Log:High Stakes Games
Everything here is a step up from the paths that led to the ballroom. The music is refined, tasteful, but fashionably catchy enough to be a good time without being obtrusive; just that little bit more classy than the general occupancy partying and gambling spaces elsewhere. The occupants of the ballroom are sporting their best dress or close to it, a chance to trot out the fancy stuff that either lives in the back of the closet or is rotated seasonally between varying charity balls, depending on how often one attends events of this sort. Appetizers? Small enough not to satisfy hunger, but they look like sculpture. Wines and spirits? Exquisite vintage. It's a fancy party. It's a pretty good party.
Among the figures here and looking at home in this particular habitat, a dark-clad figure on the short side is speaking to several others around him. Snatches of conversation can be heard in an accent that sounds like upper-levels Coruscant: "...destruction and damage of infrastructure that...." "....tariffs, and the representatives from CEC are lobbying..." The full content can't quite be heard, just snatches here and there, and after a few moments Oran excuses himself and steps away from that particular set of people, perhaps on his way to another.
Rip Recker is a man of refined taste and style. This much is seen from the man who has a table at one corner of the ballroom entertaining a group of people while taking part in a high stakes game. Rip looks every bit at home as any noble might be, except he was a scoundrel. He dressed the part, wearing a silky dark midnight blue long sleeved shirt with a black collar. Silver cufflinks glitter in the light while a portion of his shirt remains unfastened, displaying a bit of his chest and the litany of necklaces around his neck. A silver chrono sags on one wrist while his other hands sports a smoking tobacc that has the scent of sweet wine. He has the air of a dangerous man, his sharp features and attentive eyes alive and following the details of the game with some practice. Young ladies flank each side, both seated close and their hands on him. He was armed, wearing a shoulder harness holster with a customized pistol handgrip of hand carved dark cherry wood that was glossed and reflective. "Hand me my drink, darlin." He said smoothly while angling a look to the youthful blonde by his left. "Yes, yes.. but what is more important to Corellia? Freedom or credits? That's what the people are asking themselves.."
Oran Arcantael's path takes him toward the congregation of people at the high rolling game; he has a drink, looks like whiskey, in hand and casts a brief glance over the table, but it doesn't seem to be the gambling that interests him here, instead, the people. The gamblers themselves, the hangers-on pretending (or actually possessing) interest in the conversation, attention assessing each, unhurriedly. This social scrutiny eventually brings him into range of Rip Recker, and his comments, at least one of which prompts a raised brow. "What /is/ more important to Corellia? Freedom, or credits?" he turns the question back to its originator, tone curious but not overbearing. "Rather a binary approach to a complicated problem, wouldn't you say?"
"That depends, good sir. The dividing line has been on whether or not Corellia is a centrist state or populist. I don't speak for Corellia, and if it isn't obvious what my ambitions are.." He shows his hand, winning the game and a lot of credits. Everyone gasps, some clap. "...then it should be now." He takes the chips and begins to stack them as a few leave the table. "That's the nature of politics isn't it? The loudest in the room must be the right one, otherwise all the voices of those beneath might be heard." Cards are dealt out. "Every problem has a simple solution to it. Making things more complicated is simply.." The blonde held his drink up and let him sip from it. Their eyes met for a moment until she pulled the glass away and rewarded him with a slow kiss. ".. a waste of time that could be spent doing other.. lovely.. things." His smile is contagious. He looks back up to the speaker. "What do you think Corellia should feel, sir?" Rip's accent was smooth, sophisticated, and measured.
"Should it?" Oran replies to 'obvious what my ambitions are,' as he eyes the results of the winning hand without appearing either impressed or particularly unimpressed. "By the metrics with which you were previously measuring, I'm not entirely sure that it is. Forgive the presupposition of your motives or character based on limited evidence, but you don't strike the common viewer as a man who wants to choose unnecessarily between credits and freedom. As for the nature of politics..." One shoulder rises and falls in a shrug. "The loudest in the room.... every problem with a simple solution.... premises to which I again must demur. There are millions upon millions of souls on this world, uncounted billions more on the rest of them; not a single one of those souls is simple. Neither their collective desires, fears, priorities, or problems. Sentients are not straightforward and they are not rational actors within the context of any logical quandary. Problems do not always have simple solutions." One corner of his mouth quirks up in a crook of a smile. "What do I think Corellia should feel? That hardly matters, does it? It doesn't matter what they should feel. It matters what they do, all the little fractious facets of them... in all of their infinite complexity."
