Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Kit Gwynne and Sarah Riggs-Shute.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:6:2) in the Corulus system: Interrogator.
Lieutenant Bernard Dunford, Captain Dexter Jantiss, High Inquisitor Serine Thanor, and Colonel Mark Veller.

Once Veller confirmed her command and began to leave her office, Serine's attention snapped back to her terminal with the hopeful promise that there would be a new message from Major Petrovna or her medical team. There were still no updates, and that left her uptight and irritable from unfulfilled expectations. There was so much on her mind but she was restrained from her ability to act due to the natural limitations of her crew. When Mark turned back around with his remark that Tremayne may already be meddling, she couldn't help but to gawk at him with a glower, not desiring even more heaps of problems to pile upon her, but her glare faded and she motioned for him to continue. With the mention of Jorad, the High Inquisitor's eyes snapped open and her mind reeled from the implications, which apparently was only a fraction of what had transpired on Corulag.

The information just kept pouring out of the High Colonel and it was absolutely overwhelming. Both hands tightened into fists that began to tremble with wrathful turbulence. Thoughts lurched with the significance of what she was hearing, and bubbling turmoil churned within her uncontrollably. As Mark continued this onslaught of offensive recollection, Serine found herself removed from her chair and pacing around behind her desk disorderly. Her mind became less connected to her physical movements, at some point she had retrieved her lightwhip and in her derangement, was flicking it irregularly and snapping it taunt repetitively. Mental images exploded into her mind of what Jorad had done to her officers spurred on by Mark's colorful and detailed imagery. Without realizing she had done so, the taunt coils of the whip that were now clutched in either of her hands were clenched within her mouth, teeth biting down upon the metal belligerently.

Why was she just now hearing about this? Perhaps Tremayne convinced Jorad to work alongside his destructive plots ... no ... no, Tremayne would have wanted Mark alive... Perhaps Jorad betrayed Tremayne? It was also quite possible Jorad was just an opportunistic scavenger, but how would he know Mark would be on Corulag ... and how did he know Mark was Force sensitive?! Jorad was going to bring Mark back to the Citadel it seemed, so was he looking for an apprentice? How dare he cross her! If Jorad wasn't working with Tremayne, then where did he get his information? Did Tremayne also know about Mark now? Did other Inquisitors? Did the Citadel?! Was *everyone* trying to steal what was hers?! There were too many questions, nothing made sense, thoughts were overburdened, Serine was nearly paralyzed trying to piece together everything that was bewildering and insane. But that wasn't even the most shocking confession. The bombshell Jedi reveal nearly crushed her, and she gasped heavily, choking even, and her mind nearly had a meltdown.

In a fit of rage, fists that were still wrapped in lightwhip coils were slammed upon her desk causing the whole structure to nearly buckle. "Why did you not inform me sooner?!" She roared with a primal unsettling scream of frustration and mania before her delirious madness was directed to the nearest object, her office chair. It was seized between entangled hands before being slammed upon the ground over and over in a vicious and unrelenting barrage. Pieces of durasteel and duraplast flew in all directions with each empowered smash that was accompanied by a ferocious snarl of intense resentment. With one final howl, the twisted collection of fragmented pieces that was once a chair was hurled into the side of the bulkhead where it exploded into mangled chunks. Her whip was dropped absently to the ground as she leaned upon her table gasping and panting, not from exertion, but from the unfettered pulse of the darkside that called to her. The High Inquisitor realized she was close to rampaging ... and that could leave a trail of bodies in her wake, something she had no true desire to do. She needed to calm down ... and to think. What was her best immediate course of action? Her breathing sputtered as she heaved in air, trying to regain focus and direction. So many things now demanded her attention, but the one that had to get priority first was the Jedi.

She had too many questions ... The only thing she knew was that the Jedi was male ... by Mark's description, he called the Jedi 'him' ... and that perhaps the Jedi could heal, and that he had been on Corulag. She would have to start there. After a moment to gather her thoughts and compose herself so that she did not sound completely psychotic, she sent an urgent message to her Captain. "Captain Jantiss, move us back into orbit around Corulag, block the hyperspace routes and set up what would appear to be routine inspection points. I do not want anyone leaving that planet that we do not screen. I am sending you a file containing information on Inquisitor Jorad. I want him apprehended. There is also an additional target, I will have more information for you momentarily. Immediately inform me when we return to that system."

