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Imperial Dragoon Maelstrom (Destroyed at Ansion)
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Kris Jendob
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Joined: 17 Jul 2009
Posts: 28

 Post Posted: Fri, April 23rd 2010 06:46pm    Post subject: Imperial Dragoon Maelstrom (Destroyed at Ansion)
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Kris carefully placed his pitch helmet into the locker, before removing his flight gloves and tossing them into the bottom. He brought his hands up to his moist forehead, wiping off the sweat from the time spent in the Starhunter. As always, it had been humid in the cockpit of the craft. Each change of acceleration, each lateral force, forced the pilot's muscles to tense to compensate. Kris had been in his fighter for more than two hours, practicing dogfighting tactics. He could feel his legs and shoulders aching. It was a workout.

He rid himself of his flight jacket, now in his undershirt. His skin rejoiced as it got a little closer to air. It was the second drill today. The Empire was taking no chances, sending every active contingent into place and recalling millions of other officers from leave. No one aboard the ship knew why, not even the flag officers. Kris knew it was because of the attack on Bastion, and he was one of a select few. His comrades entertained rumors, but Kris could do nothing to confirm or deny it. He didn't want to futher deteriorate relations with his happy family, after all, and he certainly didn't want to be the one to leak confidential information; the Moff Council would have his head, and other important bits.

"Lieutenant," came a smooth voice behind him, begging for attention. It took Kris a minute to recall the woman was addressing him with his newly-bestowed rank. He was, officially now, the XO of his squadron, the leader of his flight. It wasn't much in the grand scheme of things, but Kris knew he could improve upon it in short order. He smiled thinly at the thought of that.

"Yes, Ensign Zhun?" Kris twisted around genially, the feeling of command slightly intoxicating. He made sure to be nice.

"I noticed, sir, when I hit two-K lat Gs, the propulsion seemed to lag," Zhun explained. Zhun was a rather tall woman - odd in a fighter environment - with a plain face. She was a newcomer to the squadron, and had been in Kris' flight only for a few weeks before his promotion. She was a quick study, but he was constantly reminded about how cautious she was. "I'm wondering if the auto-compensate computers are off base."

Kris nodded. "That's entirely possible, Ensign. I'll have one of the techs check it out." She easily could have requested a preventative maintenance sweep herself, but she was probably too timid for that. "Nice work out there today; I'd feel just fine having you on my flank."

She seemed to want to smile, but didn't know if she was allowed to do so. "Th-thank you, Lieutenant," she instead expressed her gratitude. She brought her hand up in a quick, rigid solute, which Kris returned, before departing.

Kris closed up the storage and began the trek back to his cabin. It was so great to be back on the ship, even with the rigorous exercises daily. This was where Kris belonged, not on the surface of Bastion, surrounded by gilded opulence and one-dimensional Moffs.

"Hey, Jendob," another voice - deeper than Zhun's - greeted from across the ready room.

"Hey, Damor," Kris grinned in reply. Aran Damor was a sublieutenant from another squadron, who had also been participating in the exercises - additionally, he was Kris' cabinmate. The man approached him, and then began walking with him. "I wonder if they synchronize these things."

"I wouldn't doubt it," he snorted, running a hand through his sweated hair. "They've been running these things for days. Though, I guess I don't need to tell you that. What's the issue?"

Kris shrugged. "Maybe it's a brush-up on flight skills."

Aran stared at Kris with a bit more intent. He knew Kris' family connections - in no small part due to Kris' recent complaints to him about his parents and sister. "Come on, Kris, what's really going on? Everyone's talking about pirates and Mandalorians and conspiracy..."

Kris glanced over at him, mentally sighing. Aran was an excellent person in many regards, but he didn't know when to stop crossing boundaries. Kris trusted the man with his life, and if Jendob told him to back off, he would; but he couldn't reveal that he knew anything. Aran would drop it eventually anyway. "I don't know, Aran. I'm just as tired and frustrated as you are. Something's going on, sure. I want to know too," Kris sighed. "But obviously we need to be prepared, for some reason. We got to concentrate on that for now, not trying to be frakked-up sociologists."

Aran looked at him incredulously, before flashing his teeth in a smile. He chuckled. "Wow, Jendob. Just because you're on top of me now doesn't mean you have the right to give me speeches," he said, with a wicked grin.

Kris smirked as well. "Yeah, but it's true," Kris paused. "Guess it's going to my head," he joked casually.

"Speaking of which," Aran added. "You still in tonight?"

"What?" Kris inquired, the sudden question bewildering his brain.

"The Sabacc game. You in?"

"Oh," Kris recalled. "Yeah, I guess so."

"I'll see you tonight, then. I'm going to get a shower and head over awhile."

"You and me both," Kris agreed. A shower would be excellent right about now. "I need to file a report for one of my pilots first. I'll meet up with you soon."

Aran smirked. "'One of my pilots,'" he echoed. "Alright, Admiral, don't be late." He said as he walked away.

Kris shook his head, grinning to himself. This was indeed where he belonged. And even if terrorists were able to get to Jagged Fel and Imperial command, they wouldn't be able to breach the pilots of the Maelstrom.
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Kris Jendob
Starhunter pilot, Lieutenant, Dragoon Maelstrom

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Kris Jendob
Cray


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 Post Posted: Tue, June 01st 2010 01:57am    Post subject:
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A four. Eighteen total. A tough situation to be in, certainly. A negative one-value from his own deck gave him some more comfort, but it surely didn't ensure victory. It was a necessary response to subpar conditions.

Kris Jendob sat back and looked forward to meet the eyes of Sublieutenant Cropht, who was under an equal amount of pressure. His cards summed up to a nineteen, and his side deck was ill-equipped to ameliorate the situation. He drew a seven and was unable to recover. "Damn it!" He growled out of frustration at fate.

"Ha!" Kris beamed. He had won the match, but it was just one victory in an impromptu tournament. "That teaches you to gloat."

Pazaak wasn't as popular as Sabacc. They had played a few hands of the latter game, and Kris fared well enough - but ultimately did not take home the pot. They'd switched to Pazaak, which Kris preferred to the less-clean cut Sabacc.

It was a very old game, just as ancient as Sabacc; the type of game was even more archaic than this modern incarnation. It had been very widespread in the past, and now it was making something of a slow-but-undeniable comeback.

They were playing the variety called Hutt Gamble. In lieu of the traditional system of keeping a personal additional deck - which was prone to cheating, naturally - the deck was assigned at random at the beginning of each game. It made things simpler, although not necessarily easier.

Seated around Kris were another three pairs of players, making for a total of eight. They were playing in a tiered system. Each winner advanced up the level. The majority of the players also constituted Kris' major social circle, one of which he had just recently become the most senior in rank. He sensed jealousy from some and congratulation from others. It didn't matter too much to him; fleet drama was more palatable than the grand play that had been acted out on the surface of Bastion.

Seated next to Kris, Aran was nervous. He pulled a one-card. His opponent, a haughty woman named Ensign Monsees produced a three, bringing her ever-closer to twenty. "Gods dammit. This deck has to be rigged," Aran bit out a curse, spearing Monsees with a glare.

