The Package (Remy Ardennes and Aayahpoy’shiri – SWTOR)
OOC Note: This was a forum RP written with the player of Remy Ardennes. It has been reposted with his permission.
She threaded the sabacc card between her fingers as she leaned against the hull of her freighter. There was the familiar bustle of the Nar Shadaa docks around her, druids and people milling about. Ships departing and arriving. The acrid scent of fuel an generalized pollution gave her a look of annoyance. She swung her right leg to cross over her left ankle and sighed before her voice lifted in a quiet song to ease her boredom. Her voice rose and fell with each word as she tried to capture the beauty of the old Twi’lek hymn, her eyes darting around the docks trying to seek out the man she had been sent to meet. Poy was never happy when her contractors gave her information that was at best vague. The Twi’lek had been told to seek out a human male at the far upper docks of the Smuggler’s Moon, he would know to be seeking a Tolian Twi’lek by the name of Poy. She took the job for the credits, she needed to regain the ten thousand that she had spent on her own freedom or else it would be a short lived freedom.
She tucked the card into her side satchel with the rest of the deck and crossed her arms just under her breasts. Her nails idly drumming at her bare, tattooed arms. “Any day now, peedunky.”
Remieyr Ardennes stepped off his ship slowly. Surveyed the upper docks slowly. Walked toward a bench slowly and sat, moving with as much flow as he could muster, willing with each controlled movement that this transaction would work out with as much ease as he was using to get around. He was not well-liked at the moment — he was pretty sure his name could be heard in every little bounty office in the galaxy — and all he needed was a couple more credits to keep his life on track. Smooth is hard to notice, and Remieyr could be the epitome of smooth when he tried. And, fortunately, nobody seemed to notice his ship, his cargo, or his person in the least.
Success. Well, sort of. There was the small issue of remaining noticeable by the right people.
Now he just had to notice someone he’d been told almost nothing about. Some Twi’lek stiff named Poy. In his travels, he’d learned a lot, but when it comes to Twi’leks, he didn’t have much in the way of experience. Keeping an open mind, he kind of hoped his client had given this “Poy” enough to go on to recognize him as well. He gathered his notes on the shipment: three crates of unknown content destined for Correlia by way of Nar Shadaa. Routine transfer. Twi’lek named Poy. A Tolian, whatever that meant. He glanced around. Among the bustle of hundreds of species, most of whom on their way to less-than-legal dealings, there was no sign of anyone looking for anyone else. He sighed. Time to walk again.
Checking back to his freighter, mentally marking what dock he’d set down at, he began walking further up the strip, hopefully running into a ship, or even better, finding his lost colleague running into him. After a few moments without any such luck, he decided to shift gears, but he’d have to do it carefully. The fastest way to die at docks like these is to ask too many questions too fast and too personally, so step one would be getting to know a Twi’lek well enough to ask what in the galaxy a “Tolian” might look like and go from there.
He noticed blue ones and brown ones and green ones and pale ones and, of all of them, never once spotted one willing to make eye contact. Even though Twi’lek/human relations weren’t really his strong suit, he knew he would know a Twi’lek looking for him when he saw him, but no such Twi’lek could be found. Before long, he’d walked a click or two up the docks and there, standing near a freighter, was what looked to be a Twi’lek slave. A ship-hand probably, and by the sound of her voice as she sang he figured she was one focused more on entertaining a crew than performing any real work. But that meant she’d be great for basic information if she spoke basic. Probably a good listener, too. The tattoos were a little worrying, but he decided to look past the obvious and hope for the best, begging the universe to throw him a bone. With no slaver in sight, he decided she must have been helping to watch the ship, and though he couldn’t tell whether the ship’s owner would be back soon, he just hoped she didn’t recognize him for the reasons any bounty hunters might.
He approached the ship slowly, trying for the first time since he landed to get someone’s attention, and did what he could to make himself as un-frightening as possible. Smiling softly and opening his body language as much as he could, he approached as far as the dock would take him without threatening the space of her freighter and spoke as one might speak to a child who had lost their mother in a store, “Hey there, I’m Remy. Speak basic?”
She had seen him approach, watching as he moved with enough caution to attempt not being noticed. Such slow movements to hide himself from any radar would put him onto every radar in the area. It was the basic knowledge of Nar Shaddaa, everyone here was wanted for something and the easiest way to blend in was to act as if you belonged, merge with the bustle of the city. One of her tattooed eyebrows quircked upwards as he spoke to her, his tone patronizing. Could she speak basic. Poy almost scoffed.
Instead the Twi’lek pushed herself off the hull of her ship and dropped her hands to the hilts of her blasters, slung low over her hips. “Not a word of it.” She replied to him, in basic. “What is it you’re looking for, Ish?” The latter Ryl word was tagged on to denote she was speaking to a man. Or to exemplify she spoke more than basic.