She shut off communication from the Captain before sending a summons to Lieutenant Bernard Dunford. After a moment of heavy and strained breathing, silver eyes peered up at Veller with a deathly glare to them. Thoughts returned to when he had moved to leave her office ... even then he had hesitated to tell her the truth. Was he originally planning on hiding everything from her?! His previous exclusion of this information could be seen as a betrayal, and even though he disclosed it now, her trust in him was marred, and once again she found herself questioning his loyalty.

Captain Dexter Jantiss glowered at the comm link for a few moments. The link had been cut before he could acknowledge his orders or ask any questions. Saying a silent prayer, he reflected upon the universe punishing him with an inexperienced young woman as a commander. He was tempted to call back and ask some questions, but decided not to. This young woman also had a temper and he wasn't as sure High Inquisitor Thanor understood the reasons to keep him breathing, even if she was displeased with him, as High Inquisitor Tremayne had.

Giving the silent comm link another glower, he turned to the crew and began to give the needed orders. After bringing the TIE fighter pilots to battle readiness, he sent the necessary orders for shuttles and their pilots to be put on standby as well. He sat down in his command chair, idly pulling up the files that Inquisitor... High Inquisitor Thanor had sent him.

It would take a bit of time for the Interrogator to drop out of hyperspace and then to plot and execute the route back. ISDIIs were not nimble little freighters. He let out a sigh, thinking about his orders. First it was go out into open space, now, it's go back *and* blockade the planet. Oh, and by the way, arrest an Inquisitor. Still glowering, Jantiss entered in his codes to pull up current fleet data. The glower turned to a small smile. There were perks to commanding the High Inquisitor's vessel. Before too long, orders were going out to the nearest vessels to begin the blockade of Corulag. It would be years, if ever, before he reached the rank of Admiral, yet, as Captain of the Interrogator, he had Admiral clout in certain circumstances. By the time the Interrogator returned to Corulag, the blockade should be mostly in place. Anyone managing to get off world would be running the high risk of smashing into something in hyperspace.

Once in position along the the main hyperspace route, he would send squadrons of TIE fighters and shuttles with inspectors to the other minor ones. The Stormtroopers could earn their pay by landing on the surface and conducting the space hanger inspections.

Mark was not prepared for the accusation that the High Inquisitor flung at him. He was about to answer when things started flying around the room. His eyes widened slightly as he realized two things. The first was that the High Inquisitor was throwing a temper tantrum, perhaps similar to ones that Inquisitor Tremayne would throw according to Lieutenant Dunford. The second was the High Inquisitor was the source of things flying around the room.

It took a high degree of willpower to stand there in the maelstrom. Mark's trained eye realized objects were not flying at him, nor were the whip tails directed his way, but that did not mean he let his guard down. He did not think anyone would call him a coward for retreating, but he had not been dismissed so, until objects were directed at him, he would remain.

When she started barking out orders to Captain Jantiss, he hoped his aides were up to the task of assigning Stormtroopers to the necessary locations as he might be detained. Seeing the High Inquisitor glare at him, he knew there was going to be trouble of some nature.

Mark bowed a bit more than his usual bow, "Milord, my apologies. I understand now I erred grievously. Honestly, I have no answer to your question. Your urgency in working with Major Petrovna to find any additional spies was such that I was complying with your orders when I remembered the events of the prior day and decided to mention them without further delay. As for my behavior prior, I have no explanation."

Standing at attention, Mark prepared himself to be in the center of another maelstrom or even stripped of his rank and escorted to the brig. If the High Inquisitor was this upset over what he had said so far, adding that he knew the Jedi as a youth was probably not very conducive to his current state of health. While he respected the High Inquisitor, this was a side of her he had not seen before and was having trouble reconciling it with how he felt his commanding officer should act. Perhaps there was something to what Master Roste had been telling him during their short conversation.