"I'm getting the same crappy draws you are. If it was rigged, shouldn't I have won by now?" The ensign retorted.

"That might be part of the act, Monsees," Kris chuckled. He received ocular lasers in return.

"Twenty," Aran stated after his turn began.

"Eighteen," Monsees scowled. "Plus two," she added a card from her side deck.

Kris cooed in mock astonishment. He grinned. Another draw. Monsees and Aran had been duking it out all night, even during Sabacc, and nerves were beginning to fray between the two of them. "Frakked again, Aran," Kris joked.

Aran looked at Kris with a wisp of a knowing smirk on his face. "Nah, just makes the pot bigger. More money when I finally win," he boasted in the ensign's general direction.

The two hands were redealt, leaving the others to await the completion of the match. "And again, we're waiting on Monsees," Kris commented sarcastically.

"With all due respect, sir," the ensign began, with surprising venom. "Muzzle it."

Kris wasn't exactly sure how to respond to that, so he simply didn't. However, Ensign Zhun - who they had somehow convinced to join the game, despite her extant shyness and mild-manners - was surprised at the sudden breach of conduct. She, also, did not offer any comment. In fact, she had been quiet for most of the night.

The duel was exciting, one of those rare hands where the increments were small and the tensions were high. "Nineteen to your fifteen. I'll stand," said Monsees at last.

Aran ground his teeth, his mind racing. He then drew another card from the central stack. "Eighteen," he echoed his new total. "Oh well, Ensign, I guess it's all your -- oh, wait a minute," he smiled slowly as he gently laid a two from his deck onto the table. "Why, I believe that's twenty." Monsees' eyes lit up in near-rage. For a moment, Kris believed she was going to turn the table upside down.

Kris let out a laugh of victory and reached across the table to clasp Aran's hand. Monsees disgustedly relieved herself from the table, not saying another word. She was pissed. Kris wasn't too sad for her, after her attitude that night. In fact, the aggravating woman rather reminded him of his sister...

The games continued, the brackets narrowing down the current players. Soon, it was Aran versus Zhun, and Kris versus a pudgy recruit named Ensign Valastra. "Try not to get cleaned out again, Kris. You're gonna need taxi fare to get back into your little gated community," Aran poked fun.

Kris might have went off the deep end. Aran knew a lot about Kris and his life - evidently - but he didn't know how much he loathed that "little gated community." Kris cast a rather dark glance at Aran, but he was able to keep rolling. "The only way I'd go back there is if I had some torches with me."

Aran knew something had been bothering Kris since his return to the Maelstrom, and his suspicion only intensified after that comment. "I'll stand," Aran eventually stated as he laid down some cares, giving an encouraging smile to Zhun across from him. "What do you mean by that?" Aran asked idly, responding to Kris after a length of time.

"My leave wasn't the best," Kris summed as he laid down another card, adding to a generally-poor hand.

Aran was about to respond when the card he chose put a look of horror on his face He had a nine, and with a grand total of twenty-seven, he had no options. His side deck was useless. He was done.

"Wait," Zhun said cautiously. "I won! Yes!" She beamed, opening up for the first time all night. She was well on her way to becoming a cardshark.

"Tough luck, Ar," Kris said non-committally. He was glad for Zhun; it was nice to see her coming out of her shell, even if it was only a few millimeters.

"Nice work, newbie," Aran managed a smile, gracious in defeat, to Zhun. "But next time," he said, wagging a joking finger towards her. "I'll get you."

Zhun looked nervous, as if Aran's good-natured "threat" was serious, until she caught on. She smiled as he pushed the pot towards her. "Uh, good game!"

"Well, I guess I'd better leave this seat for your next victim," he grinned, indicating Kris, before sliding over to the next seat, next to Kris. "So, what happened?"

Kris took his place before Zhun, a bit surprised by Aran's inquiry. "What didn't," Kris mused. "I misspeak once, and my whole family uniformly crucifies me." He managed a self-deprecating smirk. "Nothing new,I guess."

"Aww, c'mon. It can't have been that bad," Aran encouraged. "What about Kendra?"

Kendra. Kris had spent a lot time specifically blocking the thought of Kendra out of his mind. Out of all the aggravation and pain his family had brought him, that caused by Kendra had been the most potent and poisonous. He didn't respect nor like his father, his mother tried her best to be fair - but Kendra, Kris had thought, had always been on his side. She hurt him the most.

"A total turncoat," Kris muttered. For a moment, the thought crossed his mind that he should not discuss personal matters in view of all on the ship. But this was an informal card game. And he needed the opportunity to vent. "She kicked me," he said, the simplicity making him chuckle.

"She never struck me as the type to just..." Aran trailed off, blinking in surprise. "Wow."

"Eh, she's no-nonsense," Kris informed him, holding back the tide of less-nice words he could have used to describe her. He shrugged. "But I thought I could rely on her."

Kris stemmed the other questions by presenting the shuffled deck to Zhun, who cut it and set it before them. "Well, Ensign, let's see what you got."

This was the final match, just Kris and Zhun now. Kris wasn't feeling very lucky. Zhun laid an eight. "Not bad," Kris stated as he produced a four.

Zhun drew a nine-value and added two to it from her deck. "I'll stay there. Uh, Lieutenant," she was quick to add the honorific.

Kris smirked at her fastidiousness. "Alright, then," Kris acknowledged before beginning his last stand. From the main deck, he drew a two, a six, and, after some hesitation, a five. The only card in his side deck was a positive six. He had gone bust. Ar winced. Kris sighed. "Good game," he offered. It was good for Zhun.

"Yes!" Zhun cried, reaching forward to take all the chips, before Kris could respond. "Good game! I'm looking forward to playing again!" She beamed before standing and moving off to another table, eager to continue her success.

"Well, I guess we're out," Aran grieved.

"Guess so," Kris agreed, coming to his feet. It had been a decent night, but something had left him unsettled. He knew what that "something" was, but he didn't want to address it here. They left for the cabin.
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Kris Jendob
Starhunter pilot, Lieutenant, Dragoon Maelstrom

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Kris Jendob
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 Post Posted: Tue, June 01st 2010 04:15pm    Post subject:
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"Something on your mind"? Kris asked Aran, throwing his pazaak deck down onto the table. The cabin was spartan but, in its own way, homey. The double bunk occupied loosely half of the room, with a desk and two storage lockers spread across the remainder. The metal was cool and the hum of the engines could be heard transmitted throughout the entire space. It was more comfortable than any posh mansion on Bastion.

He and Aran had been cabinmates since their earliest enlistment. He was Kris' confidante - his sole confidante, now. The support was helpful to both of them. "Hmm?" Aran asked, surprised that Kris was actually bringing up the subject again. "Oh, nah. Just kind of surprised that Kendra would attack you. Monsees I could see; if anyone wanted to claim relation to her," he smirked. "But your sister's fairly laid back, from what I've seen."

