Log:Array Consortium: A Yellow Opportunity
On a run to deliver Giggledust to the pleasure planet of the Senex and Juvex noble families in lieu of the suddenly-rare Denati Blue, Nadia stops off at a shadowport to refuel - and makes contact with a familiar menace.
Drugs. Drugs, drugs, drugs. Now while the rest of you have been running contraband like you're signed up for, Adhar has been...well, doing his own kind of business. Whatever you might feel about it, the Consortium's actions have certainly make some big ripples out there. Now that the nonaddictive, highly potent - but short-lasting - Danati Blue has become far rarer thanks to a series of numerous now-public losses amongst the underground community, the wealthy customers that once snorted Blue are looking for something else to candy their sinuses with.
And so there's you, with a load of twenty-five, ten-pound cylinders of unadulterated herbal euphoric spice, known colloquially as 'giggledust'. Giggledust isn't as powerful as Danati Blue; it's a euphoric, but much in the way that laughing gas is - but it also has a potent stimulant quality that has its own appeal. As does its lack of addictive qualities or signs of use.
So you're taking this to Valorsi, in the Juvex center in the southern reaches of the Mid-Rim, for a very wealthy nobleman named Kivex Todan and his apparently very expansive harem. Of course, everyone has harems on Valorsi, apparently. That's what they do - eat, screw, and lounge on the beach all day on a cushion made of writing naked bodies. Some life, eh? Generations of harim beings, and the nobles of the Senex and Juvex houses use it as their private planetary booty-call.
And that's where you're headed now. Charming. Well, there's a stop to refuel on a bootleg station, first. THAT'S where you're headed now. An abandoned Imperial refueling and maintenance station in the middle of deep space, towed there and left for COMPNOR ships in the old days. So the spookhouse became a shadowport - and a cathouse (no pun intended) on one level. A quick stop there and you're on your way to money.
A port of call what only the seedy mover of illicit goods are keen to has the Cathar smuggler holding over at the former COMPNOR station while the Noble Savage is topped off. A drink in the bar and a sandwich at one of the multitude of eateries and she's headed back to her ship with the swagger she's become all too known for.
Now sitting in the raised pilots seat on the compact bridge of her freighter, Nadia flips the switch that brings her ship to life and grabs for a headset hanging over the back of the locked control yolk. Her blue milk and plastic wrapped sandwich sit on the console in easy reach, "Noble Savage on exit pattern zero alpha, requesting departure."
Another bite of her sandwich, lazily twisting the stick to bring her vessel around.
Nothing. The bay is empty, your ship having been routed to it - once a shuttle bay - with the reason being that the other bays were either full or under maintenance. Well, it's an old station, that didn't seem to be problematic. Until now, apparently.
There is a knocking on the hatch. Light - polite, even - yet still penetrating.
Still chewing her sandwich, Nadia popped up from her seat and slipped her pistol out of it's holster on her back with it hidden beneath her jacket behind her. She heads towards the hatch and hits the release with the back of her hand holding her sandwich. She's aware of the danger, of course, but is also aware of how quickly she too can become dangerous.
Another knock. Light, still, but persistant. Rhythmic, even. Soon it becomes a constant.
Nadia hits the release on the hatch to let it slide out of her way, shoulder leaning in against the bulk frame so that her arm holding her pistol is hidden by the doorway. What they see is her standing holding a sandwich up at her mouth, one brow raised questioningly at whomever is on the other side.
And what YOU see is...a half-droid. A mech. A cyborg.
A very gruesome example, too.
The man standing at the bottom of the ramp is human - or at least, the flesh is human. As if cut in half and pasted together, the missing half of his human head, which is tanned and blue-eyed and possessed still of a tamed shock of blonde hair, has been replaced by something that looks at home with a protocol droid - still blue-eyed, and with a movable jaw and metal teeth that stretch into his biological skull, which is know as he is smiling. Hands are metal too, but everything - everything - is plated in polished gold. His suit is gold as well, an asymmetrical jacket whose flap runs down the right hand side, affixed with golden snaps. His shoes are polished yellow leather. He is...at once hideous, and on some level, strangely compelling. The man's horrifying appearance, his existence, screams wealth and will.