Bernard was pacing around in his quarters both enthusiastically and impatiently as eyes kept darting to his chronometer with growing fervor. There was a mixture of emotions running through him as he was anxiously awaiting his turn to speak with the High Inquisitor but also nervous on what the High Colonel was informing her of. The Lieutenant really wished he had the opportunity to speak with her first, as who was to say what Veller was discussing while Dunford was floundering around hapless in his room. If only he could find out what was being said behind closed doors, he may be able to weather the potential oncoming storm. He had once believed Mark was an honorable man, but the recent events had dumbfounded him and put doubts in his mind about his superior's honesty, thus he couldn't be certain the Colonel was speaking honestly to the High Inquisitor.

Bernard was eager to set the score correctly, as long as he was given the chance to defend any false accusations that may come from Veller. His prayers were answered the moment he heard the summons from the Inquisitor herself and his heart jostled both in fear and fortitude. Here was his chance, though he had no idea what he would be walking into, at least now it would no longer be an unknown to him, and he could face whatever lay ahead boldly. The Lieutenant wasted no time and rushed from his room in a quickened determined pace through the many corridors and two turbolifts. Upon reaching the Inquisitor's office door, he paused but for a moment to catch his breath and ready for what may be a turbulent affair. He didn't know what to expect, or even what he would say, but he knew that he was tired of constant dread and it was time to completely come clean. Before, he had been alive, but he wasn't *living*. He didn't want to be that way anymore.

The door was already unlocked and thus he entered and immediately he realized that something was not right. Eyes flicked around quickly, taking in the damage with a worried knot forming in the pit of his stomach. Apparently, a chair had been ripped apart and its pieces flung chaotically around the whole office area. He was walking into a war zone it would appear. A troubled look was given to the High Colonel for the briefest of moments as he took up post beside the man in a rigid stance of attention. The Lieutenant did not have a long time to debate his choice of words, for as soon as he opened his mouth to acknowledge her summons, the High Inquisitor barked an intense order for him to remove the top portion of his uniform. Startled by both the sharp tone of her voice and the request itself, he faltered, unsure and confused. His delay seemed to enrage the Inquisitor further and she began to stalk quickly towards him.

At the sight of her advancing aggressively, a soft yelp was caught in his throat as he nervously began to awkwardly strip his outer layers of clothing until his chest was completely bare exposing the hideous scabs that littered his body. He couldn't help an uneasy gulp as a self-conscious timidness washed over him. Dunford realized then that Mark told the Inquisitor about Jorad at least, but was that all he had disclosed? For now, he decided to stay quiet and glean that information from what he assumed would be an unusual but interesting conversation.

The High Inquisitor's fierce glare to Veller was interrupted the moment Lieutenant Dunford entered, her attention now completely captured by the new entry. As soon as he drew to an attention, she would harshly snap a demand, "Remove your tunic and shirt!" Serine nearly snarled with a seething caustic quality to her voice. When her order wasn't immediately carried out, she advanced upon Bernard quickly with the intent to brutishly rip the material away from him, but she stopped cold when she caught the sight of his bare torso. He was practically coated with atrocious scabs that crisscrossed along his body in multiple locations. Dismayed, but intrigued, she began walking towards him again, but this time far more reserved and tentative. This abhorrent sight did much to oust her previous anger, as a shocking reveal would. Even after Veller claimed Inquisitor Jorad assaulted the Lieutenant, she was skeptical at best, but this ... was completely unexpected.

As she drew closer to Bernard, his previous affliction started to become more clear and she stared at the damage confounded. Her officer should have died. With her expertise, she could tell the lacerations had cut deeply, severing major arteries and likely causing an immense loss of blood. Not only did Bernard seem to be in fine order, the wounds had healed at a remarkable pace, and from how her High Colonel described it, this assault had recently happened. The scabs, although numerous and the original intent ghastly, were not infected, or swollen. Bernard was likely not even in much pain. Her eyes narrowed intently at the Force craftsmanship that had been required to mend these injuries. Serine realized that this Jedi foe was formidable in healing arts, perhaps a remnant of the Jedi Medical Corps. In addition, he apparently defeated Inquisitor Jorad in combat to rescue her officers. Jorad was not some newly indoctrinated acolyte, he was competent in battle, thus this Jedi was capable in a skirmish.

