View Full Version : Corellia: Don't Bother to Knock

Talus Longstar
Mar 9th, 2016, 12:16:07 PM
It was a cold, rain-splattered night that she crashed into my life. It had been a long day. I was locking up at my office when I felt the ice-cold slap of a puddle against my trouser cuffs, then a body collided with mine. Call me a cynic, but with a name like mine in a place like Coronet City, my instincts were to swing a punch – but as I rounded on the puddle-stomper, I was met with the wide, long-lashed eyes of a woman in a hooded cloak. My fist unclenched.

“I'm so sorry. I slipped.” She was tall, a couple inches shy of my height. Her cloak was heavy, heavier still for the rainwater on the hem. Under the hood she looked to be in her thirties, human or at least near-human. The hood didn't give me the best look at her, but I got a glimpse of long, dark hair and full, red lips.

“Are you alright?” I asked.

She nodded. “I'll be fine, but you must let me pay for the cleaning-”

I lifted a hand and shook my head. “It was going to happen sooner or later,” I said with a glance at the length of the street. It was covered in standing water. It was also not the kind of pedway that you walked down unless you had a reason to. Especially not looking as... expensive as she did. “Are you looking for something?” I asked.

“Someone, actually,” she said. She had an accent that I couldn't place. “Two someones, in fact, but for now only a Mr. Longstar. I'm told that he has an office... somewhere in this area.”

What were the odds? That someone walking down the street to my office should be looking for me? Not all that slim, when you looked at it like that – but it had the feeling of unusually good happenstance.

“This is it. I just locked up.” I held out a hand to introduce myself and realisation swept over her face like silk and she smiled.

“You must excuse my calling late, Mr. Longstar. Shall we step inside?” The smile was still there, expectant. The polite smile of woman addressing a servant or underling, not quite patronising but definitely confident that whatever question had preceded that smile was going to be answered in the woman's favour.

“Sure,” I swiped my keycard on the door and gestured the woman inside.

It had been a long day and I had a feeling it was going to be a long night.

Talus Longstar
Mar 11th, 2016, 09:18:07 AM
We went up to the office.

I'd been renting the place for about a year. It wasn't in the best location, but it was cheap and it had a separate waiting room where prospective clients could flip through old issues of Corellian Life. I gestured the woman by all of that, into the office itself.

The room was small and clean, without much clutter. I had a desk, three chairs and a couple of cabinets for storing files and such. A private investigators license hung on the wall behind me, side by side with a decoration of honour from CorSec. On the desk I had a calendar, a blotter and a framed picture of my wife Leeadra and daughter Cerri looking happy, probably on account of the fact that I wasn't in the picture.

I turned on a small lamp and it made the room seem a little more welcoming.

I shrugged out of my overcoat, folded it over the back of my chair and put my hat down on the corner of the desk. She didn't shed the cloak completely but she eased back the hood and pushed the heavy fabric from her shoulders. She was young or at least comfortably rich enough to look young. She had pale eyes and a little button nose, a little like Leeadra. I rubbed my thumb against the underside of my wedding ring as I sat down behind the desk and she sat opposite, in one of the upholstered chairs.

She gave the arm of the chair a squeeze and it elicited, from the look on her face, a satisfying creak of old leather. “You have a... cosy little office, Mr. Longstar. Very nice.” She looked around, though that didn't take long at all, then let her eyes wander for a moment to the rain streaming down the window pane, the glass tinted purple by a neon sign hanging from the wall a few windows down from my office.

“I'm not looking to sell.” She laughed, the kind of sparkling laughter that took years to hone but could be deployed on cue. I didn't wait for the witty retort. “You said you were looking for two someone's. Assuming I'm one of them, who's the other?”

If she was offended by me cutting to the chase, she didn't show it. That practised smile was bulletproof. “Straight to business, then.”

“That isn't why you're here, isn't it? Business?”

She reclined, crossing one leg over the other. “Yes. I've heard you're a discreet man, Mr. Longstar.”

“I can be, when the mood takes me.” I reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a notepad and pen. I'd tried using a data-card and stylus to take notes in the past and it just felt... wrong. Seeing me reach for the pad, she paused, lips still parted. “Go on,” I said, “Mrs...?”

“Larel... Ms. Brimseld.”

I recognised the family name, though I couldn't quite place where from. “Old Corellian?”

She looked pleased at that question. “Yes. Are you familiar, then, with the phrase hustru fönster, Mr. Longstar?”

Since the Imperial occupation, there had been a resurgence in speaking Old Corellian. I guess people thought it gave them an edge on the Empire or showed that they were more proud of their heritage than the average man on the street. It was a fad. In some families, though, it had always been there. There were still branches of my family – maybe more like sticks, shoved in the mud – who wouldn't call themselves anything but Langsteorra.

