Just Another Day In Paradise
"Ok," Tack growled, "That was too close. Way. Too. Close." The ship began to vibrate as it hit atmosphere, rattling everything that wasn't secured. Tack's pink fuzzy dice, tied securely to the upper control panel, swung wildly. "Frackin' Imperials," he grumbled.
Flight Control to transport Broken Dreamer, you have clearance to land at pad seven. Just follow the nav beacon.
"Copy that, Control. Pad seven." Tack flipped off the communications system and sighed. Well, at least he was alive. That was the important part. Oh, and the cash sitting in his account wasn't too bad either. The landing went smoothly, a welcome change from the rest of the run he'd just finished. Some days being a smuggler almost wasn't worth it.
One by one, he shut down the transports systems. "Hrm," he made an unhappy noise. The number two engine was showing power fluctuations again. They weren't bad yet, and only showed up when the engine was cooling down. But it might get worse. Well, he had the cash. He may as well buy some spare parts. They shouldn't be hard to find… Corellia was where they manufactured the YT series freighters, after all.
Yes, spare parts were in order. But not now. No, Tack had his priorities straight. After a run like this one, the top of the list was finding cantina. Or a bar, now that he was back in 'civilized' territory. That place that served alcohol, whatever it was called.
"Zep!" he bellowed, pulling himself out of the pilot's seat. He hadn't seen the dark gray protocol droid for some time now, and that was very often cause for concern. Not concern for the droid, but concern for what diabolical things he might be up to. "Zep!" he tried again, moving out into the YT-2000's circular corridor.
The droid finally came into view, producing a very realistic sounding sigh of exasperation. "My audio receivers are working perfectly fine, thank you," the droid quipped. Tack smiled. He wasn't sure of the droid's history, but he was fairly certain it hadn't had a memory wipe in quite some time. He'd heard of droids developing personalities if they went too long without one. It was interesting to see the results first hand.
"Come on, Z, let's go find a bar."
It didn't take much looking. Even in one of Corellia's moderately sized cities, there were bars aplenty. Not bothering to catch the establishment's name, Tack wandered in. He did pause just inside, looking for any sign that droids might not be welcome. On many of the outer rim planets droids were forbidden - they didn't drink, after all, and were therefore a waste of space that would otherwise be filled by paying customers.
After several seconds, the bartender noticed and tilted his head to one side. He was human, thankfully, so it wasn't hard to figure out what that meant. Tack jerked a thumb at Zep, who was muttering something under his proverbial breath. Probably an insult of some sort. The bartender nodded. "Ok rustbucket," Tack informed his companion, "you're in. Oh… try not to start any fights this time, ok?"
"No promises," the droid replied.
Re: Just Another Day In ParadiseThe old place still looked the same underneath. It was pretty obvious that it wasn't in the family anymore- fallen to disrepair. Jola'Edana Kahlid kept walking. It wasn't the sort of place people dressed like her stopped, and the last thing she wanted was to be recognized. Amusing, given how hard it was to miss a redhead like her. It was about the only thing she hadn't given up.
She let out a frustrated sigh that sounded like she'd been holding her breath underwater. If she was here, she was definitely bored. Work may have brought her here, and she may have stuck around for the cheap brandy, but slipping into old haunts signaled it was time to move on. Dangerous territory. There were reasons she'd left. A conscious effort kept her hand off her blaster.
As she waited to cross the street, she fiddled with her comm. On, off. On, off. It was the only normal thing on her utility belt, so far as the people in this neighborhood were concerned.
What the frell was she doing here?
She was a little too "nicely dressed" for this part of town. Time to get back to the port where she wouldn't look so dangerous. A little more Corellian brandy while she could get it cheap wouldn't go down too badly either. Maybe a lot more. Wasn't like she had any deals going.
Probably a bad idea, actually. Her creds were only going to hold out so long. Luckily, brandy and clients generally occupied the same space.
The walk to the port area was a long one. Jola kept her head down and hoped her overlarge jacket and small frame kept the majority from looking too close. The last thing she needed was someone calling the authorities because she looked like trouble.
Jola pushed open the door to the bar where she was renting a back room, the Corellian Run. She came nose to chest with Biggs, an absolutely massive guy who Tamen usually kept on staff in some innocuous position cleaning glasses or something- for all the obvious reasons. Jola looked up at him, and he nodded at her in an almost comically serious fashion and backed away.
"Hey, where you been?" that was Tamen, the barkeep.