Her deductions could lead to only one logical conclusion. This healing was exceptional work done by the hands of a Jedi Master. A long sigh slowly eased from her as Serine relished in that basic knowledge. "A Jedi Master..." She softly whispered in amazement. How could she possibly prepare for an unscheduled shore leave to uncover such an incredible discovery. With this new understanding, there was no way she could foresee the Jedi working for Tremayne. So what was it then ... Was it a coincidence? Was he targeting Jorad? Was he targeting Veller?! And now she had a new problem, this Jedi saved her officers. She wasn't some wretched honorless heathen like her former master was, but she couldn't possibly ignore a Jedi Master. Lost in troubling thought, the Inquisitor turned around to walk back over towards her desk. Her hands pressed to the table as she lowered her head in heavy reflection.

"No ... he would not sully himself with the likes of Tremayne." Serine answered Mark's previous question, but more so to herself. "Tell me everything ... what he looks like, how he fought, what he told you ... *everything*." She spoke softly with her back facing her officers, overwhelmed with the epiphany.

No glance, even a sideways one, was spared for Lieutenant Dunford as he entered the office. He could surmise what his initial reaction was at the devastation caused by the destruction of the chair. When the High Inquisitor barked out her command, Mark let out a small sigh. It was Dunford's condition that required the telling of the tale, for there was no way to explain his injuries otherwise. But with the telling of the tale came the revelation about Master Roste.

Mark needed time to determine just where his loyalties lay. He could not deny that Master Roste had a claim to some of them, but just how much was still in question. There was the matter of the training that had been offered. Master Roste had admitted that whatever training he had been receiving was unfinished.

Before Lieutenant Dunford could say anything, Mark said, "Milord, I will tell you everything you wish, but I have a personal favor to ask. Since this Jedi saved both our lives, I promised him two days grace to leave before I reported anything, thinking it fair payment, one day for each life saved. Half of one day was spent aiding Lieutenant Dunford in his recovery. That leaves another 36 hours. My request is that you honor that promise. If you agree, in 36 hours, I will answer every question you have concerning this Jedi."

It was a huge risk Mark was taking, one that could end his life if the High inquisitor took it badly. But he needed to know if his commanding officer was honorable. High Inquisitor Thanor's strength had impressed him. That she knew what punishment to inflict for him to regain his honor was another point in her favor. But could she uphold another's honor? He did not feel it necessary to mention that his answers might not be honest if she insisted on his talking now, but since he had no idea how long Dunford had been listening or what he remembered, he would answer honestly enough.

A chill rushed through the Lieutenant causing him to lightly tremble as he continued to stand there with his torso exposed to the colder air. The scabbing the Inquisitor witnessed was horrible and ghastly in appearance, but thankfully it looked worse than it felt. Dunford was barely in any pain for which he was relieved, or it would have been extremely difficult and agonizing to remove his clothing ... or even breathe. Bernard kept his eyes downcast as the High Inquisitor inspected him visually, grateful that she did so at a distance because this was an unexpected timid situation in which he was terribly embarrassed. As she stepped away from him and returned towards her desk, he involuntarily shivered from a combination of nerves and biting frigid drafts. Eyes wavered with a fearful uncertainty as he considered his options, not knowing if he was allowed to cover himself and feeling awkward to ask.

What could he say? 'Permission to dress, Milord?' He felt like an idiot, those words feeling clumsy and bizarre, even in his brain, and he refused to force that uncomfortable sentence from his mouth. Instead, he slowly and quietly began to properly dress himself as Mark addressed her. If she had an objection, Bernard figured she would quickly let him know. But for now, he certainly couldn't serve on the ship in this capacity and surely she would not want others to see what had happened to him, least undesirable disclosed information was spread around. By the time the High Colonel was finished speaking, the Lieutenant was content to be fully clothed but also appalled by what Veller had said. Before, when Dunford had arrived and was commanded to strip, he was alarmed at the suddenness to it, but also appreciative that Mark finally came to his senses and reported on Jorad and the Jedi. But now, with Mark's incredibly crass attempt at collusion and extortion, how could Dunford respect him as his commanding officer?

