Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Kit Gwynne, Rachel King, Christopher Levy, and Sarah Riggs-Shute.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:2:7) in the Essesia system: Darkened Oblivion, Interrogator, and Retributor
Apprentice Inquisitor Kia Kaen, High Inquisitor Serine Thanor, Flight Captain Randi Trainor, and Colonel Mark Veller.

Serine did not even remember making it back to her ship, Darkened Oblivion, that was still docked in the Retributor hangar bay. The High Inquisitor had lost such a significant amount of blood that she was becoming delirious, and was fading in and out of reality. Perhaps her subconscious mind that had piloted her body thus far did not desire to stay one more minute upon this vessel. Her pilot was about to be in for a shock as the Inquisitor stumbled up the ramp looking like she was mauled by a Nexu and a Rancor simultaneously. She was holding her side that was oozing out blood slowly, attempting to apply pressure to stop the flow. Serine was barely in her right mind but she knew she could not return to her command ship looking as she did. But before she did anything, she needed to tend to a few of the sutured wounds that had ripped open.

"Interrogator..." She eased out softly to Randi before clumsily staggering to an onboard medkit and fumbled around in its contents for a stimulant and bandages. She didn't have to perform surgery, all she had to do was be passable as someone not dying just long enough to get to her own ship's medical bay. After applying improvised bandages she wandered further into the ship to locate a spare set of crimson Inquisitor robes. This would be a good cover to throw over her mangled armorweave to hide her many gruesome injuries from her officers and crew members. And if she so happened to bleed through her makeshift patches, it would likely not be obvious against the deep reds of her attire. As she began to try to pull her robes over her head, she gasped in agony and she was unable to continue. Weakly she glanced over to her pilot with a distressed and miserable look of help that was borderline pathetic.

Randi Trainor was sitting in the cockpit of the Darkened Oblivion, oblivious as to what had transpired, despite the fact that much of it happened just outside the ship in the Retributor's hangar bay. She was eating some of her friend's, Lieutenant Sheppard, cookies with a cold glass of blue milk. When Serine returned she was initially startled, which caused her to spill some of the milk all over the front of her uniform. Because she was preoccupied with the mess, she did not notice Serine's arrival in a condition much worse than whence she left. "You don't talk to me much anymore, Serry," she replied, bitterly, before activating the thrusters of the Conqueror-class assault ship. "Go to the Interrogator. Go to the Retributor. Go to the Interrogator. Go to the Retributor," she said, shaking her head to each side with each statement.

It was only as she departed the hanger that she turned and saw Serine's condition. "Holy moly, Serry. What the heck happened to you?" she asked, scrunching her eyes together to study the wounds. As she turned back she noticed an oncoming Lambda-class shuttle that she nearly collided with, but with a sudden downward motion of the controls she astutely avoided the condition. "You been hanging out with the wrong crowd. You look like this one kid from the Academy. Everyone picked on her," she said, with a big smile that covered most of her face as she flew over towards the smaller Star Destroyer. "...wait a minute. That was *me*," she said, as her smile immediately shifted down into a frown. Gradually the assault ship touched down inside the hanger of the Interrogator, as it had countless times before, without any fun at all. "We're back," she said, stating the obvious, as she tried to help Serine get into her robes ... backwards. "Do you need me to get your doctor?" she asked, as she tried her best to cheer her up with her award winning personality.

Though despite her compromised state of mind, she understood her pilot's frustration on not having enough interesting tasks to perform and would make a mental note of that for later. Serine was grateful for Randi's assistance, and was even more grateful that this unfortunate turn of events was for her pilot's eyes only. She had been through quite a bit in the past with Randi and felt comfortable around her in more vulnerable states. "No Randi ... I do not want to alert my staff..." Her sentence trailed off before she readied herself, now the real task was at hand, bluffing her way through her entire ship and staying conscious enough to reach the medical bay. She had no idea that her Inquisitorius robes were on backwards, and that would likely be a hint to individuals that paid notice that something was not right.

