Log:Array Consortium: A Dutiful Child, Part 2
Having discovered the location of Aola's sister and her fate as a future pleasure slave, Adhar and Aola prepare to rescue her from the planet Fasalus - however, Adhar is suddenly given an invitation to the very world by its regent! The two go to see what will come of this, with the rescue of Aola's sister foremost in their minds...but right behind that, what peril undoubtedly awaits....'
Adhar emerges from the Castle, bringing Aola with him - she's finally got her suit, and he...wears the armor of a Royal Guard of the Empire, only repurposed, made blue, and gilded so that he looks like an extra ornate version of the Guard's Senatorial forebears. No crest, though.
Aola is indeed wearing her flight suit, albeit one customized to suit her form and most of all her lekku. Having taken a moment to retrieve her gear, she's in the process of slinging her heavy rifle over her shoulders.
"That reminds me," Adhar says, looking over his shoulder to Aola as he descends the ramp, "I need to look at that rifle while we're in transit. Might have something you can use, assuming it's not custom-tuned already." He reaches the end of the ramp, then gestures at a beautiful, threateningly-designed ship, which looks very much like a 30-foot long starfighter. Blue hull, gleaming gold trim, real metal (likely not gold, but golden-colored). It looks like a combat yacht, frankly.
"That's my Voidhawk," he says. "Arakyd Helix Model B. Gorgeous, isn't she?"
"I saw it, while you were wrapped up in Bacta," she comments before tilting her head to the side at the offer of things she could use. "I've already modified this quite a bit, it was my main backup for if I ever crash-landed in occupied or dangerous territory."
"Well, if you need something, let me know," says Adhar, gesturing to the ship. "You fly and take the fixed guns, and I'll take the secondary seat. C'mon, let's get going."
That said, he heads for the ship.
Once inside, the ship is as opulent within as it is without - greel-wood paneling, white leather upholstery, the whole thing. It's essentially a combat yacht, this thing. The controls are simple, being just like a starfighters; Adhar sits behind you, manning the gunnery console. He has control of the ship's heavy laser turrets, while the ion cannons and torpedo launcher are yours.
Even in flight, the ship is like a fighter - as fast as an interceptor at a hundred twenty megalights, it's only slightly less maneuverable than a T-65 - not quite the same as flying a space superiority fighter, perhaps, but it's pretty damned close.
You break Y'toub and make the jump to hyperspace in double time, the transition smooth as silk. Even the trip is nice, with the ship's food and autochef and all that quite high-quality as well. There's even a full refresher booth, though smaller in size than on the Castle. Everything a growing boy or girl needs, apparently.
The Senex and Juvex families once ruled over two different sectors in the days before they joined the Republic, a fabulously wealthy slave state on the outer edge of the Mid-Rim, the two sectors were forged as one by the Republic upon joining. But as they refused to give up their slaving as a 'cultural institution', the families suffered great trade embargoes until the Empire rose - since then, during the rule of the Empire and the weakness of the New Republic, that trade has become stronger than ever.
Seeking your sister, Adhar has - perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not - been summoned by a member of the Juvex House Jalinan, responsible for the training and breeding of many different slaves utilized by the two families. On the planet Fasalus, wintry fiefdom of House Jalinan, the powerful Dunan Vos Jalinan requests the presence of Captain Gann, wishing to speak with the man on what the Dunan describes as 'business'.
The fact that your sister may well be on Fasalus is of course not missed by either of you - it smells of a trap. Nevertheless, Adhar dons some of his finest-decorated armor, boards the Harvester, and with you coming as pilot and the aggrieved party the two of you head toward the distant system on this mission of freedom.
In the depths of hyperspace, Adhar sits in the co-pilot's seat, sipping a glass of ale fetched from the wet bar in the back. He knows you won't want any, so he brings you something sparkling and fruity and utterly nonalcoholic. "Here," he says as he settles in, fully dressed in his ponce-armor. "How are you doing?"
