Log:Array Consortium: A Dutiful Child, Part 1
Having found that her parents have been kidnapped by slavers, Aola, having newly joined the crew of the Bandit's Castle, has asked Adhar to help her free them. While her sister is in the Senex-Juvex sector to be trained as 'entertainment', her parents are in the employ of a technical salvage operation on the Outer Rim world of Hyporil. Adhar dispatches Bar'duur to join Aola and secure her parents' freedom by the most peaceful means: buying their contracts outright. But will it work?
The mission to collect Aola's family has two parts: one leg sends her to Hypori to get the majority of her family, while the other sends her into the heart of the Senex and Juvex sectors to save her sister from depraved nobles. That leg will be traveled alongside Captain Gann - but this leg will see her traveling with her first officer, Bar'duur.
The plan is relatively simple: Bar'duur, posing as an executive out of the Corporate Sector, will travel to the surface via the Harvester with the Castle in orbit, barter with the slavers, and - hopefully - purchase the contracts of Aola's family members without any fuss. These are reasonable people, or so it's said, and they want techs to mine the collapsed factories of the old Techno Union for droids and parts for their outlaw clients, not have the operation brought down around them. Aola will serve the role of Bar'duur's assistant, with the 'files' and the identities of the now enslaved 'technicians' in her possession. Several Consortium guards will go as well, dressed like suitable executive bodyguards, and hopefully the whole thing will shake out properly.
Hypori is a wasted, rocky world, with very little in the way of water save for some small oceans dotting the landscape; the Geonosian hive that once lived here is long gone now, but its towering mounts serve as memorials to the lost aliens. The factory is not far away, right along the equator, a rust-field of collapsed structures at one edge a collections of domes the size of a small colony has been erected. Even flying overhead in the Harvester, it's clear that there have to be hundreds of people working to prospect and salvage the mess, watched over by guards and armored combat cars. A professional operation, on an impressive scale.
The Thanex Group is the name of this 'company', and outreach has been made with its 'officers' for the two of you to land at their salvage facility. As Aola brings the Harvester down onto the flat pad of permacrete that serves as the landing area, a number of men in combat armor and bearing weapons of various types and descriptions can be seen approaching from the nearest dome along a narrow permacrete thoroughfare connecting it with the pad. Several sentients in suits can be seen as well, two humans with a Rodian in the lead.
Guess it's time to start the operation. Here's to 'business'.
As they start flying in Bar'duur turns to his 'assistant' If you feel any emotion just look at me and try to think of something serious." He says to her. "Dont speak to anyone else unless I say, otherwise always talk to me, give me information, okay?" He tells her as he adjusts his suit a little and gets ready to start the mission, drawing a deep breath and releasing it slowly, he puts on his best 'I'm important' face and steps out of the shuttle, looking around with a passive expression before he turns his eyes to anyone who might have been sent to greet him, taking a few steps toward the men in suits but letting them do most of the walking.
"Understood," Aola speaks rather firmly from her position at the cockpit while she checks her clothing over. She couldn't carry out her blaster rifle this time, it was too obvious a weapon...she really needed to get the hang of a blaster pistol. Her lekku giving the slight iritated twitch the betrays the emotion she was sure to have been feeling but was doing her best to keep under a lid, the blue-skinned woman steps out behind the Zabrak and tucks a simple data-pad in her arms. Look the part of the secretary, the assistant, and try not to shoot anybody. It was a good start.
The two of you emerge from the shuttle, along with the four guards - who, instead of combat armor, wear lightly armored suits as they follow the two of you to the edge of the landing pad, where the 'executives' are waiting on you.
"Mister Tamzan Bazza," says the Rodian at the front of the formation, addressing Bar'duur's persona by name. "I am Thanoo Gontar, administrator of this facility. These are my associates -" he gestures to a surly, red-headed human man the size of a small house and a dark-haired man with a more medium build. "Anthat Morr and Bathat Ortan. They oversee our workforce." And they look it, too. Knee-breakers and whip-crackers of the purest lineage, just dressed up in suits.
The Rodian looks between the two of you, taking a long moment to look Aola up and down. Because of course he does. "I see that you have your own workforce to tend to, and you're obviously a busy man. Why come to us for...staffing?"
Bar'duur's attention focuses on the Rodian, the others are only given cursory once-overs and he mainly focuses on the Rodian, all buisness. "Administrator Gontar." He says with a nod. "I dabble in the markets." He answers the Rodian seriously. "My usual contacts have not been able to keep up with the demand of my clients, it seems with all the troubles the need for the right types of labor, have never been higher. I hope that you can meet my demands."
