Log:A Collateral Soul
Begula's Palace - Hutt District, Nar Shaddaa
The long, broad entryway into the Spice Lord's palace ascends a path of the finest marble, either side lined with ornate alcoves filled with art pieces from dozens of worlds. Between each alcove is a Hutt Cartel guardsman, identified as belonging to the Spice Lord himself. Bridging the top of the pathway is an array of greeters, where each guest is presented with pompous welcomes and rich circumstance, while simultaneously, and discretely, being assessed before being allowed entry into the palace's main chamber. Workers, servants, and guards circulate throughout the main chamber at all times, and are available to help resolve issues, respond to guest requests, and police matters as the need arises.
At the apex of the pathway, the main chamber of the Spice Lord's palace is designed so as to be an enormous, circular arena. About the outer perimeter walls, each housed in a large, pillared alcove are eight individual thrust stages equidistant to each other. Upon each at any given time is a performance of dance, music, combat, or other visual art; generally, three stages are running at once, and, in times when court is being held by the Spice Lord, all eight will be so occupied. Denizens and courtesans wander from stage to stage, performance to performance as they so choose, the whole of the gargantuan chamber being so large as to cause little overlap in noise and clutter, both in sight and sound. Above the stages, arching up the walls of the domed chamber, are tapestries of the finest silk, depicting important events from throughout the Spice Lord's life, both the glorious and otherwise. The light of the chamber is always at odds with itself, glimmering with a plethora of colors from the copious stained glass sections of the walls above as they sweep toward the apex of the domed walls. Between each of the thrust stages is a further anterior alcove, each leading to the deeper recesses of the palace. From these issue forth a constant stream of servants bearing refreshments both exotic and mundane, suitable for the variegated palates of the constant stream of guests and devotees.
It is at the center of the arena, however, where the main stage is prominently displayed, a rising swath of carven marble surmounted with three ever-larger platforms, each more prominent than the preceding. It is upon the centermost dais that the Spice Lord can be found seated, surrounded by plush, down cushions, when the Hutt is holding court. Upon the second-most dais is generally seated the guest of honor, should there be one, in the figurative catbird seat, a place of special significance and prestige. Lastly, the third dais is reserved for those in a position of shame or dishonor; it is from this seat that those accused by the Spice Lord's observance of law shall find themselves ultimately sentenced.
It is especially crowded tonight in the Hutt Lord's palace, not only due to several ongoing performances at the perimeter stages but also to an, apparently, ongoing celebration of some sort. Denizens of dozens of worlds ranging from the Core to the Outer Rim mingle and mix with each other peaceably, and, in some cases, professionally. Throughout the various coves and alcoves of the gargantuan chamber, Begula's enforcers stand at the ready or else patrol hither and yon, some small assortment of them surrounding the dais upon which the Hutt Lord himself is seated.
Begula himself is, despite the commotion and goings on throughout the chamber, fast asleep upon the topmost dais. A loud rumbling and snoring can be heard emanating from the Hutt Lord. Nearby, the Rutian Twi'lek, S'il Tilo, presses his fingertips together in steeple formation as he watches for those courtesans who might deem to approach Begula. The Twi'lek seems agitated, and, perhaps, remorseful, but, despite these, dutiful.
It is a job, after all, but it does pay well.
Parting is such sweet sorrow...
Muri finally turns her back on her Nightfalcon outside the palace, having no choice but to trust (hope) it'll still be there when she returns. Also, that she /will/ return. Netep Muri may more often than not opt to dress like she's an asteroid brat, born among the stars or in the bowels of some back alley, but she's no dummy. She's willfully chosen to do business in and out of Hutt space and is well aware of how the world works...ruler of the hour pending. And Nar /has/ seen its share of turnover, these past two years.
The linguist abandons her bike but not her hope as she strides across the threshold into that long, artful antechamber and toward the main event. Her limp is yet prominent, but rhythmic. If her bones were to magically heal overnight, she might've forgotten how to work a normal gait. As the sounds and sights of a PARTY reward her courage, that step acquires a certain pep. Her uncharacteristically somber expression morphs into a pleasurable smile of admiration - cast toward more than one dancer shakin' their stuff in those shady outcroppings. A hand self-conscientiously fluffs at some heavily adorned curls, but the effort's done in vain because let's face it - that mane's gonna do whatever the kriff it wants, gravity and product be damned. When at last her offbalance swagger lands her within sight of the gargantuan host, she angles her approach accordingly and does her best to have eyes ONLY for S'il Tilo there, as /this/ is the man who might make her heard.
"Your Lord knows how to spoil his guests." She clears her throat softly and melds into a stream of fluent Huttese with ease - words better fitting a tongue much larger than hers spouting forth from her petite frame without an ounce of mispronunciation. "I am most amenable to partaking while I wait. But if his majestic self should awaken afore I fall asleep...I would beg an audience." Aaaaand a bow. A heavy curtain of hair clatters together in its many tangles as it falls to shroud her face and...much of self. [Language: Huttese]
The Rutian Twi'lek, S'il Tilo, scowls at the woman as she speaks, perhaps out of habit, or perhaps because, among humanoids, he has little choice but to appear as coming off so: his mouth, fatter and more grotesque than even a Hutt's is riddles with blackened, pointed, ill-projected teeth, the effect of which, when viewed next to his splotchy, mottled skin, is nothing less than disgusting, despite whatever expression he may choose to belay. "What business have you to present His Eminence?" spits the majordomo, quite literally, flecks of saliva accompanying the words he eschews.