Non-alcoholic or not, the drink remains touched only little. The taste might as well have been sour in her mouth. Without her resistance jumpsuit, Aola was dressed in simple neat leathers one might expect of a pilot, but she'd brought her blaster rifle with her none the less. Sitting back in the seat she glances sidelong at the man before shaking her head. "Not great. My parents wanted nothing more than for my sister and I to see the galaxy, have a good life and never know what the slavery on Ryloth was like. I've never had chains around my neck and I don't want my younger sister to have known what it's like either." One hand going up to idly brush against the leather wrapping on her lekku, the woman sighs. "If I could, I'd bomb the place to the ground."
"So would I," says Adhar, frowning faintly. "But unfortunately, we can't do much more than get her out, maybe a few others. So many of the slaves in that area are bred into it, and we don't have the facilities to take care of them and get them out with healthy lives." He sounds dearly unhappy with that particular fact, but there's just no ignoring it. "I'm going to try and deal for her, if possible. It would be best if we didn't court two major enemies at the same time. They've already had representatives grill another of the Captains about whether or not I'm 'dangerous', whatever the kriff that means."
"If they don't give me back my sister," Aola says slowly, patting the folded blaster rifle at her thigh. "They'll find out what dangerous really is." Of course, Aola was a pilot and not a ground fighter, but she was willing to try in this case. Perhaps anger had her feeling a little more indestructible. "And if it's a trap?" she questions lightly. "What's your backup plan?" A glance over her shoulder towards the back of the shuttle, Bee-Boop had been brought along by the Twi'lek just in case they needed the shuttle to come to them for a quick extraction. "If they take our weapons, I've never thrown a punch in my life."
"If it's a trap," he says, "Cut my way through while you get out of there and get the rest. Or alternatively, blast a hole for me to escape through. This shuttle is fairly heavily armed."
"And they won't take my weapons. I'm a guest there. If they attempt it, it will be a massive breach of courtesy. It'll screw with their standing. If they attempt something that openly, they'll be smeared by the other houses. Politics wouldn't allow it, you know?"
"Lets try against self-sacrificing for today. Mounting one rescue will be hard, another would be worse." A little twitch at the corner of her mouth, she glances sidelong towards the human man. "I was more worried about them asking to take -my- gun away anyway." Giving a grin, she glances back towards her blaster. "I'm glad I didn't have to steal a ship and do this alone."
"It's not self-sacrifice if I win," Adhar says with a smirk. "But that's the last-ditch measure. Believe it or not, I can talk myself out of damned near anything." Not that the recent record demonstrates this, but hey, he's successful as a smuggler, right? Can't shoot your way into and out of deals.
Meanwhile, the navicomputer chimes, and the ship leaps into realspace. Screened by what appear to be small capital ships - or perhaps heavily modified bulk haulers - the planet is a magnificent ice world, rocky and snowy at once, but not a horrific deep-freeze like Hoth. The whole world...glitters, at least where the vast forests of deep blue trees do not stretch like seawater. For a moment, it's almost possible to forget that this was not a slave-supported feudal state. But only for a moment.
Some time later, the shuttle soars over one such 'sea', approaching a towering palace of polished white stone and glass, gilded in many places with bronzium and aurumite. The shuttle is guided down to a landing pad jutting out from one of the towers that looks as though it should have been the place of a meeting between a princess and an enchanted beast, settling down as guards in polished silver battle armor and heavy rifles stand at attention, awaiting you.
Well, at least it was a stark change from when she'd been forced to play 'Silkie' for Bar'duur. She was certain the Zabrak had enjoyed that, but she'd found it less funny given all that was going on. This time she was armed and in combat armor. "Well then," she comments as she checks her blaster rifle's charge pack. She'd need to get more, but this should be enough. "Lead the way."
"All right," Adhar says, pulling the helmet on over his shoulders. "Let's get into character."
Adhar stands, rolls his shoulders, and then just.../glides/ out of the ship and down the ramp, doing a fairly good job at looking like more like an ornate spectre than a living man. Guns and vibrosword on display as his cloak billows around him, Adhar the man is currently Adhar the clear and present danger - just as the nobles have been wondering about. Like this, he is a cipher, a blade unsheathed just a hint so that the steel can be glimpsed. Huh. Who know he had it in him?