It was going to be a difficult journey for Serine, the physical strain alone would be nearly impossible, but the mental one would be even more daunting. She couldn't just walk through the hallways, she had to act as if nothing had transpired. With great determination and fierce resolve, she took her first steps down the ramp, using all she could muster to feign an air of strength and command about her that she usually effortlessly displayed. But now ... the very act was excruciating. Her journey took her slowly but steadily through the hallways, every step was a challenge. Throughout her grand deception, her officers did not seem to notice there was anything amiss, they averted their eyes and distanced themselves as usual. So far ... so good ...

The alarm dinged on Mark's desk, reminding him he needed to check in with the medical droids on his ribs to make sure things were healing properly. Getting up slowly from his desk, he winced slightly and sighed. Looks like another day taking those damned painkillers. He downed another tablet dry and looked forward to when the pain was diminished enough. Though he didn't like taking them, the constant pain from cracked ribs would make it impossible to get anything done.

Mark had timed the reminder around this section's lunch time to ensure the fewest people in the medical bay. At as fast a pace as he could manage, he strode towards the medical bay, pleased at the lack of crowds. He didn't really need a lot of gossip going on about his visiting the medical bay. He was sure there was enough going on about his black eye, he really didn't want to add cracked ribs and whatever that would magnify into.

So, it was with a start that he recognized High Inquisitor Thanor walking ahead of him towards the medical bay. His eyes narrowed slightly as he saw her stop for a moment and rest a hand on the wall. It was only for an instant, but it was there. His eyebrow raised suddenly realizing what was wrong with the picture. For some reason, the High Inquisitor's robes were on backwards. He wondered that no one else had noticed it, but then, not a lot of people had the courage or stupidity to stare at the High Inquisitor as she walked past. As Mark was learning, she had a reputation for a temper. No one wanted to stare and then become the target.

There was a moment of alarm when he realized the High Inquisitor was wounded, and badly so. He had seen this type of dead walk before. Wounded soldiers moving by willpower alone. He was quite familiar with it, having seen it and done it a few times.

His mind raced for what to do. If she was wounded, it was imperative that no rumors spread on this. Wounded commanding officers were not a great boost to morale and Mark didn't know of any ongoing engagements where the High Inquisitor could have been wounded. This meant some sabotage or something which again could generate a poisonous rumor.

Hastening his stride, he passed the High Inquisitor and nodded as he passed, "Milord," continuing on as if nothing was wrong. But to every person he saw as he completed the trek to the medical bay, he sent off on an errand, ensuring they would not see the High Inquisitor in whatever state she was in.

At the medical bay, he made sure it was only medical droids. To them, he could issue restricted access on the records. He waited by the door for Serine to enter and once she did and the doors closed, he put her arm over his shoulder and guided her to the nearest bed. "Easy there, Milord, you're safe now." Mark winced at the additional stress on his ribs.

Mark motioned for the medical droids to begin their work. His eyes narrowed with worry when the medical droids cut away her robes, showing him the extent of her wounds. Eyes widening in wonder, How in the hell is she still moving? he asked himself, I've seen dead soldiers more alive than this.

The moment High Colonel Veller walked past the Inquisitor, the woman visibly tensed, attempting to the best of her ability to feign health despite her many grievous injuries. He was absolutely the last individual she wanted to know how truly injured she was. It was imperative that all of her high ranking officers respected her or the chain of command could be completely compromised. After he walked past with a quick formal but polite greeting, she eased her posture in a bit of relief as it appeared he did not notice how close she was knocking on death's door. Apparently her respite was short lived as she noticed him directing all incoming foot traffic away from her approach. While incredibly clever, his actions weighed heavily on her since it was now clear that he understood the extent of the trauma. The realization that her efforts had been in vain nearly crushed her, but she had to get to the medical bay without further incident.

