After a few days of rest and recuperation, you and your headed off to Devaron to meet with Alanna and some "friends". You know Alanna well enough to tell from her nonverbal cues that these people are Alliance, and they're important. Everyone gathered up all they had, ready to move on for the next few months.
Turns out, Jojee and Hosk ran into the crew of the Libation. Did you book passage with Leeadra, or someone else?
It took some thought, but I decided to book passage with Lee. We parted on decent terms last time, at least, even if she disregarded my warning about Sark. It was a little awkward, but I did enjoy having some time to catch up with Seesk on our mutual guilty pleasure. (For the record, Seesk disagrees with me about Sinnott, but the whole scene with Keth Brie and that scamp Lora? We're totally on the same page about that.) At the end of the trip, I felt it was a good decision to ride along on the Libation. It also felt good to let Lee and Seesk see how well Squall is doing.
Hosk spends the trip carving something new. Well, that and making a list of things that are broken on the Libation and need fixing. He calls it a hobby. In between mainlined episodes of tYatC, Seesk tells you that things are pretty great, especially with the new First Mate, a Rodian named Leenik. Seesk says he keeps things moving.
You arrive on Devaron in timely order. Alanna meets you at the spaceport. She hugs each of you, even Hosk.
"Ladro! You look good. I hope you aren't too tired, we need to meet with my contacts over a meal at my place."
I nod. "I'm rested. Not so used to being a passenger, so I mostly twiddled my thumbs." I give Lee a hug, shake the hands of Rana Mas and Leenik, and punch Seesk in the shoulder. Hard. It's a love-tap for her. "Hosk, can you get my stuff off the Libation and arrange for storage and a place to stay for the short term?"
We cut to a scene of you in Alanna's landspeeder.
"How have you been? What happened to Squall?"
I debate telling the whole story, but instead ask, "Would you believe a tree octopus?" After a second's pause, I amend. "We were on Cholganna. You should have seen zir, Ali. When things went down, ze was so fierce! Like a rancor." I look out to the side at the scenery for a moment. "My poor ship is on the disabled list, unfortunately. But it was worth it."
Alanna grins at your praise of Squall. She still takes pride in hearing about zir heroics. When you mention your ship being damaged, she replies, "That's a shame, Ladro. I'm sorry to hear it. How long is she down?" The speeder's slowing as she brings it into the parking area for her complex.
I sigh. "Months. It was a rough fight, like I said, but worth it. Took out two Imperial frigates over the course of things, though. First time with just the Margin, second time with support. And rescued a few dozen survivors that had been trapped on Cholganna for years, including some kids. Maybe a bit more than that." I know the exact count, but I'm lowballing. Want to tell the story, but not puff myself up.
"Wow, Ladro, that's great. Really great." Alanna says, truly impressed. "I knew you were the perfect fit for this op. You're good to bring in your whole team, right?"
I nod. "I haven't had the Alliance conversation with Squall yet, but everyone else is on board. Hope I don't have to do it, but I think I can talk zir around if ze's reluctant."
Alanna brings her speeder down into a space and shuts it off. As you're both walking through the complex garage, she loops her arm in yours, walking like you're lovers so she can talk low into your ear, "I'm sure ze won't resist. Squall once told me ze could never say no to you. Plus, ze's no fan of Imperials."
The lift doors open as you approach. She leads you inside. Ten floors and you're at her flat.
I compose myself before she opens the door, tug the hem of my jacket down. "What's for dinner? Hope it's not messy."
Alanna answers confidently, "We're having baked dru'un slices in fish sauce." The door dings and she adds low, with a smile, "As for messy, that's for later."
In the split-second that I have before the door opens, I give Alanna a wolfish grin. Not sure I'll follow up on that promise, but what's the point of being a rascal if you don't play the role? I straighten my face and my spine, and walk in, once the door's open.
This is the woman.
Here's the Chadra-Fan (not wearing a pilot's uni right now):
"Captain Ladro Vos, I would like to introduce you to Turkittit," she gestures to the small creature, which nods a head. Then Alanna gestures to the woman, "This is Mon Mothma." She inclines her head and offers a simple smile.
