Log:Array Consortium: Skin Flicks
One of two new provisional Captains of the Consortium, Dosk is given a business opportunity, and a test toward his coat - but the cargo is...somewhat unusual. Can he pull of this, uh, score?
It's off to Druckenwell, with a load full of holographic Wookiee porn in your hold, making the Codru Dream the sexiest ultralight to ply the Reena Trade Run today. For Wookiees, anyway. And, uh, 'exotic people'. The tapes are sealed in electromagnetically shielded envelopes, foil packs as long as a man's leg - roughly a hundred of these are secreted among twenty tons' worth of industrial parts housed in ten large crates that ride in the confines of your ship's cargo box. Hurtling along through hyperspace, one might worry about not being able to actively check over the contents while in transit - but then again, you've packed it once, you don't have to worry about screwing it up while travelling by poking at it too much, either.
So the course is this: from Nar Shaddaa to the Bothan Systems - which you've managed to pass already without any trouble, the notoriously scrutinous Bothans either not detecting or not caring about the tapes (likely the latter, considering their famed security corps) and down the Reena Trade Route to Druckenwell, where you'll have to contend with customs and security before getting on-planet. Then you'll have to deal with industrial security as you seek your contact, make the sale, and get back without anyone noticing that the (very forged) manifest that Adhar made for you is, in fact, doctored all to hell to throw of mass-measurement expectations. And papers. This is, really, as much a means of showing you what HE can do as it is a test for yourself.
And so...the ship moves. Hyperspace is a grand, blue cloudy blur. Hyperspace routes are much faster when traveled than trying to compute it yourself, but you've got five sectors to move through and you've only tackled three. What to do?
"2 more to go" Dosk says to himself as the anticipation has increased with each leg of the journey passing. A lit cigarra in his mouth as he looks over the cockpit consoles for the 60th time. Though avoiding the ETA's as much as possible during each jump as looking at them makes the time seem to pass much slower. Casual cantina music plays quietly in the cramped quarters as he watches space fly by him along the hyper lane before looking to prepare for what the next jump will be.
It's a small ship, but the neck is pretty wide - amazing what Incom's managed to stick in there. Small refresher (waste unit only, pressurized for santitation's sake), miniature autochef, two fold-out bunks which have, obviously, been folded up and locked in place to make room for your harness. Even a little fold-out table and chair combo. These lads think of everywhing. And with the rest of the ship itself essentially powerplant, shields and engines, flying your own personal almost-fighter seems to be...almost comfortable.
Time passes, and finally the swirling blue of hyperspace vanishes as the starry void of realspace violently manifests itself again. A good jump, this time - the Codru Dream appears just outside the planet's gravitational envelope, giving you a magnificent look at Druckenwell's nightside: a sea planet for the most part, almost all the available land has been reclaimed for industry while the remainder is stringently conserved. Coming in on the dark side, however, the planet's industrial reality is clear: mazes of light sprawl across the void of the oceans where the land is filled with factories and urban centers, patterns that one could never appreciate on ground level. Down there, over nine billion souls toil away in relative, corporate-controlled comfort, but up here it's just...art.
Sometimes, industry doesn't suck. At least from afar.
As the ship shudders out of hyperspace, Dosk looks up at the magnificent sight before him while positioning his two lower hands on the controls, while an upper arm reaches over to shut off the music. "I wonder how many of them have seen the planet from up here?" he asks himself casually while initiating a scan while easing the ship forwards.
Undoubtedly many do, but it's hard to process the beauty after a while - so many become numb to the sight of such things. Good on you for retaining your sense of wonder. But as lovely as it is, the vista is suddenly marred by the loud beeping of the sensors as a frigate swings into view, the relatively tremendous sight of an old Nebulon-B whose hull wears naught but dull gray military thermocoat. And guns, of course. Lots of guns.
<< Incoming vessel, >> a sharp, masculine voice barks over the comms. << This is Druckenwell security vessel /Tenacity/. Identify yourself and prepare to submit to scanning. >>
"Tenacity, this is the light freighter 'Codru Dream', standing by for scan." Dosk radios as things get a bit more serious. The Codru Ji sits upright in his seat as he moves to silence the annoying beeping of the sensors.
