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A Primal Vice.

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Gestahlt
01.17.2012 , 08:49 AM | #1
This is the second story in the So'Quan Saga. The first, The Barely Legal Jedi, establishes her as a Jedi Shadow.

Chapter Guide:
01. Moist.

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Gestahlt
01.17.2012 , 08:51 AM | #2
Chapter 1: Moist.

The creature that sat before her was unlike any that she had seen before. While she had seen something similar to it, the actual beast itself was new and foreign. Ten thick, acrylic nailed fingers tore through the outside husk of a previously squirming cephalopod, a wet gasp leaving it before its nervous system was disconnected by the gaudy nails that led the assault. From the inside of the creature was drawn a collection of juicy entrails which were lifted and placed to a pair of plump lips. She watched as the feast was consumed with surprising glee, the now fluid lacquered lips presenting a tumescent smile. In the sea of viscera that decorated the strange one’s mouth, a black mole presented itself as though an island.

It was a stretch, no less stated than the manner in which her top fit over her gelatinous torso, to refer to her as a Twi’lek. Peach in complexion, the twin headtails of her people were worn over her shoulders. According to most anatomical sources and reference books on xeno-biology the headtails (or “lekku”, from which the word Twi’lek was derived) acted as an extra cerebral storage unit for the generally highly intelligent creatures. There was little doubt that the piercings that lined the woman’s lekku had a good deal to do with the vacant look in her eyes at that moment, and as she chewed absently at the mush she was eating, it began to become apparent that she could not focus on eating and speaking at the same time.

That, more than likely, was a small blessing in itself.

Following the completion of her mastication, the homely Twi’lek focused as best she could upon the woman that sat across from her and gave her another smile. It was simple to see that she should have been attractive, but eating as she was at that moment and a rough lifestyle had more than likely deprived her of whatever she had within her. The intricate tattoos that lined her body, from the pattern of scales along her pierced lekku, to the heart that rested above her left breast, did well to emphasize just how little the Twi’lek cared for the traditional beauty of her people. If this was her method of rebellion against the norms of her society, it was a fairly successful one. Relatively speaking, as it may have been.

There was no denying that the woman had taken on the stereotypical role of her people – sex working, be it in trafficking or simply offering the idea of it. That there were customers enough to support her was surprising in itself, but with the alacrity by which she continued to eat the squirming mollusks, she could only assume that the woman was doing better than she would have thought. She reached once more into the pool of squirming creatures for a delectable morsel and plopped it out, then held it before herself, as though a gift.

The Jedi Shadow shook her head slightly and lifted a hand in a polite sign of declining.

“Your mistake,” the Twi’lek said before cracking the hardened shell of the creature and drinking what spilled from it. It was cast to the side to join the other eviscerated husks. She ran her bloated tongue, predictably pierced, along her lips and smiled once more. “If you don’t get some meat on you, girl, Zael’ll never take interest in you.”

Verra offered a quiet smile in response to the statement. “I believe I will manage well enough on my own.”

Their location was hardly the most becoming establishment, but as Verra So’Quan began to settle into the life of a Jedi Shadow she understood that pleasantries were better reserved for those that walked within the light. Although not the worst of places that she had been to, the air was moist and damp with the presence of steam pools such as the one between her and the Twi’lek, holding within it a collection of mollusks for the dining pleasure of whoever could afford to seat while eating. Nar Shaddaa was in general a contemptible place, which she supposed made the current eatery high scale. Low on thugs and insect infestations, it was if nothing else safer than the rest of the world outside of it. Not that there was much to say for safety on Nar Shaddaa.

“So what did you want to know about Zael, anyway?” The Twi’lek asked as she eyed the few remaining cephalopods that darted this way and that within the steaming pool between them. She seemed to be aware of her inability to multi-task, which for the moment kept her attention vaguely on Verra.

“Anything that you think might help me locate him,” she answered. When she accepted the mission to track down the rogue Shadow she had not been expecting for it to be easy, but despite his purported insanity Zael was extremely good at covering his tracks. It had been happenstance luck (also known as “the Force”) that Verra managed to track down Thelaysa. She truly wished to believe that the woman was not a waste of time, but that vacant look that hovered ever about her seemed to imply otherwise.

Thelaysa gave a thoughtful hum and sat back against the chair behind her. The small bit of motion set her body to jiggling in manners that Verra knew her own could not. Mindful not to gawk at the woman, she simply waited for her to fight through her consternation. “Information’s a touchy thing,” Thelaysa began. “Usually I don’t even consider giving it out.”
“Usually,” Verra repeated the operative word. Thelaysa cracked a grin and nodded. It was not a pleasant expression to witness.

