Re-initiating the Deal

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Azra Avasara
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Re-initiating the Deal

Post by Azra Avasara » 2013-12-28 02:04

For anyone else, such a sudden change of responsibilities and assignment would have been particularly odd, but not entirely unbelievable.  Indeed, had she no prior interaction with the man herself, she would have fancied the situation plausible, within certain limitations of reason.  There it sat, right in the end of his personnel dossier: a transfer order shortly after the campaign to Dathomir, ending in an assignment to an old logistics unit.  Reading the information presented brought a Cheshire grin to the Dark Jedi's face; so much red tape, so much deceit.  And so credible, of course; the poor sergeant had suffered a rather troubling experience with his last formal ops team, and combined with the need to employ a greater sense of responsibility for his growing authority, he'd been reassigned to a unit that was more...responsible, to those in charge.

So much hogwash.  She knew better because of work they had done together--their one time working together--and because she knew knew that for all the Imperial Army loved wasting time and resources, it wasn't crazy enough to deliberately misuse a resource of this potential.  No, they'd have to be out of their minds...and they weren't that far gone yet.  It would make for an interesting subject of discussion when she got the chance to talk to him later, during the upcoming training session; it would at least let her determine if she would truly be keeping him on as a learner, or casting him back out.  To his credit, her late husband had seen something in him worth the effort; perhaps he would prove those beliefs founded on good merit...and on the other side of the coin, perhaps she was just being overly sentimental where Kyp was concerned. There was a sense of anticipation that came with the idea of conversing with the operative; what with his being the last person to be with her husband, she had to admit that there existed the possibility that he had been privy to the other man's last thoughts. Yet, breaking into that final moment...she was worried about that, for reasons she couldn't yet articulate. Either way, it was important that she have this meeting with the prospective apprentice. I'd kill for this to be easier! she thought, the words dry with sarcasm; the ironic truth of that was...she probably would, too.

The summons had been left with him through a private channel, reserved for members of the Omega Order. In it, she had left instructions that he make sure to prepare himself for a difficult day; if he proved himself to be worth the attention, it was going to be a very rough day, indeed.

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Spyker Katarn
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Re: Re-initiating the Deal

Post by Spyker Katarn » 2014-01-03 06:16

Oil. Propellant. Blaster gas and ozone. The pwap-pwap of repeated fire and the dings of successful hits. Cold metal in his hand, and the taste of cordite in the air. All of these scents and sounds assaulted the man on the Blood Angel's firing line as he prepared for his own shot at the targets downrange. It was the first time he'd been back on the line after the assault on a Commissariat fortress station in deep space where he revealed his own dark secret. It had landed him on administrative leave while his loyalty to the Army was questioned and had shed a pall over what had been a promising career with a meteoric rise to the top of the Federation's special forces community. Sergeant Major Spyker Katarn, codenamed "Omega" for often being the last thing his opponents ever saw, was now known to the command structure of the Army as a Dark Jedi-in-training, and thus damaged goods. He'd have to prove himself all over again.

Eyes closed, he instinctively stood in a easy position, weight balanced on the balls of his feet, hand lightly on the grip of the DC-15s holstered on his hip. A loud buzzer sounded in his lane, and his eyes snapped open, immediately scanning for his target as his hand jerked the weapon out and up into a firing position. The upgraded firmware of his cybernetic implant tagged the three targets with red diamonds, highlighting them in his vision within a nanosecond. On instinct, his weapon rose and discharged six times, two each at the different human-shaped outlines. Without waiting to see if the electric-blue bolts had impacted, he had already begun scanning for new ones. A second buzzer sounded, signifying the end of the test. Total time elapsed: less than five seconds.

Exhaling for the first time since the initial buzzer, Spyker hit the button to display his impact points and scores. The rangemaster, a man known to most only by his nickname of "Gunny," also came by as he had to verify the score. The senior sergeant nodded as the man walked up, and returned his attention to the results. He was high on his first shot, low on his fifth, but was otherwise exactly where he was hoping to be. He raised an eyebrow at the shorter, older soldier next to him.