Mon Mothma moves forward, extending a hand to shake yours, "The honor is mine. Alanna has spoken very highly of you. As has your brother, Lens and Ceric. You are well regarded by people I trust." Turkittit just nods, keeps their distance.
Alanna starts ushering people to the dining area, "Shall we break bread and drink some Alderanni wine?"
I soak in the praise as I follow Alanna. "Thank you for the kind words, Mon Mothma. And a glass of wine sounds good."
Alanna leads the three of you into her dining area. Turkittit climbs up to a chair and sits on its haunches to reach the table. Alanna quickly grabs a pillow from her living room to offer the Chadra-Fan.
In a high, feminine voice, Turkittet waves a hand, "No thank you. I do not sit upon my rump, it is very uncomfortable on my tail." Alanna nods, takes the pillow then comes back to pour wine in glasses for each of you. Once that's done, she whisks off to the kitchen to warm up the food.
Mon Motha regards you before picking up her glass, "I understand you are interested in joining the Rebel Alliance." She watches your reaction, interested in your motivations.
I nod and wait to take a sip of my wine. "I am. Over the last fourteen or fifteen months, it's become more and more difficult to ignore what's going on and worry solely about credits. I have to say that the Alliance has caused me its share of problems, but the Empire doesn't even have the saving grace of good intentions. Fence-sitting just wasn't an option any more."
Mon Mothma seems surprised, "The Alliance has caused problems for you? What's happened?"
"An agent of yours in the I.I. had me under his thumb for months, running errands and missions with minimal intel and high risk. He was coercing me with threats to turn me and the members of my crew in to the Imperials. Had my first mate arrested once. By the time I figured out I was really working for you folks, I was ready to kill him. In fact, I tracked him down with that express intent."
Mon Mothma takes in a breathe, then huffs it out lightly, "Ah. Mr. Sark. Yes, he is not an agent of the Alliance. He's made overtures, and I believe he sent Ceric to us, through your efforts, correct? We have not yet accepted him into the Alliance. He is playing his own game." She pauses, considering something, then adds, "I have voted against making an official offer to him. But there are many who believe we must accept strange bedfellows."
Alanna comes out of the kitchen with plates of food. The smell is divine. What do you like most about the food, Ladro? She serves Mon Mothma, then you, then Turkittet, finally placing a plate in front of herself and sitting.
It's that smell, the aroma. We experience food with our noses as much as our tastebuds, and the slight funkiness of the fish sauce, combined with the citrusy perfume from the slices of dru'un root, is like a meal in itself. Of course, knowing Alanna, I'm not surprised that the dru'un is cooked perfectly, with just a hint of crunch left. The braised dark greens she serves on the side provide that hint of bitterness and iron, and a contrasting texture.
"He is, at best, unscrupulous and at worst, absolutely amoral. I know I don't have a say, but I would advocate strongly for cutting whatever ties exist. I'm glad to know that he's not truly working under the aegis of the Alliance." I raise my glass, finally, and take a sip of wine. So tasty, I can't help but smile, despite the words I've just said.
Turkittit gruffly says, "Sark is gaggalak mursto, dopa-meekie kung." She pretends to spit on the floor after, then her upper lip curls.
Even if I didn't speak Huttese well, I'd understand most of that. I can understand "double-crossing scum" in almost every language in the galaxy. (I used to spend even more time in the... lower-end drinking establishments... than I do now.) I nod my agreement. "He is."
I take another bite of the dru'un, savor the texture and the taste. "This is really wonderful, Alanna. It's a relief not to be eating from an autochef."
"Beating an autochef?" Alanna asks with a small grin, "Talk about faint praise." She laughs, as does Mon Mothma, even Turkittit, in a staccato bark
"Captain Vos," Mon Mothma says, subtly shifting the focus of the conversation, "How long has it been since you visited your home-world?"
"Several months." My focus narrows to Mon Mothma. "Why do you ask?"
