Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Sean Brandt, Kit Gwynne, and Sarah Riggs-Shute.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:1:3) in the Essesia system: Interrogator.
Major Serra Eona, High Inquisitor Serine Thanor, and Colonel Mark Veller.

Major Serra Eona stood outside the entrance to the High Inquisitor's quarters, having arrived a few minutes earlier than planned. A summons had been sent to the High Colonel from the Intel Officer, informing him that it was time to meet with the Inquisitor. Out of all the experiences of the first few days aboard the vessel, this moment promised to be one of the most important. In her research, Serra hadn't found anything to suggest the man had much in the way of experience when it came to Sith. There was a certain eagerness inside, an excitement to see just what sort of impression he would make on Serine and vice versa.

In the moments before she expected their new commander to arrive, Serra finished off the last few drags of her cigarra, promptly disposing of it once she did. There would be no smoking once they were in Serine's office, of course, so she had to get one in while she could. Otherwise it would be an enormous distraction.

The summons came as a bit of a surprise, pulling Mark out of his analysis of armor wear and tear. So far he was very pleased with the condition of the command he had just acquired. There was very little out of place and what was could be attributed to the usual variations between commanders. He was beginning to feel confident that he wouldn't have to change personnel around much to get maximum efficiency. The main problem would be keeping that edge.

He blinked a few times before finally realizing his comm link was activated. Once he understood where he was being summoned, the numbers of the analysis was pushed from his mind. Hastily he stood up, grabbed the cap from his desk and hurried out of his office, brushing his hair back as he went before settling the cap precisely on his head. The Stormtroopers who accompanied him had to increase their march in order to keep up with him.

His nervousness abated a bit upon seeing Major Eona standing before the door. Taking a deep breath, he walked up to the door, trying to look more confident than he felt. His first time in the presence of a Sith, a moment that seemed to provoke terror and excitement. In a flash, it seemed to him this was the pinnacle of his career, that he had finally made it to the top from the bottom of the heap on Onderon. A final tug to his uniform jacket, making sure everything was in place, he felt ready to meet his commanding officer.

Stopping beside Serra, he nodded politely, "Major," he stated, "I hope I have not kept people waiting."

Seeing Mark approach reminded Serra of her first encounter with a Sith. It was years ago by now, but it was the sort of moment that left an impression, and just as he did now, Serra had seen it as a time of great honor and one of the greatest steps one could make in their career with the Empire. The subtle tones of nervousness couldn't be missed, and she could hardly blame him.

As Mark approached her Serra kept her eyes on him, watching carefully for any apprehension and finding none to mention. "No. You're right on time, as expected." Had he been late to this of all meetings, it would have changed her mind quite a bit about the quality of the man she'd selected for the job. As it was, he had not failed to prove worthy yet.

Serra turned to face the door, her hand moving to the switch, but she paused before opening it. "Do not forget who you are, Veller. Carry yourself with the pride and respectability of your position, and do not doubt yourself. If you do, then the Sith will sense it, and doubt you as well. This is your moment. What it means for your future is up to you." There was a brief moment that passed, and then she activated the panel, the door sliding open before them. Serra stepped through and bowed, then moved to the side before speaking.

"Lord Inquisitor Thanor, allow me to introduce you to the latest addition to your command staff. High Colonel Mark Veller, Commander of the 610th Legion."

Mark's ice blue eyes warmed ever so slightly when Serra used his last name, but then hardened again at Serra's words, "I never forget who am I, Major, nor the choices that have lead me here." Though he understood the warning and the reasoning behind it, the words still stung a bit. Forever having to prove yourself, he thought. He nodded briefly and Serra's hand opened the door. He followed her through, removing his cap as he went through the door in a graceful manner. His ice blue eyes swept the room before coming to rest on the High Inquisitor, assuring himself of the personnel and his position in the room.

"Lord Inquisitor Thanor," he said, giving her the correct bow to an millimeter of precision, "It is an honor to serve." He straightened his stance, every inch the perfect Imperial Officer Academy graduate.

The first thing the both of them would notice as they entered the Inquisitor's chambers is how differently members of the Inquisitorius lived their lives as compared to members of equal standing in the military. Instead of lavish decor and apparel, was bare walls and only the most necessary of essentials. There was no time for such useless matters and such trivial things would be a distraction. Then of course their attention would be quickly directed towards the High Inquisitor herself who had been sitting behind a rather large but plain desk reviewing the rather interesting details within the reports both officers had sent her within the last few days. Serine knew they had arrived before they even opened the door, but she wished to finish evaluating High Colonel Veller's report specifically before she met the man personally. Even before he entered her chambers, she was already scrutinizing him.