"Hello," the man says, his voice a synthesized version of a cheerful man's. "I hope I'm not detaining you. Have you a moment to talk?"
"I'm a little busy." Nadia takes in the horrifying man with a raised brow and another bite of her sandwich, still leaning against the hatch of her ship. "Can this wait until I'm on my way back?" She most certainly wont be coming back this way knowing anyone that hedious is waiting for her, no matter how charmingly wealthy he may appear. "So... raincheck." Her hand goes to push the hatch switch to close.
He smiles more widely. "I carry in my body a baradium charge with the equivalent explosive force of six thermal detonators. If it were to go off, it would erase a good portion of this deck, most of your ship - and myself, of course, but I'm that kind of persistent." The droid eye pulses slowly, cycling from softly glowing blue to neon cyan. It is speeding up. "Pretty please, with sweetdust on top. Have you a moment to talk?"
"And," he adds, the eye pulsing ever faster, "I doubt you have enough lives to go around to dodge it either."
Nadia's hand stalls near the button when he explains the full bredth of his resolve with regards to this conversation, "Well that's a little excessive for a conversation... seriously, let's do this another time, I've got a schedule..." Thumbing lazily over her shoulder, brow furrowed, "You know how it is... shit needs to go somewhere and it gets less profitable by the minute. I tell you what, let me fetch my comm signal and we can have this conversation remotely." Waving her sandwich at the very gross man with a bomb in his body.
The pulsing pauses, about as fast now as a runner's heartbeat. One can have no doubt it hasn't got much longer to go. "Your cargo is the property of the nobility of the houses of Senex and Juvex," the half-droid man says in that horrible, constantly cheerful voice. "The planet to which you intend to deliver it is the property of those houses. And as I /represent/ the noble houses of Senex and Juvex, it is my belief that those parties to whom you are meant to deliver your spice will understand any delays." "Now," he says, his fleshy lip quirking in what appears to be a smirk, though could just be some other damned smile. "Do you have a moment to talk?"
"So you're holding me up to talk knowing I have cargo meant for individuals whom you represent?" Nadia scrutinize the half man thing with the slowly slowing pulse of a bomb. If nothing, she's fearless. Which is the same as calling his bluff, in a sense, "How about this.. you unload the cargo right here, I brush my hands of it, and you can tell your noble house of Senex and Juvex bosses that I don't like being screwed around with.. If we could have met 'here', the hell point is me taking it 'there'?" The cathar smuggler snorts, "Seriously, I've got places to be and I think your full of shit, so... blow me up, but you set one foot on my ship and I'll blow the pretty side of your face all over the fucking wall." Now her pistol drops down from behind her back, laying against her leg. "I don't negociate with terrorists."
A sound is emitted from metallic throat that sounds like an old man laughing down one end of a drainpipe, raspy and made unnatural as it comes out the other side. "You are a tenacious creature, he says brightly. "And spirited! I would expect nothing else. Very well, you have made your point. I shall stand here and speak with you from here. I am known as the Yellow Man. I have borne that sobriquet for quite some time, and you can, no doubt, look into the course of my career. Especially lately! Ha! I am, as you can see, but half the man I used to be - but only in the flesh." The blue eye flares brightly and then dims. "Adhar Gann. The leader of your merry band. You know him well?"
Nadia inclines her head, but doesn't replace her blaster in the holster. It hangs there at her side with her finger along the trigger guard while she eats her sandwich with the other hand as the Yellow Man explains his position and designs. "Eh." She says with a shrug of one shoulder, "He's a scoundrel.. We're all scoundrels." She picks something out of her teeth and tosses it, a piece of some kind of vegitable. "Why? Does he owe you money? Listen, if he owes you money, that's between you and him..."