She responds with a softness to her voice, "I'm curious where your ties are. Who you care for. It's important to have those bonds."
I understand where she's going with this. "Family, yes. Even my mother, who questions all of my choices. A certain blockade runner. My crew, my old crew. To be honest, I have a lot of bonds. They're often something like golden handcuffs, but it's how I'm made."
"I understand, Captain Vos." Mon Mothma says, her tone pleasant. "Your brother said as much of you. He gave a full account of your skillset. Lens also said you were resourceful and dedicated. I... I get a good feeling from you."
Turkittit asks pointedly, "If you thought Sark was working for the Alliance, why are you still coming to us? What does the Alliance offer that you can't do on your own. You have a ship, a crew. You can work on the Outer Rim and stay relatively free. Why risk so much, Captain?"
I turn to Turkittit, a little offended, but try to keep my voice level. "Resources. Guidance. Targets. At the moment, I admit, my ship is out of commission, but pecking along the edges doesn't suit me, in general. If I'm striking at the Empire, I need to know why and understand how effective it will be, or how effective I can hope it will be. I'm done with minimal risk and minimal impact."
While Turkittit seems ready to throw more questions at you, Mon Mothma seems to have enough information already. "Pardon our direct questions, Captain Vos. I am delighted to count you as an ally." She gives her companion a glance, and Turkittit settles back on her haunches calmly. Mon Mothma looks at you again, "We have a mission for which you and your team are uniquely suited. It comes at a time when our primary operatives are unavailable, and it could yield the Alliance a powerful ally." She leans forward, looking at you intently. "We need someone who is not affiliated with the Rebellion. Someone who is willing to get their hands dirty. Someone who has a team they can trust to work independently. Also, someone who is willing to hide their true self for a time." She leaves the offer dangling.
What do you do?
"I believe that is workable, at least once. Tell me the details. I'm willing to take any risk, but I need to evaluate before I offer up my crew for the sacrificial offering."
Mon Mothma shakes her head slightly, "No, this isn't a sacrifice. It's dangerous, but I truly believe you can succeed." Alanna stands up, as if on cue, heads to get more wine, starts refilling glasses. Mon Mothma waits for hers to be filled, and sits back from the table, the glass in her left hand.
"Captain Vos," she begins. "I don't know how much you're aware of a powerful, galaxy-spanning criminal organization called the Black Sun, but they are a significant part of the conflict between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. This was unexpected, because, you see, during the Clone Wars, the nine leaders of the Black Sun were broken. Betrayal within, as well as assassins sent by Darth Vader, brought them to their knees. However, a new Underlord, a Falleen named Xizor, arose from their ashes. He has grown extremely powerful, wealthy and influential, and the Black Sun has grown under him."
She pauses to take a small drink of the wine, savors it for a breath, then continues, "I have met Xizor. He is like most Falleen, vain and brilliant. I'd hoped that Vader's bombardment of his homeworld would have left him bitter, that he could be an ally to our cause, or at least a thorn in Palpatine's side. However, he instead has allied himself with the Emperor, fighting for his favor alongside Vader. While the Black Sun have not acted directly against the Alliance yet, I fear it is only a matter of time. This is where you and your team come in."
Alanns begins taking plates quietly, the Chadra-Fan slips off her chair to pace quietly. Mon Mothma takes another sip, then speaks again, "On Coruscant, there is a Black Sun Vigo who has made overtures to the Alliance, offering his support if we would help him wrest control of the organization from Underlord Xizor. I doubt I can trust this man... but I would like to know for sure. The untouched ponfar fruit's sweetness is never tasted if left to rot on the ground, you know." Mon Mothma uses an old Kiffar proverb. It has a few different meaning, sometimes used as a saying to teach boldness, sometimes used as a warning against foolishness. Which way did your baba teach it to you, Ladro?