No words from Aola, she simply remains still. Her fingers tighten a little around the datapad she keeps hugged to her chest. It was the easiest way to stop her from smacking it upside the head of the Rodian slaver, or one of the two men. Her gaze doesn't meet the Rodian as he looks her up and down. Perhaps it worked to convey a more demure demeanor, but mostly it was so she wouldn't be caught glaring.
"Yes, good," says Gontar, looking back to Bar'duur as he speaks. His shock of pale hair is odd on an older member of his species, especially since it doesn't stand up in bristles. It is coiffed and silken, almost Human in appearance. A hairpiece, perhaps? "Of course, I am certain that we can accomodate your needs. Will you please come inside, and we will tour the facility while I take you to the administrative center."
He gestures for you to go, the throng behind him parting to create an aisle through which you can walk - behind him, of course, as he leads the parade into this hive of misery.
Bar'duur gives a single nod to the Rodian, saying nothing of the other beings hair he keeps on a sort of passive serious expression and moves forward immedeately as if he owns the place, but he walks along with the Rodian. "How many do you move through here a year, average?"
Falling into step, Aola doesn't speak, but she does keep a mental note of their suroundings. Her droid was left aboard the shuttle, intended to be signalled if they could not make it back to the landing pad. Yet again the Twi'lek found herself musing on the fact she was far more comfortable in a ship and armed to the teeth than on the ground and playing deceptive without a weapon.
"We try and take care of our workforce," says Gontar as he leads the lot of you into the dome; fresh, cleaned air fills the airlock into which you enter as he leads you on, past its inner doors and into a wide hallway. Everything here is white - the floors, the walls, the light of the fixtures - giving it an almost hospital feel as he leads you along. "Turnover is low, save for accidents, and even then we have an advanced medical suite here to care for the labor force. Usually, any casualties come from those we simply cannot save, or from fights among the workers. Of course, there are the occasional defensive measure left over from the builders of the factory that somehow remain online, but this is remarkably rare. We haven't had a fatality in six months, much less an injury."
That's...highly unusual for a slaver outfit.
Bar'duur hmmms gruffly, thoughtfully. "Sulvan Market cant even boast those numbers." He comments idly as he moves along at a gradual pace, glancing over to his assistance. "Do you have the numbers on them Silkie?" He asks Aola, apparently that's her slave secretary name or something. "So the workers are healthy? No diseases I should know of?"
Silkie? A bite of her lip has Aola musing on how she'll repay that one, but she taps away at the datapad before offering it towards the man. Here's hoping the 'cover' and info they'd been given were worth the time or this was going to get awful violent awfully fast. "I have the numbers for comparison," she speaks finally, "as well as the files for the...assets we were interested in."
"Of course," says Gontar, looking over his shoulder at the two of you before continuing on. The way you are bunched up, his lieutenants and guards are in the center of the formation, with your own guards toward the back. "It's a good question, sir. The truth is, we /did/ have a problem about a year ago that resulted in the deaths of no small number of workers, but this was due to a flaw in the data that was given to us, not any fault of our own." He says, as a means of explanation, "There was a secondary fusion reactor at another factory site, something which the Geonosian records had not indicated. A large exploration party somehow managed to overload it. You can imagine the loss." Of productivity, of profit, of credits. But life? One doubts that registers to him.
He leads you through another section of the colony, where windows in the walls show long factory lines of salvaged battle droids, weapons, and more that trawl past on moving belts as you walk along. "Most of the workers we employ are technical labor, very skilled; it makes no sense to brutalize them. As the operation expands, so does the labor pool. We do not take more than we need, nor do we usually sell unless the need has shrunk. Clearly, as you can see, it has not shrunk yet." Gontar looks to Bar'duur as he speaks now, clearly having dismissed 'Silkie' out of hand. "We employ five thousand technical workers here, all committed to salvaging and restoring what we find here for sale to buyers all throughout the Outer Rim and even the Corporate Sector - though in that case, only specialty pieces. Perhaps that's how you found out about us?"
"That's correct." Says Bar as he looks over the assembly lines. "I suppliment my own security with specialized droids, commando droids too, I've found useful, but my droid force is starting to break down and I've got a shortage of technical servants. So how about we look over your.. workforce, my assistant can match up our needs, adn then we can discuss price."