He sighed imperceptibly. Well, almost imperceptibly. It was about as difficult for anyone else to spot as it was for him to spot those guns. Granted, they were slung low and he might have been just a little distracted by the general — he might say cuteness if “cute” would have ever fit with those piercings and tattoos — pleasant aesthetics of the Twi’lek female’s face. But, son of a whore, he thought. Not being one to overlook things on a regular basis, he still would’ve put palm to forehead if he had the chance.
He didn’t, however, as composure was quite key for the moment. The way she stood, the way she moved, the way her eyes appeared intense yet still not quite hostile, all showed she had seen things around the galaxy he could only guess at. He wasn’t green in the least, but he estimated she’d spent at least as much time in trouble as he had. And that could mean only one thing: more trouble. Perfect.
He scrounged up a chuckle and went on smiling: “Well I’ll be damned.” The change of color in his voice was noticeable. Now that she made eye contact and he recognized the touch of chill in her gaze, he spoke with a fair bit more composure and with a lot more respect. He just hoped she noticed. He placed his hands closer to his blasters in case she didn’t. “What am I looking for? Overall, a little bit of cash and something to keep my interest. Right now, I’m just looking for a friend of mine.”
A sly smirk.
She flicked her tongue against the two silver rings piercing her lip and kicked a heel forward before rolling up onto the tips of her toes. Her hands slipped from the hilts of her blasters for her thumbs to hook over the buckle of her utility belt. Aayahpoy’shiri found herself amused by his change of tone. Sarcasm, the language of smugglers. The Tolian had always appreciated what a smirk, a wink and a quick tongue could her in this business. “Things could get interesting if you find your friend. They got a name, muchi?”
She rolled back so that her boots were now flat on the deck, her head canting curiously as she begin to stalk slowly around him. His coat was well-worn, she was willing to presume it was his trademark and a testament to his experiences. The heels of Poy’s boots came together with a thud as she stopped beside him. Stubble. Either he’d been running or he was one of the sterotypical spicer runners that believed it made them look dangerous. Or both…
She’d know soon enough.
He laughed. “Not nearly as creative a name as these you keep throwing my direction.” He didn’t want to jump right in to the conversation – information never gets shows itself when it seems like you’re looking too hard – so he thought he’d better take a second, figure out whether she might be worth a source for a job or two, then move on with his business. The one he was supposed to meet wasn’t showing his face, and this one’s face was quite sweet enough to make his time worthwhile. The guy would understand – what self-respecting Twi’lek wouldn’t be able to appreciate taking time to take in such a sight for sore eyes?
His tone was calm. Friendly, but not too friendly. “Look, this isn’t my first time around these docks and it’s not often you see a Twi’lek female of your…” choosing his words with care, but not carefully enough to seem too hesitant, “…stature. I’m looking for another Twi’lek. I gotta say, though, I’m not sure how…” again, treading carefully, “…popular he might be among your people. I don’t wanna say anything that might get him noticed, you understand?” He smirked, noting her careful gaze, “but something in the way you’re eyeing me tells me you know exactly what I mean.” At worst, if he gave too much information, she’d be the one hunting his contact. At best, she’d lead him right where he needed to go. Regardless, first there had to be a little bit of trust. So he asked the plain and simple, yet very loaded question: “So what do you do?”
Aayahpoy’shiri canted her head and spun on her heel, clicking her boots together with a light thud as she stood in front of him once more. Her wry smirk evolved into bemused smile upon noticing the way his words evolved again; the way his eyes moved over her. “You should brush up on your Huttese as well as your Ryl.” She took a step back, crossing her arms loosely across her chest, just under her breasts. “I could help you with that, if you wished. I speak both languages fluently.”
She had already surmised by the caution in his tone that he wasn’t a spice runner, there was too little of his ego in the words he chose to use, wanted yes. She understood the caution, it would be surprising if he didn’t have a bounty on his head. She sympathized, but you weren’t a real smuggler unless you had pissed a few people off. “I’m a transport pilot just looking to fill my hold.” She answered with a vague truth, also wondering if she might be pulling another contract on this milk run.
What she said was “transport pilot.” But because of the innocence-silencing din of ships full of illegal cargo and the bustle of less-than-savory individuals, what he heard was “smuggler.” It was in that thought that some relay deep in his mind registered a memory. A close memory, for certain, but a memory nonetheless. Something was odd here, or maybe just too familiar, but it wasn’t deja vu. No, it was something real. Something — Oh hell.
For the moment, he continued his trademark smile as he had before, maintaining composure as much as he could. In all that time he spent trying not to be noticed, he forgot all about the balance he’d tried so hard to build in the past. It had been too long since his last mission. He’d gotten sloppy. He’d made a huge mistake. He knew he’d have to make up for it soon, but until his hand was called, there was a chance he could salvage it without folding and maybe even come out on top. Once more, he’d have to level, but this time, fully. Thinking quick, he came up with a way to let slip a hint of his life beyond the charade he’d been trying to pull. It was time to put his form back together – sink or swim. “You know, ironically, it’s always easier to explain when things go wrong if you don’t speak the language of your” (continuing with as subtle an emphasis as he could) “employers, know what I mean? Doesn’t mean I couldn’t use the help with listening comprehension.”
