[SWAW] Long Overdue (12)

edited December 2014 in SWAW
The trip from Devoran to Kiffu is a long week. With no messages from Squall, there's less to pass the time other than chatting with Hosk or Jojee. Have you officially made an offer to Jojee to join your crew? What does Hosk know about your intentions to leave the Libation? Are you leaving the shuttle behind?

Other than you sister, and probably your older brother, are there any other relatives or close childhood friends that you expect will be down there on Kiffu, excited for your return?
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  • Ladro Eyes

    Over the week of travel, Jojee and Hosk and I gradually give shape to the idea of the three of us as a crew. I talk to Hosk first, of course, and stay calm when he voices his initial objections. Loudly. I answer his questions, make some assurances, and he agrees to let me talk with Jojee.

    She jumps at the idea, even though it means she probably won't be flying for a while. The three of us debate whether keeping the shuttle makes sense, but it's not a lot of room for three to bunk, and maintenance expenses would be a hassle without an arrangement like the one I have with Lee. The shuttle stays with the Libation.

    We're clear on chain of command. We'll keep it as democratic as we can, but in the end what I say stands. Jojee wants to name our crew, but Hosk's derision at the thought shuts it down. We agree to a four-way split, with the fourth part going into a kitty for running expenses.

    The package I was supposed to dispose of for Sark stays where it is. I'll wait until I talk to my brother to decide what to do with it.


    As we get closer to home, I wonder who's still around. Aunt Flosa surely is, but her twins have probably left by now, looking for "adventure," as they used to say. Emila, my last girlfriend before leaving Kiffu, is probably married by now. Her brother Kline is either rich or in jail, or both, I'm sure.
  • edited November 2014
    The Libation has landed, hugs were spread around. Jojee and Lee hugged warmly. Jojee even seemed genuinely touched when Lee handed her a pair of flight goggles, the ones Jojee had worn from time to time but was technically ones Chadith owned and were property of the ship. Hosk shied away from hugging Lee, but Seesk lumbered over and scooped him up, which of course made him grimace and complain, but he didn't wriggle out of the hug or anything. Seesk set Hosk down, then hugged Jojee and finally you. She promised to write you messages if you promised to keep up with her shows.

    How was the goodbye kiss with Lee, by the way?

    You catch sight of Farla at the end of a corridor. She's standing there with Sion, and you Aunt Flosa, too. Flosa's put on some weight, and it's like her skin sagged a little, everywhere. Farla is standing with your father, but you don't see your mother with the small gathering. Neither do you see Darkal. Including Sion as family, this is a family-only thing, it seems. Did you notify them ahead of time or is this a surprise?

    Farla_header
    Farla runs up to hug-tackle you, squeezing and squealing with excitement, "Ladro! Ladro! Ladro!" She's talking excitedly into your ear.

    Sion_Contu-header
    Sion says from behind you as he walks up, "I think he knows his name, Farla." His tone says he's teasing. He greets Hosk and Jojee with hand shakes and nods.

    Your father and aunt come up behind, waiting for their hug turns.
  • edited November 2014
    Ladro Eyes

    The goodbyes are bittersweet. The kiss with Lee was tender, but brief. We've said everything that can be said, and our bodies have done the same.

    Farla makes me smile, of course, and I like the way Sion deals with her enthusiasm. "Farla, I asked you not to make a big deal..." I put her down and hug Aunt Flosa, then turn to my father.

    I've been trying to prepare for this moment. I've visualized and played it through every way I can imagine. Anger. Dismissal. I search his eyes, uncertain of what I see there, and I'm suddenly worried that I made a mistake, coming here. Coming home.

    "Baba."
  • edited November 2014
    Farla_header
    "I didn't invite anyone other than your ukoo" ("clan")

    The years have changed your father. His hard eyes are slightly hidden behind overgrown browns. His strong shoulder hunch a bit forward with age. His hard stomach shows a hint of a paunch. He's easing into his later years. But the muscles are not gone. The jaw is still hard. He scans your face, even your chest and arms. After what feels like minutes, he says in his low voice, "Mwana." ("son")

    Hosk is chatting with Farla, making nice for your sake, probably, and Sion is walking with Jojee. They give you and your father a wide berth, as if you're two rocks in a steam. He doesn't turn to follow, still looking at you, the gulf of a foot between you seeming wider.
  • Ladro Eyes

    I speak in Kiffar, in a formal register. "Baba, I was foolish and rash, but my error was not just in my youth. Every day, every month that I kept myself apart from my family and my clan was its own mistake. I ask your forgiveness for all of those failures, though I know I don't deserve it." I take a deep breath, surprised at so suddenly letting go of years of inchoate anger and resentment. "May I come home?"
  • Your father replies in the same manner, "It is not home if you cannot return to it, my son." He puts a hand on your right shoulder, pauses for a moment at that warm touch, then reaches for you, pulling you into a tight embrace. It is soon over, quick enough that Farla may have missed it.

