Log:Array Consortium: We Don't Like Their Kind Here
With the violence between the Consortium and the Mathall Syndicate at an ebb, business has begin to flow again. Pash and Zuhj hit the ground running to pull a gun run with Tamrae in tow, but nothing's ever totally easy, and Pash's tolerance of bizarre cyborgs is tested once again.
It's been said of late that the Consortium doesn't run contraband anymore - this is, of course, incorrect. It's not exactly been common, though, and that's partially due to the wave of brutal violence visited upon the Mathall Syndicate by all and sundry, yourselves included. People keep waiting for something new to explode - but since nothng has lately, and the Mathalls haven't made a move in the Consortium's direction in weeks, the collective underground community seems to have taken a breath and decided that business can go on.
Thus does a job come along, and a fairly simple one at that: pick up five hundred blaster pistols, still sealed in their packaging, from a drop on Tatooine, and deliver them to a shadowport called Time's End in an uncharted asteroid field somewhere north of Rodia. Very simple, save for the, uh, rough characters that will be transferring the guns, and the potential for piracy in the belt where the shadowport is located. But we'll worry about that later. For now? You are in hyperspace, heading toward the drop spot. Let's get to smugglin'!
Tamrae herself isn't really a smuggler. She certainly works for and with smugglers, mind, but she herself lack a lot of the basic skills. Such as haggling. Because she's terrible at it.
What she can do, however, is give Pash's ship a good maintenance round since it's new, and who knows what the last owner got up to, after all. So she volunteered to come along with the crew and do the work on the way there to save some time. And because she's never been to Time's End.
Pash is seated in the pilot seat, skimming through notes on his datapad. One can never be too prepared going into a weapons deal. When his First Mate speaks, he lowers the pad and glances toward the Nikto. "Yep, so we're gonna need to keep our eyes and ears open," he says, as if anyone was actually planning to go in with them closed. He flicks through his datapad a bit more, then adds, "It's good to have both of here, too. A fine crew for this ship's first outing."
Into the galaxy again you go, the hurtling blue of hyperspace curing into the starry void; not far from your point of entry is the vast, sandy sphere of Tattooine, filmed with the pale blue shell of atmosphere. Somewhere on that rock is a beacon, transmitting on a very very narrow frequency band. Find it, lock it down, and follow it in.
There's a faint clatter from the corridor leading back to the engineering area, then Tamrae comes walking up, wiping off her hands with a cloth. "No worries with th' hyperdrive, monitored it all the way to dropout. No instability. Looks solid. Engines are good too. Ya got a good ship here. Could use some proper maintenance here and there, like with the fresher...hasn't been scrubbed who knows how long..." she says, a bit distastefully as she peers out the cockpit. "So this is it, huh?"
"Yeah, it's good t' be here. I'm glad we're gettin' to give her a good run," Zuhj replies to Pash as the ship returns to realspace. The Nikto finds himself immediately checking the scanners at his station to try to pin down where they need to go. At the sound of the clatter he looks over his shoulder and sees Tamrae approach, "Glad to hear she's runnin' well. That fresher is somethin' we'll get on later." Then he nods, "Yeah, that's Tatooine. Ain't much to look at but there's a lotta money changin' hands down there."
"Thanks for taggin' along, Tam. I feel a whole lot better with you on board," Pash tells the young Codru-Ji on hearing her enter. Considering his lack of experience with this ship, those extra hands could prove useful should they encounter any unexpected problems. "Now buckle up."
The smuggler reaches out to click a few switches alongside his First Mate. The beacon pings on the ship's scanner and Pash takes the wheel, aligning the ship with it's location on planet. Then, he switches on the comms. "This is Captain Pash Danigo with the Fathier Express," he announces.
There is no reply - mostly because it's a beacon only, and not something to receive your signal - but the beacon's signal is very clearly detected, even between the razor-thin margins of the comms bands. It's a simple thing for Pash to lock onto the nav beacon's signal via the navicomp, and down the lot of you to toward a location nearing the planet's rocky northern pole.
Tamrae frowns, lower hands going into her pockets as her upper arms fold across her chest. "...always hate drops like this. Middle of nowhere, no one to see if someone tries to bushwack ya. Maybe have shields up going in, ya think? Just in case?"
It's not her ship, mind, but she figures she can at least offer her two cents since she's on said ship.