The question, normally rhetorical, was completely serious – her response would show him the way forward. That last statement, however – just a Remieyrian self-deprecating jab at his own apparent refusal to learn from his experience. He just hoped fate – and this Twi’lek – would go easy on him this time.
He had fucked up.
He could’ve played it off, lowered her opinion of him. Rather, he let her in to something. Her thumb brushed over her comm unit as her mind toyed with the idea of reporting him. On Nar Shaddaa there had to be at least one bounty hunter who would cut her in on the profit. Poy had a few contacts; contacts that wouldn’t toy with taking her in as well. Her eyes drifted to the ramp of her freighter and she nodded towards it before turning on her heel. Most Twi’lek’s tended to walk with a dancer’s sway, Aayahpoy’shiri had a swagger. Her hips rolled, back straight; confidence despite turning her back on the human.
Her lekku slipped over her shoulder when she paused to look back, “Only one set of eyes inside.”
A sidelong smile.
She ducked under a overhang and disappeared within the hull of her ship.
Remieyr took pause at her response to his question. He hadn’t expected her to hear him so loud and clear. Mentally breaking down the situation as slowly as he could afford without seeming slow, he didn’t think she’d caught on to him just yet. For just a moment, the fear of going down because of a bad call had run quick through his mind, but her invitation into the ship settled his nerves. Since inviting a strange, armed man into your ship takes some kind of sheer stupidity – and this Twi’lek was no idiot – the original panic subsided and was replaced with a strange equanimity.
He ran his fingers back through his hair, parting his shaggy mane for a second before it fell back on his forehead. Matching her body language, straightening himself up, he strolled behind her. With as much charm and warmth as he could muster, while her back was still turned, he softly set his last loaded question into the already tension-thick air: “So, I gotta ask, what exactly is a Tolian?”
She smiled to herself partially upon hearing the low tone of his boots hitting the grated floor of her ship and turned on what looked to be a kettle before letting herself fall into a rather plush looking couch within the galley of the freighter. Poy kicked her feet up and leaned forward to grab a death stick and a lighter that sat next to her boot on the small table in front of it. Her turquoise eyes maintained a steady and cautious though far warmer gaze on the human as he entered. “Twi’lek’s of the sun. It’s said that when Kikka’lekki, our Goddess, gave birth to the universe that she cried five tears. Those tears were the five clans; Darians, Tolians, Tyrians, Tukians and Rutians. The Tolians gave their worship to Kikka’lekki thrugh their mastery of fire and so she set them apart with the colour of their skin.”
Poy offered a coy smirk as she lit the death stick and took a slow drag. The galley of the ship was pretty bare save the makeshift kitchen that seemed to be set up on a variety of cargo bins and the couch that she sat upon now. There was hints that it was perhaps better set up as a home by sounds emanating from the other areas. The clattering of beads, a weak scent of incense. Slowly she leaned back against the couch and rested her hand on the hilt of her blaster once more, Poy had told him everything he needed to know. Now, she was playing with his mettle.
You never find what you’re looking for until you’ve stopped searching. It was a lesson he knew well, but apparently had a little trouble taking to heart. He looked around the galley she had lead him into, noticing the air of comfort in her countenance and the familiarity in her movements as she plopped into the seat. This really was her ship. Her home. Maybe it was the only home she had. Judging by her strange position as a female Twi’lek pilot, it was possibly the only home she’d ever had.
His thoughts turned back to their situation as he leaned against a wall, toying with the minute evidence of dust under his fingernails, gauging her responses. This was a female, ship-owning, experienced and at-least-semi-educated Twi’lek with lekku covered in tattoos who wasn’t an obvious religious nutjob and who didn’t turn him away when he gave out his casual association with the Hutts and whose eyes possessed a warm air of pride about the Tolian ancestry. Yeah, they were hardly a dime a dozen. He felt a little stupid now. And kind of wished she would keep her hands off her blasters. But emboldened by the evidence of his first good call all day, he decided he’d spent enough time slowing things down to find his bearings. It was time to throw time back in gear at whatever cost.
Though it wasn’t over yet, his lips formed a very slight smile, half bemused at himself and the other half kind of pleased with the way things had turned out. He raised his head slowly, an eyebrow cocked slyly as he made eye contact, and spoke. “So, Poy, a drink and a snack sound absolutely delightful, but we should probably take care of our hand-off soon before our employers catch wind that we took a paid lunch to get to know each other first.”
Once again she pursed her lips to hide her amusement, he had played his hand well. Her hand slipped from her blaster and came to rest on her bare stomach so that he could see she wasn’t reaching for anything. She was impressed with this one, it had been awhile since she didn’t have to deal with the regular sleemo’s she often found in her line of work. “The tea is for me, I don’t think you’ll appreciate the fungus that it’s made from.” The smuggler took another drag from her death stick, taking her time to exhale. She was quite amused by just watching him, she wondered if he felt like an idiot and debated allowing him to know that he had piqued her interest.
