Log:Rebs Wreck Rude Rube's Ruse
The thundershowers came down like a distressed man on the can. Ace Cordera stepped into the Blue Light, accompanied by a slip of a woman in a white dress presumably also drenched from the rain. He hated this place. Rebel Yell. Gangers, the lot of them, but they were the gangers he needed. It wasn't a job, but it involved a broad, and when a broad is involved, things go sour fast. This was no time to break with tradition. The first thing Ace did was fix a stare to the bartender, a tall, pretty thing with legs for hours and who recognized him with an expression of mild shock. "Where's Stavros? I got a stray for him," he asked her, not bothering to look around the room to see if Stavros and/or friends were currently in it.
Picking at the aforementioned drenched dress to keep it from sticking to her skin, Malaya enters on the heels of the Detective. She tried to use him as a human shield against the rain (?!?!) on their way here, but his stride was too long. The result is pitiful. Apparently no one told her she'd need a jacket today. "May I ask why we're here?" The sharpness of her tone is hiding the ever-present undercurrent of fear, because he still hadn't taken her money, so there was STILL nothing from keeping him from handing her over to the Rebels. She'd rather die at the hands of her own people for the cause of trying to protect their world than to die at the hands of terrorists.
It's a pretty good crowd for a Katunda, as the regular crowd shuffled in. That happened three hours ago, so some people are good and sloshed, but most are riding that edge of tipsy yet socially acceptable. The Blue Light is a lively place, maintaining the feel of a neighborhood tavern despite also being a place to see and be seen. A majority of the clientele is human, but there are plenty of exceptions, and the near-humans muddle the count.
Booths line either wall, tables fill the space between, but at the back is a wall-long bar with many bartenders hard at work. Laughter is frequent. Towards the left wall corner, a red-skinned, gaudily-dressed humanoid is leaning over the bar talking to one of the employees. They each have datapads, and there is an air of seriousness about them. When the bartender Ace accosted with his glare points out the owner, she also warns him, saying his name and angling a nod towards Ace.
When Stavros turns around, his eyebrows are slightly raised, but a smile is ready to form on his lips. In his hands a waist-high cane, on his feet glorious boots, and a bright blue zoot suit tailored to fit his slim form show that this is a Zeltron of wealth and taste. "Stavros Niarkos is right here. Proprietor. How can I help you?" He rises to his feet, looking between Ace and Malaya.
Kasia is seated at the bar, though her back is to it, a half-empty glass is sitting on the bar behind her, forgotten. Much like the soggy woman standing in Ace's shadow, she's wearing a dress, though it's a rich blue shade, and also dry. Her hair is half up, braided and pinned up nicely, while the rest is around her shoulders in loose curls. The arrival of the detective, and his demand to see Stavros, don't go unnoticed, angling slightly in her seat to watch Ace and Malaya with open curiosity.
The man didn't recognize Ace. Or he did, and was playing it cool. Either way, Ace didn't care. He sent a quick glance to the one he knew as Kasia Ciph, though she'd never told him her name. "Like I said, got a stray," he rumbled, voice rough from death stick abuse. He side-nodded to the woman in white, soaked from the rain. "The boys in white want her dead," he began, using another term for Stormtroopers that didn't raise too much suspicion in the crowded environment. "Got her secrets, not my place to tell 'em." He was handing her over to the Rebels. "Figured you could keep her out of trouble, educate her on how the galaxy works." His statements were vague, especially in this environment, but he thought he was pretty clear on what was going on.
Whoops! Betrayed! It seems her trust wasn't as well-placed as it initially appeared to be. He was just talking about Stavros, and now he'd brought her to him. Here was another rock and a hard place. Today was turning out to be full of unpleasant surprises. Unable to flee, (she'd already tried that), and unable to lie, (she'd already told Ace the truth; if he would hand her over to the enemy, she doubted he would draw the line at pointing out her lies), Malaya opts to be completely silent. Raising her chin in a universal gensture of defiance, she vows that at least she won't spill a word to anyone. ESPECIALLY if that someone is non-human. Still, no tears. At least she's not a lost, soggy, blonde, troublesome, -sobbing- broad.
