Log:Array Consortium: The Upper Hand
While enjoying an evening on Coruscant with Niko and Jayla, Adhar has a chance encounter with the source of many of his recent problems, the renegade leader of the Mathall Syndicate, Aline. What might otherwise have turned into a messy murder scene instead turns awkwardly into peace and a couple of drinks - but who has the moral high ground here, and will either one of them make it out without murdering the other?
In a booth at one side of this very busy bar - because of course it's busy, it's trendy AF, and it's on /Coruscant/. Adhar, however, does not look like one of the trendy people, though he is rather fashionably dressed; having shaved the sides of his head and paid a little more attention to the curls in his hair, he's got this mad Thompson-Twins thing going on with his hair where it's a luxurious pile atomp his head, hanging over one eye. The non-bionic one, that is. Clad in fashionable clothes (who knew?) and his Consortium jacket, Adhar sits with another well-heeled man, a Falleen in black leathers and a long coat of purple fabric with the sleeves rolled up to the elvow, drinking cocktails and being young sex gods on the prowl. That's what they're doing, right?
Amidst the flashing lights and thudding uberbass of the dance floor, Niko takes a step into the StarViper, nearly bowled off his feet by the force of the ambient soundwaves. Grimacing a bit as his ears adjust to the noise, he plasters a smile on his face and makes his way through the crowd to the bar. As he passes the pit of writhing and undulating dancers, he can feel a palpable wave of heat coming off of them, followed immediately by the sickly sweet smell of a potpourri of perfumes, aftershaves and sweat. Eyes watering, Niko finally swims his way through the people to the bar.
The only thing Adhar's ever smelled like is ozone and blaster gas (and sometimes blood, admittedly) so if you happen to see the Captain perched in his booth with his /homo saurius/ friend, it's a no-scent zone. The two men are watching the crowd while drinking, apparently very bored. That especially fashionable boredom that should probably get distilled for less cool people, you know. They're pulling off effete and wealthy really well.
Niko, having finally struggled his way to the bar and grabbed the attention of the robo-bartender who... despite being a robot and programmed to serve drinks, looking a bit harried and stressed out from the press of sentient beings desiring to reach the altered state of "Idontgiveafuck". Finally being served a large tumbler of something clear with a green garnish of some sort, he stretches out his hand to thumb the credit pad, and then lets himself get absorbed by the crowd, sipping his drink and floating with the current until he finds himself deposited at a darker corner of the club. With a relived sigh, Niko straightens himself up, looking around curiously.
Adhar almost misses you as you head by - almost. Spotting you as you get to the bar, Adhar calls over a server and has them come find you. An invitation from Captain Gann to 'hang out and possibly get shot at', which as it's on Corellia she actually manages to think is a joke. Ah, sweet summer child...
Niko flashes a grin at the young, perky server who passes on the message from Captain Gann. Looking over to the table, he nods and then holds his arm out to the girl. "Well, let's not keep Captain Gann waiting then, shall we? I'd hate to be late to my own execution." Sipping from his drink again, he escorts the young server back to Captain Gann's table. As the pair approach the table, Niko smiles again at the server, letting go of her arm, but holding onto her fingertips before releasing them, and bowing formally, his drink hand over his heart. "My thanks for a lovely escort." Grinning again, he turns and salutes the smuggler captain. "Greetings, Captain Gann. We, who may or may not be about to be shot, salute you." He raises his glass. "To your health, Captain."
"To your health," Adhar replies, lifting his glass to you with a grin - as does the other man, who you now can identify as a guy named Mado, Adhar's personal co-pilot for Voidwing. "Have a seat with us, Niko. They got bottle service here."
"Delighted. My thanks, gentlemen." Niko climbs into the plush opulence of the table and takes a seat, sinking into the comfortable and velvety seat cushions. "Ahhh..." he sighs contentedly. "So... this is how the rich people do it, eh?" Grinning, he finishes his drink and reaches for one of the bottles on the table, looking at the labels.
"Or people trying pass themselves off as rich." Mado's tone is as dry and cool as his skin mut be, cold-blooded as he is. He smirks at you, nodding his head. "I'm surprised to see you here," he says. "Do we really need someone to come out as far as the Core to stock the ship's bar?"
Adhar makes a bit of a face. "Niko does more than that, Mado," he tells the other man. "C'mon." He looks to you, then, looking you over for a long moment. "Niko, how would you like to be a Captain?"