Still, the Twi'lek looks back over his shoulder, the folds of his flesh bunching up under his chins as he does, and peers at the Hutt Lord, as if assessing whether or not Begula is *really* asleep or is *actually* approachable. Upon the dais, the Hutt's pupil can be seen moving to focus on the Twi'lek, even through the narrow slit of his left eye, watching, as it were, like a loth cat in half slumber keeping a look out for potential prey. S'il looks back at the woman, his face a continued scowl, as he awaits her answer.
Scowls are probably one of the more common expressions Muri gets thrown her way during an average day of existing on the Rim, so it's met with a calm, complacently close-lipped smile. Spit, on the other hand? A little less common. In some circles. One eye squints closed against the onslaught for duration of the spritzing. When blue lashes bat apart once more, a third eyelid is last to unveil the yellow eye. Still smiling. Marginally.
"Business pertaining to credits. More specifically, there is a debt - one incurred by a deceased friend of mine - owed to the cartel. I'm here, unbeknownst to them, to negotiate terms by which I may assist their uh 'payment plan' by shouldering some of the financial responsibility...in exchange for assurance that the cartel will cease shadowing their lives during this fragile time." A light cough goes into fist, then she reaches for an inner jacket pocket - STOPS - and arches a brow. "May I?" a point to the jacket pocket. "Smoke?"
"Yes, of course." says the Twi'lek, now moving up toward the dais and motioning Muri, with a fat hand, to follow. "You may smoke. It is not restricted here in the palace, nor even before His Eminence in times of celebration like tonight." S'il moves over toward one of Begula's aural cavities, standing aside the large head pod of the slug, and he leans in to whisper - quite loudly as if on a stage - into the Hutt Lord's ear, recounting what Muri has told him, not verbatim, but stressing the idea of debt and payment and such and so forth.
The Hutt Lord himself emits a loud, long, and low "hrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrm," and he draws in breath with a snort, exhaling now in a great sigh. His eyes slowly open, and the pupils, narrowed to slits, focus on the woman before him. Begula's gargantuan maw slowly upturns into a semblance of a smile, and pop together once with a smacking sound before he speaks.
"A'chuta." he says. "With whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?"
The obese Twi'lek stands aside and to the Hutt Lord's left, his scowl/smile still visible, his eyes, judgmental.
"Just thought it wise to clarify the intended object of retrieval..." Netep pans a slow, pointed look around to all the enforcers. "Company considered." In otherwords, she'd rather not be blasted apart today. While a few fingers resume course and draw out a slim, hand-rolled cig of underground origin, she follows the corpulent Twi'lek up the step(s) of dais but stops short what she deems to be a respectful few feet shy of closing the gap.
Twin wisps of sweet blue smoke escape lazily out either nostril as she breathes the vice to life and exhales reclaimed relaxation. Two fingers make a show of offering it to the Hutt's chief lackey "Mm?" before popping it back between lips for safe keeping when Begula groans their way into the waking world. "Bo shuda," she puffs and plucks the smoke back out of mouth to motion a ghostly trail through the air. "My pee kasa 'Muri'."
"Muri." repeats the Hutt in a loud boom. Begula looks to his right (where several servants are waiting) and snaps his fingers, sending them, all three, to disappear behind the dais. The Hutt Lord then returns his attention to the woman before him.
"Muri." he says again. "I am told you are here to pay off a debt that is not yours. How ... respectable ... of you."
For the first time this evening, S'il Tilo's grotesque mug can be said to actually go into the semblance of a smile, a wry, condescending grin. The Hutt Lord shifts upon the dais.
"Tagwa," Netep's head tips a few degrees to the side in confirmation, "your Excellency. I'm glad you think so." She draws once more from the object of her oral fixation, then gambles with fire, literally, by tucking it into a little notch cut into her belt. Might be, it's been cut for this very purpose. "Sri Qi's surviving kin ought be able to mourn in peace without a'fearin who might be at risk of followin 'er to the grave, yea? S'bad enough that she's gone. Flattened like a sand beetle a'neath all that Corestar rubble. I've got a, erm..." One finger shoots aloft to indicate she needs a moment to pull the datapad from hip and typity type until an image comes grainily to screen. It's a Meerian woman, sort of, and what's visible is smacked black, blue, and burned. "Picture's worth more'n I can say in a half minute, though it ain't doin her justic. Sri was a fine woman. Just had a bad habit or three...admittedly enabled by yours truly more'n once." A conflicted, sideways grin suggests Muri isn't incredibly sorry (if at all) about her role in encouraging the stout little gal's behavioral shortcomings. "She wasn't aiding and abetting enemies of anybody oe entity but herself, just...wrong place. Wrong time. Disorder struck from above." The datapad flips once in hand, deactivated, and stowed away.