    He turns to start walking with you. After a few steps, he says quietly, "Your mother is still hurt, mwana. She is not soon to forgive. But do not let it drive you away. You know she loves you. As do I."
  • Ladro Eyes

    I find I can't speak at the moment, so I nod as we walk together. We pass a small food counter, and the distantly remembered smells of spicy grilled meat and fried dough tickles my nose and my memories. My family, and the family I've chosen, mingle together, Farla annoying Hosk, I'm sure, with some story or other. Jojee and Sion are walking on either side of Flosa, and Jojee barks out a laugh at something my aunt said.

    Baba and I continue in silence for a while before I ask, "Darkon? Is he well?"
  • "He is well enough," your father answers. "He is with your mother now. They both will be home soon." He looks to Jojee, "Is she...?" He doesn't finish the question, but you can guess what he's asking.
  • Ladro Eyes

    That brings a chuckle, at least. "No. Jojee and Hosk are my... business partners. No idea what business we're in, at the moment, but we're in it together."
  • Your father nods, accepting it. Farla and everyone load up in a transport that will take you home. What does your family do? How far are you from the spaceport?

    Hosk is sitting against a window while Jojee sits with Farla. The two seem to have hit it off, chatting like new friends, mostly about you. You know Farla's digging for dirt on you, and Jojee seems eager to give it unless you run interference. Your aunt has save a seat for you to sit between her and your father. She smiles and tells you how handsome you look, how nice your friends seem. Your father stays nearby, not touching, not talking, but nearby.
  • Ladro Eyes

    Is it just me, or is this surreal? No one I can ask at the moment. "Yes, Auntie, my friends are great." Half an hour to home, unless something's changed. Small talk may actually kill me. When I left, mama was a teacher at the school, history. Baba made things. Wood, mostly. He was in high demand, then, and from the paunch it seems like his success continued.

    "Baba, how's the shop doing? I miss the smell of wood... not the sneezing from the sawdust up my nose, though."
  • Your father raises a furry brow, "The shop? The shop is fine. We could go there later, if you like..."

    Aunt Flosa cuts in, "The shop is better than fine, Ladro. Your father has two apprentices now. The shop has grown! You would not believe the masterworks that come from your father's shop..." But your father raises a hand, not sharp, but in his sure way.

    "I asked for the apprentices, Flosa." Your father corrects her. "They are very talented."

    Jojee
    Jojee giggles at one point during the travel, gently slapping Farla's forarm, "You don't say? He never told us that, no!" They both look over at you, Jojee grinning like she got a juicy secret, Farla looking over like "hey, your friends are nice!" Sion moves over to Farla's ear (he was sitting beside her) and whispers something, probably calming her down.
  • Ladro Eyes

    Again in slightly formal Kiffar, "I would love to see the shop, Baba. It's been a long time since I've had sap on my hands and in my nose." Did I really say that? I'm already falling back in to home-rhythms.

    When I hear Jojee giggle, I look over. "Jojee, don't believe everything she says. She's always been... imaginative."
  • edited December 2014
    Farla_header
    Farla grins and snaps back, "I didn't imagine when you recited the Vow of Bonds to Presk backwards in front of the whole village. Nobody had ever done THAT before!" She waggles her eyebrows and adds, "Or when Baba caught you and Emila in the back of our speeder. What was it you told him you two were doing, again?"

    Jojee
    Jojee snorts a laugh, then covers her mouth, "These sound legit, Ladro. You should share. What did you tell baba?"

    Your father doesn't acknowledge the teasing directly, instead looking towards the front of the transport. But you catch a faint smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

    By the by the transport you're riding in is pretty common: a rectangular mass transport that ferries folks between the spaceports to the surrounding villages, courtesy the Grand Republic, now the Empire. A glance ahead and you see through the front windshield that you're nearing a checkpoint out of the city. Hosk notices it, too, thumbs his data disc with his false idents.
  • Ladro Eyes

    I shake my head, but capitulate. "Fine. I said... we were checking the repulsorlift. At the same time that Emila said 'It's a school project.'"

    As we approach the checkpoint, I have my good set of false idents out, ready to go. Sark's package is pretty will concealed in a hidden panel built into my trunk. Not really expecting trouble, but I'm ready for it if it comes.
  • Jojee
    This time Jojee barely holds it in while Farla titters. "That could almost work together..."

    image
    "Purple," Hosk says from his perch my the window, "Give Lad a break. Let him catch up with his family."

    That gets an eye roll from Jojee and quirk of a frown from Farla. Hosk turns back to the window. Your aunt picks up the dead space in conversation with some questions about your travels. Something like, "Ladro, tell me where all you've been? Have you been to any Coreworlds? What's Coruscant like? Or Corellia? I heard the terraforming there is amazing."
  • Ladro Eyes

    I regale Aunt Flosa with stories about the Coreworlds. Architecture, terraforming, society parties. Some of them are even my own stories. I've got Flosa laughing, and Baba's skepticism has given way to amusement by the time we get to the checkpoint. With my right hand in my lap, I make an old, old Kiffar gesture for warding off evil, thumb across the palm to touch the base of my little finger, and the other three fingers curled in a sort of claw.
  • The transport stops at the checkpoint. Conversation becomes a bit more sporadic. There are a half dozen troopers here along with an Imperial Troop Transport parked nearby in full view. That transport has a wicked autocannon along the back. It would do some significant damage to this flimsy public transport.

