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Ord Mantell


handofthrawn
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A magnificent sight exited hyperspace as the VT-49 dubbed 'The Helmsman's Sorrow' shifted into sublight, it's golden sail flying in the void of space. Upon the Captain's chair sat a bored figure, heavy in weight and in age as he stroked the tendrils that had grown upon his snout with age. Ord Mantell had been known as home of late, and rejoice amongst the crew echoed behind him as Vlad set the distinguished course.

 

An encrypted comm reached out to the planet below from Sha'Kara with gained intelligence from their last venture, and 'The Helmsman's Sorrow' made a path for the Trader's Quarters, with salvage, spice, and humbled riches aboard. A grizzled voice rang across the ship.

 

"It's not Kessel nor Nev'aru'lund, but it's still a sight to behold." Greensnout's grizzled voice echoed through its now quieting hull. "Drink, be merry, but don't spend all your spoils in one place."

 

With a deafening cheer, the crew began their descent, Greensnout taking a brisk swig from his jug of Ambrostine following with a drag from his Tabac pipe. Once landed, they would offload the cargo and collect the credits and most would enjoy the freedoms their hearts desired while in port. As for Greensnout, Bomba, and Sideon, Black Castle would be their next stop.

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It had been a really long time since Zalis had even stepped foot on the Capital planet for Black Sun, yet even as she inhaled the air, it reminded her more of home. Between Ord Mantell and Titan, the two were her safe places. The spots she could go to without any worry of something happening that was outside of her control. And even if something did happen outside of her control, it was always profitable or beyond irrelevant that it matter not. She took a moment to observe the landing pad designated for Vigos and others of alike status. Fluanern stood at the other end, awaiting the Queen of Vice to make her way over. She stood in her black uniform, choosing instead to remain within a business state, even though she had long since been given permission to dress up or down. A complete opposite to what Zalis wore, black boots and jacket over a white dress. 

 

Her movement across the landing pad was more sluggish due to the amount of traveling she had been doing recently. Fluanern gave a small nod and turned to match pace with Zalis into Black Castle. "Local area has been running smoothly, no hiccups. And word has it that Iridonia has settled in nicely, beginning to adapt to the culture there along with filtering in some of the spice there. Bounty Hunter Guild is also fully up and reporting to us as requested." She turned to acknowledge the woman before stepping into the turbo lift. Upon it closing is when Zalis spoke up. 

 

"Less concerned with those avenues Fluanern. I suspected the guild would re-establish upon given the right circumstances. Right now, I want to know what's happening out with our contracts we offered up..." Zalis turned and looked the other woman in the eyes. Her own blue eyes as cold as ice locking with the emerald green of the trusted Vigo. "... We can't afford for anything to go wrong on that end..." The other woman shrugged her shoulders simultaneously with the turbolift doors opening to Zalis's office. The two stepped out together, Zalis making for her chair, while Fluanern headed to a chair directly opposite. "Unfortunately contact is limited. And the facility is so closed off that we can't really see movement or progress..." The words had Zalis close her eyes and think for a moment. They needed something special to distract them from the potential of disaster at the whim of the Crime Families. 

 

"When was the last time we threw a party here?..."

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As credits were collected and handed out, the small crew went about their merry way, a couple in sing song as they left. Captain Greensnout, along with Bomba Jinx and the Quarren Sideon, turned their attentions to the Black Castle and the trek began.

 

It had been months since their last time at Black Castle. Kleef, having been given a ceremonious Rank within the Black Sun as Operative stood as more a formality than actual status due to the Black Sun's dealings with the Children of the Maw. Raids and Piracy had always been a silent backbone upon which the two organizations had long forged a mutually beneficial repor upon. But in recent months, with the Sith having dominated the Galaxy at large, profits had only been a margin of what the once were.

 

It was time to turn the formality into a living reality. With the recent collapse of the Sith Empire at Nar Shadaa, along with the smuggler's moon eradication, territories had became voids both in leadership and claims. Many dared not travel, and those that did, relied heavily upon the Alliance for escort. And the refugees of war offered little spoils and the gambit of facing the Alliance left hands lacking. There was opportunity to be had, but the underworld had to be a united front in order to prosper. Turning his gaze upon the massive Black Castle before him, Greensnout furrowed his brow and shook his haillu.