“You’ll make sure the cargo is delivered to my hull in no longer than fifteen minutes from now and you’ll go about your way.” She paused to hop up and walk to the crate that the kettle sat atop of. With a motion of quick grace she leaned down and picked up a cup from an empty bin, eyeing the inside of it carefully before blowing it out and picking out a small ball of what looked to be a dried fungus from a wooden box next to the crate. She tossed it into the cup before filling it with the hot water. “I however, am not done with you.” She smiled, turning to face him again. “And the look on your face tells me you’ve got a few more questions for me, you’re free to ask after I get your name and the reason you’re walking around the hanger with enough ‘caution’ to pinpoint you as a marked man.”
She crossed the galley while her fungus steeped to stand before the man, her hand upturned and held out to him as she offered him her death stick.
Shifting his weight to lean forward from the wall slightly, Remieyr broke a smile. “You noticed that, huh?” In bemused frustration with himself, he tightened his eyes and shook his head slightly, brushing his cheek with one hand as he politely turned down the offer of the death stick with his other. “Let’s just say I’ve been out of work a little while. A job went bad and I kind of had to figure my life out again, so I guess my rookie mistake caught up to me. Cof’s Rule Number 1: ‘Keep it cool.'” The first time he’d thought of his mentor in a while, it brought him a little warmth, he’d have to remember to do that more often. It obviously would have done him good to keep him in mind earlier. “It’s not that I don’t know what I’m doing, it’s that getting back into it has me a little off point. You should’ve been there when I tried to land a while ago.” He laughed, “the dock guys were being too evasive and wouldn’t cut me any breaks, so I almost just told ’em the hutts themselves would be coming if they didn’t let me land. Finally got my ship set down, but, shit, you’d think they’d ask fewer questions.”
He opened his hands in a friendly gesture, “I want to apologize for my introduction back there. My name is Remieyr Ardennes – ‘Remy’s’ just easier to scream in a gunfight — and a few other contexts.” Glossing over that last part quickly, he smiled a slight inward smile as he continued naturally, “I’m from Coruscant, sort of, and I’m also just a transport pilot looking for a little work. Right now, I’m on this job and hoping I might pick up another while I’m here. I could use the credits, but at the moment, I’m just happy you didn’t shoot me over my first impression.”
He leaned back again, feeling the freighter bring the flow of what his life used to be come back for the first time in months. With it came an old, familiar comfort. Poy was good company, easy on the eyes, and a slick thinker. He hoped she might stick around a little longer than fifteen minutes. He smiled, leaning back against the galley wall, “now, how about sharing a little about yourself?”
She grinned, setting the death stick between her lips once more to take another drag. “I notice a lot of things. It’s a good way of keeping me out of the hands of slavers.” Slowly, she turned and motioned to a durasteel slave collar hanging from the hull just above where she kept the kettle. “It’s something I’d prefer to never return to.”
A quick flick of her fingers and the death stick landed in a small metal urn beside a crate to the left of Remy and turned on her heels to retrieve her cup of tea. It had a pungent scent and looked to be rather thick in consistency. Poy blew lightly at the surface, before taking a drink. She allowed her eyes to leave him momentarily. “A few tips, nothing is worth your life. You should’ve asked me about the Tolian right off, though the verbal discourse was tantalizing. Two, never threaten. It draws more eyes onto you. Three, never follow someone into their ship without knowing what is waiting for you inside.” At this last statement she offered a wink, “Not that I’m complaining.” She had caught what was said between the lines and leaned back naturally against the crates, both of her hands curled around the warm cup.
“I was born on Ryloth and due to my own poor decision making skills I failed to become a Kiva. Sold into slavery, got sick of being a companion to an old man who refused to realize that credits couldn’t buy him love so, I stole his ship and my freedom. Lucky for me, he’s a cheap bastard. My bounty isn’t worth the trouble I cause to any who chase after it.”
A coy smirk before she took another drink, the regard of her turquoise gaze returning to him, “If you don’t find another job here on Nar Shaddaa, what is it you’ll do, Remy?”
He leaned back again, feeling the flow of life come back to him for the first time in months. In it, he felt a certain comfort. Poy was good company, easy on the eyes, and a slick thinker. Noticing the collar and the way she referenced it, however, he was certain there was far more to her than the average smuggler. But now that he thought about it, he couldn’t remember one “average smuggler” that didn’t have a whole lot more in his or her past than they’d like to admit. Hell, that was why the average smuggler became a smuggler – a history to run so far from that they didn’t care what future they were running to. He watched her take her tea and listened intently to what she had to say. He wasn’t sure how to respond yet, but just pieced his own notes together as he listened.