<< Acknowledged, Codru Dream. Bring your ship to a halt and cut your engines. Prepare for scan. >> Well, it's certainly a /big/ ship to use for customs, but on the other hand, Druckenwell's an important system with a lot of credits to spend on its planetary defense - after all, disarmament was almost thirty years ago, and it's not like the Republic has a powerful defense apparatus. Can't blame 'em, really.
Assuming you stop, the hull practically hums under the power of the frigate's scanning beams. Do smugglers get cancer early from dealing with this sort of thing all the time? Probably not, but it's one of those questions that persist in the backrooms of smuggler's bars nonetheless.
He does indeed stop and await for the scan. Looking about as the hull hums. Dosk looks over the manifest once again to study it's details
Moments build like this, you know. You just sit there, clenching in your seat, waiting for the hammer to fall - or not, all things being equal. And then, after a while...the voice returns.
<< All right, Codru Dream, you're cleared. You're cleared to proceed to Il Avali, coordinates and flight plan transmitting now. Land where directed and prepare for material inspectiom >>
Oh. Material inspection. They're going to search the ship - and, most likely, scan the cargo.
"Copy" Dosk says, the anticipation growing as a more thorough search is about to come under way As the coordinates and plan are sent, he powers up the ships engines and proceeds along the designated route. The Codru ji begins visualizing all sorts of scenarios that may happen upon his landing as he tries to remember what major import this planet is most known for.
It's GOT to be easy to fly with four arms - or so you'd think, but in an ultralight it's got to be pretty hard to use those extra limbs in any useful fashion. Regardless of anatomy, though, you easily bring the ship along the course transmitted to the navicomputer, entering the atmopshere on partial autopilot. Still on the night side of the planet, you witness the vast, shimmering mirror of the seas that dominate the planet, glittering with the burden of holosigns and industrial lights as you slowly bank the ship toward the coastline of the largest land mass. There, the city of Il Avali sprawls for hundreds of miles in every direction, stopping only at the shore thanks to legislation and a quarter-mile-high seawall made of duracrete six feet thick. Over this you go, over miles of industrial towers and then skyscrapers clad in light, until you reach the equally sprawling complex of the planet's major spaceport.
As you bring the ship into one of the many spacebarns that ring a cluster of capital pads in one section of the spaceport field, you find a host of gray-suited beings. All wear the blue starburst of the local government, and several of them are clad in light combat armor. All of them are armed in one way or another, with the armored fellow carrying heavy carbines.
The ship lands and settles down. Time to say hello to the natives.
Dosk takes a couple breaths as his arms move about to power down the ship, before unharnessing himself and grabbing his manafest before pounding on the switch to open the boarding hatch. A woosh of the planets air entering the cabin as he steps down the ramp to greet the awaiting authorities. "Evening" The alien says casually as he approaches. "Got a load of industrial parts from Bothawi" Saying as he taps his manifest.
The majority of the staff are human, with a few aliens peppered in - the one officer here, dressed from head to toe in a uniform so well-pressed it could draw blood if you brushed a shoulder pad, steps forward with a gloved hand extended. "Yes," says the man, whose sallow face bears a scar that twists his mouth into a permanent sneer, "Captain...Dosk, is it?" He frowns at the manifest and attached forms, flicking through each one. "And you say that you're shipping out of Bothawui."
As he goes over the paperwork, he waves a hand vaguely toward your ship. Several gray-suited technicians carrying a scanning kit between them jog toward the Codru Dream, setting down the kit's large container, opening the lid, and getting out scanner rigs which they connect to the kit's included generator.
"Yeah, been running cargo non-stop for the past couple of weeks, trying to keep everyone happy. Running a tight schedule and trying to stay ahead." Dosk says as he raises an arm and points back to the technicians. "I hope this wont take long, Hoping to find another job here. Trying to make enough time for a little R&R ya know?"
"Oh, you're perfectly free to go inside," says the customs officer. "We're going to be here for a while - unless you'd rather wait?" His brows arch, and he looks up at you, eyes widened a little, but shaded by the brim of his duty cap.