“Zael used to be one of my better clients; he was a crazy one, but dependable.”
“I would have never used the word ‘dependable’ when it came to Zael,” Verra politely stated.
Thelaysa gave a non-committal shrug of her shoulders. “You have to know what you’re depending on, see. If you want him to call you the next day or something? Not going to happen. But if you’re looking for someone that will always be sure to push your buttons.”
“Metaphorically speaking,” Verra quickly interjected. The Twi’lek giggled a bit and nodded.
“Yeah. If you’re looking for someone to metaphorically push your buttons,” Thelaysa drawled the phrase out in what Verra supposed was supposed to be a purr. If a cat was inebriated and thrown before a turbo-vent, perhaps the sound would be similar. “Then he’s the guy you want to look up.”

Verra brought to the fore her years of training to not betray her true emotions. It was a difficult thing to think of whatever the homely Twi’lek and Zael may have done and not blanch, but she pulled it off if only because she smiled as a means of venting her pent up disgust. “And that is why I am looking for him.”

“Looking to start your own business?” Thelaysa asked. The question was not at all an empty one and Verra denoted the look of incredulity that beset her features. Like any animal, Thelaysa was concerned about property rights. While she may have known that Verra was not Zael’s “type”, that did not mean that she would not potentially siphon off business from elsewhere. “You’d have to learn to dress before you even considered it.”

It was an insult that Verra accepted with unyielding pride. In contrast to the Twi’lek, who revealed more flesh than Verra had on her tight frame, Verra did well to conceal herself. Ever mindful of the dangers associated with being a Jedi in the midst of a scum-pit like Nar Shaddaa, she selected an outfit that though practical would be less obviously associated with the Order. Although her current ensemble of a maroon and beige outfit that fit well to her body did not function as well as her robes, it also did not draw unwanted attention. Well, unwanted attention that was not accompanied with a desirous look.

“I’m simply an old friend of his,” she lied. Lying was perhaps the greatest tool in the arsenal of any Jedi, and with the faintest hint of Force manipulation she managed to lower the woman’s inhibitions and encourage her to trust her. Normally such an act would have been frowned upon, but Verra could only assume that the longer it took for her to find Zael, the more likely he was to harm someone else. “I believe you were saying he was once dependable?”

Thelaysa nodded her head in a manner most bovine. “Yes, he was. But after he got back from some job or another he was really distant.” She selected her words with a bit of care, trying to curtail all that she could. There was no doubt that her information came with a price. “But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, aren’t we?”

For a moment, she thought to manipulate her with Force again, but something told her that greed was a trait too powerful on the woman to be overcome. She was noticeably surprised though that in spite of this, the woman’s mind was extremely easy to manipulate; it was as though she had years of training to be as malleable as possible.

“I suppose you wish recompense for this information.”
“If that means credits, then yes.”
Verra shrugged her shoulders, a motion that was hardly perceptible but nevertheless expressed her compliance. “Very well, but the proportion of credits will be relative to what you have to offer.”
“No deal,” Thelaysa said as she waggled a pickled finger. “You could say the info’s no good and walk away leaving me high and dry. The way this works is you buy whatever information I have and live with it. I’m not some rookie schutta that’s out to be taken advantage of.”

The acumen of the woman was not something to be trifled with. Verra considered attempting manipulation once more, but with the Twi’lek now more focused upon her goal, it would be dangerous to overextend her hand. If she did become aware of her intentions, after all, she might well have blown her cover.

“How much are you after?”
“Five large.”
“I hope you mean five-hundred,” Verra stated without humor. The smile that the Twi’lek offered her said anything but.
“You expect me to purchase five-thousand credits’ worth of dubious information from you?”
Thelaysa widened smiled. “I said it, didn’t I?”

There was no doubt that the woman’s avarice was too strong to be diminish; however, the thought of parting with that much money simply was not a realistic one. Verra fixed her eyes upon her and felt the singular purpose she had upon greed. Rather than working against it, she instead increased that desire until the woman’s mind was nearly enthralled with the concept of acquiring credits. No longer was it simply about five-thousand credits: she wanted something more than nothing.

“A thousand, you said?”
“Yes, a thousand, not a digit less.”

It was almost criminal how easily she could work her magic. The datapad produced a small chip, which she extracted and handed across the steaming pool to the Twi’lek. Thelaysa accepted it eagerly and then turned her attention back to Verra. “Now then, the information.”

“A thousand credits’ worth of information,” Verra corrected. While she may not have been proud of the fact she had to manipulate the woman once more, she nevertheless knew that it was the right thing to do. “I expect it to be lucrative.”