Kris frowned. He didn't want to talk about Kendra aloud, as if speaking of her would summon the demon herself, and he certainly didn't want Aran playing advocate to her. "Oh. Well, she is, usually," Kris started out placidly enough. "But she doesn't see my dad for what he is?"

"A Moff?" Ar grinned.

Yes. A Moff. Kris scoffed. That was what Ams Jendob was. "Pretty much."

"So, what made her come at you?"

Kris subconsciously rubbed at his inner thigh. "I insulted our family, I guess," Kris explained. Aran began to react, but Kris was quick to clarify. "It's more complicated than that, though. She didn't even listen to me."

"I know if someone started talking crap about my family, I'd probably take a swing or two," Ar argued, shrugging.

"If it was some random stranger, sure," Kris postulated.

"I dunno," Aran smirked, ruefully. "On Naboo, we're taught that family is pretty far up there. Just saying."

"I get it," Kris sighed, scratching at his messed hair. "But Ar, she didn't even try to understand. That's what pisses me off the most. She just got up on her frakking high horse and rode it down on me," Kris recounted. He noticed how juvenile the whole thing sounded, but it was nonetheless operating on a deeper level than pettiness. He just couldn't think of how to verbalize it.

"Well, that's women in general for you," Aran muttered with some contempt.

"Yeah, but... it's not my sister," Kris admitted. Kendra had been his ally for so long. In fact, she had been "rebellious" long before Kris had. She had parted ways with the traditional family military service, making the choice to join the Stormtrooper corps, concurrent with Kris' complacent obedience to his parents' wishes. And now, when Kris had harbored similar feelings for the status quo of the Jendob family - the not-so-quiet air of superiority, the self-righteousness of its patriarch - she had not supported him. Some part of him wanted to understand why Kendra had reacted the way she did, but an even greater portion was committed to avoid his twin as long as possible.

"When did this happen?" Aran asked.

"A week or so. The same day as the... disturbance," Kris answered, carefully to not out the secret of the attack on the Empire.

"Oh. Have you talked since?"

"No, and I don't really plan to," Kris insisted as he sat down on the lower bunk. "I have better things to do than play mediator."

"I don't know, Kris," Aran began, eyeing the man. "This is just me talking, but if it wasn't 'like her', maybe... maybe you could at least fix things with her. I'm sure it was just..." Aran trailed off momentarily, then he laughed at his own failed attempt at psychoanalysis. "Well, something."

Kris Jendob sighed. He knew Aran was probably right, but he didn't feel any desire to fix something that had, apparently, been broken for years. But at the same time, Kendra haven't behaved herself. And Kris hadn't behaved himself. He wasn't a spoiled child, content on sewing discord. But perhaps it had seemed that way. "It's not going to make a difference. It'll all happen again."

He was convinced of his own words. As long as The Moff existed, any attempt at reconciliation would be a temporary truce at best. His father was not going to simply stop being everything that Kris despised, nor was Kris able to ignore those idiosyncrasies. There was no obvious solution - perhaps there was no solution at all.

"You don't really know the whole story, Ar," Kris continued, Aran eying him intently. "My dad, always has been... ugh, I've always been his little avatar," Kris expressed. He was a vehicle to spread Ams Jendob's glory. It was never about Kris. It was about what Kris should be. "And he knows everything. He's oh-so-high-minded, but really, he's not different from anyone else, and he doesn't see that," Kris complained, committed to venting everything no matter how childish it would sound. "And I thought Kendra understood me. She didn't."

"She usually seem too," Aran reasoned.

"I thought so too," Kris was quick to respond, a wisp of anger blowing through his voice.

"You're not really going to let one little fight ruin your relationship with your twin, are you? I mean... you and I have had a few disagreements, but we always resolve it in the end," he smirked.

"I know it," Kris admitted. "Solving my problems with her won't fix the real problem. I don't know."

"Yeah, but you have to start somewhere," Aran reminded him, rubbing at some stubble on his chin.

"I guess so," Kris scratched his neck. "But I'm not going to be making the mistake of going back there any time soon. It's not like we have time, anyway."

Aran shrugged agreeably. "Just saying, Kris. I know how you can be sometimes. If an olive branch is offered, you might not want to pass it up."

Kris smirked. This was not usual guytalk. "Maybe you missed your calling."

"Maybe so," Aran chuckled. "Oh well. Probably another battery of drills tomorrow," he continued remorsefully. "I'm sure the CAG doesn't want his pilots asleep at the stick," Aran supposed as he sat down on his own bunk.

Kris guessed it was nice to have his own personal counselor - even if he wasn't exactly certified. He had helped Aran through some rough times too. That was a time when he had to sit back and try to evaluate his friend's concerns objectively. Maybe if he could look at his own problems in a similar manner, there might be a chance for his family to be whole again. But not tonight.

"Thanks, Ar," Kris said, slapping his bunkmate on the shoulder before settling in, preparing for the next round of excitement. He hoped the Empire would fare better against its own enemies, even if the flawed people that held her up couldn't always say the same.
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Kris Jendob
Starhunter pilot, Lieutenant, Dragoon Maelstrom

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Kris Jendob
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 Post Posted: Fri, June 11th 2010 02:35am    Post subject:
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The following day had gone well enough for Kris. The usual drills had gone without incident, aside from some whining from the newbies and a loose hose on one of the pilot's suits. Kris settled down to mess, Aran following closely at his side.

Kris sat down at one of the tables, placing his tray before his seat. He picked up his set of utensils and poked at some highly-processed version of Bastion cuisine. "Was the Hunter better today?" He asked the person seated across the table.

Ensign Zhun jolted in surprise, taking her bored hand away from her chin. She had been playing with her food with her other hand. "Uh, sir!" She greeted with his honorific, and was about to salute before Kris cast her a look that indicated it was not necessary. "It was fine today, sir. Thank you for getting it sorted," she expressed her gratitude.

Kris looked over at Aran. They both smirked. Maybe Zhun wasn't so different after her night as a card shark anyway. "Glad to hear it. How much did you take last night?"

"Sir?" She inquired, confused.

"Cards."

"Oh," she giggled slightly. "Plenty."

Kris snickered a bit as he scooped some of the food into his mouth. "I'm sure you brought some of those veterans down a peg. It's good to get a rookie sometimes." Zhun just smiled, not entirely sure how to respond.

"As long as you don't get a head like Monsees, you're welcome to play whenever we have a game on," Aran assured her.

"That won't be a problem, sir," Zhun promised with earnest.

Kris continued to eat his food. His talk with Aran the night before had been helpful, but Kris felt that he would never change his opinion. This was his home.
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Kris Jendob
Starhunter pilot, Lieutenant, Dragoon Maelstrom

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 Post Posted: Mon, June 14th 2010 02:00pm    Post subject:
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The currents of officers flowed past the young pilot who was wading in the midst of the corridor. Kris gave a tight smile and a quick nod of acknowledgment to those he recognized. He snapped a salute to his superiors, which was required. He didn't do anything more than the bare minimum, though; he was awaiting somebody.