For all the baggage that came with it, Longstar was fine by me as far as names went, but I still remembered how to talk the talk. Hustru fönster meant 'lover in the window'. It was a throwback to the days when you married Corellian or you didn't marry at all. To get around the old prejudices, people would marry for commercial or political reasons, then make their lover into the hired help, so they could have their ryshcate and eat it.

“I might have heard it,” I said.

“Then you'll know who I'm looking for.”

“I'm flattered, Ms. Brimseld, but I'm a married man – and not in the market to play Astrild.” I pictured myself in the outfit of the mythical goddess of romance; it wasn't pretty.

For the first time, something other than sweetness and light played on her features. Her eyebrows bent together a little. “I don't need a matchmaker. I need you to find my lover. He's.. missing.”

Talus Longstar
Mar 12th, 2016, 03:42:27 AM
Her mood had turned as sharply as The Spin (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/The_Spin). She got to her feet, pacing to the window. I watched her go, wondering whether she was as distressed as she looked or just a half-way convincing actor. She went on, gazing out through the raindrops racing down my window pane, her arms folded tight over her chest.

"His name is Ranse. As I said, Ranse is my lover or... used to be. He's been away in the Outer Rim Territories for a while. He came back to Coronet a couple of days ago on a ship called the Olga, but he didn't come to see me. I think he may be having an affair." She turned her head, so that I could see a little more of her in profile. "My husband passed several years ago."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"Don't be. I wasn't."

I chewed the inside of my lip. A couple of theories had already started to percolate. I didn't know all the facts, but I was sure I'd heard this tune before or at least a few bars of it. Ever since the Imperial occupation, business had gotten steadily better for me as life got steadily worse on Corellia. Soon there wouldn't be enough blue milk cartons in the system to advertise all the suddenly missing persons.

I didn't bother asking why she hadn't gone to CorSec or the Imperials for help. I already knew the answer.

"I'll be up front with you, Ms. Brimseld. I charge a daily rate, plus expenses." I quoted her my standard costs. "A case like this.. usually needs at least a weeks work." At least, or at most. When someone went missing, you either found them quickly or you never saw them again. That was how it went.

"Of course. I'll pay you for two, and a bonus if you can return him to me in less than a week."

"Swell. So, what else can you tell me about Ranse? Something that might help me find him?"

"He's about your height. Fair hair, tattoos on his face like crescent moons, horns - he's from Iridonia."

Whatever else he was, Ranse had one thing going in his favor: he'd be easy to pick out in a line-up. Of course, that was as much a curse as a blessing. The Empire didn't say it outright, but everyone knew they hated non-humans about as much as old money Corellia hated new. "Does he have any friends in the city?"

She shrugged a shoulder. Her cloak slipped lower and this time, she pulled it back up over her shoulder. "Not that I know of."

No friends might also mean no enemies, if Ranse was lucky. "What was his business in the Outer Rim?"

"I don't know. I didn't ask about his work, and he didn't tell me. We have a very... uncomplicated relationship, Mr. Longstar."

"I can tell." I looked over the notes I'd made. It about enough to cover a Mrlssi's eye. "Do you know where I can find the ship that he came in on?"

"Yes, at a port in the Blue Sector," she said, pacing the same little bit of the office floor for the second time.

"I take it you haven't been there yourself."

"I avoid places like that."

I would have been surprised if she had. The Blue Sector had a well-earned reputation. Back in CorSec, I'd spent too many nights peeling faces off of vomit-splattered pedways in Treasure Ship Row, while the boys in vice had spent so much time on stake-outs in the sector that they were practically furniture. Even with the Imperial occupation, it was just the kind of place that you could still find freighters calling in from all corners of the galaxy. The only difference was they were greasing a different set of pockets.

"Well, I think I have everything I need to get started on your case. Where can I contact you?"

She was pulling her hood back up, and already heading towards the door. I got to my feet, to let her out, but she got to the door before me. She paused, her hand on the doorknob.

"I'll contact you. Be seeing your soon, Mr. Longstar."

With that, she swept out of the office, leaving a trail of questions and the subtle smell of flowery perfume in her wake.

I hoped I would see her soon, she still hadn't paid me. Still, it wasn't every day that a beautiful woman came into my office, offering to double my usual price with a bonus on top. I looked again at the picture of Leea and Cerri. Maybe this wouldn't be such a bad week after all. Maybe.

Talus Longstar
Mar 15th, 2016, 11:41:42 AM
I'd meant to go home but since there wasn't much to go home to, a trip to the Blue Sector didn't seem like such a bad idea.

I took the maglev train down-town and got off a stop early with my hat pulled low and collar turned up. I wanted to walk down the length of Blue Sky Boulevard. It was the kind of place you needed to walk down into, I thought. Like a hot bath, you had to immerse yourself slowly or risk getting burned.

