The Squire training for the day was done - meditational sessions and basic lightsaber training had been on today's schedule right before Kalique had gotten back to continuing to plan the defense of the capital and specifically the Knight's headquarters.
She was convening with some Knight-Captains and Knights the next morning and thus also had to finish some paper work, before she needed to squeeze in a training session for herself. With her morning and night meditation routines she was all set in terms of force training, but at the training center she still had to finish her cardio routine.
After the last Council chamber meeting, Lieutenant von Bastion had requested a meeting with the Lord Commander and as she was assuming he wanted to get acquainted not just with her, but the New Order in general (after all, he seemed quite ambitious in his aspirations), she had offered him to visit her in the HQ.
Time was rare these days, and if she wanted to get some sleep, she had to leave the compound before ten in the evening, so she figured him meeting her there would simultaneously tick off quite a few boxes of her neverending to do list. He was with the IAF, so he needed to stick to his routines as well, so upon reaching the complex, he'd be led into a reserved private training room.
He'd neither find her in her full body armor nor in her official uniform - quite the contrary, the blonde woman would be in a white top and black leggings, her hair up in a bun. It was a totally different setting than the chamber meeting, and even if her head was still full of things she still had to do, keep an eye on or keep on working tomorrow, today she was in a slightly more lighthearted mood in general.
With the meeting at the Imperial Palace completed, and what felt like a hundred other tasks to accomplish between then and now. Otto was happy to have a moment of reprieve from the newly added responsibilities. Even though he had essentially asked for them with his planning and somewhat zealous attempt to sway the key leaders to his favor.
This coming meeting excited him, for the following day would take him to meet with Director Guinevere to represent the IAF in talks about Imperial Czerka and naming a successor. But for now, he would focus on the new Lord-Commander. For today was about understanding what motivated her, and how the two could work in as close to harmony as possible moving forward.
Weaving through the halls and poking his head in on various training rooms, classrooms and other miscellaneous rooms in the facility Otto would find himself very impressed. Coming from some modest station within his family, and going into the Murkhana armed forces as an enlisted man had truly humbled Otto over the last decade. Even being made an officer at the time of Murkhana's joining the Empire had only elevated his standard of living and quality of life slightly. Here, this facility, it looked like the Imperial Knight's lived and trained well. Finally finding his way to the place he was expected.
"Well, color me surprised. I don't know if being the Lord-Commander affords you the luxury-" Otto would say as he poked his head into the training room. Seeing a familiar face from earlier in the day - although dressed very differently. With a bit of disbelief in his eyes as he would look the Lord-Commander over without hiding it, they didn't have to wear uniforms during sparring/exercise? Must be nice he thought before continuing. "-or if the rumors are true that the Imperial Knight's live a much better life than us on the ground." Otto finished with the start of a tired smile on his face.
He would place the small duffle bag containing his most sensitive of personal effects on the ground. Being in this newly mobile role of his meant that he was no longer on the grounds of his unit compound on Murkhana. Now he was traveling from system to system and changing from ship to ship on what felt like a soldier's worst bureaucratic nightmare. Standing in his assault armor as by nature it was easier to carry uniforms rather than carrying armor plates.
Without taking too long he would begin to disassemble his armor as he continued to chat "So, with the promotion to Lord-Commander in the wake of Hutt aggression, how are you feeling?" He posed as he dropped his helmet onto the duffle with a plop. Then starting to unlatch a number of secure points on his torso armor and lift it over his head "To be more precise, how are you feeling about your new responsibilities...? Or just like life in general I suppose." He added as he removed his armored elbow pieces and forearm guards, gloves and thigh plates.
"I guess what I want to know Lord-Commander, if I may be so bold, is what exactly are you looking to achieve with your career? Is this a step in the right direction? Do you want more?" Otto would press before beginning to work on his shin guards and boots. Leaving his equipment neatly stacked in a pile next to his bag. Stripping off his black body glove underneath the armor was the last task. Also one that lacked elegance as soldiers nearly had to peel it off of themselves at the end of a given day.
But after some effort he would fold and stack the body glove with his things. Standing before the Lord-Commander in an Army issued pair of shorts and a long sleeve shirt.
