Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Sean Brandt and Kit Gwynne.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:F1:5) in the Essesia system: Interrogator.
Major Serra Eona and Colonel Mark Veller.

The journey into the Ringali Shell had been a quiet one, not just for lack of enemy encounters but more notably the silence of the crew. An astute observer might have been able to learn what ship the lambda-class transport belonged to; a Class II Star Destroyer christened the Interrogator. Those who manned the transport were quite unlike the polite and mannered officers that filled the ranks of most Imperial Vessels. They were callous and short, unwilling to say more than was absolutely necessary, and quick to see to their work with no time taken for niceties. As the shuttle came out of lightspeed and settled into its approach, the chatter of landing clearances and identification codes could be heard, but little else.

As the shuttle neared the docking bay, Mark stared out the viewscreen at the ISD that loomed ever bigger. His eyes narrowed slightly, recognizing this was no ordinary ISD, but an ISD II. Quickly his mind went over the statistics he knew about it and suddenly thought his new rank might not be up to the task of commanding that many Stormtroopers. He glanced at the new rank on his shoulders, High Colonel. So many jumps from the rank he started out at this morning, Captain. The thought crossed his mind, wondering who he had pissed off to warrant being thrown to the sharks in this manner.

Then his face hardened. He was aware of the sharks and had faced down more than his fair share and come up on top. This would be no different. The docking bay loomed ever closer to eventually swallow the shuttle as a large beast might accidentally swallow a gnat. He took a deep breath as the shuttle touched down, a feather light landing. Nodding his thanks to the pilot, he went over the shuttle door, giving his uniform on last tug and making sure his hat was correctly seated, waiting for the door to open to his new command, home and fate.

The landing was perfectly smooth and by the book, with the shuttle coming to rest among a handful of other transports. The pilot returned the nod and activated the ramp, lowering to reveal an orderly and, at the moment, somewhat empty hangar so far as personnel went. Before he could reach the bottom of the ramp, however, a pair of Stormtroopers came to flank either side of it, waiting patiently for him to reach them. Though they were men that soon enough would fall under his command, the fact one spoke up as soon as he was with them no doubt made it clear they were, at the moment, under orders from someone else. "Sir. Come with us."

The troopers marched, full well expecting him to fall in, leading him out of the hangar and into the halls of the Interrogator. It was no quick journey to reach the section which housed the offices of the command staff, and Mark would find these troopers just as chatty as he had the crew of the transport. The general air of those they passed brought with it an edge of discomfort, a cold unpleasant professionalism that radiated throughout the vessel. In time they reached their destination; an unmarked door, unguarded, though a keen eye might notice a cam at the end of the hall aimed in its direction. The Troopers took up position on either side, saying nothing.

Mark strode down the ramp, his pale blue eyes taking in the hanger, noting its order. He was not startled by the Stormtroopers appearing as they did, nor was he surprised when one of them spoke. He approved of the manner in which they stood, alert to any dangers, even on what should be safe territory. Silently, he approved and felt much better about the command he was about to receive. If all the other troopers were like this one, he would have no difficulties getting them into shape, nor in keeping them that way.

As they guided him to his destination, he took in the atmosphere of the ship. Well-disciplined, he thought, nodding his approval silently. As he knew the two troopers were under orders to take him to the commanding officer, he did not try to engage in conversation. He preferred to observe silently at first before everyone knew who he was. That there were already questions about him, he was aware. But in a ship of this size, it was impossible to know every officer on board.

The journey finally ended with a door at the end of the hall. Even though he spotted the camera, he thought it careless to not have guards outside the door. Confidence was all well and good, but cameras could be bypassed and they also need to be watched. Better to have both in his opinion.

He stopped at the door and drew himself up straight. Another tug to his immaculate uniform and an irritated brush at the curl he still couldn't manage to keep under control, he knocked on the door to await admittance.

The door slipped open to grant the newly appointed High Colonel entrance. Two things would likely become immediately obvious, the first of which was the fact that this office was not the grandiose chambers generally afforded to the commanding officer of a vessel such as this. It was simplistic, with the door opening to present a desk and a pair of chairs. In the far side rested a cot, well kept and looking relatively untouched. There was a distinctive lack of personal effects with the single exception of a few datapads and a network interface that had clearly been added to the desk recently, sitting apart from the built in interface that would have been installed during construction.

The second would be a general haze about the room which an air purification unit worked overtime to control. The source of the haze was the woman staffing the office; not particularly tall at 1.52 meters and of a slight build, dressed in the white and black uniform of Imperial Intelligence. She wore no cover, her dark, short cropped hair the least tidy aspect of an otherwise crisp appearance. A cigarra hung from her lips as she stood to greet him, plucked free after a deep inhale. The door shut behind him and, as the smoke rolled free from her lungs, she took in the sight of the latest addition to their crew. Her attention, much like that of the others aboard, was clinical and unkind. More so than others her eyes had an apathetic, almost dead nature about them. "High Colonel Mark Vellar. I'm Major Serra Eona, Imperial Intelligence. I speak on the authority of High Inquisitor Serine Thanor. Welcome aboard." The cigarra returned to her mouth, she offered out her hand.

