Log:Array Consortium: Mad Love (And What Comes Of It)
Seeking more from his relationship with Jayla, Adhar takes a leap and invites her to dinner with the intention of asking more from her. Also, crime! Another nail in the coffin of what was Aline's splinter operation from the Mathall Syndicate is driven in after wine and sweet nothings. What more could two beasties want from date night?
It's been quite some time since last you got to see one another beyond simple holochats and the occasional short dinner or the like - as far as romances go, you two have definitely been ships passing in the night. On Adhar's part, however, this doesn't seem to blunt his affection; if anything, bit by bit, he seems to warm more and more whenever he sees you. Funny for someone who you thought you had to talk to about getting too close, but it's not like smuggler captains are known for their consistency. And yet, there is a message waiting for you when next you finish a trade run, from the man himself: 'Come to Nar Shaddaa,' it says, 'Meet me for dinner. Have something important to talk to you about.' He then sends information for a reservation at a Nar Shaddaa restaurant, the elegant Andall Spire in the Corellian Sector. 9pm, tonight.
So maybe he's not as consistent as he might say he is? Lots of breakup dinners go down at the Spire. It's a very classy way to do it. Food and atmosphere so nice, it's like the breaking party is doing the breakee a favor - which is pretty scummy, when you think about it.
And so there he is, waiting for you, booth 32, window view. The Spire is four levels of Old Republic-era elegance, a throwback to a time before the Empire. Gilded curves and frosted transparisteel, plush bantha-leather upholstery. He sits at the booth nursing a glass of sparkling lavender wine, overlooking a breathtaking view of the city-moon: all neon and traffic, a taste of Coruscant but without the jackboots. Dressed nicely, his coat nowhere to be seen. Waiting.
Jayla arrives dressed in something other than armor, for a change. Low cut tunic and leggings with knee-boots, her only nod to weaponry is a custom DL-30 holstered on her left hip. The careful eye would spot a couple of knife hilts in boot tops, but a girl can't be too careful.
Nar Shaddaa is more or less home to her, and she knows the Andall Spire pretty well. At least by reputation. It's not that Jay can't afford it, she's just seldom dressed appropriately.
Arriving close to the designated time, she makes her way to booth 32 and smiles at the sight. Bending low to greet you with a light kiss, she slides into the seat opposite. So you can talk. You did say talk, after all.
He doesn't /look/ armed, your beau, but his smile goes a bit tight when you kiss him. Adhar gestures for the server, lifting his glass and gesturing to you, and in a few moments a droid arrives with a chilled and already breathing bottle of the blue wine which it pours into a fresh glass to a quarter-depth. The machine dithers a moment, but then drifts away, not actually asking for an order. Not the best of signs, either.
"You look nice," he says after a moment, smiling that tight smile. His hair's been cut again, still close-shaven at the sides, but the curls atop his head have been trimmed back from their jaunty tangle. He looks fairly businesslike that way, does Adhar. His cold black synthetic eye glitters in its golden mount, and its natural twin is hard with resolve. "The blue's a good color on you." As he'd think, no doubt.
Jay definitely notices the droid's dithering as she picks up the glass, raising to take a slow sip. "You're looking good as well." she replies, watching him with open curiosity. After a moment she offers. "I know it's been a while, but I wasn't really expecting a nice dinner."
Does she suspect something? Is she wary? The woman isn't saying, but she doesn't need to.
"Well, I missed you." He shrugs. "I don't see you nearly enough, Jayla. You're a busy lady, but..." Adhar settles back in his seat, looking at you for a long moment from over the rim of his glass. Decisions being made. "Was your dad gone a lot? When you were a girl?"
She considers a moment, then shakes her head. "No, actually. By the time I came along we were living quite comfortably in a space station. But I've seen his armor and I've seen his guns. And I know that wasn't always the case."
