Log:Knock, Knock - Not Her Bookie
Suite 04 - Netep Muri - STA Spice Terminus
This suite reflects the ambience one might expect from a station named for its affiliation with the Llanic Spice Run. Dim lighting, lots of shadows, a color palette matching the dark amber hues found throughout the Spice Terminus. It casts a feel that?s 1 part cozy, 2 parts desperate. A feel that?s aided by the labored churning of a struggling air filtration system running noisily through the walls.
Potted vines (glorified weeds) climb hungrily toward the recessed lighting and orange lanterns responsible for the warm hazy glow. A frenzy of faded colors softens steps underfoot in form of shaggy rugs. Also obviously second-hand is the sparse array of furniture here in this living space: crackling, beat up leather, chipped greel wood, a smudged and smoky mirror...not pretty, but mostly functional. Improvisation is key. For instance, a piece of deck plating is jammed into a hole in the wall, turning what WAS a gargantuan, head-sized eyesore into a display nook for artifact fragments!
The honest gem of this humble space is the viewport which spans the length of the far wall. Strategically placed holoprojectors can hide the view of the stars with landscape simulations, thereby creating the illusion that fresher air exists beyond this dreary den.
A U-shaped kitchenette loops just off the entryway. It?s host to cheap appliances and mostly bare, gunmetal cabinets, but is clean. The only imperfections found are a few dents in superficial panels, put there by a long history of tenants. The polished, black-hued metal countertop is tidily without clutter, save for a single piece of crockery that?s been hand-crafted and its wooden spoon companion.
"C'mon, you left-footed bastard..."
A spit of ash is flicked at the holovid feed streaming above a tipsy bookshelf. Muri straightens up from hammering a leveling wedge under said shelf to more adequately aim her glare. DIY isn't her favorite pastime, but sometimes when you go bump in the night into the wrong piece of furniture it becomes a neccessity. A cough clears the remnants of blue smoke from her lungs and the stubby joint gets stamped out into a tray nesting there, alongside a cheapo copy of "Uhl Eharl Khoehng". Bleary eyes squint at tailend of this sorry race, watching her Dewback of choice lag further and further behind.....and he's lost. The winner takes all, as the zoomed footage clearly shows. One lucky winner, one unlucky female. Because here come the stragglers, ready to join in the fray.
"Kriff," Netep reaches out for a stretch and shuffles her way into the kitchen for a second cup of caf to wake her ass up. When the bookies come knocking, it's best to be fully awake and on your A game.
You never know who might come knocking at Spice Terminus.
The last time Malik Ren was here -- another name, another life -- it was a terrible day for one Merek Black, would-be buyer of black market First Order property. Then, as now, he isn't a tall or bulky man, but what he lacks in physical imposition is made up for with an aura of confidence so strong it approaches menace. Black robes, a black and silver masked helmet, he moves with a meaningful stride and the denizens of this place disappear quietly into homes and passageways as he passes. They may or may not know what he is, but they're smart and perceptive enough to discern that they want no part of it.
Arriving at Netep's home, the man lifts a hand and knocks sharply, three times. Then he reaches to pull off the helmet, revealing his face -- She may remember him from their few encounters on Nar Shaddaa. Brown skin, sharp features, a tidy beard. Hair's longer now, and necessarily more seditious in that state, but it's a good look. He's exactly the same as he was, and completely different. He waits.
"...well that was expedient." Alluringly aromatic steam rises from the mug held in hand. Netep watches the entryway from over shoulder with a tired frown. "Uncharacteristically prompt. Good on them." Bad on her. :(
She takes a luxurious two seconds to sip from the mug and contemplate her options in this situation.
1) Pay up here and now.
2) Barter for more time so she can maybe recoup her losses in the card hall first.
3) Fail to answer the door and inevitably get shot in the face. Or worse, punched.
Muri's tongue probes an existing gap - long healed over - where a premolar once was on her lower jaw. The first couple options sound pretty good. The first is undoubtedly most prudent. Nobo 'bo' it is. Several more seconds pass then the sounds of mechanisms unlocking announce she's arrived at the other side of the door.
And then she's there, in the flesh. Completely different than last he saw her, but in the core, she's exactly the same. It's the shell that's had a makeover. Or rather, lacking the usual morning routine because she hasn't got that far. There's a distinct lack of COLOR masking her chocolate nest of curls. An absence of contacts to make alien her stare. Also a distinct lack of perfumes to cover up the uniquely Lorrdian scent that she's been marinating in as she slept. Just a faint aroma of soap.
"You are not my bookie."
He is not her bookie. Both brows lift, and the faint light from the hallway catches a faint glint of reflection from earrings and a silver ring or two, one with a black gem. "I am not your bookie," he agrees. "Life is full of surprises, Netep Muri. Especially on spice terminus." A long pause lingers, as he studies her, and takes a moment to re-map what he - Oran - knew about her compared to what he sees now. Didn't she have green hair? Or something? Sometimes those memories from another life are clear as day, and sometimes they're like trying to spot a ghost ship on the horizon of an endless sea. Brown hair now. Oh, well. The glimpse into the weird little nest beyond the door, alone, suggests that this is indeed the person he's looking for.