"I don't care what they say about you, Sergeant; you're still the best damn shooter we've got active." After a heartbeat, the gunnery sergeant leaned in and spoke in a more conspiratorial whisper. "Is it true, what they're saying about you? You some kind of Jedi or sumtin'?" It had become all too common for Spyker's tastes, the whispers and the rumors. Sometimes he wished Kyp had never found him, but deep down he knew it would only make him a better fighter.

"Aye, Gunny, it is. I'm still only another soldier, though, not one of those who can kill you with a thought. That's FUD about the Order talking, not any reality I know of." A lie, but a small one. With anti-Jedi sentiment already running high in the Army, he didn't want to throw more gas on that fire. Before he could say anything more, his commlink chirped to notify him of a new message. Handing the pistol back to the rangemaster, he stepped from the platform to answer it.

"Thanks, Omega. By the way, you passed with colors. Didn't expect anythin' less outta you. See you 'round." The commando gave a wave in thanks, and pulled up the communique on his wristcomp. It was a summons, not from the leadership of SPECWARCOM as he'd hoped, but from his new teacher. It was something he'd expected to receive, but so soon? So be it, then, he felt, wondering exactly what she meant by asking him to expect a rough time. He'd been shot at, stabbed, electrocuted, and tortured almost to the point of death in his time as a commando, so he felt he could handle whatever she had in store.

'Best not to underestimate the Lady, from what I've heard. i should make a detour,' he thought to himself. Making his way out of the firing range, he stopped at his rack on the ship to suit up in his Camoleon armor and grab both the ninjato he'd received as a gift and the lightsaber he'd taken from the site where he last saw Kyp. It held memories he could see if he really focused on it, but he'd bent its Force signature to his will on the last op, and had a feeling it might help with whatever came. In short order, he had taken wing in his own fighter and docked with the Cerberus where she'd asked him to meet. It was time to begin again, and see what he could do with an active teacher.
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“I've lived too long with pain. I won't know who I am without it.”

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Azra Avasara
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Re: Re-initiating the Deal

Post by Azra Avasara » 2014-01-21 04:10

Thoughts and words were powerful things, though there was particularly good reason to debate whether words were the stronger, or thoughts that never manifested were of greater potency. Mulling over the matter while she waited, Azra tried to consider it from a rational perspective...only to discover that there really wasn't such a thing as a 'rational' way to look at this. Perhaps it was because her thoughts were so scattered at the moment; she was meeting with the man who she imagined would become her newest apprentice, and he was simultaneously the only apprentice her husband had taken. Why was she doing this? Why was she crazy enough to subject herself to this much about her beloved, and what was she hoping to get out of it all?

In the end, she supposed that her own reward for this ordeal would be peace of mind about her late husband. Somehow, it all revolved around him, came back to him one way or another; it would be good to finally have a last measure of closure, and naturally, the last man to see him alive would have some perspective on it that would help. It occurred to her, belatedly, that she could have just asked him about it the day he came bringing the news...but at that time, even with the Force having given her a sense of the loss before his informing her, it has been too soon. Of course, all of that hinged on another matter, and one for which she hoped this prospective apprentice had all the honest answers. Serious questions were about to be raised when he arrived, and she was in no mood to tolerate a lie. ...Not that she ever was. In the meantime, there was little else she could do but wait.

"I trust him," she heard, a voice echoing at once both in her mind, and in the room. Seated calmly, Thess remained inert, meditating on the silence the voice left behind; there was something extraordinarliy peaceful about it. A smile came to the weary face as it spoke again. "I wouldn't have taken him on if I didn't."

"I know, love," she responded at last, still relishing for a few moments the strange tranquility of the silence that came after her husband's voice. "And you know I trust you. That doesn't mean I trust him, yet."

"So what was that thing earlier, rescuing Eri?"

"That was business," she remarked, doing her best to keep calm despite the present line of questioning; it was beginning to make her feel alarmingly uncomfortable. "Taking somebody on as a student is far more personal than that. Please...trust me, darling. I know what I'm doing."

"I know that. But are you doing the right thing?"