He nods, looking out the window once more - so much on his mind. Turning his bionic eye away, his face can be seen in profile. Young man, not quite close to thirty yet, heavy, aquiline nose, handsome but only at the lower end of the scale. Solid seven, if you like grim and scarred. He purses his lips. "Can I be completely blunt with you, Jayla?"
Jayla does watch his profile as he turns, looking over the good points as well as the ones less appealing. "Our relationship is built on our being able to trust each other, Addy. Go right ahead." she replies. Leaning back a bit, she takes a sip of her wine.
He nods once. "I do trust you," he says, looking back to you. "Very much, in fact. But I don't like where we're going. I don't like...not seeing you. Not having you in my life. I mean, I'm not saying I don't want you to do your thing, but I can't just see once a month anymore. It's not good enough for me, the way things are. I want you around too much." A beat. "Does that make sense to you?"
Jayla swirls the wineglass slowly while he speaks, keeping eye contact. "Of course it does. That just means we're going to have to start doing more things together, really. Is that where you're going with this?"
"My star is on the rise, girl." He doesn't say that, usually. Doesn't call you a girl, though he wields the word with a certain tender urgency, not like some patriarch. His eyes glitter with a sudden hunger. "I've been making a lot of inroads. I want you here, with me. Ground floor. The Consortium is expanding; it's not just about smuggling anymore, or at least it won't be soon enough. I want to build this thing with you next to me - you're a good trader, but you and I both know you're wasted with that as your only career."
His free hand stretches out, then, sliding across the table, hand open for yours.
Dark brows raise at that, her eyes watching your expression. "My dad never mentioned the Consortium, but he never really needed to." Jayla replies softly. "I know that expensive penthouse I was raised in didn't come cheap and it didn't come easy. Not sure what -exactly- you're asking, but you don't need to explain. Just tell me when and where."
She slips her hand into your own.
"Well, the Consortium isn't even a year old," he says, lacing his fingers with yours. His skin is feverishly warm, always has been. Vital. "My Consortium. The Array Consortium." Adhar leans own, pressing a kiss against the back of your hand. "I guess what I'm asking is that I want you to work with me. Literally, -with- me. Help me do what needs to be done to make things stronger. Be a part of the Consortium, even if just unofficially. I guess I'm asking you to make a commitment, one that I'll keep in return. I don't want to do this alone." Which he isn't, of course, but one gets the idea that he's not talking about crew.
Jayla watches your face, smiling softly when you kiss the back of her hand. "HIS Consortium started out as a band of pirates." she offers almost casually. "I'm good with that. Like I said... just say when and where. Especially if it means covering your ass."
He nods, slowly, and smiles. "You gonna make me fall in love with you someday, you keep talking like that." Free hand snags the wine, takes a deep drink. "So. Let's finish our glass of wine, burn up a little more time, here, and then let's go kill a man."
Oh! Like, right now right now.
She chuckles softly at his response, swirling the wine a little more. And when he mentions going to kill a man, there is no hesitation in Jayla's smile. "Should I have brought grenades?" she asks wryly. Then she takes another sip of wine.
"No," he says with a chuckle. "But I did bring you a change of clothes. just in case." His intact eye sparkles, and giving your hand a further squeeze he slips his hand away. "You're gonna find that a lot of this is more assassination than balls-out warfare, though we're doing that as well with pirates - more on that later." Adhar takes a deep sip of his wine. "So, questions. Hit me, love."
"I'll hang onto my flamethrower just the same." Jayla replies. "Change of clothes? Okay, I'm definitely interested. Just tell me what my part is in all of this. I don't need the backstory or any convincing. So yeah, you point and I'll shoot."
"Well," says your beau, "You may not need it, but it's good to get it." He tilts back his glass, draining it entirely. "But I'll keep it short. Suffice it to say, the woman in charge of that splinter spice operation belonging to the Mathall Syndicate that we were busy punching in the kidneys over the last few months - oh! You remember her, the Echani lady I scared the hell out of on Coruscant. Anyway she's decided it's not good to do anymore, keeping this thing on, so she's trying to back out and not get killed. Which I'm fine with, but in order to make sure it /sticks/, some of her unlovely suppliers gotta go. One of which is an accountant."