Thoughts soon drifted to her apprentice, understanding that soon Kia would notice since no doubt the Inquisitor was giving off death throes through the Force. Perhaps the damages to the High Inquisitor's reputation could be limited to *just* her High Colonel and apprentice's knowledge. However, both knowing just how close she came to death was extremely detrimental to her pride and potentially very harmful to her command of them. The inflictions to her dignity were not over apparently, as Veller decided to take it upon himself to assist her into the facilities. It was no use pretending to him anymore, and as soon as the doors closed to shield her state from the rest of the ship, she nearly collapsed in his supportive arms. The moment he bore the majority of her weight, he would be greeted with the feeling of moisture coming from her robes. A quick look to his hands would see them covered in blood as it was now obvious that areas of the Inquisitor's robes were fully saturated with her blood.

It surprised her how very gentle he was to her in both his words and mannerisms. The world of the Inquisitorius was a brutal and unmerciful place, so such tenderness was nearly foreign to her, but welcomed all the same. She was drifting in and out of consciousness and it would take Veller to practically position her on a gurney to allow the droids to begin their emergency actions. The last thing she remembered before darkness overtook her was a deep feeling of regret that it had come to this.

Kia had been in the middle of lightsaber drills as a wave of intense pain and dread had washed over her. She felt like she was mentally drowning in it and worse, she recognized the Force presence at the core of it. Gasping, she forced herself to close off her mind. In blocking everything out she could focus on the important task of finding and defending her mentor. Both of the lightsabers were quickly deactivated and returned to their place at her hip. Only once she was certain she was not radiating her own emotions did she step out of the training room.

Mark stood there watching, his thoughts crashing in themselves, unable to leave though he had other duties to attend to. Death was a frequent companion to him. He was fully aware it visited when and where it wanted. The droids hooked up a feed to handle her blood loss as they started stitching up her wounds and preparing her for the bacta tank.

Trying to organize his thoughts, Mark sought to find the reason for his distress. Commanding officers had come and gone in his career. Most hadn't liked him much and, Mark had to admit, he hadn't liked them. But, he executed the orders given to him, so the dislike had only shown socially.

The High Inquisitor, however, had somehow managed to get under his skin in a way previous COs had not. With a start, he realized the beginnings was from when they sparred. He thought about that spar often. Taking it apart and working out different actions he could have taken, trying to find flaws in his own actions. He had come to the uncomfortable conclusion that had the spar continued, he would have been lucky to wake up in a bacta tank. The knowledge that his commanding officer was better in combat than him was a new one and he wasn't quite sure how to handle it.

What he had managed to conclude was that the High Inquisitor was a commanding officer worth serving. As he watched the droids work to save Serine's life, he was almost surprised to feel a fierce loyalty towards Serine. But then, not quite. Mark took in a deep breath, winced at the pain and then let it out, his mind calm now.

He respected the High Inquisitor, both for engaging in the spar and for the control she exhibited in not making him pay too high a price for the spar. The respect and loyalty that fueled his passion for the Empire had finally found a commanding officer worthy of it. That she survived this horrible onslaught only served to cement it further.

Practiced eyes followed the droids, he might not know exactly what they were doing, but he knew the signs of droids determining if the patient would live or die. His sigh of relief when the droids continued past a certain point was interrupted by the arrival of the High Inquisitor's apprentice, Inquisitor Kia Kaen.

She had stalked through the halls, following the sense of pain. A part of her smirked at the Stormtroopers who nearly jumped at the teenagers passing. She didn't know how her expression looked, but she was not projecting. Something was wrong, the fact the entire ship wasn't on alert said volumes.

She was mildly surprised there were no guards on the door. Kia stepped into the medical bay, one hand resting on a lightsaber hilt. Whatever she had been expecting, it wasn't Serine on a gurney and Veller waiting. She was worried and angry and wanted to know what was going on. Trying to keep that panic from her voice and not immediately rushing to Serine's side took every scrap of will power. "Report."

