High Colonel Veller entered the cell block, his two
troopers marching in step behind him. Nodding to the
troopers on watch as they saluted, he scanned the
monitors until he found the one he wanted, the cell
with the bounty hunter in it. He was about to
release her from the cell when a thought occurred to
him. Leaning down to the monitoring board, he
activated the comm link to Major Serra, "Major Eona,
this is Ca... High Colonel Veller," suppressing his
frustration at almost saying his old rank. Being a
High Colonel was taking some getting used to, "If
you have a moment to spare, I'm about to release the
bounty hunter from the brig. Your presence would be
helpful in handling this situation."
Major Serra Eona was in her quarters, watching the
private interface on her desk, smoke rolling from
her lips to add to the haze that the air filtration
system fought like hell to clear. The feed she was
currently observing was relatively mundane, but its
existence was a well kept secret, known only to her.
The soft chime of her comm broke her gaze from the
screen. Another drag was taken from the cigarra
while Veller's voice came over the unit. Once he
finished, she plucked it up from the desk. "Of
course, High Colonel. I'll be there momentarily."
She rose, burned down the cigarra in a few heavy
drags before discarding it, and slipped on her
uniform jacket. The door slid open as she finished
buttoning it down, shutting behind her as the Major
made her way to the brig.
As she walked through the corridors of the
Interrogator, Serra couldn't help but feel a small
sense of amusement at the near slip of the High
Colonel. It had been a hell of a jump in rank, of
course, and she had a feeling that he was going to
have quite a bit of difficulty ahead of him. How he
handled it, of course, was all part of the trial.
Whatever amusement she did feel was gone by the time
she arrived at the brig. Stepping through as the
door slid open, she gave a slight but formal bow in
Mark's direction. "High Colonel."
Waiting for the Major, Mark did an informal
inspection of the cell block, finding only a few
minor errors easily corrected by some significant
glances. Cell block duty was a very boring duty to
pull. It was a rare occasion that something
happened. When the Empire built something to hold a
prisoner, even Wookies had a hard time breaking out.
He made a mental note to see about adding other
duties or something to help alleviate the boredom.
Glancing over the instant the door opened, he
returned the Major's nod, "Major," he said, "I
believe our bounty hunter has stewed long enough.
Shall we pay her a visit?" And with a slight bow and
motion towards the cell block that held the bounty
hunter, waited a moment for the Major to follow him
up the narrow corridor of the cell block. While his
gentlemanly manners called for him to let the Major
go first, this was *his* cell block under -his-
authority. This time, rank would take precedence.
Entering the corridor, the Stormtrooper on duty lead
the line of people, the High Colonel, the Major and
some backup troopers. If the bounty hunter was rash
enough to attempt escape, there was a long gauntlet
she would have to run before she escaped the cell
block. Mark loosened the blaster pistol in his
holster, casually making sure it was set to stun. He
wanted no casualties if she did do something rash.
He didn't expect it, but that didn't mean he
wouldn't prepare for it.
Arriving at the cell block, he nodded to the
Stormtrooper who entered in the code on the touch
pad, disengaging the lock and opening the door. Mark
gave his uniform jacket, a working uniform and not
the dress uniform he had worn last night, a tug to
ensure it was in place as the door slide open. He
stood there for a moment, allowing the bounty hunter
a few seconds to notice the change and to take note
of where she was in the room.
El-Nay Darr had spent *another* night stewing in the
cell block aboard the Imperial II-class Star
Destroyer Interrogator, and she was none too pleased
about it. In fact, since arriving aboard the
Imperial ship she had been spending more time in
detention than freely roaming around the ship.
Stripped of her armor she felt naked, devoid of her
identity, and forced to face the crew of the vessel
in her small, diminutive female form instead of the
imposing Mandalorian in vibrant orange armor.
She was *supposed* to be on a mission on Jabiim, but
unfortunately she had been delayed, and now once
again found herself in detention. The Stormtroopers
had informed her the armor had been jettisoned, and
the thought of losing her mother's archaic armor
made of a source of Mandalorian armor no longer
accessible caused her to toss and turn the entire
night. She barely got a wink of sleep, and by the
time the Colonel opened the door to her cell she
felt nearly near her breaking point.