With Stavros, who knows? Sometimes he seems sharp; other times, it's in one ear and out the other. At the moment, he is paying close attention to Cordera's words, and the code words appear to register. He smiles reassuringly at Malaya. "We have a lot of practice keeping people safe and helping them land on their feet," he says. "Helping the slaves we freed make lives for themselves has been an education. Nar Shaddaa is rough, but with friends, it can be a good place to live."
"Kasia," he calls over his shoulder, "Come here." He asks the soaked woman, "What's your name, miss, and how can we best help you? Food, clothes, and shelter, we can handle. A job and connections, too. Protection is really our main business."
Kasia listens as best she can from her perch at the bar, but with the noise and distance, she doesn't pick up too much. Not that body language isn't communicating plenty, especially that stubborn look that Malaya adopts. The corners of her mouth turn up into a small, restrained smile, which she keeps that way lest the soggy, potential client believe she's being mocked. When she's called, Kasia slips off of her seat and makes her way toward the trio. "How can I help?" she asks, looking between Stavros, Ace, and Malaya.
"She's a tricky student. Not too talkative," Ace added. More code. Still, Stavros hadn't threatened to shoot her after figuring it all out. If he'd figured it out. Either way, it was a bonus. The art of saying nothing was a delicate thing. "But it's mostly ignorance. I expect she'll be safe with you and yours if I leave her here." There were a lot of double-ended statements in this conversation. He shrugged his shoulders, hearing them pop like balloons after an all-nighter. Signs of age, or weariness, or battle. The night was getting to him.
A name is something Malaya can give. It costs her very little, and no harm is done to anyone by revealing it. She leaves the second question dangling unanswered. The moment they know what she needs, that's the moment they know what angle to press. "You may call me Mai." Casting her glance to the large man at her side, she sticks with the simple basics. "I am in the market for a body guard. It is my impression that you are a somewhat cohesive group of people. I fear I would be unable to financially support hiring an entire organization. One person should be plenty. If you are unable to fulfill my request, I would hate to waste both our time." She's not deluded into thinking that this will magically transform into a simple business transaction, but she might as well play along. She seems to take being called ignorant in stride, but her nose crinkles at the supposition that she 'will be safe'.
"We could definitely provide someone for security," Stavros says, raising his left eyebrow a hair higher. "But if, as the man says, you don't know 'how the galaxy works,' the entire mercenary company couldn't save you from yourself forever."
When Kasia is even with him, the Zeltron nods towards the woman. "This is Mai. This fellow says she is ignorant, doesn't know how the galaxy works, has secrets, and has certain enemies with a pretty wide reach. She doesn't trust us, and she's more afraid than she's letting on. She wants a bodyguard. Kind of sticky. Mai, follow Kasia here into the office in the back. I'll be right there."
To Ace, Stavros says, "Might I have a word with you?" He steps out of Kasia and Mai's path.
Kasia steps to the side, which brings her closer to Malaya, one hand sweeping out in the direction of the office. "Why don't you come with me. We can get you a drink, if you'd like it, or something to eat, if you're hungry. Maybe a towel to dry off with, while we're at it." This she follows with a warm smile for the shorter, blonde woman. "And don't worry, We will get something sorted out for you. I know that it might not seem like it, but he--" She cants her head toward Stavros, "And the others are good at that sort of thing."
"If it's to explain that ridiculous suit, please, I'm all ears." Ace couldn't let the opportunity to take a dig at the clothes slip out of his grasp. Not when they were more offensive to the eyes than Peaches at the Twi'Lick without a shirt on. "Let me guess," he added. "You're going to wonder why I, the guy who hates your collective asses, brought her, a broad with more legs than sense, to your establishment. Am I right?"