Thess sighed, shaking her head as she slowly stood up. Her meditations were complete, and time had progressed particularly swiftly while she was engaged in them; enough of it, indeed, that the subject of this impromptu discussion was drawing nearer and nearer by the second, and was almost upon the doorway. "I suppose I'll find out. If he's as good as you say, then yes...if he's willing to prove he's worth it." With that, Kyp's voice was gone--perhaps the words had just been her own, heard in her mind in his voice. and perhaps they had really been him--and the door opened to admit her prospective student. Shadow danced amidst light in her eyes, and both of them focused on him as he entered the training hall, assessing him silently as though she were ready to cast down judgment. She wasn't at that point, yet...but she also wasn't terribly far off. "Right on time...good." The stern nature of her expression faded, softened, becoming instead something far kinder. Perhaps, just perhaps, this change would last.

"I must say you are a tad overprepared, though I suppose that's my fault for not being clear. Today will be a rough day for you." There was a slight chuckle to her voice as she said this, as though hinting to some sort of inside joke that was sadly lost on the sergeant. "Tough, yes...but physically demanding, no. I have a few questions for you...questions that I expect you to answer honestly." The expression faded into a stern look again, tempered only by measured restraint. "If you have any questions you would like to ask, I suggest doing so now."

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Spyker Katarn
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Re: Re-initiating the Deal

Post by Spyker Katarn » 2014-02-15 05:52

"You know, it's funny that you say I'm overprepared. In my experience, there's no such thing. There's only barely prepared or not prepared enough," Spyker said as he carefully placed both his Camoleon's helmet and his ninjato on the ground. He was not particularly concerned with her statement that what was to come would be rough, as she put it. "Ma'am, I've survived being shot at, stabbed, electrocuted, burned, losing an eye, and being hit with the worst mental pain I've ever felt. I was at Sarapin when the antimatter bombs went off in the low atmo, and on Bogden when...well, you know what happened there. I don't break, ma'am."

Straightening up, he took a moment to look her in the eyes, mismatched green and gold boring into her black and white. His implant gleamed dully in the low light as he thought about something she'd said. She'd damn near called him dishonest, and that he would not stand for. "I will answer your questions as honestly as I can. I am, however, still bound by the laws of the Federation, including those regarding the release of classified information to uncleared individuals. I understand that you are a superior officer, both as a member of the Order and of the Army, but there are things I cannot and will not reveal for security reasons." His words were stern, but should not be unexpected, and he knew she would understand where he was coming from, given her own service record.

"That said, let me try to head off some at the pass. You've probably guessed that I'm not really part of some random logistical unit, given my operational history and...involvement in certain recent engagements. 38th Logistics is a cover unit; my real function is as an operator in Special Warfare Command, a black unit reporting direct to the Surface Marshal. You can probably guess what we do. I can't tell you anything else without breaking any more laws. You now know as much as he did about what I do.

"As for my own questions, I have two, and they are what I asked before, in the Sanctum. Why take me on as an apprentice? Who are you doing this for?"
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“I've lived too long with pain. I won't know who I am without it.”

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Azra Avasara
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Re: Re-initiating the Deal

Post by Azra Avasara » 2014-03-18 17:13

A very noticeable smile formed on Azra's face; among other things about it, there was the distinct notion from looking at it that it was decidedly overdone.  The falsely saccharine grin certainly couldn't pass muster as a real expression, but it was there nonetheless, almost as though she wore it specifically to showcase the falsehood of such a look.  "Well," she said after a few seconds, allowing everything he had said to properly sink in, "so much for thinking you would be manhandled by a question about your job."  For a few more seconds, she was quiet, as though content to enjoy the silence; then, again, more talking...and as before, as right to the point as one might expect.  "Honesty gets as honesty gives...and honesty gives quite a bit.  You'll have the answers you seek; what you make of them is your call."

Unsurprisingly, the smile disappeared in a flash, perhaps a subtle warning that while she was willing to talk, the subject matter wasn't at all her finest point, and she would have rather kicked his teeth in than surrendered this information.  "First and foremost...why you.  I suppose a fairer question would be, why take on a second apprentice before the first one graduates.  What's life without challenge, though, but something that gets awfully boring over time.  I chose you because you have potential, and it would be a shame to not nurture and develop it...and unlike my other apprentice, your aspect is similar to mine."  A brief hint of a wry smile formed on her face for a couple of seconds.  "Close enough, at least; I could sense it during the earlier meeting with the Primarch.  That, coupled with your ability to more readily put your learning into practice, will make it far easier to teach you than it has been to teach him.