 

"Sideon, announce our arrival." Kleef spoke, his hand placed firmly upon the hilt of his cutless, his gaze shifting from the Quarren to Bomba Jinx. "Jinx, I'll do the talking."

 

Sideon respectively nodded toward his Captain whilst Bomba simply showed his disdain. Neither Kleef nor Bomba truly cared for each other, nor themselves for that matter, both of them Gungs. The only true thing that carried weight between the two and held their mutual respect for one another laid solely upon their histories and dislikes for their own ilk. Still, despite their dislike for one another, both trusted the other to be entirely what they were and a symbiosis of kinship laid hidden beneath the disdain. They trusted each other with their lives, as did all of the crew, but even deeper because of their relationship. Pulling forth the holo transmitter, Sideon opened up a comm.

 

Filtered and encrypted through numerous channels, the comm would finally arrive to the personal holo of Lady Zalis. It would be of Sideon, the Quarren's politeness hidden by his rough exterior until he spoke. "Lady Zalis, it is good to see you again. You're looking raviously as usual." For a human, Sideon thought to himself in silence as he progressed. "Captain Greensnout, Commander Jinx, and I have returned from our voyage and are requesting a personal meeting with you, mi'lady, to discuss current events and the prosperity it provides. Would you have a moment to avail us with?"

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Her eyes darted from her holopad to Fluanern and back and forth a few times as she hesitated to even pick up the call, and it was on her public access server, so it made the choice rather annoying. To her surprise, Fluanern simply gave a smile and then stood up, tilting her heads towards the incoming call and then excused herself. She hesitated a second longer, acknowledging within her own mind the thought that her faith in promoting Vigo's was becoming on point. With a small smile, she allowed for the call to come through. The Quarren on the other side was formal and addressed her as an equal, but used language that suggested he wasn't. It threw her off for a moment. In her own mind it felt like a week had passed before she could even respond. 

 

He spoke on the right things though, as the state the galaxy was now entering with the events of Nar Shaddaa unfolding made for a perfect storm for local crime to rise. Bigger organizations could also rise, if they played their hands right. Too much of a noticeable movement would draw unwanted attention. She leaned back and gave a face of narrowed eyes and slightly smile. "Very well. I can meet you at the Regnant Casino House. There is a private room there. Ask for the Vice room. I'll meet your crew there within the next fifteen minutes." She then cut the transmission. She would need to get dressed to host, even though it wasn't her building. But on Ord Mantell, the way of Black Sun ruled strongly and was beyond embedded into the culture, it was now customary for her to show her best. 

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As the holo cut out, Sideon turned his one good eye toward the blank stare of Captain Greensnout who erupted in a fit of Gung laughter as the elder Gung fought to breath by patting at his left knee. Commander Jinx, however, could only turn his back and look over his shoulder at Greensnout in disgust. Greensnout may have had a logical mind, but his Gungan heritage had a way of spilling out.

 

"You're Gung is showing, Captain." Jinx spoke in disdain, his hoarse voice filled with phlegm as he scolded his Captain. "You really should get ahold of yourself."

 

If one had been looking on at the trio, one would have to wonder why Greensnout even broke out into a fit of laughter, the cause at the least. But the reality of it wouldn't make sense for the generalized mind. After all, the trio had come to the Black Castle to seek an audience with Lady Zalis, and yet, despite the success, had to walk right back from wence they had came. And all Sideon could do was half arse chuckle back in ignorant bliss.

 

"Forgive me." Greensnout replied, choking up the last of the laughter and spitting it aside, as the Captain wiped away the tears in his eyes and stood up from his hunched position. "I can't help but find the irony in these humans. Like the Naboo, they must make everything complicated."

 

Shaking his head, Jinx turned back toward the other two, the apparent disdain washing from his face as he stroked the tendrils upon his chin. "That may be true, but you're still an embarrassment both to yourself and the crew. You should really learn to keep your composure Captain."

 

Greensnout smirked, his eyes staring coldly in a mixture of a fiendishly look. "Mesa did big doo-doo?" He spoke in reply, watching in hysterics as Jix's face turned a bright orange against the brown backdrop of his gungan skin, the apparent rage in his face and eyes. "Fine. Let us head for this...."