Presumptively assuming that Kasia is the brains of the operation and Stavros is the muscle purely due to race, Mai gladly turns her attention to Kasia. It does not occur to her that the humanoid might be in charge since humanoids, no matter how human-looking, do not attain rank. It simply does not occur to her that things may be a different way. Given permission to address the woman directly, she rushes through the rules of etiquette a little fater than is polite. "I appreciate you meeting me this late in the evening. Your business is ... extremely successful, even if it does tend to cause overcrowding." This is code for 'I hate this messy place'. "I'm sure your men are quite apt at what they do. I am particular in my requirements, but I shall present them to you up front so we can know if we're a good fit for each other. And no, I have eaten this evening, thank you." She has no choice but to follow the woman back to the 'office', as making a scene would not be to her benefit at this particular moment. More than likely, she'd simply enrage the local populace.
"No, neither." Stavros steps a closer to Ace, his voice dropping. "You just know we're softies sometimes." It is rather absurd for the slim Zeltron, holding a short cane rather than a weapon, to seem to be deadly serious when up next to someone broader, taller, and stronger than he is, but that's the expression that twists the smile on his face into an obvious mask as his eyes meet the private investigator's. "Two things. First: if you are dropping a time bomb into our business, you are going to regret it." He holds the gaze silently for a moment.
The man continues, cocking his head to the side so that it's inclined towards the office in back, "Second: if you want this woman to receive the help she needs, you are going to tell me how we can persuade her to let us help - or help persuade her yourself. If this isn't just about getting her out of your hair."
Kasia does nothing to correct the assumption of the woman beside her, attempting to gently lay a hand on the back of her shoulder as she steers them both toward the back office. "It can get crowded, and loud, which is true of most of Nar Shaddaa," she admits, glancing to the side and smiling at Malaya. "It's why I've gotten a place for myself to hide out in on the days when I need somewhere quiet." Somewhere along the way, she acquires a small towel, it's not much, but it's clean and dry, and it's offered to Malaya as they approach the office door. Once inside the office, there are presumably both chairs, and a desk, gesturing to one of the chairs before she takes one herself. "Alright. So why don't you start by telling me what the problem is, exactly, and what your requirements are. Then we can figure out what it is we'll be able to do for you."
Ace looked at Stavros, his expression an amused frown, and tapped the crown of his head that lacked hair longer than a couple millimetres of stubble. "I dislike you enough to avoid your hatted wonder-friend, but not enough to bring the Empire to you," Ace's expression and voice were both loaded with distaste, as though someone had fed him a tray of chili and told him it was blue milk. The Empire was bad for business. Hell, they were bad for everything. The last thing he needed was the Corporate Sector's big brother knocking at his front door. "She's a time-bomb, but you Rebels are the only ones I know that can defuse her." That answered question one. Question two. "Drop her in front of a recording of Alderaan. She's gotten the Empire's whitewashed history on things and doesn't know better. Hit her with how things are." He thought it over a bit more. "Or just have your biggest patriot talk her into bed. Should work either way." Cynicism. The defining character trait he'd set aside for one night. "Smart thing would have been leaving her to the wind. This time, I chose the right thing, y'dig?"
Here's the rub: If Malaya actually obtained protection from these people, she would have to tell everything to the man in charge of her safety. There was just no way around it. Anything less would risk both their lives. He would then report it to their boss, who would have her confined and interrogated. There is no right option, so another question is left to dangle. "I simply need someone with loyalty. I fear Detective Cordera may have made a mistake. I am in need of someone whose loyalty I can buy, and I'm afraid your men would due their duty to me, but continue to report to you." There, that summed it up quite succinctly. She is appreciative of the towel, however. Upon taking it from the taller woman, Mai sets to neatening herself, which is a really. Intensive. Process. Not that she's focusing on looking good, but her state of disarray really seems to bother her.
Not remembering who the hatted wonder-friend is, Stavros lets that one pass in the night. "All right, then. I'll do that, and I'll remember this. If you want to know if and when she's wised up or freaks out, gimme a comm frequency." He presents a small data pad to Ace, taking a step back. Back in a normal voice, he says, "If you keep doing the right thing over the smart thing, I might start to like you."
