Part of the Old Core Gentlemen's Club ambiance of the Lounge, beside the upscale furnishings and tasteful decor, excellent table and better bar, and a view that surpassed even that of the Bridge – if only because people on the Bridge usually had better things to do than to indulge in stargazing – was a constant background of soft music. Classical music, naturally, gentle, unobtrusive instrumentals, easy to ignore if necessary and yet essential part of that certain 'je ne sais quoi'.
If he wasted any thought about it at all, Veers disliked it. What was the point of playing music that was easily ignored? That the highborn rabble liked to quote composer, phrase and interpret within his earshot at every opportunity, to prove their incomparably higher sophistication, did nothing to endear the style to the general.
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One day Ozzel sailed in with his entourage, to find his accustomed strings replaced by a strong female voice, singing vibrantly to a lively tune. Furious demands to return to the previous state were met by pale but adamant stewards, who quoted strict orders from a certain general, to lodge all complaints with him, personally. No one took up the challenge. Veers spent the entire evening grinning like a Nek.
He found something equally spirited for the next evening, too, and would have spent the rest of the week digging through the Lady's extensive library for ever less classical music he liked – there were some classical pieces he liked, too, but that was hardly the point – if the Captain had not caught him up the following day, narrow face drawn with distaste.
Commander Guos, most arrogant whelp of a Coruscanti lapdog to ever disgrace an honest ship's deck with his presence – harsh condemnation, coming from a man who loved his ship with a passion Veers had previously considered reserved for something with a pulse – had decided to vent his anger, at the general he could not touch, by going after the steward who had actually told him 'No', Piett informed Veers. The general didn't need to be told how a high-ranking officer could make a subordinate's life hell, if he felt like it. The commander might get the steward killed, even, without leaving the realm of the nominally legal, though Guos struck Veers as the sort who preferred to make a man wish he could just die instead.
"No 'let the Navy sort out Navy business' this time?" the general queried, voice sharp with anger.
"I thought you might like to be informed, sir," the Captain gave back, just as edgily. You made this mess, this is your one chance to clean it up yourself, before someone else has to, was expressed wordlessly.
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When the hapless steward, stumbling towards his bed after a double shift that had suddenly materialized on his duty roster, felt strong hands on his shoulders that dragged him off the corridor and into a utility room, he expected a thrashing – scuttlebutt knew all there was to know about Commander Guos.
The grey-uniformed figure watching his struggling entrance with interest was not the one he had anticipated, though.
"General Veers has requested the Navy's assistance for a certain project of his. I expect you to follow these orders to the letter," the Captain said.
A datapad was pressed into his hands, before the confused steward could finish his "Aye sir," and then the Captain took his leave. With a cautious look at the huge man in off-duty stormtrooper fatigues that had – literally – dragged him into this, the steward read through the datapad.
It didn't take long. Do as you are told, followed by the Captain's spiky signature.
He looked up to find a sharkish grin looking down on him.
"Sergeant Heawl," the grinning giant introduced himself. "You and I are going to switch places for a bit, mate."
The steward was too well-trained to let his emotions show on his face. "Do you know anything about serving drinks, Sergeant?"
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When the general continued to adjust the background music to his tastes, Commander Guos found his vicious complaint met by a complacent "General's orders, sir", voiced an entire octave deeper than expected. When he actually spared a look at the serving man's face, the commander, to his dismay, had to tilt back his head. The sharp order, to get the usual steward, was met with the equally infuriating and worrying "That would be me, sir. Your usual steward, sir. General's orders, sir."
Technically speaking, there was nothing wrong with the new steward. He wore his flawless uniform with dignity, served meals and drinks with grace – even if it was the sort of grace that usually came attached to claws the size of cutlery – he followed orders to the letter and answered to everything with unfailing, respectful politeness.
On a more visceral level, though, the huge figure and the fearless glint in his eyes, which the commander interpreted – correctly – as carrying General Veers' full support to whatever action the man might take, made Commander Guos behave much more politely than was his wont towards a servant, from there on.
Reactions to Veers' musical experiments were mixed. While Ozzel and his inner circle fumed on principle, quite a number of men – more than either general or admiral had expected – shrugged off the changed tunes. Some even went as far as the Captain, whose occasional comment consisted of a raised eyebrow and "interesting".
By the end of the week, Veers found himself approached by a group of younger Navy officers. Sons of old houses all of them – and therefore on standing invitations from the admiral – but at least their spokesman had been gifted, by a cruel joke of genetics, with actual tactical talent, on top of the ancient, money- and power-heavy name. The young lieutenant held out a datadisc, covered from sight by his co-conspirators backs, and suggested, very politely, if the general might like to take a look at these... musicians, too.
Veers raised an eyebrow at the very few names he recognized. "Hardly classics," he commented mildly.
"No, sir," the young man admitted, before adding conspiratorially, "and every proper son of Imperial Center has been brought up to hate this kind of music like the plague, sir."
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Easy to ignore was NOT the order of the day the next evening.
Captain Piett winced visibly when he walked into the wall of sound – no louder than any of the songs before, but piercing – and made a beeline straight to the general. "Hardly classics," he commented, voice straining against the noise.
Veers shrugged, innocently. "My reaction exactly, but since the young Pelerin asked so nicely..."
"My, my, General, stealing young acolytes from straight under the admiral's nose. How devious of you, sir." The Captain very nearly grinned.
The artful dissonance, originally created for a species with quite a different frequency range of hearing, reached another crescendo and the nascent grin vanished.
"Just this once, though. Starting tomorrow I expect to hear something less... pervasive, sir. Or else the entire sound system will be disabled, by Captain's order." And the Captain trumps generals aboard a ship, that went without saying.
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It took Ozzel another week to reach the same conclusion – but though the same was true, even more so, for admirals, he nonetheless ordered the Captain to reassume control. The gutless act cost Ozzel plenty of his less tightly bound supporters.