Mon Mothma leans forward, "I would like to send you as team of spies to Coruscant, down into the lower depths of the core of the planet, to level 1313. I want you to find out who this Vigo Altonn is, see if we can trust him, or if he is worth propping up within the Black Sun. I'd even be happy if he is a poor ally, but one easily thwarted." She pauses, then asks, "What would you need to be able to infiltrate his organization, probe him and his people, and take action when necessary, Captain Vos?"
My father, ever his own man, would always say, A cautious man might assume that the fruit is already rotten or inferior and thus pass it by. A foolish man might pick up the ponfar and take a bite from it greedily, without thought. A wise man, though... a wise man takes the fruit, smells it, and if it seems good for eating, eats it. Of course, if it is already too far gone, he can always put it in his still and make brandy from it!
"Mon Mothma, I would need transportation, of course, and solid idents for my team. Stake money. Top-tier communications equipment. Most of all, intel. Not just on Black Sun and Altonn himself, but on current fashions and trends on level 1313. Lingo and the like. And of course any contacts you can provide."
She takes it, listening intently, then nods, "You'll have it. I have a thorough database of contacts from my time in the Senate, but I've also gathered names and faces from the underbelly of Coruscant. You can't really manage a starship in 1313, but I can provide you with a speeder. And I'll back you for as many credits as I can safely funnel through without exposing you. I'll have two drops for you to exchange info, as well as a contact you can use if you need an emergency pull out from the op. Are you willing to commit your whole team to this? they can only know, if they are part of this." She watches your reaction.
I consider that. "I think not the whole team. It might be best to leave Squall and my pilot Jojee behind. Can you find something useful for them to do? They're both very good at their jobs."
"That Rattataki would be an asset, Captain." Turkittit says urgently. "We worked together before on Coruscant, when she was younger. She was a spice junkie, but she could splice like nobody I've seen. She had contacts down there, on 1313. We both did."
Mon Mothma answers, "As for your pilot, I've got an X-Wing with her name on it."
"Squall's been off spice for some time. Alanna helped with that, actually. You make a good point, Turkittit. I'll bring her along. And Mon Mothma, I suspect you may not be able to get Jojee out of an X-Wing, once you put her in."
That gets a smile from Mon Mothma. "I'm glad to hear it. We can always use good pilots. Are you able to travel to Coruscant tomorrow?"
"May I ask something? Is there a secret handshake or something?" I shake my head, knowing that didn't come out quite right. "What I mean is, am I a contractor again, or am I Alliance? I'm not asking about money, at least not at the moment, but I do wish I knew if this mission was a test, part of some sort of application interview."
Turkittit titters, "Oh ho, that Sark fool really twisted you up."
"We are often careful about people who ask to join. There have been more than a few Imperial spies." Mon Mothma says carefully, not finding humor in your concerns. "That said, you are well supported by trusted allies and members of the Alliance in good standing. I am offering you this mission as a leader in the Alliance to its newest member. Your rank will carry over into our military ranking, you will receive a commensurate salary. Jojee will become a flight officer, since she will be a pilot and Alliance pilots are officers. The rest of your crew will gain enlisted ranks based on your appraisal and our evaluations." She pauses to let you ponder, then asks, "Is this acceptable?"
What enlisted ranks do you suggest for Squall, Hosk and Amarath?
"Hosk has experience in military, well, mercenary, units, and I depend on him a lot. I would suggest Master Sergeant. Amarath, we need to throw in with real responsibility... trial by fire. She will step up to it. I suggest Staff Sergeant, with an experienced but not ambitious Sergeant or Corporal below her. Squall should also be a Staff Sergeant, some sort of engineering section chief." That was pretty quick, I know, but I've been daydreaming.
Mon Mothma smiles slightly, "Very well. Thank you for that. I'd like to meet Jojee later."
"Anything we should know about your crew?"
I turn to Turkittit. "Hosk loves order. Amarath loves chaos, although less than she used to. Squall loves mathematics and physics and bad decisions, although ze's backed off from the latter. Ze and Amy are an item, if it matters. They're more serious about it than they realize. Jojee... has to blow off steam sometimes, but her bad decisions usually wind up with a hangover and a happy miner, or something. " I don't always know when not to fully disclose. On an op, sure, but now? Maybe I should have said less.