Kasia seems not at all bothered by the preening process, but given how she's dressed and made up herself, she's clearly no stranger to the effort it takes to look good. Nor the deleterious effects of rain on makeup, and a hairstyles. "I can understand how that might complicate things for you, but the hard truth is that most people here on Nar Shadda are loyal to someone, or at the very least, they report to someone." She pauses, drawing a breath as she folds her hands neatly in her lap. "I don't know what trouble you've found yourself in, but I am willing to guess that it must be serious if you're on Nar Shaddaa, asking people you're not familiar with for protection. This is a--" She halts, brows furrowing as she considers her words. "It's a dangerous place, Mai, and if you won't trust us to help keep you safe, at least let us help you find someone independent who will. We're large, and we have a lot of contacts. I'm sure that we could find you someone for you in the next day or two."
"Don't hold your breath. People don't pay me to do the right thing," Ace answered. Idealists. What a crazy bunch. He took the datapad and pressed a couple of buttons on it, giving Stavros a comm frequency. It was the business one, of course. Nobody got Ace's personal comm code except his mother. "Call me on that line with the results. Or if it gets too hairy, and I'll find someone else. Or if you need something found. Two hundred creds per hour plus expenses." Rule one when working independently, never resist a chance to advertise.
Two women, doing the dance of conversation. This feels far more natural to Malaya than the bait-and-catch she just experienced with Ace. "I'm ..." How can she phrase this without tipping her hand again? "...keeping myself safe from a very large organization, thoughI may not be their current priority. It is hard to assess, as I myself do not know all the details of the situation. I am incapable of prolonged combat, and require someone to provide that service. I do not wish to go to war with these people as I believe fences could be mended. Someone quiet but able to handle themselves would be ideal." When she feels good and dry, Malaya starts hopelessly rubbing at a dirt-stain on the dress. This is probably pointless, as the dress looks like it is a goner anyway. "If you feel like Nar Shaddaa is the improper planet, would you be able to suggest one that is more ideal?" This is not sarcasm, she sounds completely serious.
"Will do." Stavros glances at the datapad before tucking it under his other arm. The first arm, of course, has his cane held in the crook of his elbow. "So she thinks aliens are monsters," he mutters. "Terrific." He gestures at the bar. "Drink something. It'll save you a walk if she comes running out the minute I walk in the door."
Then the Zeltron heads over to the office at a leisurely pace. He raps on the door twice, then opens the door wide enough for him to stick his head in. "How's it coming along, Kasia?" He looks from Kasia, to Mai, to Kasia again. He doesn't walk all the way into the room. The question, indeed, seems to be whether he should enter at all, and he is leaving that to Kasia's judgment.
Kasia listens carefully to Malaya, and though she may have some guesses as to who that large organization is, she offers no guesses for now. "If it's an organization you fear -- and that's understandable, I've been in a similiar situation myself in the past -- you might find yourself better protected with something similar. That said, I won't pressure you into accepting help from people you're not comfortable with. I understand why you might be hesitant to." The last question earns a slight shake of the head. "No, honestly, if you need to hide, this is one of the better places to do it. You just need someone who is familiar with the place so that you don't find yourself a victim."
There's knocking, and her gaze is drawn to the door. When Stavros pops his head in, he gets a smile. "Right now, we might simply be helping to find her an independent bodyguard that's not one of ours, but can be trusted. I'm sure that we can find someone, somewhere, who will be suited to the task." She pauses, glancing over at Mai. "Does that sound right?"
Drink something. Ace could do that. He turned and murmured something quietly to that bartender girl, Legs, that had been serving him when he was tracking down Oriana's baby-daddy, or whatever he was in the end. Pimp, maybe. They came in all shapes and sizes. A short time later and he had a glass of water in front of him. He needed his mind sharp. Dealing with Imperials always came with surprises, even when they weren't kicking down your doors. Sometimes they were sitting in a ruined dress asking for a bodyguard when really what they needed was an education. He sighed. "Once, just once, I'd like to run into a broad that isn't gonna mess up my life," he said, mainly to the patch of air next to him. Legs simply moved away. Ace Cordera was not always welcome here.