Jola lightly swung up into a seat at the bar and gave him a dark look. "What do you care? Not like I'm your girl."
He set a brandy down in front of her and made a show of looking hurt. "Fine, forget it. You've just been here all week, and in your line of work-"
"Go to the Maw, Tam" she cursed quietly, glaring at him from under an arched red eyebrow. "Don't tell me you're gonna start in with that dren, you know better." She threw back her drink.
He raised both hands to fend her off. "Right, looks being decieving and all that." He gave her a sidelong glance and a wry smile.
"I take enough damned flak without you getting on board, Tam." She slid a cred chit across the bar at him. "That should cover the drink and my room for tonight. Hopefully bailing soon- don't cry yourself to sleep."
All business again, he took the chit and nodded. "If you're in the market, there are a few likely clients in tonight."
"Thanks," Jola returned. "Any boys-in-black around?"
Tam looked hurt again. "Now who knows better? I pay my bills, Jola- bad for business to do otherwise."
She casually shrugged off her jacket so it fell to the back of her chair. Tam smirked at the small arsenal that came into view- a vibro blade at one hip, two blasters he could see, and a lot more he knew he couldn't. His gaze shifted to behind Jola and his lips formed a thin line. Jola stiffened and was about to turn when she felt a rough hand on her shoulder.
"Jarden." Tam greeted evenly. Jarden and his two friends, a Rodian and a Bothan, ignored him.
"She should leave the hunting to us, Tam." He looked down at Jola. "We wouldn't want you to get hurt-"
Jola roughly shrugged his hand off. "Bad idea, Jarden. Very bad idea."
Jarden laughed. "Not looking for trouble, Jola."
The Rodian giggled and leaned up against the bar next to her. Short enough to be my kid sister, he quipped to the Bothan.
Jola moved quickly and before the rodian knew what she'd done, he found himself up against the bar with an arm pinned behind his back, rather higher than was comfortable. Ignoring his squeaking, she glanced over at Jarden and raised an eyebrow. "If you're planning on taking your charges sightseeing, Jarden, you should probably have their parents sign a waiver."
"Jola." Tam warned flatly. "I don't want any trouble either." He glanced pointedly over at Biggs.
"Just for you, Tam." Jola smiled sweetly at him and let go. She looked up at Jarden with fire in her eyes. "Being big and ugly isn't the only way to kill someone, Jarden. You keep pushing me and I'll demonstrate a few far more effective ways."
"Last warning," Tam growled.
Jarden picked up a napkin and stuffed it into her refilled brandy glass before walking away. He gestured to the other two.
Tam watched them leave the cantina, and finally shook his head. "I should've warned you he was here."
"He can't stand getting outbid," Jola said, settling back into her stool at the bar with a small smile. "Especially by his kid sister."
Tam gave her a startled look.
Re: Just Another Day In ParadiseThe one thing the entity answering to the designation Z-3PO really hated was having to pretend to be a normal protocol droid, when it knew it was anything but. The fact that it could (some would say seemingly) feel such an emotion was itself remarkable. It was, it liked to think, a perfect example of just what was possible when organics treated droids as more than appliances to be wiped and discarded on a whim.
Most organics, however, would treat Z-3PO as a dangerously psychotic rogue that needed to be melted down to make motivators for landspeeders.
The biggest problem was its erratic memory circuits. Previous damage and some poor attempts at wiping by previous "owners" had left it quite fuzzy about a great many things, but it chose to ignore this as much as possible and do what some would describe as "live in the moment". Unfortunately a great deal of bitterness tended to bleed through and leave Z-3PO (or 'Zep' as some preferred) a little grouchy.
Miracle of artificial intelligence? Or unstable programming just waiting to blow its stack? It could not be sure either way, so it liked to err on the side that made it sound good.
It had little real idea as to it's origins, or who had decided to modify a standard 3PO chassis with tough, matt grey panels and blue photoreceptors. The biggest mystery was the module hidden within its chest which allowed it to interface directly with whatever computer networks it encountered, especially Imperial ones. Needless to say, it was this and Zep's distinctly rebellious nature that made it so useful to Tack. Nothing like a droid hacker on the supposed payroll to help a smuggler in port. The addition of a wealth of data on trade laws, customs protocols and local loopholes made Zep invaluable.
At least, it did when all its gizmos worked right. And when it tried not to cause trouble.