"Ill wait out here a bit and have a cigarra if that's okay, been cooped up inside for a while now" Dosk says as he pulls out a fresh cigar and pops it between his teeth. "Besides, I can stand up straight out here without worrying about hitting my head on something." Adding as he lights it and moves off to the side to find a place to take a seat.
"If you wish." He steps away, conferring with some of the troops while the scanner techs keep up their excrutiatingly slow scan of the cargo box. Slowly circling, sweeping beams back and forth, as if painting with industrial airbrushes. Just...takes...so...much.../time/. The guards are a little listless, too - that your'e standing there seems to get their attention, as they peer at you from time to time. Maybe it's suspicious. Maybe it's just that you've got four bloody arms. Who can say for sure?"
Finally, after what feels like a thousand years, the scanner crew's foreman steps up. "All clear," he calls to the customs officer.
"Oh yeah?" He eyes you from afar, as if quite disbelieving. "You're sure?"
"Yeah, it's just pipes and such," the foreman replies. "Nothing to worry about, Lieutenant."
"Hmm." The customs officer approaches you, squinting - but as he reaches close, he simply hands the manifest and paperwork over to you. "Fine," he says. "You can leave when the sensor crew finishes. Good business to you, Captain. I trust I won't see you around for a while."
And that said, the officer - and his knot of guards - depart, leaving only the sensor crew to pack things up.
Dosk nods at the customs officer without a word. Puffing on his cigarra as he pockets the paperwork and crosses his lower arms before starting to head back to the Codru Dream as well as that of the scanning crew who are packing up. Though he says nothing while approaching.
The foreman turns to regard you as you approach. "So," he says, smiling faintly. "That's...quite a lot you got in there. What is it? Holotapes? What kind?" The other techs look at each other, grinning. "Bet it's juicy for you to be hauling 'em in."
As the foreman speaks to Dosk, he smiles a bit. "I tell ya what.." he says pulling the cigarra from his mouth and glancing back towards the other techs for a split second. "When whatever it is hits the market, how about I help you guys get some samples if you should want to check em out." Adding as he pulls out a cred chit worth 1000 casually. "You should each be able to get a couple with that, and have a little change to spare."
The sensor boss looks at the credit chip for a long moment, perhaps a little surprised at the brazenness of the offer. "Put that away," one of the other techs hiss. "Kriff, are you thick? There's holocameras around!"
Dosk lowers one of his arms to pull out a flask, while another moves to open it. The hand with the cred chip palmed is lowered back into his pocket where he leaves it and removes it holding his lighter. A swig is given before the cigarra is placed back into his mouth and lit with the lighter. "Nobody else want a cigarra?"
"I wanna know what's in there," says the sensor boss. He and his techs exchange looks, maybe a bit more eager than they should be. (Human) men, right? So lusty among sentients. "You got a list of titles?"
And yes, you do! Titles like 'Wanton Wookies 27' and 'Malastare Girls', 'Grippy Feet' (more Dugs) and 'Courtesans of the Codru-Ji' top your memory. Especially that last bit. Hey, four arms, right? Rrrrowr.
Dosk takes a long pull off the cigarra. "You guys like exotic stuff?" Letting out the smoke slowly. "Malastare Girls, Wanton Wookies 27, Courtesans of the Codru-Ji." Dosk says as he waves his arms a bit. "You should see what a woman of my species can do with 4 hands." Stating as he ashes his cigarra.
One of the guys snickers. The sensor boss coughs. "Yeah, well," he says, trying to keep a poker face. "That sounds...that sounds really interesting, actually. Um." Ooof. You got them in a spot, you do. "So that's...illegal, right?"
"It's just exotic, no slaves, nothing underage or anything like that." Dosk says.
"Mmmm." The guys look at each other. After a long moment, the sensor boss says, "We want a flat. Just one. Keep your credits."
"Afraid I can't part with a flat guys" Dosk says as he does a spin while taking a step back. "I'll up my offer to 2k so you all walk away with something to show for it." He puffs on the cigarra and exhales.