"I have work for you. Discreet work, well aligned with your existing trade and avocation as I understand it. Nothing cursed this time." A vague gesture, "...Probably."
The faint sounds of post-race announcements play on in the modest living space, its shadows livened by muted blips of color.
"Raka's bull really rallied in that last pass," says the announcer, "no doubt we'll be seeing a similar performance from his offspring in years to come..."
G'damn Raka. Netep narrows her eyes, trying to keep focus on this visitor on her doorstep and not the bad news airing in the background. Both forearms remain braced against either side of the doorway, caf mug tipping at a dangerous angle when she leans forward to peer past him and into the hall. Ghost town. A second, more thorough scan of the man makes swift deductions about /why/. This ought to feed the local gossip train for awhile. BIG man Oran Arcantael mightn't be, but he's still bigger than her. Just a little less strain on her neck to make eye contact. "Yeah?" She retreat a half step inside and lowers her arms. Guards that mug against self. Her precious. "Well...come in. S'pose." Muri backs up more to make room, rustling some leafy vine that's crept around the 'foyer' corner from her desk. "Just put on a pot, iffin you want. S'fresh." The mug gestures before delivering a sip to her own face.
Invited like a vampire into Netep's humble domicile, Malik smiles and steps inside with a near-silent whisper of black robes. His helmet is stowed easily under one arm, and his visual inspection of the room suggests that he's looking it over for information to file away about Netep, rather than a search for other individuals. If any other life-forms were in here, he'd already know.
The woman gets an inscrutable look and an up-down-up inspection of her own self at the offer of the tea. "...of course," he agrees politely after a long moment, before pacing slowly and unhurriedly around the room. The announcements about Raka are regarded thoughtfully, and there is a hint of amusement in his posh Coruscanti voice as he says, "Bad luck in the races?"
"Always is, for someone." Netep lets him browse the interior under a keen sideye while her hands go about pouring a third cup - for him - and topping off her own. She digs a small tray out of an overhead cabinet and arranges the cup and some condiments to go with around the tray. Fatty cream, less fatty cream, sandwasp honey, and a plethora of packets containing some synthetic drek that was probably swiped from a variety of dining establishments.
"Is it what you expected?" Muri remarks when she finishes and ferries the tray to her petite coffee table. The hookah is gently relocated to floor. She nods about the room with a hint of a smirk and wise-ass twinkle in her eye. "Everything up to code?"
Note: it's pretty spartan in here. Very few items that might hold sentimental value. Not more than what she could pack into a bag in under a minute. And CLEAN.
"Don't be ridiculous." Malik accepts the tea, but the snacks will go untouched. "This is Spice Terminus, of course it isn't up to code. There are no functional codes, and every article, fine, or attempt at enforcement of the same is nothing more than a demonstration of corruption and malfeasance." He sips. "Everyone cries about galactic governmental oversight until one of these festering, dilapidated crime-holes explodes because the maintenance budget has been embezzled for seventy years."
She asks if it's what he expected, and he answers, "I expected the same amount of uninspired house-plants and more empty liquor receptacles. Brava." Sip. "I need a matter investigated on the outer rim, as quickly and discreetly as possible. Confirmation of the presence of an ancient monastery and a description of its caretakers. 5000 credits up-front."
"Hmmh." Netep adopts a twitch of a smile and helps herself to some of the honey. "It is a shavithole, but least it's a clean one. Might be I'm more learned than I let on. And I don't abide a messy cupboard. But life IS more fun with a little vulgarity and what better place to claim a bed for such whims than here? Not a far stumble from the Lady Silk Lounge."
She sinks back into the abused leather sofa with many a creak and crackle and unearths a remote from its depths. The joy-filled speech of the winning Dewback's rancher is vanished into thin air. "For a man of discretion, you've certainly made a memorable impact on the locals, I wager. But 5,000 up front might go a long way to silence a few chatty hallmates." Sip.
"Can I ask what the root of your curiosity is? Not sure I'd pin you as a religious man, but I know looks can be deceiving. Is this for some sort o'documentary?"
"Spice Terminus is rarely a place that requires my discretion. I don't need to worry about what they think here, they need to worry about what I think," Malik points out. "I guarantee there are several corpulent criminal bureaucrats several levels up from here, sweating themselves rank in wondering why Malik Ren is here, what he wants, and whether someone is going to end up in pieces on the floor again. Let the neighbors gossip. Small lives and small minds. They don't matter." Malik? Isn't he Oran? He's clearly referring to himself, but there's a name change afoot.
She asks 'can I ask what the root of your curiosity is' and he smiles. "No."
"Small lives do matter," Muri counters softly, eyes averted with a furrow between while she puzzles out the discrepancies in his name game. "They're what the big ones depend upon. Every tower has its foundation...or somethin like that."
