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Swimming With Svapers (Cord, Open)

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  • Swimming With Svapers (Cord, Open)

    The third time Klo-Ude nearly spaced the entire ship's crew with his forehead, he opted to stay awake for the rest of the trip. Awaking with a start from too many lucid dreams – coupled with the typical tight quarters on a chop-shop rig – resulted in a few unfriendly meetings between the top of his skull and the air recycler vent above his bunk.

    As if the sudden durasteel alarm clock wasn't enough to sour the mood of his shipmates, the constant repairs needed on the vessel put the journey a hair's breadth away from failure. While there was no outright talk of mutiny, the Jedi had spent enough time in foul company that he could see the signs: subtle, but deliberate defiance of captain's orders, a hesitation to spring to action when prompted. Even the microexpressions of the dissatisfied crew gave way to the cynicism and sinister thinking that threatened to derail his mission yet again. It was almost enough for him to blow his cover and start dealing out mind tricks like pazaak cards.

    But they were close to Chalcedon. He could sense it: a growing surety in the captain's demeanor and a wave of relief every time they successfully arrived at a nav point. But with that confidence came a growing despair, a veritable supernova of suffering radiating through the Force. Their destination was the slavery capital of the galaxy. And while nowhere near the black market heydays of the perpetual civil wars and their command of major governments' attention, Chalcedon remained busy, a self-sustaining ecosystem of misery and greed.

    And so, as the final lightspeed jump came to a halt and the blue-black marble of hyperspace settled back into the familiar canopy of stars, Klo-Ude felt one wave of relief at having survived. But now, the knots at the corners of his jaw tightened for a different reason. Too many years had been spent under the heel of people who viewed Chalcedon like a market world on the Perlemian Trade Route. This was a shopping spree for the galaxy's scummiest of scum, and here he was, about to rub elbows with them.

    At least he looked – and smelled – the part.

    The freighter touched down in a manner that only a Mandalorian would describe as “gentle”, and began offloading its stir-crazy passengers. Klo-Ude calmly, albeit hesitantly, descended the ramp, ensuring he avoided a fourth chance of a concussion on the way down.

    The first day, the smell of his chemically-treated bantha hide jacket had practically curled his mustache hairs. After a few days, the smell wore off, or at least became circumstantial to the larger problems of death, not-so-far removed on the ship. And now, as Klo-Ude's senses alerted to Chalcedon's stimuli, he barely remembered he was not dressed as a Jedi for this trip. His attempt to tuck his arms into the opposite sleeves of his robe came off stunted and awkward, a self-soothing gesture of a cooped-up passenger. Fortunately, despite him being literal head and shoulders above many of the people around him, he didn't stand out too much.

    To him, the fringe life was a distant memory, an ocean of toil and fury that had been crossed to a new horizon with the Jedi. Fortunately, Klo-Ude had not forgotten how to swim, and took to the streets with a quiet, alert confidence. His lightsaber was hung from the inside of his jacket, carefully balanced to avoid a telltale lopsided fall of his jacket. The signature weapon was ready to slide into his palm at the first sign of trouble. But, then again, on the galaxy's slavery capital, trouble was the standard, so it was best to not announce his presence and, by extension, his intent. To keep up his disreputable appearance, a standard blaster was strapped to his leg.

    His contact would be waiting at the Svaper's Pool cantina. Not the go-to watering hole for the dregs of lifeforms on the planet, but large and busy enough that two people could have a conversation about slavery that was more on the “liberation” side than the “transaction” side of the moral threshold.

    Klo-Ude was fortunate he had not forgotten how to dial down his connection to the Force. He had concealed it for so long before joining the Order, more out of self-preservation than an attempt at control. Now, he had grown accustomed to tamping it down on heavy-traffic worlds to prevent drowning in the teeming life, as well as to avoid detection by the ever-growing contingents of Force-users who wouldn't think twice about reducing the number of Jedi in the galaxy by one.

    But this place...hurt. Had he not known better, he would have believed he had accidentally activated his lightsaber and driven it through the center of his chest. The suffering, fear, and, worst of all, resignation emanating from this place caused him to tighten his core to prevent from doubling over at the waist.

