Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Kit Gwynne and Nikolai Wisekal.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:1:32) in the Essesia system: Interrogator.
Tonric Serev and Colonel Mark Veller.

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 ship.

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 behind them.

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 chuckle.

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 test.

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. Perhaps.

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 landed.

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 his impression.

"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 tending.

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.

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