Once she’d finished, he smiled and nodded in understanding, taking great care to meet her eyes and speak as openly as he could,”Look, I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but death waits for us all. Why run if the chances are low? Especially if it’s got a face like yours,” he laughed at himself a little, considering the thought that flowed from that – “and typically, the faces of death do tend to be the most attractive, don’t they?” He continued, but this time far more seriously, “The truth is that there are things that I know to be worth my life and far more, but those things are few and far between and you seem to be so fresh into freedom that you wouldn’t know what’s worth dying for if you watched it float away after accidentally spacing itself in your own ship. That’s a belief thing, though, and it simply isn’t worth really arguing over. Two – I gotta say, if I mean to threaten you, you’ll know I’m threatening you. The way you look at me, I doubt I’ll ever have to. Anything you might’ve picked up as a threat was only me being me, and like I said, sometimes, death’s worth a little bit of personal integrity. Three – look at me,” he laughed as he looked down, gesturing to his clothing, his coat set over his plain white shirt and brown pants, gesturing subtly to the faint scars on the inside of his left forearm, “I’ve been in more strange ships than you can shake a Correlian death stick at. I’ve had no choices. In the lives I’ve lived, if you take too long to consider what might be waiting inside, you never get off your damn planet. Sometimes, risks turn out to be rewards in themselves and, trust me, when you walk as willingly as I have into a ship’s hold where everyone else has red-bladed sabers, the rest of the galaxy starts to look a lot more friendly. No offense meant, but I’ve been caught off-guard by things a lot uglier than you.”
He laughed as he thought to himself. Life was short enough and he’d lived a good one – in all honesty, if he had a chance, he might appreciate the fireworks if he blew a ship to bits from within, even if it was the last he’d ever see. Regardless, even though she may have been a little touchy with her blasters, he felt she had never posed a real threat to him – something within him had confirmed that the first time her eyes had met his own. She might’ve called in his bounty, but he would’ve had time to run. Or fight. But this ship posed no danger. He felt it was far too much her sanctuary for that. He called it a hunch, but deep inside, he knew it wasn’t just a hunch.
Carefully considering his next, he spoke softly, “I want to say I’m sorry to hear about what’s happened on your side, but I’m not gonna say I’m sorry for you. You seem to be a hell of a lot smarter than anyone who would ever need my pity, so I’ll skip it and just say that I hope everything works out for you.” He perked up a little, standing straight, watching her as she took it all in, “And I gotta say, I don’t know damn near enough about my future to tell you what I’ll do if I can’t find another job around here, but I imagine I’ll spend a little bit of time living out of my freighter while I hit the cantinas here to try to figure that out. I’ve got enough money to cover the drinks till I do. But now that I’ve run my mouth damn near too much, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to head back to my ship, throw the repulsor lifts onto those crates I’ve been lugging around and be back here in a second.” His friendly demeanor had returned fully as he calmly asked”That sound agreeable?”
She reached behind her to set down her cup of tea, watching him intently; carefully. Thousands of words collected in her mind, hundreds of actions that she could’ve and probably should’ve made. All of which failed her, she failed herself. Instead, she smiled. A genuine smile that truly made the mellow golden yellow hue of her skin glow, “Yeah.” She said rather quietly and reached into one of her side pockets for the sabbacc card she had toyed with earlier and began to thread it between her fingers once more, her exterior having been pierced so thoroughly.
“Be quick about it, I’d like to see a conclusion to this business.”
He smiled, nodded, and stepped out of the ship. He knew nothing about her, but something in the way their meeting had worked out told him it wouldn’t be the last time they’d meet. Getting back to his ship, he had to nearly kick a few street urchins out of the way to get onto his dock, but he finally managed to get in and get out with the crates in tow. He only wished he had a droid he could’ve called to bring them along. He thought on it and decided that would be a stipulation in his next contract – a ship butler. He imagined the steel formalwear he’d put it in, chuckled, and pushed the image out of his mind so he could pay attention to the walk back.
As he neared her ship again, he hoped she was waiting for him outside. He already had managed to look enough of a fool that day – he hardly needed to be seen knocking on the hull to get her back out there. It had been a weird day. Luckily, he saw that she was.
He dragged the crates back around to the entryway so she could take the cargo from there, but decided to take his chances on getting to know her a little better before she left for her next drop. “Hey,” he started, “I appreciate you keeping an eye out for me, both actually being here when you were scheduled and trying to help out.” He turned on the charm, “Any chance I could buy you a drink to express that appreciation? I’m not really one to try to make friends in a place like this, but if you wouldn’t mind the drink, I wouldn’t mind the conversation. If not, at least leave me with a little something to tide me over – a lead or even just a name to look for would be perfect.” He knew that asking for a lead would be like asking for a tip, but in their line, work comes and goes and when it rains, it pours. He hoped at the very least, he could pick up a little bit of the rain she’d never have been able to catch anyway, and with any luck, if she did give him a name, she wouldn’t give him the name of anyone that would pay to take his.
She watched as he departed from her freighter, taking a deep breath once she heard his boots leave the ramp. Her body relaxed and she slouched against the crates behind her as her mind raced through what had just occurred. Aayahpoy’shiri reached up and rubbed her forehead slowly. He had let her in and she had returned the favour, or the curse. It was never wise to become unguarded with others in their trade. On Nar Shaddaa in general. What had she been thinking?
