Log:AAA Freight: Back in Bidness
"Between the ditches...
Get outta mah way ya SLOW SOMBITCHES...
Haulin' like a damn mule, doin' it... huh?"
In the middle of his one man singalong, Lord Zlurbo Qwig Makooja, first of his name, King of Smugglers, and fastest blaster on the Outer Rim, is suddenly aware of a gentle tapping on his shoulder. He spits a copious amount of some sort of blackish greenish t'bacc into a giant pail near his command console, and slowly turns to look behind him at the tapper.
A nervous-looking Twi'lek wearing nothing but some boots and a bandana returns his gaze. He seems to know just how important Mak's drunken singalong time is, but he appears confident that what he has to say is important enough to interrupt.
Mak might take some convincing, though.
"Hell you want, Lefty? I told you I don't need no PLEASURE, or any more of your MOLLYCODDLIN'! I'm damn near seven hunnert years old, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna be pampered by..."
Lefty coughs, politely, and points toward the freighter's viewport.
"Sorry to interrupt Mak. But this isn't about us, or our relationship. We... uh... we're about to crash into that planet."
"WELL SHEEEEEEEIT! Hold mah dip bucket! This is gonna be bumpy!"
Several moments later, the freighter screams down toward the landing port, narrowly avoiding a crash landing. The hull is still smoking as the freighter ramp lowers, and a Rugged Space Cowboy descends, adjusting his hat and bandana as he slowly wobbles his way out into the starport.
Turtugh, the Hutt of pleasure and entertainment, and Xan have maintained a distant relationship for the last few months, but Xan always manages to come back around and give her a cut of the profits. Loyal. That's the adjective Xan has earned herself. Well, maybe just useful. Point is, Turtugh's pet has operated further from Nar Shaddaa, with a longer leash, and hasn't frikked it up. Most of the time, the thief has been doing what she's always doing, taking shady jobs from unknown people or corporations that wish not to be attached to the outcomes. Today? She's drinking. Her other pastime. A brownbagged bottle is good enough for her while the Optimal Transient gets serviced.
Leaning up against a strut, the small Echani softly squints at the Space Cowboy Slug as she's coined him in her mind already. "Look like you be here some time," she says with a lift of her bag. "Brandy?" She offers with one of those serene grins that indicates a pleasant level of foolishness-err intoxication. "I no see you before."
At the base of his ramp, Mak squints in the Echani's direction. Those bulbous yellow eyes of his are bloodshot from excessive drinking, and there's some slimy residue from the t'bacc and drool around his mouth. Back up in the freighter, mostly out of sight, Lefty the One-Lekkued Twi'lek Dude is busy trying to get the ship back in order. There was a bit of shuffling during the landing...
His bandana and hat straightened, Mak spits out the giant lump of chaw that was resting in his lip, and starts making his way over toward the Echani with the Hutt equivalent of a Sexy Smile plastered across his broad, slimy, froglike face.
"Don't believe I've seen YOU neither, li'l lady. Course, I haven't been to this particular truck stop in a few years..." Looking down at the bag in her hand, and back at the woman, Mak tries to suss out the Hidden Meaning behind her words.
"I take it you're here for... work?"
Any other self-respecting alien would jump for joy that the bottle wasn't taken after noticing the chew, the natural slimy detritus coating the area of would-be contact. Her brandy is safe. The offer is gone. Xan celebrates with another unenthusiastic swig.
"I Xan." The Echani gives the Twi'lek no heed past noticing the missing lekku. "I no 'li'l lady'." The words roll around in her mouth like mud, something she'd happily spit out. "No active work. Just check in with Turtugh, maybe relax some. She have nice palace. Lots of ladies." Swig. Mmmm, brandy. "You here because crash?" she suggests that being the only reason he landed, given the hiatus.
"Turtugh? How's that rusty old so and so doin'? She's my... sister's brother's aunt's mother in law, I think. Dadgum! I ain't seen her in... ever, actually."
The idea, like the sentence, gradually gets away from Mak as he looks off into the distance with bloodshot eyes and tries to reconstruct a family tree chart that he only ever half cared about in the first place.
"Anyway, that don't matter. No I ain't CRASHED, and I'm highly offended you'd even think such a thing. Don't ya know you're talkin' to the Best Pilot from here to Zergnux City? Don't ya recognize the KING A SMUGGLERS?"
Mak folds his relatively impressive Hutt Arms over his relatively impressive Hutt Chest. He holds the dramatic pose for a few seconds, waiting for the inevitable dawn of recognition from the drunk Echani.