There's a flash of relief, albeit brief, on Aola's face. There's one spotted, but locating her father was only half the task. The next was to locate her mother before they could give up the charade. As long as they knew where he was? It was a start. Absently bringing on hand from her datapad to toy ever so slightly with her lekku, a gesture she never really did, it was hoped Bar would realise she was trying to gain his attention subtly.
"Very well." If Gontar had any issues with this, he does not show it - instead, he leads on through the corridor and through the next hatch into a large bunker filled with office cubicles where a number of beings in plain white coveralls work like sallow ghouls, mouths vaguely open, their eyes and ears replaced with data-linkages connected to work consoles with braided data cable. Cyborgs, certainly, slaves of a different kind.
"So the data center here utilizes connected minds to serve as an organic processor, so to speak," Gontar says as he guides you through the maze toward a low 'hut' of polished durasteel with a golden glass dome of a roof, lit from within by hidden phospholamps. "They allow us massive computing power without fear of electromagnetic interference from the factory. Let us go into my office. We will go through the catalogue now."
"Interesting, I've seen the cyborg implants before but these are.. quite a bit more arent they." He says as he looks at the beings transformed into computers, trying to get his shock to seem like wonder instead. He looks back at Aola just in time to catch a subtle gesture from her, an incline of his head and he steps into the office. "So, how many can you part with without being /overly/ inconvenienced?"
The idea of her parents being basically used to upgrade a computer? That doesn't exactly sit well with her. Even so, Aola takes that moment of Bar'durr looking her way to subtly extend the finger that had been toying with her lekku towards the line where her father stands. Hopefully he'd get it. Moving into the office now, she chews her lip once more. Much as she'd like to take a proton torpedo to this place, the violent option was looking increasingly fool-hardy. At least for today.
"We will see what we can do," says Gontar as he enters the office 'hut', which is very expensively paneled with greel wood and with plush carpeting. Several very comfortable chairs face a large metal slab of a desk studded with holoemitters and control consoles, behind which Gontar takes his seat and his 'associates' take position on either side.
Once situated, and the two of you enter, he gestures to the desk; holomonitors spring up on the desk, showing names and faces. It's....a very long list, even if you don't read Rodian. "I have ten slots that I can vacate," says Gontar, consulting the figures. "If you'll tell me what you're looking for, I can see what I can do."
Bar'duur hmfphs, making his way into the office he lowers himself into a chair, it's meant to feel comforting, cut off from the hell outside, everything is to make it feel fine and normal for those in charge. Bar skims the list and hands it over to Aola, his assistance. "Look it over Silkie." He says without even looking at his 'slave' "I need a few assemblers, and electrical expert.." He glances over to Silkie, finally, as if expecting her to fill in the blanks. "There's a few special ones one of my buisness partner is looking for, he gave the details.. quite elaborately to Silkie here." This with a little wink to the Rodian so he can assume details.
Doing her best not to frown too hard, Aola moves towards the desk to take the list, matching it up with her datapad. Of course her parents are on the list of those 'needed', but as per Bar's words? They needed to pick a few others. She skims through the list, perhaps some would stand out, but otherwise they'd simply have to pick at random.
As Aola goes through the list, she finds some people who stand out - mostly Humans, a few Bith, and her own family. All of them, mercifully, have no physical or psychological issues. Assuming she picks them out of the list, Gontar looks them over, a bit surprised at some of the choices.
"Mister Bazza," he says, gesturing to the list, "Surely you don't want these newer workers, eh? They're not nearly as experienced as some of the others your assistant has chosen. There's very much a disparity between the skilled workers and the new ones. May I ask why?" It's a polite question, genuine curiosity in his tone - and possibly his eyes, but they're compound and that's not really your department to read.
Bar'duur mms. "As I said, there are specific traits attributes, that my associate requested." Says Bar'duur with a casual shrug. "I hope that it is not an issue? I would have thought taking less qualified workers would be less of a blow to your productions here.. Unless you mean to charge me less for the more experienced ones." He says then with a good-natured little grin.
Aola opens her mouth, quite ready to say that business is about 'how much' rather than 'why', but she closes it again and clenches a fist at her side. Stay silent, play the role of the slave and perhaps be grateful she -didn't- have a blaster pistol on hand to tempt her to do something reckless.