"Sounds like a plan t' me," Zuhj replies to Tam's suggestion about raising the ship's shields, doing so with a push of a button and the turn of a knob. Now a little more prepared the Nikto resumes studying the computer, searching for anything that might be out of the ordinary. He'd end up frowning if his face could form that expression as he works the computer, "I'm not pickin' up anything t' be worried about. Hopefully it'll be just us and whoever we're meetin' to pick up the goods."
Pash isn't terribly worried about an attack at the moment. Unless this was a setup meant for one (or all) of the three beings onboard, he'd be surprised if anyone took on the ship without any cargo in the holds. Still, better safe than sorry.
"Righto," Pash says to the others regarding the shields, watching the ship monitor display them as they're put online. "Let's go check on these goods." He opens up the engines to full and they rocket toward the desert planet drop site.
So with all apparently clear, the lot of you descend into the atmosphere, King of the Space Turtles and all that, hurtling over the baked earth and the walls of red rock that dominate this part of the planet. The sun casts an almost glittering sheen over the horizon, a field of jewels that draw you in as you descend onto the flats that serve as the landing zone.
On the field already is a YT-2400 which looks as though it came directly from a scrap heap - covered with carbon scoring and weathering, mismatched panels, the works. Looks like a museum piece, even though the freighter's run isn't that old. Standing out front of it, around a number of large cargo crates, are a battery of sentients in dustcloaks and heavy weapons, watching the sky. Your arms dealers, friends.
Tamrae squints at the beings currently surrounding the crates. "Wow, I'm suprised that thing can make it into space anymore." she mutters, eyeing the 2400, then frowns a bit. "...I can stay in here and monitor things, just in case? They're probably just expecting the two of you as the crew, after all."
Looking over the folks they're meeting and their vehicle the Nikto comments, "Hope this goes smooth. Don't need to get into a blaster fight on my first job wit' you guys." As the ship lowers itself to the ground the Nikto continues monitoring things on the screens in front of him, making sure that nothing seems untoward. He's a careful sort when it comes to things like this. "You wanna' do the talkin', Pash? You got a face that shows emotions good, after all." And then he looks towards Tamrae and nods, "It's probably safer for ya' t' stay aboard, but I don't wanna tell ya' what t' do."
Pash cuts power to the engines and eases the Fathier Express closer to the the dusty pad. He reaches out to flick a few controls and the landing gear descends audibly. A moment later, there's a slight jolt when the ship touches ground. "Right, Tam. Stay up here and keep the engines runnin'. We'll try and make it fast." He unbuckles himself from his seat, stands, and heads to the rear of the cockpit. While descending the ladder well, he shouts back to Zuhj, "You may be the first to ever tell me that. Lower the starboard cargo lift, would ya? I'll take port." And that's exactly where he heads next.
And so the ship settles on the dusty ground, and the lads take the cargo lifts on the Great Turtle to meet the other fellas awaiting them - a whole bunch of Cathar, the proper furry kind, all desert robes and dusty pelts and dodgy fanfiction. Two of them stand ahead of the rest, bristling with weapons. Even more so than the others! One wears a pair of heavy sand goggles, while the other has no eyes, instead possessing a pair of tube-like visual sensors jutting out of the sockets. There's a big ol' crate among them, one which assumedly contains the gun in questions.
Tamrae stays in the cockpit where she can keep an eye on the proceedings, staying low so she's not obviously silhouetted inside. If there IS trouble, well...they probably think the whole crew is outside, she figures. It might come in handy. Then again, hopefully this will be a nice, easy transfer.
Climbing out of his seat Zuhj makes his way out of the cockpit towards the starboard side of the ship, per Pash's request, calling out to the other man, "Gotcha. You humans all do better at showin' how ya' feel than us Niktos. Our faces ain't made for it." Then the cargo lift starts down and the Nikto shuts up. As the lift he's on touches the ground he steps off of it, glancing towards Pash before proceeding towards the men they were sent here to meet.
The port cargo lift lowers with a mechanical groan and settles on the pad with a thud, kicking up a sand cloud around Pash. Unlike the Cathar, the smuggler is minimally-armed, with only his pistol tucked in a holster that sways this way and that as he approaches the pair out front. "Nice day out," he offers as a forced nicety. "Those the goods?" He nods to the crate in question, flicks his gaze over to Zuhj, then settles it on the Cathar wearing the sand goggles. Straight to business, then.