Niko looks up from the bottle at Mado with a raised eyebrow. "Well... of COURSE I needed to come out this far... There's been a flash of interest in Coruscant Sparklers lately, and apparently the tonic water we've been using is more to the tastes of those of the Bespin camp... Apparently, the flavor of the water differs if you use fresh Tibanna gas rather than the Coruscanti method." Shrugging, he puts down the bottle he was holding and picks up another. "... our service men and women deserve the best, don't you think? It's worth it to come out here to source ingredients if it means we can replicate the authentic tastes that our clients want." Niko nods, and pours himself a measure of liquid from the bottle in his hands. Turning to Adhar, he raises an eyebrow. "Me? A Captain? Surely you aren't so desperate that you're resorting to conscription, are you?"
"Nothing to do with desperation," Adhar says, though Mado snorts into his drink. "You're a thief. Hell, /I'm/ a thief, Niko. You could just learn to be a smuggler who's also a thief, and get a jacket on your own. Lot of different ways to smuggle things, after all. Don't have to fly around a freighter and sell things off the back of a speeder truck."
Niko flashes a grin at the Adhar. He sips his drink, and sits back in his chair. "I must admit, Captain... after procuring a ship of my own and venturing off station a bit more... I think I'm starting to develop a taste for it." Niko puts his drink down and folds his hands, one over the other in front of him. "All right, let's say I did want to be a Captain. How would one go about this?"
"You're gonna want to get another ship," Adhar says bluntly. "That one you've got is unassuming, but it's a starter all the way down." Oh. Well. "Of course, it depends on what you want to do, too. You can just run small, valuable loads and the rest could just be cargo. I figure you'll want to make more money in the straight trade between contraband jobs." At your question, he shrugs. "Start learning. You can start working with any Captain that will take you, frankly. Myself, certainly, but Pash and Mara both have their own ways of doing things. It'll be good to get additional experience."
Niko nods, thinking to himself. "I think you may be right... it's a natural offset from the... hm... acquisitions market..." Niko says slowly. "I'm not looking to establish an empire... just carve out my own niche, so to speak." Niko shrugs casually. "So where to start then, Captain? Shall I join your crew for a while? Work under you? Learn the ropes?"
"Well, we'll talk about that," says Adhar with a chuckle. "It'll take some time. I'll want you to see Pash, do some runs with him, you can do some runs with me, etcetera, etcetera. And you're already part of my crew, mate. I tend to do a lot of work solo these days."
"Because that's wise," says Mado, smirking.
"And I'm danmed good at it," Adhar points out to Mado with a scoff. "C'mon, man."
"You're very good, it's true," Mado says with a shrug. "But you're also good at getting shot at."
"Well, you know what they say... practice makes perfect." Niko flashes a grin at Mado. "And you know what a perfectionist Captain Gann is. I guess we'll just have to continue practicing shooting at him." Niko laughs and drinks his drink.
Mado smirks a bit at that. "I'm going to go back to the ship," he says. "Make room, captain Jing." Small 'c', mind you. There's a definite difference.
Niko grins at Mado again. "Yes, well... start small, right? I'll earn that big C... you just wait." Sitting back in his chair again, he swirls his glass, lost in his own thoughts again.
Once Mado leaves, Adhar regards you quietly, watching you as ythe thoughts play through your mind. "A credit for your thoughts," he finally says. "What's going on that melon of yours, Jing?"
"Just thinking, Captain..." Niko traces a long finger through one of the rings left by his glass. He sketches out a circle, and then boxes it with a square, and then adds another circle idly. "I guess this isn't too different from assembling a crew." Niko traces another circle, intersecting his first circle. "I've just... never run my own crew before..." Niko looks up at Adhar. "Where does one even start looking for interested individuals?"
"You don't /have/ to have your own crew, Niko," Adhar says with a chuckle. "Plenty of smugglers run solo. It's not the -smartest- thing in the world, but if you have a good droid, that's just as good. Droids are people too, after all." Right, Adhar. Right.
Adhar and Niko are sitting in a booth in the less noisy part of the club, chatting over drinks; Adhar, looking particularly New Wave with the shaved sides of his head and black curls piled atop his head, is busy sipping from some neon green cocktail and dispensing knowledge. Step One: Try Not To Die. Step Two: Don't Follow My Example. That sort of thing.