"Well, naturally," says Gontal, a buzzing chuckle escaping his snout. "I was only curious - but you're right, it doesn't matter. Now...as for price..." Another holodisplay is called up, this one with names - and numbers attached to them. "Normally, Class 2 slaves are quite expensive...but as you're taking some of the less experienced ones for our work...hmmm..." Calculations flash in Rodian, alien digits flickering about until a final price is settled upon. "Aha. I will sell them to you for the price of forty-five thousand credits. Given the circumstances, I am a bit loathe to accept New Republic credits, but if you have access to banks in Hutt Space or, of course, the Corporate Sector...I will accept any denomination you have."
"This purchase will be made with Hutt credits." Says Bar'duur casually to the other man. "Not new republic." He doesnt flinch at the cost, he's rich after all! He just glances over to his Twi'lek assistant. "Arrange the transfer." He says before looking back to the Rodian. "I will be in touch of course, I still have shopping around to do for the droid orders, you understand."
If the account was there, Aola will do as she's instructed, although she raises a hairless brow that Bar'durr didn't attempt to haggle. Perhaps the ruse wasn't worth the risk. "We expect that the...aquisitions will be transfered directly to our ship for a prompt departure." she speaks, her lekku giving a little twitch. The Rodian might not even acknowledge her, but to Bar it was a sign that she wanted her family on the ship and swiftly away from this place before anything could go wrong.
The 'administrator' stares a hole through Aola in amazement, as if she were a chair that had inexplicably grown legs - and he swiftly ignores her, looking back to Bar'duur. "I like that you drive a straight bargain," he tells Bar'duur. "It is refreshing not to deal with men who scrape after any penny they can get back from a businessman. Yes, I believe that we /will/ have the charges delivered to your ship. They will be collared and shackled, and you will of course have the control to deliver up to an incapacitating shock, but I must warn you that we do not utilize lethal slave control technology. Now, then." Gontar produces a datarod from the desk, which he slots into a datapad and hands out to Bar'duur. "If you will just indicate the account for us to charge, we will be able to get you back to your ship with your new workers."
Bar'duur ignores Aola's odd behavior for now, as if it were of no consequence, he merely tilts his head a little bit for one reason or another, before he smiles at the Administrator. "Of course." He replies and accepts the pda, entering in a dummy account that he had set up and transfered some funds into, just in case it were traced for banking locations, it would just read as a commerce account.
A moment later, and Gontal takes the datapad back and places his thumb on the screen. "The business is done," he announces. "My associates will collect your new workers - meet them at the landing pad. You will...want to be prepared to take off, of course. There is a storm coming, and I would hate for you to be caught in it."
That could be ominous, or it could just be weather. That is also ominous. Who knows?
Someday, Aola promises herself, they'd come back with firepower and preparation to take down this place. She'd even make sure to try and memorize as much of the layout as possible, but for now she had to focus on the immediate. This was so close to a victory, all they had to do was get back to the ship and take off, then she could hold her parents close and celebrate a small win in a galaxy that wasn't always kind enough to give the 'good guys' a victory, or at least hadn't for quite a few years.
"Hm." Emits from Bar'duur with only a little disinterest and politeness for the Rodian with whome he's been conducting interest of course but not much concern otherwise is all that obvious. The Zabrak is good at playing his part. "Come along Silkie, we have much more to do." He says and turns to make his way out. "It has been a pleasure conducting buisness with you, Administrator Gontar."
Maybe that's something the captain can help with - but for now, you've actually managed to do something that rarely happens around Adhar's crew: pull off a bluff job without a single blip. The administrator nods to Bar'duur, barely sparing a glance at Aola, and gets up to lead you all back through the cyborg farm and through the corridors once more, even as Gontar's 'associates' go to collect the slave techs. There's a new sort of ease in the Administrator's step that wasn't there before, now that there's been credits exchanged - but there's also a distinct sense that he's now ready to get you all the hell out of Dodge. Out of the colony and on to the ramp you go, and as you wait there, the Administrator departs, leaving guards with you.
So you wait a bit, just...sitting there. Twenty minutes. Thirty. On the horizon, the clouds begin to gather like an ugly clot in the red sky. The wind begins to pick up, too. Ominous indeed. But before it can grow darker, the door to the complex opens, and led by a squad of guards on all sides, a singe line of people in plain gray coveralls are being marched up to the pad. They are, of course, the ones that have been sold to you. As they are marched up, the guards form a backing line as the arrange the slaves out into a neat row - each one of them looking forward, shock collars on their necks. And among the people, there are Aola's parents: mother, father. Both of them looking at her, confusion and dread mingling in their eyes. They say nothing. Her mother, beautiful like Aola, has tears brimming in her eyes. They are obviously pleased to see her, but they are also afraid - but not for themselves. Either way, they aren't going to tempt fate.