She stretched her thighs just a little as the door slid open and the Lieutenant popped his head in. She motioned for him to come in, yet couldn't help but raise a brow to see him enter in full armor. "Now that would be something new" she replied as she got up and approached him slowly, wondering whether he was being serious or just teasing.
The new complexes for the troops and Knights both were much better than the old, yet shouldn't a member of the IAF know that the Knights had never been on the privileged side of the Imperial spectre? The way he looked her up and down soon told her that he was taking about her attire, but this now drew a soft smirk from her. Obviously, her uniform was in the opened locker across from them together with her lightsabers, but casual trainings sessions they had always done in whatever attire they deemed fit and most comfortable.
"The responsibilities aren't new for me...I've been doing this for quite some time. Obviously, there had been more bureaucracy ever since I've received the official title though". She had worked closely with Varyn before and had taken his place ever since he had died. Without an official lead, there had been no one to appoint her, yet once it had come, there had only been more forms to sign, frankly speaking.
"Working day and night is also nothing new...this constant tension that revolves around those new waves of assaults from the Hutts is though. I'm doing fine still" it was a lie, yet it was perfectly delivered. She was more mentally exhausted than she had ever been, yet she kept pushing through each and every day, but while she appreciated the chit-chat, they barely knew each other.
"I'd rather focus on the Knights' training, but alas, the war doesn't allow for that. How have you been faring with the new tasks you've been assigned by the Council?" she curiously gave that question back. She had some insights about the situations down at the barracks, yet front line soldiers obviously experienced this all more intensely, so she was looking forward to the first-hand accounts. Ever since their branches worked together more closely with what she had driven for years meetings between Soldiers and Knights were still very interesting.
"Did you solely come here to interrogate me, Lieutenant?" she was indeed a little surprised about his blunt and certainly overstepping approach and her raised brow and narrowed eyes would tell him just as much. Her tone still wasn't snappy or anything- it was relatively devoid of any emotions.
While she was also a very direct person, you didn't simply rock up to your superior and ask what their overachieving goal was. Also, where was this question even going? What else was there to achieve? She had nothing to hide though, and so she offered a part of an answer. "What else would I want more? I'm leading the Knights and the Knights will always serve the Empire, just like me. We'll defend and protect it, support our troops and keep our sphere of influence safe". The Knights were in a position opposite from where the Sith had been and this wouldn't change. Force sensitives weren't there to lead within the New Empire, they served.
He was soon done with shedding his armor and as he faced her again, he did at least look ready for some sparring. "Tell me, why do you think you're fit for leading the Empire?" she gave an important question back, her tone not accusing though, but relatively lighthearted and curious. If he was to become the Empire, it might be him she'd directly report to in the future, so getting to learn about his aspirations was something that was still open on her list.
She'd roll her shoulders and move into the center of the room, figuring they could continue their chat while also starting their session. "How much experience do you have with fighting force sensitives?".
"I have always believed sparring is as much a physical endeavor as it is a mental one." Otto retorted, unsure if he had pushed a button with the Lord-Commander or if she was picking up on his strategy.
Turning to face her as he stepped toward the center of the room, he would address her last question next "I have yet to face a force sensitive in combat. We drilled these sorts of engagements but never one on one if we could avoid it... Big part of the reason I carry a jet pack, pneumatic fist, and a retractable blade in the boot of my armor." He paused rolling his shoulders "We like to get every edge we can against your abilities."
Concluding the explanation he would begin to circle clockwise keeping his dominant side away from the Lord-Commander. "I did not come to interrogate you, no Lord-Commander. I'll leave that business to the ISB." He quipped with a smirk. Knowing that the ISB was his next project to begin to understand. A seemingly nebulous place where information and assets coalesce but no one outside of the ISB knows what happens with them.
"I simply ask what more you strive for because the Empire can't possibly be the only thing. Right? I mean we are people and we are more than our service to our Empire." This was a statement he truly believed, knowing you are more than the political body you serve is important. For without it you find droves of dangerous idealists at your back.