    When the troopers get to your transport, two step onto the transport and start walking down the left-most aisle (this transport has two aisles and seats like a jumbo jet, for reference)

    Stormtrooper
    "Hand me your idents." He says to you, your father and aunt in one sharp tone. The trooper behind him has a rifle. He's got a blaster pistol and a few insignia of rank on his shoulder plate.

    I assume you hand them over. He slides the chip into a reader, it checks out. He heads over to Hosk, who hands over his ident chip. The trooper drops it into the handheld reader, and a moment later, there's a soft buzz and an indicator light turns red. The trooper with the rifle snaps to ready stance, but doesn't aim his rifle. The trooper with the pistol slides his hand near the holster, "I need you to come with me, Harush. There's something about this ident that doesn't check out."

    What do you do?
  • Ladro Eyes

    My blaster is safely packed, and my knives aren't much use against trooper armor.

    Hosk and I have a sort of protocol for this, although I'm guessing it will be a surprise to Jojee. I let him go, but speak to the trooper. "I'm sure this is a misunderstanding. Where will you be taking my friend, please, so we know where to pick him up when things get cleared up?"

    Kiffu has an Imperial presence, but surely they're not building state-of-the-art prison facilities here. A rescue later, if it's needed, will be risky, but not as risky as bringing a knife to a blaster fight.
  • Hosk stands up, looking "slightly surprised", but he's not putting up a fight. In fact, he takes some of the "smoke" off his normally gruff voice and apologizes while moving forward slowly, hands up in a peaceful gesture.

    Stormtrooper
    The trooper relaxes his hand away from the holster. "Your friend will be at the holding facility for processing and ident verification with the Core databases. It is near the spaceport, one block east, the large gray building, Imperial logo."

    Yeah, Jojee looks a little worried, but she's holding Farla's hand. Farla looks cool as the other side of the pillow. Your father's jaw is set, but he's keeping quiet. Aunt Flosa's making some noise, but your father shushes her.

    The trooper with the pistol continues on, checking the rest of your idents. Thankfully, he doesn't pull anyone else off the transport, but he asks Jojee a dozen questions. Her idents are legit, she answers them all, still holding Farla's hand the whole time.

    Then Hosk is walked off the transport, and you're waved through. You continue on.
  • Ladro Eyes

    In a low, angry voice, I say, "Kriff me," then immediately apologize to Baba and Aunt Flosa. "How bad is it, here?"
  • Flosa
    "It's gotten gradually worse since rumors started that there was some support for the Rebellion growing." Flosa says quietly, her eyes narrow. Your father nods his agreement, but adds nothing further.

    Jojee
    Suddenly completely serious, Jojee leans over to ask urgently, "What are we going to do?"
  • Ladro Eyes

    "Nothing, until we know the situation. Those idents are good, I've seen him use them a lot. I wish we had some eyes in the holding facility, but I might have to make a foray through the front door, just use my natural charm to see what's up. We'll regroup when we get home. I can head back on my own later."
  • "You may get eyes on it, mwana." your father says quietly. "We need to wait until we get home." Jojee looks like she's about to say something, but she sits back, following orders.

    After another ten minutes riding on the transport and you're all let out at the edge of the village. What does Jojee notice about your home first, Ladro?
  • Ladro Eyes

    Jojee notices what most outsiders do, coming to a traditional Kiffar village for the first time. She notices that it doesn't look like a village. We build into the forest, low and dug in, or high and following the trees up. Kiffar strive to merge technology and nature, not ignoring the new, but trying to use it in harmony with the world, rather than conquering the world with it.

    That's the ideal, at least, and this particular village, my village hews close to that ideal.
  • Farla has settled in her room, with Sion, of course, so she promises to be back down by supper. She takes Jojee up to the guest bedroom, which didn't exist before, so that's a new addition. Aunt Flosa hugs you and makes you promise to come visit. She mentions Emila might be coming around, almost so casually that you miss it.

    Once she heads off, your father helps you with whatever baggage you have (I imagine you've got a bit since you emptied the shuttle) You bring it all to the carved wooden stairs up to your old room. Everything looks so small! Your father has a soft smile as he looks at you in your old room. "We cleaned it up. Your mother wouldn't let me make it into a secondary shop, so thank her. I'm glad she wouldn't let me. Now."

    What's missing from your room?
  • Ladro Eyes

    A few things are gone as my eyes travel. The filimbi that I carved, a beautiful whistle that almost everyone could play well except for me. Farla's probably got that, now. The polished wood "lightsabers" that Darkal and I used to play at Jedis with. The holo of beautiful Elina that I left behind. The things I took with me when I left, of course.

    Mostly, though, I notice the lack of the chest of drawers that I made in baba's shop. It was to be the piece that graduated me from apprentice to journeyman, but I left a week after it was finished.
  • Your father stands by the door when you enter. It's like he's respecting your old boundaries. "The, ah, drawers are in the shop. I couldn't help but put it to use." He starts to leave, "Your mother and brother should be along soon. Clean up. I mean, if you like, mwana."
  • Ladro Eyes

    I thank him, and when he turns to leave I sit on my bed, head in my hands for a minute. What, half an hour after Hosk and Jojee left the Libation to join me in "something new," Hosk's on his way to a cell? And mama is still angry. And my lightsabers are gone.