The way he danced with her, and she didn’t doubt that he had indeed danced with her albeit verbally. How he looked upon her, his gaze appreciative and respectful, not something she had seen very often. Most males, regardless of species looked at her as a possession, something they wished to own and use for their own needs. The twi’lek shook her head and pushed herself from the crates to casually make her way through the corridors of the freighter to her small quarters.
Poy’s quarters were a mess. Disarray was a kind term for them. Her clothing and weapons scattered everywhere, hanging from the hull, covering her bed. Datadisks and holovids were cluttering the floor, empty cups, empty take out containers, hydrospanners and broken holorecorders. She pushed a towel off a mirror that hung towards the back of the compartment and for the first time in days actually took a moment to look over her appearance. She looked like she belonged here.
Quickly she darted out of her freighter having almost lost track of time making sure that she looked… Poy had just stopped at the edge of the ramp when she saw Remy approached and paused, taking another deep breath. Had she just checked to see if she looked alright? She blinked at her own actions and took yet another deep breath to keep a nervous smile from her lips. Don’t get excited. She told herself.
And then he spoke.
She pursed her lips slightly to hide the joy of her smile and reveal only the mischievous nature of it. “For a drink with you, I’ll do you one better.”
She pushed the crates up the ramp and entered in a code to lock down her ship. She hopped down from the ramp as it began to retract.“For a drink, I’ll see if I can’t pique your interest and land some credits in your pocket.”
Finished loading the crates, he smiled slyly as he heard her response. “Deal.” His interest had already been piqued. The credits were icing on the cake.
Leaning forward slightly, the tail of his coat swept forward gently as he gave a mock formal bow, gesturing with one had toward the streets in front of the dock. He spoke quietly, “This is my first trip to Nar Shadaa, so if you’re more familiar, I’ll ask you to lead.”Preferably somewhere nice,” he grinned, “with a fountain and flowers on the table. But if you’re not sure where the smuggler’s moon keeps their five-star dining establishments, I’d be happy to walk beside you and we’ll just find a quaint little dive bar together.”
She laughed, her lekku writhing across her back with what seemed to be the same amusement. “No wonder you were sticking out like a sore thumb, pateesa.” She waited for him to stand again before ducking beneath one of his arms and pulling it around his shoulders.”I’m not trying…” She paused looking up at him, “I’m really not trying to give a wrong impression, just the right one. It looks better for you if you have a Twi’lek on your arm and not walking beside you.” Her arm rested at his waist and she guided them through the bustle of Nar Shadaa. “Luckly, we’re on the upper level, so we don’t have to worry about our backs too much. Alot of the people here are either smugglers or gamblers. Five star is going to be up at the very top, we won’t be welcome. Dive bars….” She looked up at him again, a wry grin tugging at ler lips. “That I can do.”
He grinned and walked with his head high. “I understand.” He followed her lead well and strolled with severe confidence, just another man with nothing to lose and a girl on his arm in these streets. One of the many, so even though she would’ve drawn looks anyway, nobody noticed him in the least. It had been a very long time since he’d escorted a female like this. Granted, the last was — quite different from this one, to say the least — but that different sensation was fascinating. It was not hard not to analyze the situation, but still, he kept his wits together and would manage to keep the confidence into the back or corner of whatever bar she might lead them into.
“How long ago did you come into the trade if this is your first time on Nar Shaddaa.” She asked, smiling up at him. To any watching them she would seem the adoring girl, and from the expression on her face it wasn’t too far off from the truth. He had impressed her, a feat that wasn’t easy regardless of gender or species. Her fingers would press against his waist to guide him through the crowds so it at least looked like he was the one navigating the pair through the city structure.
“The trade.” The words escaped his lips, and the nostalgia made his heart light. His hand wrapped around Poy’s waist, he tightened his grip ever so slightly, suddenly filled with memories of where he started. Cof Riman. It had all begun with Cof.
“I don’t really know how long it’s been, my first job was a few years back. I’d just gotten out of University and didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I screwed up my first drop, but managed to save myself from the wrath of a pissed off gangster by promising a little bit of free work. When I’d finished the transaction, one of his more experienced guys said he’d been so entertained by the inexperience I showed that he helped me get my bearings in exchange. Since then, I’ve been in and out. It’s not so much a trade for me as it is a way to keep my head above water when it comes to debt. I don’t have much of it, but I still need all the credits I can get. What I live to do, however… well,” he laughed, “you’re just gonna have to stick around a little longer to get me to divulge that bit of information.”
They continued through the streets, memories flooding his mind’s eye. He was glad she was leading – it gave him a second to piece together what he might tell her. And what he might hold back. “How about you? Where’d you get your break?”
She lead them around a corner, the throughway was less crowded and dimly lit. Lifts to the lower levels of the planet lined one side a sign above each informing that caution be excersised. “There’s a tradition on Ryloth called vassij’ra, it’s when the eldest daughter is sold into slavery to secure the future of the family. When I was turned out of the temple, my Misha gave me to vassija’ra, my buyer…” She paused and lead them through a small alleyway. “Was an Arms Dealer, this was his business and in the years that I was his ‘property’ I picked up what I could.”