    Steady, Klo-Ude. You aren't here to help them all, but you are here to help. Words of encouragement would only carry him so far. He would need a stiff drink when he got to his destination. Something just above the toxicity level of third-cycle landspeeder lubricant.

    Steeling his gaze forward, he followed the landmarks as outlined by Sideburns. First was the Chevin stall owner selling “refurbished” droid parts (scorch marks included). Hang a left. Second on the list was a VR Holovid booth for smugglers who had a particularly long layover and not enough liquidity to frequent a club. Another left. Duck under the Outer Rim Flag display, and try not to trip over the Pyke Syndicate recruitment booth (that one was hard not to tear down to hardware and sell for scrap).

    Finally, the normal crush of living things in close proximity to the Chalcedon shadowport gave way to the “real business” of the planet. The constant hum of maglock cuffs and collars threatened to have Klo-Ude grind his teeth into nubs, both from the way the hum dug into the base of his skull as well as the memories the sound triggered – and the reality of those who were living the same kind of memory now.

    As the natural illumination of the open starport gave way to the illicit neon glow of Chalcedon proper, he spied the...rather horrifying sign for the Svaper's Pool.

    How fitting, Klo-Ude mused. Choosing to meet at a place named after a creature that drowns its prey before consuming it whole. I'm sure most of the successful businesses around here share the same creative despair in their names.

    Ducking his head under the archway as a matter of course, he wound his way through the entry hallway. Weapons detectors blared their polite warning, but there were no guards at the door to check him before permitting entry. That's a good sign. The crowd inside the bar was a sufficient cross-section of fringe life: you can always anticipate a Twi'lek or seven, a Rodian arguing with a Weequay, and a quartet of inebriated Toydarians doing their best to shout over the live Bith band. About the only thing that changed was which of those species was doing what.

    Klo-Ude's instructions were clear: head to a well-lit location around the bar, order a drink, and then make for the southwest corner. His contact would be in a booth, facing the exit. And if he arrived ahead of schedule, then the roles would reverse. Typical underworld fare. No sense making things complicated and standing out like a fluorescent Hutt.

    The bartender, a Togruta, rounded the bar as he approached and snarled his question. “Ale or liquor?”

    Klo-Ude, gobsmacked at seeing a Togruta in such a place, snapped his jaw shut before responding, “Ale, please.” The bartender obliged, pouring a viscous fluid into a glass and sliding it across the bar to him. A credit chit, sufficient with tip, slid back and was snatched up with a nod.

    He didn't need to breathe to know what was in the mug. If there was one beverage that you could hear how toxic it was, it was this one. “Been a while since I've had a good boga noga,” he said, raising his glass in thanks to the Togruta. Idly checking to see if the ale was eating a hole through the bottom of the cup, he added, “If I can't get my speeder running, I may come back and pay you for the bottle.”

    The bartender, to Klo-Ude's surprise, smiled at the remark, revealing gaps where teeth once were, gaps which spoke to just how unkind the galaxy had been to him. “No better engine flush than this stuff, hey?" Jabbing a taloned finger at his glass, the bartender added, "If you're driving, you better make that your only one.” The graying pallor of the Togruta's skin was visible, even accounting for the artificial wash of the bar's neon lighting. Klo-Ude thought he had seen better color on a Togruta corpse. The bartender served as a reminder that not all tragedies are guaranteed a resolution.That was, no pun intended, a sobering thought, given his purpose here.

    Nodding his thanks once more, the Jedi took a precautionary sip of his beverage. He felt like he swallowed a blaster bolt, and had to force his tongue from the roof of his mouth before his body rolled with the instinct to eject it through the same port of entry. When, after a minute, he didn't teleport to three weeks into the future and four hops back to Takodana, he considered it safe to consume.

    Departing the bar area, he headed for the southwest corner of the cantina, as designed. He scoured the area for his contact while checking his peripherals to ensure he made it there in one piece. Only one close call along the way, nearly stumbling over a sticky-fingered Chadra-Fan who came close to pilfering his credit pouch in the confusion. A firm rebuke from Klo-Ude's free hand advised the pickpocket to ply his trade elsewhere.

