
take any more rib shots or he might get a couple of
cracked ribs. "Good hit," he said, slightly favoring
the side that took that hit. Perhaps he could use
that to deceive his opponent into making a mistake.
Dodging a few other attacks led Veller to think his
ribs might be a bit more than bruised, not broken,
but there might be a crack or two. The pain only
served to focus his attention better. When he saw
the right hook coming in, he decided to take it as
the opportunity to get in some hits of own was too
good to pass up.
The hits he was able to deliver were hard and heavy,
Tonric would definitely know he was no
featherweight. Mark disengaged to see what damage
they had done to each other. Both of them had good
shiners developing and they both moved a touch less
grace and agility. There was pain, but not enough to
signal defeat. Mark had experienced more pain than
this in prior bouts. It was a constant in training
if you wanted any mastery over the skill. Licking
his lips, he tasted blood. Smiling, he nodded to
Tonric, acknowledging the hit, content that both
sides had now drawn blood.
Mark was calculating another engagement when he
realized continuing this fight would end in both of
them needing immediate medical attention. The bounty
hunter had taken what he thrown at him so far and
given back as good as he received. The next round
would result in attempts at crippling injuries. He
was sure Tonric realized that was well, he was too
good a fighter not too. While Mark felt he would win
the fight, he knew it would not be easy nor without
a high cost. Tonric showed good discipline and the
will to fight to the finish. That he could respect,
even if he still considered Tonric's profession to
be below him.
Making his decision, Mark stepped back from combat
ring and bowed, keeping his eye on Tonric all the
while, "A good spar. But if we want to do the ranged
part of this testing without resorting to
wheelchairs, I believe it best to end now." Mark
took a couple of deep breaths, wincing slightly at
the pain, but stood ready to defend himself if
Tonric felt it should continue.
The viper circled again and again, Tonric considered
stepping forward and throwing the rhythm off
balance. Maybe he could get enough of an opening for
a solid neck strike. The lethality would be a risk
but Veller and he were resolved. Tonric stepped in
lightly and threw a right hook hard.
The step forward was seized by Veller who rushed the
momentary opening, countering would mean retreat.
"No," the voice was in his head and Tonric decided
to accept the first strike in favor of delivering
the strategic blow.
The Colonel hit hard and in its wake the pain
threatened to grab his attention, Tonric gritted his
teeth and swung below the guard and hard. There was
a satisfying hollow meaty noise that told him it had
The compliment came after he tasted blood. Running
his tongue over his teeth he smiled "A good bout,
and I hope the recoil is not too hard on your lungs.
Any X45's I can use?"
Veller smiled tightly, "I am sure I will survive
it." He went over to the ranged weapon rack and
revealed it from behind the wall. Racked there were
a bunch of different weapons, all practice types but
designed to feel like the real thing in weight and
balance. "Take your pick," Veller said, picking up
an E-11 as his preferred weapon of choice.
He spoke a few words and the training area
reconfigured itself as a shooting range with targets
about ten meters away. "Standard friend or foe
simulation? Highest number of bad guys shot without
civilians getting shot, two minute timer, sound
about right?" He took his place at the row on the
left, waiting for Tonric to take his position.
Tonric was satisfied at Veller's reaction but
groaned at some of the hits. The rack had many
options but the X45 caught his eye immediately.
While the field was rearranged Tonric tested the
weapon, replicas had a way of looking the part and
failing at everything else. Satisfied with the
sights, weight, trigger, and stock he nodded at
Veller's proposition. Taking up the standard
position "Let's begin!"
Mark instructed the AI to begin a ten second
countdown and readied himself. He was actually
enjoying this little contest. It had been a while
since he was in the field and this spar was
reminding him of that.
Ignoring the pain in his ribs, he hefted the E-11 to
his shoulder, ready to begin. The first few targets
were easy, then the AI began to make things
difficult. More of the bad guys than he liked took
two shots to take out, but, to his satisfaction,
none of the civilians got hit. Had his reaction time
not been hampered by his ribs, he was pretty sure he
would have gotten a better score.
When the simulation ended, Mark put down the E-11,
perhaps a tad quicker than he ordinarily would. He
would have to get his ribs wrapped soon. Glancing
over at the scoreboard, he was not surprised to see
their scores in a very similar range. He nodded to
himself, a worthy foe and a dangerous one, something
to keep in mind when dealing with him. It would be
best to determine his loyalty.
Testing loyalty, however, was not his job, something
he knew he was ill suited for. He left that for
people better at it than he. "Well done," Mark said,
something in his voice telling Tonric compliments
were given only when earned, "Your escort can take
you by the medical bay if you desire," walking over
towards the weapon rack and taking the E-11 to put
back on rack, leaving Tonric with his practice X45.
Tonric silently thanked his trainers for beating out
the concept of a dominant hand, the increased
swelling to his eye would have meant shooting at
blurs. Veller had climbed the ranks through skill,
and was not to be underestimated.
The practice model shredded through the initial
waves, Tonric did not bother with skill shots a
laser bolt to center mass killed instantly or
crippled and that was enough. The end result was
closer than Tonric would have liked but reinforced
"A good match, let us try again when we are less
injured." Tonric lay the practice weapon down and
considered the offer. "Better to have two eyes than
one, thank you High Colonel Veller." There was no
pomposity to his tone Tonric imbued the statement
with the respect it deserved.
"Indeed," responded Mark, "Perhaps at a later date
as our duties allow," his eye was beginning to swell
a bit from the hit, though his ribs hurt, he still
stood tall. This was not someone to show a weakness
to and he would be damned if he would do it now. He
held out a hand for the weapon as he stood near the
weapon rack. "Thank you as well for a good match."
"I look forward to that day." Tonric was also
looking forward to a decent checkup. Blood stained
teeth were a great visual warfare aid, but the taste
of iron in his mouth was starting to tire. He
presented the weapon with the respect the Colonel
and it deserved. "A pleasure for me as well,
challenges are essential."
Veller took the weapon with a nod, his ice blue eyes
meeting Tonric's. There was respect there which
hadn't been there at the beginning of the bout.
Differences in goals and opinions would probably
prevent them from being friends, but they understood
each other better. Racking the weapon, he motioned
for Tonric to leave the training facility with him.
He told the Stormtroopers to escort Tonric toetr the
med bay if he wished. To Tonric he said, "I
understand the possible insult of the escort, please
understand it is also for your protection as you are
not a member of the crew. Until later," Mark bowed
and went off in a different direction. There was a
medical station near his office and his ribs needed
The mutual respect in Veller's eyes was a good step,
the future was an interesting variable, they could
be allies and unlikely enemies, but never friends.
With the potential exception of Kia, Tonric did not
trust Imperials. The memories of Mandalore's
Imperials were always a reminder against that.
The offer of a medbay was made with excellent timing
"Thank you High Colonel, and I understand the need
for procedure. Till we meet again." Sarrick at his
side lecturing on the necessity of decisive fights,
he followed the stormtroopers.