His mother had contacted him earlier in the morning, alerting him that she would be coming to the Maelstrom. She wanted to meet with him. Kris didn't really know what to expect; he didn't know if she was, somehow, making a special trip, or if she was more likely bringing some kind of officer aboard the ship.

He didn't have much time to think about it. "Hey, " a melodic voice called from behind him. Kris turned about. "There you are."

It was always a little strange to see his mother in uniform. It wasn't a rare occurrence, not at all; with both parents officers in the Remnant, the clothing was no different than a business suit. Sometimes, though, he never thought of Mom as a pilot. He didn't know why. Maybe it was symptomatic of a greater desire to have seen less uniforms in those years.

"Hey," he called back.

"Don't worry," she began quietly. "No public displays of motherly affection." Mom raised her voice to a more normal level. "And thanks for meeting me on such short notice."

Kris smirked. Something within him stirred. He knew that, right now, his mother was the only one who would listen to him. At times, that hadn't always been so - but on at least some level, he knew she was there for him. He moved forward in a small hug that surprised the both of them. He figured if he was on good terms with his mom, he might as well preserve the relationship, because, in this case, quality was better than quantity in the Jendob family. "It isn't the first day of school, Mom," Kris reminded her, then ended the brief hug.

"No, it's worse. It's your ship," she reminded him as they began to stride down the hall, heading in no direction in particular. The hangar was a hub of activity on any Imperial vessel, and it wasn't advisable to stand in front of its entrance. One might get clobbered by a cargo tram. "Remember, kid, I was in your shoes once."

"I think I have a good enough reputation I can survive the occasional family invasion," Kris countered, tongue in cheek.

"Damn. I guess pilots have gone softer, then," she chuckled in a loose tone, as if she were addressing a wingmate rather than a son or a subordinate. "Anyway, is there some place I can talk to you a bit more... secure than a corridor?"

Kris gave her a inquisitive glance, but decided it was best not to press for reasoning. "The next briefing room ought to be empty right now."

"All right, that'll work," she confirmed agreeably. After they had walked down the corridors for a bit, she added, like an old veteran lamenting modern luxury, "It seems so big."

"It feels a lot smaller after a few months," Kris pointed out to her as he turned left and opened the door leading to the briefing room.

"Yeah, that's true," the woman admitted. The door slid shut, and again, she took Kris into a hug, a longer one this time. "Now I don't have to worry about giving your flight something to gossip about."

Kris grinned again. He supposed she thought she knew how every social circle in a warship's flight went, but there really was no cause for concern. Although, Kris recalled to himself, he would have been quite embarrassed a few days ago. "They have plenty on their minds with these "stupid" drills already as it is," Kris explained.

The pilots' grumbling had increased, since command offered no elucidation on the prompting of the training. The Maelstrom itself had been engaged in war games. No one else knew what he knew. They were the only two people on this ship that did. He wondered if the need for their meeting had to do with that selfsame topic. "So, what is it, Mom?"

"A few things," she said simply. "It's just that one of them I can't tell you over the comm. First off, I got a message from Kendra."

Mom's eyes were on him. Kris felt his stomach clench at the mention of Kendra's name. He made his face so neutral that the effort he was exerting was palpable. "Oh?"

"She said she was sending it to me since you might actually open the message instead of deleting it outright," Kris' mother began, speaking calmly and not saying anything that would make Kris leave or change the topic. She didn't want to risk the truce they had achieved, and neither did Kris. "And she wouldn't blame you if you did." Mom added, her voice doing a good job of copying the trepidation Kendra probably felt in saying that.

The young man crossed his arms over his chest, propping a foot against the wall behind him and leaning back. Kendra was sorry? How was that possible? More than likely, she was sorry for only the event that occurred between them; Kris assumed she still failed to understand and sympathize with the paternal cause of the issues. He didn't know how she couldn't grasp such a concept when she had lived in the same house he had.

"Long story short, she's sorry about what happened," the elder pilot continued after Kris had angled his eyebrows aloofly and exhaled with the pressure of a thousand thoughts, as if to say "go on if you must." "And I quote, 'everything else.' She said you'd know what that was about. Did you two run into each other?"

Kris turned his light eyes to the shining metal floor. Maybe she did realize it, he thought with a glimmer of hope. He could almost hear his twin sister talking through their mother. And Kendra knew exactly what to say. Maybe she still refused to see their father for what he was, but Kris felt that she had comprehended that she had betrayed her brother. He would never have done that to her... and she probably felt like hell over it.

After running his tongue across the inside of his cheek, Kris churned his lips a bit, as if testing his words. He had been wrong - not about The Moff Jendob, but about Kendra. Still, he wasn't about to drop every grievance he had with his sister. He had to have more time to calm down, more distance. But he could see the day coming soon - and for now, he didn't want to dwell on it. He now knew that it was now destined to be over; they would resume their lives either way and reconcile, and the things between now and then were just details.

"No, I haven't seen her since," Kris passively told his mother at length. He was done; and he didn't want to talk about it any more. He didn't even want to complain about it anymore. The next step was going to happen any way he tried to approach it.

"All right. Well, if you know what she means..." Mom let the sentence hang. She was as much a strategist as anybody, and she knew when to stop prying. She had accomplished what she wanted.

"The other thing?" Kris asked, desiring to leave the topic for his own mind to digest later in solitude.

"I'll get to that," the commander said authoritatively, wanting to put some space between her two talking points. "How's the new position treating you?"

Kris had to smirk with amusement at the corny question. She might as well had asked how the intersteller weather was. "Not much is different really."

"Usually doesn't seem like it at first," she shrugged. They both moved towards a pair of chairs in front of the controls for the briefing room data overlays. "But when it sinks in that you're responsible for three other pilots, it takes some getting used to." Mother finished, her eyes looking beyond him for a moment. Kris might have described the look as sad.

"For me, I've always felt responsibility for my wingmates, whether I'm in command of them or not, I guess," Kris announced after he had seated himself. It was true; Kris had always taken all the things surrounding him very personally, making others' issues his issues and trying to bear the burden of another. It made him a sink for so many things. There weren't many people like him in this galaxy.

"We all do," his mother proposed. "But you feel the weight more once you're at flight let, or running the squadron."

Her son didn't entirely agree. When Kris was just a fresh green pilot, his flight had lost a man, Ensign Pomacente. Kris barely knew him. He wasn't responsible for him. But when the ensign's training TIE l/n had careened into an undetected asteroid during training, Pomacente did not survive the encounter. Kris had felt like it was his fault for not being able to do something, even though he was kilometers away and on an entirely separate run. Kris never stopped his life or his training to lament his death, but the feeling instead had burned at his insides until he was finally able to overcome the false sense of guilt. The young man was strongly empathic with others, and sometimes it was not a blessing - it was even worse when there was reason to carry guilt. Catharsis was sometimes necessary - however, it was never, ever easy for him.

"Maybe," Kris shrugged instead. She was trying to help him, and he understood that; but he had learned these lessons years ago, long before he was a lieutenant.

"I've been there, Kris," she said, placing her hand on his. "Trust me. And if you ever need someone that's been down that road..."

