Log:Array Consortium: Cloak and Dagger, Part 1
Having been the subject of an intended 'headhunting' by an agent of the Mathall Syndicate, Pash reaches out to Adhar about the experience, and the two begin to hatch a plan.
At midday, the Night Market is a hotbed of activity. There's haggling, arguing, laughing and carousing all going on alongside (and often in perfect view of) silent, seedy deals and shouts of "Pickpocket!" Street food carts hiss and steam all around as beings from hundreds of planets all take part in one of the craziest shopping experiences Pash Danigo has ever found himself in.
That being said, the spacer is doing well at fitting in. There are at least half a dozen other humans with his particular brand of space cowboy swagger around him, all munching on hot gizka wraps. From here, with half his food left gripped at his side, he waits.
The message he sent Adhar was short and sweet, but Pash hopes it said all it needed to. It didn't give an exact location to meet him, though. This, he assumes, wouldn't be a problem for a captain of Adhar's standing.
Not at all, really. At least for the 'captain'. This other guy, he fits in a lot better - no big blue coat or shiny buttons, just this guy in a weathered gray spacer's coverall and black utility vest, long hair and short beard masking obscuring his features, and a few dabs of synthflesh to cover up his scars. Really, if you looked him in the face, you'd see it was Adhar - but you'd have to want to care about it. He's made that hard for most.
And so, after a little but of trudging along the district, he sees you. The 'anonymous' spacer comes up to stand next to you at the gizka cart, stroking his beard as he peers at the stuff grilling in the open. "Trandoshans say we taste like gizka," he muses, using his own voice. "That's what they say, anyway. Kind of like humans and cluckbirds I suppose. Everything tastes of it."
Pash recognizes the voice, of course, but when he turns to face Adhar the disguise puts him off for a microsecond. Whatever he's going to say gets swallowed back and a big, goofy smile stretches across his otherwise stony face. He probably hasn't pulled a smile close to one like this since he joined the Consortium.
"Well don't you look pretty today," he says, reaching out to give the other man a friendly nudge on the shoulder. "Trandoshan's do have good taste." Just a couple of BEST BUDS here, nothing more.
Quieter now, Pash says, "Walk with me."
"I'm a pretty boy," says the 'spacer', chuckling faintly. He turns without a word to follow you, hands in the pockets of his shipsuit - he's not wearing that baby turbolaser of a pistol, either. Just this guy, that's all. A guy walking with another guy. Waiting for that other guy to talk.
"Had a visitor yesterday," Pash begins, motioning to a stall on their right as they pass by, just so it actually appears the two are browsing. "Some goon from the Syndicate." On dropping this bit of info, he glances sidelong for any reaction from Adhar. "Seems that run Aola and I made caught their attention."
He wanders a path he was able to scout earlier, past some of the busier tents where their conversation would be almost certainly drowned out by hagglers and full-throated salespeople.
"That a fact?" Adhar snorts softly. "Wait until the news comes out tomorrow." Oh, that does NOT sound good. "What did she want?"
He follows your lead, letting the noise drown you both out. Well done, that.
Pash lifts a brow at the mention of the news, but seems to decide to shelve that topic for later. Possibly tomorrow.
"She wanted me to rat you out," he says, lifting that half a wrap to his mouth. He takes a big bite, chews it down, and swallows hard. "That or talk you down, which I'm sure they don't expect to happen."
He stops on the outskirts of a crowd oggling over some crazy new sensor technology and turns to face Adhar. There's that smile again. And what a laugh to go along with it! "I'm thinking I should do just that. Unless you already have an inside man."
Adhar frowns as the two of you walk, pausing to lean against a wall, propping a foot up against it. Acts like the shiftless dude he dressed as. "I expected they'd try this," he says, eyeing you as he fishes two cigarillos out of his vest pocket, holding them both in one hand between his fingers as he lights them with a thin sparker dug out with his other hand. He offers one to you, putting the other in the corner of his mouth as he puts the lighter away. Takes a drag, exhales dragon smoke from his nostrils. "I just didn't think if would be you. I mean you got the stuff, sure, but you're so new. I'd think there would be better prospects for betrayal. In fact, I know there are."
Pash reaches for the cigarillo and takes it, shrugging. "Maybe because I'm new they figured I'd care a whole lot less about you lot." He sucks on the cig and exhales a plume of smoke before coughing a few times. "Been a while," he mutters.
And so there they stand, honestly being pretty inconspicuous for the location. Nar Shaddaa is really starting to grow on the smuggler. "So, what do you think? I pass on some intel, they strike, we lose, I get in their pocket?"
"I guess..." The wheels are turning in the man's head, and his expression turns grim. He's quiet for a few minutes, letting the smoke waft out of his nose between drags. "I guess I want to know what they're looking for, here. Do they just not know much about us, or are they targeting you for a reason?" Adhar's head leans back against the wall, staring at the canyons of towers far overhead. "You said you were gonna botch a job, yeah? What did you have in mind?"
Pash takes a long breath and exhales without paying mind to the smoking cig held between two fingers. "Right," he says, catching Adhar's point. "Couldn't tell you, honestly. They want me to fly for them eventually. Made promises, as people do." Another shrug.
His wheels are also turning, and as they do he idly takes another puff. "I'm thinking we stage something. Spice run, maybe. Something they'd want to sink into, but that we're not afraid to actually lose, because it needs to seem like my info pays off." He thinks some more. Then, "Or I could just tell them to shove it."
"Made promises..." He tightens his eyes a bit. What did they promise you, exactly?" No comment on the rest yet.
