Log:Array Consortium: Drinking Solo
Still wondering what to do about the now absent Mara Jade, Adhar takes a midnight walk and ends up in Pakko's for a contemplative drink...and meets a very interesting - and very reticent - legend of the Rebellion.
Pakko's is a dump. There's no getting around it, no ifs, ands, or buts - from the dying sign to the kamikaze souls that dwell at its tables, the place is, in the grand tradition of old prostitutes and goverment buildings, an institution. As is the act of getting smashed when you're down on your luck, or at the very least really down...and that's Adhar.
Sitting there at the bar, his blue coat a streak of rebellious color against the fading grays and browns of the place around him, Adhar drinks from a cracked glass full of lum, staring down into it as if trying to divine a better future. Or, at least, better than the one he currently sees. Hard times all the way down.
From the outside steps into the bar came the sound of a lot of shouting, not all of it was even in Basic, most of it wasn't in fact. But one deep voice stood out, and it spoke the tongue of the most common language in the galaxy. A gruff voice, an older voice, a voice that'd experience a lot in an equally long count of years.
The door to the bar popped open and the source of the voice could be more loudly heard, speaking back out toward the street. "Its parked there, its not going to move... its paid for. Put another grubby hand on it and Its gonna be the last thing you ever touch with that hand, pal."
Some alien shouting could be heard, but he ignored it and stepped into the bar.
Han Solo moved through the space from the door to the bar and he came to stand a few spots down from where Adhar was.
Han's eyes traveled the length of the bar, his hands went to rest on its edge and a frown crawled across his face. He had a thick beard, years of growth, and it was a grey as the rest of the hair atop his head.
"Whiskey." Han said to the barkeep, and then he settled himself down onto a stool.
Well, there's legends, and then there's legends. Somewhere in his uncle's holos, there's a picture of him standing by the landing gear of his own freighter and some of the old crew, pointing at a ship parked a little bit away with an expression like an excited child. It was taken after the fall of the second Death Star, but the man in the background is unmistakeable. Adhar'd know him anywhere. He's met his partner, after all.
"Sit next to me," Adhar says, not looking up from his drink, but drumming a finger on the scarred and battered bartop. "I'm buying."
Han was in the process of pulling a datapad out of his coat's inner pocket when hears Adhar's words, he glanced over at the man a few stools down from him... the datapad was laid ontop of the bar while his drink was being poured.
Han's grey eyebrows lifted up over his eyes and he glances around the bar around them both. When he realizes that Adhar was talking to him he shakes his head and smirks then glances back down at the datapad and reaches out to accept his drink.
"I'll be alright." He says back in a low tone. He doesn't know who Adhar is, why would he want to sit next to him and let him buy his drinks. Smells like trouble.
Han just keys the datapad on and then raises his glass of corellian whiskey up for a sip.
"I'm sure you will be," says Adhar, looking up from his drink, giving the man a look that's equal parts gargoyle grimace and a smirk. Young face, one eye partially framed with a quarter-starburst of scars healed by bacta a bit too late to vanish. "Made your partner a promise, though, should I see you." He offers a strong, callused hand. "My name is Adhar Gann. I run the Array Consortium, which you've likely never heard of. But you and I have a lot in common."
He says these things without the fear of awe or hero-worship, just a galaxy-weary sort of 'fuck it' bravado. Had a hard time of late, must have. The colors of his coat are still bright, though, the polish on his button clear. Kid who's a striver, but enough success to wear it on his proverbial sleeve.
One thing about getting this far in the galaxy, with a name that gones a lot further... people always think you're rich.
Han's stare comes up when Adhar approaches, introduces himself and introduces the name of his business. A quick rise of his right hand and he doesn't extend it for a shake, no he extends it with the palm outward... "I'm not lookin' to invest in anything." He says at Adhar, and then lowers his hand again as well as his eyes and goes back to whatever is on his datapad, as well as his whiskey.
The glass is lifted up while the datapad brings up his mailing inbox. Han takes a drink from the liquor and sifts through the holonet mail he's been sent.
He scoffs faintly, keeping his hand out. "That's good, because I'm not sellin'." His accent slips in, farmland Corellian his mother always had and his father tried to drum out of him. Adhar takes the seat next to the other man, then, drinking his lum for a moment.