    I drop my luggage, wash my face and hands in the basin, then change into loose planetside clothes. Nothing Kiffar. I have nothing left, and it would be too soon. Once I'm tidied a bit, I head back down to the living room.
  • Well, it may have been too soon for you, but it wasn't a problem for Jojee.

    You come into the living room to see Jojee in a traditional Kiffar women's garb, one for available females. Farla and Sion, dressed in married Kiffar garb, are sitting on the round cushions comfortably talking. Of course, Jojee's not exactly balancing on the cushion, so she shifts a little back and forth to keep from sliding.

    photo Sion_Contu-header
    "Ladro," Sion says as he rises from his cushion with a solid grace. He moves out of your way, offering you the seat. "Your father is finishing the meal."

    Farla_header
    "He made your favorite!" Farla says with a bit of excitement. Of course, it's tempered by the thing with Hosk, but she's still happy to have you home, trying to push through the stress of the day.

    What is it that your father is fixing for you (and the others)?
  • Ladro Eyes

    It's crazy, but my favorite is so simple, even if it takes time to make. "Kitoweo na mbuzi na mboga." It's a stew with root vegetables, a lot of spice, and the meat of a young caprinum (that's the mbuzi). I haven't tasted it in years, of course, and my mouth immediately starts to water.

    "Jojee, you look great. The trick to the cushions is to relax, don't work at balancing. Just sink in and find your mutual center of gravity."
  • Jojee spends a few minutes working on sitting properly, and very nearly gets it by the time your father walks into the room to inform you of the information your nose had already confirmed. The food is ready.

    Farla and Sion help Jojee up and everyone heads into the room with the square, low table for dining. More cushions here. The stew is in the large serving pot in the middle, and as is traditional, everyone takes from the central pot. There is unleavened bread and wine, as well as sweet fruits native to your region.

    Conversation is light, and there are two empty cushions here. One for mother, the other for Darkal. How is the meal for you?
  • edited December 2014
    Ladro Eyes

    I sit next to Jojee and help keep her upright until she gets the hang of it. The food is a tidal wave of memory and deliciousness and, well, home, and I eat everything with enthusiasm, until I'm a little over-stuffed. I wonder where mama and Darkal are, but I don't ask until Farla gets up to bring out the sweet honey-nut cakes she baked earlier and a pot of thick, sweet kahawa.

    "Where are mama and Darkal? On some errand?"
  • Farla_header
    Farla answers as she hands a cake to each person, walking down from eldest, to guests to you, then herself. "They should be home soon. I'm surprised they didn't make it for karamu*." (supper) Your father isn't surprised. Sion looks to his plate as well.
  • Ladro Eyes

    I turn to baba first, then Sion. "What? What aren't you telling me? Secrets so soon?"
  • Your fatherpushes his bowl forward, tilting the spoon to indicate he is done. "Come, mwana. We should talk." He stands up from his cushion, starts walking for the door out of your childhood home. Farla and Jojee both look at you with different degrees of surprise and confusion. Sion busies himself with stew, which seems to be really fascinating to him right now, so he doesn't seem like he's prying.
  • Ladro Eyes

    I follow my father out the door, half-expecting the secrets he's about to impart, but unsure of the other half. Once we're outside, among the trees, "I know Darkal is a Rebel, and that he... is this crazy? He and I talked, somehow, and I think it had to have been through the... whatever. What's going on now?"
  • edited December 2014
    Your father walks for a couple minutes, into the wood. You realize he's headed towards the shop. He's always felt comfortable there. But he slows when you start talking, and looks over to you. There's a naked moment when you see the sadness in his eyes. "Mwana.... Ladro." He stops, turns to face you, speaking in a clear voice tinged by emotion. "Your mother does not wish to see you. She is. Not ready. Darkal went to speak to her after she left. She. She left as soon as Farla told us you were home." He puts a hand on your shoulder, "Do not speak of the Rebellion to your sister. Or Sion. They do not need to be mixed up in the problems here. Best that they are happy in their jobs and happy together." He lets out a little breath.

    "What good is fighting for a thing worth having, if you don't get some grandchildren?" He laughs a weak laugh, but his heart isn't in it.
  • edited December 2014
    Ladro Eyes

    I'm a child again, and I can't even bring myself to resent it. In my rusty, too-formal schoolroom Kiffar, I say, "Baba, I don't know what to do. My rafiki is in the hold of the Empire, and mama won't even give me a chance to apologize. Mimi nilifikiri alikuwa mtu mzima, lakini mimi kusimama mbele yenu kama mtoto. Msaada mimi." (I thought I was a grown man, but I stand before you as a child. Help me.)
  • edited December 2014
    Baba
    Your father considers words that aren't easy for him to say. "Mwana. My middle one, heart of fire and steel, with your own will. Your Mama loves you so dear that the pain is still fresh. Think if she did not care, if this had been easy for her to accept? What anguish would you feel then, if you were never missed?" He swallows, the emotion welling.