    A preliminary scan of the area returned no results: Nobody was staring at him for too long, but nobody was doing everything in their power to not look at him, either. Nobody matched the basic demos of his contact's description, either. He was early, his contact was good at keeping a low profile, or he would need a better sign – or a different drink. Finding a booth that gave him sufficient visibility from the bar, as well as angles on any possible approaches, Klo-Ude settled in and waited.

  • #2
    Svaper's Pool Cantina

    Eyes had all been on but also not on the tall human who had just entered the place but it wasn’t long and those looking yet not had their attentions pulled away. A being wearing a grey robe, combat boots and red gloves entered the establishment. Though that wasn’t what was peculiar about the figure that stood a total of five foot two inches it was the masked helmet upon their face and head. The Masked helmet worn by the figure was half purple amethyst and half silver, upon it was gold rune lettering in the ancient sith language. The Lettering was all over the Helmet and mask only those who new how to read the ancient sith Language would know the runes were a list of all the sins the one wearing the mask had committed. Upon this mask a thousand and one sins.

    At the figures side’s sheathed hung two ancient swords, a well attuned force user would be able to tell they two were of sith make. The figure had other weapons but they were all well-hidden upon their person. As the figure moved forward toward the bar all eyes where on them and those that could sense the force could feel the scars of the darkside upon this one’s soul. Scars that that were so deep they could never be cleansed.

    The figures hand raised to the helmeted mask and press to switches near the ear on both sides. With a small hiss the helmet released and was removed from the head. Blonde locks fell down to the middle of the back and glowing blue eyes were revealed. The helmet an dmask were broken down into three parts and displaced inside the fold of the grey robes.The Togruta bartender upon seeing the woman’s face quickly moved to server her. Cord was known in many a criminal circle as a formidable pirate you did not mess with. Lesser known was the fact she used to be a Jedi and before that a Sith but that seemed like a million years ago at this point in her life.

    She was technically a master of the force and witch Magicks but her power seemed to be in flux as of late. Hence why she hadn’t tried to hide her presences she couldn’t rely on her force ability when one day to the next she could be flooded with massive amounts of force energy and the next day her tank would be a on completely empty. It was the concern at the top of her list to fix but first she had some unfinished business her on Chalcedon.

    Cord had been to this port many times as she had been to other hives of scum and villainy. However, this one in particular had always had her disdain. It was strange someone like her who had been on both sides of the force and who had Dathomiri blood in her had been raised to despise slavery. Her grandfather a sith lord had instilled in her slavery was a weakness that need to be rooted out and destroyed. If one could not stand or work on there own merits rather then the back of slaves, then they did not deserve to live. Basically, slavery was wrong so you should kill the slaver they do not deserver mercy or pity only death.

    She Made her way to the bar and just pointed to something on the back shelf. The Bartender grabbed the Corellian rum from the top shelf handing her the bottle and a glass. Her gloved hand grabbed the bottle and glass then turned to look for a place to sit. She scanned the place with her glowing blue eyes landing on the tall human male. She made her way to his booth sitting across from him. She sat her glass down and then pulled the cork of the bottle out with her teeth spitting it on the ground. With out saying a word to the man across from her she began to pour the rum into her glass.

    “Your drink smells like Bantha crap.” She slid the glass of rum over to him. “Drink something with a little class, I know this bar ain’t got much of that.” Took a swig of the rum straight from the bottle and let the liquid hang on her tongue for a moment before she let the smooth burn slid down the back of her throat. Though Cord herself would probably drink turpentine if would get her drunk, she really wasn’t that picky when it came to booze. Though the wine on Ruusan was really good and that place had better looking women that was for sure.

    “Your looking and waiting for someone, it’s written all over your face. It draws more suspicion to you then the fact your really tall.” Cord just took another swig off the rum bottle and gave a slight smile. “I will give you props though your saber is well hidden, I doubt any of these Kung noticed it.” Cord herself probably wouldn’t have noticed but she was a trained Jedi Investigator, taught to read body language among other things. The way the man sat was it was clear he was shifting his weight and position ever so slightly so he wouldn’t reveal his weapon from where it was concealed.