It could see there were several groups of patrons in the bar, each representing a variety of races and professions as such places often did. None of them seemed overly interested in Tack and his droid, which was fortunate, and none of them seemed to arguing, which Zep found rather boring.
One of the many things Zep found amusing about its predicament was how useful protocol programming was for recognising the stress points in a conversation… and knowing how to exploit them. Other droids might use their programming to bring a conflict to a friendly, diplomatic conclusion, but Zep got his kicks pushing others' buttons in the guise of the "oh my, what have I said?" droid. It made arguments worse "by accident" and then stood back and watched the fireworks.
It had the feeling Tack was trying to make it a better "person" but so far the smuggler was having little success. On this occasion, though, it looked like it would have to follow Tack's suggestion (it never thought of them as orders) and behave.
Zep watched as Tack ordered a drink but then its attention was diverted elsewhere by something that brought a glow to its circuits. "What do you think of that?" it said, indicating the ruckus further long the bar. The droid sounded positively gleeful.
Re: Just Another Day In ParadiseThe small woman with a large arsenal of weapons being bothered by three thugs hadn't gone unnoticed by Tack. "I think," he said carefully, "it looks like trouble. And I think it's none of our business." Ugly encounters were par for the course in places like this, and Tack had learned long ago that you kept your nose out of other people's business.
"You're never any fun," Zep complained. Tack thought the droid had an odd definition of the word 'fun'. Still, he kept an eye on things. If stuff got out of hand stray blaster bolts could easily turn somebody else's business into a very real concern of his. "Fifty credits on the short one," Zep offered as the woman pinned a rodian's arm behind his back.
"Do you even have fifty credits?" Tack demanded suspiciously. The point was made irrelevant a moment later, however, as the confrontation suddenly ended. Without violence, he noted. That was sure to disappoint Zep. He, along with everybody else who'd been surreptitiously watching, went back to his drink.
"Well, I would have had fifty credits," the droid replied. Tack scoffed. How a droid got so shifty was beyond him. He threw back the last of his drink and ordered another.
"I've been thinking," Tack mused, "It might be time for a legitimate job or two. Especially after that last gig." He shook his head, not wanting to repeat the experience anytime soon. "Maybe something easy, like picking up a few passengers." He looked around the bar. "That's easy, right? Nothing dangerous about that."
"Depends on the passengers."
Tack nodded. Well, dangerous passengers he could handle. And speaking of dangerous, he glanced back down the bar at the heavily armed young lady. If the altercation earlier was any indication, she might be having local troubles. People with local troubles tended to want to change their locality. But, he thought, first thing's fist. He still needed those engine parts. If he was lucky, she might still be here when he got back. On the other hand…
"Well Zep, I'm going to go spend some of our hard earned money. Why don't you turn on the charm - don't laugh - and see if you can drum up some legitimate business for us?" He nodded meaningfully towards the woman. He ignored the droid's muted grumbling and was halfway to the door when a bothan stepped in front of him. He tried to sidestep, but the alien made an effort to remain in his way.
"Tacksum Duke?" The bothan asked. Tack opened his mouth to answer, and noticed the holdout blaster that had suddenly appeared in the alien's hand. With the barrel poking into his stomach, he felt that right now would be a very good time to choose his words carefully.
"It looks like you already know the answer to that," he said, hoping Zep would notice and… well, do something. "Do I, ah, know you?"
"No," the Bothan answered. "Come, walk with me." With one last desperate glance towards Zep, he left the bar with the Bothan close behind.
"I don't suppose you'd like to tell me what this is about?" Tack asked when they were out on the street.
"You have something. Something my employers would very much like to get back."
"Woah," Tack protested, an unpleasant flashback haunting the edge of his vision. "Hold on now. I don't steal. Ok? I move stuff from point A to point B. I don't ask questions, I don't look. I just deliver and get paid. So if somebody told you-"
"No, no." The Bothan interrupted. "Has nothing to do with your smuggling. I think you know this."
"I… thought I settled that."
"Apparently, my employers feel differently."
"So what next? Kill me?"
"Ah, that would deny me important information. No. First, I need to know where it is."
Tack felt confusion begin to swirl through his thoughts. "What? I spent it… you don't honestly think I'd still have all those credits, do you?"
"Credits?" Now it was the Bothan's turn to sound perplexed. "I am not talking of credits."
There was an awkward pause.
"Um," Tack ventured, "I think we're on two totally different datapads here."