"Very big," which is, of course, a compliment. "She work at it every day. I think she fit me in her pouch if I got too close." Xan chuckles. Just as her laughter dies off, it starts up again at the Hutt getting a bit miffed.
"Why you think I razz you?" she finally says with a wink, seemingly totally unaware of how terrified she should be, speaking this way to /any/ Hutt (except maybe that runty cousin no one cares about). "I offer you drink. I never offer drink to frikk-up," she says with a solemn dip of her chin. "I terrible pilot. Sleep was always more fun than hyper...or touch down."
"Take bottle. It no special. I can drink my whiskey," Xan says as if he'd be doing her a favor, but then quickly abandons that line of topic when Mak reveals his reason for being here. Everything seems amusing to her at this level of intoxication and her grammar seems to slip into something less broken oddly enough, though this does nothing to ease her other symptoms of inebriation.
"Hell... I could use a li'l drinky... my throat's parched somethin' FIERCE. And I'm sure Turtugh wouldn't try to have me poisoned in a dadgum truck stop... but... I'm in a little bit of a rush."
Mak turns back to look over at his freighter. The hull isn't glowing quite as brightly anymore from the rough reentry, but there's still steam radiating off of it. Better let Lefty do his thing, get the ship ready again.
"But I could use a li'l help, seein' as you're a friend of Turtugh's... the contact I'm s'posed ta meet, she's ornery as starvin' REEKCAT!" Mak raises his fist as high as he can, waving it to show his displeasure.
"Won't sign my cattle bidness to a new contract 'til I pay her stupid license fee. A LICENSE FEE! You ever heard of anythin' so PERPOSTERUS!? I'm here to make the case in person, but... so far my rugged manly charms ain't been able to even crack her! But you though..."
He examines the slightly pixie-ish woman with newfound appreciation. "You might be able to convince her. Whaddaya say? Come with me to the meetin'?"
"This is new? You know this normal for other contracts? Or contracts from her?" The Echani already sounds hooked. "Okay. I get bored here anyway. They take too long to wash ships." Is that even a service or was she just paying some vagrant to steal water? "I see what I can do. Maybe she just need to relax," she says with a sly smirk. "Is she ugly?"
Either he didn't expect to take no for an answer, already anticipated her response, or simply wanted to get a head start. Either way, Mak is already dragging his massive body along the ground in the direction of the meetings. He's not especially hard to keep up with, but he's able to keep the pace to somewhere in the 'leisurely stroll' spectrum for most bipedal lifeforms. Any faster than that would cause him to quickly get sweatier and slimier than usual.
"Hell... I ain't the right one to ask any of that. She's a BIPED, so if you're into that whole thing you might say she's attractive. Me personally... I need a dumper about a meter, meter and a half MINIMUM before I'll even consider dockin' with someone. Hers ain't even a HALF meter wide..."
Mak holds his hands up to demonstrate the range of acceptable dumper widths, in contrast with that of whoever they're meeting.
Xan makes up the pace. Sometimes it's nice to be able to walk with someone giant who doesn't make you have to scramble just to keep up, but not while drunk.
The Echani bellows at Mak's criteria, which is probably just a matter of physics than simply personal tastes. She nods in recognition of his demonstrated range of acceptable dumper widths. "We never be in competition. Too much for me." She screws the bottle closed and shoves it in her sack. "I like bipeds. Do HRDs count as bipeds if they in biped form?" she wonders aloud, looking to Mak at the tail end, perhaps curious if he has an opinion.
"HRD? Ain't no such THING as HRDs... that's just a Zygerrian conspiracy theory meant to keep the honest, hard-workin' cattle ranchers afraid of their neighbors!"
Mak seems to legitimately believe this, but despite his blustery nature he doesn't really come across as argumentative. But anybody who thinks that a hermaphroditic Hutt can believably pass as a Man of Action probably has quite a few delusions that would take an average human lifetime to unravel.
"Same with clones. They went and made a dang big ol' fuss over some Clone War or whatever, but have you ever really SEEN a clone? NO! 'Cuz there's no such things as CLONES! Gubberment conspiracies, all of it."
"Yeah. Maybe she just was done with me right? Told me she was HRD so I back off," Xan mumbles by way of smoothing it all over. She reaches up to rub the back of her neck a little, a moment of somberness flashing through her eyes before it fades.
"I no know about clones. My people, we look same. Like, I look like my mother. It is hard to see difference in me and my brothers." Yes, well, the Echani have that 'problem', "but I have identical sister," as if that's any different from the sameness they normally deal with. "One of my girlfriends one time thought she was me. It weird. We no see each other since kids so. I think some people think we prolly clones....maybe we are." She shrugs.