Well, Aola wasn't that surprised in truth. It didn't take much for one to assume that Adhar Gann liked putting on a show. Being a showoff seemed to be a job requirement for plenty of smugglers. The Twi'lek actually grins a little despite herself as they step down the ramp, keeping her blaster slung neatly over her front.
Well, maybe, but he's not doing a bad job of it. The guards give him a look as he passes them, through the doors that the guards open and into the palace proper.
Now it has to be said, the Hutt know gaudy, but the people here, the wealth on display is at once somehow greater, yet far less gross, than one might expect of a horrible slaving society. It's like something out of a fairy tale, this room which you enter, with its beautiful marble floor and the drapes of thick fabric that may have well hung there for hundreds of years. Overhead, a massive chandelier hovers over the ballroom, matrices of glittering blue crystal, slowly revolving in their own counter-rotating orbits while the crystals spin on their own as well. The whole thing throws a storm of sparks across the walls, the elegant furniture lining the walls, the guards in their silver armor that stand in here as well. All these things are meant to make what stands in the center of the floor all that more impressive: a large golden throne, floating on its own repulsorlifts, in which an incredibly ancient man sits in a sumptuous purple robe, attended by multiple Twi'lek women, clothed only in golden chains and other...ornaments. They look up at him with adoration, then out at the two of you like housecats, bored but attentive.
"Adhar Gann, Captain of the Bandit's Castle, Senior Captain of the Array Consortium," announces a voice from...somewhere. "Behold His Grace, Stentor Jalinan, scion of House Jalinan, ally of the Great Family of Juvex, lord of Fasalus. Pay heed and hail!"
Well. That's a thing.
Just what sort of treatment and conditioning would have slaves looking at their captor like that? Perhaps they weren't, perhaps they were simply well-paid consorts, but the far more negative idea was the one that crossed Aola's mind as she looked over the gaudy appearance and overt decadence. There was enough torture, conditioning and mind control technology stories shared between spacers to have a shiver run down her back. Still, for the moment she keeps her hand away from the grip of her blaster, instead folded and resting against the weapon. She looked like security, she'd play the part while she kept her sensor-enhanced eyes out for her sister.
Adhar bows, but only slightly, just enough to be polite. "I am humbled by the invitation of House Jalinan," he says, his voice amplified and flattened by the helmet's hidden voxgrille. "And I am curious as to I might do for the illustrious Lord of Fasalus."
Silence for a long moment, and then the ancient lord of Fasalus looks not at Adhar, but the armored Twi'lek at his side. "We were told that you do not keep slaves," says Stentor Jalinan, his voice creaking with age, yet somehow filled with a vital warmth as he regards you from his chair. "Yet here is one. What is she wearing?"
A twitch, a tilt of her head, but Aola doesn't speak. The assumption that she was a slave wasn't the first one she'd endured, even if it still irked her. With the helmet mostly managing to keep a straight face and only the slightest twitch of irritation in her lekku, the Twi'lek woman glances at Adhar. Just how did he want to play this?
"This is my pilot," says Adhar, his voice carefully neutral. "She is no slave. We have come far, Lord of Fasalus. For what purpose have you summoned me?"
"Yes," says the wizened nobleman, "I have heard that you wallow in that filthy place called Nar Shaddaa. For what reasons, I cannot imagine - it must have somethig to do with your...trade. Well, then, Captain, I am asked to deteremine if you are dangerous. Are you, dangerous?" He looks down at the women lounging at his feet. "Does he look dangerous to you?"
"He looks as though he could be, Greatness," a red-skinned woman with almond eyes says as she looks Adhar over. "But what is the other wearing? We have not seen it before." Strangely enough, though she has long, sumptuous lekku, they seem not to be...moving. In fact, they seem to move more like human hair than anything else. No language there, just something to be...styled. Ornamental.
Well that was unnerving to say the least, but perhaps not unexpected. Would a Twi'lek who might not remember anything of themselves or their people be used to 'speaking' with their lekku...or was it more than that and they were simply false? It would be strange regardless. Since she'd been introduced without the charade of being a slave, Aola clears her throat. She could -hear- them talking about her after all. A glance to Adharr made it pretty plain, she was a little anxious to locate her sister.