    Still, he continues, eyes wet with held tears, "You were. And I know you missed home, too. I see it in your eyes and hear it in your words. We cannot swap years of loss for hours, my son. Darkal pleads your case, and you know he's always had her ear. The way of a mtu mzima* sometimes takes patience." (grown man). That seems to be enough for your father. He's said his piece on that.

    He turns and begins walking towards the shop, "Come, Mwana. We must find a way to help your rafiki."
  • Ladro Eyes

    Patience. Yes. Hosk has to be the priority, and I can't change how mama feels. I follow baba to the shop. "You have a thought, then?"
  • He opens the door, which is hard carved and beautifully intricate with a secure mag-lock, with a keycard from his necklace. You both enter as lights hum on to reveal the shop, which is twice as big as when you left, with a few assistant droids, deactivated right now.

    One corner looks a bit like this:
    photo shop003_zpse4cc9594.jpg

    There, by the desk where your father hand draws out his plans for bigger projects, is your dresser drawer. It is well cared for, in excellent shape, though obviously is in use.

    Baba
    "Darkal will help us, of course." your father says finally as he heads over to his desk. He looks at you for a long moment before saying, "You will need to get back off planet once he is free. It will be dangerous."
  • Ladro Eyes

    I take it all in. The rack of hand tools, the new droids, the smell of wood and polish and the grease from the power tools. Think about leaving so soon, with the taste of baba's kitoweo still in my mouth. I nod. "Baba, are you with Darkal? Do the Rebels have eyes in the detention center? I wish I could find out why Hosk's idents were flagged. Also... I have something to show Darkal and you, back at the house. Did he mention my, ah, Imperial issue?"
  • Baba
    Your father sets his jaw. "I am not part of the Rebellion, but Darkal has told your mama and I he is part of it. Farla does not know, nor should she." He reaches into the drawer in his desk and pulls out this:

    blaster_pistol

    He puts the pistol, which was covered in a cloth inside his desk. "I can get a few more, but this one is not traceable to our family."

    Have you ever seen your father with a blaster before?
  • Ladro Eyes

    I look at this old blaster, try to imagine it in my father's strong, capable hands. Hands made for creating, not destroying. Only to protect family, I think, and then as a last resort. Automatically, I pick up the pistol and check the battery, the emitter. Hosk has a better eye for this, but it looks functional and well-maintained.

    "I have one of my own, as well. Jojee, too. So, we wait for Darkal to return? I wish this hadn't happened, baba. I need more time here."
  • Baba
    Your father pulls you into a strong and sudden hug. He holds you there for a few moments. Long enough for him to recover. He pulls back with his strong hands on the sides of your neck. He looks directly at you, a thing he rarely offers anyone. "I need more time with you, too, mwana. I... I sense that there is someone special for you, but she is not here. I see the bond you have with your friends. There is so much of your life I want you to share with me."
  • Ladro Eyes

    I steady myself in his gaze. "I love you, baba. That is all I can say for now, all that matters." Time to remember I'm a professional. I take the blaster and tuck it away so that Farla and Sion won't see it. "So, back to the house to wait for Darkal? I should check a few comm drops and get a few things out of my trunk, start thinking about transport off-planet."
  • Your father follows you back to the house. As you come closer, you hear drumming, quick drumming, an old, old party tune. When you enter the living room, you see Farla and Jojee in the middle, all furniture cushions moved aside. Farla's showing Jojee one of the dances young girls use to attract a mate. It's adorable in parts, a tad provocative in others.

    Farla_header
    "Ladro!" Farla says, a grin on her face from ear to ear, "Jojee's a natural."

    Your father heads on inside, leaving this bit of dancing and what-not to you and your sister. Sion is seated, watching Farla mostly. He seem relaxed, but watchful. Sion looks to you, since the last thing you'd said was secrets, and then you left and came back. You can tell he's curious about what's happened.

    Farla_header
    Farla dances over to you, "Come dance with us! Sion won't, but I know you will!" She reaches for your hand.
  • Ladro Eyes

    I shake my head a little regretfully. Dancing with Jojee is certainly fun, and Farla's being sweet, but I really do want to go up to my room and get this blaster put away. "Sorry, Farla. I'll be back down in a little bit, though, if you're still dancing."
  • Jojee
    Jojee answers. "We will be! I'm saving you a dance, Ladro!" She smiles and Farla giggles.

    You head up to your room, secure the blaster. When you come back to the door, Sion's waiting outside. He wasn't going to intrude, he was literally waiting.

    Sion_Contu-header
    With the drums blaring downstairs, he talks louder than normal, "What's wrong, Ladro? Your family has many secrets that Farla ignores. She delights in being the youngest, and she's determined to make this a happy visit, but it isn't. Tell me what's going on. Why didn't Hosk pass the ident check?" He's not angry, but he is direct. He is a SecOps guy.
  • Ladro Eyes

    "Sion, I can't say anything right now, and it's not because I don't want to say. Some secrets aren't mine to share, and some that are mine, I can't share until I know what to do about them. I'm sorry. And, I hate to be abrupt, but I actually do need a few minutes to myself to take care of a few things."