Jayla enters the bar, dressed in Wayward's armor with a rifle slung over one shoulder. Fingers run through her long, dark hair as she looks around. Spotting the quieter booth, as well as a familiar face, her mouth twitches into a smile and she heads over. Without hesitation she walks right up to Addy... and settles onto his lap.
Niko is still lost in thoughts when suddenly there is a "commotion" at the table. Looking up, he's surprised to watch as a statuesque young woman place herself in Adhar's lap. He's equally surprised at the look that Adhar gives her back. "Interesting," he murmurs to himself.
As Jayla slides into his lap; his arm finds her waist, a grin finds Adhar's lips just before they find hers, landing a gentle peck there. "Now this magnificent work of art," Adhar says to Niko, "Is Jayla Shane, trader and heartbreaker extraordinaire - the last bit inferred, mind you, not informed. Best thing that's happened to me all year, in point of fact."
He gives the woman a squeeze around the middle. "What a nice surprise, gorgeous," Adhar tells her, and hands her his drink. "Green Rain for you?"
Jayla Shane accepts the kiss with casual familiarity, easing an arm around Addy's shoulders as well. "Make that 'Honest' trader, if you don't mind." She quips back. "And yeah, a Green Rain sounds good." Looking over at Niko, she asks. "And this is one of your associates, I take it? Pleased to meet you."
"Honest trader," Adhar corrects, smirking faintly, the drink still held up for her. "Unlike myself. Just as heavily armed though - though I do take some credit in that." He gives her a wink with his one good eye, then adds, "Jayla, this is Niko Jing. Niko ran my club for a while, now he's steward on the Serious Business - he was wasted in both jobs but I had to see if I could trust him, and he's never broken that trust, so I want to train him to be a smuggler, so that he's a Captain in the Consortium." Oh, good! You passed your GSATS, except the 'G' stands for 'Gann'!
"Niko Jing, ma'am." Niko half stands, bowing and extending a hand. "A pleasure to make your acquaintance." Slyly grinning at Adhar, he winks. "So what's it like being the best thief in the room?" Niko chuckles. "Stealing the affection of our dear Captain Gann here. Will wonders never cease." Pouring a measure of liquid into his glass again, he raises it to the happy couple. "To both your healths then. Cheers."
Jayla Shane doesn't get up as she accepts Niko's offered hand, reaching and shifting her weight instead. (Likely to Addy's discomfort...). "Nice to meet you, Niko. And I'm still trying to figure out how much was stolen and how much was simply given away."
Well if he's uncomfortable, Adhar gives absolutely no sign - though he does reach over to ease Jayla's rifle from her shoulder and set it across the seat next to her, barrel-up. "Please, lady," he scoffs. "All I did was manage to score myself an overdue birthday present. Like, for the last ten years." Adhar flags down a server with a wave, then, looking back to Jayla. "Like my hair?"
Niko watches with an amused look on his face. He's never seen Adhar be quite so vain before. It's a different side of him to be sure. He contents himself with sitting back and watching the couple. Far be it from him to interfere with budding love. Ahh... A vaillant coeur rien d'impossible.
Now, now. Vain? The man just asked if she like his haircut - if anything, he's likely fishing. But of course Jayla has bounded off to wherever she needs to go, leaving the lads alone again.
"So," Adhar says, looking cross the table at Niko. "If you're going to suggest she might be a grifter, don't worry. I'm watching for all of that. I might be a bit lovestruck, so to speak, but I'm not an idiot."
"Why Captain... I'm wounded. I genuinely am being sincere." Niko gets a pained look on his face. "I WANT you to be happy. You DESERVE to be happy." Niko runs his long fingers through his hair, leaning back. "Hell, if anybody can find somebody to share the madness that is life... they're kriffin' god damn lucky as spit." (I have no idea... it sounded cool in my head). He sits in silence for a second. "She does seem very nice though." He adds, nodding.
"I didn't say you weren't being sincere, Niko," Adhar says with a chuckle, taking a sip of (now) Jayla's Green Rain and setting the glass down again. "I just want you to knwo I'm watching out. Wouldn't be the first time someone in command got taken advantage of because they're lonely." He smiles a bit. "And she is, yeah. She's very nice. We have a lot of the same temperament, I think. Still early, but still."