"She should show us her face," says another of the three, her skin a pale lavender. Smirking. Catlike. "It is uncultured for a woman to veil her face in the presence our Greatness."
What a title; Adhar smirks behind his helmet to hear it, but he does not comment upon it. "I am dangerous only when made so, my lord," says Adhar cooly. "But surely you have not called me here just for that."
Stentor Jalinan quiets his slaves by laying bony hands upon their brows; they smile like sunning nexu, pressing into his touch. "You say that you are only dangerous when made so," the old lord says. "But I am told by trustworthy parties that your war against slavers will come to our lands, and that you will bring an armada to try and wipe us out if we allow you to live for much longer. What do you say to this?"
"I would say," Aola speaks, speaking up this time perhaps in relishing that she hadn't been sidelined to the mask of a slave this time, "that surely someone as...great and wise as yourself...would know that if that were his intention, we wouldn't have came here like this. People with armadas and bad intentions don't book an appointment."
"She is right," says Adhar, gesturing with a hand to you. "Surely my lord would never think that I would be so arrogant as to stride into this chamber and be received by you when plotting your destruction."
Between the two of you, Stentor Jalinan seems to decide something. "I shall believe you," says the man. "For now. After all, we know what you are truly here for. You are here for your pilot's sister, my slave. Is this not so?"
Well...Poodoo. There was no point hiding her features now if she was recognized, although perhaps it was most of all suprising that she'd be known among the array so fast. Of course, her sister did look almost identical to her, but that's why she'd tried to cover her face.
Her grid shifts a little, adjusting to keep her blaster within reach.
"You are correct." Adhar, for his part, does not let his hands reach his weapons - the moment you shift toward yours, the men in armor bring their rifles down to ready position. "My lord is indeed wise. And how was it that you knew to do this?"
"Because I arranged it." A synthetic voice from behind the golden throne; a man emerges from behind of it, a man who is not at all a man - not really. A half shock of golden hair, half a human face - the other entirely droid, even the teeth that fill that flesh half-mouth. Golden metal, and a droid's photoreceptor that serves as an eye, glowing bright to match the living one that stares at Adhar with mingled hate and great amusement. He wears a tailored suit of yellow fabric, and his hands are as artificial as so much of the rest of him.
"You." Adhar does not sound suprised, he just sounds...vaguely tired.
"Yes," the droid-man says, smiling his horrible half-smile. "Me."
"So...who the force is that?" Aola asks the obvious question, tilting her head to the side. She doesn't exactly have an 'arch-nemesis' herself, but apparently Adhar does and he'd seen fit to pop up and get in the way of her own sister's rescue. "You are just a walking magnet for trouble," she comments towards Adhar before speaking up again. "This changes nothing," the Twi'lek speaks. "Credits are credits, still good for purchase."
"Long story," Adhar says, rumbling faintly. "But she's right. I came at your invitation, my lord, but if you know of the girl, then let us speak business - and ignore that yellow fool."
"He wants to buy her, my lord," the half-droid says.
"Yes," says Stentor Jalinan. "I know that, Yellow Man. I do not need your constant screeching in my ear to do as I have for a hundred twenty years." His words are calm, but have impact. The half-droid steps back, nodding once, and then the nobleman regards not Adhar, but you. "What would you do for her? Your sister, that is. What would you do to get her back?"
A tilt of her head, Aola frowns a little for a moment before she exhales a breath. "What would I do for my sister?" she repeats, glancing at the yellow man before fixing her eyes back on the man in his throne. "I am willing to trade credits to you, to come to a place like this, to have left my friends and a cause I care about more than most to be here. I've been called a traitor for the choices that have me standing here right now." A light shift of her stance and the pilot exhales a breath. "If it were my only choice? I'd kill everyone in this room to get her back."
"Good." Stentor Jalinan gestures to the golden half-droid. "Bring the girl in."