Back onto a main street. Poy blinked a few times at the change of light, “When I took off I didn’t know where to go or what to do, I had a ship and I knew I had to keep moving. Luckily enough for me, the arms dealer didn’t have too many friends even amoung his clients. A few of them tossed me a couple odd jobs and began to make a name for myself.” Her hand slipped from his and she turned to face him, backing up against a wall next to the durasteel door of what was obviously a dive bar. The Hyperdrive, is what the sign above the door read.
Remieyr smiled softly as he listened to her story and nodded in understanding. Paying close attention to her story, he tried to pick up the words’ meanings in context rather than attempt to ask. For now, it would certainly be enough to comprehend. There was other business to discuss and the opportunity to talk at length about Twi’lek culture would probably come later.
They entered the bar and as he looked over the patrons without seeming nosy, he managed to turn his cheerful grin into a sly smirk. The Hyperdrive. What sophistication. He leaned into her ear and whispered, “Well, I think we have certainly outclassed ourselves this time,”he nodded almost imperceptibly toward a scantily clad female near the bar, and with a mock air of posh formality, he smiled, “dahling, Ido feel underdressed.”
Now that they were in closer quarters, he felt comfortable taking a little more control, so he began his own lead. He approached the bar with her slowly, and knowing that ordering as though there was much choice on the menu wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference, he simply nodded to the barman and held up two fingers. Counting enough credits to cover the drinks and a tip with his free hand, he scooped up the glasses of whatever by the handles in his other. He gestured her toward a booth near the wall positioned well so that he could keep easy eyes on the clientele, but which also gave her the chance to do the same.
Sitting down, he placed the mugs on the table, and after a quick swill of whatever pungent majesty the barman had put in the glass, asked “So what’ve you got in mind?”
Aayahpoy’shiri felt rather comfortable as she slipped into the booth next to Remy but with enough space between them that she could study his expressions as well as pick up on any unwanted interest they may draw. Always prepared and always on her toes.”Overdressed you might be, but it’s a fine sight to these eyes.” She raised her glass and offered a playful wink before she took a drink. Corellian Ale, how typical. Her nose twitched at this.
“What’s on my mind depends on you. I’d be giving you a bit of information, I don’t mind taking the risk. But first…” She leaned forward, resting her chin in her hand, her elbow planted against the table and her regard clearly focused on him, “What is it you truly live for, pateesa? You dangled the statement in front of me like bait and my curiousity has me taking such bait much to my own chagrin.”
He couldn’t help the grin this time. Leaning back, throwing an arm on the back of the booth toward her in a slow arcing movement, he had to wonder whether he was flirting. It had been a very long time since he had been in the company of a woman he wasn’t trying to con, steal from, or kill, but for the moment, he still wasn’t entirely sure she wasn’t looking to do one of the same to him. Regardless, life was too short to refuse good company – even if fake – and sometimes, the best ends come out of the most suspect means.
“You just love answering questions with more questions, don’t you?” He chuckled, looking her face over for the slightest reason not to trust her. He found none, but he would still tread lightly. “Nobody’s born into this, you know? You had your history far from these docks and so did I.” He sighed, stroking his cheek gently with the back of his hand, “My father was a physician, so I was raised at meetings in restaurants not at all unlike the ones we’d never get into on the upper levels here. My education was prioritized even before I had a choice, and now, I keep it that way because I like it.” He was baring his soul a little – something he wasn’t afraid to do, but when it came to what could be called ‘friends’ in the business, some are so distant from their own souls that they fear even thinking anyone else might have one. He leaned forward slightly, lowering his voice, meeting her eyes as carefully as he could. “Alright, look, what I do and who I am are two completely different things. Except when it comes to certain bits of knowledge. I’m a chaser when it comes to the deeper things in life. My main focus is” he couldn’t believe he was saying this to another person, “the Force. I’m not a sensitive or however you know them, but I’ve had my share of trials that got me wondering whether I was being guided by something bigger. I study what I can find and most of my credits go to finding more.”
He exhaled the rest of that breath rapidly, smiling softly and shaking his head in disbelief. He leaned back, again stretching his arm over the back of the booth. He spoke warmly, “That work for you?”
She chewed on the edge of her lower lip, toying a bit with the two silver rings that adorned it as she listened to him. It wasn’t unusual to find people who were interested in the Force or in studying those who used it, the Jedi had been beacons of hope and in her past experiences with the temple, often revered as something akin to saints. She took another drink before setting the cup down and letting her arm slip from the table as she leaned back into the booth and against his arm. “And you keep making such statements that beg for more questions. I’m a curious creature working in a business where curiousity is frowned upon, it can get you killed.”