When members of the Inquisitorius were performing official duties, they typically wore thick crimson robes as accustomed to their standing in the organization, however, Serine did not usually go by this time-honored tradition. As the two fully entered the room and addressed her, the Inquisitor stood from her desk and it quickly became clear to Veller that this woman was constantly battle ready, even in her own personal chambers. She was adorned in a unique armorweave exclusive to her uncommon needs as an Inquisitor. She was tall, athletic and surprisingly young appearing despite her reputation and rank. Her attention had immediately fell upon Veller as piercing silver eyes locked onto his every movement with what could only be described as a look of intense appraisal. A silence fell within the room as the High Inquisitor slowly rounded the table to begin walking towards the two officers. What appeared to be a whip was coiled at her hip, such an odd weapon of choice, and incredibly rare. Purposeful steps brought her to be standing directly in front of the man, that heavy glare never wavering.

"High Colonel Veller." Said simply. "I trust you have found your accommodations agreeable." Eyes narrowed just so very slightly as she awaited his response. As with every member of the Inquisitorius, every question was loaded.

Mark stood at attention, easily bearing the gaze of the Inquisitor, it being no more difficult than some of the drill sergeants he had known. He approved of the Lord Inquisitor's quarters, having no use for frivolities himself. While he did have a few prized possessions, they were only a few. He did have to admit to a bit of curiosity at the Lord Inquisitor's choice of weapon. The whip was not an easy weapon to truly master and not one that would be effective for a group of fighting men. Too much chance of getting a fellow man if the fighting was done in tight quarters. The whip required space to work effectively.

"Very agreeable, milord," said Veller, taking his cue from Serra's use of "Lord Inquisitor" in the introduction. His nervousness had faded with his approval of his new commanding officer. While there was still more to know about her, his initial first impression told him the Sith was competent in warfare to say the least. This comforted him knowing the chance of receiving stupid orders were probably lowered.

If the High Colonel had at all been curious, he would have no difficulty finding a torrent of outlandish rumors surrounding Serine Thanor. The most recent one, and likely relevant to his post here, was the catastrophic collision of the Adventurer into the hangar bay of the Interrogator. Though the man was likely not privy to the real reasons his was called in to replace his predecessor, in time he would likely realize the full extent of the casualties. In addition to this, there was a lot of swirling hearsay on how the Inquisitor had left the Warspite three months ago, fell completely off of the grid and returned about two weeks ago, now as a High Inquisitor and in command of the flagship Interrogator. It was quite the mystery but that did not stop hushed whispers in the mess hall.

"I see you have already had a confrontation with particular members of my staff." Eyes that had been focused upon Veller now snapped to Major Serra with a growing anger in her voice. "El-Nay Darr was your responsibility, Major." Serine had very high regards for her excellent Intel officer, and they already had a unique history of mutual respect, but the latest round of reports had been very disappointing. "Is she perhaps too much for you to handle?" How quickly the focus of the conversation could change around a member of the Inquisitorius.

Serra had primarily wanted to be here for the introductions, mostly because Mark was quickly turning out to be a glowing success for her. His early success improved her own reputation and standing, after all, which was vitally important if she were to continue her free access to the secrets of this ship and the Empire at large. Things were going well until El-Nay was brought up, and the turning of that anger in her direction was a distinct reminder of why she despised the bounty hunter. The darkening of her mood was well concealed, however, leaving her exterior a presentation of the usual chilled apathy she wore. "My apologies, Inquisitor. She is not too much to handle, I assure you. If anything she is too little; an ineffective tool unfit for the most menial work, but that will change. This will be her last disappointment, Inquisitor. Should she falter again, she will be retired from service." If either of them had even the vaguest concept of what retirement meant to an agent of Imperial Intelligence, they would know that did not bode well for the longevity of the Mandalorian.

Mark inclined his head slightly to catch the attention of the Lord Inquisitor, while others might chose to keep quiet and wait until the attention was once more on him, Mark was not averse to speaking his mind when he felt it necessary, a personality trait that had won him supporters and enemies in the past.