    Before I turn back into the room, I add, "Hosk's background is complicated enough, but there's a chance that his idents were flagged for reasons other than just his history. I'm going to try and figure it out."
  • Sion_Contu-header
    "Ladro. Even though you've been gone, this is still your family." He says it evenly, not with derision. "But I'm part of it now. What are you planning to do about Hosk? I'm not going to just stand by and watch you throw your life away with some foolish run against the Empire. These guys do not mess around. They aren't Hutts... but they are their own kind of trouble."
  • Ladro Eyes

    "Sion, I like you, and I like the way you are with Farla, but I don't know yet what I'm going to do about Hosk, and I'm not getting any closer to figuring it out while I'm standing here debating with you. I'm asking you to please give me a few minutes alone to process and consider my options. Please?"
  • Sion_Contu-header
    Sion sighs a little, but steps back. "That's fair. I'll head back down then. But, please. Talk to me before you do anything rash. I'm already trying to get more info on how bad it is. No guarantees on how long it will take, but I'll let you know when I know." He pauses for a moment, then turns and leaves.
  • Ladro Eyes

    I thank my sister's husband, then close the door. First, I use my datapad to check the dead drops that Ahji Dar and I set up, see if she's checked in after I left the message about where I'd be. I'd like to know where she is, at least.

    Second, I check my own blaster, make sure it's ready to go if I need it.

    Third, I pull out Sark's package. Is Hosk detained because I haven't destroyed it yet? I hope that's not the case. I wish Darkal would return so I can talk to him about this karking thing.

    Sion could be useful, and I don't want to shut anyone out, but some things can't be decided by committee.
  • edited December 2014
    On the dead drop local, you find this:

    Message dated today, two hours ago.

    I know where you are.
    There is a nice hotel at the port.
    The Exemplary.
    Check into your room.
    AD
  • Ladro Eyes

    Well, that's one piece of the puzzle sorted. If my kitten is here, I'm sure that I can convince her to give us a ride off Kiffu. Not the reunion I'd hoped for, either on the family front, or with her.

    I return the message, hope that she's checking frequently.

    Complications, need your help.
    Meet me at my family's soonest.
    Please?


    I include the location information.

    I tuck Sark's "package" into a pocket and head back downstairs, ready to dance, or at least to fake it until Farla's enthusiasm and Jojee's hips convince me.
  • You get a reply a few minutes later.

    I am not meeting your parents.
    This is not what we are.
    AD
  • Ladro Eyes

    Not about meeting the family.
    Need your help.
    Do you need to be paid?
  • Do not insult me, my Tom.
    I am coming. Should I fly?
    AD
  • Ladro Eyes

    Not unless you can perch on top of a tree.
    Avoid checkpoints if you can.


    I walk into the living room, where Jojee and Farla are taking a break from dancing. "So, what did I miss?"
  • edited April 2015
    Jojee
    "Well," Jojee says in a tone that says she's playing at being upset, but you know her "I'm really upset" tone and this isn't it. "Farla has taught me an intricate and delightful dance that is used by young ladies to notify available males that they are interesting in mating and love. And... you knew that and didn't tell me, sleemo." Farla grins and hides a chuckle behind her hands.

    Farla_header
    "Who doesn't want a Kiffar mate?" Farla says as she can't hold it in any longer. "Right, Sion?" Sion grimaces, stuck, unable to disagree out of diplomacy.

    That's when Darkal, followed by your father, both walk out of the cooking area.
  • Ladro Eyes

    I hold my hands out. "Sorry, Jojee, sorry... just a bit preoccupied. Although, we Kiffar are notable for our talents and... our natural gifts." Just then, I see Darkal and Baba, and grow quiet, waiting for my brother's reaction to seeing me.
  • Darkal looks... well, Ladro. He's dropped weight, turned it into lean muscle. That easy confidence he's always had isn't gone. If anything, it's grown. Instead of the flush of youth that gave him false bravado, he's now carrying himself like a leader. He draws eyes, he moves like a sabercat, too. That little pit of jealousy you have in your stomach. Probably grew a little.

    Darkal-header
    "Ladro!" He comes up to throw arms around you, then steps back, a hand on your shoulder. "You look great. It's so good to see you, brother."

    Your father has walked in the room, but he's hanging back, watching this with an easy smile.
  • Ladro Eyes

    My right hand instinctively makes a fist at Darkal's easy manner. I may not remember the details of the argument that sent me off Kiffu, but I do remember his smug disapproval. I remember, though, that this trip was supposed to be about mending fences, and, more importantly, that Hosk's furry space-heinie is on the line here. See, I can grow up!

    "Ndugu, it is good to see you again." I meet his eyes and see no trace of the old competition and resentment. Blow out a breath, then pull him back into a hug. "It is good to see you."
  • Darkal-header
    He drops into a more formal tone, following your use of a more traditional term. "Ndugu. I'm sorry I didn't meet you at the port. I wanted to. I really did." He searches your face for emotion, trying to see the real you.