 

"Regnent Casino House, Captain." Sideon finally spoke up, deterring the onslaught of rage building up in Jinx from his Captain back to the matter at hand. "It's on the outskirts of the Trader's Quarters in the Casino District."

 

"Yes. Onward then. Let's not keep the Lady waiting." Greesnout spoke, turning away from the Quarren and Commander Jinx who still looked like he could kill the Captain, but quickly shook it off and regained his own composure. Silently, Jinx contemplated how he even ended up in the company of Greensnout as the trio made their way toward the Casino District. But all Sideon could do was place his clawed hand over his face at the two's ridiculousness and the trouble they pain each other with.

 

Arriving at the Regnant Casino House and asking for the Vice room, the trio would await Lady Zalis' arrival... if they arrived on time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Zalis stepped out of the speeder that brought her to the casino and offered up a smile to the owner, who greeted her at the door. "Lady Zalis, I'm so glad that you would choose our location to host your business." She offered up a slight curtsy as a formal greeting. Her black dress with a navy blue cape on the back almost made her stand out amongst the white and golden colors used for the Regnant Casino. The owner, a Twi'lek male turned and escorted her in the main doors. As they walked through, he snapped his fingers at someone. "The Vice room has been prepared and your guests have already been escorted inside." A waiter quickly joined them, offering up a glass of Chandrillia whiskey for Zalis, to which she took without any hesitation. "Thank you Junal. Your standards really do amplify the city of Worlport heavily." He gave her a bow in return and then left her at the main door of the Vice room before turning around to tend to the others within his facility. 

 

Zalis eyed the three who were already within the room. Her eyes darted at all of them, narrowing ever so slightly. She didn't acknowledge them verbally yet, but instead choose to sit down in her chair that she always used for this establishment. Upon sitting down and getting comfortable, she turned towards the three. She spoke directly with the Quarren the last time, but he said he worked with others. She hesitated for a quick moment before finally speaking. "You addressed me as if I should know you on your call- but I don't. Two of you hold a body posture of being annoyed. My only guess is it's due to me not meeting with you at Sandorne Palace. Which places you as people who know me by reputation only. A very bold move to connect directly with me, but time will tell if it will serve you or not."

 

Zalis let her words sink in by taking some time to drink her whiskey provided to her by the Casino owner. After she put some of it down, she shifted slightly in her chair and raised her eyebrows. "Now is the time to make your next move and see if your boldness pays off..."

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After their arrival and having been led into the Vice Room, Sideon and Jinx stood to the left and right sides of Greensnout as he took seat upon a lavish couch that graced a crystalline table in the middle of the room, opposite of the chair that Lady Zalis would likely have taken. Moments would pass, a lingering silence upon the refreshed air that poured a constant flow into the room until the twisting knob announced the human's arrival.

 

"My lady..." Sideon hesitantly replied, his clawed hands motioning his apologetic sympathies as he tried to explain away his informalities. But Greensnout raised a hand to silence the Quarren before meeting up with his other, a sly smile gracing his scaly face as his brow furrowed devilishly. Leaning forward, his deep voice croaked forth. "Where we meet, Lady Zalis, is of little consequence. Only that our paths meet formally. The discretion is yours alone."

 

"I only offered a more direct approach." Greensnout continued as he reached for the ginormous Jug attached to his hip and brought it forth to his lips as he guzzled more than a snout full of the liquid inside it and wiped away what spilled from his gullet with his leathered sleeve. "But let us put away the guise of pleasantries and lay our cards upon the pazaak table."

 

With that spoken, Greensnout motioned for Sideon to bring forth the holodisk, the Quarren placing it within the holoprojector between he and Lady Zalis and activating it as a screen blossomed to life. "As my Lieutenant pointed out, there is much to be had during this time of strife, and i grow tired of the ceremonious rank that i've been given by your organization.  I may be a lowly Pirate, but even i have bigger dreams. This Galaxy needs a Pirate King."

 

Upon the hologram that covered thespace between them was alit with star charts of most of the Outer Regions and the Unknown Wilds of Space, most notably the areas that once were controlled by the Hutts. Updates of various planets sat aside with highlighted routes both common and largely unused for millennia as the Gungan Captain pointed out the areas left vulnerable by the Alliance and their war with the Sith.