"Can I go now?" she asked, sounding more the child
than the fearsome Mandalorian warrior. She did not
adjust her head to make eye contact, nor did she
even move when he stepped forward into her cell.
This experience was proving everything true
everything she had heard about the Galactic Empire
and their crimes against her culture and her home.
Her hands were intertwined in her lap, uncomfortably
rubbing against one another, as she fidgeted
endlessly, desperately awaiting a reprieve.
"As you say, High Colonel." Serra fell into place
behind him, the deference to rank rather than
civilian etiquette failing to be of much concern.
The fact Mark chose to command respect rather than
play for favor spoke well of him, so far as she was
Serra hung back while Mark entered the room. Though
El-Nay was her responsibility, so long as she was in
the cell she was Mark's prisoner, and Serra was more
than happy to let him handle her however he saw fit
right now. With the High Colonel stepping into the
cell, Serra turned towards one of the Stormtroopers
who had accompanied them, her voice little more than
a whisper, not wanting El-Nay to hear. "Retrieve the
bounty hunter's belongings. Keep them out of sight
from the cell until instructed otherwise." The
Stormtrooper saluted and turned to see to the order.
The Major moved to the upper doorway of the cell,
positioning herself to witness without intruding.
Mark studied the young woman sitting on the bench
before him. Taking a few steps into the cell, he
stood at ease. Letting out a slow breath, he worked
out a possible way to reach this bounty hunter just
enough to be able to impart what might be some
life-saving lessons. In a reasonable tone of voice,
he asked, "Do you know why you are here in this
cell?" curious as to what her answer would be.
"Because you're a jerkface," El-Nay muttered under
her breath, without bothering to lift her head in
response to the man's question. "Can I go now?" she
asked, repeating her question, before unleashing
such a powerful sigh that it threatened to deflate
her. It was only then that she turned her head,
tilting it up so that she could make eye contact
with the man. "I needed to train. I have a very
important mission for the High Inquisitor," she
continued, with a hint of whine in her young voice.
"All you Stormtroopers do is march around scaring
people anyway," she muttered, before breaking eye
contact and staring back down at the cell floor
between her feet again.
"Indeed you do need to train, your actions last
night revealed a severe lack of tactical awareness,"
he said, crossing his arms across his chest, "First
you did not take my appearance into your reactions.
Second, you continued to ignore me when I picked up
a rifle. Third, you executed no defense when I shut
down the simulation and finally, you made yourself
susceptible to my stun attack when you removed your
helmet." He paused for a moment, "Each and every one
of these errors is a rookie mistake, something I
would expect from a raw recruit. Any one of these
errors in a live combat situation would get you
killed. Your mission for the High Inquisitor would
end in failure. That is the reason you are in this
He was silent for a moment, "However, in reviewing
the simulation, it appears you have some small skill
and the potential to do better. After conferring
with the Major, we agreed to create a training
program more suited for the type of combat you are
likely to encounter on this mission for the High
Inquisitor," he continued. "There are, however, some
conditions." He stopped to await any response,
wondering if any of his words were making a dent in
the rash woman's head.
"I thought *you people* were on my side and that I
would not have to worry about your presence ...
di'kut," El-Nay replied, bitterly, before raising up
from her cot and turning to face the man. "I would
not fail her," she replied, a burst of red rushing
to her cheeks as her heart rate began to raise,
increasing her blood flow as she entered an agitated
state. She wanted to strike him, but she knew they
would just shoot her again, so instead she simply
stood there, silently, clenching her jaw and bawling
her hands into tight fists.
She paused for a moment, before breaking off eye
contact, and slowly angling her head towards the
ground. "Ahh!" she screamed at the top of her lungs,
releasing all of the tension in a loud, ear piercing
scream of frustration. Her blue eyes closed and she
began a deep breathing exercise as she tried to
regain her composure, while the fingers of her hands
repeatedly opened and closed. It took a few moments
... perhaps awkwardly long ... but eventually she
calmed herself down without using impulsive force.