Thelaysa preened as she thought over her newly acquired trove and then leaned forth, exposing more of herself than Verra cared to see. As politely as possible she made every effort to look into the Twi’lek’s eyes and now allow her gaze to shift to anything that may have been able to shift as well. “Well, Zael had a mission with some guy from Czerka.”

“Do you know his name?”
“No.”
“Then how are you certain he worked for Czerka?”
Thelaysa grinned. “A girl has her methods of spotting out a nice payout.”

Rather than respond verbally, Verra nodded. She was aware that Zael had worked for Czerka; however, that the woman had verity to her claim was noted. If nothing else, she was not feeding her lines.

“So this Czerka guy,” Thelaysa drawled as though to remind herself where she was in her story. “He gave Zael a job – a lot of guys do, he’s dependable. Anyway, I don’t know what happened, but when he came back he was… different. Darker, kind of. Not his complexion.”

“I know.” While non-Force Sensitives may not have realized it, many could pick up on the subtle nuances of a shift in one’s dedication to the Force. A ‘darkened’ personality was the most common way to describe it.

“Yeah well, I try not to make it my business to know other people’s,” she stated, almost as though to alleviate some guilt she had in sharing, “but I heard him arguing with a pretty blonde right before I’d entered. Kind of like you; skinny thing.”

Verra executed her polite smile once more. Though ice water may have coursed through her veins, she knew that people were more prone to open up to those that seemed kind. “I suppose he has a type.”

“From the way they were arguing, I wouldn’t say it was his type any longer.” Thelaysa looked toward the few mollusks that remained and then back to Verra. “Either way, she said something about him ruining their contract before he hung up on her.”

For several seconds Verra sat quietly as the Twi’lek stared back at her. Slowly, one of her eyebrows lifted and she canted her head but a notch. “And then what happened?”
“That was it,” Thelaysa replied.
“You believe that was worth a thousand credits?”
“I’ve got the credits, don’t I?”

It was all that Verra could do not to reach across the table and dunk the woman’s face into the steam pool between them. The self satisfied look attributed to her fatty lips was by that point an irritant, but Verra did not act on her impulses. A Jedi could not afford to stray – a Shadow, even less.

“Do you recall what the woman’s name was?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Could you make an effort to think harder?”
“I could.”

The implication that more credits would be needed was not at all lost upon Verra, who drew her lips together tightly and shook her head. “Perhaps you should have some more food.” She lifted a hand and indicated for their table to be refilled. The waiter complied eagerly and brought over another barrel of squirming crustaceans, which were added to the pool. The fresh steam washed over them, obscuring sight for a moment. When it fell, predictably, Thelaysa’s features were aglow.

“All for me?”
“Of course.”

Oblivious to whatever may have been afoot, the twi’lek set to stuffing her face once more. Hardly surprised by the occurrence; Verra waited patiently until she saw that Thelaysa had begun her carnage spree again. The vacant look slowly came over the woman’s face once more, and Verra set to deciphering what she could from the void space known as her mind. It was difficult to probe another’s mind without being obvious in it, and although she was certain that Thelaysa would not notice, that did not mean other eyes were not about.

Finally, she found something pertinent.

“He said someone else’s name during our business arrangement,” Thelaysa said as she pulled a screaming mollusk away from her mouth and allowed it to drop before her. “Kwan’Dri, I believe.”

While names shouted in the throes of passion were the best leads, they were better than nothing.
“Thank you.”

She abandoned the booth within which she sat and slid her jacket back over her outfit, the collar upturned. “Thank you for buying me this meal, by the way.”

“Not a problem, sugar,” the duped twi’lek said. A thousand credits seemed like a fair enough exchange if it meant the woman would pay for her own food.

Verra left the establishment and took to straightening out her jacket as she moved. A thin fog clung to the ground and about the air, perpetually representing the filth and grime that composed Nar Shaddaa’s streets. How it was that civilization had come to the moon was beyond her, but given that even the word “civilization” seemed to be odd in her surroundings, perhaps it had not entirely. It would have been simple to hail a taxi, but something told her that the only thing worse than being lost in the city was asking advice from someone.

The name Kwan’Dri was added to her datapad. Uncertain as to how to connect the dots she gave two simultaneous search commands: one, to find any Kwan’Dri, another to find one that was associated with Czerka. The possibility of overlap may have been there, but since the galaxy was filled with innumerable people, it was better to be safe than sorry. The datapad was slipped back into her jacket as she continued on her walk.

Somewhere, she knew, Zael Starbreeze was preparing for another act of insanity. She could only hope that she would be there to stop him before it harmed anyone.