A good bodyguard (which is how Ace described him) is right to check in on his charge. So Malaya doesn't begrudge Stavros the opportunity to pop his head in the door and check on them. Depending on what Ace told him, she'd rather been expecting it. But so long as they all remained calm, she had no reason to panic yet. "That is completely, accurate, thank you." KAsia gets a thin-lipped smile from Malaya, though Stavros does not get the same. Only a slight flaring of her nostrils betrays her dismay at including him in the conversation. It's not like she hasn't seen aliens before, she just hasn't seen so many in one place, being so -opinionated- and -loud-. "You are most-likely right in your assessment of Nar Shaddaa. As unpleasant as the atmosphere is, I find most people do not pay attention to detail. I did not have a choice when I came here, but I was lucky in some way that this was the planet they chose."
"You're not wrong," replies Kasia, lips pursing slightly as she glances at Stavros again. "Alright. We'll reach out to contacts and see what sort of response we can get, and we can get in touch with you soon with the options." Something about that last statement comes across almost hesitant, gaze settling on and lingering to study Malaya a few moments. "Where is it that you're staying right now? If you don't mind my asking. There are some places that are better, and safer than others here. Obviously. Safer, less likely to be robbed in or have your things stolen if you're not there to guard them. Or sometimes even if you are."
Stavros listens from the door. "We could do that, but we can help you more than that. There may be a bit of an education in order, though." He slips inside, closes the door behind him, but does not lock it. "I'm told you don't know the details about some things that are really important. Alderaan. The history of humans dealing with others. The course of the Civil War. Now, I don't know all about this stuff, either - but it's pretty important to remember that in most of the galaxy, all of us - humans, humanoids, sea-dwellers, non-ox breathers - have the same sorts of rights. Everyone's just people. If you're going to live on Nar Shaddaa, you gotta realize, this is a place where a pretty terrible group is on top, and the rest of us get by as we can."
"Wherever you go, you really need to look into the data networks, patch in to the Holonet - and you might be surprised by what you see." Stavros settles himself into the seat behind the desk. "If you're really worried about the First Order, you need more than one contractor. The guy out front knew that. That's why he brought you here. He doesn't like us, but he knows we'll try to do right by you." He waves a hand. "You don't have to tell us everything. Or anything, really, but the more you tell us, the better we can help you. What you do need to do, if you want to survive, is be willing to listen and learn. Can you agree to do that? We can't help you if you don't try to help yourself, here."
Ace Cordera sat in front of the bar with a tall leggy bartender who's name started with V but whom Ace mainly just called Legs. He didn't know which iteration of Legs this was, and to be honest, he didn't care. In front of him he had a Tall Dark Glass of Water, which he'd left untouched, and he was listening intently to what he could hear in the distant office. In the hubbub, it wasn't much. Even with his ears, there were limits. A male talking here, a female there, sometimes he could even tell the dames apart. Heh. When it came down to it, the dames were only there to tell tall tales and take your credits. What was the point in telling them apart? It didn't matter. He'd taken a job, more correctly, he'd forced a job on someone, and was working pro bono when he should have charged double his regular fee. Imperials. Pah. There was trouble. Imperials were the enemies of everyone, especially their own populace, and the pretty blonde with the young face and the curves like a sine wave that had disappeared into that office had received the typical one-two to the learning faculties. Ace smelt a rat. Impossible not to when Imperials were involved. One day, they would look up to the sky where their leaders had been and cry out 'Save us!', and Ace would look down, and whisper, 'No.'