    You realize for a moment that nobody else is talking. It's like the group is all holding their breath.
  • Ladro Eyes

    "I understand, brother. It's so good to see you again. Let's take a walk... I've missed the forest."
  • Your father clears his throat and asks Farla to bring out some more wine and sweetcakes, which draws Jojee and even Sion in. Without an objection, Darkal walks outside with you.

    Darkal-header
    He starts off with, "I just need some more time with mama. A day. Maybe two." He looks over, "How long are you staying?"
  • Ladro Eyes

    "Darkal, why aren't you angry with me? After the names I called you and the arguments we had, before I left?" I know I'm wasting time, here, with Hosk detained in an Imperial facility, but I can't help it.
  • Darkal-header
    Darkal looks at you, surprise on his face. "The Ways of the Force teach us to let go of things like anger. And hate. Words are just words. Blood is forever." He draws in a breath, holds it for a bit, "You were itching to go out there, and I was afraid of it. I said some pretty harsh things, too. But now, all that remains is... family." He looks at you with a small bit of hope, "Right?"
  • Ladro Eyes

    "Yes. I made mama wait so long, it's only fair for me to give her some time. I'm afraid I may not have it, though, ndugu. My friend was detained at the airport, 'irregularities' with idents that I've seen work dozens of time. I'm afraid it has to do with the Imperial issues you and I spoke of."
  • Darkal-header
    "Baba told me." Darkal says. "I'm reaching out to some contacts, it will take a few hours to gather enough. An assault on that hardened facility will be... very difficult. We may lose lives." His tone says he's not afraid of this, but he wants you to be committed. "Is your Imperial contact sending you a message? To take down your friend, but not you?"
  • edited December 2014
    Ladro Eyes

    I pull Sark's package out of my pocket. A box about the size of a datapad, sealed. "I was suppose to dispose of this, but the form-factor made me think there might be information, something to give me, or the Rebellion, a leg up on Sark. I wonder if he has a way of knowing that it's still intact? It's completely his style to threaten using my people as leverage, but this is the first time it's actually happened, if it was him."

    I'm realizing, suddenly, how dangerous I am to this family. "Darkal, I should do this myself. I can hire some guns, I've got a bit of cash. I don't want this to hurt the family."
  • Darkal-header
    With complete certainty in his voice, Darkal says, "It is a threat to you. Our family is already in danger. If you go in there without a plan or sufficient back-up, then you're dead or arrest, too. Have you completely broken away from Sark, then?"
  • Ladro Eyes

    "Truth? He's I.I., he can probably find me anytime he wants. It's always seemed like there was no way to completely break away. Short of killing him or bringing him down, maybe. Do you think I should see what this is," holding up the package, "Or just get rid of it?"
  • Darkal-header
    For a moment, your brother considers. "I think we should open it. Then, at least we know what we're dealing with. If he knows you're sitting on it, then he'll assume you know what's in it, right?"
  • Ladro Eyes

    I consider the options here, then lead the way to a clearing I remember from long ago. There are no homes close by, and there's a big flat table of rock cropping up through the forest floor. I place the package on the stone and shine a light down on it.
  • edited December 2014
    The case is rather new, and unmarked. It looks like a hunk of metal, with interlocking parts. It would take a key of some kind to unlock it. Maybe you can find some tools in the workshop?

    It looks like this:
    case
  • Ladro Eyes

    "I suppose I could hit it with a rock? Or I could get a chisel and hammer from the shop. Don't want to risk it blowing up me and baba's livelihood by doing it there."
  • Darkal-header
    "I'll get some of baba's tools." Darkal says, then he takes off.

    You're alone with the case, and your thoughts. Anything you do before he comes back?
  • Ladro Eyes

    I stare at the case, pretending it's a blaster pointed straight at Sark's heart. I realize it's probably shipping manifests or records of payments made by some high-and-mighty Imperial to his mistress, but the fantasy is so vivid. Opening the case and finding the one thing that lets me take the sister-kriffer down, one way or another.

    I push it down, and by the time Darkal returns, I'm just curious. At least on the outside. Well, curious and a little bit eager.
  • Darkal returns with the tools. You can pry this open, but if you want any hope of using it again, you'll need to Act Under Fire.
  • Act Under Fire

    (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 6, 1. Total: 9)
  • The case opens up with some effort. You score an edge, so it's obvious that it was pried open.

    case

    Darkal-header
    "If he wanted you to get rid of it," Darkal says slowly, "Do you think it's a murder weapon? We could trace it back to something? Maybe where you picked it up?"
  • edited December 2014
    Ladro Eyes

    I'm tempted to just throw the thing on the ground. "Never hope." That should be the motto of my crew, whatever Jojee winds up deciding we should be named. "If it's a karking murder weapon, it will have nothing to do with Sark, just another one of his patsies. It's been near two months, anyway. At least."

    I take a breath. "Picked it up on Honoghr, but it doesn't seem relevant to the current situation, does it? Do you have any way of seeing whether there's a signal or anything to notify him that the thing still hasn't been 'disposed of'?"
  • Darkal-header
    Darkal brings out a signal device. He checks it over. "It's clean, Ladro." He looks at it for a bit, "It could be made of a rare metal... or something?"
  • Ladro Eyes

    Of course it's nothing. The galaxy doesn't revolve around me. Hosk wasn't pulled in because I held onto Sark's trash too long. Still, he's there, and once they discover who he really is, he's in a nebula of hurt.