"Milord," he said, "The person in question is at this moment training with Sergeant Batua. I am confident of his ability to ensure El-Nay Darr causes no further embarrassment aboard this ship. As concerns her usurpation of an Imperial Officer training area, the brief lack of a commanding officer probably contributed to situation. It will not happen again. The Major and I will be planning a training program for the other ... bounty hunters required." The pause was the only indication of his dislike of mercenaries. He returned to his stance of complete attention, his ice blue eyes observing.

The Inquisitor's eyebrows arched slightly as not one, but both of her officers had quite a bit to say regarding the El-Nay Darr conundrum. Serine's attention was first directed at the Major and then was surprisingly directed at the High Colonel who apparently needed to add some of his own commentary. This ... was rather interesting, and she knew the topic was going to get some sort of reaction due to the rather colorful reports she received from the both of them regarding the same subject. Apparently, if the reports had been accurate, both Veller and Serra had aggressively handled the situation in quite the cooperative way. Only a few days on the job and already her higher staff were collaborating in ways that that Inquisitor very much approved of. Serine allowed both of them to conclude their brief testimonies before she further addressed the situation.

That anger that had been present had all but evaporated as it was nearly a front, she merely needed to hear their versions and apparently it passed her expectations. It was also good to know that the Inquisitor now delegated authority in such a manner that she would never have to deal with those Bounty Hunters again, or so it would seem for now. It was becoming apparent to Serine that Serra had chosen wisely, and the Inquisitor was actually extremely pleased on how well her staff was materializing. "I'm well aware of the situation, and I find that it was handled adequately." She added rather optimistically, which was rather rare, so used was she to incompetence that this was a nice change of events. The bit of information Veller disclosed was something new, and it would be addressed shortly after the scarce praise. "What I was not aware of, was a training regimen for the Bounty Hunters." This was likely Major Eona's doing, and eyes fell upon the woman inquisitively. "Explain yourself, Major."

"Your pardon, milord," Mark spoke before Serra could say anything, "The training was my idea, Particularly after seeing El-Nay Darr in action. By what little Major Eona has revealed to me of the Bounty Hunter's purpose, I am given to understand they will be attacking hard targets where the use of Imperial troops is not advised. Basic training on how to work in a group would greatly increase their chances of success. Once the other Bounty Hunters arrived, after a review, the Major and I would form a training plan to submit to you for final approval, milord. Forgive me, milord, if I was wrong, I did not feel it necessary to inform you of plans that have not been finalized." The last sentence was said a bit stiffly, as if he felt he were being taken to task for something not entirely his fault.

Serra had been pleasantly surprised by Mark's previous interjection, but this time it way overstepped. The right intentions were there, but as soon as those words left the High Colonel's mouth, she knew something had to be said and quickly. "El-Nay Darr, thanks to her incompetence, revealed something of her connections with yourself, Inquisitor, when High Colonel Veller confronted her. Given his record and my own interactions with him up to this point, I felt he could be trusted with honest information." She gave Mark a rather pointed look. Sometimes it was best to keep your mouth shut with a Sith, a lesson she intended to impart on him soon. For now, though, her attention shifted back to Serine as she continued. "High Colonel Veller can provide certain training specific to overt warfare that someone from Intelligence simply cannot provide. The plan to keep them in the dark as to the true nature of their employment has not been modified, but these are details I still need to address with the High Colonel. I was preparing a report for you on this very matter, Inquisitor, but I felt introducing you to this new member of your command staff took precedence." It was more or less a lie, but the warfare of words was something the Major was a veritable expert at.

Serine's eyes went wide as controversial information so freely flowed from Veller unhindered, details that had been specifically warned to be highly classified. He was only on his first few days and already the covert particulars of her Bounty Hunter team were disclosed to him. Despite his rank, this information was not supposed to fall upon him, but be behind closed doors with her Intel officer exclusively. Serra had been quick to interject and for good reason, there was a fury already boiling in those intense silver eyes that glared at the Major with a barely in-check rage. The Inquisitor should not even have to say anything, the other woman likely already knew the trouble that she was in. The Inquisitor's anger was not in the least directed at her new High Colonel, as far as she was concerned, he did his duties brilliantly, although perhaps a bit hastily.

"Must I remind you of your place, Major?!" she growled dangerously, and although Serra was a vital member of her staff, Serine's temper boiled over and there was no other outlet but aggressive discipline. It was then that the back of the Inquisitor's right hand brutally collided with the side of the Major's face. It was quite powerful but not enough to cause serious damage or to force her to the ground, but it would be exceedingly painful and leave an ugly reminder of the apparent failure. This was not how Serine wanted this operation to go, sensitive information just being thrown around? Never mind it had been El-Nay Darr's misstep, as it was the Major's responsibility to keep that Bounty Hunter in check. This was also the first time the Inquisitor ever felt the need to physically reprimand Major Eona, as usually that officer was impeccable in her approach.