"I'm fine with it, Mom, really," Kris assured her with a smile. He truly was now. His insecurities as a pilot and leader had been long ago overcome.

"All right," she assented, wistfully.

"So," Kris leaned back into the seat, intently. He wanted to know what the second matter was.

"Not much for small-talk anymroe, eh?" His mother quipped.

Kris chuckled in spite of himself. "I guess I'm a little different on leave than here. Besides, small talk hasn't exactly been a friend lately," he reminded her with a bit of spite, not directed towards her, but at the situation in general.

"Heh, well. Can't argue with that," the woman agreed as she brought her eyes back to her son. "I'm just... kinda worried."

He didn't like it when his mother was worried. Something was about to hit the fan.

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Shayera Jendob
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 Post Posted: Wed, June 16th 2010 03:16am    Post subject:
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I could tell I'd disturbed Kris somewhat. But this was important; he could stand being uncomfortable. If he started to take it easy on his pilots, it could get them—and maybe him—killed. I continued with what I was saying. “Your pilots are complaining about the drills? They're lucky I'm not your CAG. They'd be ten times rougher.

“And even then, it might not be enough,” I realized out loud. Training could never replace experience. And unless Zend had been sitting still for twenty years and the veteran pilots she took with her all died off, then the Remnant was in trouble.

“No, that isn't it,” Kris replied. “They're complaining because they don't understand why the sudden crackdown. And if I weren't in the loop,” he shrugged. “Maybe I would too.”

I shook my head. He just didn't get it. He had no clue about Zend, about what the Empire was facing. All he knew was the Moff Council got hit. He didn't know who, or why. “You don't know the half of it,” I answered, almost exasperated. Of course, given how he had a recent habit of taking things wrong, I quickly clarified. “And I don't mean that in a critical way, Kris. I told you all I could. Even I don't know the half of it... but things are...”

I paused and gathered my thoughts. “You've heard that saying, 'war is hell.' It's not. Hell's not even close, not even by half. I'm worried, Kris,” I confessed. “For you, your sister... your father...”

“I just don't see the reasoning to keep the entire Empire in the dark about it. I don't know,” he said, shaking his head. “We'd be a more effective fighting force if we knew what we were fighting against.”

Gods, kid... you don't wanna know. I wish I didn't. I thought darkly. I took in a deep breath. “Kris, if people knew what we were really up against, there'd be a panic. Not more effective.”

I wished I was exaggerating. Even the slightest bit. I could tell by his expression, the look in his eyes, that he knew I wasn't resorting to hyperbole. But his next statement crushed any hope I had that he fully understood. “Who says that's not going on already, Mom?”

“The Moffs are panicked,” I grunted. The next words formed in my mind... and as I looked at Kris, I couldn't help myself. It all seemed so stupid, so ridiculous. I couldn't help but laugh a bit and smirk as if I was about to tell a dirty joke to a fellow pilot. “So much so that they decided to appoint an Emperor.”

My son joined the mirthless amusement. “And then the three Chandrila holy men walked into a cantina...”

“Well, nice to meet you, Brother,” I replied, my voice dripping with sarcasm. It wasn't spiteful or mean, just full of ironic disbelief. You're being too harsh on him, Shayera. You need to break this gently or he'll probably have a meltdown. “I'm sorry.”

The apology was earnest, but he was stuck on the first thing I said. “What?”

“How to put this,” I sighed. Like a TIE Bomber's run: straight to the target. Dancing around it has only made things tough. “I don't know what is going on between you and your father. But your either need to resolve it or bury it, quickly and privately.”

He shot me a challenging look, as if to say Oh yeah? And what if I don't? I felt terrible having to come out and club him over the head with that. I didn't plan on hitting on that point so directly, but there was no longer any recourse. I just hoped I wasn't about to push him away forever...

“I guess the next question is,” I paused and that gallows humor crept back into my tone and words. “Do I still call you by name, or would you prefer Prince? Your Highness, perhaps?”

Kris' face screwed up in confusion. “What?”

“Your father is the next Emperor,” I explained, laying the last of the proverbial cards on the table. “Guess what that makes you.”
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Kris Jendob
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 Post Posted: Sat, June 26th 2010 01:36am    Post subject:
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The simulcast from Bastion ended. The assembly room's holographic viewscreen was gray once more, graced by nothing but a faint navy-blue Imperial insignia. The coronation of Jendob I had finished, and the Empire had an emperor once again. Mom wasn't joking.

Kris had believed her, of course, but he that didn't change the strange mixture of resentment and bewilderment he presently felt. How was it possible that his Empire, dedicated to liberality and integration, had thrown itself back thirty years, despite what the new Emperor had claimed? How was it possible that his frakking father was the emperor?

The gathering of pilots and enlisted men gradually stood from their spots as Captain Madis and her executive officer left the room. Kris couldn't tell what was on their faces throughout the speech, but as they left, he could clearly identify a look of nervous scowling on the captain, and perhaps-joyful mistiness in the eyes of the elder XO.

So, the secret was known to everyone in the galaxy now. Zend was back. Of course, all of Kris' peers on the ship were taught to despise the Grand Admiral. So was Kris. And he he had hated her, the stories of what she'd done... but a corrupt Grand Admiral was starting to look a whole lot better than a corrupt Emperor. Maybe if the Remnant was willing to sell their soul to defend their territory, they deserved to be conquered. What separated them from Zend's "Empire" now? They were doing nothing but fighting fire with fire, and everyone would be singed.

"Hell, some of the candidates would have made Zend look good," his mother had said, after she had broken the news to Kris two days before. Some part of him knew that there were worse men in the Empire than Ams Jendob, but his father couldn't even hold his own family together, Kris had told Mom. What chance did he have at fighting against the tide of this new Empire?

Their debate had vacillated between laughter and screams. Mom had lost her patience with his refusal to come to the coronation. "My Empire isn't led by somebody like him. That's my choice. I haven't made this life for myself just to have him come in and change the tracks. And gods help the Remnant if this is really gonna happen. You might as well hold a blasted reception for Zend," he had barked at his mother.

Gods help the Remnant, indeed.

"And you've twisted your perception so much that you'd rather a megalomaniacal psychopath that would think nothing of burning a world that defies her, over the man who raised you, cared for you... who still loves you despite how you've treated him," had been her response.

"Even Mandalorians had children. Why is it I can't judge my own father, and you can judge some woman who left an eon ago?" Kris had meant it, bitterly, and he still agreed with his statement. The older generations merely expected the youth to hate Zend, without giving any reason beyond blanket statements of "evil". It was far more pressing to suspect the current Imperial leadership. It was better to hate them, since the Empire was being torn asunder from the inside, returning, at least symbolically, to a time in galactic history far darker than the warlord, Daala and Zend eras.

And if that was Zend's goal, she had already won with just one, simple, well-placed bomb. She had destroyed the Empire to which Kris had devoted his short life. Any war was an afterthought.

"This is wrong," Kris had said, looking his mother in the eye during a moment of total objectivity. For a second, he wasn't thinking about how vastly ill-fitting his father was for the job, or about their own familial problems.