 

"These wars between the Alliance, Sith, and even each other have been so constant and devastating that what should be general knowledge has been left lost in their wakes." Greensnout chuckled briefly and took another swing from the Jug that still remained in his hand. "And with the devastation of Nar Shadaa and Hutt Space, as well as their Shipyards and Capital Worlds, it has left the board wide open for plunder and a hunger for flourishment. Outside their strongholds, the Galaxy is too vast for their thin armadas."

 

Greensnout reached forward toward the table and placed the Jug of Ambrostine upon the crystalline table, offering its content to be poured for Zalis should she wish it before sitting back in a reclined position and crossing his Gung legs casually. 

 

"But I am but one being of many. And Piracy is a growing business now that chaos has sown its seeds from one side of the Galaxy to the other. And i have realized that if I am to truly recognize my dream, I cannot do it alone." Greensnout shook his haillu in a humbling show of humility that proceeds a broken pride. "I have been an Operative for your organization for quite some time, and the benefits have been mutual for an outsourced asset.... But now, with the rise of the coming age that follows war, I am to either grow with it or become a memory of the past like Kane Wartide himself."

 

Greensnout raises his eyes to meet that of the human Zalis before him.

 

"It's time that I am raised to full status within your organization, along with the assets I have available, and we take this Galaxy by rebuilding the Black Sun's holdings past its former glory.... together."

Edited by Captain Greensnout
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The intent of the meeting was laid out rather quickly. The gungan before Zalis was one of cunning moves and big dreams. She could tell as he leaned in to speak, long before he even laid out his plan to her. She took a drink of her own Chandrillia whiskey, almost emptying the entire glass with one drink as she looked over the map that the Gungan displayed for her. Yes, his plans are ambitious indeed. Yet, they are not without flaws. She looked him over as he talked some more, clearly offering up a drink to her. She decided to not show any hesitation and poured the drink offered into her glass before leaning back in her own chair now that Greensnout was finished. Her eyes looked him over again, along with everyone within his party. 

 

"Ambitious to say the least. But you clearly don't have a hold on the state of things within Black Sun." She took a sip from her glass and then leaned in. "Former glory is irreverent by now. Only future and new glory is what matters. And Black Sun is thriving in far more ways than its former self." She now leaned back and took another sip before continuing. "Czerka has become the front that draws attention. It's by this point, untouchable by any government without true cause. Spanning shops from Taris to Corellia and beyond. Black Sun holds major hubs on Dubrillion and Ord Mantell, yet still holds smaller trade outposts on Tatooine, Onderon, Dantooine and yes, even within it's fragile state, Nar Shaddaa. The Bounty Hunter's guild has resurfaced under the help of Czerka and Black Sun on Iridonia..."

 

Taking yet another sip from her glass, she set it down on the table and leaned in yet again. Her eyes locked with Greensnout. "But I am not blind or stupid. The need to capitalize upon the current state is something of great value. Piracy is good for business... sometimes." Her voice lowered a bit, yet not too much so that the Gungan wouldn't hear her. "Eyes have been set upon areas of great value to Black Sun. But piracy without a funnel and a command destroys chances for legitimate business and growth. And placing such funnels and command structures would no longer make you a pirate." She leaned back again in her chair. "That would make you more of a warlord of sorts."

 

She now wondered if she would even be able to exert such control over a sector like that. Granted, by some default, she already had. But how long until the new political system wanted to show it's forceful hand like they did at Outer Haven? Maybe setting up a few warlords of sorts would be good to keep egotistical eyes off of her. But could this Gungan do it? She'd have to test him first. For now, she was curious if he had anything else to add to what she spoke. 

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Greensnout watched attentively the human female before him, a devious smirk upon his grotesque face as she spoke. She had the makings of a politician, a trait most Gung recognized almost instinctually from their affairs with the Naboo, but this is why he chose to come to her here and now. She was beautiful by Human standards, coyful and yet refined, and her prestige amongst those of the underworld did her a fine justice. She was something Greensnout could never achieve, and why his contentment settled so easily. After she poured herself a glass, he reached forward, and after another swig, let the jug hang loosely upon his bottom digit.