"Of course." The horror walks away to a side door, and opening it, reaches through - and holding a golden chain in his equally lustrous hand leads in a slender, fearful girl who is dressed in a black lace thing that is only very, /very/ generously described as a 'costume'. She's alive, at least, though she looks absolutely terrified. She stares at the floor, never daring to look up. Not that she would recognize either of you, of course, what with the helmets.
"I will give your sister to you," says Stentor Jalinan. "Now. Kill your captain."
"No." It's rather abrupt, but Aola's refusal is clear even as she thumbs the safety on her blaster rifle. Her gaze flicks to her sister, but Fiora wasn't in any position to fight right now, so instead she speaks rather calmly. "I kill him, I make it that much easier for you to double-cross me, take my sister and leave me dead or with nothing." Perhaps those words would have her sister realising she was present, but she glances at Adhar before looking back to the 'Lord'. "I won't do a damn thing until she is free and on my ship." A look towards Adhar again, she's certain the man must be wondering what she's playing at.
Behind the throne, the half-droid looks delighted, or perhaps it's just the way his face has been twisted; one metal hand rests on the floating chair's side, and he watches the happenings with interest.
"Your captain is deemed a threat to the houses of Senex and Juvex," Stentor Jalinan intones, his expression flat and imperious as he looks at you - the eyes in that old face are strong, still filled with a vitality the body seems to lack. "I give you my oath, the girl will go with you, and all will be done. Shoot him, and you will both be free."
Adhar, strangely, says nothing. Does nothing. He just...stands there like a blue phantom.
"Shoot him, and we'll both go free. That's your oath?" Aola repeats, reaching to trigger her comlink back to Bee-boop at the same time. "Well then. I accept." A little, tilt of head to the side and she raises the blaster, slowly. She was stalling after all. "Sorry Adhar," she says lightly before she takes aim and fires...a deliberately grazing shot. "There. He's been shot. You're beholden to your oath. Let her go." Did she expect that to work? Not really. But it should be enough for Bee-Boop to get the helix and its own rather impressive guns in position.
He staggers as the bolt strikes him; though you /think/ you grazed him, Adhar acts as though he has been actually wounded. He falls to one knee, hissing softly, then letting out a groan...but at least from /your/ point of view, he's just got a hole in his cloak, but as he collapses to his knees before the lord of Fasalus, the old man seems delighted.
"Excellent," he says with a bark of a laugh, "Excellent! Give the girl to her, Yellow Man. She has done as I have asked, and I am a man of my word."
The Yellow Man, on the other hand, just stares at the old nobleman. "My lord," he says, "She didn't shoot him. He is /faking/!"
But Stentor Jalinan lifts a hand. "No," he says, gesturing to Adhar's 'corpse', "Look at him, he is clearly dead! Give her the girl!"
The Yellow Man's face - at least the fleshy part of it - is starting to go red. "My /lord/," he says through gritted teeth, "I /assure/ you...this man...is...not /harmed/."
Adhar, for his part, remains slumped against the old man's legs. The slaves, it must be said, /did/ move out of the way.
The second her sister is brought to her, Aola simply reaches up to remove the chain. There's no words, no ceremony, she simply takes her likely bewildered sibling by the arm and starts to pull her out towards the landing pad. Adhar claimed he could hold out long enough for them to get back to him? He'd get a chance to prove it. Pulling her far more scantily clad double along with her, the pilot moves straight towards the door and towards her waiting ship. "Twenty seconds," she speaks over the comlink, hoping Adhar was listening.
"My lord," says Adhar, who now looks up at the old man, "I must admit, I am a bad actor. And you, my lord, are blind as a mynock!"
Adhar steps back, only to reveal a silver cylinder clutched in Stentor Jalinan's hands. His face is very pale as he stares down at the thing, his thumbs clamped down on a button which is glowing brightly enough to shine reddishly through his thin flesh. That...is a grenade. Adhar has put a grenade in the hands of a Juvex noble. "We are leaving," he commands as he levels one finger at the old man, stepping back slowly to follow you and your trembling waif of a sister; his other hand rests upon that baby turbolaser of a blaster pistol. "Anyone move, and I will shoot the bomb /right/ out his hands and you can say goodbye to everyone!" It's not clear, entirely, if he's being truthful or not - we're already knee-deep in the madness zone, now - but nobody moves. Not even the Yellow Man.