"I usedta date some Rodian triplets. Well... I say 'date'..."
Mak's voice trails off as he scoots his bulky mass down the thoroughfare, heading toward a relatively unassuming building with a demure, elegantly-lettered sign.
Apparently Mak is meeting someone at a... floral shop?
"Here we are... just act casual and don't touch none of the plants. Half of 'em's poison, the other half's carniverous. But if you touch ANY of 'em, she'll raise a powerful FUSS."
Apparently Mak has had a meeting at this floral shop at least once before.
As he sluggishly scoots through the door, a Togruta woman behind the counter looks up, and glares at the newcomer. Clearly, she doesn't think that he's there as a potential customer. If she treated her customers to that glare, they'd probably run screaming.
"Oh. Mak. How delightful. I'd assumed you'd died after you ingested my prize zorgal weed... but I suppose I should have known it wouldn't be that easy."
"Rodian? Yeah I no need to worry about you cramping me," Xan laughs. When they arrive at the shop, Xan looks up at the sign from the street and lifts an eyebrow. Then she shrugs and follows the Hutt through, grinning at the thought of some plant biting a Rodian's arm off and careful not to step in any of the freshness of his trail, not that it's terribly fresh given where they've been traversing.
Immediately, the drunk little Echani gravitates toward the much more interesting plants first. "Dry it, grind it up. Become much more potent and can use as sprinkle." Xan makes a shake shake motion as she looks over her shoulder at the Togruta with a whiff of appreciativeness.
Then she meanders closer to the two parties. "You kill off source of income? What he do to you?"
As he finally finishes getting through the door (it takes a while...) Mak tips his hat in the Togruta's direction. He actually seems... is that nervousness on his bloated face.
As the Togruta woman stands up, it's easy to see why he might be nervous. She's tall and stunning, athletic and curvy, and the low cut dress that she wears is probably worth more than most freighters. Let's not try to add up the value of all of her jewels...
"You're lookin' mighty fine, Erma, mighty fine indeed. I was just tellin' my friend here how fine you look... uh... mighty fine. Wasn't I?"
As she sidles across the room to greet them, ice cold stare shooting daggers at them both, Mak actually gulps. Some King of Smugglers, eh?
"Mak. Mak's Acquaintance. I know what you're here for, and I know why he brought YOU..." She looks only slightly less displeased by the Echani woman than she does by Mak, but give her a break, she probably suspects her motives.
"... I don't know what he's told you, dear, but Lord Makooja and I have no business association ever since the divorce was finalized, and the only 'source of income' he provided me was a lump settlement." She gestures toward all of the plants, and the shop.
"Which I used to build this thriving business and become independently wealthy. So as far as I'm concerned, there's no need to prolong this lovely reunion. If you want to get a shipping contract, you can pay the same license fee that everyone else does."
"I no know about ac-whatever," Xan's not even going to touch that many syllables right now, not with all the distracting assets right in front of her. "We met in the starport. First. My name is Xan. It's nice to meet you. Look, I get you have history, but I don't see how that has anything to do with me." Thank you booze for such basic eloquence that most people possess on the normal. The Echani seems unflustered by Erma's formidable being and status, just as she was with Mak. Xan is used to looking up too, so her posture is relaxed.
"I made an assumption that you profited directly from these licenses..." Xan shrugs. "That's what I mean by source of income. Just like any customer of this shop would be? Have you always charged him a license fee?"
The Echani's gumption makes Mak look even more nervous than before, as if he's waiting for the Togruta to pull out a vibroblade or something. Judging by the look of her, that might not be a completely unfounded fear. But as the Echani makes her inebriated case, and the Togtruta's expression softens slightly, Mak can't help but smile.
Uneasily, but it's still a smile.
"Ah. I see you're not just one of Mak's truck stop hookers. My apologies if I was... rigid." Rigid is a pretty good word for it. She has pretty commanding posture.
"No, I didn't always charge license fees to ship my exotic plants, but that was before I had so many truckers competing for the shipping rights. And... everything else. Truckers like Mak are a credit a dozen these days, and it's not my problem if he's having difficulty keeping his ill-managed freight line operating. MY business is thriving, probably because I don't spend all of my profits on chewing t'bacc and Rodian Sex Slaves!"
If it were possible for Mak to turn any redder, he probably would right now. "Now come on, Ermy... you know my pleasure slaves mean nothin' to me! Why, after I've done my bidness on 'em I sell 'em at bulk rates!"
The Togruta stands up to her full height, lungs inflating, chest jutting out even further as she points a finger right in Mak's face.