The cyborg Cathar opens its mouth - er, muzzle - and a horrific sound comes out of its mouth, rather like a mixture of a broken synthesizer trying to approximate droid Binary speech. This said, the other Cathar with the goggles nods to his fellow leader and speaks.
"Maxan says your friend looks weird," he says to Pash. "Doesn't like Niktos. Sorry, he's a bit of a giant racist."
Pash winces at the violent sound, one side of his face scrunching slightly as a reflex. "Well," he starts after the other Cathar explains its meaning, "we are who we are." This might be inferred as a defense for either the Cathar or the Nikto. Perhaps it was meant to be both. Either way, Pash seems eager to maneuver the conversation back to more important topics. "Faster we load up, faster we'll be out of your fur." He looks between both the Cathar leaders, then adds, "Need a hand?"
"Hold on a moment, now," says the other Cathar, looking Pash over. "I don't know you. I like knowing who's been sent to do business with me. See, my brother Maxan and I have been runnign arms in this part of the galaxy for twenty years - who are you, then? Who do you represent? Cos we don't do business with Hutts, and your Nikto there suggests you're in the pay of the Hutts." The Cathar makes a soft spitting sound. "Unless he's your slave."
Tamrae peers out, just her eyes showing through the glass. Okay. That's a lot of talking. No guns being pulled. That's...good? They look unhappy. Okay, the one looks unhappy. The other one just looks really really ugly.
If Zuhj's face could show more expression it would. His forehead horns do raise a little as his eyes widen as much as they can. "I ain't nobody's slave and I ain't workin' for the kriffin' Hutts. Those slugs won't get nothin' from me if it kills me," the Nikto declares rather coldly, staring at the Cathar brothers. "My name's Zuhj an' I'm a free bein'."
"I'm Astan Pazzik," the Cathar says, squinting at Pash, now ignoring the feisty Nikto. "Yeah, I heard of you. You signed up with that new outfit outta Nar Shadda, didn't they?" Astan looks at his crazy cyborg brother and says something low and quiet in the fluid tones of the Cathar language. Maxan makes a few more cat-in-a-blender-sampled-by-Trent-Reznor-in-his-angry-phase noises, looking back at Pash with what /might/ be new eyes. New eyes. Because he's got...anyway.
"All right," says Astan, "So you're not an amateur. Good. I'da killed ya both and took your ship if I thought you weren't mustard. Not like someone else is gonna come. Good that we didn't, though. I hear your boss is crazy."
He gestures to the crates, which are pushed forward on a suspensor platform by a pair of Cathars in sand-covered cloaks. "There's yer guns," says Astan. "Don't lose 'em, or I'll come after you anyway, crazy boss or no."
Tamrae mmmmmmmmms, tapping her fingers on the dash. Too. Much. Talking!! But no gun shooting yet. This is good. She thinks.
Things seem to be working out for the best. Zuhj stays quiet for now and watches as the crates are brought towards the Fathier Express. The Nikto merely watches to make sure that things proceed properly from here on out, seeming content to let things lie as they are.
Pash gives a nods to confirm the Cathar's recognition. "Nice to be doin' business with ya, Astan. Zuhj'll make sure those get strapped in nice and tight." He turns to the Nikto to make sure he was heard, offering his first mate a quick grin. Better keep him and the cyborg as far apart as possible. "And don't worry, we won't lose 'em." He takes a step closer to the Cathar and pair and lowers his voice a notch. "What can you tell me about the buyer?"
"I can tell you that he doesn't want anyone asking about who he is," says Astan, his brows furrowing. "You know that's not smart, right?" Maxan lets out a loud, angry burst of noise, his hand dipping to his belt - where, one presumes, a weapon of some sort might be. The sound of weapons shifting can be heard in the background.
"Now I would hate," says Astan, "To think that your reputation ain't worth the coin it's been printed from. You don't make amateur mistakes, do you, Cap'n Pash?"
Tamrae reaches out to snag one of the cockpit headsets, then flips on the comm. "Um, guys? Be cool. They seem really afraid you're gonna mess things up for them with th' buyer...cuz I think they're kinda terrified about something about the buyer. So...maybe be calming? So they don't shoot ya. Cuz that'd be messy."
Seeing as how the Cathars seem to like it better when he's quiet, Zuhj keeps his mouth shut and watches things unfold. The Nikto breathes in through the nose that's hidden behind the sand proof membrane on his face and waits to see what happens next. Tamrae's suggestion over his headset keeps him steady, Zuhj merely watching to make sure things continue to at least kind of smoothly while letting Pash do the talking.