Niko shrugs fatalistically. "I guess that's the problem with our professions... you end up being a bit pessimistic when it comes to people." He looks up from the table to the end of the bar, watching as a pair of recruits in snappy uniforms unsuccessfully try to woo some ladies. Chuckling, he looks back at Adhar. "So tell me the story then, Captain... Make my heart swoon. Tell me your tale of hearts and flowers." Niko grins.
"Enh, I don't kiss and tell," Adhar says with a chuckle. "She bought a lot of guns from me, we clicked. She's pretty amazing, and has legs for days. It's just nice, that's all. I don't do well with women."
Jayla returns after a moment, poking at Addy's hair with her fingers. "I'm sure I'll get used to it." she offers with a playful smile. Settling back onto his lap, she picks up her drink and takes a deep swig.
Niko rolls his eyes at Adhar's distinct lack of details. "Fine, Ms. Shane. Perhaps you can fill in the holes in Adhar's riveting story of how you two met." Niko flashes a charming smile at Jayla. "I long to hear a story of romance... of whispered declarations under the twinkling lights of the stars above." Niko sits forward, resting his elbows on the table and cupping his hands around his head as he tilts it to one side.
"We've only been together like a week, man," Adhar grumps, though that might have to do more with Jayla's comment than anything else. "You want a story, how about you crack the case of where all the kriffin' pistol sights that are worth anything have gone from the galaxy. Order's probably bought them all up."
Jayla Shane purses her lips at the mention of the Order buying all the good pistol sights. "How'd we meet? That's easy, actually. He's been stalking me for months, now, and I'm just too polite to shoot him." She almost passes it off as deadpan, raising the drink to her lips.
Niko laughs, slapping one hand to the table. "Ha! All right, fair enough. You guys ARE remarkably similar. How curious!" Niko chuckles to himself. "As for pistol sights? Hm. Can't say I've heard anything about a run on the market... nobody's been talking about it in my circles. What exactly are you looking for, Captain?"
"Literally the only person who /hasn't/ shot me in the last year," Adhar chimes in with Jayla, smirking a bit as he he waves over the server again, this time with a faintly irritated energy, before looking to Niko. "Just...something better than the simple defense scopes out there. You'd think I'd be able to find something else, but I'm not joking when I say I wander the glaxy some days and find absolutely nothing. Rifles? No problem. Carbines? Rarer, but still. I'm glad I bought that scattergun, but that's more meant to be used during boarding actions or for psychological terror."
Jayla Shane nods towards Addy, taking another sip before she comments. "Right on all counts. Looking for something pretty high-end. I'm pretty set for rifles as well, but a girl needs a reliable sidearm." She looks over at Niko, then asks. "So how'd YOU meet Captain Gann, here, then?"
Niko raises an eyebrow at Jayla. "Ahh. Now there's an interesting story..." He grins and leans forward conspiratorily. "As you know... our Dear Captain here is a bit of a, how would you say it... 'collector' of sorts. Collecting the best of ships over here... collecting the best assortment of implements of death and destructiong over there... Collect, collect, collect." Niko leans in close to Jayla. "Truly, Captain Gann has made a successful career of surrounding himself with the absolute best that the galaxy has to offer." Niko leans back, buffing the nails of his long fingers on the lapel of his dull, black suit. "I, on the other hand, am one of Captain Gann's.... hm... how should I put it... Ahh... charity cases." Niko grins modestly, his eyes glittering with mirth. "Captain Gann keeps me around because I think I amuse him in some way, shape or form. I am, however, honored and indebted to him for his kindness." Niko looks over at Adhar and winks cheekily.
"Hey, skip that," Adhar says with a snort. "You were just on a hard run, and you ended up in my bar." Note the fierceness with which he upbraids his crew for talking smack about themselves! So serious. "You're just as good as anyone else that serves under my command. And even though you're clearly kriffing with me, I gotta say it." Bit of an accent in that last sentence, smattering of very rural Corellian. He looks back out to the table and says, once a server drifts by in blissful ignorance, "Me. Beer. Now." And here the iron of command is also displayed. For a smuggler, he sure has a way of making people move.
Jayla Shane gestures towards the A280 she packed into the place, with a nod. "I'm aware of his... habits." she offers. "Bought a few things from him, which is sort of how we met. It's been my experience that he's all kind of big-hearted, however." One hand trails along the lapel of his lizard-skin jacket, then.
"Oh, that he is to be sure." Niko still grins cheekily at Adhar. "He's our fearless, Tin Woodsman-like leader." He raises his glass in a toast to the one-eyed captain again. "And we'll follow the old man wherever he wants to go... Long as he wants to go... opposite to the foe." Niko chuckles to himself.