"I've been moving around." Due to her curt nature and background, Mai thought that becoming recognizable in any one place was a folly. "I figured it was best to keep any one person from becoming too familiar with my face." Then -he- was addressing her. She had pretty much expected it from her history lessons. While the words may not be the exact same as provided examples, they fit the overall tones of the message, which is (ironically) conformity of cultural beliefs in exchange for personal safety. The same thing of which the First Order is accused. "Quite the contrary, I have received quite an extensive education far beyond that of my peers. I remaind in training until the age of twenty-five." Mai's pride gets in the way of her better judgement, as she continues to reveal odd tidbits about herself. "I am familiar with the history of the war on the planets you mentioned. I believe Detective Cordera's issue is that he simply does not believe in my history." Like many other things, history was a matter of faith, and she had faith that her home was straightforward and honest with her." There is really no point in arguing politics with the man. It was highly unlikely that either of them would change their minds. "If we decide an agreement would be mutally beeneficial for us both, I would be more than happy to provide the details of my circumstances to those who need to know to keep us all safe." There. It's a brush-off, but it at least a productive one.
Kasia's gaze follows Stavros as he moves to the chair behind the desk, again her lips purse slightly, but she keeps quiet as the history lesson is given, and takes no part in it. Someone has to adopt the role of the neutral party for now. "Moving around is wise, but even then, someone like yourself will attract attention given enough time, no matter how much you move around." She hesitates for a moment, and then adds, "He's not wrong though." He, being Stavros. "The more you tell us, the better that we can help you, whether it's us, or finding someone who is best suited to fulfil your needs." She seems on the verge of saying something, hesitates, and then seems to change tracks. "I have an apartment nearby, and it has a guest room, which you're welcome to for the night, if you would prefer that to staying in another hotel."
Stavros leans his head on one hand and his elbow on his desk. He asks curiously, "Did your education tell you why they would want to kill you? If they did, why didn't you let them do it? If they didn't - they left out some pretty important stuff, didn't they? Like motivations."
He shrugs. "Kasia's offer is a good one. She has a really nice place, safe part of the district. I'd take it. Just don't bring any harm to her or her guests, mm-kay? Figure it out among yourselves. There are taxis outside." Like always. "I gotta go be manager." He pats Kasia's shoulder on the way after he heads for the door."
When he reaches the bar, he looks at Ace. When he catches the PI's eyes, he shrugs and moves his finger in a circle next to her ear. Crazy woman. "Giving her shelter and few days. Maybe...?" And then he is back to his meeting at the corner of the bar. Reviewing the datapad. Then off to check on the various tables. The enjoyment is pretty infectious, when you can feel what other people are feeling.
Ace's response to Stavros was one of those nods and a frown that said 'I feel your pain'. Crazy, crazy Imperials. Only a fool or a lunatic would cavort willingly with them. Looked like Ace was both. He stayed at the bar, drinking the water, explicitly not chatting up Legs. Ace thought she hated him anyway, after that incident with Hatted Wonder. Then again, that was a long time ago.
Rising from her seat (this one lacked a sheet, but as the office was owned by a human female (who said what about being a manager?), it wasn't as big of a deal. Still, she takes the time to wipe down the back of her legs with the moist towel before folding it, unfolding it, folding it, unfolding, and finally folding it again into very equal thirds. She sets the wet towel doesn on the desk because the one place they absolutely do not go is on the floor. That may as well be punishable by death. "Thank you, and I will accept. I will, ocf course, compensate you for your hospitality. If you would not mind providing your address, I will fetch my things and meet you there." Presuming she does get the aforementioned address, she heads out the door to find her way back to her last hotel. One the way past Ace, she gives him a lengthily sustained glare to convey her disapproval of his actions. Then she gives hima a nod of thanks for ... his actions. She's female and allowed to be complex. With no further hesitation, she heads out the door -- accidentally on purpose forgetting to nod to the "manager".
"Compensation isn't necessary, but you can buy a nice dinner for us tomorrow, if you feel so compelled," Kasia assures her, rising when Malaya does. The address is, of course, provided, along with assurances that she will be back at the apartment soon to let her in. With that done, she follows Malaya so far as the bar, giving both Stavros, and then Ace a look. This is going to be an interesting experiment.