Log:A Twirl in the Starlight
ÎXÎ< Grave Thorn Balcony - Dawnrise District, Nar Shaddaa >ÎXÎ±±±ÎXÎ±±±ÎXÎ±±±ÎXÎ
Stepping out from the cocktail lounge, patrons are greeted by open air of Nar Shaddaa. Here under the protection of transparisteel awning, the view is nothing short of spectacular. The neon-lit skyline of Nar Shaddaa stretches out as far as the eye can see, a glittering and vibrant display of color and light. A railing stretches from one side to the other at a grand arc, allowing for wonderful views while still posing a risk for those who get too drunk, and therefore too cavalier, for their own safety.
The balcony itself is spacious and inviting, with iron wrought chairs and cushions made to withstand the elements. Strings of hanging lights criss-cross above from post to post, casting a warm and twinkling glow on the customers below. Wait staff are quick to bring out drinks and finger foods from an unobtrusive door hidden behind broad-leafed plants. The music from inside cannot be heard and instead guests are treated to the distant sounds of Nar Shaddaa's many levels of boroughs and wards.
It's one of the few nights that Nar Shaddaa's Dawnrise District wasn't being pelted by thunderstorms, and the balcony of the Grave Thorn Cocktail Lounge is bustling with murmur of pleasant conversation and the clinking of glasses. Some guests linger near the railing, looking out over the neon-lit Nar Shaddaa skyline. Others prefer to mingle in a few of the quiet sitting sitting areas where the sounds of jazz spill out from the interior only when the doors momentarily open to allow another patron to move one direction or another.
Among those enjoying one of the seating areas, occupying a corner where her black and crimson red 501-Z droid stands sentinel behind her, is Qi'ra. Her coat has been removed and draped over the arm of her chair, leaving her clad from head to toe in a slate gray blouse and dark black slacks, a sleek if petite silhouette with dark brown hair that she's pulled up into a high ponytail.
Legs crossed and elbow propped onto the arm of her patio chair, she holds a bright blue drink in a fancy glass in one hand, dark-painted nails gently tapping the glass to some beat that she alone hears. In her other hand is a datapad, the glow of the screen casting an unhealthy palor across her face, one thumb idly scrolling the screen.
At several points around the balcony, three armored and helmeted guards with blaster rifles stand watch, their solid black uniforms with gold trim marking them as the Lady's personal security.
Among the patrons enjoying the music and easy-going atmosphere are those accustomed to dancing. It isn't necessarily a romantic situation, but some evolve to that depending on the conversation. Others use it as business, a chance to speak, test the waters, or even break the ice. Poe Dameron is here, but he hasn't broached the topic of dancing yet with anyone as he rounds the perimeter, walking casually.
For a man with a large reputation, he isn't exactly tall; he's not short either, but one might have expected different from the old ace pilot. Age, however, treated him well, giving him peppered curly hair and the stubble of a beard. His limp had grown worse over the years, a product of the Cold War, but that aside, he still put up a formidable figure.
That figure dared to draw close to the mysterious leader of Crimson Dawn, Qi'ra herself. Well, at least until he's firmly halted from coming any closer.
"Hey, take it easy, pal. Just a gentleman hoping to extend an invitation to dance is all. That worth dying over?"
He brushed himself off after being touched, it wasn't needed; there was no spilled beverage or mess on his clothing. In fact, he looked nice, wearing a long stylish coat over a Corellian styled ensemble, complete with the dark trousers and red-piping of 1st class Corellian bloodstripes. His hands were up in mock surrender, but he didn't seem keen on abandoning the reason for his visit...
It was the voice that brought Qi'ra's attention up from her datapad. Blue eyes suddenly sharp, they swept down the man with the slow, predatory rake of a huntress comfortable on her own home turf and then rose again, up across his bloodstripes, his coat, his face.
Her smile curls to reveal her perfect teeth and the wrinkles at the corners of her eyes. HRO treatments, of which she had been a major investor and a bit of a walking advertisement, had been truly remarkable at erasing half of her eighty-two years, but even they couldn't take her all the way back to the youth of her twenties. Or perhaps she'd simply elected not to. She did, after all, still have a criminal syndicate to keep in order, and there was a certain amount of respect that came with maturity.