"You SEE!? HOW DOES THAT MAKE ANY MATHEMATICAL SENSE!?"
"They say money, sex, and...I can not remember the last one," how to raise one's kids, "Are the three things that make a couple divorce, but you not married now. Now, it just a favor, one you can use. Why not bank a favor? Then not do it anymore till he repays the favor? If he have no warning of new license fee, then how can he budget for one? That no make sense either. What he does with his money has nothing to do with you now." Xan shrugs, even lifting her hands with that easygoing look.
As for mathematical sense, Xan rubs the back of her neck a little and her head tilts to the side as she simply says, "It's subtraction? which is also addition. Money doesn't just disappear unless you destroy it." She's serious.
For a few seconds there, Mak looked like he was following. He really did. Nodding along and everything. But somewhere the in the middle his forehead furrows in confusion, and he starts looking off at some of the plants. Especially the zorgal weed, which makes him lick his lips nostalgically.
Then he looks at Erma's lowcut dress, which also makes him lick his lips nostalgically.
Speaking of Erma, for a few seconds there it looked like she was following as well. Then somewhere in the middle her forehead furrows in confusion, and she looks at the Echani as if she's not quite sure that this is a rational person. But... she can't deny that it makes some sense.
Her eyes drift away to her lovely plants, a brief flash of anger at the memory of the zorgal plant that's no longer there. Then her eyes catch Mak, and for just a second she looks nostalgic. But when she sees where she's looking some reflexive bile builds up in her throat and it takes great effort for force it back down.
Apparently, she remembers their marriage a bit differently than he does.
Pinching the bridge of her nose, the Togruta concedes the point. "FINE! Fine... I suppose that I can give AAA Freight one last chance to disappoint me, free of charge. Instead of paying a license fee... I'll take a deposit for one hundred thousand credits, refundable at the date of my choosing."
Mak thinks this over a second, rubbing his nonexistent chin with his pudgy fingers.
Slowly a smile spreads over his face.
"You got yersef a DEAL, Ermy! Hot damn! We're BACK IN BIDNESS!"
Xan has absolutely no idea that she's losing people. To her, the concepts she bandies are reciprocal and make complete mathematical sense. This way of thinking has helped her bend normal laws, social unspoken laws, and as to be expected, the results are a bit hit and miss. "Your plants are beautiful by the way. I always like how the more deadly ones have come to look so good, like they know it helps their function. Do you have anything that is pet friendly? Maybe?"
As gorgeous as the Togruta's body looks in that dress, Xan can't stop staring at her face now, mesmerized by the perceived symmetry of all the woman's markings and variations of color, how they blend and accentuate contours of her face.
As Mak begins his customary celebratory move, the Enthusiastic Pumping of Fists Followed By Jelly-Like Wobbling and Inserting A Wad Of T'Bacc Into His Mouth, his ex-wife tries very hard not to regret her decision. In fact, she looks much more pleasant now that Mak has agreed to give her a 'deposit' that's the exact same credit amount as the licensing fee would have been.
She's now giving the Echani ragamuffin her entire attention and points to a door that leads off to the side.
"I think I might have exactly what you're looking for. I keep a few specimens of Jagged Puff Blossoms in my greenhouse. If you've got no pressing business to attend to, I'd love to show you around?"
Mak looks back and forth between the two women, his celebratory grin muddying a bit, though not quite turning into a frown. He did, after all, get ONE of the things he came for today. Perhaps that's victory enough.
"I'll uh... just be on my way then. Wheel never stops turnin' for an ol' trucker... cattle probably need milkin'... and uh... Lefty's probably..."
They don't seem to be paying that much attention to him, as he slowly oozes his way toward the door, letting himself out.
Sorry Mak, but you led Xan into a lioness's den, and this prey, whether she's prey or not, goes willingly. "Mak..." Xan takes out a little slip of paper, almost a ribbon, torn at the edges. It has 'firstname.lastname@example.org' scrawled on it. On the other side? 'Xan'
"I'm sure you do," Xan grins brightly. "I've got time. Do you like Brandy?" Seriously. "Or wine? I was just on planet to pick up a bottle of Naboo Lake Wine." No she got that on Spice Terminus from a neurotic Sephi. "Are the Jagged Puff Blossoms tough? I have a tooka." Her tones are congenial, but it's quite obvious from any objective onlooker that she's magnetized.
"I could do with a glass of wine. A tooka? Well, you know they are quite susceptible to Derilosia Nip if you're having behavioral problems." The Togruta looks down to the Echani as they walk along and Xan follows her beyond the front of the shop, disappearing from view.
"No you have more than a glass! I have!" can be heard last."