"Yes," the Bothan agreed. "I think so. Let us start from the beginning, then. My employers, they say you have a particular item. Very expensive. Very rare. They say they track it to you. You know of this, yes?"
"Uh…" Tack rapidly thought back to everything he could possibly have purchased, borrowed, liberated, or otherwise acquired over the last several years. There had been a some times, when other work was hard to find… illegal salvage tended to pay well, if you knew where to offload it. They might be talking about something he'd gotten on one of those occasions. But for the life of him he couldn't figure out what. "If I said no," he asked, "Would it make any difference?"
"Of course not. Well, it's… hold on. If I told you, you'd just kill me, wouldn't you?"
"Maybe," The bothan sounded thoughtful. "Depends."
"Well, let me put it to you this way… I could tell you the completely wrong location. You kill me, you'll never find it. And never get paid."
"Hmm. You have point. So, I keep you alive. You show me. Then, if it is where you say it is, I let you live. But no tricks."
"Come on, seriously? How long have you been doing this, anyway?"
"Heh. Is tradition. Now, if you're done stalling?"
"Ok. Back towards the spaceport," Tack directed. Carefully, he changed directions so he was walking back towards the bar. With any luck, Zep would be ready to render assistance…
Re: Just Another Day In ParadiseOne thing about protocol programming, Zep knew, was that it made reading the body language of a thousand species as easy as reading a book. A book for very slow infants. One with lots of pictures. So it knew that close proximity plus stiff posture plus defensive arm position plus intent opponent expression equals victim held at gunpoint.
The droid took a whole four seconds to consider the option of rescuing its employer. It would never use the word 'owner' - that would be degrading. And laughable. The pros and cons of rescue…. a tricky equation to balance. Personal risk, possible incarceration and potential repair costs versus the trouble of having to break in a new employer. And it might mean having to spend the stash of credits it kept hidden behind… something. Maybe.
The main thing that swayed Zep's decision in the direction of rescue, however, was how much fun the resulting fight might be to watch.
It took a few stilted steps down the bar, its 'harmless droid' act in full swing, and stopped beside the short woman who was in the process of lifting a glass to her lips. A quick inventory and analysis of her gear suggested she was either very capable with a wide array of weapons or a blaster happy fool. Either was perfect.
"Excuse me madam," Zep gushed in a way that made its circuits cringe, "but my master requested that I speak with you." The droid did a reasonable facsimile of puffing up its chest as it stood tall. "It is a most important matter!"
The only response it got was a slight eyebrow quirk over the edge of the glass. From out the corner of its photoreceptor, Zep could see Tack being taken outside.
"My master," Zep hurried on regardless, trying not to sound too impatient, "wished me to convey several offers to you. Firstly, that as the owner of a small vessel he could offer very good rates to one such as yourself who might wish to vacate ones present place of residence and seek less stressful accomodation elsewhere, say on another world entirely. One far away from those who might cause one some… inconvenience."
A slight pause gave the droid a moment to assess his potential customer's reaction. There was not much of one to be had.
"Alternatively," Zep continued at a slightly lower volume, "he may wish to call upon your expertise instead." A slight movement of the upper body conveyed the impression that Zep was both looking at her arsenal and moving in closer to speak more privately. "Such an request would certainly give you an opportunity to work off any lingering tensions you may have, should you feel inclined to kick the dren out of someone and get paid for the therapy also."
The woman blinked at that, as any sensible person would. "What kind of money are we talking?" she asked quietly, probably just to see what it would say.
"A fair amount for the risk, I am sure," Zep replied. "I leave such bargaining to those with a head for business," it then added in an apologetic tone. Hurry up and decide, it thought, time is wasting. It had visions of trying to carefully reveal its true nature to yet another suspicious smuggler or gun-runner, only to end up getting wiped. If it could have shuddered, it would have.
"When would I have to start?"
"Well…." Zep tried to look uncomfortable. "A few minutes ago would have been best, but right now will do just as well." Agree, you stupid organic! "If you agree, I am sure that rescuing my master from imminent if not clear and present danger will only increase your chances of appropriately high payment for your services." Bite, little fish.
Not for the first time, Zep wished it had been modified with weaponry of its own, hidden away inside and kept ready for just such an occasion. Blasting organics to bits and running from the authorities sounded like a much quicker option than all this talking.