Oran gestures briefly as though dismissing the thought. "Unlike me, however, you appear unmired in minutiae. How would you change things, for freedom, for credits, for politics, whatever you like, were you to be in the unenviable position of taking charge of it? And whom do I have the pleasure of addressing?"
A thoughtful gaze on cards segues to the deposit of two and the retrieval of the same amount, then he waits for the others appearing uninterested. "You're missing the point, sir, but that happens when someone stumbles into the middle of a conversation." Rip leaned back, taking a measured breath before sighing. "Your argument is based upon the millions and billions of people on this world. They make up the population sure, but there is no power there. The identity of Corellia isn't its citizens, it's business sir. What's the point of a business? I'll save you the trouble there.. it's to make credits. Corellia is identified by its industry, its businesses which are here to make credits. Spin the tale however you like, but at the end of the day you're looking at a world dependent upon businesses for jobs, for credits, of which the businesses are losing now, and that leaves a particular conundrum. Are credits more important to Corellia? Or their freedom? Freedom sir opens a different door, let's look at the labor markets. Since the regime above has taken over, work hours have increased to a point that a simple man receives no benefit for the extended work day. Corellia is an indentured servant, her freedoms of choosing how the market will work is trampled. There is only an iron will where once a free will reigned. Gangs roam the streets threatening businesses not seen as priority. Where does the injustice stop?" Rip lifted his tobacc up for a long draw, then exhaled. "How would I change things?" He chuckles. "I'd kill anyone who threatened my freedom and credits. I'd kill them. I'd kill them until they were so sick of the killing that they leave my freedom alone and intact. Though there's a simpler solution to it." He laughs. "I'd just go to another world." He takes another drag off the tobacc. "You are speaking with Rip Recker." One of the ladies spoke out softly.
"I daresay. You /are/ enamored of simple solutions, aren't you, Mr. Recker?" Oran replies, Coruscanti voice carrying a note of amusement. "All that killing. How bloodthirsty." He pauses there, watching Rip for a long, inscrutable moment, before he smiles. "And you could leave, easily, yet, here you remain. Are we to assume this means no one has threatened your freedom, or that you have a blood-soaked roster of murder victims in your wake, the blaster-riddled corpses of those who dared try? No - don't tell me, I'll just assume the latter. More impressive to the ladies. Everyone loves a villain who's done wrong for the right reason. Everyone loves an anti-hero."
He goes on, "Terribly sorry to hear about the gangs. I'm not Corellian, obviously; I suppose I should be glad if it's all so dire as that. Corellia and CSec are still governing their own affairs on the ground here, however. The star destroyers in orbit - of which I take it you disapprove - have nothing to do with that. Perhaps you should speak to your police and representatives, who are apparently not exercising their authority to act?" Oran pauses, then offers, "Unless you want stormtroopers to assist. I somehow doubt that you do."
Rip just smiles at the possibilities laid out to his origins. Truth was, there was a bit of this and a bit of that. Shooting people was a hell of a hoot. "Are we to assume you love anti-heroes too? Perhaps you approve of these vigilantes gallivanting the galaxy and blowing up things. Or is it the local terrorists? These.. what do the vids call them, honey?" -- "Rangers." -- "Right, Rangers." Rip burst out laughing. "I wonder if it was CSec or Corellia's local representatives that imposed those tariffs. Increased the cost of fuel? Why oh why would Corellians do that to themselves? Perhaps it was one of your villians, sir. Doing the wrong things for the right reasons. The threat of stormtroopers and big ships with imposing guns, intrusive security scans and customs, that must all be CSec and our politicians and Governor." He shook his head and folded this hand. There wasn't much invested on the table currently, so the next hand was being dealt.
"Personally, I'm a villain doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons, so I can't speak to the anti-heroes and vigilantes," Oran notes with that hint of amusement again. "I'm a completely reprehensible person. I don't love anyone, and obviously I disapprove of heroes and their nobility. As I necessarily must."