"He was right, though," Adhar says musingly. "Chewbacca, I mean. You don't wear that legend. I like that." Adhar flicks a glance his way. "But. Knee-deep in wizards and rebellions. How'd you do it and keep yourself sane?" Talking mostly at him, maybe, but gently, quietly. Enough for him to hear it, but not the drunk guy a couple of seats away. Skilled that way, at least.
Han's glass was lowered again and he had a bit smirk show across his bearded face. His head shook side to side at the mention of Chewbacca's name. "For a guy who doesn't talk the Core tongue, he sure gets around and chats it up with a lot of people." Solo mutters before he adjusts his posture on the bar stool and then glances over at Adhar with a slight shake of his head.
"Who said I was sane?" He asks then, smirks again and then raises his grey eyebrows. "Its easy, kid... It was aaaaaall -fake-." He says back at the twenty-something near him. "None of it was real. Its all bedtime stories and..."
Han looks away then and motions down to his datapad. "Holo-recordings. What you heard, wasn't what happened."
He didn't seem like the nicest person, obviously, but maybe he was having a bad day?
And here we go. Everything he ever expected to hear, coming out of the mouth of the legend-who-hides-from-the-legend. Adhar takes a long sip from his mug, draining a quarter of it in a swallow. He looks back to Solo, then, eyes tightening a bit.
"Yeah," he says, "Would that it would be the truth," says Adhar with a dim chuckle. "But I know two guys on one side of the Force and been tortured by one on the other. My uncle smuggled for the Alliance, and I find myself on the same path myself. I'm not trying to give you the starry eyes, Solo. I'm not here to polish your blaster, just buy you a drink out of a bit of apparently shared misery. It's coming on now like it did then, and you know it. I just want to know how you got through it, that's all." Simple request when said, but his tone suggests he knows very well that it ain't simple to answer. He makes it anyway.
Han's resulting exhale escapes between his lips with a hint of a groan somewhere deep within it. He hears everything the young smuggler beside him says, but it doesn't seem to go toward warming his heart up any.
After another drink of his whiskey, the glass is set down again and he motions toward it. "You can pay for the next one." He says while he stares down at his datareader and taps the screen to shift its focus to another on-panel window. A block of text swirls up onto the screen and Han takes a moment to read some of it.
"Friends." He says after a long pause, apparently the thought striking him as a good enough response. "Women." Another random answer to the question. Another sip of his whiskey is taken and then the empty glass is set down and fingertip flicked to the center of the counter. "Credits."
He's not nosy, at least not where the datapad's concerned. Adhar takes another sip from his glass. "Friends, women, credits," he repeats, gesturing with his free hand for the bartender to pour more whiskey - two, this time, from his uplifted fingers. "Plenty of friends, credits always come and go. Women...." He considers. "Well, that's why I'm in here tonight."
Adhar looks to the other man, lips pursed. "They always try and give themselves up to save you, don't they? Friends and women."
Han accepts the new glass and slides it back to his side while he types a short message reply and sends it off to whomever was on the other end of that communication. "Women don't come in here, kid." Han replies quietly. "Not he ones you wanna be with anyway. Look around, this place is filthy. The drinks are cheap." Han's head rises up and he looks back over to Adhar.
"You have to go to the nicer places to get a woman worth spendin' any time around. The ones here'll..." Han's eyes glance around to either make sure one wasn't nearby or wasn't listening. "They're more liable to cut your organs out while you're asleep just t'turn a profit."
His right hand lifts the new glass up for a fresh new drink and then his eyes fall back down to his work.
He snorts. "You know what I meant," Adhar says. "How'd you get around that? I mean I've had people die in the course of the work, even looking out for each other, but...when they walk smiling into the jaws of certain death, just to keep you safe? How do you deal with that?"
The younger smuggler shakes his head and takes another drink. "And don't say 'friends, credits, women.' I know I'm annoying you, but if I'm gonna do it, it ain't for no reason. My uncle'd have my ear for bothering you in the first place, considering he could never get around to it himself."
"You're gonna have to buy me at least one more at this rate." Han grumbles after hearing this rundown from Adhar. He exhales heavily then and his head shakes side to side. "You don't deal with those things prior to them happening. You deal with them after they've already occurred. And you deal with them by continuing to do what you were already doing... but doing the thing that matters most." Han glances to his left at Adhar. "Surviving."