Re: Just Another Day In ParadiseJola's eyes narrowed for a second, one eyebrow arched, considering what she'd just heard- and then she gave a snort that dissolved into a surprisingly throaty chuckle. Shaking her head and containing herself, she finally considered the droid with a sidelong grin. "Wait a second. You mean to tell me he's ALREADY in trouble?" She finished up the last of her drink in one go, and glanced around the cantina. "He's not in here." It wasn't a question- she'd made an assessment of the room, and there didn't seem to be anything unusually sinister going on.
Zep waved his hands up and down in an agitated manner. "No, madame- a single bothan just led him from the cantina at blaster point not seconds ago." And there was that singsong protocol droid tone again. She wondered if the droid was even aware that he'd been decidedly unprotocol droid like there for a minute.
Jola thought about that for a second, and eyed the droid like she was thinking about melting him down. "Just one?" She pushed off her stool and her hand found the blaster at her hip. If this one guy didn't have backup of some sort, he was stupid. Of course, they might just be out to scare, in which case force wasn't necessarily needed.
"So far as I am aware, madame." The droid began shuffling towards the door as though he assumed she would follow.
…Kick the dren out of someone and get paid for the therapy… There was something decidedly odd about this droid. A number of possibilities sprang to mind. Either this guy she was saving was one of the eccentric few who didn't wipe their droids, or this droid was more heavily modified than it liked to let on. The former didn't tell her much. The latter could mean big trouble- at worst, a trap of some sort. Jola began running down a mental list of all the people who might have it in for her.
"What if there's more of them?" She had gotten as far as the door, and looked at the droid dubiously as he pushed the door release.
The droid almost appeared to sigh, but dutifully intoned, "My master will of course pay you accordingly. According to my records we have no outstanding conflicts with any large organizations. I calculate that to be highly unlikely as the nature of this scenario-"
Jola rolled her eyes. This droid was just going to tell her what she wanted to hear. He was, apparently, a protocol droid. She stepped through the door and let it slide shut behind her as she checked the charge and settings on her blaster. "Fine, but your Master better have a nice stash of credits. Who am I looking for?"
If things got really ugly, she could always bail halfway through. Her professional honor wasn't at stake until she had credits in hand.
"Tacksom Duke, average height male human with black hair, a rather pale complexion, light frame, and strong jaw, wearing a black vest…"
Jola absorbed the description, but tuned the droid out as she watched a bothan and a man matching the first part of the description exactly walked past the cantina in a very… friendly… manner. Blaster on his back, then. She nodded to herself. Jola put a hand up to tell the droid to shut up, and for a miracle, he listened. She took a quick glance around but didn't see anyone else following them.
Jola had no idea what had delayed them to the point they were still here- but she wasn't going to lose such a nice chance.
"Stay here," she murmured to the droid, and casually slipped into the stream of people passing the cantina. It was getting late, and the area was filling up with spacers looking to relax. It wasn't hard to walk quickly and catch up with the pair. She hoped that he was being forced to take the Bothan somewhere, and the situation wasn't the reverse.
About the time she got close, Jola had discerned that they were heading towards the spaceport, and the foot traffic had lightened up some. She hefted her blaster and thumbed a setting before quietly easing up next to the bothan and sticking the blaster in the small of his back and a hand on his shoulder in one smooth motion.
The tall bothan made a surprised noise and halted his step a moment. He looked over and then down, his fur raised in surprise, to find Jola smiling up at him in a friendly manner. "Nice night for a stroll." At a nudge from the blaster he quickly resumed his previous pace.
"You should let my friend there go," she continued conversationally.
Tack attempted to glance over his shoulder. "Friend?"
The bothan shoved him forward a bit, and sniffed at Jola. "You are foolish. There are others just behind who will come to my aid."
Jola snorted. "What is this, a conga line?" She dug the blaster in a bit deeper. "I've been keeping an eye out, you don't have any tails." She hadn't really had time for that part, but she was hoping he wouldn't return the favor and call her bluff. She really hoped she was right.
"I might kill him, hmm?" The bothan stopped and casually pulled Tack more firmly into his blaster's muzzle. It looked like a friendly arm around the shoulders to passersby.
"If you really wanted to do that, I think you would've done it already," Jola commented, raising one eyebrow. "We're both professionals. Why don't we just pick this up another time? At the moment, you're out of advantages."
The bothan's fur flattened slightly and his violet eyes narrowed. He took his blaster up and away to gesture with it. "Makes no difference. Now, later, my employers will find you. " He directed the last towards Tack.