Taking a deep breath as the doors opened, Mark took off his hat to tuck under his arm as he stepped through the threshold. It didn't take long for his ice blue eyes to assess the room, the exits and those in it. If he was surprised by the sparseness of the room, he hid it well. One might even catch a hint of his being pleased at the simple room and his approval of an officer who didn't clutter his quarters with unimportant knick-knacks. This eyes widened slightly at the sight of the woman at the desk and he mentally cursed his prior commander for not warning him. Hiding his irritation at his growing belief he was being set up for a fall of some kind, he strode to the desk, came to attention, his 1.85 meter height ramrod straight like a cadet fresh out of the Academy.

This black curly hair was short, and brushed back, though that one curl still liked to fall forward at inappropriate times, like meeting one of the higher ranking officers of the ship for the first time. Mark resisted the urge to brush the lock back into place. His figure was impressive in his uniform, and his chest was littered with quite a few decorations.

He bowed slightly before accepting the Major's hand in a firm handshake, "High Colonel Mark Veller, reporting for duty, Major. Thank you, it is a pleasure and an honor to be here. Forgive my ignorance, I was unable to complete any research on this vessel, but who commands her?"

Before she got around to his question, Serra motioned for Mark to have a seat and, without waiting to see if he would, sat down herself. Another draw was taken from the cigarra before it was sent to balance between two fingers. For a brief moment her attention was on the secondary network interface, finalizing some unseen work before devoting her full attention to the man before her. "The High Inquisitor commands this vessel, but she's not generally inclined to handle introductions to the ship. That sort of work is generally below a Sith." She reached for one of the datapads, sliding it across the desk in Mark's direction. "The Interrogator is a Class II Imperial Star Destroyer, with a handful of modifications to outfit it for the duties of the Inquisitorius, which you now work for. Most of the relevant specifications are in there..." a motion to the datapad "...along with a roster of those who will fall under your command."

Mark took a seat, timing it so it was after Serra, even though some protocols might warrant Mark sitting first as he was of a higher rank, not that such a minor thing as rank seemed to worry the woman who sat before him. "I am familiar with some of the modifications a Class II Imperial Star Destroyer has, Major," his hand gracefully intercepting the sliding datapad, "It will be interesting to see which ones The Interrogator has along with which ones she doesn't."

His blue eyes glanced down at the database as he activated it, skimming the first few specifications before returning his attention to the Major, "I have not had the honor to work under the command of a Sith before. Is there anything I should know of my command before I assume it?"

Serra patiently waited while Mark skimmed the information, taking the time to burn away a few more centimeters of the cigarra while he did. The last of the smoke was finished as he asked about the command, and she snuffed it out, dropping the butt in a disposal by her desk before speaking. "It is an honor, one you were hand picked for among a long list of candidates. Very few ever receive an opportunity to serve their Emperor in a capacity such as this." She paused, her hand slipping into her jacket to produce a fresh cigarra. If Mark learned nothing else about the Major, he would certainly know she was a chain-smoker. With the new one lit, she carried on. "Fulfill your duties well and you will enjoy a long career of rewarding service and considerable respect. However, should you fall short of expectations, the consequences are far more severe than demotion and reassignment. Failure is not tolerated under the command of a Sith." She let it rest at this, trusting that Mark could read between the lines well enough to understand her meaning. She had considered a stronger warning, but it risked planting too many fears and doubts into his head before he even had a chance to experience life aboard the vessel. Best to throw him into it and see how well he fared.

Mark listened to her words, at the end, a small smile light on his face, the first since he had learned of his promotion. "The Empire is my life, Major, and I serve it utterly. I serve to the best of my abilities and expect nothing less from those under my command. Failure, Major, only leads to death. Be rest-assured, if I fall short of expectations, it will be because I am dead. I only request I be given enough latitude to learn the command before being judged."

His response couldn't have been better. Were it not for the fact she was so certain of his background, Serra would have been suspicious. As it was, though, it was precisely what she had hoped to hear from the new High Colonel. "You will be allowed a period of adjustment. No doubt the Inquisitor herself will want to talk to you soon, but for the time being I have the authority to hand over your command. Consider the position yours, High Colonel." A drag from the cigarra and she sat back slightly, her body language conveying satisfaction with the man where her expression betrayed none. "Do you have any questions before you assume your duties?"

Mark considered the woman before her, taking in her body language, noting to himself he would do well to keep an eye out, the woman displayed a certain competence, but then, as a Major in Imperial Intelligence, one couldn't be a slouch. Though they were from different branches, and he had no direct authority over her, they would need to work together. Good intelligence would help prevent unnecessary casualties in his ranks.
"Might I inquire as to the prior missions The Interrogator has undergone?" he asked after a few moments of silence.