Another wave of disappointment hit him hard, smearing the high regard he once had for the High Colonel. How could Veller even consider what he was suggesting? Disenfranchised eyes moved towards Veller who stood to his left, disbelieving that he could sink so far ... how could he so easily be brainwashed by a Jedi? Eyes clouded with a sudden thought. Maybe it wasn't Marks' fault ... Jedi were known to manipulate people's minds. Suddenly Bernard felt the urge to say something on his behalf, to defend his superior, in addition to easing the situation ... if he could. The severe condescending look that stared at Mark shifted quickly to one of great concern for the other's well being. Dunford didn't know what the Inquisitor would do, but he didn't need a vast imagination to get an idea, just looking at the shattered remnants of the office chair was enough for him. He knew a bit of what the High Inquisitor was seeking, maybe it would be enough to salvage the situation. Before Thanor had a chance to retaliate, Dunford hastily spoke up in defense of Veller.

"Milord! I have reason to believe that the Jedi may have manipulated the High Colonel. Please don't judge him too harshly..." Dunford then explained how he remembered the Jedi appearing, his features and clothing, hoping that perhaps it would be enough to prevent an unsightly display of carnage

During the dialogue from both of her officers, the High Inquisitor maintained her angled posture that leaned over her desk with hands firmly rooted upon the surface. She stood unmoving in her position, not once raising her head from its slightly bowed slant throughout both Veller and Bernard's commentary. Despite her unshaken and solemn appearance, she was an epicenter of turmoil inside. Her face was hidden from view due to her location and stance, thus the only indication that things were very awry was the faint twitching of her right hand. Serine's distressed turbulence was further betrayed by fingers that began to curl into a fist that trembled lightly with an intensely veiled anger. A very long uncomfortable silent moment continued with the only sounds in the room being hushed breathing and armorweave stretching and relaxing as the Inquisitor slowly but continuously opened and closed her right fist.

Her mind was being bombarded by a series of irrational thoughts and emotional accusations directed at her High Colonel. Indignation, betrayal, sorrow and anguish warred inside her, struggling to unravel her existence. Serine was doing everything in her power not to explode into a fit of rage. She knew that if she said *anything* this very moment or even moved from her spot, she would erupt into a frenzied overreaction and do something she would very much regret immediately after. Somehow a shred of cautionary control kept her stationary through the chaotic upheaval she was experiencing, thus she kept her position rigidly, with only the small spasms of her right hand to hint at the potential cataclysm. Her mind and body were both paralyzed from the anger, but that was exactly what was necessary for survival of this confrontation. Allowing a moment for these heated emotions to fade was critically important, giving Serine time to analyze the situation.

It was apparent to the High Inquisitor with further reflection that the Jedi played to Veller's sense of honor. With Serine's own past experiences with her High Colonel, she knew that was a winning strategy, and had used that to her advantage to maneuver him in the direction she wished. Not unlike herself, this Jedi appeared to be exceedingly clever, and that made him very dangerous. She had been certain that Veller's loyalty to her would be forever bound, but she had not intended a Jedi Master to come along and instigate doubt into his mind. Serine considered Mark her possession, and had made that extremely clear to him before. She did not care to suffer a rival who would now challenge her ownership, a rival who was, from her approximations, incredibly formidable. She was now faced with an extremely difficult obstacle: obtaining the Jedi without fracturing her hold on Veller. She was also faced with the moral intricacies of trying to balance around the fact that the Jedi saved her officers. Not to mention the plethora of other problems she needed to address.

Finally, after a long while, the High Inquisitor stood away from her desk with a heavy sigh and turned to face both men. It was apparent that those intense emotions that threatened to rip her asunder had for the most part quelled, but there was a constant sharp sheen just behind silver eyes. She decided to control the current progression of this meeting by changing its meaning. Ignoring Dunford for now, Veller needed to be addressed first as his comments were demanding her rebuttal. "Do you not trust my judgement, High Colonel? Do you believe I would not consider the rescue of your life, and the Lieutenant's, to be of value?" She answered his statement with a question to deflect his assumption, but there was authentic hurt swirling in her eyes as she peered at him. "You believe I cannot possibly be pragmatic, or sensible?"