Pash doesn't catch his mistake before it's too late and he curses himself for making the step he did. Just as he's about to try and smooth things out, Tamrae's voice comes in through the comms, and he pauses a moment as her message sinks in. Taking a step back to maintain some distance, he nods and says, calmly, "I can appreciate a man wanting to maintain his privacy. You won't get any more questions from me." He even offers a quick smile before turning to check on the loading process. Better hurry it up over there.
Whatever Pash said, neither of the brothers like it.
"Stop right there," says Astan, his voice suddenly hard and icy. "Turn back around, Cap'n Pash, and hold your arms up. A pair of blaster pistols have emerged from his cloak, finally barind armored forearms; they hum to life, a deep, soft purr emitting from their frames. "I wanna know what you're about. You come down here, asking questions, and then just saunter off? Who are you really working for?"
Well, bantha puudu. Tamrae swallows, then checks her blaster pistol. Maybe..she can be a distraction long enoughf or them to get back to the ship? Or flip on the shield if they can make it to the ramp again...
Eyeing the Cathars Zuhj stands completely still, except for his eyes. They travel to try to meet Pash's as if seeking advice on how to proceed. The lack of expression on his face is probably a good thing right now, or else the Nikto might betray what he's thinking. Which probably has something to do with paranoid Cathar askin' to get blasted.
Pash does a quick calculation in his head, idly wondering how good a shot Zuhj is and whether or not Tamrae can handle the new freighter's weaponry. His mouth becomes a thin line of stress as he submits to the Cathar's demands. Slowly, he lifts his hands and turns around. "You already know who I work for," Pash starts, speaking slowly. "A man who cares a bit less about other people's questions because his actions, which you also probably know about, speak mountains to his character." He punctuates a few final key words, hoping that Adhar's crazed notoriety might give them pause. "Now how about we get back to being professionals?"
For a moment, it looks as if Astan will bring up those tibanna wagons of his and open fire on the man - but curiously enough, it's the cyborg brother who speaks. Or...something. Durasteel cans in a thresher. A metallic hand tipped with flaying talons comes up to rest upon Astan's shoulder, and after a moment Astan slowly puts his guns away, eyes set still upon Pash. Then, finally, his hands spread out slightly.
"All right, then, Cap'n Pash," the Cathar drawls. "I'll have my boys load up your cargo. Like professionals."
Tamrae relaxes with a huff of breath, then slides her pistol back in her holster. Well. That was close. She closes her eyes, then leans back against the chair, before resuming her watch to make sur enothing else goes wront.
Well, things have seemed to calm down and Zuhj didn't need to try outdrawing a man with blasters already in his hands. Since the mission was back on track the Nikto goes ahead and stands off to the side to allow the Cathars to load their shipment of blasters aboard the Fathier Express, staying out of the way. His mouth stays closed, not wanting to anger the weapon merchants by saying anything.
Pash breathes a sigh of relief and drops his hands, turning to face the Cathar brothers. He nods to both of them, not risking saying anything that might offend anyone, and looks over to his ship as the blasters get loaded onboard. Once they do, he'll thank the brothers and set off for the next leg of the trip.
The loading takes place in record time, mostly due to the quick pace of the Cathar brothers' personnel then anything else - indeed, it is as if they are on a tight clock themselve. Once loaded, the brothers leave to enter their rickety vessel, allowing you to take off.
And so...well, that's the only conflict you have to deal with; wherever the pirates are in the space around Time's End, you don't run into them. Indeed, as you land in the bay that traffic control assigns to you, you have no further problems...but the buyers, who await you there, are another thing entirely. Dressed in violet cloaks, each wearing a simple, cylindrical plastoid helm of the same color set with single visual center in the center as an 'eye', these humanoid shapes float like phantoms as you make the delivery, saying nothing but one giving over a large velvet bag of Huttese credit coins as its brethren ghost forward, seemingly without walking, to move the repulsorsleds upon which the crates are stacked off into the deeper portions of the station. They bear no ceremony, simply turning away and taking their exit, leaving you all in the cavernous quiet of the bay.
And then there nothing for it, really, but to leave - more jobs to be done, and plenty to discuss amongst yourselves. Arms dealers are weird, mysterious buyers area weird. Everythings weird in this galaxy.
But at least you got paid.