Mark's attention immediately went to the door opening and he realized with a touch of horror that in the urgency to get Serine looked at, he had forgotten to restrict access to the medical bay. Only the fact that it was lunch time, and troopers loathed giving up meal time to see the doctor had kept anyone else from entering.

Quickly, he keyed in the command codes to restrict access before addressing the young Inquisitor. Once done, he stood at attention and nodded to Kia, "Inquisitor Kaen, I was reporting to this medical bay for a routine checkup when I came across the High Inquisitor heading the same way. Seeing she was injured, I cleared the hall before her and then assisted her once inside." He glanced at Serine's still form and the surrounding droids, "I had no idea at the time her injuries were this grievous. The medical droids are preparing her for the bacta tank. I believe the critical moment has passed."

Standing there, he was suddenly aware of the bloodstain on his tunic and hands, the sticky wetness unmistakeable. He was bothered that his uniform was no longer pristine, but he could hardly do anything about it while delivering his report to Inquisitor Kaen. His expression was that of a professional soldier standing watch over a fallen comrade, determined. Something was subtly different in Mark's demeanor.

As the droids began to peel back the shredded armorweave away from the many hideously deep lacerations that had appeared to be hastily tended to, the true extent of the damages could be seen. Dozens upon dozens of gashes had gouged into flesh from a series of sources that resembled explosion patterns, but not just a single explosion, multiple explosions at point-blank range. Many of the deep slashes were overlapping in different orientations signaling individual sources. There were large patches of the Inquisitor's skin and armorweave that were scorched and pocketed with debris, some fragments were still imbedded. But perhaps some of the more gruesome injuries were where the more severe lesions had been sutured at one point but then violently ripped asunder that had shredded the surrounding skin and connective tissues. The external trauma was accompanied by internal trauma with heavy bruising to organs and fractured ribs characteristic of impact distress that seemed to be unrelated to the lacerations as a second event.

It was apparent from a keen eye that the High Inquisitor survived not one, but two different confrontations in the time span of her leaving to arrive at the Retributor and returning now. By the swollen and bruised appeal to the many wounds, it could be concluded that the multitude of gashes were not but a day old. She had been gone a day and a half from the Interrogator which put her life threatening injuries in that window of time. As the droids continued to attempt to blot the bleeding and seal the arteries, the High Inquisitor seemed to still be fighting unconsciousness, eyes would flutter during moments and a few fingers would twitch and curl. It was remarkable the woman was still alive, let alone attempting to regain her senses. There was no question that Serine was a fighter, but even she could not stir awake despite the desires of her subconscious to do so.

Mark stood stoically as yet another droid joined the party. One of the advantages of medical droids is they worked in concert and, if necessary, could reconfigure themselves to work above the patient. None of this jockeying for position breathing doctors would have had to do.

This was an advantage when the injuries were within certain limits. Med droids couldn't treat what wasn't in their databanks, hence the need for non-droid doctors to think out of the box when necessary. Serine's injuries, however, were well within documented experiences and he could tell the droids were using every bit of that knowledge to patch Serine back together again.

Watching as the droids passed tasks between themselves, he let himself feel a touch of hope. Serine was almost invisible beneath the cloud of droids working on her, but they were still working. The goal was to stabilize her enough to dump her in the tank. Mark wished that moment would be soon.

Though there was nothing he could add to the droids' work, he refused to leave. He also refused to wish for her survival. He had seen Death claim too many who should have lived to know he had any power over her survival, he would not set himself up for such a fall if she died. But he would not leave her to die alone with the droids if that was her fate. So he waited, mindful of the young Inquisitor who also stood there, the only other person on the Interrogator he would have let through the doors.

Kia only nodded, she felt numb as she watched the droids work. She hadn't felt this helpless in months. Moving back, she edged around trying to get a better look at what had happened.

As she got a good look at the damage, her eyes went wide. "Come here and tell me what these look like to you." She was addressing Mark. To her it looked like multiple explosive devices had hit Serine. She wanted confirmation from a soldier though. Explosives almost took another person she cared about.