"My employers are very concerned with the sudden...reaction...to the stifling actions of the Mathall Syndicate. You are a small outfit, but very skilled, this is true. Nonetheless, the violence and coordination that these actions have taken on, they are...unusual." A beat. "My employers request that you explain this."
"I was hired to move cargo, YeMa.." Nadia smashes Yellow Man together, flampantly waving her pistol through the air, "Not talk about trade secrets. You want information, you pay for it... what say, one hundred thousand credits? I think that's fair." She nods, "I mean, information isn't cheap when I don't know you're not working for the Mathall Syndicate."
"You are Nadia Cuul, of the Cuul family. You are all supposed to be very wise, very...skilled 'scoundrels', as they put it." He looks about the ship, inspecting the hull. The gamma-welded joins. Perhaps he has some special mode of vision. "This is not a business negotiation. My employers, for whom you have often run spice, slaves, and other luxuries - and been well paid - simply request information. In return, they are prepared to offer you the benefit of a low monopoly." A low monopoly, mind you, being the status of sole trafficker of a single item or substance into the Senex-Juvex sectors, and all of its worlds. A very minor thing for some, but for a smuggler, depending on the item the monopoly describes? The only limit to the money you could make is...well...whatever quantities of that substance you could bring in.
He looks at you expectantly now, hands behind his back. Still smiling, though with less teeth. At least on the human side.
Nadia inclines her head a little, brow perking just a bit. "Me or the Consortium?" This question, above all questions, seems the most important of all the important questions she's asked in this meeting.
"You." The smile returns. "Feeling talkative now?"
"Not with you being cocky." Nadia says flampantly, but... she sighs and shrugs, "Alright, YeMa. What is it you want to know?"
Victory achieved, the Yellow Man nods and continues. "Adhar Gann. His actions. Please explain."
"You're going to have to elaborate on what exactly it is you mean, YeMa." Nadia keeps her weapon hanging at her side, but it's more lazy than anything. "He says they pressed the attack first, so he retaliated. Business. I'm sure there's more to it, he's never really been this aggressive before, but I don't think he trusts me enough to go divulging all his intricate plans for the future."
The man cants his head the other way. "Truly? I thought that you were his friend. Is that not the nature of the Consortium, one big, happy family? That's certainly our impression." He looks you over. "Although I notice you do not wear the blue coat. So, you are not a believer. And yet you work with him. Why? Is this new, surprising aggression not impressive to someone like you? Does it not strengthen your loyalty to him?"
"You sound like him." Nadia rolls her eyes and shakes her head, "I don't wear the coat because it's gaudy. What's the point of being a smuggler if you wear a coat that any sane law enforcement on any world would quickly realize belongs to a smuggler operation?" She flips her wrist, gun in hand, "I don't dislike, Adhar. He's fine. He pays. He's better than a damn Hutt... but enough wiping his ass. What's this about?" Motioning between the pair of them with the barrel of her blaster. "Being aggressive doesnt' impress me. I'm not aggressive for the sake of being aggressive. You threatened me with a bomb, I pointed out that I'm not scared of a bomb. This is cause and effect."
"Has he threatened you before?" The man leans in a bit, one gilded mechanical hand resting on the hydraulic strut of the landing ramp - he does not step on the deck, of course, but he does lean in, suddenly intense, the chip voice growing more mechanical and the lightness draining away, the only thing that makes it soud remotely human. "Does he threaten people often? Does he take on causes? How far do you believe he will prosecute this smuggler's war?"
After a moment, the Yellow Man releases the piston, straightening up again. Smiles, widely. The cheer returns. "My employers are concerned that an outfit who reacts in such a way to a slight. They have also heard that that Captain Gann dislikes slavery - indeed, he could be said to hate it. Many of those who follow him now share this opinion. But as we know, Captain Cuul, you have no problem trading in slaves. Does he know this? What would he do if he did?"