I don't know if the view from the street had ever been particularly blue, but it wasn't now. It twisted my teeth to look up and see the sky half full of Imperial Star Destroyers, hanging there like the galaxies least welcome Life Day ornaments. You couldn't see the stars in the city, but you could see the lights winking along the lengths of the massive ships.

It wasn't just the sky, though. The Empire was on the street too. I tried to keep out of their way and most of the time, it wasn't hard. Whoever had designed the Stormtrooper uniform had made it difficult to miss. There were a few patrols out on the boulevard, but the further I walked down, the more scarce they got. Even the posters – big and bright and banthashit – proclaiming the 'safety, security and prosperity' of an Imperial Corellia started to peel away.

It wasn't long before I got where I was going. Larel hadn't said which port she thought the Olga had docked with. That didn't matter. There were a few but I knew them all well enough so I went to the busiest of the lot and found the harbourmaster. I told her I was making a delivery to the Olga and though she didn't seem convinced, she waved me on towards the bay regardless.

I found the Olga mid-way through what looked like a resupply. It was a YT-2400 light freighter that looked like it should have been scrapped years ago. The air had the fate, sour stink of sweat. Crates were being pushed to and fro on hover-sleds, while a lone figured stood guard underneath the starboard command pod: a Twi'lek with shoulders as wide as a bantha. He looked me up and down.

“Y'r looking lost, friend.” He smiled an easy smile that was all razor-sharp teeth.

“I'm starting to feel it. You shipping out soon?”

“As soon as we're loaded. Y' looking for passage?”

I looked the ship over. “I'm not sure. The Outer Rim, perhaps.”

“Just come from there. Be a long time before we get back again.” As he talked, the Twi'lek passed a lazy eye over the hover-sleds moving cargo about.

“Empire doesn't want us moving about too much, y'know? Bringing back anything.. unsavoury from the Rims,” he added, looking at me with a knowing grin.

Moving in and out of the Corellian System wasn't impossible but it was ten shades of tricky. If I'd had to guess, I'd say the Olga had to be bringing in supplies for the local garrisons to get a pass from the border patrols.

“Bring any passengers back with you?” I asked, looking for a moment at the crates coming and going. They looked unremarkable. No labels, no stamps.

The broad Twi'lek adjusted the strap of the blaster slung over his shoulder. “If we can fit 'em, we try to. Sometimes wish that we didn't, though.”

“Oh? What were the passengers on the last trip like?”

“We had three. One was alright. The two other? Mm. Little bit on the strange side, y'know?”

“Was there a guy named Ranse on your last trip?”

“Y'know, s'funny you should ask that. Y'the second one to come asking about him today.”

That was interesting. Had Larel lied to me? “Who was the first?”

“A little.. furry thing. Drall? Didn't give his name.” Not Larel, then. I filed that detail away for later.

“What's your take on Ranse?”

“Seemed like a happy guy when he came on board. Sorta... spooked by the time we landed.”

“Was he one of your strange passengers?”

His head-tails wobbled as he shook his head. “Not him.”

I let that line of questions lay down before they'd ever really gotten up. “Ranse say where he was going?”

Again, a shake of the lekku. I nodded to myself. “I suppose it would be too much to ask if I could take a look on board.”

“Y'suppose right, friend. Can't let anyone on without the captain's say so. She's down at the Crown Cantina, if y'want to go try y'luck.”

Talus Longstar
Mar 18th, 2016, 04:02:35 AM
The Crown Cantina.

It was one of two dozen like it on the boulevard. Walls papered with wholesome Corelliana nostalgia, including black and white shots of the kind of men that my old man had called his pals. The kitchen sizzled with the smell of slightly over-cooked burgers that mingled with the cloud of smoke and booze that hung over the place.

I asked at the bar where I could find the crew of the Olga. The bartender signalled a corner booth, where a cluster of non-humans were talking and laughing. “Captain's the tail-head,” the bartender said, pointing out a blue-skinned woman. The rest of the table looked drunk but she just looked sullen.

I decided it wouldn't be wise to interrupt the gathering right away. I looked over the rest of the cantina and I wasn't surprised when I saw a familiar face sitting at one of the tables.

“Hello, Aspyrion.”

Kiris Aspyrion sat at a table on his own. He was wearing the standard uniform of a CorSec investigator. The high, green collar of his bone-white jacket was unbuttoned at the throat and he wore a CDEF blaster pistol at his hip. A neatly trimmed, if a little patchy, red beard covered a jaw set a too far forward in a way that had always reminded me of a bulldog. You could chisel stone with that jaw. His face was a lined and rugged as the Nomad Mountains and his eyes were as pale and unforgiving as the skies of the Nomad's highest peaks.

He looked at me as if I was about as remarkable as a house plant, no expression. “Longstar.”