But he talks. "I'll see you again," he hisses in his horrible synth voice, but it's not quite sure as to whom he's speaking to among the three of you.
Out the pad, and the door closes; the two guards outside look confusedly as you take your exit, but they do not stop you. << Just keep going and we will be fine, >> Adhar mutters under his breath into the link. << And look after your sister. I'm going to get us out of here. >>
Tilting her head to the side as they board the ship, the Twi'lek gives a whistle to her droid before slinging her blaster once more and moving to fire up the ship. "Don't be doing anything needlessly stupid now," Aola speaks while she gestures for her droid to stay with her sister. "I know you're a showoff and all, but I'm sitting here on all the firepower." Flipping switches, the Helix begins to fire up.
"I think it's a little late for that," Adhar says as he drops into the co-pilot's seat, pulling off his helmet and tossing it aside as the gunnery console swings down across his lap; he flicks switches and a gunnery monitor hinges up from the console, giving him the camera view of the ship's monster laser turrets. "Get us out of here, Aola. I'll hold off anyone who comes after us."
"Yes sir!" Aola speaks before engaging her suit's linkup with the craft and sending the rather speedy 'frigate' upwards. "Running, not dog-fighting. We'll drop a torpedo on them another day." With that, she pushes the thrusters to full before leaning over her shoulder and speaking back towards her sister in their native tongue to strap herself in. "Lets get out of here."
Adhar drops back into his seat, staring at the gunnery display as he watches the planet's surface begin to steadily shrink away thanks to the massive drive modifications that the Captain had so recently had installed; the death-yacht rockets out into space, and it's then that the three-dimensional reconstruction of the ship's sensor panorama that the helmet projects begins to blare an alarm. Half a squadron of fighters, revealed by a sensor ping to be old Imperial interceptors painted the red and silver of the Jalinan house, are attempting to close on your position. They're very fast, but the Voidhawk is faster - but only by a handful of megalights. This is going to be very tight.
"I can't believe that worked," Adhar's muttering behind you, not quite paying attention to the gunnery display as he's trying to push his curly hair from his eyes. "Also, wow, you're a great shot - you know I thought you were going to nick me more than that? Thanks for not really shooting me, though I wouldn't have blamed you if you did."
"That was plan B," Aola comments with a grin as she pushes the ship to its limit, reaching to prepare the ship for a jump to light speed. "But it didn't come to that, be thankful." A wink, she looks at the display of the fighters. Any other day? She'd be certain they could take them all down, but she wasn't going to risk it with her sister aboard. This rescue wasn't going to end because of her hubris.
"Fighters closing in. Keep them back while I prepare to make the jump to hyperspace."
"Oh, I'm thankful all right," Adhar mutters, grasping the sticks on the gunnery board and bringing them to bear; he spots the closest of the interceptors, lining up a shot and pressing the triggers on the yoke; the ship shudders as the turrets loose a pair of crackling red-violet bolts into the formation of TIEs, hitting one square through the cockpit web and converting it into a cloud of shrapnel and fire.
"Oooh," Adhar mutters to himself, lining up the next target. "That's gonna leave a mark..."
The ship takes a massive hit as you bring the ship into position for the jump to hyperspace; the aft shields fail with the first salvo, and then the ship trembles as another impact rocks the hull. "Damage to aft," he calls as he lines up another shot, tearing the wing off a second Interceptor with the blast and sending it spinning away toward the planet's atmosphere. "But it shouldn't keep us out from getting out of here. Punch it!"
As the ship shudders once more - not from damage, but from the activation of the hyperdrive - Adhar watches as the stars stretch into infinity, and the escape to safety is made. "I love this ship," he mutters to himself, beholding the vast blue tunnel of the hyperspace dimension, and that's no exaggeration. She's a big mean beast, fast and armed to the teeth, and he can use her to do things like run contraband and save people's sisters from slavery. What more could a mixed-up boy from Corellia want?