 

"Piracy is piracy... if only by another name." He spoke with an encroaching slur behind bloodshot eyes, a sure sign the Ambrostine was taking affect on a physical level. "And a King cannot be a King with no Kingdom to command."

 

"You have legitimized the businesses of the Black Sun's forefront, and kept a tight rein upon the underbelly of it. But it can be a demanding and taxing role, both as the head of a Conglomerate and as a Criminal. And that is where my proposal comes into play. I am no upstanding citizen of our beloved Galaxy, and you shouldn't have to sully your hands with the filth that litters the ground, a position that fits a Gung well, yes?"

 

Out the corner of his eye, Greensnout catches a well hidden smirk coming from Commander Jinx, only broadening his own as drunken drool threatens to spill over his teeth. Focusing his gaze back toward Lady Zalis, he closes his mouth and swallows the drool.

 

"My ambitions may be high, but they're not so grandeous that they find a weak foundation. I know the realistic limits of what I can and cannot do. Nor am I oblivious to the reality I live in like the ilk of my homeworld. I learnt well under the tutelage of your species and what hinders me. As an Operative of the Black Sun, my limits are hindered. But as a... Warlord you called it?... I can be the face that hides your own, limited only by what you constrict."

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There was a slow lean back into her chair as she fully understood what was on the table. A golden opportunity as it were, a chance to push another into the fray without risking anything herself. But still, could she even trust this crew? She took a long moment to stare down the crew as she deliberated within her own mind what sort of thing was she getting into. After a good two minutes of silence, which may have been awkward for the crew, Zalis finally leaned in again. 

 

"A test then. A chance to prove your skill which could then be like falling stones that begin an avalanche." She then pointed on the holodisplay map that was still up from the Gungan captain. Her hand slowly moved over each planet as she spoke of them. "Kessel has long since been a resource of Spice, that of which is used across the galaxy. Other hubs such as Iridonia provide a version of it which can be used, but the main source has been cut off by the forces of power that be. The events around Nar Shaddaa recently have unfolded into a vacuum like state, which means some borders are more exposed then others. Kessel being the primary one."

 

Zalis now leaned back again within her chair, but this time did not sit all the way back, allowing for her own posture to indicate that she was offering up the final deal. "There is a Spice worker under contract at Kessel still who has indicated to us that he may have a fairly large shipment for us to sneak out. While not piracy, it's still a job that needs to get done. However, to spice up this test for you. Three days after the pickup of this Spice... there is a Kolto shipment we learned is being taken to Onderon. We need it. This is your piracy act. Take that Kolto and deliver it to me. Any other plunder you find along that way is yours, and along with a handsome payment fee, we can enter into a full and final draft of this scheme working out."

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As Lady Zalis sat in thought, the crew awaited her answer with tactical suspense. Greensnout, simply took another swig from the Jug in drunken glee while Jinx stood erect in silence and Sideon ran his clawed fingers through his tentacles. And as she spoke, Greensnout raised his jug in agreement. With a nod, Sideon activated his comm and moved out of frame to contact Smegga.

 

Back on the Helmsman's Sorrow, the Hutt sat lost in communications, his overtly large form taking up most of the room as he clattered away within the realm of the Deep Holonet. When Sideon's form appeared beside him, he barely raised a brow. 

 

"Recall the crew. We have a mission." Sideon could be heard across the encrypted comm unit aboard the ship as well as off to the side by Greensnout and company. "We're to depart at first light. The crew can sleep off their enjoyment in route."

 

Deactivating the comm, Sideon returned his nod to Greensnout while Smegga sent out the recall. All across the Leisure Quarters, small comms vibrated with orders to return, including the Captain's as he sat across from Lady Zalis with a grin before he chugged another gulp from his half empty, or half full depending on how you look at it, Jug of Ambrostine. 

 

"I thank you for the chance, mi'lady." He spoke, bowing his head respectfully as he offered her another pour from his jug to seal the agreement, a lost art that very few still practiced as the era of word had long passed. "Let us toast to the potential of a prosperous future."

 

Meanwhile, the Children of the Maw begin their return to the Helmsman's Sorrow.

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