Jayla nods at that, keeping her gaze on him and one hand toying with the wineglass. Best to keep up appearances, after all. "An accountant? Seriously?" She replies, looking amused. "I mean, that's okay with me and all. Just didn't expect -that-."
"An accountant," Adhar says with a somber nod. "Back when we started up with those guys, I had one of my pilots fusion-bomb the compound of the Mathall spice baron, which took out - among other things - what we believed to be all their records on contacts, financial transactions, all of that. What we destroyed, instead, were the /original/ records. This accountant has the backups, as well as what's going on in his own skull. Given that he's also pretty much a shavit human being as well..." He shrugs. "Fellas' gotta go."
Jay doesn't look around, but those lips curl into a small smile across the table from him. "Is he here tonight, then?" she asks in a softer voice with something of a coy expression. As if Addy just made an indecent proposal. "And will we need to raid his place afterward?"
"Here? No. Here was for us to have a drink and figure out if you were gonna stick around or if you were gonna decide I was asking too much of the future and peace on out." A shrug. "Now that we've resolved /that/, once you're ready, we go to his place, sneak and-or shoot our way in depending on our luck, kill the bastard and then I'll put an S-comp spike through his computers and rid our friend Aline of any temptation to change her mind on the spice thing."
She chuckles softly at that, raising her glass in a toast. "Sounds to me like a plan, then. If we were gonna shoot our way in, though, I should've packed heavy. But no matter, either way."
That toast is mirrored, after he scrambles to put a little more wine in his own glass for a moment. "So. We finish our wine, take a black-market cab down to a sublevel well under his secure office, dress as maintennce workers because of course we will, make our way up, likely murder and or avoid some guards and then take out the idiot before then not dying on the way out." He smiles, widely so, and drains his glass with a satisfied sigh. "Nothing doing."
Glasses clink, and when you drain your glass she follows suit. "It's a plan." Jay replies simply. "You've got the outfits, I presume. And we won't need anything else." It's more of a statement than a question.
"Got everything we need," Adhar says with a smooth nod. He gestures to the door. "Shall we go, my lady? Our carriage awaits."
Jayla rises at that, inclining her head and waiting for him. "I can't wait." she replies. Slipping an arm through his, she follows his lead.
- The carriage is a broken-down old repulsor van.
- The van smells terrible.
- The 'change of clothes' is a pair of plain coveralls colored dull yellow-brown.
- The van drops you off a mile underneath the aforementioned office.
You have managed of course to arrive deep in the crumbling guts of the city's infrastructure, where mutants and gangers dwell. Where you've brought your knives and such, Adhar brings a shoulder bag in which there is, apparently, not only a heavily tarted-up DH-17 but a vibrosword that looks as though it might be at home buried in the skull of some ancient beast. Curved and heavy, not a cutlass but sort of an axe that wanted to be a sword when it grew up. "Fun times," he mutters as he kneels to disable the security lock leading to a turbolift that will take the two of you all the way up to three floors beneath the target's office block. "You having fun yet? Smells like a drain down here."
Jayla isn't shy about the cab ride over or even the change of clothes. Although she -does- give the coveralls a test-sniff. Zipping up, she keeps her pistol handy and replies. "You sure do know how to show a girl a good time, Gann."
"Well I'll tell you what, dear flower," says Adhar as he prises off the access plate and dicks around with the wires inside, his expression changing to a semi-duckface of momentarily confusion. "We get out of this alive, and I'll take you out for an iced milk after." Ah, luxury. The doors slide open and we're off to the races.