Imperial Intelligence carried a certain discomforting quality for most, even more so when one was dealing with the particular branches that Serra had served in through her career. That was a revelation for another time, however, if it were to come at all. In this moment Serra was simply concerned with how the man would adjust to his new rank and position and how well he would integrate himself with the command staff of the ship. "You can, but there's nothing to tell. The ship was recommissioned as the Interrogator when High Inquisitor Thanor took command, which occurred within the past two weeks. The current focus has been the replacement of unsatisfactory personnel. If you want a service record for the vessel itself, however, I can have that forwarded to you." The fact he was asking for information at all ticked off a positive mark with the Major. The High Colonel could think, something that had been sorely lacking among many she'd encountered.

"I would appreciate that, Major, at your convenience, of course." Mark raised an eyebrow, "And the fate of my predecessor?" he asked, mentally kicking himself as he asked it, but unable to stop the question.
Serra hadn't expected the question, but then again, it wasn't an unnatural thing to ask. She took a deep inhale from the cigarra, letting the smoke roll free as she considered her choice of words. "His loyalties were not in line with our expectations. A replacement was necessary." It wasn't exactly true; the man had been killed in an accident, but there was no need to let Mark walk away without a little reminder of what falling short meant.

Mark inclined his head ever so slightly, "I see," he responded, then rose from his chair, bowing respectfully towards Serra, "In that case, I should see to my command and determine what state it is in and what improvements need to occur. Perhaps in a few days, I will have more," he paused for a moment, "questions." He did a short bow again, "At your convenience, Major." He turned to walk towards the door.
Serra rose as well, returning the bow as a matter of polite deference to his rank. Even in this place, where positions relied more on preference than rank, there was an etiquette shared between officers that Serra did not forget. "You know where to find me, High Colonel. As you are now part of this ship's command staff, consider my door open to you." It was more than a kindness, of course. The Major always had a preference for direct involvement. It meant more information, and information was the single most valuable thing to her. Serra remained standing as he turned to leave; again, a matter of politeness.

"Indeed I do, Major, thank you. As will my office be open to you, once I find it," he said before turning to the door. A few quick and graceful strides took him to the door where he stopped for a moment, pausing as the doors opened. He turned his head to face the Major, "And Major, there are many ways to court death, I would recommend against smoking. It cuts one's endurance down too much. You may come to a time when you will regret the current pleasure for needed endurance." He smiled, "To your health, Major." Mark stepped through the door quickly, allowing the doors to close before any comment of Serra's could reach his.
He took a deep breath and settled his cap back onto his head. Now to put truth into his words and find his office. There was a lot of work to be done and quickly if he was to get an accurate idea of the shape of his command. He was determined not to fail in this. Though he had been told his predecessor hadn't the right loyalties, that covered a lot of ground and he had a feeling she was holding something back. He pushed that thought aside, not everything would be apparent and he would have to win the trust and respect his rank entitled him to. He was not blinded by the rank to think everyone would fall in line. He expected there to be some pushback to his promotion from Captain. He squared his shoulders as he walked, following the markings for the Stormtrooper area of the ship, he was ready for whatever was coming his way.

An admonition about smoking. Not many were bold enough to broach the subject; as a matter of fact, only Serine had done so, which wasn't surprising coming from a Sith. Mark might have heard the small huff of a laugh that escaped as he made his way out of her office, but the door shut in the midst of it. She sat, taking another drag from the cigarra, ignoring his warnings just as much as she ignored those from Serine. Oh, she well knew how bad the things were for her...but they had become a part of her life, and if she lived long enough for them to kill her, then it was far longer than she could have ever expected. The muted sound of the Stormtrooper's boots as they fell in line behind Mark moved beyond earshot as they followed their new commander, leaving Serra to her work.

Using what knowledge he had of the ISD and its layout, he managed to get as far as the Trooper area before having to tell the two troopers following him to take him to his quarters. Again, he cursed his prior superior officer for not giving him enough warning to at least study the ship so he would know where his quarters were. He disliked not knowing such a basic thing, but perhaps things had moved too quickly to give him that time.

Upon reaching his quarters, he instructed the troopers to remain on duty outside and to tell any other officers who wished his attention that he would address them presently. Entering the quarters, he breathed a sigh of relief as the doors closed behind him, leaving him alone for the first time since that fateful summons.

He smiled seeing that his baggage had made it and was waiting for him near the bed that could be seen in another room. An office, a sitting area and a bedroom comprised his new quarters. Far grander than a mere Captain who was lucky if he only shared the quarters with one other Captain. The bed beckoned him. He was dead tired and keeping his wits about him had taken a lot of his energy. But his desk sat there, the lights blinking indicating awaiting messages.

With a sigh, he tossed the datapad onto the desk and flopped down in the seat. Time to pay the fiddler, he thought, and began his review of the current watches, squads, equipment lists and everything else a commander had to know.

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