The triangular wedged shape of Imperial I-class Star Desroyer
Warspite loomed large over the planet Brentaal, its metallic
color standing in stark contrast to the polluted, orange atmosphere that
dominated the planet. In the distance, as if looking over the shoulder
of the majestic vessel, lay the Ringali Nebula within whose red and
purple clouds lay the unreachable Rebel base. A seemingly endless flow
of TIE/ln starfighters and support craft swarmed the ship, moving down
to the surface of the planet and patrolling the expansive Brentaal
system. The fate of the planet would have to wait, however, because for
the officers of the ship it was dinner time.
The officer's mess was contained several decks below the bridge and
was home to a number of small, ornately fashioned tables and seating
arrangements that enlisted spacemen could only dream above. The food
itself was something of a step above and many officers requested to
serve aboard the ship simply because the Admiral's culinary staff often
accompanied him. They had only returned to the region several days ago
and had been rushed to battle stations every several hours. The mundane
drills and training exercises from their exile to the Malastare system
already long forgotten.
The first one to enter the mess was Major Kerrie Kiley, the personal
bodyguard of the Admiral and his family. Not much was known about her as
she rarely spoke with any member of the crew. The black uniform of the
Stormtroopers hung tightly upon her diminutive frame that was carefully
mimicked to appear as a perfect Human body. Aside from the Admiral and
his physician, no one aboard knew that she was actually a Clawdite
shapeshifter. Her eyes awkwardly looked over each officer in the room as
she placed a very small portion of food on her plate. To her a meal was
nothing more than an unwanted break that provided her the energy to do
her work. Never comfortable with the idea of sitting with one of the
crew she found an empty table and sat down, beginning to eat. She
despised the small talk that so often accompanied a meal.
Hurrying into the room was Lieutenant Bethany Sheppard, the
Warspite's Conn Officer, moved towards the food. As the ship's
youngest officer she often felt out of place among the crew, believing
in her mind that they did not think she was qualified to handle the
controls of their warship. A smile always seemed to appear upon her
face, however, and she took time to greet each member of the kitchen
staff as she filled her plate. The daughter of a broken down spacer from
the poor world of Bonadan had never had a meal of this quality before
enlisting. Offering a nervous smile to Major Kiley, she walked right
past and sat at the table the bridge officers usually chose and waited.
The most unique of the bridge officer's soon found herself on the
Warspite's mess deck. The blue-skinned Lieutenant
Meham'ohorovi'cloca's piercing red eyes surveyed the landscape in front
of her as she navigated the crowd of officers to place a sparse portion
of local vegetables onto her plate. As she moved she could feel the
stairs of the junior officers upon her, but all she could do is offer a
polite smile and nod back to them. To her knowledge, she was the only
non-Human serving aboard the vessel and this was a topic of idle gossip
among the crew. The truth was far less interesting: following a war-game
victory by Mith'raw'nuruodo and Rodney, the young officer was presented
as something of a gift. Joining Bethany at the table, she began to
consume the small portion of greens.
The officers began to snap to attention and adjust the tunics of
their uniform as Commander Augustus Hood entered the room.
Known as something of a stern taskmaster, far from the lax attitude
showed by his command officer, he was responsible for disciplining each
of these officers and there was genuine fear in their eyes as he
approached. He was not a cruel man, but he did believe a disciplined
crew was an effective crew. Exerting his privilege, he stepped to the
front of the line and filled his plate. With a nod to Sheppard and
Meham'ohorovi'cloca he sat at the opposite head of the table and began
to eat. "Good evening," he said in his refined voice, something
unexpected giving his Outer Rim heritage.
The crew could smell Lieutenant Mark Alexander before they could see
him. The Warspite's engineer had something of a hand's on
approach to his work that most other officers found distasteful. Having
been in the process of working on one of the hyperdrive motivators when
the call to dinner was announced the grease was still firmly in his
hands and on his uniform. It drew an irate glare from Hood, but he did
not have time to respond to it. Putting what food he could onto his
plate he moved to the table to join his comrades. The fact that he
served with the Captain before allowed him certain leniencies that other
officers did not share in.
"Attention on deck," echoed throughout the mess hall as Captain
Tiberius Anson stepped onto the deck. Meals were interrupted as each
officer stood and presented themselves to him. Having a background with
the Corellian Defense Force, such rigidity was something he was
unaccustomed to and quickly insisted they return to their meals with a
soft motion of his hand. He smiled polite and waited his turn in line,
choosing not to take his right to cut. Several moments later he arrived
at their table, sitting at its head and nodding happily at each one.