Setting both her drink and the datapad on a table beside her, she rose smoothly to her full five-feet-two-inches, waving the guard away from him with a dismissive flick of her fingers even as she stepped out to greet the man properly.
"To what do I owe the pleasure?"
There's nothing but warmth that linger in her eyes, her smile genuine if mildly surprised and perplexed. And even as she asked the question, she was offering him her hand, palm down -- an offering of a greeting, perhaps? Or, for the bold, a tacit acceptance of the offer he'd been about to make before he was so rudely interrupted.
"Qi'ra," Poe speaks back, dipping his head enough that a length of dark hair moved across his tanned brow. When he held his head high again, it accentuated the presence of his cheek scar. "Me? A pleasure? Don't tell anyone that, I have a reputation to keep. Truth be told.." He accepts her hand and smiles, "I saw you enjoying the evening out here and thought; maybe, you were waiting for someone to take the initiative and offer to dance. Even if that wasn't your intent, it's mine. So?"
"Would you care to dance with an old pilot?" He holds her hand, but not enough of a grip to keep her from taking it back if the answer was no. Poe was, after all, an officer and a gentleman.
'chani's arrival to the balcony is one of fanning herself and light, luminous sweating as she leans on the rail and takes a few breaths. Jaunting around this moon was exhausting, and the shiny lass takes this as a time to catch her breath and composure while looking out at the neon-lit skyline.. not that attentive to others present.
"Every bit as bold as your reputation," Qi'ra muses, her carefully articulated upper-class core-world Basic (read: British) carried on a pleasant laugh. But she doesn't, in fact, draw her hand back from him. If anything, she takes a half step closer and offers a little nod of grateful acquiescence.
"I'd love to, as long as you can forgive me a misstep or two. This is a rare treat. I hardly ever get invitations like these, anymore." Which may or may not be an exaggeration. Sometimes it's hard to tell with Qi'ra how much of anything she does is a show and how much is sincere. One could be forgiven for wondering if she even knew, anymore.
There's something fluid about the way she stands and moves -- a consummate dance partner that waits to take a lead without being pushy or presumptuous, but never passive or limp. There's a constant tension in every fiber of her being, like a spring that was ready to be sprung.
"It's been quite a little while since I've heard of any escapades of the great Poe Dameron from the HoloNet," Qi'ra says, mirth playing in her eyes. "Staying out of trouble, these days?" But even as she spoke, her eyes drifted to the side, caught by the figure that had just stepped out onto the balcony, the Ghostling's ethereal luminance seeming a momentary distraction from the pilot's ever-present charm.
Poe leads her closer to the music before squaring up with her and offering one hand away and outward, and the other to be placed by Qi'ra, dependent upon her comfort with him and where she wanted his other hand. Qi'ra's presence near the live music was enough for them to bring an abrupt (albeit natural sounding) end to the current tune, and time the start of another as Poe took the first step to lead them through the motions.
He was considerate and slow, though not altogether trusting that someone of Qi'ra's stature had forgotten the 'dance.' Dancing was what she did, both figuratively and now? Literally!
In a charming tone, he offers, "There seems to be nothing to forgive, you remember the movements." He chuckles and turns his gaze outward, either out of subtle paranoia or an effort to remain aware of the other couples dancing. It's how he spotted the peculiar female T'chani, and her glowing veneer. It brings his brow to perk, but he could not view long because he and Qi'ra step into a graceful spin, the tails of his long coat rustling slightly in their momentum and wake.
"No one cares about fossils like me anymore," He intones, "though trouble is just as eager to find me. I think it more accurate to say, I'm just not getting caught."
"Interesting domain you've carved out for yourself. I've not known the Hutts to scoot over and make room for anyone, yet they made an exception for you. It must be that pretty smile." Narrator: It was not her pretty smile.
'chani's moments to regain herself and her composure end with a big sigh. She turns and leans on the rail with a light grunt. She sweeps over those present on the balcony, and... well, she doesn't see anyone that fits Huttan celebrity, so she's just... staring between the two that can dance so well, Dameron and Qi'ra getting eyes
"Well, I have an excellent partner," the dark-haired leader of Crimson Dawn replies, still all smiles for the pilot. In fact, Qi'ra seemed quite comfortable with him, if not simply unworried about any threat he might offer and unbothered by invasions into her personal space.