"I want to set the record straight here. I didn't even consider this level of leadership and responsibility until the Hutts attacked my home world. I had planned to retire from service this year, being my 10th anniversary since enlisting... Then take my experience to the corporate sector or planetary government maybe? Do some work to better the Bastion name?" He paused again, some sadness showing on his face as he broke the sparring facade. "But then I saw how the Empire had begun to scramble in the face of this enemy, and so few seemed willing to take the reigns in a time of need. So I started taking action and figuring out what I could do to help - and now we're here. You and the members of the council are looking to me to prove I can do the job, so that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to lead like I know how to, and do my best to bring us out on the other end of this thing in one piece."
Otto concluded, not realizing he had stopped circling and begun to just talk, person to person. Slowly getting back into the mindset of sparring he would lock back in on his 'opponent' and begin to circle again "Any further questions about my intentions Lord-Commander?" He shot back in a respectful but knowing tone, believing they would begin to understand one another as this afternoon continued.
"How very true" sparring was often even more mentally exhausting. She, for example, had to suppress the Force mostly and actively keep herself from using it if she intended to even the odds. "What if you're without any of those little helpers? Or they are already incapacitated by a force sensitive?", messing with tech, depending on what it was, wasn't even that hard, so he needed to be prepared regardless.
"One day you'll inevitably find yourself in such a situation. I can offer some advice on how to raise your odds of survival". Even if he hadn't make the best first impression here, he'd deserve chances to prove himself. Not just in combat, but mostly in regards to his high ambitions.
She followed him attentively as he started circling her, her gaze never leaving him. Her private ambitions were none of his concern and he finished with a rhetorical question anyway, just before it surprised her that he plainly explained how he had even gotten to step up like this. It was interesting...and she once again learned how his ambitions were indeed high.
"Good. You're driven. That's an important prerequisite for a leader... I'll be watching your career with great interest and like I said, if you're striking, you'll have Knight support with you as well". Her tone was light as she replied, not at all pretentious. She was really curious and if he'd earn the trust, the Knights would follow.
"You've made them perfectly clear. Let us focus on this here" she'd stop moving for a moment and focus her mind, before she adressed him again.
"If you're fighting a force sensitive, you can expect them to be quick in regards to their reflexes. However, before they'll really use the Force against you, it's important to keep them mentally occupied. Keep their focus shattered". Snapping a neck was something she could do within a split second. Novices surely needed more time, more focus, yet it was always a good start to not even have them obtain an actual moment to focus.
"Engage whenever you're ready". With the Knights and IAF collaborations, Kalique had repeatedly taught soldiers those first lesson, so she was curious about he'd fare and how he resourceful he'd prove himself. She was sure he had his theoretical lessons, but putting it into practice was something different.
He would internalize each of Kali's comments, turning his attention to the sparring in earnest now. Force sensitives are quick, that was something he knew to be fact. Distract their mind, keep them from focusing, he could try.
He would stop circling as he came to be on Kali's right side, turning in abruptly he would lead with his right side and attempt to strike Kali. Throwing a jab to elicit a reaction or block and then coming in with his left hand to punch her in the kidney. Hoping she would commit to defending his initial strike and leave his follow on attack open.
It may have been foolhardy but Otto wouldn't know until she reacted. As he would be clueless as to just how fast a force sensitive can be. Especially one of substantial power like the Lord-Commander.
Kalique's emerald gaze calmly rested on him, studying his every movement, even the way he took in her words. Would he heed that advice? It remained to be seen, but as he suddenly stopped the circling and attempted to strike her, he disregarded the importance of not being predictable and going for an obvious, foreseeable, direct strike...
She stepped back as he closed in and with the Force, shoved him backwards. Not violently at all, so that he wouldn't topple over, but strong enough so that he would skid backwards and the distance between them was dangerous. "And now you'd be dead. That was too straightforward. My full focus was on you".
His idea about the off hand strike wasn't bad per see, but the direct engagement way too dangerous. "Use your environment. Keep their mind busy first" she explained calmly, gesturing around them. There were a few tools for training purposes on the ground around them and with a flick of her left hand, she opened the lockers across from them and pulled out some more items for him to use.