And he looks back to his Reader then. "One day at a time, one week at a time, and so on. There's nothing else to it. You deal with it, by keeping your head down and your wits sharp."
Another sip of his second whiskey was then taken.
"My credits are your credits as log as you're talking," Adhar says, chuckling softly. "So that's it, then. Same as anything else, huh. All right." He downs the rest of his whiskey, putting up two fingers for more. This done, he looks sidelong at you. "Is it, though? Just surviving. Because the woman I came in here over, that's what she'd always said. Yet she's going to put herself before the new Vader anyway. And I've met him, face to face, myself. I know what she's up against. It's the reason she's doing what she's doing now."
He picks up his newly-delivered whiskey and takes a swallow of it, then makes a face and produces from his belt a blaster power pack - or rather, one with a telltale flask nozzle at the top. "Here," he says. "If I'm gonna bother you, have this. S'Whyren's. Not the rarest vintage, but I keep it for friends."
It takes Han a few seconds to register what Adhar just said and when he does his eyes look over at the item set on the bar and then he shoots them up to Adhar's face with a look of contained rage on his time-weathered face. "What did you just say...?" He asks. "The 'new Vader'?"
Han glances away then toward the other side of the bar, his attention is lost for a second before he shoots his gaze back to Adhar. "Do you care this woman?" He furthers asks then. "I mean, do you really care about her and want -her- to survive?" Han's voice having now changed, having gone from casually annoyed to repressed anger.
"Yes," says Adhar, looking back at the man, eyes narrowing faintly in defiance at that sudden anger out of a lack of anything else. "I don't call him that, I know his name. But that's how he styles himself. Fortune knows, he uses the same approaches when he wants to know something." The young smuggler rubs at his temple, perhaps unconsciously.
"And yes," he hisses softly. "I do. She's likely a sorceror herself, though. Can't exactly force a woman, much less a redhead and a sorceror besides, to do what *I* want her to do, but yes."
Redheaded woman... Han had known a force user by that description, from a year ago or so. He hadn't seen her since then either, assumed she'd already died. Han glances away again for a short moment before he refocuses his gaze onto Adhar.
"He's going to kill her." Han says then to the young smuggler beside him. "Maybe not right this moment... but he's going to end her life. So if you do care about her, if you do value her, then you need to keep her the -hell- away from him. And don't take this for face value, or the... mad ramblings of an 'old has been'. You take this as a -fact-." His anger hadn't really subsided, but he was keeping it fairly well contained.
"Find her and keep her away from him." And with that said he turned back to his drink and lifted it up for another sip, with a few faces in the bar glancing over in their direction to see what the hub-bub was all about.
Adhar takes a deep breath, closing his eyes. "I know," he murmurs. "I know. She's doing this to keep his attention away from us. I told her, I'd rather stand and die at her side than let her go. But..." He purses his lips. "Redhead. Sorceror. Woman."
He reaches over to uncap the blaster-flask, pouring a volume of rich, amber-gold whiskey into the empty glass of the older man, and then into one of his own. "You're never going to be a 'has been' to me," he says, voice hard - not with anger, but with the steel of purpose. "I'm young, but I read my history. I'm not gonna embarass you by treating you like a legend, Solo, but you're never a 'has been'." A pause. "And I'm sorry if I brought up something painful. Wasn't my intention at all."
The past, it was always on his heels, no matter where he went or how far he tried to get away from it... it was there, reaching for his neck. Han's anger started to subside, but his mood had shifted from one of relative calm to an even deeper shade of... regret?
The remainder of that second glass of whiskey was drank and set down again. Han's eyes look back over to Adhar. "Ghosts." Han says to him softly then. "Thats the other thing you're going to have to face if you keep this line of life for a long... long time. The Ghosts will always come back for you."
Han's eyes watch him fill up the glass with another round of whiskey and his jaw tightens beneath his beard, his right hand reaches up to grasp onto his lowerface and he strokes through the greying long hairs encasing his jawline.
"Is your uncle still alive?" Han asks him then. "What is his name?"
Ghosts. That Adhar knows. "I've been living this life since I was seventeen," he says. "Just ten years, but...I've seen my share. Made some of them, too." Regret? He's got it in him, too. Nobody that young sounds so tired without it. The fingers aren't around his neck, but they've raked him through from time to time. "But that's how it is, I guess. Wherever you go."