"Yeah, yeah," Adhar says with a smirk, apparently satisfied that the beer is going to finally come. "I'm a real sweetheart." He kisses Jayla again, just as briefly, and says to her, "Until I'm not. I figure you know all about that though, don't you, babe."
He looks sidelong at Niko. "You better just get yourself tickets to the cheap seats for this show, that's how you're thinking. I didn't lose this eye scratching my ass, y'know."
"And there's a reason my freighter is armed well enough to fly into most warzones, too." Jayla offers lightly. "I haven't made it this far by being careless. Or a bad shot, for that matter. Yeah, I think we'll get along just fine, Niko."
"Aye, sir." Niko responds blithely, his eyes still sparkling merrily. "I would never insinuate anything otherwise, of course." Niko turns his attention back to Jayla. He blinks at her, as if trying to recall something, tilting his head to one said. "Waywards.... Waywards... That's Ax's organization, right? Ax and... hm... what was the name of his charming wife... Qaliya? Qaffira?" Niko puzzles, stroking his chin with his fingertips. "Ah... Qadira, right?"
"Qadira," Adhar says with a nod. "Ax is one of my best friends. Like my big brother, if I'm being honest. They're our allies, even if they don't mention it publically." Oooh, bit of a barb there. And then...he goes quiet. His face turns to stone as he looks across the bar, seeing someone enter - a group of someones, but among them, only one seems to have gotten his attention. No emotion at all in his expression, as cold as the metal in his skull. His intact eye is as black and glassy as the lens that twins it.
"Jayla," Adhar says after a moment, "I am going to kill someone in a few minutes." Clean and simple as ordering breakfast. "Will you still be here when I'm done?"
Niko puts down his glass, looking at Adhar alarmingly and then in the general direction of his cold, cold stare. "Um... Captain, might I remind you that we're in a VERY public location, and that we are QUITE far away from an exit." Niko looks at his half-finished drink longingly, and then to the exit on the other side of the room. "Any chance this is confrontation that can be avoided?"
"I actually -work- for Ax, in the loosest sense of the word." Jayla adds, in case the armor didn't tip him off. "And no, I'm NOT a diplomatic liasion..." She can feel the change in him, then, when he spots someone entering. And without a word she eases off of his lap, reaching for her rifle. "Just call out if you need help."
"Won't be the first time I killed someone in public undetected," Adhar says mechanically, moving to get up - but then he stops, realizing perhaps that Jayla's weight is no longer keeping him own. Strangely enough, this seems to snap him out of whatever death-machine spell visited him; he is silent for a long moment, then reaches down to undo his belt of weapons and hands them over to Jayla. "I'll be back in a moment," he says, sliding out of the booth, ostensibly disarmed as he approaches what might be a surprise target, a statuesque Echani woman with long, wavy hair in a backless red gown that is split to the thigh on both sides. She is alone, or so it appears, and as she settles down at the bar with one white leg bared to the world, Adhar sidles up to her. Smiles. Offers her his hand.
From the look she gives him, if she weren't already white as winter, she'd have bleached that color posthaste.
Niko continues scanning the room, his long fingers twitching unconsciously. "I don't like it," he mutters. "No clear lane to the exits... Too many people. Bloody hell. How do people operate like this?" Niko grumbles a bit more, his good mood fading with every passing second. "What is he bloody well thiking?" he damands of Jayla.
Jayla watches, her own expression full of amusement when Addy approaches the woman in the red dress. The rifle that was resting on its stock is eased across her lap, now. She gives Niko a half-smile, keeping one eye over on Addy. "If he's left his guns he's going to do something else. Just... be flexible."
He holds up his hands, smiling at the woman as he speaks to her, as genial as he was robotic - whatever he says, she seems somewhat disarmed, though this too seems to be freaking her out. He's talking with his hands, easygoing enough, and she looks very confused. Whatever he's saying to this beauty that moments ago he was set on murdering, she's actually taking his arm, still unsure, but walking with him, her drink in the other hand, toward your booth. What.
"Oh bloody kriffin'... what fresh hell is this?" mutters Niko to himself and moves to the end of the booth, standing up and bowing attentively as the Captain and the Echani woman draw closer. "I hate everything about this," he mutters before they draw close, sliding a placid smile on his face.