I smiled and stood over his table. “Aren't you going to invite me to join you?”

He took a long sip from his drink and when he spoke, I could smell the whiskey on his breath. “I'm on duty.”

You wouldn't have guessed it to look at us, but once upon a time the two of us had been friends. At least, I'd thought we had. “Perhaps you can help me with something then, officer.” I sat down, knowing the invitation would come on the same day I was crowned Queen of Selonia.

Aspyrion's expression didn't change. Whatever I thought about my old friend, I had to admit: he had one of the best sabacc faces in the system. “If you've something t'report, you know where th'plaza is.”

“You're even more helpful then I remember you, Asp. How about this. The sooner you answer a couple of questions, the sooner I'll leave you alone to your.. duty.”

“How 'bout you just leave now, Longstar. Man could get a bad reputation being seen wi'the likes o'you.”

I barked a laugh. “After all the shit you've pulled, Asp – coming out of a little talk with me smelling like roses should be a piece of rhyscate.”

He shook his head. “What d'you want?”

“Have you heard anything about a freighter named the Olga, arrived into the Blue Sector a short time ago? I'm looking into it for a client.”

“How long ago?”

“Three days.”

He weighed that one up then washed it down with another mouthful of whiskey. “There's been a string of odd murders in t'last three days. Not sure I should be discussing the details wi' civilian, though.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the captain of the Olga making a move. She was leaving the booth on her own. Now was my chance to ask her a couple of questions. What a pity, that I had to cut my reunion with old Asp short.

“Maybe I'll drop by the plaza later. For a proper catch up.”

“Don't put y'r'self out.”

I smiled and headed for the door, following quickly in the footsteps of the blue-skinned Twi'lek.

Talus Longstar
Jun 7th, 2018, 01:54:38 PM
I caught up with the captain of the Olga a short way down the boulevard, where she stood outside another cantina, appraising posters for a cabaret show. Painted in the garish neons of the street signs, her blue skin looked purple and I could see that her pilot's jacket was frayed and beaten up in the way that only an experienced spacers jacket could be.

"Are you the captain of the Olga?"

"Zat depends who eez asking," she said, and when she turned her head towards me a fraction, I saw that her left eye was covered by a patch.

“Talus Longstar. I spoke with a member of your crew. He said I should come speak to you if I had any questions about the Olga, captain…?”

With an audible sigh she turned and leaned against a nearby lightpost, looking me up and down with absolutely no effort to appear anything other than disappointed at what she saw. I got the feeling she was a difficult woman to impress.

“Captain Milika. Eet’s my ship, yes.”

“You don’t sound too happy about that.”

Who could blame her? It didn’t take an expert in starship mechanics to know that freighter Olga looked about ready to fall apart.

“I was hoping to be able to take a look around the Olga.”

”And I was ‘oping to find the Jewel of Yavin een my Life Day stocking, but sadly, non.”

“I’ve heard you were carrying a man named Ranse on your ship,” I said, stepping aside just long enough to allow a noisy group of Rodian’s to pass by. As the space opened up between us again, she frowned at me.

“Does ee owe you money?”

I made a mental note at that. Larel had played her Sabacc hand close to her chest when it came to Ranse’s line of business. Maybe Milika knew more, or maybe she was just in the habit of transporting passengers who played a little faster and looser with their credits than Larel did with information.

“No. He’s a friend of mine,” I lied. “I’m just trying to figure out where he might be.”

Not very convincingly, I guess, based on the brittle laugh that earned me from captain Milika.

“Of course ee eez.” she smiled, a knowing smile that seemed to say: you can banthashit a banthashitter. “Look, I ‘ave no idea where ee eez. We picked eem up een the Outer Rim a couple of weeks ago and brought eem here.”

The bouncer of the bar we were closest to eyed the two of us with a squint. I smiled, tight-lipped, and took a step closer to Milika.

“Any chance I can take a look on board the Olga, maybe see where he was staying?”

From the look on her face, I might as well have asked if she’d like to enlist in the Imperial Navy.

“I don’t need people snooping around my ship,” she replied, taking a step away from the post she’d been leaning against and towards the sounds and smells of the nearest bar.

It was hard to argue with her. Without the backing of CorSec or the Empire, I couldn’t compel the captain to let me on board her ship. Maybe if I’d had a decent stack of credits, if Larel had paid me anything at all up front, I could have made like I wanted to buy passage, or straight up bribed her to let me take a poke around.

“If you see Ranse around, I’d appreciate it if you’d let him know that Brimseld is looking for him,” I said, but she was already halfway into the bar. She turned just enough to give me another look at that eyepatch and the humorless, flattened line of her lips, before she was gone.

It was the second time that night that a beautiful woman had left me feeling cold and confused, and I was no closer to finding my missing Zabrak.