A shrill snicker from Turkittit, then, "They sound fun, at least."
The dinner is over, and Mon Mothma excuses herself to check her datapad and use the comms. Turkittit follows her, leaving you and Alanna. Once they've left the room, Alanna starts hurriedly cleaning up the remaining dishes and wiping down the table.
Did you want to do anything before taking Mon Mothma to meet Jojee?
I give Alanna a kiss on the cheek and a whispered promise to return before I "ship out" in twelve hours or so. I do have a lot to do. First step, introduce Mon Mothma to Jojee. I have no actual idea of how Jojee will react, but I assume it will be fairly extreme.
There was squealing. Jojee. Jumping for joy, a couple hops, maybe. Also, Jojee. A dash to quarters to fetch bags. Also Jojee. Amused smiles. Turkittit and Mon Mothma.
Mon Mothma informs everyone that all three of your crew would have the rank of sergeant for this mission. Hosk accepts it without complaint, while Amarath asks Squall if that means they can boss each other around, to which Squall snickers and rolls zir eyes.
The crew's excited, eager for "one last bar hopping" before Jojee ships out with Mon Mothma and Turkittit. Mon Mothma advises that your flight will have a different pilot, and you're free to spend your last night however you wish.
Do you head back to Alanna's flat, or go out with the crew?
I am never one to choose between having my cake and eating it, if I can avoid doing so. "Alanna, would you join us? I see enough of these people, it would be nice to have some new scenery."
That surprises Alanna. She offers a small smile, then looks across to the rest of your crew, settling on Squall. Squall gives the smallest of nods. Alanna answers, "That sounds fun. I know a few places we could head to drink and enjoy your last night as civvies. I shall try to be the best scenery around."
Do you end up going to dive bars, a fancy dance club, or some quiet, contemplative fine dining, Ladro?
Who gets the most drunk?
Who leaves first?
Dive bars all the way. Alanna leads us to a spot with live music and fairly inexpensive drinks. Even though everyone's pretty free with the drinking, Jojee is a little more cautious than usual (X-Wing), and Hosk is the one that seems intent on truly preventing a possible glut of alcohol on the Devaronian market.
Alanna and I leave first, for a little alone time, if she's still interested.
The next morning you head down to the spaceport to see Mon Mothma, Turkittit and Jojee off. Jojee is so excited she's buzzing, but the moment she sees all of you there for her brings tears to her eyes. She hugs each of you fiercely, Amarath grabs her space heinie playfully, and Jo gives you a kiss on the cheek, telling you she cannot wait to fly for you again soon.
They board a shuttle that's headed to an undisclosed location, while you and the rest of your crew book passage on the Adriana, a frigate-sized passenger liner that runs up and and down the Corellian Trade Route. It's a couple days flight in hyperspace with all the planetary stops before you reach Coruscant. Mon Mothma provided you with idents to get on planet, as well as your pair of contacts - a Toydarian named Deegon Halfex (who you met on Spaceport Trident Vespa before) as well as a Twi'Lek named Ree.
Hosk plans on sleeping and drinking, while Squall and Amarath are excited about getting the run of the ship. What do you plan on doing on the trip?
We return to the falls. Making love in the midst of the roar of the falling water and the fine mist is a tonic.
I'll spend much of my time while travelling reviewing the intel from Mon Mothma, but there's no reason not to check out some of the amenities of the ship myself. I don't expect I'll have much chance to relax once we get to Coruscant.
Your ship arrives a couple days later. Let's see how arrival pans out.
Roll+Canny. On a 10+ pick 2, on a 7-9 pick 1.
• You got a few "specialty items" through customs that would otherwise be illegal. What were they?
• Your fake ID hasn't been flagged, and therefore can still be used.
• Nobody who might recognize you spotted you.
(Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 3, 5. Total: 10)
Figuring that I can find pretty much any "specialty item" that I need on Level 1313, I didn't risk a Customs issue. I did catch sight of that sleemo Taft Largo from way back on Nar Shadaa, but ducked behind a porter droid before he caught sight of me.