"What are these conditions?" El-Nay finally asked,
with a soft, broken voice, as she stood there
trembling before the Imperial Colonel. She had
nowhere else to go and believed she *had* to either
make it here or return home to her parents and admit
that they were right about her not being ready for
this. She would rather endure the hardships of
Imperial servitude then let her parents know that
they were right and she was wrong.
Mark hardly flinched at the scream, merely watched
as the young woman before her worked at regaining
her composure. If this one was typical of the
Mandalorian race, it was no wonder they were so
troublesome with their lack of discipline. But,
there was just the hint of promise that showed. If
he could cajole that to the surface, this woman
might have a chance at surviving the trial awaiting
"You no longer kick my troopers out of any training
area. There will be a training schedule to which you
will adhere. If you wish to request more time, do
so, and it will be granted," he paused, "after it is
requested. You will also train with a few selected
troopers," he smiled slightly, "take them out in
training, you will score points, as will they when
you are tagged. At the end of the training, we will
see which side scored the highest. Understood?" he
El-Nay quietly listened to the Imperial officer lay
out his terms. It sounded a lot like the Imperial
Academy that she had declined to enter. There were
so many rules, procedures ... a giant bureaucracy
that gave her a headache. By the fifth word she was
already beginning to tune out the Colonel and her
mind turned blank with nothing more than loud static
being heard. When he finally stopped speaking, she
blinked slightly, and obediently nodded her head.
"Understood," she said, fighting back her best
instinct to roll her eyes at the man.
"Did you really space my armor?" she asked, her mind
immediately rushing back to most pertinent of topics
on her mind. It was hard to imagine that something
that had been in her family so long had been
carelessly discarded by an aruetyc. She was almost
afraid for the answer that might follow, so much so
that she swallowed nervously, causing her neck to
noticeably bulge. The redness that was in her cheeks
began to recede, revealing a pale white complexion,
as she shifted nervously in front of the man. She
was a creature uncomfortable in her own skin who
*needed* the armor to hide in and present a false,
confident image to the galaxy.
Mark gave a short nod in response to her agreement,
then glanced back at the Major, "Major, I believe
the adjudication of the bounty hunter's armor is in
your domain." He took a step back, moving to the
wall of the cell near the door to allow the Major
easy access to the cell if she desired it.
Serra had stood by and watched, listening while Mark
did his best with what was, for all intents and
purposes, a damaged product. His effort was
admirable to say the least, but the Intelligence
officer wasn't ready to say whether or not it would
bring any success. "Yes, High Colonel." She came
down the steps, making a motion for the Stormtrooper
with the armor to follow. As she fell in not far
from Mark, facing El-Nay, her hands went to her
pockets. It was that or give in to the impulse for a
cigarra, and she was making every effort not to do
so right now. "Your armor is safe, El-Nay Darr." A
nod of her head and the Stormtrooper followed,
dropped the armor on the floor of the cell like a
sack of nerf hides, saluted the Major and the High
Colonel, then moved on.
Rather than let the young bounty hunter claim her
belongings the moment they were deposited, Serra
stepped over them, placing herself between El-Nay
and the garish orange of the much prized armor.
"This man is High Colonel Mark Veller, commanding
officer of the Stormtrooper legion aboard this ship.