    "Okay, this helps me with Sark, or it doesn't. No way to tell if it's some sort of rare metal now, right? So I withdraw my assumption that it's my Imperial entanglements that landed Hosk in the pokey. But he's still there. Guess it's time to stop wishing and make a plan."
  • The pair of you start working together on some ideas. This will meet the criteria of Methodical. Darkal is able to gather together a squad worth of rebels for an attack on the Imperial facility. They have a mix of blaster rifles and a few blaster pistols, along with a sparse amount of explosives. Two speeder bikes. A landspeeder. And a jetpack.

    After half an hour, you realize you should meet with Ahji Dar. How are you handling that, since Darkal's still here, and you need to go meet with her. You know she's not going to walk up and knock on your front door.
  • Ladro Eyes

    My kitten didn't say anything about meeting my brother, just the parents. "Darkal, walk with me? My... friend should be here by now. We'd hoped for a reunion of our own, but she has a fast ship and I think she'll be willing to get me, Hosk and Jojee off-planet once this is over."
  • In the woods only a stone's throw from the front door of your home, you meet Ahji Dar. She's dressed in brown leather pants and a matching vest, a tight-fitting shirt and a gunbelt with two blasters. Like so:
    ahji_street


    image
    Ahji was sitting on a stump, one with your initials carved onto it, alongside one of your childhood romances. Her cat eyes glow in the moonlight and she looks up at you when you approach this small, secluded area near a pond.

    "Hello." she says with a slow smile. You could almost hear an unspoken "my Tom" at the end of that greeting. Then she sees Darkal behind you, and the smile drops. It's sudden and complete. Shockingly so. She remains seating on the stump, sitting up straighter.
  • Ladro Eyes

    I understand, and this is not how I would have chosen this encounter to go. I'm careful to use no pet-names or cleverness. "Ahji Dar, this is my brother, Darkal." I long for this to have gone the way we... I... planned. Me and my kitten together, my family waiting at home. The universe, Darkal's 'Force,' don't care, though.
  • Darkal gives her a nod, but there's something about her stance that seems to ward him off. He does come forward to shake her hand or anything cordial.

    image
    She regards you, still sitting. The claws on her left hand are out and she's idly scratching at the stump. "What is it that you want, Ladro?"
  • Ladro Eyes

    "Brother, please leave us for a bit? Head inside." I see his questioning look and give him my own determined one in return.

    After he walks to the house and enters, "I'm sorry for that. And I'm sorry for what I'm about to ask." I look at the stump, remember carving those initials. "My comrade is in Imperial hands, and I'm going to get him out, with some help from... individuals not sympathetic with Imperial goals."

    I ache to walk to her, pull her to me. Instead, "This is not how I hoped our meeting would go, but will you help us leave Kiffu? It will be dangerous, but I'd be happy to help you work off the adrenaline, later."
  • image
    She looks at you for a long silence, not blinking. "You said this was not about meeting your family." After letting that hang in the air, she switches subjects, "If he is in the holding station here, you should look for a new friend. You should not take on the Empire. I can take you off planet within the hour."
  • Ladro Eyes

    "This is not about meeting my family. This is about whether you're willing to take off hot with me and two associates. You know I'm already on the hook with the Empire, I've been honest about that. So... wait for me? I don't abandon friends."

    Poodoo... I don't. I really don't. Maybe I can't.
  • image
    Ahji Dar rises from her seat in a quick, languid fashion, closing all distance between you. "I know you're in trouble with the Empire. You should not tempt the fates." Her words are sharp, emotion fills them. "I do not wish to lose you. I have no other Tom."
  • Ladro Eyes

    I raise a hand to her cheek. "Kitten, if I abandon my partner, then you have lost me already. I will not be the Tom you thought I was. I will do everything I can to propitiate the fates, but I will leave this planet... my home... with my partner."
  • image
    Her eyes close and she pushes her cheek into your palm, all conversation hangs on a knife's edge as the touch smothers it. For a moment.

    She finally collects herself, and opens her bright eyes to look on you again. You see in those eyes that she realizes this is a losing battle, but still she offers, "I will be your partner. You can be the first mate of the Nexus and the twin planets will travel the stars together.... please my Tom. Do not throw your life away for honor. I do not want to lose you."
  • Ladro Eyes

    "Kitten, you astonish me. You fly into the teeth of danger every day, and yet you try to hold me safe. I'm asking one thing, which I have no right to ask. Stand ready to take me and two others off Kiffu. I will be taking the risks that precede that, whether you accept them or not."
  • edited April 2015
    image
    She pulls slightly back from you, eyes downcast as she takes it in, rolls it around in her mouth, then accepts it. "I will send Serzhant to you. It is a capable droid and the ship can function without it." She looks back up at you, eyes staring, boring into yours. "You will not fall to them, my Tom. You will return to the Nexus, with your two others. You will stay in my quarters and we will reacquaint ourselves with each other as I had planned. This is all I will accept." She's lying, you could tweak the deal. But she doesn't want you to think that.

    What do you do?
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