Mom had assured him that she trusted him to fix things if his father erred. She obviously didn't expect that to happen, but she meant it. "Hey, if ever I had to trust a couple people with running the Empire... You are one of them," she had then explained.

"I don't think I'm a prodigal, Mom, " Kris had assured her, before they left to visit the Maelstrom's mess.

Maybe he thought he should be a prodigal now. He had told Mom that maybe he could use his new position to kick some asses into gear, but that wasn't how he felt now. In fact, the feelings that were running throughout his core were what he feared; a sense of sanctity.

He began to walk out of the room with the rest of the pilots, feeling their eyes on him. He had suddenly stopped being newly-promoted Lieutenant Kris Jendob, rising star in the fighter corps, propelled by his own talent - he had become royal heir to the throne Kris Jendob. Everything he had worked for had been undone by his father. He was now a demigod amongst the mortals. He would never be treated the same. He was special now, and everything he had accomplished in his years since the academy were now overwritten and blotted out by an automatic prestige. He had taken years to reach the rank of lieutenant, to command his flight, and that had been trumped in days by The Emperor Jendob.

Kris hated the thought of people loathing him for his association to the fresh new despot of the Remnant, or worse, fearing him. Was it so frakking hard to be just a normal person, free of nepotism, free of privilege, free of entitlement? His life in the Imperial Navy had been forever changed, whether he liked it or not. He had no say nor choice in the matter. Even if he outright disowned his family, it wouldn't make a difference.

Moving through the crowd, Kris observed that there was something of a bubble around him. Nobody wanted to touch him. He kept on a strong face, but inside he felt like an alien, or some preppy newcomer on the first day of school. He was going to hate this, every moment of it. He really didn't need any more reasons to despise his father, but Kris nonetheless was receiving them.

"Some pretty heavy shit, huh?" Aran reemerged after they had left the meeting. "But then, you already knew." It wasn't a question.

Attempting to not appear guilty, Kris looked over at his friend. He had kept his foreknowledge of the death of the Defense Council, the arrival of Zend, and the selection of an emperor from his companion. Now, the entire Empire knew, and everybody was reeling from all three momentous announcements at once. Nobody would be playing cards tonight. "Sorry. I couldn't--"

"I know," Ar smirked. "You're not going to hold me as a criminal against the royal family, are you?"

"Oh, frak off!" Kris growled, louder than he had intended. The two seconds of utter silence throughout the throng of officers confirmed that he had been heard by everybody in the immediate vicinity. Kris felt a pit in his stomach, knowing Aran didn't deserve it. But if this was what he had to do to set a precedent of not wanting special treatment, even referenced in jest, so be it. Kris knew, however, this was not the way to act in front of people to whom he wanted to prove he was still Lieutenant Jendob, pilot. It wouldn't happen again.

"Okay," Aran murmured, embarrassed, not sure how to respond to Kris. The quiet din of conversation resumed, and he took his time in thinking how to answer him properly, before joining in the stream that took him somewhere else in the ship. "I'll... see you later."

Kris pressed his lips and jaw together. Damn it, he thought. He kept moving, and as he walked, he caught the eyes of Ensign Zhun, the newcomer who had just recently begun to come out of her shell, with Kris' encouragement. She didn't dare look at him, once again.

Damn it.

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 Post Posted: Sat, June 26th 2010 10:42pm    Post subject:
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There was an unnerving disquiet over the flight comm channels. That was a rarity in any fighter group, especially during routine exercises; the chatter was witty and often euphemistically vulgar. That wasn't the case this morning. It was all business - and business was going well.

Kris grimaced as he pulled his craft around in a turn. He wasn't getting hung up on why no one felt they could joke in front of him anymore. He was too focused from that. And for that matter, so were the other pilots. Almost universally, now that they knew against whom they were fighting, they were driven. It was their superiors who had the doubts; maybe the other pilots didn't realize that, but Kris did.

But it didn't matter. The only important thing, right now, was the series of autonomous drones before them.

"Form up around me," Kris' cool voice broke the stillness of space. He relaxed into the stiff seat of the cockpit, allowing the Starhunter's hull to envelope him, putting it on him like a suit of armor, an extension of his limbs. This was what he was meant to do. "Do a vertical wall formation, and break when we come point-blank. These things are asses, they won't pull any punches. Get ready to evade, but don't break until I say."

Various confirmations came from the three other pilots as they formed a vertical plane, with Kris in the bottom-left of the arrangement. The targets ahead danced around, rather like a bunch of angry Tatooine bees, swarming in space. It would be a plain dogfight, in the open; in some ways, that was the toughest way to fight. There were no obstacles to hide behind, for the defender and the attacker. There was nothing but a pilot's skills and luck - they were the chalk that marked the line between life and death on the real battlefield.

If the Remnant were to fight more than loose confederations of pirates and smugglers, they would need to have the advantage in every possible arena.

The array of Starhunters twisted and turned as one, following Kris' lead, as they entered the invisible zone of demarcation where the mock enemies waited. The droids' behavior immediately changed, going from a chaotic idling fashion to a directed delta formation, coming right for the center of the Remnant craft.

"Steady," Kris advised his mates as the flight remained unswayed on its course. The two groups of opponents were on a route that intersected each other. It wouldn't be long until they were upon them.

Even now, Kris could see what looked like old TIE/ln fighters, with solar cell wings and a dull blue paint. But in fact, they were convincing replicas, nothing more than pilotless bogeys. They would still fire, though. They were just about in range.

"Break!" Lieutenant Jendob commanded, right before the droids' cannons unleashed their piercing death. The Starhunters remained unscathed, spreading out in four divergent directions, flying over and beneath the automatons.

The rest was like second nature. As was the strategy, the flight spun around and each got onto the tails of one of the droid fighters. There were six enemies, so the last two in the formation were left untagged; they were the least important to the unity of the formation.

Kris set his sights on one of the hostiles. It broke from formation as soon as it figured that it was being traced, and Kris pulled a series of tight maneuvers to keep him in the reticule. The droid brain was not subject to biological shortcomings in regard to fatal forces and sickening hairpin turns, and it made them a bitch to track. His own Starhunter was a superior craft in maneuverability and power, but the physical body had unfortunately not evolved along with it to take full advantage of its capabilities. Kris had to try to guess its next moves in order to be there waiting. He did a fine job at it. Most droid starfighters were programmed to act within near-human constraints, but these today were made to behave outside any limitation of flesh and blood.

The lasers burst from Kris' Starhunter, the blasts finding their target swiftly. Kris banked away from the small cloud of debris, coming around and visually inspecting the battlefield. Another defender had been destroyed. Kris and the now-available other Starhunter went after the two unassailed targets.

Out of the corner of his eye he could see the twisted ballet between the inhuman TIE/ln and one of his men. They were engaged in a traditional dogfight, but this time, the droid had gained the upper hand. The enemy twisted into position behind the wingmate's starfighter and began firing, but erupted into searing plasma when Kris broke his pursuit and picked it off.

"Thanks for the bug swat, sir," Junior Lieutenant Agann "Carom" Corin offered in appreciation.