You're on a small transport ship making a trip down into the bowels of Coruscant, and the light from the sun is getting dim and obscured by the towering walls of the buildings covering the planet. Squall watched the sunlight disappear and there's a sense of dread on zir face. Ze moves to Amarath and snuggles closer to her as they look out the viewport. Amy, for her part, is visibly excited about this trip, being here is something she's wanted for a while. Hosk hangs back, wary, watchful over all of you.
The transport ship touches down a few hours after you left. Air traffic on Coruscant inflates travel times quite a bit. You file off CT-LTV1709 and into the smoggy, dark, dank atmosphere of level 1313. Tents and people fill the area surrounding the transport, and your fellow passengers waddle off into the crowd without hesitation. Life here is chaotic. The cacophony of voices and catcalls as you step onto the street is overwhelmed only by the uncomfortable chill, and the attention-demanding neon lights flickering and humming loudly all around you.
Your contact, Reetaki`na, can be contacted at a local brothel. Deegon Halfex has a comm frequency for contact.
What do you do?
My first priority is Squall. Once we disembark, I move to Squall and Amarath. "Amy, can I borrow Squall for a second?" Assuming she doesn't protest, I pull Squall away to a small pocket of quiet. I look her in the eye. "Squall, you are not the person you were when you were here last. Your experiences, your troubles have made you stronger. I trust you and I need you. Remember how you felt in your gut when you were saving Amy from that nexu? That's who you are, to me. Who you've always been. You just hid for a while."
Squall searches your eyes, you seem to fill her with confidence. "I need you, too, Captain. I won't fail you, I won't let Amy, or Hosk get hurt, either. I can do this."
When you share time and intimacy with a loved one in hopes of inspiring them, roll+Suave. On a hit, choose options. On a 7-9, choose one. On a 10+, choose two.
- They get a +1 Forward to perform any action you've inspired them to do
- You can guide their actions towards a path of your choosing
- You may ask them one question from the Read a Person list
(Rolled: 2d6+3. Rolls: 1, 6. Total: 10)
Squall searches your eyes, looking up at you. "Ladro... I was never close with my family. You know that. When I left Rattatak, I bounced around, looking for someone, anyone who would accept me, make me feel safe. Happy, you know?" Ze swallows, then licks zir lips, "I ran on Coruscant for a few years, and I was, uhm, really different. These people. They don't know the me I am with you. I'm not proud of the stuff that happened then. The, uhm, the choices I made. Kelb drug me out of there, but I was still messed up, so she passed me off to Lee. I karked that up, too. You-you know."
Ze fidgets a little, rubbing zir forearm, "But you've always been there for me. Even when you had to send me away. Pemmy tried, but he was too hard-headed to get me. You. Well, you're my family. My family I choose. Just, you know, just remember this when we're down here. I love you. I trust you, and I will never abandon you."
It takes me a moment to speak. "Squall, you don't know how much that means to me. You've already been through one big transition with me, and we're about to make another, even bigger one." I give zir a wry grin. "Now, are you ready to go infiltrate the most powerful criminal organization in the galaxy?"
Squall matches your grin, "I wonder if those sleemos updated their ICE... I bet not. I'll need some spikes and some equipment to work with, but you get me inside, we can splice them to ribbons."
Amarath's standing over by Hosk, arms crossed, watching, but playing it cool. You know she wants to know what you're talking about, but she stays put. Hosk's busy looking around, studying the place, looking a little bit like a tourist.
What do you do?
Squall and I rejoin the others. "I'm going to pick up the speeder, meet with Reetaki`na and get started on a plan. Amy, you're with me. Hosk and Squall, please see to lodgings. For comms, use clear channel and be careful what you say, for now. We'll save the encrypted channel for Ops only. Watch each other's backs."
Amarath heads off with you. The speeder is parked in a garage a half block from the port. There are speeder bikes zipping by, lots of traffic in this level. There's no daylight, just the contact illumination of lights hundreds of stories up.