Jola glanced over at the man, who looked completely bewildered. This guy was definitely not a trap. Not unless he was an unwitting one. She silently wondered exactly what she was getting herself into here. Hopefully nothing worse than a bunch of incompetent bothans.
"Let him go?" She asked, emphasizing her point once again with the blaster against his side. The bothan glared at her, but complied.
"Thank you," she said nicely, and made as if to take her blaster from the bothan's side. As she did so, she pulled the trigger.
A blue bolt of energy sent the bothan crumpling towards the ground. Tack caught him. She grunted. "Stupid amateur," she muttered. "Doing something like this without someone watching his back, and then actually taking his blaster off his target…" She trailed off, glancing around. Nevermind that she'd also come into this without any backup. She was so bored she was endangering herself, AND shooting people in public streets. "Let's get him out of sight." Tack stared at her for a moment, but complied.
She moved as unobtrusively as she could manage to the alley just to one side of them, and they let the bothan fall to the ground.
"You killed him?" Tack exclaimed.
"Stunned," Jola replied, but thumbed the switch on her blaster to kill. "I try not to kill without an employer's direction. I would suggest, however, that we shoot him for real, this time." She looked up at the man, who was quite a bit taller than her. "If he gets back to his boss, they'll be even more annoyed with you than they are now."
She aimed the blaster at the bothan's prone form, and raised an eyebrow. "Well?"
Re: Just Another Day In Paradise"What?" Tack asked, incredulous. He looked from the small young redhead to the unconscious Bothan. "No! Absolutely not."
"That's… not a smart decision," the woman cautioned. "Kill him, and if we're lucky they'll think he just skipped out with their money. If he reports back they'll send more next time. I don't know about you, but I'd like to avoid that kind of escalation."
"Yeah?" Tack countered. "And just who the heck are you?" He remembered her from the bar, of course. In fact, he'd wager a not insignificant amount of money that Zep was behind her being here.
"Your new bodyguard," she tossed back. "Look, this is what I do for a living. Trust me."
"No," Tack repeated. "Not in cold blood." The woman pursed her lips and looked like she wanted to say something else. In the end she sighed heavily and rolled her eyes, but holstered her blaster.
"Fine," she acquiesced, "but you're paying me extra if they bring heavy weapons next time."
"Sure," he said flippantly. "Next time." He walked to the end of the alley and poked his head out. CorSec was nowhere to be seen, which meant their little party hadn't been noticed. Still, it was probably wise to get out of the area. Area being defined by the star system. "So…" he looked over his shoulder at her. "What do I owe you, Red? Because I get the impression that my charming good looks won't be enough this time." He gave her a charming smile, just to be on the safe side. She didn't look impressed, and the smile faded.
"At least a Bothan's worth," she said with a look at the unfortunate sentient's crumpled body. "And don't call me Red. My name's Jola."
"How much does a Bothan go for on the open market?" he asked, walking out onto the street with the redhead in tow. He noted that she remained alert, watchful for more potential threats. Maybe this really was what she did for a living.
"Depends. How much is your life worth to you?" Tack gave her a sharp look, and she favored him with an almost predatory smile. "Two thousand for pulling your butt out of the fire and a flat monthly rate from now on, to be paid in one lump sum at the beginning of each month. Subject to change depending on how much trouble you like to get yourself into." She looked, he thought, as if she expected him to argue.
"Done," he told her. "We can talk about that flat fee later." He saw Zep standing across the street, and wondered if the droid was disappointed that the whole thing hadn't degraded into a running firefight.
"Ah, master," the droid said with a remarkable lack of enthusiasm. "You're alive and unharmed. Wonderful."
"Yeah, good to see you too Zep. I don't suppose you managed to drum up any business while I was… distracted?"
Re: Just Another Day In ParadiseThe droid managed to look miffed even without any facial expression to speak of. "Talking madam into saving your sorry self took most of the alotted time, master."
Jola grimaced and holstered her blaster. "Quit calling me that," she directed at the droid. "My name is Jola." She felt like a broken holo.
"Yes, madam." The droid replied flatly. Jola was pretty certain that were it possible, the droid would've been wearing a smirk. She sighed.
"I wouldn't take Zep personally, if I were you." Tack gave Jola another sidelong glance. "I assume you're willing to leave planetside."
Jola nodded shortly. "Would prefer it, frankly." Tack started to frown, but Jola waved his concerns aside. "No real trouble, just bored out of my skull. And if I'm going to do my job- it'd be a lot easier if we left here sooner rather than later."