Pash throws his hands up mockingly and says, "Money, of course. And no small amount. But nothing I can't earn on my own." His arms slowly fall to his sides. "You can just out and tell me if you think I'm holding something back. Might as well get that bit over with." The man is as paranoid as the next when it comes to business deals. If it were him in Adhar's position, he'd be suspicious, too.
"Makes me wonder what kind of people they think they're dealing with," Adhar sighs. "Well, they're certainly going to know soon enough." He looks to you, frowning faintly beneath his scraggly locks. "If I didn't want to give you a shot, Pash, I wouldn't have invited you to join us. You coming to me is a big thing, you know?" He flicks his half-smoked cigarillo to the ground and grinds it out with his heel and blows out a breath, turning to you.
"Look. I'll rig up a job, something the client will know about in advance. We'll use that Danati Blue we salvaged from the slaves, right? So you'll tell them about the drop, letting them get a bit of their own product back, and we'll see what happens."
Pash fights back against his naturally serious features, which ache to be even more serious due to the nature of this conversation, with another lighthearted smile. "I appreciate you saying that," he says. Even so, the air still feels tense, if not between the two men then certainly because this Spice War appears to be escalating.
"Shoot over the details when you can and I'll contact them.." Pause. "Oh, and thanks for the gift. It's a real nice piece."
"You're very welcome, Pash," Adhar says with a chuckle, nodding his head once. "I know it isn't fancy, but it's very effective for what it is, and it's easy to discard if you have to without losing too much sleep over it. Hope you liked the grips, though. That's real krayt bone."
That said, Adhar coughs a bit, squinting at the wet coolness that suffuses the lower levels. "I figure that come tomorrow, you coming to them with news about some salvageable product is gonna make you look like either the most suspicious bastard coming or a divine spirit come to roost. Just make sure you're a good liar when you talk to this headhunter of theirs again, all right?"
"You spoil me," Pash says, grinning in response to the grips. To the rest, he just nods and says, "Don't have to rush it. Maybe we should give it some time. I know if I were to go that route it wouldn't be a decision I make overnight." He shrugs and drops the rest of the cig, stamping it out under his boot. "Either way I'll do my best talking bit." He chuckles at the thought.
"I'm sure you'll do fine," Adhar says with a nod. "Even if you fail, it'll just prove to them that we're on to them. I don't worry about loyalty where you're concerned." Makes you wonder whose loyalty he's worried about. "C'mon, let's walk. I got something else to tell you before I gotta go."
Pash nods and lets that topic rest, then. "Go on," he says, stepping back into the current of folks browsing wares in the area. Up ahead, some exotic pets. To the left, a bunch of tech that look like air purifiers, but probably aren't. Still, all around, the smell of street food for the lunch crowd.
He walks with you, passing the trashed purifiers, the muttering throngs at the grill-carts. The greasy smell makes his nose wrinkle, coughing again until the two of you pass into a quieter area near the taxi stop. "So the corvette we hit, that had something like twenty million credits in spice on board. They were pulling up stakes, ready to transfer the stuff from the facility to another one. So it's not...all the money they have, obviously, but we took way more of a chunk than I thought. With the corvette and fighters and all, we cost them upwards of twenty-five."
The quieter area they eventually find themselves in is a relief for Pash, who was beginning to have enough of the Night Market's crowded arteries. He listens to Adhar and whistles low. "That's a lot of cash. Hard to believe they just want you to back off after an attack like that." He crosses his arms and asks, "What are you expecting?"
He snorts. "I'm expecting that they would accept that loss," says Adhar, "Rather than allow themselves to be seen as harmed by such a smaller group as ours. The weakness is key, you understand? They need to be made vulnerable, even if it visits retribution. Otherwise, we would look like scratching upstarts, not professionals."
Pash nods and muses on this for a moment. He seems to have something on his mind, but after running his hand beneath his chin a couple times, he inclines his head toward the other man and asks, "What are your plans, exactly? What's the next move?" Besdies his own, of course, which had to have come out of the blue.
"To do more damage, obviously," he says. "Look, we have to make it clear that they're hurting, right? That they're vulnerable - well, everyone's vulnerable, look at us. But we can get away with that, we're tiny. The Consortium's three months old! But the Syndicate's a couple centuries old, in some form or another. You get it? We either have to force them to squeal, or make things plain to everyone else. We have to destroy something else, something far more important. There's a compound on the Outer Rim that belongs to one of their spice bosses, full of millions of credits' worth of weapons, art, cash, precious metals - and a lot more spice. We hit that, the word gets around. They won't be able to consume that, not if it's made dramatic and obvious."
Pash nods and shuffles his feet. He grunts and audibly ponders for a moment. "Yeah, that would prove a point, I guess." Still, he's chewing on his lip as he considers what is clearly not a peaceful solution to the situation. "Alright, I'm game if it means freeing more people like you did the last time."
"Well, it got done about two hours ago," says Adhar, checking the computer at his wrist. "So we'll see what comes out. Right, then. I'm going back to do some things. You have a good one, and I'll get those details to you in a couple days."
Pash blinks. Well, he wasn't expecting that. So much for planning a big hit as a team. "Yeah," he says slowly, chewing on the syllable. "I guess we'll see what happens." His arms uncross and he stuffs his hands away in his jacket pockets. "I'll be looking out for that, then."
"Yep." Adhar gives your shoulder a light chuck with his fist. "Watch your ass in the meantime. I fully expect to get shot at - but I lead from the front and I make myself a big target. Got me?"