The last of the bridge officers was Lieutenant Allegra Ames, the
massive vessel's operation officer. If there was a word the other
members of the crew were most seldom to use to describe her was
'spoiled.' The daughter of a wealthy and influential Senator, she had
used that connection to work her way onto Admiral Rodney's flagship. If
she put half the effort into her career that she did into politicking
and scheming she would be the finest officer on the ship. Using her
charming feminine smile she managed to work her way to the front of the
line and fix a plate, hurrying to the table before she missed any of the
Lieutenant Randi Trainor literally ran into the mess deck. "I'm sorry
I'm late," she yelled over towards the Captain using none of the
formality that was required while on duty. She could feel Hood's eyes
burning a hole in her back and she stopped, cringing as she arrived on
the back of the line. Not having time to change into her uniform, she
performed a further breach of military conduct by arriving on the deck
in her flight suit. Tucking her helmet under one arm and the tray in
another she piled a literal mountain of food on the tray and rushed to
the table. As she reached the table she stumbled, and the tray slid
forward spilling all over her chair. "Yikes," she cried out as she
kicked aside the soiled chair and grabbed a new one, the sound of the
metal dragging across the floor causing a shrill grating sound that
stopped everyone's meal. "Sorry," she admitted sheepishly as she finally
sat down to eat what remained of her meal.
Commander Augustus Hood snapped a quick glare over towards
Randi as he observed her behavior. "Lieutenant," he began as he looked
across at her. "You will report to my office at the end of your ship,"
he said in a stern manner as he began to carve his meat. The movement of
his knife seemed to foreshadow the night the young pilot had in front of
Randi found it hard to make eye contact with the commander as she
forced the food into her mouth, having just arrived on the ship after
bringing the Admiral in from his estate on Esseles. She only had a short
time to eat before she was needed on the flight deck to supervise the
maintenance on her shuttle before its next sortie. "You got it," she
mumbled through a mouth full of food as she choked down the meal.
The Captain smiled at Randi's 'quaint' behavior and lay his hand flat
next to Hood. He did not want anything to come between the enjoyment of
the meal. Being the commander of a warship in the combat zone made
moments like this one of the few breaks he had in the course of what was
normally a long and grueling day.
Lieutenant Sheppard kept finding herself looking over towards
Major Kiley, very curious about who she was and what her purpose was
here. Being the youngest also made her the most naive and she did not
easily pick up on subtleties like some of the older officers. "Why does
she eat alone?" she asked to no one in particular as her eyes returned
to the dinner table.
"Because no one wants to eat with her," Lieutenant Ames quickly
interjected, offering her a polite smile over towards Major Kiley at her
empty table as she badmouthed her. She viewed the Major as nothing more
as the chief roadblock on her path to the Admiral. The two had clashed
many times and she never ceased planning ways to get around her. She
viewed her as nothing more than a guard dog who scared weaker officers
"Because she chooses to," Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca quickly
added, shaking her head disapprovingly at Allegra. Her attention focused
on Bethany as her alien voice was accentually different than those
around her. "Do not pollute the young one's mind, Lieutenant," she
said, turning her head back to Allegra. While she had never spoken with
the Major personally, the isolation she felt as an alien on the ship
caused her to relate.
Captain Anson shook his head back and forth as he listened to the
trio of young officers debate the issue, but he could not care less. He
viewed it as a case of too much estrogen aboard his vessel. It seemed to
him that he had drew a command with far above the normal female
population, much to his chagrin. "Do not forget we will be deploying
more assault transports later," he said to no one in particular, hoping
it would change the tenor of the discussion.
Major Kiley sat alone at her table, nearly finished with her meal.
She was oblivious to the conversation that was transpiring at the other
table, and she did her best to make the most of her meal. Given that she
only had taken a small portion, it did not take her very long to eat.
Soon she would travel to Esseles to inspect the final modifications
being made to the Admiral's estate. She had supervised most of it
herself, but the engineer had ordered her off the premises after she was
accused of micromanaging too much. She shook her head bitterly as she
replayed the conversation in her head.
"Lieutenant Alexander," the alien voice of Lieutenant
Meham'ohorovi'cloca again chimed in as she looked across at the older,
more gruff engineer. "I have noticed a 0.018 delay in the recharge rate
of one of the forward turbolaser batteries," she pointed out, shaking
her head in a displeased manner. "I request that you send your best men
to repair it," she said in between dainty bites of her vegetarian dish.
"A 0.018 delay?" Mark said in disbelief, nearly choking on the glass
of Corellian Ale he often helped himself to at a meal. "What did you use
to compute that with? One of those new super computers?" he asked as he
let out a laugh and looked to his old friend Captain Anson. He returned
his attention to the meal, not thinking it worth the time to send a
repair crew to deal with.
"I computed it in my head," Meham'ohorovi'cloca replied very simply,
as there were nothing out of the ordinary with the statement. "And while
a 0.018 delay may not seem significant," she stopped to take a sip of
her filtered water, "...if that is the 0.018 seconds where you die I can
assume you it is the most significant moment of your ... former life."
She raised a dark eyebrow in his direction, her red eyes seeming to look
right through him.
"For some men, 0.018 seconds can be quite the accomplishment," Randi
commented as she finished her meal. There seemed to be more of it on her
face than in her plate, having eaten something like a child. Using the
sleeve of her flightsuit to wipe her face she laughed slightly, looking
at some of the women at the table with a knowing look.