"Here they are," says the lead guard, a burly Klatoonian; he invites Bar'duur to look them over and hands the man the shock remote. After a moment, Bar'duur - playing his role well - does as required, then nods assent. The guards line them up into the shuttle, where they take their places in the...very comfortable passenger seats, complete with wetbar and everything else.
And yet, they still say nothing. Not when the shuttle launches, not when it is off-planet - not until the shuttle is well into hyperspace, and it is only then that from the passenger compartment you hear the sound of weeping. Relief, mingling with fear and uncertainty. After all, they have no ideaw what's going to happen to them. Not until you reach the hangar.
Hopefully the Captain won't prove a bastard when you get there.
The Harvester touches down on the hangar deck, venting waste gasses, its wings swinging up to clasp upon its back like a beetle's. As one of you likely sent ahead to let the Captain know you're coming, there is a group of technicians and medics ready to come and see to the slaves - and security as well, but only a few. As the hatch opens, Adhar walks up, standing a bit away from the shuttle, hands on his hips, guns and sword on cross-belts. Waiting.
The shuttle's rear hatch opens and two guards step out and then the rows of slaves file out as well still shackled and the like, it's best not to unshackle a group of scared people all at once without explaination as to why they shouldnt try to take over the shuttle. But Bar wouldnt have stopped Aola from freeing her loved ones in particular. The rest? Well Bar just hoped Aola chose good beings to rescue. The Zabrak man steps out soon enough and upnods to the captain, offering a thumbs up. "Mission accomplished, captain." He offers in a serious manner. "We've got a bit of intel on the place too.. some scans that were done by the shuttle and stuff."
As soon as the ship was clear and the jump had been made? Aola had practically lept out of the pilot seat and into the arms of her parents. Hopefully Bee-Boop or Bar'Durr intended to take the controls, because the Twi'lek spent the remaining flight time after unfastening her parents collars. Who could have stopped her anyway? There were tears, there were thanks, their entire conversation primarily in Ryl, but eventually as the others unloaded from the shuttle she too would step off, arms still holding her parents to her.
The medics and technicans swarm over the shuttle and its prisoners, swiftly disabling the shock collars and unlocking their magnacuffs with alarming speed. "It looks as though it /was/ a successful job," says Adhar, smiling as Aola emerges with her parents, but his brows do arch as more people are brought out. "Now I know -they- aren't part of her family. What's the deal, Bar'duur?"
"Had to make it look good, I couldnt just run out with two Twi'leks who happened to look like my slave assistant." Says Bar'duur with a shrug. "Besides, Aola picked them, I asked for some specialists, if any of them want a new life they can work as free beings, or they can go back to their familieis." He shrugs. "We can try to get the rest when we hit that place."
"We -will- hit that place," Aola adds as she finally steps away from her parents. They would need to be checked over just the same as everyone else. "Maybe those scumbags even have my family's ship, but either way they deserve a long walk outside the airlock for what they were doing there." A shudder, the Twi'lek turns her gaze back to the shuttle and gives a whistle to signal for her droid to join her.
"Well," says Adhar, "We will see what can be done, but we aren't hitting anywhere for a while. That facility has way more slaves than we can safely process, nevermind getting them the care they need. We aren't making things worse for them by just releasing them into the wild." He hates saying this, so says the strain in his temples as the words come out, but it is true. "Plus, turns out the Mathalls are the ones that bombed out colony on Kalarba. So until that's repaired, we can't send anyone there, either."
Bar'duur shakes his head. "Hitting it with blunt force would be difficult especially right now, but doing it with the help of insiders would be much more pheasable, something to think about, to work out, maybe run some small-scale intel work on the place, we have slaves who were on the inside too, we can work out a plan." He glances over to Aola, and nods to her just a little bit. "How are your parents." he turns. "Nice to meet you." He offers to Aola's family in a polite manner.
Once Aola is off with her parents on the Castle, Adhar gives Bar'duur a look. A bit of a smirk, but a friendly one. "Well now," he says. "Look at you, talking your way through it all. Amazing. I'm really starting to think I'm in the wrong business with all these smooth talkers around me." Then he grins. "Good job, man. Just amazing."