There was no telling what anyone knew about her, anymore, or how much of it was true. She appeared no more than forty years old, yet she'd been the leader of Crimson Dawn for the last fifty years through several of its incarnations, from major crime syndicate to Corporate Sector adventurer's club and back again as something of a vast, over-arching hybrid: a wide-spanning collection of wealthy investors paying thrill-seeking opportunists to acquire pieces of particular beauty or value regardless of legality.
And then, of course, there were the more mundane operations of a bureaucracy running a large section of the Smuggler's Moon. Short of New Vertica, though, the Dawnrise District was among the safest places to be on Nar Shaddaa. So, really, Qi'ra was a philanthropist. A cold-blooded murderer that was unafraid of pursuing any means necessary to preserve her place in galaxy, also. But still a philanthropist.
"Well, it had better be worth something. I paid enough for it," Qi'ra jests. "And /you/ should be careful tossing around words like 'fossil.'" A moment of silence lingers, then, as she simply moves with Poe, taking his lead and genuinely seeming to enjoy the music, the moment, and the company.
"You know, if you ever get bored with your current endeavors, I'm sure I could find a place for you."
Well, the silence lasted a moment, anyway, before it was back to business.
"Too kind," Poe says about her commenting on an excellent partner. When it's her turn to shine, he spins her through a graceful technique then reels her back in. "A shame none take the time to dance with you. I suppose you cut an intimidating figure, but I'd argue there's just a supreme lack of confidence on this moon."
He takes Qi'ra's jest in stride, grinning. "Suppose you're right. The older gentleman playing that horn might get offended. You're so thoughtful." More couples have begun to dance, and one gentleman is even bold enough to offer their hand to T'chani, asking if she'd care to dance?
Qi'ra's offer brings a smile to Poe, and he responds. "I'm sure you tell that to all the gentlemen." A flash of humility, as if Poe didn't think he was all that special. "A generous offer, but what would you envision me doing? This may surprise you, but.." A spin and stop, then a lean. "..I can fly a ship alright." Once you've been shot down about seventeen times, you quit claiming to be the best pilot in the galaxy.
A delighted bubble of laughter escapes Qi'ra's lips as she spins, her ponytail flipping in her wake until she's brought back in close. "One can only hope you're setting an example for others to follow," she says. And maybe -- just maybe -- there's more to those words than simple jest. Maybe, if one looked very carefully into those dangerous, manipulative blue eyes, they might see a flicker of something like sincerity among the cynicism that resulted from eight decades of life in a cruel and unforgiving galaxy.
The deflection to the horn player wins the pilot a momentarily mischievous grin and a slow nod of appreciation. He was a gentleman after all, then.
Faux surprise then, as Qi'ra leans back into Poe's dip, clinging lightly to his shoulders for balance as she beamed up at him. "Is /that/ what you do?" She tsks softly. "And here I thought you were pitching your career change as a professional courtesan. Well, I could always a good pilot for the First Light." Her twenty-something-story tall Na'ur luxury yacht. "Or I have a TIE Defender, if you prefer something sportier. Though, I've also heard through the gape vine that you have a not inconsequential talent as a smuggler. And you can't begrudge me at least the attempt seducing someone of your reputation into our ranks. Imagine what it would do for name recognition alone."
Unfortunately, however, that is where their dance is cut short. One of Qi'ra's black-clad guards comes up close to the pair of them, and Qi'ra gently and apologetically drops her frame, excusing herself to have a brief, quiet conversation.
When she returns to Poe, she all graceful poise, hands clasped in front of her as she looks up at him. "Poe, it has been wonderful. I'm very glad to have gotten to meet you in person, and I hope this won't be the last time. Unfortunately, I'm needed elsewhere, but I would encourage you to stay and enjoy. The hors d'oeuvres are wonderful, and your tab is on me, tonight. Consider it a thank you for saving what was going to otherwise a dull evening of pouring through financial documents."
The two-meter-tall 501-Z droid comes stomping up, then, carrying her jacket and her datapad, both of which she takes.
"Have a wonderful evening," she says with a final smile before turning starting back inside.