At the Lord Inquisitor's words, he knew he had done his first misstep aboard the ship. He kicked himself mentally for not realizing the true extent of the covert operation the Bounty Hunters would be executing. True, Major Eona had given him only a vague outline, easily denied as rumors if need be, but still, he prided himself on being smarter than that.

When the Inquisitor slapped Serra, his eyes widened in a bit of shock, otherwise he held still. Too many drill sergeants had attempted to fluster him in this way. His embarrassment at the first success had led him to a discipline enabling him to keep his calm. For a brief moment, he once again wondered at his assignment and who was wishing him to fail. Such thoughts were abruptly abandoned. Failure was not an option. Ice blue eyes stared straight ahead, ready to receive whatever reprimand the Lord Inquisitor felt was his due.

All it took was one mistake at the wrong time. The ire of a sith could be deadly, no matter your rank and position, and Serra was certain is was only due to her recent history with Serine that spared her worse. Her head snapped to the side from the force of the blow, staying there for a moment as the stinging pain radiated across her face. Her teeth cut into her cheek and blood welled into her mouth.

Serra's expression hardened briefly, a glimpse into the effort to steel her composure which rapidly faded from existence, replaced with the cold, dead apathy of before. It was rare indeed for someone to maintain themselves when faced with the wrath of an Inquisitor, a testament to what years of training and service in the darkest places of Imperial Intelligence could do. Slowly her head turned back to face Serine. The Major swallowed the blood, its taste a blend of memories and lessons hard learned.

"My apologies, Lord Inquisitor. It will not happen again." Within the confines of her mind she knew where blame fell, at least so far as Serra was concerned. The Mandalorian in the orange armor had a mark on her head now, one that Serra would see through. It could be months, years...but Serra was patient, and could bide her time. What she did find herself losing her patience for at this point was a cigarra. Oh how she desperately needed one.

The punishment to Major Eona would have indeed been far worse if not for their excellent history forming, but now a single blemish tarnished that perfection, and it put that shred of doubt into the Inquisitor's mind. Doubt in Serra's actual competence, and that was the true danger in all of this. That anger that normally would have been further unleashed had to be bottled, causing Serine to angrily pace back and forth before the two officers, pondering how to proceed. There needed to be a definite plan moving forward, and now it was too late to put Veller in the dark. He knew just enough and was positioned in such a way that his knowledge could not just be written off. She really only had two options at this point. Remove her High Colonel, or welcome him further into the fold. Serine could tell he had excellent potential and desired to keep him, so that left her really with only one option.

After a few long moments of heated pacing, she stopped to gander at her Major once again. Her voice was sharp and demanding, there was no further compromises even possible. "Fully brief the High Colonel!" She snapped angrily at the woman. "I can not have him training the unit without knowing exactly what they will be facing." This was the only way Serine could salvage this operation. Still seething eyes glared now at Veller, he was not forgotten in all of this. "Do I have to make this any more clear, that this operation is classified?!" He was free to disclose the information he learned to her because she was his commanding officer, but he would be wise to keep that information to the three within this room.

High Colonel Veller gave a quick bow to the Lord Inquisitor, "Of course, milord. I have discussed this with no one." While he still stood tall and straight, the direct glare of the Inquisitor was still hard to handle. It took more discipline that he had anticipated to remain standing tall rather than trying to cower and make excuses for himself. Major Eona was correct that El-Nay's incompetence had drawn him into the fold. It took an effort of will, but he kept his hands from shaking ever so slightly at the base fear he refused to give into that the Sith's seething eyes had awoken in him.

It had been missteps all around, though at the root of it was El-Nay's actions. All the same, now was not the time to dwell. Constant thoughts of revenge were what undid so many, what ruined otherwise excellent plans and careers. Serra tucked it away for now, saving it for a more opportune time. "As you say, Inquisitor." The blow had been a good reminder at least, something to help Serra remember that for all the good currency she held with Serine, the woman was still a sith. Emotional, explosive, and a hazard if not handled with care. The only thing between her and the fear that Mark fought was years of experience and an addiction born of the same.