"No problem," Kris smirked into his comm. At least some of the banter was back. "Keep the heat turned up, guys, we'll smoke 'em."

Corin was able to regain his bearings on one of the unchased fighters. Kris pulled around and resumed his attack on the same target, and together, they pinned down the wiry thing and vaporized it in a brilliant display of light and color.

Glancing quickly to his HUD, Kris saw the two remaining droids being hunted by Ensigns Zhun and Zoyd. The spar was almost over, Kris thought, until he noticed the three unannounced red blips appearing on his readout. "Kriff," he whispered. "Heads up! New hostiles on my six!"

He cut the engines and swung his vehicle around, seeing the approaching drones. Carom was off Kris' starboard side, ready to engage. They sped off towards the newcomers before they could join up with their friends. Zhun and Zoyd could handle the stragglers.

The encounter with the reinforcements was certainly not as easy as the initial assault. They fought like real pilots, taking fewer risks in an attempt at self-preservation. For minutes at a time, the enemies orbited each other without relenting a break.

Kris had finally found his mark with one of them, sending it retreating back to its parent ship, when he heard a grunting over the comm. He ignored it for a moment, until he saw Zhun's fighter in the distance. She was engaged with one of the new enemies, having destroyed her previous target, but her movements were sluggish.

"Zhunny, what's going on?" Kris called, throat muscles tense as he tried to stay on the tail of his quarry. "Your bird looks like it wants to list."

A few more groans came over the channel before her voice followed, its tone hesitant and almost fearful. "My stabilizer's been acting up since we launched. Then one of the original bogeys caught me on it, but it's fine. Don't worry about it."

Kris frowned, firing off a couple shots at his target before responding. "Why the hell didn't you let me know? You could careen off into one of them."

"I didn't want t-- no-no, Lieutenant, it's fine," she insisted, her voice timid and meek, additionally stressed from the pressures being inflicted on her body by the faulty component. "We're almost done."

The flight leader took his eyes off of his mark for a moment, bouncing his view towards the fixed points of stellar light all around him. He was about to permit her to stay, but something was buzzing at the back of his mind. "But when it sinks in that you're responsible for three other pilots, it takes some getting used to," his mother had told him, on the subject of being a flight leader. He had always cared for his wingmates, but now he was in the position to make the call. It was his responsibility, entrusted to him by the Empire itself.

"No, Ensign, abort and get back to the Maelstrom. We can finish it up here," he commanded with finality. He would address why she had omitted such an important fact later. "That's an order," he affirmed before she could protest.

The damaged Starhunter turned lethargically, leaving the training engagement, and bounded back to the Maelstrom. The exercise ended some twenty minutes later, and the tired pilots returned to their carrier.


After he had docked with the hangar equipment, the last of his flight to return, Kris exited through the hatch and pulled off his helmet. Although the atmosphere on the Dragoon-class ship was artificial and tepid, it felt thousands of times more refreshing than the environmental systems on his suit. It was a blast of fresh air on his face.

He climbed down and reached the solid floor beneath his boots. Sticking a technician with his helmet, he then headed to the small debriefing room that connected to the area. He entered, seeing his team already standing there. Zhun, her eyes on the ground, was sitting on one of the several chairs. Everyone saluted as he entered the room. He exhaled heavily.

"Knock it off," he instructed calmly, leaning back on the rail. "What in kriff happened out there, Zhun?" He asked, as non-confrontational as possible. He suspected the reason and did not want to lend credence to it.

"I told you, sir, my stabilizer..." she began, her eyes not meeting his.

"No. Not that," he stated. He could feel the apprehension in the room like the humidity on Bogden.

Zhun remained quiet for a long time, before looking at the other members of her team - save Kris - for some kind of instruction. She opened her mouth, falsely once, the only sound that of her lips parting. Then she spoke, "I didn't know what would happen to me if I told you."

Kris watched her seriously, but not sternly. "Explain, Ensign."

If Zhun were brave enough to risk an attitude or flippancy, she would have at that moment. Instead, she just danced around the topic. "Well, I didn't want to seem like I was scared of getting blasted. And if I told you, well... it could have been my fault that my Hunter wasn't working right."

"It's not your fault," Kris assured her, with a hint of enunciation. "And frankly, Ensign, that's crap. You told me about your propulsion computer malfunctioning the other day."

Zhun watched him for a moment, glancing to her fellow pilots once more. "That wasn't during an exercise, sir. I--" she fidgeted. "We have something that we need to fight now. This is important. It's not my place to-- And, since you're, well... the son of the... I--" Zhun cut herself off, inhaling. "I'm very, very sorry, sir. I should have kept my craft in better shape."

Kris stared at the gaunt woman for a moment. He had been prepared to hear something like this, but he couldn't believe it, even now. He shook his head. "No," he breathed. "Ensign, if you ever have a problem, you tell me. I'll decide whether or not you stay hot. That's my call. I can't operate if you don't tell me the whole story. I'm not going to chew you out, ever, for speaking up.

"And that goes for everyone," Kris continued, looking up at Carom and Zoyd. "Ever since that... announcement, it's like I'm not your leader, to you. It's like I'm some old ISB agent, like I'm looking for a chance to find a skeleton in your closet and ship you off to Kessel.

"Nothing is any different than it was three days ago. I'm not any more important than last week. As far as you're concerned, I'm your flight leader, and I'm your lieutenant," he explained. He was not going to elaborate on his own feelings about the new, royal position - disunity was not what the Empire needed right now. "Nothing more. I'm sick of people hushing up and quieting down, or putting on their sabacc faces whenever I walk into the room. I don't want your bloody fear. I want it to end here.

"And I'm not going to throw you to the gundarks if you don't listen," Kris said, with a faint smirk. Carom, who had known him the longest out of the three, cracked a smile. "We have something coming up that is going to be hard. I'm one of you. We fight together, or we get picked off by Zend," he continued, more seriously.

"So, no more. It doesn't matter what I think, or what you think. What happened, happened. But that doesn't change the barking order on this ship, or what I am to you. I'm Lieutenant Kris Jendob, and that's all we need to worry about. And since I know it's not just you guys, it applies to everyone on this ship, so spread the word. Am I clear?"

"Yes, sir," came the gradual responses from the three of them. And he could tell they did indeed understand.

Kris breathed a sigh of relief. "Great," he genuinely spoke. "Zhunny, I'll get the repairs going on your bird. Tomorrow we're up for another round of fun, so get showered and get some rest. Dismissed."

Zhun acknowledged with a nod, and they all saluted before filing out of the room. Kris watched them go, remaining behind alone for a few moments. If anyone was keeping tally, he had dealt with at least two of the social problems in his life - first with his mother, second with his crewmates. The poor soul keeping track would need a much larger tablet to enumerate the remainder of the issues, however.