This was when a touch of anger sparked out and she raised her voice at Veller. "I am *not* some rancorous unyielding maniac incapable of making exceptions!" She paced briefly in front of Mark to calm that bubbling temper so that she could continue at a more moderate tone. "Consider for a moment my position and this vessel's mission statement. I cannot ignore what you have told me, I cannot agree to those terms." Serine paused for a moment in contemplation, her eyes drifting to the side before they returned to his gaze. "But that does not mean execution or even detrimental interrogation is inevitable ... or containment indefinite." It might take a moment for Veller to follow since it was rather unprecedented, but Serine was heavily hinting on compromise.

Standing at attention, Mark awaited his fate. In some ways, he wished Dunford had stayed quiet, but understood the need and felt no ill will towards the man. Mark was more than willing to face the consequences of his own actions. Belatedly, he realized his actions could cause him another trip to the brig and inwardly sighed. His record since arriving on the Interrogator seemed doomed to deteriorate.

If possible, he came to an even stiffer attention when Serine approached him. Her words struck a chord within. Master Roste knew the dangers when he approached him. He bowed his head for a few moments after the High Inquisitor had stopped talking to consider her words.

Raising his head, he met the High Inquisitor's gaze, "Milord, forgive me, I misspoke." He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly before speaking, "Lieutenant Dunford," glancing over to his right, "I believe I owe you an apology."

Turning his gaze back to the High Inquisitor, "Milord, again, my apologies for not mentioning it sooner, but the Jedi who rescued us was my former teacher as a child on Onderon. He stated he had been watching me for a long time. I can only assume that brought him to my rescue yesterday. I had no knowledge he was a Jedi when I was younger and he was teaching me the martial arts. He did not mention anything out of the ordinary to me during that time, merely teaching me the control I needed to master the techniques he was teaching."

Glancing again at Lieutenant Dunford then back, Mark hesitated, "The rest of what I have to say is rather personal, Milord. While I will continue if you wish, and I have no doubts on Lieutenant Dunford's ability to not gossip, his presence might become inappropriate." Mark realized the High Inquisitor would probably pull information out of him he had forgotten about Master Roste, interrogation was, after all, her job. He was not really ready to make public his conversation with Master Roste about this "Force" thing, having no idea how much Dunford had overheard or understood fully. He thought it best to leave it to the High Inquisitor's judgment as to whether to continue with Dunford present.

Lieutenant Dunford watched the High Inquisitor quietly flex her hand with a growing sense of dread, wondering if he made the right decision to stand up for the High Colonel. He didn't think he would have had the courage to do so just a week prior. The events he shared with Veller on Corulag changed him, perhaps for the better, but it did come with its own set of consequences. Putting one's self out there was always a risky chance, one that Bernard was very wary of, but when Inquisitor Thanor turned around and spoke in a far more introspective manner, Dunford's jitters and concerns began to calm. He was relieved to feel that he did the right thing after all, and was surprised by the Inquisitor's logical sensibilities ... he was certain this could have gone down very differently, with body parts being strewn around the office instead of chair pieces.

While quietly reflecting on the unexpected change of course, he was taken aback by the High Colonel's apology that followed. A bit dazed, Bernard blinked at the man to his left before a slow nod of acceptance was afforded to the other with a small smile of relief showing. He had been so devastated before with Mark's apparent betrayal, that the reversal filled him with hope and optimism. His support for the High Colonel was further encouraged and strengthened by Mark's disclosure of additional information regarding the Jedi. Dunford's mind was finally put back at ease now knowing that Veller was once again worthy of being his commanding officer. The Lieutenant was impressed by how quickly the Inquisitor seemed to handle the situation, his previous fears of a meltdown were now fleeting and distant.

Maybe he misjudged her, maybe the months of avoiding her were completely unnecessary. It gave him more confidence in his own confessions that needed to be addressed, but it appeared he would have to wait another time to clear out his dark history. Dunford very much wanted to protest Mark's request to dismiss him, as he had his own pressing matters to discuss with the High Inquisitor. He squirmed a bit as worried eyes peered over at Veller and soon his anxieties would build quickly causing him to blurt out a response. "Milord, I also have some sensitive material to discuss ... at your convenience of course." Said before eyes immediately fell to the floor from guilt for speaking out once again without being addressed.