On the way, Amarath walks beside you, quiet for a while, her eyes staring at concrete. "Cap, how do you and Adji Dar make it work? Being so far away from each other, you kriffing girls left and right, all that?" She's not looking at you as you both walk into the garage, past a set of Gammorrean guards who check your idents and wave you through.
I shake my head. "We just are, Amy. Have you heard the old story about the Andorean millipede? He's walking along just fine. Left, right, left, right, on down the line, and then he comes across a snail. The snail looks at him and says, 'Wow, it must take a lot of coordination to manage all those legs. How do you do it?' Now, the millipede had never thought about it before in quite that way, and when he tried to answer the question, something in his brain just snapped. Where before he just let his legs do their thing, now he was thinking about it, and suddenly he just couldn't even imagine how he'd been walking for all his life. He never moved from that spot again." That should confuse her, at least.
The storage compartment has a number of requested items. What's in there that you didn't expect? What's missing?
Where do you go?
The gear for Squall is all present and correct, which is great, but there's not a second set of idents, in case we need them, which I really thought would be useful. The surprise is a flat black box about the size of my hand. I have no idea what it is, but I'm hoping it comes in handy. There's one little light blinking red.
We're heading to the brothel to meet Reetaki`na.
You fly the speeder a few blocks (blocks here are very long) and pass by the brothel. It's known as "Rose's", owned by a retired Zeltron female.
You head inside, the place has a veneer of sexy style that barely covers the dingy undersides of tables, dusty corners and worn carpets. The madame, a matronly human woman, greets you, "Gentlebeings, I am Pishna. How may we bring you ecstasy this evening?"
I take a quick look around, and decide to present Amarath with a challenge. "My friend here is interested in something... exotic, I believe. As for me, I'd like some time with a Twi'lek. I've heard that a being named Reetaki`na is quite, how would one say it? Delicious."
"Uhm, what? I..." Amarath stammers, looking at the matron, over to the half dozen pretty girls of various species and attractiveness. "The... the Chiss girl is pretty?" She looks over at you, hung on playing the right part and well, sleeping with someone.
Pishna shakes her head, "Oh no, Reeta is not available, I'm so sorry. Her younger sister is, though. Chird'na. She is more than delicious. Would you like to see her?" She pulls out a small datapad, keys in a sequence as if she's calling up a contract.
"I had my heart set on Reeta. Will she be available soon?"
The lithe Chiss girl has walked over to Amarath, the two are talking and Amy's still stammering away, watching you.
I give Pishan a wink. "I would be willing to pay a fee for an introduction, scars or no. I assure you that I won't make an issue of it. My friend told her I was coming. If you could just let her know?"
I keep an eye on Amarath, seeing how she handles herself.
"Uhhh, I don't really think I can afford you, Liera." Amarath says, her eyes drinking in the Chiss girl as she smiles and flirts with your cyborg crewmate.
Pishna's mouth quirks with slight irritation which she quickly covers by answering, "Yes, of course I can arrange a meeting. She's on third floor, third room on the left. I've sent her a message that you're coming."
I thank Pishna, then head up the stairs. I'm not trying to put Amy in an awkward position with Squall, but if she's still paying attention, she'll be able to disengage and join me. Test? Yes, this is a test. Besides, she accused me of 'kriffing girls left and right.'
As you walk up, the door slides open. The door is built into the wall and slides away, leaving the doorframe wide. Inside the room you see a female Twi'Lek standing there waiting. She looks like this (she doesn't have blasters drawn, but she does have them in holsters):
Her apartment is barely furnished. A mat in the corner, a small, low table with spare parts for her blasters and equipment as well as an old datapad, a small bathroom, and that's it. Nothing on the walls, no furniture, no trophies.
She doesn't come up to shake your hand, just watches you as you enter. In a slightly annoyed voice, she says, "Call me Ree. Who are you, and which friend of mine sent you?" The door slides closed as you step in.