As to the tariffs, he shakes his head. "Ah. No. Different but related issue, my friend. Gangs, labor rights, on-world crime and terrorism, those are the concern of Corellia. Interstellar traffic, in-system and beyond, tariffs regulating fuel and ship-building or ship-based commerce for said interstellar travel, that is the concern of the Order. The sanctions you understandably mislike were not imposed by Corellia. They were imposed by the Order upon Corellia, with the hope that the Corellian authorities will wake up and realize they ought to deal with their gang and terrorist problem." He drinks, then lets one shoulder rise and fall in a shrug. "It certainly got their attention, if not yet action. Acts of terrorism and crime against the people of Corellia and the galaxy beyond will not be tolerated. Corellia's authorities will fix the problem to the satisfaction of lifted sanctions, or her unhappy citizenry will elect people who do."
"Tell me more about these 'Rangers' though. You're calling them terrorists? That's awfully harsh, I believe I saw something about it on a holo program, which seems rather a mawkish move for a proper terrorist."
“And we come to the crux of it. Under whose authority does the Order act, to impose anything upon anyone. Corellia is not their constituent, Corellia did not agree to their power, presence, or sanctions. Corellia will handle its own without the asinine approach of a wannabe empire. Corellia was here well before the First Order, and it'll be here after." Another drink arrives at Recker's side of the table. "I'm afraid I'm not much an expert to the Rangers beyond what I assume we've both seen on holovids. Vigilantes and terrorists. Maybe more rebels during a rebellious age answering some clarion's call." He shrugged and stood from the table, taking a moment for the girls to unwrap from him. Rip wasn't very tall either, but he had a confident presence about him. He closed the distance toward Oran and offered a hand in greeting. "Pardon my manners, sir. Now we can officially meet." Rip offers a handsome smile.
"Eh." Oran seems unconvinced, but not perturbed. "It was the constituent of the Republic, and Corellians complained about that too. They always will; Corellia enjoys the benefits of a place under a larger government, as it has for millennia, while also grousing that they ought to be independent, that they are emphatically, individually /Corellian/. It's a paradigm the entire planet is attached to. Charismatic and obnoxious, as are all things Corellian." He places his empty glass on the tray of a passing waiter without even looking over; it's the practiced move of someone who is pretty used to having servants or waiters cruising by with trays for just that. "A safer galaxy necessitates action against the incompetent, the corrupted. A safer galaxy necessitates pressure on Corellian authority to solve the crime that so vexes you. The Order has no intention of marching jackboots through these streets; the Order expects Corellia to keep its people safe and will apply pressure until the bleeding stops." He snags a drink from a different waiter who bears a tray full, with the same practiced ease. "I think we can all agree we'd rather tariffs than troopers. You've clearly no love of either, though, and if you'll forgive my temerity in saying so, you're rather cavalier with your opinions of the Order. Perhaps you and these Rangers have more in common than you may imagine?"
When the handshake is offered, he does shake it, and introduces himself. "My name is Oran Arcantael. It is a pleasure to have made your acquaintance, Mr. Recker."
"Cavalier? Sure. People have opinions, and I'm not afraid to share observations I've made. I'd say I've been as open about disliking the Order as you have been about substantiating their presence." The shake is firm and respectful, and his hand is drawn back afterward. One hand held both the slow burning tobacc and the chilled glass of liquor, but he transitioned the glass to his right hand. "A pleasure, Mr. Arcantael. You've been quite enlightening today. Such an objective approach. You must be a cunning villain afterall."
"Oh, you flatter me. Absolutely not. If I were a cunning villain," Oran smiles, "You'd think me a friend. Rather just your average garden-variety villainy here, sorry to disappoint. I do my best, of course, but we can't all be superlative, can we." He drinks, and ponders. "It does occur to me that these Rangers and the Order have compatible goals however, do they not? Both want to see gangs brought to heel. Both want to see the citizens of Corellia safe, happy, treated equitably. Just it would appear that the vigilante method has.... rather more collateral damage. Which is a pity. Terrorism in the name of a noble goal is still terrorism." The Coruscanti man smiles his crooked smile again. "A point on which I expect we'll politely disagree again, given your penchant for simple solutions. What is your line of work, Mr. Recker?"