The turbolift is old, but serviceable - thus it doens't take a thousand years to get to the upper levels, more like twenty minutes. Once it stops, you emerge into far brighter and well-maintained back lobby somewhere in the building, with no guards whatsoever except for the security droid standing with its back to you oh god was that supposed to be there?
"Shavit," Adhar mutters in the moment he has to reach for the gun jammed into the drill holster on his toolbelt. Guess it wasn't.
Jayla flicks the safety off, drawing the DL-30 while you futz with the security system. While you jimmy the wires she stands guard. And once inside the lift she keeps the pistol out. Down at her side, but out all the same.
Gaze scanning the brighter lobby, Jay sees the security droid about the time you're reaching for your gun. She raises it and shoots.
So Adhar gets his gun out, but his stupid pistol is jammed into the drill holster and it's just a little too hard from him to get it out before you have a chance to ventilate the droid thoroughly - which, in fact, you do. Collapsing into a pile of smouldering metal, Adhar immediately looks around for some triggered alarm or armed idiots coming to investigate the noise, but none come. "Good job, babe," he says quietly, but quiet can't hide that he's impressed (as well he should be.) Shaking his head, Adhar drags the droid into the turbolift cabin before turning back to you. "Right. Well. Let's go."
He leads you down a few back corridors, where a maintenance room awaits; Adhar produces a very obviously generic access card, which he has undoubtedly coded himself - which could lead straight to certain doom but apparently your man is no slouch in the serious fakery department so you managed to get right on in. "I was wondering if that would work, Adhar murmurs to himself, but smiles as he gestures you in, where an air exchanger awaits apparent entry. Because you know you were going to have to climb through some vents on this one, right? Right? C'mon.
She keeps her pistol raised as the droid crumbles and smokes, giving you a -look- and a shoulder-shrug. "Hey, just try and keep up, alright?" And when they move on she doesn't put the pistol away.
Watching as you run the access card through the slot, Jayla smirks when it works. "I could always shoot it." she offers softly. Annnd, into the air exchanger she goes. "You're serious?"
"This is my life," Adhar says with a shrug. "Smuggling, crawling through ducts, and accidentally falling into romance with gorgeous women with amazing backsides but who I respect enough to go first so she doesn't feel all objectified." He pops the cover of the exchanger, and with a grunt does just that, making his way upward through the maze of ductwork.
On the other hand, of course, you don't know the layout...so it only makes sense that he leads - and so he does, carefully crawling ahead through dimly-litten ventilation shafts which smell like electrically-heated dirt; for the better part of a half an hour you go, until he finds a maintenance cover at the end of a short side passage jutting off a main duct. "All right," he whispers, loud enough for you to hear, "This cover leads to an empty office across the floor from the target's block. We can sneak in from there, or we can go in guns blazing. Either way sends a message - what do you want to do?"
"Hey, I don't mind crawling through ducts first so you can look at my ass." Jayla replies. But she'll defer to *him* on that, of course. "I have no idea where we even *are*..." she whispers, trying her best to be quiet in the metal tunnels.
"It sends enough of a message that we can get into this place and grease him, as far as I'm concerned. Big fan of the 'easy way', here." And with that she points towards the empty office route.
"Right," Adhar murmurs, and crab-walking up to it unseals the door with a few prods with a tool from his belt. Carefully he eases the hatch aside so that it doesn't fall out onto the floor beyond, then slips out into the room.
The office is a small one, little more than a desk and a sofa positioned opposite one another; bland tawny plastic and fake leather are the way to go, but the floor at least is carpeted. "All right," says Adhar, who eases to his feet. "You wanna look out the door and see what we got out there?"
Jayla remains crouched in the duct as he unseals the hatch and carefully slips down into the room. Her pistol is out, just in case, and then she drops down close by. Blaster held at the ready, she takes a moment to get her bearings and then nods.
"Hopefully not another security droid, or we're gonna run out of places to hide the bodies." she offers. Stepping over slowly, she pushes the door open a little and takes a peak.