It's too early for philosophy. Her head hurts. Her pockets WILL hurt. Her gut anticipates this hurt with more hurt. And a quiet burp, muted behind closed lips. Shouldn't have indulged such a late meal.
"Issat a nickname, er somethin?" An uncertain grin that's born of nervousness faces forward again and she brings up the mug as a tiny shield between he and her teeth. "Mal-iik...Ren." Each syllable pronounced crisply and slowly. "Sounds..." she doesn't finish the thought aloud. Maybe she's contemplating the words 'pieces on the floor'. Again.
"I can be discreet."
"It's who I am," Malik explains, or doesn't explain, the name shift. He smiles. As always, the surface is warm and the water gets cold down deep. "People change as exigencies demand. Kylo Ren was lost at Exegol; I've taken up what he was unable to carry to completion."
Back to business. She can be discreet. "Good." He produces a small holo-emitter and sets it near the tray of snacks, presses a button. Starmaps spring into rudimentary view, what looks like a gas giant and an orbiting moon. "This is Aodhán," Malik points out the moon. "This place is so far from hyperlanes and civilization that neither the gas giant nor the system star have names that I've been able to find, only designations. What I'm interested in lies on the moon itself; a monastery called Cainneach Cairbre." He regards the projection thoughtfully, warm brown skin colored blue in the light from the images. "Supposedly. I want to know if Cainneach Cairbre still exists, if it is inhabited, and by whom."
Whoops. What she's invited in is becoming realized with regretable delay, an understanding sealed and stamped by Ren's explanation of his alias. It would have been a better morning had it been the bookie. Then again, with this 5k....what bookie?
It's a moral conundrum. Muri puts concerted effort into keeping a cool, calm exterior though, channeling her mother's ancestors for their talents at mastering the poker face. It's the sixth language she's fluent in, that of the body, after all. Is it convincing? IS IT???
The petite pilot (who flew /against/ the dark side at Exegol in her trusty Hermi) lifts a hand to pluck a seemingly errant eyelash. The other hand puts down the tea. What's left of it.
The couch complains again under her light weight as Netep - not 'Muri' - leans forward to take hold of her inner controls. By focusing on the star map. The celestial bodies add ghostly accents to the simplistic map tatooed upon her own, browned skin. Hazel eyes adopt a thirsty, blue shimmer during the study. "There's lots o'places like that what still exist. Quiet places, off the beaten track. Homes away from home." She instinctively reaches for the device but stops herself halfway. No touchy. "Can this view be expanded?"
Oran Arcantael was a stuck up aristocrat with his own not inconsiderable array of dangerous traits, but Malik Ren is something... else, that much is becoming clear. There is an ambitious, aggressive focus about him now, extra fluff stripped away in the pursuit of power. The current iteration of the man, seated here in her humble home, seems unlikely to buy some recreational drugs or visit the silk lounge on the way home the way his predecessors might. It may not be clear exactly what a "Ren" is or what drives their philosophy, but the last one was a problem on a galactic scale.
His smile suggests he's noticed her realization.
"Take it," Malik suggests regarding the puck emitting the holo display. "It contains the coordinates, the astrogation, and all the other information I have available, as well as a secure channel for communication of what you discover. I expect you to leave today, and I expect you to report as quickly as you can, from Aodhán itself." Both brows lift. "That is, if you accept."
Is refusing an option?
A soft whoof of surprise huffs from Muri's chest and she lifts eyes only to fix Malik with a look that borders on incredulous. And by that nature, insolent. "Such haste is.."
Suspicious? Worrisome? Bad feels? Icky?
"...not an issue." A little swallow suppresses the bile rising therein. "Benefits to being a sentient crew of /one/. Droids are ever at the ready." And not reeling from last night's binge. She eeeases into more upright posture and collects the tiny projector into lap. Once last flash of Aodhan up her nose before her fingers find the appropriate button and deactivate the holo.
"Cainneach Cairbre, here I come." It sounds more like a question than an assurance.
"Very good." So, nobody has to end up in pieces on the floor. Again. Malik reaches into one of his sleeves, withdraws a high-denomination credit chit to set on her table. 5,000 credits, like it's nothing, and it probably is. By his standards anyway. "Impress me with your alacrity and I will wire you a bonus to express my appreciation toward your efforts. I understand it's short notice."
He rises from the seat, and pulls his silver and black helmet back on, hood lifted up to cover half in shadow. The design of the helmet seems vaguely reminiscent of Kylo Ren's, but not quite the same; perhaps both owe their aesthetics to a similar point of origin. "I look forward to hearing from you, Netep Muri," his vocoder-altered voice states simply, and somehow, in the spaces between those words, there is a threat regard ing what will happen if he doesn't hear from her.
"Pleasure doing business with you." He steps out, pace deliberate but unhurried, and doesn't look back.
A blessing, that, because the door's barely had time to close behind him before the sound of retching says that Muri's nerves have fought their way through to the surface, after all.