He picks up his glass of Whyren's, tilting it back to sip. "My uncle's name was Felan Gann," says Adhar. "He was an established smuggler before the Empire, and eventually fell in with the Alliance, and kept going after Empire fell. Raised me in the trade himself. He died just a few months ago." He frowns at the film of the fine whiskey on the inside of his glass as it creeps down toward the pool of amber at its bottom. "I think somebody murdered him. No, I know somebody did. Just haven't figured out who yet."
Adhar chuckles. "He was older than you, you know. Respected you anyway. Didn't ever have the courage to come up and talk to you after Yavin."
Han was the kind of aged guy that just didn't handle feelings very well, the moment things got a bit dramatic or emotional, he'd ice over and get a distant look on his face. He did this when Adhar spoke of the uncle and his untimely recent demise. He took another sip of the new brand of whiskey, didn't speak on it though because he didn't have anything to say. If he hadn't liked it he would say so.
"I'm sorry." He says then to Adhar. "I'm sure you'll find the person though, if they're even still alive themselves. Murderers tend to get their tickets punched sooner than most others."
Han doesn't remark about Yavin either, he doesn't like thinking about those days. They were gone and not coming back.
"Do yourself a favor though, focus on what good you have in your life and not on..." Han's left hand flutters around a bit to accentuate his words. "'trouble' like that." And he drops his hand back down to the bar's edge.
"I'll punch it, all right," Adhar says with a nod. Creeping flame in his voice, like an incandescent filament firing up. "Didn't exactly want to have a career marked with gunfights and blood, but Fortune seems to want to put me into scraps." He takes another sip of his Whyren's. "No, that's not right. I say that, but the truth is I put myself into 'em." Well, at least he's honest about it, this kid with the loud coat. Adhar himself, while more expressive in his emotions, has that too-easy way of quashing them that suggests he doesn't let himself speak for true very often. Maybe that's the liquor, or maybe it's just the man next to him.
"I focus," he says. "But the job has a way of making it interesting, doesn't it? Nobody who just minded their own business in this line of work had a good end, as far as I ever heard. You can only hide behind the drapes for so long before something nasty comes dusting."
He pauses for a moment. "I...am probably going to step into stingflyer's nest by asking this, but in for a credit, in for a ton." He downs the rest of his Whyren's, pours himself another bit, and pours you a little more as well. "You, ah, you got a message or anything you'd like me to send to the, ah," He considers, picking his words carefully, and says a bit more quietly, "General? I have connections who can relay."
Han shot another message off to another person while Adhar spoke beside him but he went visibly tense when the last part was asked. A second later and Han's head shakes right to left. "No." He replies. "No message."
With another drink down, he finishes the glass and then slides his datapad off the table and back into a side pocket on his trenchcoat. Han's eyes glance back over to Adhar. "Smuggling leads to violence. If your uncle didn't tell you that then I have to fear what else he may have neglected to mention. If you're in it for the long haul, then expect to leave a wake of dead bodies and broken... potential."
The aged smuggler rose up to his feet, he signaled the bartender a 'goodbye' in a way that suggested he knew him and would likely see him again soon.
Han then looks to Adhar, he raises his right hand up and points his forefinger at Addy. "Keep your wits." Han says at him again, his grey brows raised once again. And with that the Legend turns toward athe exit of the bar and starts back the way he'd come.
He watches as the man whom his uncle revered as a kind of hometown hero gets to his feet and waves himself on. Adhar's eyes track his every movement in that moment, trying his best to scry out as many details as he can - a perfect holo in his mind. Something to tell the kids one day, or at least the death nurse. "I'll keep it in mind," he says, nodding to Solo. "But I knew it already. Fly safe out there, Solo. And call your friend, he misses you."
Once the legend is gone, Adhar finds himself alone, and suddenly the whiskey tastes of ashes in his mouth. "Keep your wits," the young smuggler murmurs, capping his flask and putting it away. "Gonna be some challenge, that." Considering the advice he'd just been given, he'd need to keep a lot more than just his wits to keep himself alive, much less pull off what might be percolating in his head as he too rises to go.
Smuggling leads to violence, but no cause is raised without blood on one's hands to carry it through. Giving Solo a few moments to take his leave in full, the younger man in the blue coat steps out into the dim Nar Shaddaa evening, wondering if he might someday be an echo of the man who's gone before - for good, or possibly for ill.
With his luck, probably the latter.