"Your other question..."  Here, she paused, clearly less than thrilled with the implications of the latter question.  To say she didn't like it was perhaps kind to it; she would have gladly suffered through a rather long list of other sorts of penalties and punishments--some damned near intolerable--before dealing with this.  "When you first asked, you had a list, which I am sure you remember well.  The answer is...all of them, in fairly equal measure.  For you, because you deserve to have your training completed...for me, because it gives me something to do that feels important."  She didn't truly have the temerity at that point in time to mention that she wasn't entirely trusting of the rest of the Order's instructors, a worry largely motivated by the idea that, were she to share it, there was the potential that it would reach one of them.  "And for him, because...well...he'd want it to be done."  She had also carefully omitted the notion that Spyker was one of the few living links she had to her late beloved.  He had, of course, doubtless figured it out, and she didn't like stating the obvious.

Sighing softly, she turned her thoughts to other matters for a moment, grateful that she could get her mind off of what she had twice lost.  "At the moment, I have no lessons for you; only the verdict.  You probably figured out during my questioning that I already had an idea of what you were telling me; what I asked was merely a confirmation.  You provided it, and quite thoroughly.  As such, you have passed the test of honesty, and I won't be casting you aside any time soon.  I also happen to know your logistics unit's commander, and have arranged for you to have a meeting with him after this session is concluded... which it is."  A grim sort of smirk formed on her face.  "I should warn you: he's rather irritable right now.  Concussion, and all."

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Spyker Katarn
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Re: Re-initiating the Deal

Post by Spyker Katarn » 2014-04-04 05:48

Her reasons were sound, Spyker had to admit. He could find no fault with what she said, but he did get a faint sense that she was still holding something back. He'd picked up on the slight hesitation in her voice when the topic of her late husband--Spyker's fallen master--came up, and made the choice to let it go. Now was not the time for that discussion, and there would be a better time for it. He owed the man his life, and if being apprenticed to his widow made a difference, it was something he was quite fine with doing. The rest of her answers seemed honest, and as he'd passed her test, so too had she passed his. He would work with her, and learn, and apply the teachings as he could. As befit a soldier of his caliber, the sergeant would welcome anything that made his operations more effective.

When he heard her mention his CO, however, he winced. After his status as a Dark Jedi was revealed during the Surface Marshal's extraction from the hands of the Comissariat, relations between the sergeant and the general had become strained at best. Spyker could understand why: to withhold such information was almost a betrayal, even if he'd done it for the best of reasons. Anti-Jedi sentiment was running high in the rank-and-file of the military, and though Spyker had earned his way to the top of his profession, to be seen as a Force user right now would cast a shadow over that. There had also been reports of vigilante beatings of people even suspected of being able to wield the Force...and worse. As skilled as he was in single combat, having a group of other SWC operatives attempt a Code Red on him would end badly, even with the added capabilities the Force offered. He'd heard the Brigadier had no great love for the Dark Jedi, and he wasn't sure how exactly the senior officer would take to having one in his unit. Either way, the CO of Special Warfare Command was not a man to cross.

"Guess I'd better get going, then. You'll let me know when you want me next?" Seeing Avasara's nod in response, he moved with haste towards the door, collecting his gear as he went. Outside, he broke into a run for the hangar, slipping on his helmet and remotely triggering his SLF's reactor startup. By the time he reached the hangar, the SLF had reached operational levels from the power source, and he ran through the preflight checks before disengaging the inertial locks. A minute later, and he was flying at full speed away from the Cerberus, winging it back to the Blood Angel. A short hyperspace jump later and he was landing in the small hangar bay of the Marauder-class warship.

'There's something to be said for a class zero-point-five, thought Spyker. Had it been a class-1 or -2, he'd be still in transit and likely risking irritating the Director further. Hopping out of the ship, he hightailed it to the Director's office, stopping only at his rack to change into something more...presentable. Arriving at the man's office, he was directed by the General's yeoman to a small waiting area. Spyker stood at ease, wondering how long it would take for the man to call him in. He didn't wait long.
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“I've lived too long with pain. I won't know who I am without it.”

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