He outranks me, which means so long as you're on
this vessel, you listen to him as well." The next
words were lowered to a point that even Mark would
have trouble discerning it. "But you still answer to
me, and if you prove more of a problem than a boon,
well..." Serra leaned in, speaking into El-Nay's ear
"...I won't be as kind as the High Inquisitor." She
drew her head back, staring at the girl while the
words sank in. Serra turned and stepped over the
armor once more, giving Mark a nod as she walked up
and out of the cell. Not that the Major went far, of
course, stopping by the escort of Stormtroopers. It
would have been an enormous breach of professional
etiquette to walk off without some sort of
Mark blinked once at the sight of the garish armor,
once again wondering what these Mandalorians saw in
such colors. He waited, straining his ears to catch
the threat, a slight chill going down his spine at
the coldness in the voice. While he didn't entirely
approve, at times, it was the only way to make an
impression. He nodded to the bounty hunter and
walked out of the cell, motioning the other troopers
to follow him, leaving her alone in the open cell
with her armor in a heap on the floor. Making his
way to the entry area, he joined the Major where she
waited, nodding to her in understanding that they
both would stay until the bounty hunter left the
While El-Nay Darr would freely mock the Stormtrooper
Colonel, she was wise enough not to speak ill of
Major Serra Eona due to her current status as one of
the Inquisitor's favorites. The relief of learning
her armor was safe was quickly shattered by the
silent threat shared by Serra, which caused a shiver
to run down her spine. "I-I-," she stammered,
pathetically, in a whimper as Serra departed the
scene, leaving her alone to contemplate her fate.
She had not made a good first impression, but in
that moment she made a vow to attempt to do better
next time. Whether or not she had the skill or the
temperament to honor that vow would remain to be
When El-Nay regained her composure, she moved
swiftly towards her beloved her armor. She visually
inspected it for any signs of wear and tear, before
beginning the length process of dressing herself.
When the environmental suit was on she began to
apply the various pieces of Mandalorian armor until
they uncomfortably fit into position. The last to go
on was the helmet with its iconic T-shaped visor,
which allowed her to hide her face and feel more at
ease. Her breathing normalized and she slowly
stepped out from her cell. She silently tilted her
helmet to look at both Colonel Veller and Major Eona
for a moment, before dutifully marching from the
Waiting in a position where el-Nay would have to
pass him in order to get out of the cell block, he
put out an arm to block her passage momentarily,
"Training begins tomorrow, oh nine hundred. Sergeant
Batua will be handling your initial training. It
will be in your best interests to listen to him." He
lifted his arm, neither asking for nor expecting an
answer from the armored woman.
Serra simply watched as El-Nay moved along, having
no need to add to what Mark said. She had given her
instructions to the bounty hunter, and so long as
that was followed, it was all she needed for now.
Once El-Nay was on her way, Serra's attention moved
to Mark. "If she proves problematic, I expect to be
notified. That Mandalorian has enjoyed a great deal
of leniency before she was handed over to me for
handling. It's a trend I don't mean to continue."
Mark was, for perhaps the first time, getting a
glimpse into just how well suited the Major was to
Mark looked over at the Major once the bounty hunter
had left the cell block and the door closed behind
her. He actually smiled and chuckled briefly, "I
don't believe that will be issue, though it does
gladden my heart to hear your intentions. Sergeant
Batua should be able to handle the young woman and
even if he can't get through her thick Mandalorian
skull, she will be too exhausted to cause any
problems." He paused for a moment, "Segreant Batua
is a drill sergeant and a rather good one. I was
pleasantly surprised to find him among the ship's
complement. El-Nay will find herself hard pressed to
pull anything over on him, nor will he take her
backflash. He will prod her into excellence, even if
he has to kick her the whole way." He ignored a few
groans that came over his comm link from the
troopers nearby as he mentioned Batua's name.
The confidence. That's what Serra found most
impressive in the man. It wasn't brash or forced,
but a simple self assurance of ability and skill.
For the second time in as many days the ghost of a
smile crossed features that generally defaulted to
cold apathy. "Then for now, I shall place my faith
in you and your soldiers, High Colonel." She gave a
bow and turned to make her way out. As fascinating
as she was finding Mark, something else was far more
pressing; the itch for a smoke.
Mark gave a bow in return and finished off his
inspection of the cell block, praising the good
points of what he found and expressing his
satisfaction with their performance with the bounty
hunter. He was pretty sure that when he came back
the next day to re-inspect, the minor flaws would be
handled. As he left the cell block, he smiled to
himself. So far, the problems of his command were
surmountable. He was pleased to have the backing of
Imperial Intelligence. It would make his transition
period much smoother if he wasn't involved in the
constant backbiting he had observed in his former
superiors. Straightening his shoulders, he went
about his duties, High Colonel, he thought to
himself, if only Brody would see him now.