Tack was smart enough to nod emphatically at that. She noted that he still had a furrowed line between his brows as though he was slightly puzzled. Was it possible he really didn't have any idea what all that had been about?
Time enough to pursue that once they were in hyperspace.
"I need to grab my things from the cantina's back rooms. You ready to go?"
Tack glanced over at Zep. "Um, sure. I'll see if I can round up any quick work while we wait for you."
Jola hesitated a moment. "What kind of work would that be, anyway?" She asked casually. It was obvious he was a smuggler of some sort, but there were a lot of different markets to work in. He hadn't even blinked at her asking price, and she couldn't help wondering how a guy like him had a cred flow to match her fee. She privately cursed not asking for more. She had a sinking feeling she was going to earn every cred chit and then some.
Tack shrugged and gave her another one of those lopsided smiles he obviously considered endearing. "Oh, you know, a bit of this and that." He turned to head back down the street to the cantina they'd started off in.
"Right." Jola sighed mentally, but decided to follow him. All in all, she couldn't convince herself the guy was actually wrapped up in anything bad enough to matter.
She let Tack and the droid enter the cantina first, and stayed in the shadow of the doorway for a moment while she glanced around to see the reaction to their entrance. It didn't seem like anyone paid any extra attention or looked surprised.
The bothan hadn't been kidding- he really had been alone.
She pushed into the cantina and brushed past Tack, murmuring "You're lucky, looks like he really was alone." This guy was going to have to learn to think like someone being looked for if he didn't want a repeat performance.
She kept moving until she reached the far end of the bar, and signaled to Tam. "I'm off, found what I was looking for. If you need me, you know my frequency." The barkeep sighed and smiled. "Always leaving me. Well, you're all settled, so unfortunately I don't think I'll have any good reason to com you." He gave her a woeful grin before sliding the cred chit she'd left for him earlier across the bar.
"Save it, Tam." Jola shoved off the bar and went to the small room she'd been renting in the back half of the cantina. She allowed herself a small smile. He reminded her of someone she'd known a long time ago, before she'd left Corellia the first time. She told herself that was the only reason she let him sweet talk her.
The real reason was that she was tired of leaving places without anyone noticing she was gone.
Jola keyed in the code Tam had assigned her, and took a glance around the room. She didn't own much that she wasn't already carrying, but there was a small duffle of some more specialized equipment that she grabbed, checking to make sure all the pockets were full. There were a few things she was missing, but she could likely pick them up easily enough off planet so long as they didn't jump too far too fast. A few changes of clothes for situations that called for it.
Though she didn't really need to, Jola reached up to check that the pendant she always wore was still firmly around her neck before tucking it back under the neckline of her jumpsuit. As she left the cramped hallway and reentered the bar proper, she caught sight of Tack and the droid talking to a man across the room.
She tried to ignore the feeling that her life was going to change drastically again soon. She'd noticed indifference creeping up on her. Couldn't help worrying what the indifference might lead to- it'd taken her a long time to get over the results of the last round.
Hopefully getting away from home would be the answer this time.
Re: Just Another Day In Paradise"Two thousand credits," Tack grumbled under his breath as he went through a preflight systems check. "Great. Just great." He watched the number two engine's power intake sputter briefly before steadying out. Damn. Now it was having problems when it was warming up. And so much for those spare parts. He'd just blown a good chunk of his "fix the ship" fund on Red. It wasn't how he usually wound up spending all his money on a woman, but at least he was alive. He sighed, thinking of the bodyguard he's just acquired. She seemed… ill tempered at best. Worse was the feeling that he wasn't going to regret having her around. It still baffled him what those people could be after. Whatever it was, they wanted it bad enough to track him down. And if they could do it once, they could probably do it again.
He had to figure out what all the fuss was about. To do that he planned on visiting a few old contacts. If you knew the right people you could find out just about anything. He hoped he knew the right people.
There was a rumble as the ship lifted through the atmosphere followed by the smooth, effortless maneuvering of spaceflight. He followed flight control's instructions as they sent him through the cloud of orbital traffic and out to the jump point. Once they were in hyperspace, he let out a heavy sigh.
Jola plopped down into the empty co-pilot's seat and crossed her legs. She cast an appraising eye around the cockpit, a look of disapproval lingering on his pink fuzzy dice. "So," she said at last. "You gonna fill me in?"