"They have these new inventions. They're called napkins, dear,"
Lieutenant Allegra Ames pointed out as she casually tossed a fine,
cloth napkin across the table at her. As the daughter of a Senator she
attended one of the finest finishing schools in the Core Worlds, bred
for a career in politics to father in her footsteps. Unfortunately, her
father was a healthy man and she was impatient, and she was impatient
and thus chose a career in the military instead.
A grim-faced Admiral Claudius Rodney stepped forward into the mess
deck, having just had a lengthy holonet conversation with the Grand
Vizier that went far worse than expected. All he wanted to do was settle
into his new estate on Esseles and get to bed. No longer a young man,
the Admiral seemed to have aged ten years since assuming command of the
Ringali Shell less than a year ago. He always seemed ... tired ... to
those around him these days, but no one dared comment about it. "Admiral
on the deck," an unseen officer shouted and not even the sound of a
breath could be heard ... until Lieutenant Trainor let out an audible
belch. He had not come to eat as he planned to have a dinner with his
family in their new home. Ignoring the food, he moved directly over
towards the Captain's table and looked towards Lieutenant Trainor.
"Lieutenant," he said very calmly, "...report immediately to the flight
deck immediately for an assignment."
Randi stood from the table as she looked up to the Admiral, the pile
of crumbs that had fallen upon her lap sprinkled to the floor unseemly.
"You got it," she said very informally as she offered him a kind smile.
She would always remember how he had selected her to pilot his shuttle
after all the others had refused to fly with her. She began to move away
from the table, but the helmet that was attached to her flightsuit was
left behind and collided with Lieutenant Ames' plate, knocking into
her lap. "Oh no," she cried out, cringing as she closed her eyes before
turning to retrieve her helmet. "I'm so so so so so sorry," she told
Allegra as she began to pluck the food out of her lap.
"You!" Allegra cursed as the food covered her immaculately kept
uniform. Of course she had flirted with an insecure uniform who
personally cleaned, pressed, and creased her uniform her, but
nevertheless she took great pride in her appearance. "How do you pilot a
ship when you can't even manage walking away from a table?" her body
began to shake, her cheeks becoming flushed red as she stood from the
table and shook the last of the food to the floor.
"Well if you had eaten more, there'd have been less that fell on
you," Randi pointed out with a smile as she moved away with her
food-covered helmet. As she exited the room she turned to Allegra one
last time and shook her head, her distinctive pigtails flowing from
side-to-side. "If you stopped worrying about your figure and tried
eating it would solve a lot of problems," she said with a soft chuckle
as she hurried to the hangar bay to find out about her new assignment.
Allegra's eyes moved to the Admiral as her body began to shake. "How
can you tolerate ... that ... on your ship?" she asked as she grabbed
for Bethany's unused napkin and began to wipe off more of her uniform.
"I have never met anyone that classless in my life," she said as she
began moving off to find that officer to arrange for her uniform to be
cleaned again. She would have her revenge for this embarrassment. There
was laughter all around her as she moved, the stains quite evident and
easy to see at a distance.
"Captain," the Admiral said as he placed his right hand upon the
table to keep himself upright with greater ease. "Assemble the senior
staff on the flight deck when Lieutenant Trainor returns," he said
without providing many details. "Enjoy your meal," he said graciously to
each of them as he began to move back towards the turbolift. He needed
to get some rest before his guest arrived. The less the crew knew for
now ... the better.
Commander Hood had filed a mental note of each of Randi's
indiscretions during tonight's meal. Not even had Meham'ohorovi'cloca
had a brain capable of computing the exact number of regulations the
unstable pilot had committed. He would deal with this matter later,
preferably when the captain was not around.
Lieutenant Trainor arrived on the hangar deck, having not had the
time she wanted to perform the post-flight maintenance. She looked at
the manifest to ensure that the ship had at least been properly
refueled. "Why am I going to Coruscant?" she asked the deck supervisor,
who just shrugged at her. "I'm not exactly dressed for the palace," she
groaned as she looked over the food stains on her uniform. She lifted
her armpits and took a whiff, repelling in disgust. 'Brutal,' she
thought to herself as she climbed up the ramp of the shuttle and moved
to the cockpit.
Sitting in the pilot's seat, she strapped herself in and began going
over the preflight routines. A moment later she placed the helmet firmly
upon her head and toggled the switch the activated the Kwai's
engine. "Clear for departure," a voice echoed through the comm system as
she activated the ship's sublight engine. Ignoring the sign that said
'Maneuvering Thrusters Only' she accelerated to full speed and sent the
ship blazing through the hangar and out into the Brentaal system. A
smile curled upon her lips ... there was nothing like being in control
of a ship.
Randi's attention switched to the navigation computer and she
programmed it to begin downloading the coordinates for the Coruscant
system. It only took several moments before the computer began to beep,
indicating it had the coordinates. Her hand slid forward and the shuttle
lurched into hyperspace, her hands moving almost immediately to pull the
helmet from her head. "Ugh," she groaned as her gloved hands moved to
adjust her pigtails. The helmet was just not designed with women in