Jayla Shane shifts the rifle back into a less conspicuous position, smirking as her hand wanders down to one of the many straps on her armor. Near a knife-hilt, perhaps. "Oh, he knows what he's doing." Jayla offers, softly. "Probably. You comfortable with grenades, Niko?"
They reach the table, and Adhar gestures to lot of you, the Echani woman - who, while putting a brave face on things, remains confused and quite terrified - nodding as he does so. "Jayla, Niko," he booms expansively, sudden possessed by the ghost of Brian Blessed. "I'd like you to meet Aline Khadanni. Say hello, Aline!"
"Hi," she offers in a dull, almost little-girl voice. There is nowhere in the galaxy she would rather be than this very moment. "Nice to meet you."
"Yes it is," he proclaims, gesturing to the booth. "Sit down, won't you?" Note the sudden flex of his voice, from cheerful to iron-hard. Clearly no request given.
She does so, though she is beginning to look at Jayla's rifle with a new alarm.
The corner of Niko's mouth quirks at Jayla's comment, but other than that, he shows no expressions, bowing his head politely and then stepping back to lounge, standing next to the booth. Niko allows the Echani woman to slide past him into the booth tentatively and then slides into the end seat, effectively trapping her. "A pleasure," he murmurs, his eyes flat. He's still very much on edge, no matter how congenial Captain Gann is being.
Said rifle is propped up against something again, of course, although it's not exactly a *discrete* weapon. "Nice to meet you, Aline." Jay offers. And in spite of the fact that Addy's brought another woman to the table, she looks relatively okay with it.
When Aline slides into the booth, capped by Niko, Adhar sits down at the table himself, just in time for his beer to be delivered. "Thank you," he tells the server, who eyes him for a moment before he leaves - after all, he did drill-sergeant her off to get said libation. He takes a long pull from his beer, then, and sets down the glass.
"Aline is a very important person," says Adhar. "What was it you did again, Aline?"
"Look," Aline says, "You know what I--"
"/Speak/." His voice gets harder every time it dips, until it starts to hurt to hear. So much anger behind it, a cold, channeled fury that almost lands blows.
Aline's eyes flash, and her lips draw back in a snarl - but this stops when she seems to remember that she is, in fact, not surrounded by friends. "/Fine,/" she says, this time collected enough not to cringe at him. "I'm the leader of the Syndicate group you and yours have been fighting over the last few months."
"/Exactly/," Adhar says, smiling again. "That wasn't hard, now was it?"
Niko somehow manages to take on a slightly greenish pallor, the corner of his mouth twitching again. Inwardly, he fights against his natural inclination to make an excuse and head for the nearest exit. "Fascinating," he manages to mumble under his breath. Looking around the table, he tries to determine what he might be able to use as a makeshift weapon is needed. So far he had gotten as far as taking a drink napkin and fluttering it ineffectively in the face of somebody.
Jayla sips her drink rather coolly, watching and listening with one hand below the table. Her smiles widens a touch as Aline admits her affiliation. "So, Niko, HOW did you feel about grenades again?" she replies, perhaps a bit too casually. Looking over at the woman again, Jayla adds. "Aline, here, is smart enough to know that only a fool would grease her right here in the middle of the day, in the middle of a club."
"Ohhhh." Aline's eyes glitter suddenly, and she smiles at both of you, ignoring Adhar for the moment. "Don't fool yourself, honey. It certainly wouldn't be the first time that Adhar's killed someone in a public place and nobody knew at the time." She looks at Adhar then, something malicious there. "These two are your crew, aren't they? You've got such a goody-goody reputation when you're not dispensing revenge, don't you, Adhar Gann? I wonder if these two know about what you did to poor Danar when you were on Vaynai, hmm? When you put that knife into his temple and rolled him down an incinerator shaft so the body couldn't be recovered?" She sips her drink, smiling at him as Adhar's jaw sets in stony silence.
Aline leans forward a bit, looking at Adhar with her silvery eyes full of dark laughter now. "What," she says, "This was going to be a lecture about murder, wasn't it? Go ahead, I'm listening."