The good news: no droids. The bad news: three surly-looking fellows in gray business suits stand around the door to the offices, being straight-up grumpy. Or...grim. Whatever. If they're armed, there is no outward sign.
Meanwhile, Adhar has drawn his own pistol again, checking over to make sure it's charged.
Jayla makes a sign toward him, holding up three fingers and keeping her pistol drawn as well. But she'll wait until he's ready and makes the first move this time.
"All right, then." Adhar strides across the floor to the door, takes a moment to check position himself, and then closes his eyes. "On three. One...two..."
On 'three' he kicks the door wide open, gun in hand, and starts blasting away at the idiots on the other side, his blaster spitting bright blue stun bolts in rapid fashion - he holds the pistol weirdly close to his body, twisting his wrist rather than his whole body as he starts blasting away. The hall is filled with the pulsing whine and ozone smell as his gun begins to roar.
Between the two of you, two of the guards go down in a hail of fire; the third guard, utterly gobsmacked by the sudden assault, gapes as his friends lie unconscious and half-dead on the ground. "You," Adhar bellows, holding his gun out at the man. "Door. Now."
The guard moves as if shocked, opening the door and holding his arms up as Adhar leads into the office - shooting the man point-blank with the stunner as he moves on. Past the fallen guards the office is a richly-appointed affair, with a small entryway (complete with a terrified secretary who is doing his best to hide under his desk) and a door beyond. Adhar kicks the door open, and beyond that is a very terrified man with his eyes wide and his hair slicked back in the most irritating fashion possible. "I don't--"
"Shut it," Adhar says, toggling over the blaster to kill and shooting him once in the chest - purposefully wounding him horribly, burning through a lung, but not yet killing him. "Your shot, Jayla," he calls as he passes the man's gasping figure to the bank of computers behind his desk, producing a palm-sized device from the toolbelt and connecting it via cable to an S-comp link on a communal access terminal built into the mass of computers. "We got about five minutes before we get security up here, I figure."
Jayla keeps her blaster pointed towards the remaining guard, at least until Addy stuns him. Looking over at the accountant, she is impassive as Addy wounds the man with the chest shot. And while her partner moves past to start his work with the computers, Jayla waits long enough for the man to realize what's going to happen.
"Okay, I think we're just about finished here anyway." she replies. Barrel beneath the accountant's chin, she pulls the trigger quickly. Smoke leaves the skull as he slumps over.
Indeed you are. Once you've turned the man's skull into a canoe, Adhar hits a series of controls on the box in his hand - there is a bright whine that fills the room before the unit discharges a massive ion pulse into the computer bank, causing smoke to gush from between the access covers of each unit and the distressing smell of melted plastic and other materials to issue from within them. Disconnecting the unit, Adhar puts it away on his belt, then draws his DH-17 once more to toggle it over to automatic and dump its magazine into the rack of servers in a roaring torrent of plasmatic death. "All right," he calls over the smoke and the blare of the fire alarms, "Let's get going!"
But if getting in was the hard part, getting out is far easier - with the guards down, the two of you make it back to the vents easily and Adhar closes it up behind you. This time, the man gets a fantastic look at your backside as the two of you crawl quickly down and back to the maintenance level, with adrenaline singing in your blood - when you step into the turbolift to make your escape, Adhar grabs you by the hair and kisses you soundly, a kiss that one assumes lasts all the way down.
Once you emerge from the lift at the bottom, the van is waiting on you...he grins at you, his mouth red, and shakes his head. "I take it back," he calls over the van's juddering engine, "I think I already /am/ in love with you!"
If Jay shakes it a bit more than necessary on the crawl through the ducts, who can blame her? Then it's a long ride down the turbolift and she spends most of it wrapped around you, thanks to the adrenaline rush. The walk to the van? She's as calm and collected as can be. And once inside she puts on fresh lipstick in the mirror while you power up and take off.