Another long silence. They look at each other, but it's clear that the idea of black-market profit (or just sheer force of perversion) is a force that wars before the gift of easy cash. Finally, though, the sensor boss sighs. "Yeah, all right," he says, and the techs begin to start packing up their equipment again, much faster this time. "Leave the cash on that barrel over there, next to the door. Cameras won't see it." He nods toward a lone red fuel barrel that rests by the exit doors. "I'll make sure the report's clean, no worries about that. Just, uh...make sure you come back, huh? There's a lot of demand for stuff like this around here. Not just us, but there's plenty of nonhuman workers around. Get tired of watching the humanocentric smut the corps approve, you know?" Ah, good! Not just tired corporate porn, /racially focused/ corporate porn. These poor people. You're a hero to them all.
Dosk nods "Of course, thank you." saying as he walks towards his ship, throwing the cigarra infront of him and smashing it underneath his boot as he hits the ramp button to lock up the ship, then proceeds to ensure his cargo bay is secured before retrieving his datapad to refresh where and whom his contact is for the delivery.
Well that was close. Well done!
The contact is at a tavern off another concourse called The Swahalah Fern. It's a small place, dimly lit but lined with terrariums, each one filled with flora from many diffferent worlds. It's one of those chic little places that rise and fall in spaceports all the time, you know the type. In the back, past the little postage stamp of a bar, a burly Chiss woman in a sleeveless top awaits you. This woman's name is Sathaan.
She is beautiful. Radiantly, breathtakingly so. She also looks as though she could tear off two of your arms and shove them up your aft exhaust before you could move the others. Violence radiates off her like heat.
The Codru makes his way through the Tavern after leaving the credits for the sensor team as he said he would. Upon coming up to Sathaan, Dosk nods his head. Of course taking note of the Blue woman's beauty. "Hello, I'm looking for Sathaan" He says, keeping his eyes on the woman who matches the description of the contact.
She stares at you for a long moment, red eyes like coals. "I'm sure you know you've found her," Sathaan replies, sounding unimpressed. "I certainly know who you are. Sit down."
"It seems so" Dosk replies as he looks around briefly before sliding into a chair. "Sorry I'm a bit late, customs and all" The Codru Ji states bluntly.
"Yeah, I saw." She holds up a datapad, the display of which shows a now-empty bay being entered by a group of sentients in worksuits and safety helmets pulled low over their brows. "I like how you handled those sensors techs. I saw they probably got clued in to what was in there, but you didn't give anything away. Good. I don't like amateurs or people who give away product." Sathaan puts the datapad back down again, and fixes her red eyes upon you appraisingly. "You set the combination to the cargo box as we agreed, I assume." (You did.) "So I guess you'll want your payment."
Dosk listens as the Chiss speaks and nods, thinking to himself that he was glad he went agains his initial instincts to let the crew just have a taste of the holovids. "Indeed" he says, folding his hands in his lap as he stares back at the Chiss.
"Oh?" Dosk says, looking the key over. "I think not." He says, putting the key down. "I brought your goods here, I get paid. Here." Saying as he points a finger down on the desk. "I'm not flying all the way back to Nar Shaddaa to find an empty locker, and finding out this place is a vacant building by the time I return. You pay me now."
She gives you a flat look. "You get paid the way it was arranged," says Sathaan, her eyes boring into you. "Look, you're new here, so I'll give you a little bit of advice. I? Do not do the cheating. I? Break cheaters in half. I run an honest operation, I pay on time, and I /pay as arranged/." She squints at you. "You think I wanted you here? I don't know you from anyone. Gann's the one convinced me accept the delivery. So. You go and there's nothing there, you taalk to him." She picks up her datapad and begins to study it again - pushing the key back across the table to you.
Okay. Well. Stubborn.
Dosk watches the woman as she goes off. Eventually taking the key back. "Alright then, you took his word to trust me, I'll give the benefit of the doubt as you did. Now you know I deliver on time with all the product intact. Thank you." He says finally before turning and heading out the door.
"That I do," she replies, just loud enough for you to hear as you head out. "And that ain't nothin'."
And so! You depart. The trip back is completely without issue, and one gets the idea that the reason for this is because - in fact - the delivery was made properly. That Sathaan, she seems the type to do you right if you do her right, and hang you off the nearest beam if you screw up a little. Interesting times.
But you pulled it off, and well done for it. Back to Nar Shaddaa, and to report.