"And of course..." The Yellow Man shrugs, a motion that causes a soft whine to sound from deep inside his suit. It shifts unnaturally over his torso, as if there were...additions - or alterations - made underneath. "He has captured slaves on his raids. Some of these were sold to the Mathall Syndicate by the houses I represent. Will he come to them next?"
"I'm pretty up front that I've dealt in slavery." Nadia says with a shrug, "I don't know what you've heard about me, but I'm hardly a scared cat. Whatever he might think...." She pauses at the last bit, scarred mouth coming up in a grin, "Ahhhh... I see now. You're scared." She's poking the hog, of course, but she's grinning while doing so. "To be honest, he'd probably have disapprove of your behavior. You might get a spanking... I believe the words used in rumor were 'glass crater.'."
"I? Frightened?" The Yellow Man looks delighted at the prospect. "No. But despite the comparatively feeble resources of your organization, it has achieved very strong early victories against a superior opponent. This strikes my employers as dangerous. They are not afraid of a battle, but they /are/ afraid of the chilling effect that raids on their slave ships might have on the economy upon which their authority depends. Now, either Adhar Gann is a dangerous man, and must be extinguished, or he is being given dangerous advice from dangerous people, and /they/ must be extinguished so that the situation will settle. After all, he sent his own operatives not only to kidnap and remove the Countess Davali from the Antai Gardens Hotel, they also assassinated Danar Koolen and disposed of his body. The Mathall Syndicate does not yet know this, nor would they likely believe it thanks to the destruction of Koolen's home - they believe that Koolen fled, you see, fearing retribution from the Chandrilans or from the Constortium itself. But my employers know."
He looks you over once more, possibly noting something. "Who was the man who accompanied you to the casino that night?"
"No idea." Nadia says honestly, shrugging a shoulder in the process. "Wasn't a talkative fella and I'm not an inquizative one. Bills got paid, bodies got buried, everyone went home to get drunk.." She's starting to put together where this is going and reaches up to pinch the bridge of her nose, "Was I requested for this particular run?" motioning at her ship to indicate the contents.
He regards you for a long moment. "Of course you were," the Yellow Man says, as if it were the silliest thing in the galaxy to suggest otherwise. "Your opinion, Captain: is Captain Gann dangerous, or is he not?"
"Of course I was." Nadia's split lip twitches a little and her hand tightens around the blaster pistol in it, "He is as dangerous as you make him. Seems like you want to make him dangerous." Tilting her head ever so slightly.
"I do not fear Adhar Gann." The Yellow Man shrugs again. "He and I have clashed on many occasions. Each time, he has tried to kill me. Each time, he has but taken away flesh. He is not dangerous to me." He looks about the ship's interior a final time. "The noble houses of Senex and Juvex applaud you, Captain, and are gratified by your assistance. When the next monopolies are levied, I am certain you will find your name in the rolls."
The Yellow Man steps back, executing a faint bow. "Good day, Captain. Your client, I believe, is waiting."
Without a further word, the strange, horrible man makes his exit.
Nadia watches YeMa with her sandwich once more coming up for a bite. Once he's left the docking bay, and not a second before, she slips her blaster into the holster on her back and makes her way forward towards the cockpit of the Savage. The ship is run through the paces to get her running, this time with a glance at the screens to see if anyone's coming up on her ship. "Ugh... dammit Gann..."
The rest of the run is fine. The authority of the Senex and Juvex seems to tolerate you easily as you make the run - which, given you're delivering to their pleasure planet, should be natural, but even the customary attempts at appearing displeased with smuggling that the customs forces put on for the citizenry completely fall away. Even the client, a rubbish old slavemaster named Twimm who looks like a straight up hostile marshmallow, receives your goods and spice with a strangely accomodating air. You've been marked, that much you know. But in what way, and what does it mean?
Somehow, the credits given over to you seem heavier than they should, and it isn't a question of their quality.