Rip chuckles, he appreciates deprecating humor more than most. Then he turns so that his frame is oriented toward Oran completely, his eyes settling on his face and darting between his eyes and mouth. It's a habit he developed through his time as a mercenary and being around explosions. Learning to read someone's lips had become a valuable skill but terrible habit. "You find their cause noble then?" Rip asks, his tone containing an ounce of mirth. Looking Rip's way revealed a smile being obscured by the presence of his glass which he took a quick sip from. "I wouldn't presume to know what either group intends. What I know is simply conjecture from media or peers in gatherings like these. Sure I've developed my own opinion based off that, but neither group is exactly forthright with their noble intentions." He shrugs. "I'm retired, sir. I served in a free company until I grew sick of the killing. Now I find my peace in cards, conversations, drinks, and women. Sometimes, I'll fly for the sake of nostalgia."
"The Rangers?" Oran echoes for clarity. He has an inscrutable aspect about him to some degree; he lets on to emotion in mild degrees. He is slightly curious, or slightly amused, just a touch sardonic instead of outright cutting, big emotive gestures seem off-brand for him. Whatever true and deep emotion is lurking in his small, raisinlike heart made of black ice, he's keeping a lid on it. "I certainly believe /they/ find their cause noble." Rip surprises a laugh out of him next, dryly amused. "However could you be tired of the killing? You spoke so fondly of it earlier. I must beg your forgiveness, but I don't believe it at all. Retired or not, you have the look about you of a man with a certain appreciation for mayhem. If it's an affectation and not sincerity, the artifice is well executed."
"I'll admit to a certain satisfaction behind the simple action of pulling the trigger. A degree of power behind the moment, the finality of it all. It is the one inevitability we all face, sir. Death. It is always the enemy. Feeding it was a desire for a long time, but a bit of self reflection revealed that the friends I began my.." He shared a look with Oran, "..chaotic career with suddenly dwindled until I was all that lived. I'm certainly not a legend or gunslinging hero, anti-hero, or martyr, but I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a hollow face and dark eyes staring back at me, and not a friend in sight save for the shadows of that room. Is killing beneath me? Am I beyond it?" He just smiled. "No one has threatened my freedom, yet."
"Shame you're retired. I always have the odd bit of work available for mercenaries, bounty hunters, and those who..." Oran gestures vaguely. "Experience the satisfaction. As it were. I'm afraid I'm no good with firearms myself, never acquired the knack for it. I have to fight my battles in other arenas." His head bobs in a nod as he listens; hollow face, dark eyes, moving on, maybe. "Of course," he agrees, and smiles. "Yet."
"Well, you know what motivates me already." He said softly, turning his head toward the table currently at break. Two lonely looking ladies seated flanking an empty chair lazily wave at him, then there were the chips which represented credits. His nod acknowledges what Oran shares afterward, and as if on cue when the man accentuated 'yet,' Rip smirked. "Do you find yourself here on Corellia often, Mr. Arcantael?" It was Rips turn to look studious, his now without falter, not even his hands shook.
"I have occasion to find myself all over the galaxy. Recently Corellia has numbered among my haunts, yes," Oran confirms. "I come and go, depending on the exigencies of my business, and to be honest, my whims. Which are eccentric and multitudinous. I don't suppose, Mr. Recker," he seems to begin a new thought, "That you are Corellian by origin? Have you lived here long? I'm prying into whether your admirable patriotism for this world was home-grown, or acquired by happy association."
"Neither." Rip answers on beat. "I'm an idealist, Mr. Arcantael. I believe in what the populists believed, that planets should govern themselves. I don't like the order facilitated through constituency, and I don't conquest politics. A galaxy free to handle its own problems. If you think back, there was something here before the Republic, before everything. Everyone had their niche, minded their own business, and seemed content enough to kill each other on their own planets. I believe that life, despite the circumstances of war, conquest, and government.. will find a way. I just believe that every world should be free to experience that on their own. I don't care for the Order, sure, but the Order and I have never had a reason to conflict. I don't care for these rangers, or.. what's it called? The uh,.. Resistance. Why fight over something that's impossible to control. It's like standing before an ocean's wave as it rises, and dictating to nature how it should fall. Nature doesn't care, it's going to happen regardless so let it be." Rip's tone was genuine in reciting his beliefs. "I'm not sure where I'm from, in all honesty. I suffered an injury many years ago that affected my memory. My childhood, parents, heritage.. it's all lost to me." He frowned a bit.
