Log:Array Consortium: An Invitation
While Adhar, Nadia and Sion are elsewhere, newly joined smuggler and aspiring Consortium Captain, Pash Danigo, settles down for a drink - but in the VIP room, his hostess offers more than just a quiet drink.
The Bunker 21 Lounge is a dance club and bar located just down the ramp from Lord Eebua's spaceport, the tower that stretches upward like an monstrous alloy spindle dotted with hangars of all sizes like the warrens of birds. Thousands of spacers roost there every day, and many of them are crews just looing to get a drink, cut loose, and have fun - and way the hell too many of them seem to pack the Bunker. As you descend the stairs into this space, it strikes you that this used to be, in fact, a bunker for starship fuel tanks, probably for some earlier iteration of the spaceport; now, though, it's filled with rowdy spacers and writhing bodies on the dance floor. The lighitng is dim and colorful, the music thunders like the pulse of the Creator, and a vast wallscreen in the back shows the latest match of the Corellian shockball season. Just beyond, a doorway is guarded by a pair of sentients in blue suits - obviously armored ones beneath the fine cut - and servers wander about in conservative gowns and suits printed with a shimmering nebula pattern.
The bar is to the left, tables ringing the rest of the circular space. The bar itself is made from patchwork hulls of various spacecraft, and the walls are covered with various holographic signs from hundreds of different spacecraft manufacturers through the centuries. It's loud, it's racuous, it's...really, really popular. And that bar is fully stocked.
Wouldn't hurt to hang around, right?
Except, maybe it would?
At least for Pash, who had a little too much to drink last night after leaving The Blue Light, the calamity that is The Bunker 21 Lounge is almost too much to handle. On entering, the steady thrum just within his temples expands angrily into full-on migrane territory.
"Ah, shit," he says, pressing two fingers hard against the bridge of his nose. He's being dramatic, sure, but his walk to the bar isn't the most comfortable. Once there, he waves a bartender over, asks for something quick and simple, then looks around for something resembling a quiet nook for Adhar fto find him in.
"Captain Danigo!" The young, brawny Twi'lek lad with the green-skin who's tending bar on the end you stand at smiles widely at you, wearing all black and a vest patterned in the same nebular print as the server's outfits. Interesting that for a Nar Shaddaa club, nobody's got their goods out - not a scrap of sexy flesh. "It's good to see you here, sir. Get you a Party's Over, sir?" Ah, yes, the Party's Over - a mix of Amanton-B and Bastinex, drugs that kill most headaches and suppress nausea. Scoundrels and socialites swear by them as an after-party or morning-after drink. Someone's very helpful.
For Pash's part, he's been mostly eyes down at the bar during the ordering process. When he's offered a bit of help, though, he peaks up and over his hand. "That obvious, huh?" he grunts. Then, offering the Twi'lek a smirk, he drops his hand, straightens up, and says, "One of those, too, then." Should mix well with his old-fashioned hair of the dog.
"Take it over there, would ya? And let Adhar know I'm here." The spacer motions for a back corner booth as far away from the fun as possible before making a beeline for it.
"Captain Gann isn't here," says the bartender, chuckling. "But if you go back there, I'll have the drink sent back. And...oh! He left this for you, should you go back." He comes up with a flat case of gray armorplast, as wide as a man's arm and as twice as deep and thick. A simple thumbprint pad is on the lock. "Go ahead into the VIP if you like, sir. You're on the list. It'll be quieter there."
That beeline is one of the shortest he's taken ever, probably. The quick response from the bartender whips him around and he's face-to-face with the case. He grumbles incoherently and takes the thing, hefting it in one hand before nodding a thank you to the chipper bartender.
His curiosity regarding the case takes his mind off the headache for a bit, and as he walks through the main room to the VIP area the 'migraine' starts to ebb into something more manageable. When inside, he settles into a plush seat, sets the case down in front of him, and presses his thumb to the pad. Does Adhar even have his thumbprint?
The VIP is a beautifully-appointed, quiet place, where a transparisteel party enclosure on a tall platform is surrounded by sabacc tables and a small bar in the far corner. As you arrive, the hostess on duty, a devastatingly beautifull Falleen, takes your arm without a word and gently but firmly guides you into the turbolift leading up to the enclosure. As you arrive, another beautiful woman - this one an Echani - smiles warmly at you as she guides you into a seat.