Serine had a heavy look of deliberation as she walked back towards her desk to retrieve her lightwhip, stepping over fractured pieces of office chair as she did so. With the weapon in hand, she raveled it slowly, absentmindedly rolling the tails between her fingers as she considered the information Veller was saying. The High Inquisitor was pleased she managed to expertly maneuver him back under her authority, but was also perplexed with his report on the Jedi. It did not surprise her to hear that a Jedi had at one point been Veller's instructor, as she had gathered that much, coming to that conclusion before. It was the only way Mark could have possibly managed to keep his dark compulsions undetected for so long. The part that concerned her was when he mentioned that the Jedi had been watching him for some time. That was a real issue, the Jedi was targeting her High Colonel. So ... this had been no accident or coincidence, the Jedi had tracked him down and used the shore leave as an opportunity. That irritated her.

Her terminal was handled once again to contact Captain Jantiss in which she disclosed the information she had previously promised him. A detailed description of their second target to apprehend was given with the added emphasis that the Jedi was top priority and was to be taken alive and unharmed. It was quite the steep demand, but one that the personal upon the Interrogator were trained for and expecting. "This Jedi is intelligent, crafty, and formidable, Captain. Let me know if you are incapable of handling such a high-profile target," Serine said with an added verbal barb before disconnecting. An odd tug of war had formed between them ever since Serine had taken command of the Interrogator. She was convinced that the Captain did not trust or respect her, and took every opportunity to discredit and demean his efforts to remind him that she called the shots here.

With that bit of business accounted for, she directed her attentions back to her High Colonel, and his request for a private audience. Apparently, her tactical officer also wanted a private audience, but rank came first, and her favor was heavily in Mark's corner, considering she just recently had to do some agile verbal maneuvering just to keep him occupied. She would have to remind herself to *thank* this Jedi for his manipulations, as she did not appreciate anyone else touching *her* possessions and undermining her work. "You are dismissed Lieutenant Dunford, but you will get your chance at a private meeting in the near future. Arrange for an audience with Theo." With a nod to Bernard, the man exited, leaving the Inquisitor and Colonel alone. Silver eyes expectantly narrowed ever so slightly to Mark, awaiting his reasoning for anxiously requesting her undivided attention.

Today was a day to glower at comm links, Captain Jantiss decided. He appreciated the information on the Jedi they were to capture. He knew from previous experience they could be very devious, sneaking through his patrols undetected. He would have paid a high price to have agents who could sneak around like Jedi. But this slip of a girl had presented him with two problems. The first was taking this Jedi alive.

Way back, It had been easier to take them alive. Now, many preferred to fight to the death, that being the only way to take them as they had an inkling of what awaited them. Personally, he didn't see a need for all the fuss. The Jedi were deposed and unlikely to regain power for a long time, but, orders were orders.

The second problem was a sting to his pride. Not able to take on a high profile target? Just who did this snoop of a girl think he was? A rank amateur?

He called up his XO and gave him the helm. Walking off the bridge, he called for a meeting of various officers. While he didn't mind 'accidents' happening to Jedi, he had been given a direct order to take this one alive. If he failed, he needed a very good case that he had done everything he could to take the Jedi alive. Time to make some plans. He had about an hour before they were back in the Corulag system.

Mark waited respectfully until Dunford had left, trying to formulate what to say next. Master Roste's words echoed in his mind randomly until one phrase stuck out, "You've been branded like a possession."

A calmness washed over him, he knew what he had to do next. "Milord," he said calmly, standing amidst the results of the High Inquisitor's rage, "I beg your indulgence one more time. Might we have this conversation in the cell where you ... punished me?"

It was there where this started, there where the High Inquisitor created the bond between them. It was there Mark hoped to find his balance again. A sense of irony filled him at the look of confusion on the High Inquisitor's face. "Why?" she demanded of him.

"Because, Milord," Mark responded, "That is where," he hesitated just a moment, changing what he was going to say, "it started." He simply said, instead of "you branded me."

The High Inquisitor was silent for a moment, considering the request, then nodded, swiftly striding to the door. Mark followed her out. It did not take long for them to reach the cells the Interrogator had been designed to fill. Punching in her access code, the door to the cell Mark had been held in slid open. She stepped aside to allow Mark access.

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