"I'm sure Captain Gann resolved his ... disagreement... in a completely reasonable and appropriate manner." Niko says casually, leaning back in his seat and picking some invisible lint off his suit jacket. "Captain Gann is known for the cool manner in which he resolves disputes and metes out ... poetic justice." Niko grins at the Echani woman coldly. He lowers his voice to a whisper and leans towards her. "Personally, I feel that the rumors are greatly exaggerated at times... Rarely are they as quiet as the rumors say... and from the echoes of the muffled screams, one would suggest that the excruciating pain one experiences has also been downplayed." Shrugging casually, he leans back again. "But I'm sure you know this already."
"Sweetheart, you really don't wanna start any conversations about morality here." Jayla offers softly, taking a very different tone than Niko. "And don't kid yourself. I'd only need a halfway good reason to do you right here, myself. That, and I like your dress. I don't think it's so much a matter of 'if' as 'how'..."
Jayla's comments get a prissy smile of out Aline. "Well," she says, "My dressmaker has certainly saved my life figuratively on many occasions, but I suppose this will be the first time it's happened -literally-. Should I tell him, do you think, or will he start charging me double for the work?"
Niko gets a snort. "You're worse than he is at being scary," she scoffs. "You know, I used to be afraid of you, Adhar Gann, but having met you in the flesh I'm not at all impressed."
For a moment, Adhar keeps his jaw clenched - but when he speaks again, his voice is...tired. "I just want to know why you did it," he says, not attempting to deny any of her charges. "Why did you kill that girl? Why did you bomb the colony? She didn't have anything to do with this, and they were just miners. Why hurt them at all?"
"Why did you kill Danar Koolen? Why did you fusion-bomb his compound, however you managed to do that? That colony supports you with fuel and cash, of course I would destroy it if it meant crippling your efforts. You people were killing us right and left! And as for the girl..." Aline's expression turns feline, the evil glitter in her eyes set off again. "Well, we thought she and her father turned Koolen. When we couldn't find him, we assumed you were behind his disappearance and he was now working with you - well. A message had to be sent, didn't it? If you hadn't vanished the body, well. We would know someone else had happened, now wouldn't we?"
Adhar stares at her for a long moment. Then he says, "Let her go, Niko."
Niko blinks at Adhar, looks as if he's about to say something, but bows his head instead. "Aye, sir." Sliding out of the booth, he stands attentively at the side, offering his hand to the Echani to help her out of the booth. His eyes are still flat, an insincere smile on his face. "Admittedly... It is a nice dress..." he does say in a low voice, and nodding at Jayla.
Jayla Shane keeps a hand below the table during the whole conversation. And as Niko moves to help the Echani out of the booth there's a low whine of blaster powering up. Raising her glass, she offers. "Have a nice day, Aline. And yes, give my regards to your dress maker."
"One thing." Adhar waits until she slides out of the booth and stands, then looks up at you. "Before you go."
Aline smiles down at him, apparently scenting victory. "Yes, Captain Gann?"
He looks at her for a moment, as if he were looking at something new, some novel vista or work of art. "I don't mind if you're not afraid of me. Your lack of fear will not keep me from destroying everything you've built, burn everyone you're connected to. And if I see you again, I will leave you a burned carcass on the field, public or not. Do I make myself clear?" As angry as he was before, his voice is utterly empty of anything now. He just sounds so tired. Listing facts. Not even threats.
Aline pauses, squinting at the man for a moment. "Have a nice evening, Captain," she says, looking past him at the two of you for just a moment before she turns and takes her leave, heading for the door.
Niko smiles politely to the Echani woman as she leaves. And then slides back into the booth. The three sit in companionable silence for a moment, then Niko perks up brightly. "Well, I think that went well, don't you?" He reaches for a bottle and a glass again.
Jayla Shane powers off the blaster before reaching out from under the table. She looks over at Addy, openly curious. "Maybe. I'm wondering when she's going to die, myself. Poison or sniper? My money's on poison, if only because I'm old-fashioned."
"I'll burn her alive," Adhar says, sounding very tired now. He takes up his mug and takes a swallow. "Or something else lingering, I'm sure."
"You lead a complicated and conflicted life, Captain," Niko says, pouring into his glass again and drinking. He finishes the glass and then puts both hands on the table. "Well, I've imposed long enough. I'm sure the two of you would appreciate some alone time." Grinning, Niko gets to his feet and straightens his suit jacket. "I, meanwhile, have to go move some cargo. So. Ms. Jayla, a pleasure to meet you, of course." He clicks his heels together slightly and bows at the waist. "And Captain," he bows again, but this time with a hand over his heart. "I'll catch up with you later, Captain. Until then, you know how to find me."