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 Post Posted: Sat, June 18th 2011 12:24am    Post subject:
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Kris pressed him down on the padding, the sweat glistening on his forehead. He entwined his legs with Aran, keeping him from escaping. His arms were tired, his insides ready to burst with adrenaline and anticipation. For a moment they stopped, breathing heavy and short, alternating like a syncopated suite. Kris smiled wide, triumphantly, restraining Aran's arms with a hold on his wrists, pushing them backwards above Aran's head. Aran smiled back, tightly, exhilarated but frustrated. "Nice move," he managed to say, still breathing.

He was about to respond when Aran put all his strength and his entire body into pushing Kris over, even pressing his head against Kris' chest, managing to put him on his side. Kris resisted remarkably well, even though Aran had mass on his side, still struggling against Aran but giving ground. Kris wasn't much of a wrestler, but something inside of him needed to come out. The violence. The release. Aran grabbed him in just the wrong way as he attempted to force him onto his back, sending a pain shooting through his core; for a moment, some animal urge inside of Kris wanted to do the same to him.

Aran overpowered him, pinning him down with an elbow around the neck, his lower body tight against his to restrain him. Kris could feel Aran's hot breath on his face—it was almost cool, helping evaporate the sweat beading on him—as he was held under his weight. Kris stared up at him, letting himself relax, as if he were about to relent. The moment he felt Aran lax his grip, he thrust his hips up, pushing him enough so he could further pry him off with his knees. He gritted his teeth and used all his strength to force Aran away from him, planting him on his shoulder.

Aran was quick, moving his arms toward him one by one, but Kris managed to grab each as they came, then using his momentum to swing himself over the top of Aran. He straddled his legs on either side of his torso, keeping his lower body pinned down, while he strained to press his arms back down onto the floor, resuming the position of a few moments ago. He could almost hear his muscles cry as he held Aran back. A few moments passed and Aran weakened, letting his arms fall back onto the mat; Kris held on a few moments longer, not allowing Aran the same opportunity to strike that he had had. Kris waited, breathing heavily, feeling Aran's diaphragm similarly contracting beneath him as he sucked warm oxygen in. "Alright," Aran said between gulps of air. Kris smiled, knowing victory arrived and what was yet to come. His arms couldn't hold him up anymore, and he allowed himself to fall flat against Aran. He laughed, the only sound he could produce, and Aran did too.


With a swift motion the hot liquid shot out. The steaming water slammed, welcomed, into Kris' face, mingling with the salty sweat and cascading down his body, burrowing into and then bouncing from every pore and follicle. It trailed down his chest and torso, making the hair slick against the skin, following its pattern as it merged from broadness into an shallow stream crossing his stomach and navel.

Kris sighed and closed his eyes, giving the water permission to carry away the tension in his muscles, the weariness in his flesh, and the fatigue in his mind. The week had been long. The exercises had grown more frequent and more challenging, and unlike the others in his squadron Kris had to bear not only the physical consequences of being jammed in a cockpit, but the mental exhaustion of command. Word had come from above that the Maelstrom would soon accompany a fleet to Mygeeto. They were being deployed.

The crescendo of activity would grow greater and greater; everyone in the fleet was jumpy. Only the craziest of voices warned of a Zend attack on Bastion—but the smart said the flashy attacks were over, that Zend was smart and knew her limits, and that the real war—the long, grueling, crawling, bloody war—would now begin. The worlds around Bastion were those at risk. An attack was expected at any moment.

And he would be one of many standing in the Grand Admiral's way. Kris felt the involuntary grip of the tendons in his neck, the tension running through his biceps and down the sides of his body, feeling a mixture of fear, pride, and excitement in his core. He extended his arm, grasping the side of the shower, the water obediently tracing his movements, wrapping around his shoulder and following his arm until it finally lost to gravity, somewhere around his elbow. He looked away from the stream of water, noticing neutrally that his arm was gently trembling.

Stress. He could see it in his shipmates: some boasted of future victory and pushed themselves to their limits; others abandoned themselves to the routine, training, eating, and sleeping, putting their trust in the stability and orthodoxy of an empire now slowly crumbling in the face of enemies, defectors, and opportunities; others were quiet, remarkably unchanged by the events around them, masking their fear in their own ability to maintain their ignorance: all were nervous.

It would be brutal: the Remnant knew it and the so-called "true" Empire knew it. Both would play a game, the Captain had said, where a significant loss would result in a gaping opening, through which the fall of Bastion or Muunilinst could come about: an imminent checkmate. But safe warfare was still warfare: the pawns would be the ones to suffer. Pawns like the crew of the Maelstrom.

Kris felt a warm hand break the stream of water on his shoulder. He turned around partway and looked upward, spitting some water away from his face as he used his other hand to wipe his eyes dry. "Some workout," Aran Damor stood before him, smirking, his dark hair damp and his face flushed from sweat.

"It helps to work out your frustrations" Kris grinned back, pushing back on Aran's chest in a mock move.

Aran chuckled and squeezed Kris's shoulder, before moving his hand up his neck to mess up the back of Kris's hair. "Seemed to me like you were building up your frustrations," he snorted good-naturedly, slapping a bar of soap into Kris's chest with his other hand. He moved to the next showerhead.

"It's a cycle anymore," Kris proposed, retrieving the soap mid-flight as it fell to the floor. "It feels weird not to be in a Starhunter at every waking moment," he added as he lathered it on his arm.

"Heh," Aran breathed as he turned on the water. "I know. Something has to break soon." He dunked his head under the fount.

Kris frowned a bit as he ran his soaped hands down his back as far as they could reach. "Yeah," he intoned, just a second too hesitantly. He continued washing, going to his chest and moving down to his lower body.

He could feel Aran's eyes on him. He was a good guy, Kris knew, but he was always too curious. "I mean, we're not training like this just to stay in orbit." Aran pondered, a question implicit, his tone casual to try to mask the fact that he knew Kris was privy to more information than he was. A moment passed. "Any ideas?"

Kris turned his body to face Aran, meeting his eyes with a look that was initially hard. He had frakked Aran a lot in the past weeks. The man, his roommate, had had to put up with Kris keeping secrets from him—about the Council bombing, the coronation—and had been the recipient of Kris's misdirected anger, when he had talked to him at all. Kris felt bad. He owed Aran at least some truth. His eyes betrayed him first, before his other features turned to a smirk. "You're subtle, Damor," he chided, throwing over his shoulder a cursory glance around the showers. Only one other person was in the room, on the far end.

He took a step closer to Aran and lowered his voice. "Ansion," he muttered, moving his the soap up to his neck. He had been neglecting to shave, Kris noticed, and was in need of one. Aran, too. He wished he could tell all his men what to expect; they were all forgetting themselves.

Aran's eyebrows raised, dripping water. "So it's true then. We are getting some action."

"A first for you?" Kris asked disinterestedly, before he broke into a grin and a crude laugh at Aran's face. Aran groaned and elbowed him away, to more laughter.

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Kris Jendob
Starhunter pilot, Lieutenant, Dragoon Maelstrom

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Last edited by Kastor Antilles on Wed, December 21st 2011 01:38am; edited 1 time in total
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Ams Jendob
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 Post Posted: Wed, December 21st 2011 02:05am    Post subject:
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Vessel destroyed in action at Battle of Ansion.
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