Slowly, carefully, so as not to present any threat, I reach into my right breast pocket with my left hand and pull out a sabacc card. The Queen of Air and Darkness. I hold it out to her and raise an eyebrow, waiting for her response.
Her face sours a bit, "Oh... those friends." She walks over to the low table, fishes out a pristine card, not in a deck, shows it to you. The card shows scales and negative eleven in the corner. Balance - the counter-sign.
"Yes, those friends. I'll try to keep the hassle to a minimum." I don't sit. "Do you have some idea of what I'm here to do, Ree?"
There's a confident grace you notice in Ree's gait as she walks up to you. She's trained in dance, but there's a predatory menace to how she moves. She's o flower. You also notice one of her "head tails", her lekku, is wrapped and tattooed, but there are deep scars hidden underneath. Someone has hurt her before, tortured her.
She looks you over, her eyes measuring you. "I've got an idea, yes." She stands near you, her eyes looking more at your qukuuf than you. "Vigo Altonn is looking for a strike team, someone from outside the Black Suns that he can use. He doesn't trust the Suns, and he shouldn't. Xizor doesn't have much faith in Altonn and has no doubt planted his people in Altonn's ranks."
I nod. "Do you have a sense of what the strike team is for? I can improvise, of course, but anything I know ahead of time will help improve my pitch."
"I'll set up the meet and greet. That will help your pitch." Ree answers. "Altonn has an upstart gang that's been pushing on him. They've suddenly been supplied with blasters and the local SecOps is never around when they move on Altonn's interests. What sucks for the Vigo is that most of his power is worlds away, he's over-extended here. He wants someone to punch down this gang, and if you've got the chops to figure out who is backing them, proof, then he'll be a very happy man."
She turns away from you, heads back over to the low table, grabs her datapad, "Tell me about your crew. Since I'll need to vouch for them. And, if you need another gun, keep me in mind. Picking has been slim this month."
"Two of my team are shooters. A bounty hunter and a former merc. One of them is downstairs, her idents call her 'Glorana'. She's Kiffar, 'borged up, pretty much fearless, and more or less crazy, but she does follow orders when the cards are down. The merc is a Bothan, big on discipline, and the person I'd trust watching my six more than any other. He's going by 'Lar.' My splicer is a Ratataki, and ze spent some time on Level 1313 a while back. Her idents call her 'Marda'."
"Another Kiffar? You two related?"
I nod. "In a somewhat roundabout way, yes. She's a bit younger, but we grew up together."
She nods, "Good. It's good to have family around. Keeps you sane, reminds you what you're fight for." She grabs her double-barreled blaster and holsters it at her belt. "You think Glorana is done with Liera yet?"
"She's done, whether she knows it or not. You ready to meet the rest of the team?"
"No time like the present." Ree says as she heads for the door. "Liera's room is a floor down, right by- nevermind, it's down a floor."
What do you do?
As I follow, I say, "Right by your sister's?"
Ree stiffens for a fraction of a second, then nods, her voice cool, "Yes. Right beside Chird'na. They're friends." She starts walking down the hall to the stairs.
There's no need for me to pry further. Ree clearly isn't in love with what her sister's doing, but that's her business. I follow down the stairs to the door she indicates, and I wave at the sensor to activate the chime. Then wait.
I respond, "I actually need Glorana. We've got business elsewhere." Hoping Amarath remembers her cover name, at least.
"I was! I was just finishing up." She hustles to the door, stopping to say, "Get what you need? She's expensive."
You see the Chiss girl, lying on her bed, a blanket over her lap. She smiles, probably happy to have such a short visit.
I wink at Liera, then turn to Amy. "Glorana, take a minute and get yourself put together right. Meet us downstairs." I turn away from the door and start to the stairs down to the main room.
As you start up the speeder, she looks at you, asking, "Why did I need to kriff the Chiss girl? Not complaining, she's..."
Ree cuts in sharply, "She's a very sweet girl, and you should think of her as a person."
Amarath's eyes widen, and she says defensively"I was going to say, expensive. Her services, I mean." Ree doesn't say anything else.