"I will return with your drink, Captain," she says with a voice honey-sweet and inviting in the way only people who have learned to handle drunks and gamblers for a living can do, and sways off to the turbolift, leaving you to open your case.
And as you press your thumb to the lock...sure enough, it pops open.
Inside the case, embedded in foam, is a blockish, dangerous-looking blaster pistol. Its durasteel frame has been blued to perfection; the grips are made of horn, or perhaps bone, engraved with the sun-and-cards logo of the Consortium. Three blaster power packs rest in a line down the right side of the case, and a small, quick-glance electroscope rests on the foam above that pistol's spinal accessory rail. It's a nice gun, for sure. And there's a note pushed down between the foam and the edge of the case. Printed in Basic in heavy Aurabesh script, the note reads:
- Captain Danigo,
- Thank you for risking your neck to bring in business for the Consortium. I can see that even in a bad situation, you've got the guts and the brains to come out on top, and I'd be proud to have you on as a Captain. I'm sure the other Captains will agree - and even if it's a little short, I'd like to give you this sidearm as a symbol of my esteem."
- Adhar Gann,
- Senior Captain.
- P.S. Take this gun and the scope down the Vraag Rengh's modifications shop in the Gearhead District and ask him to mount it for you. He's a peerless smith. Tell him that I cleared you to put it on my tab. He'll know what I mean.
This is a Kashan XT-1. Accurate even without a scope, Kashan security forces use them to great effect. Might not have many option points, but even so...it's a nice gift. A nice gun will get you anywhere.
The more Pash goes through the process of getting into VIP, the more he starts to think he could like getting used to such a thing. "Thank you," he mutters each step of the way, from one exotic employee to the next, until he's alone with his new toy. The note is held loosely in one hand, then tucked away neatly after a single read.
"Well ain't this a nice thing to do," he says, pulling the blocky weapon from its case to get a feel for it.
It's certainly a nice thing to do, and the gun has a great weight to it. You can feel how it would be accurate - its mass and balance sort of just do most of the pointing for you. As you poke at the weapon, the Echani hostess returns, carrying the Party's Over's weirdly pearlescent fluid in a tall, fluted glass for easy pouring down your throat, some crackers and other nice treats for a sour stomach, and a pitcher of water and a glass. She begins to set these out.
"What a lovely pistol," she says in her honey-sweet voice, as she lays out the spread for you. "Kashan XT-1, isn't it?"
Pash extends the gun as if he's pointing it at a charging Trandoshan. One eye closes as he takes aim and his mouth scrunches up sort of weirdly at the same time. It's not the most natural move, which is something the Echani may notice.
Pulling the gun back, he thanks the hostess once again and places the pistol gingerly in the case. Without shutting it, he looks over at his drink and takes the fluted glass in one hand. He pulls a face, then goes about emptying the thing into himself.
"Very good aim," the Echani says, sitting down on the seat next to you, leaning in. Her perfume smells like sparkflowers, sharp and bright. "But you know...when I joined the Syndicate, they gave /me/ a Relby K23." Which, of course, is a rare and powerful pistol, banned by the Empire because of the painful wounds it -- wait, what?
Pash settles back in his seat, still gripping the fluted glass, and looks about ready to agree with the Echani when she drops that juicy bit of info. He turns to her with a lifted brow and a grin.
"No shit?" he says, nodding slowly. He remembers getting chased off a small moon years ago by one of those things. "What's your name?"
"No shit," She chimes, smiling. "I'm just plain Aline, Captain, no need to worry about me. But I think you want to hear what I've got for you, hmmm?" 'Aline' leans in a bit more, her skin and hair so pale, gray eyes flickering between your eyes and your lips, her own slightly parted as she does so. "Wanna hear?"
Pash stiffens as Aline - if that IS her real name - leans in a bit. And by stiffen, that includes standing up and making up the distance between them, however slight. His grip on the glass tightens and his gaze darts between pistol and Echani.
"Sorry," he starts, "but I'm fresh off a job." He realizes he may be acting paranoid, and that sits comfortably with him.
She sits back a bit, sighing faintly. "I know you are," she says, giving you a bit of a little girl talk. "Come on, Captain, I just want to talk. Be nice. All you have to do is listen." She looks at the gun too, chuckling. "And then I'll leave you alone."