Respectfully, Mark moved to Kia's side, "From my experience, Inquisitor, High Inquisitor Thanor has suffered an explosive device at close range. Perhaps more than one, though that is something the droids will be able to determine better than I. It is my speculation that she had medical treatment before arrival on the Interrogator, but something happened to disrupt the treatment, causing her to seek medical attention aboard the Interrogator. A few of her wounds are reminiscent of re-opened wounds."

Mark paused for a moment, "I have no explanation for the circumstances that resulted in her injuries. None of my troopers have reported combat since the High Inquisitor left for the Retributor. Nor have I received any alerts concerning possible combat." He let out a sigh, when he spoke, there was just the smallest hint of worry in his voice as he watched the droids lift Serine into a bacta tank. "For more information, Inquisitor, I am fear we will have to wait for High Inquisitor Thanor to regain consciousness and hope her injuries have not resulted in permanent damage. I will, of course, maintain the highest security around this incident. We cannot allow any rumors of the High Inquisitor's health to begin without further information," he concluded.

Mark suddenly realized that his tunic was bloodstained as were his hands. Further inspection showed that the blood was also on his trousers. Turning to Kia he said, "Inquisitor, if I might ask a favor. Could you possibly go to my quarters and get clean uniform for me? If I leave the medical bay in a bloodstained uniform, that will cause even more rumors to be generated."

Kia nodded slowly at Veller's confirmation of her suspicion. "They don't know it yet, but the ones responsible for this are already dead." Her voice was soft, and deadly cold.

Watching her Master being put into the bacta tank made the tension in her chest ease slightly. "I do not mind at all. You are right, walking through the ship covered in blood might not be the best idea. Walking through the corridors topless might also cause concern. Where are your quarters?"

Memorizing the location, she quietly slipped out of the medical bay. As she walked purposefully through the ship, Kia had plenty of time to think and plan. Arriving at the specified quarters, Kia palmed the door open and stepped inside. It took a few moments to gather the required pieces of a fresh uniform but before long she had them folded into a neat bundle. She even made sure not to add any more wrinkles to the fabric. Walking through the ship with a uniform slung over her shoulder was likely to cause as much gossip as if Veller himself had gone.

The trip back seemed to go faster for her, perhaps because she was anxious to get back to Serine's side. It didn't matter that she was unconscious and in a bacta tank. Kia wanted to be there. Stopping in front of the medical bay door, she rapped twice to signal that it needed to be unlocked. Once she had entered the room again, Kia held the package out to him.

Going behind a screen, Mark washed off the blood as best he could and changed into a clean uniform. He put the bloodstained clothing into the biohazard bin for disposal. Stepping back out he felt much better. As he had been changing, he had gone through possible cover stories to why the med bay was off limits. Discarding a few as silly and impossible, he finally decided on shutting the bay down for updates and repairs.

He gazed at the floating form of Serine in the tank, most of her body was covered in injuries. He hoped the time in the tank would minimize the scarring. "I am closing this medical bay for repair and update. You and I will be the only ones with access. Though the call is not fully mine to make, I believe it best to keep this knowledge between us. When the High Inquisitor awakens, she can decide who else needs to know."

He looked over at Kia, took a deep breath and winced, remembering he needed to get his ribs looked at. "I think one of us should be here at all times. If you don't mind, I would appreciate your taking the first watch so I can lock down this medical bay properly. I am also considering putting another layer of deception in that a high profile prisoner is being treated. This will explain the two of us coming and going but no others." He gave Kia a wry smile, "It will also explain one of us arriving with palatable food, unless you are truly fond of what the med droids try to pass off as food to those recovering."

Seeing Kia agree and then settle down on an opposite bed, Mark gave her a short bow and left the medical bay. There were things to do, and while he disliked keeping Major Serra out of this loop, he wasn't sure the High Inquisitor would approve, so he decided to err on the side of caution. Entering his office, he closed the door and got to work.

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