This was not exactly the first impression the High Inquisitor had meant to portray to her new High Colonel, but perhaps it was the most appropriate one. There was severe consequences for stepping out of line on the Interrogator, and it usually meant death. The patrons that served on this ship were ruthless and cunning in their own right, they had to be to survive first High Inquisitor Tremayne's rule and now his successor upon this vessel, High Inquisitor Thanor. There were no other pressing matters she needed to discuss with these two officers, their time spent had been well more than enough. The Inquisitor needed time to compose herself and dissipate that anger that was still coursing through her veins. It was safer to dismiss them now, and perhaps in a few days, they may notice some unsightly large dents in the durasteel bulkhead of her chambers. "Dismissed." She said in a low dark tone, eager for them to leave quickly.

Giving a very precise, but brief bow, he merely said, "Milord," and moved towards the door, knowing that this time the order of who went through the door was determined by rank, not preference. He was aware of Serra following him out and his mind roamed across his available options on how to repair his mistake. The slap the Lord Inquisitor had given the Major had been no love tap. He was impressed with the manner she handled it, he saw the Major had a wellspring of discipline he admired. Offering her assistance at this point in time would probably not be appreciated. He took a deep breath as he finished stepping through the door, moving to the side to await the Major's exit. Professional, Mark, he told himself, be professional. We both have duties to perform.

Serra, for her part, chose to spare the Sith any further words. She simply bowed and turned, not terribly far behind the High Colonel. Truth be told she knew how fortunate she was, and how carefully she had to maneuver going forward. Even this relatively minor slip put her in a precarious situation she was eager to find a way out of.

As the door slid shut behind her, Serra reached into her jacket and produced a cigarra, lighting it for a deep inhale. The smoke burned the still fresh cut in her mouth, its sting taken as another present reminder, something welcomed and not to be ignored. Only after she exhaled did she turn her attention to the High Colonel.

His voice formal, Mark spoke before she could, "I owe you an apology, Major, I misspoke," he said with a slight bow to her, "I was wrong about the cigarras. It appears there are other dangers I was unaware of. Again, my apologies." Mark's ice blue eyes studied the Major, steeling himself to the knowledge that he might have broken the working relationship he had managed to forge with the Intelligence Officer.

"If I survive long enough for cigarras to kill me, I will have exceeded everyone's expectations." She took a deep inhale, then carried on. "Including my own." Her inclination was to simply walk away, and in most circumstances she would have. In this moment, though, she chose to turn, to better address the man than she had been. "We have plenty to go over, High Colonel, and soon. I'll be in touch." With that said she turned to head down the hall. While it was true the two of them needed a meeting, now was not the time, and she had other things to do. Chief among them a nice, long meditation on just how she intended to maintain the good graces of the Inquisitor.

Mark sighed and rubbed his forehead with his left hand before putting his cap back on. He allowed a few moments for Serra to put some distance between the two of them. Shaking his head slightly after adjusting his cap, he made his way back to his quarters and the armor analysis. Once again, he thought, you've pissed someone off by talking too much. But, as much as he told himself that, he protested the thought. It was important to make sure there were no misunderstandings and sometimes questions needed to be asked no matter the initial consequences. Any backlash of today's incident he was ready to handle, but that his men might suffer for his mistake dug into his soul. He knew the wish to have all his men return from an encounter was foolish. Such was not in his power to grant. But he also hated seeing his men die for reasons that could have been avoided if more information had been shared.

Reaching his quarters, he notified his personnel he did not wish to be disturbed. Taking off his cap, he ran a hand through his hair and sat down at the desk. But the numbers in the armor analysis just could not penetrate the fog his mistake had caused. With a curse at reading the same page for the tenth time, he decided he needed to relax. Changing into a more appropriate uniform, he went down to his private training area. At first, he had thought this an extravagance, but now, he was grateful for it, not having to kick out any other troopers to see his distress.

Programming the simulation, he took a deep breath and began. Any onlookers might have been impressed as Mark went through his beginning forms and then began to take his targets out, one by one in a clear methodical manner. By the time the simulation was over, Mark had worked up a sweat, all of his attackers were either dead, crippled or soon wished to be dead, the hostages freed without injury and Mark in a more relaxed state of mind.

Returning to his office after a hot shower, he tackled the report again, plunging as remosely into the numbers as he had gone through the simulation. There would be no cause for disapproval under his watch if there was anything he could do about it. The brewed cup of caf stood abandoned for the moment.

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