    *Kung Huttesse for scum.


    • #3
      How will I know when I have the right person?”

      Trust me. You''ll know. Trust me, Klo, you'll be able to spot 'em faster 'n a hungry mynock can spot a live wire. Got a...reputation that precedes 'em.”

      You know, Sideburns, sometimes I miss your company.”

      Klo-Ude didn't have to wait long for his contact. That was fortunate, because it was becoming increasingly more difficult to nurse his drink convincingly. He would have tossed it, but didn't want to be on the hook for resurfacing the duracrete around the booth.

      His contact carried himself with poise and focus. He was clearly a Point A to Point B mindset. No doubt there would be little nonsense hiding behind that...extravagant helmet. Klo-Ude caught himself putting too keen a lock on the new arrival, and afforded a moment to scan the cantina for any additional persons expressing interest in his contact.

      What surprised him was the momentary spike in curiosity from many of the men in the bar. That interest seemed to have a very short half-life, as the curiosity gave way to alarm rather quickly, and suddenly the craftsmanship of the cantina's furniture was of primary curiosity for everyone. One cobalt-blue eye squinted in mild bewilderment at the lopsided response, then both turned back to the entrance just long enough to catch the last whip of his grey robe-

      No. Her grey robe. One dark brow arched in curiosity as his gaze caught up with the woman's purposeful stride. She was at the bar and was greeted with the respect of...not a regular, but of someone well-known. No dialogue, cordial or terse, and she was given what she requested. She turned towards the southwest corner and Klo-Ude could feel her ice-blue gaze sweep the area before settling on him.

      As she approached, the Jedi felt a force – no, the Force – preceding her, almost pushing him back in the booth, every step she took increasing the intensity. Though Klo-Ude had drawn down his presence in the Force, she was practically beating him over the head with hers. But it did not feel to be an intentional choice for her to do so. Something felt...not wrong, but...untethered. A rancor having broken its restraints. A furious pulsar of dark energy, but again not a directed dark energy. Echoes, scars...pain?

      You're not here to save anyone, he mused. Besides, based on how everyone looked at her here, you're definitely the underdog in a fight with her.

      Just as he drew back in his seat to put some distance between himself and the approaching supernova, it dissipated, almost disappearing completely. Klo-Ude sabacc-faced his surprise, and was grateful when she invited herself to sit across from him, allowing him to focus on the present, the here and now. No doubt there would be time to probe later.

      For now, introductions.

      Hers was, to his standards, genuinely charming. The tap-tap-taptap of the cork skittering across the cantina floor tugged the corner of his mouth into a smirk, dark beard half-hiding the dimple beneath. He lifted a hand, stopping the offered glass with his fingertips before it could take up residence in his lap.

      “Well, when you're on a freighter for a week with no running water and Clone Wars-era ventilation, you tend to get a little nose-blind.” His voice carried a Coruscanti brogue, but practically spat in the face of the majesty that often went in tandem with it. Those who knew him often described it as “getting a Coruscanti accent drunk and then dragging it over a krayt dragon's backside”. He had moderated it from his days in the mines, but his voice had a home deep in his chest. “Seems like the class came in with you.” He chimed, raising the glass to his lips and extending his index finger to her as he spoke. The rum was welcomed like water after the ale, and he downed the glass in one take.

      “What can I say? It's hard to blend in when you can see over everyone.” Klo-Ude made a motion to take another swig from his ale, but the rum had spoiled the glass. Nose wrinkled in aversion, Klo-Ude dismissed the glass to the table behind them, careful not to bore a hole through the woodwork with an errant spill.

      The stretch confirmed her assumptions as to the location of his lightsaber. No sense dancing around the point with this one. She's no fool. Settling back in with a long exhale, he gestured to her own choice of weaponry. “I would counter that you were one to talk about choice of martial subtlety, but I don't think a single person in here noticed those swords at your sides.” He slid the empty rum glass back across the table to her. “They were too busy gawping at you. So. Famous around these parts?”