Poy paused, watching him a moment. A wry grin sneaked into her expression, “You’re at least pretending to offer me a hand of trust in what you tell me so, yes, that works for me. You’re green and obviously so, I’m two steps ahead of finding a collar around my neck again, there’s not much that we can’t offer each other so…” Her arm moved up to lay over his, “I’ll be blunt. My next shipment after this has me heading to Alderaan, you can take that information and sell it to a man named Tiocou Dejan, he’s easy enough to find and you’ll make yourself a thousand credits or you can meet me on Alderaan. Sometimes in this business having someone to watch your back is a benefit and when that someone could come to have more than a professional interest in what happens to that back you have a powerful partnership.” Her lekku were actively moving against her back now, there was nothing she hid in her expression. Her offer came born of honesty and in some small form, vunerability. He had trusted her with a truth and in turn, she made an offer.
He smiled, considering her statement. From all this, it was more than obvious she had issues not asking too many questions. She was right, it might just kill her, but (his mind formed an image of her trying to get information out of a storming rancor) at least she might get a chance to know a little something about her murderer.
But now he was curious. “Green.” She called him “green.” His eyes squinted slightly as he took a little offense to it, but it was a lighthearted offense, he hadn’t had a chance to show what he was made of yet, but something made him feel like proving it. So, he decided on his next move.
“Blunt is good. Credits are better.” He paused, letting her hang for a moment, apparently ignoring the sentiment he’d noticed she’d tossed in, “but a job is best. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen Alderaan, so it might be good to head back. What would you need from me?”
She shrugged simply having noticed the flicker to his face at her words and she withdrew herself a bit. Some part of her knew that she could bank her trust in him, a gut feeling. And Aayahpoy’shiri had survived on her gut instincts thus far. They had instructed her and guided her, given her freedom and kept her from deaths’ grasp when she should’ve sucumbed many times over. “That would depend on what job finds us, Remy.” No nicknames this time, just his name. Her expression hadn’t become cold, but she had pushed back the obvious overtones of attraction that she had let slip.
A smile grew back across his lips. He had been nursing his drink slowly as they spoke, and took his final sip as he nodded in agreement. He had always appreciated the idea of unknown adventure. Moreso the idea of someone he might be able to count on. And even though the loose allegiances that came and went in this business couldn’t necessarily be called “friendships”, it had been too long since he’d made anything like a friend. He’d take what he could get. He couldn’t help subtly looking her up and down again before he spoke, his head canting slightly as he raised his chin confidently. She was something. That was for damn sure. “Alright. So I meet up with you on Alderaan and we figure it out from there?”
Her arm shifted away from his and into the back pocket of her brown leather pants. She was about to take another risk, though she knew if he did in fact take this information to her former master that she would be able to get away. She knew she’d be able to find him again and he had given her all the information she needed to cash in on whatever sum he had acumulated on his own head. Her hand slipped from her back pocket and she leaned forward, her nose brushed against his and the rings through her lip grazing his own. She settled her hand against his, depositing a small datadisk. “Comm information and the code to track the Vatak’ultuka, my freighter.” Her voice was barely above a husk whisper, her eyes affixed on his own.
She lingered there a moment, watching him, gauging his own reaction but not allowing herself what she wanted. She wanted to see what he was made of first, if he’d sell her out. Poy knew without a doubt that she would let him in if he kept up his end. But into what? She surmised that would be for him to decide and gave him a wink before she drew back and slipped out of the booth and the bar with the agile grace one would expect from a dancer or a Teras Kasi, not from a Smuggler.
Nar Shaddaa had never been her home nor would it, while she revelled in the chance to ply her trade as a smugler, she found no solace in the backstabbing streets. Despite this, she merged into the crowds with ease and quickly found her way back to her ship.
As she settled into hyperspace she wet her lips and closed her eyes, almost regretting not taking what she had set up. “Don’t kark up, Remy.”
His eyebrow raised involuntarily as she leaned forward. Feeling the warm rings touch his lips gently, his own lips cracked another subtle smile while she said what she’d needed to say. She’d baited him a little, but he figured they both knew he wouldn’t take it. Even though he knew it was far more a show for the bar patrons, however – people get nosy when disks get traded around over tables – it didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy the display. The pretty ones are always good for an ego boost, especially when they get close just for the sake of the airs. Still, in her words, he sensed a closeness he hadn’t felt for a very long time.
He watched her gracefully swing her way out of the bar before standing with a sigh. He’d finally let the bare sense of pleasure show in the grin on his face, and smiling wide, he shook his head. “Women.” He brushed a loose spot of dust from his left sleeve before nodding a quick thanks to the barman once more, slipped the datadisk into his pocket, and stepped out toward his freighter.
Prepping his ship for takeoff and entering tracking data for the jump, he considered what he’d gotten himself into. And realized he had no idea. Cof would be proud if he had still been around to see it. Untimely deaths were a fact of life, though – he just hoped his wouldn’t come too soon (and most preferably wouldn’t come of this random, insane trip to Alderaan with a gorgeous Twi’lek exile). As his ship lifted off the ground, he decided that if by some chance it did end that way, at least it would make a good story.
Bracing for the jump, he sighed softly, eying the stars above. Brushing his chin and shaking his head, he said softly to no one, “Remy, don’t you dare kark this one up” and his ship left the air space of Nar Shadaa.