"I'll share a story with you that put things into perspective for me. I served in a free company and we took a job from a fringe world. A local colony was experiencing raids and attacks from a native population of sentient tribes that hid in the forests of this world. Our reconnaissance revealed it was the only tribe of its make and species on the planet. There weren't that many land masses to research so it made it easy. Our job was to eliminate the threat of this tribe. The first thing we did was take out their source of food. We deployed poison in local watering streams, game trails, nesting areas of wildlife or reconnaissance had revealed. No food, no water."
"Then we set up militia camps around the forest, using open fires and cooking upon giant bowls with seasoned meat, and other assorted things, allowing the breeze to filter it into their forest. Weeks went by, and eventually they emerged casting down their weapons. We did not fire a shot. We invited them to the camp, shared the meals with them, and established a way to communicate. When the colonists found out we had not pursued war but facilitated a peaceful resolution, they invited the tribes into their colony and had a great feast. At the very tables these people ate, colonists drew weapons and shot everyone/ in cold blood. Murdered women, children, elder.. it didn't matter. We had come down as outsiders and solved their problem, but what they wanted happened anyway. Why bother controlling something you cannot control?"
"Oh, stars, an idealist." Oran sounds notably skeptical on the validity of idealism. But he's a self-identified villain, and there aren't a great number of idealists in the Evil League of Evil. "The Old Republic was in place 25 thousand years ago, Mr. Recker, and the Human Core confederated at the start of it. You'd have to think a very, /very/ long way back to find a truly independent Corellia. But, do go on."
Rip does go on, and he listens, raising a brow at the story's conclusion. "You're remarkably anti-sanctions and pro-bloodletting for someone who has in the past literally starved feral sentients out of the woods with the aim of peaceful resolution, but that's neither here nor there," Oran comments with dry amusement. "Is this your way of indicating you've not been on Corellia long, that you cannot recall how long you've been on Corellia, or that you politely decline to engage with the question? This is the subject I was aiming to reach: are you an outsider on this jewel of a world, like me, or a local? I am going somewhere with that line of inquiry, I assure you."
"People are accustomed to change when they experience a thing or two. I'm not beyond learning." Rip adds on. "No, my answer was more to draw issue to the fact that I don't know what I am. If I had an inclination to identify myself with something, then I suppose I'd be a current resident of Corellia enjoying the benefits of Corellian hospitality. So I suppose that would make me an outsider, like you." He brings his drink up for a long sip from it and reaches out to place the tobacc in a cup upon a passing tray. Its end was extinguished in a brief hiss.
Oran Arcantael listens, and it's clear that he's listening rather intently. Whoever this man is, he's clearly listening, sifting, weighing what he hears, though perhaps his motives for doing so are slightly unclear outside 'eccentricity.' Whims. "Intriguing," he eventually replies. "Most intriguing. Well, Corellian or not, of fascinatingly obscure origin or not, you're quite the separatist patriot, and your boldness on the subject does make you stand out. You are rather what any number of people... say, Corellian Rangers... might find to be an extraordinary individual. I might go so far to suggest a member or two of that esteemed cadre of local good-hearted vigilante heroes might end up approaching you for support. Not a stretch, is it, given that they've approached the entire holonet for the same?" He sounds a little amused there, then back to business. "Should any of the Rangers approach you, and should you be of a generous disposition in the matter... tell them I'd like to speak to them. Much as you and I have here, though if they want to forgo the exquisite open bar and put a sack over my head to cart me off to some discreet and grim location, I suppose that's to be expected. The host has my contact information if it happens and you're thus inclined. If not, no matter."
Oran pauses a moment, then smiles, always with that wry edge, but as though he's experiencing as cheery a thought as he gets. "I appreciate your time and candor, Mr. Recker. We'll meet again soon." The smile crooks upward at one corner. "Of that I have no doubt." And with that, he nods his head with formality that suggests a full bow, and then heads on out at the speed of mosey.