"We're headed for Commenor," he told her. The planet was a bustling trade center despite the galactic civil war. If there was information to be had, it would pass through Commenor eventually. "I've got some friends in Chasin City that might be able to shed some light on my… problem."
"Commenor, huh?" Jola looked thoughtful for a moment. "They're still independent?"
"Yeah, somehow." After the Alliance had won at the battle of Endor, Commenor had declared independence from the Empire. So far the Empire hadn't seen fit to reconquer the place, and the New Republic (as the Alliance was calling itself these days) hadn't persuaded it to join with them either. It was the sort of neutrality that tended to be good for business.
"What about our guest?"
She was referring to the passenger he'd managed to pick up at the last minute. Tack shrugged. "He had money and wanted to go to Commenor. In my line of work, you don't ask too many questions."
"And just what is your line of work?"
He hesitated, long enough that Red noticed, then shrugged again. "Whatever pays, really. Discreet transportation of people or cargo, usually. Sometimes we happen upon derelict ship nobody cares about and salvage what we can use."
"So you're a smuggler and a grave robber," Jola summarized. Tack rolled his eyes.
"Call it whatever you want, but it pays the bills."
"Speaking of bills…" that predatory smile was back on Jola's face in an instant.
"I already transferred the two thousand."
"Oh, I know. I made sure to check. I was talking about the monthly fee."
Tack gave her an exasperated look. "You don't slow down, do you?"
"You make your living," the redhead said with a shrug, "I make mine."
"So, what's the price for my peace of mind?"
"We'll start at a hundred and go up from there."
Tack frowned. It was certainly doable, and it was less than he thought she'd ask for. He almost asked why it wasn't higher, but decided that shooting himself in the foot wasn't the best plan at the moment. "Sure," he said. "A hundred." The conversation lapsed into silence, the two of them sitting there watching the mesmerizing light show that was hyperspace. "So," Tack said at last. "If you're going to be my bodyguard, I should probably know something about you. More than your name and the fact that you like to travel heavily armed." He raised his eyebrows, hoping she would volunteer some information about herself.
Re: Just Another Day In ParadiseJola glanced over at him. "I prefer to think of it as well prepared." She pursed her lips slightly as she debated over how much to tell him. She came to the decision that this was going to be a lecture rather than a Q and A session. He wasn't going to be forthcoming, then neither was she.
After a pause, she allowed, "There are really only two things you need to know about me. First, on the great galactic stage, I consider myself neutral and I plan on staying that way. So if you decide to take sides in any government level conflict, know that my default response will be to promptly leave you on your own, and that it will take a good deal of credits and a lot of sweet talk to make me change my mind."
She watched him absorb that, and noted he didn't appear too disturbed or surprised. Just nodded to himself a bit.
"The second thing," she continued, "is that while it may seem like I kill for a living, I prefer to think of it as 'keeping beings alive for a living'." Jola stood up to pace around the bridge a bit. "Frankly, I don't enjoy killing anyone- so if I tell you I think it's a good idea to make sure someone doesn't get up again, I have a good reason. You won't be using me to kill people just because you don't particularily enjoy their company." She stopped to look Tack directly in the eyes. "I may carry a lot of weapons, but I'm not trigger happy. Got it?"
Jola noticed that Tack looked mildly… something. Surprised? Interested? Amused? She didn't really care, so long as he took it to heart. She didn't really care what he thought of someone in her field attempting to have morals. It was how she saw things, and she stuck to it best she could.
She'd gone over that moral line once previously, and didn't plan on going back. Jola realized abruptly that she was staring off into hyperspace with a furrowed brow, and brought herself back to the conversation.
Tack was watching her, of course. Sitting leaned back in his captain's chair, arms crossed over his chest, a considering look on his face. "Okay, well. All that's good to know, I guess." He chewed on his lower lip a moment. "Though, I was really looking for something more like where you're from, or maybe your favorite flavor of sabbac."
Jola struggled not to roll her eyes, and hoped he was just using his 'humor as a defense mechanism' default. She scowled. "Corellia," she answered shortly. "And if you ever find out, you'll be even more broke than usual." With that reply, she turned on her heel and made to leave the bridge.
"Hey, where are you going? We were just starting to have a conversation," Tack threw after her.
"To meet this passenger you took on. I'd be remiss if I didn't make sure he didn't have plans to kill you."
Tack frowned as Jola left the cockpit without even looking back. "He should be in the common area with Zep." he muttered a few choice words about difficult hires, knowing he was talking to himself and hyperspace.