"Just wanna help make it right, for what's left. Heard from her eldest boy, something in the neighborhood of 30 thousand. So said the cretin--" a hand goes up in show of surrender to the Twi'lek buddy "-who showed up the night after she was found, hintin what was in store 'round the corner if debts incurred weren't paid back in full. Part of me's impressed the old girl managed to buy up and hide away that big a stash without the rest of us deliquent gal pals knowin about it, but other half of me's a mite pissed. So. How much'll it take to forgive a ghost and spare the living?"
"Oh ho ho ho. Ah ha ha ah." booms the Hutt Lord. "Hrrrrrrrrrm. Yes. You have many words, young sapient. True, the bombardment was unexpected and ... I would say ... unnecessary, if not unwarranted. And it is most unfortunate that so many *innocent* lives had to suffer for it. Like your friend's."
At that moment, the three servants that Begula sent off earlier return with refreshments, and they proffer them to the Hutt Lord first (who takes a large flagon of some sickly-sweet-smelling substance, and then next to Muri. The Twi'lek, to the Hutt's left, shifts about, almost as if his legs are hurting him, girth included. S'il Tilo produces his own datapad, and begins to finger through its information, looking to see what debt specifically that Muri is referring to.
Upon the dais, Begula takes a large quaff from the flagon, belches loudly, and wipes his cleft chin with a fat hand. "I daresay, depending on the debt, we shall be able to transfer it to you at an extra twenty percent."
Muri stares, unblinking, and chooses blindly from the remaining two beverages. Whatever it is, there's always something worse to compare it to. Right? "Seems to me an even transfer would better ensure you receive your payment in full. Elsewise, you'll have the trouble of hunting them down, liquidating assets..." One wrist rolls a gesture round and round with a 'yadayada' sort of motion while the other hand brings cup to lips.
Instant regret. There's a flash of it in her eyes - just briefly - and a twitch to nostril as the funk burns its way through the roof of her mouth into every pore of her being. The urge to spit it out is strong, but she fights it. She fights it well.
The hard swallow is visible going down her throat, then gets chased by a second, just for diplomacy's sake. A vaguely yellow palor tinges her cheeks, but she continues on as though it were but water! Swamp water. A glance goes to the Twi'lek and his ongoing data hunt. "Ten percent, and I'll charge them the equivalent to make up my difference. You're still comin out on top."
The Twi'lek majordomo apparently finds whatever it is he is looking for, and moves to show the information to the Hutt Lord, pointing with a fat finger across the screen of the datapad. Begula "hrrrrrrrrms" in contemplation at the figures on the display, all the while taking in Muri's proposal.
"Ten percent, and you are personally responsible, sounds fair enough. In return, the pressure is taken off of the original debtors, as you assume the debt."
Begula takes another gulp of his drink before putting the now half-full flagon back onto the nearest servant's tray. "What do you say, Muri. It is a good bargain, to be sure."
"Bargon che copah, Lorda Begula." Muri's smile has been tempered by the truly repulsive flavors spawning in her mouth right now and while it's there, it's under strain. As bad as the initial taste was, the lingering aftertaste is worse. She bows her chin in agreement and returns the cup'o'contents to the server's tray. "I have.." both eyes flick upward to the grandios ceiling to perform a quick, mental tally, "seven thousand, here and now, as show of good faith. I will pledge twenty percent - at minimum - of all earnings to follow, until the difference is met."
Her left hand pulls the cig free of its resting place before the smell of singed leather can reach her nostrils and she takes a final, deep breath through the drug-packed paper, then casts it underfoot. BOTH hands go to her head, then, and work at unraveling something tangled (tied) therein. It's a black, glossy bit of fulgurite, shaped roughly into the form of a howling humanoid with exaggerated mouth. The center's been drilled out, turning a simple effigy into a bead. "Also, there's the matter of collateral. In the event I make poor on my promises, you keep this..." she offers the bit of sand 'glass' up to the majordomo to pass along to his master. "My soul."
Some Ibhann'I wear their osma in pouches hung around neck...Netep wears hers scattered throughout her hair. There are weirder places to store precious things, so. Why not.
Begula motions for the Twi'lek to accept the osma, the look in the Hutt's eyes seeming, with their slight glare at the Twi'lek, to indicate ... graciously. S'il Tilo steps forward to do so, and behind him the Hutt Lord booms, " ... this is a most acceptable arangement, Muri. Your *collateral* will be kept most safely until the debt is cleared. Let us not harbor any ill will over a debtor's agreement. You are welcomed here; please enjoy the festivities while you are visiting my humble abode."
Begula smiles and waves a thick, flabby arm about, indicating the celebratory activities going on all about. "There is no time like the present to enjoy oneself, I always feel."
"Of that, you and I are of like mind," Muri tips a couple fingers off her brow in form of salute, coupled with a secondary bow. When she straightens out, it's to throw the obliged Twi'lek a vaguely smug little wink. The space gypsy backstep-staggers off the dais and pats the datapad on her hip. "To whom do I direct the payment, via holonet, eh? Account transfer."
And so it is done.