Pash blinks a few times. So, maybe this woman is alright. Maybe she HASN'T been hired by a mad droid to kill him. The headache returns and he slowly sets the glass down on the table. "Alright," he says, taking a seat. "Talk." His eyes are glued to the Echani, and while he might not be as defensive as he was a moment ago, it's clear he hasn't totally settled down.
"Good," she says, as her lips - painted a startling mauve to match the nebula of her dress - spread into a wide, white smile. "So. I am a representative of the Mathall Syndicate - don't pick the gun up, I come in peace. You can call me a...talent agent." Those hungry gray eyes sweep over you again. "We've heard about what happened with those rockets, Captain, and I have to say, we are /impressed/."
Pash breathes in, holds, and exhales slowly. As he does, his body loosens and the reality of the situation sinks in. "Right," he says, coughing out a dry laugh (He really needs some more rest). "Of course you are."
He settles into his seat a bit more and appears to lose interest in his newly-acquired pistol. "Well, what's the offer?"
"Of course I am," she says, and with long, well-manicured nails she gently closes the case's lid. Aline picks up a glass that she'd put down behind the water jar, a sherry glass filled with an emerald-green cordial, and sips at it - all the time watching you. "We want you for our own," she says simple. "I can offer you a hundred thousand credits, ten in advance, and all you have to do is give us...information. We want to know about Captain Gann, this young fellow with whom the Syndicate has apparently made enemies with. A misunderstanding, certainly. He seems to think we're keeping him from doing business."
Pash watches the woman carefully, though he doesn't seem angry or affronted in any way. Just curious, and thoughtful. For a moment, he doesn't respond in any audible way, though of course that moment doesn't last long.
"Seems like a stupid place to make a deal. You all sure this place ain't bugged?" His brow lifts again and remains there for as long as the question hangs in the air.
"Oh, I know this place," she says with a slight grin. "Anyway, don't worry. I can take care of myself - but you, Captain. Oh, you could help us. And join us, too - the Mathall Syndicate is very powerful, as I think you know. Powerful enough to excuse this...mistake...on Captain Gann's part. A hundred thousand, ten of which you get in advance..." She pauses to reach into the bodice of her dress, stretching it out /ever so slowly/ to get her hand in and you a good glance, before coming up with a credit chip which she sets down before you. "That's yours to keep, either way. Give us information, or convince him to cease hostilities. And you'll have guaranteed Syndicate membership. I guarantee we can give you more than Captain Gann can. We have..." She pauses, grinning broadly, her pupils dilating as though she were drunk....or very much aroused. "SUCH benefits for members."
Yeah, either this lady is laughable, or she's really working on you. We will see what kind of a man Pash Danigo is.
Pash accepts the credits and looks at them, feels them for a moment. When he looks back up to the woman, it's not without a bit of pity. "Sorry," he says, reaching out again to set the credits on the table next to the drinks and glasses. "I'm sure the mystique angle plays out well with some, but I'm gonna need more than just the word of a stranger and a bit of coin to sell someone out."
He stands and collects his case, then eyes the exit. "Not saying no, exactly. You guys just need to do a better job convincing me."
"Take the money anyway," she says, slipping into a cooler state - she slides the chip back to you. "If Gann doesn't back off, you might need to help move you elsewhere. You're not our enemy, Captain Danigo. But if you stick around with him long enough, and he doesn't back off? We'll have to assume that you've thrown in with him anyway. Money or not, you won't be able to buy yourself out of that."
She sips her cordial and nods toward the lift. "Just think it over, won't you? We really are trying to be reasonable here."
Pash eyes the credits, but doesn't go for them right away. It's true, the woman does make a reasonable offer, and he hasn't known Adhar long enough to form any real bond of loyalty. So what's he doing exactly?
"Is it true you all use slave labor in those spice facilities?"
She shrugs. "I don't know what the upper ranks use in their spice facilities," she says, sipping her cordial. "I've never heard of it myself, but it's above my pay grade. Why?"
Pash is silent a bit longer this time. He's clearly working through some things, but that's not unlike him, if she's taken any time to study his behavior in the recent past. It might also be due to the hangover.
"No reason," he says softly, glancing away. "If I do this, how do I get in touch?"
"Holonet address is written on the back of the chip," she says with a sly little smile. "See you around, Captain." And with what seems like a geniune note of flirtation, she looks at you from under the bangs of that rough shag of white hair and says, "You can haul our hardware anytime."