« on: April 16, 2017, 10:47:42 AM »
Orsk Hitin was, in layman's terms, a crime boss. He would call himself an entrepreneur, of course, but he had his fingers in as many less than legal pies as he could manage - and he could manage quite a bit. That said, he did not dabble in sentient misery, or take sides in wars. He was fiercely loyal to those he considered friends; he never shirked what he considered to be a duty. He had a sense of honor that went well above and beyond what was necessary for a successful businessman, and despite having never once set foot in his home galaxy after arriving on Rhy'Din, he had his finger on the pulse of what was going on at home. His network spanned several galaxies by now - being connected to Orsk was a lucrative business. Knowing that, it was a surprise that Yana Triem had never run jobs for him, despite her connection to the Bothan through her father.
Still, Orsk retained a kind of warmth for her, and it was that warmth that had gotten her a new ship in the first place. It was also that warmth that got Kalen Dain a face-to-face with him at Yana's request, albeit without Yana present. Some things should be kept private until both sides decide to divulge them.
Kalen had only met Orsk Hitin once, and it was so long ago, he hardly remembered the encounter, save for the uniqueness of the Bothan's features, which were decidedly not human. Having been raised on Rhy'Din and traveled throughout the known universe, he'd met many different races, both humanoid and otherwise, but there was something about Orsk that immediately put Kalen at ease in his presence, even though it had been years since that first meeting between them. Rhel had been the only link between them, after all, and Rhel was dead.
"Dain ... hmm. Ardinn's boy, yes?" Orsk gestured for Kalen to make himself comfortable on the same couch Yana had been on only a day before, himself taking a seat opposite. "Judging by this ship registration, you're little Yan's new partner. How did you convince her to do that, I wonder?"
Kalen was as unpretentious as the man who had raised him and had come dressed in the same nondescript clothing Yana had scavenged up for him a few days before. At least, he was clean and tidy and, perhaps more importantly, well-mannered. After all, he knew he already owed Orsk a debt of gratitude, though it was a debt he was willing to repay. "I think it was her who convinced me, really," he replied, which was at least partly true, taking a seat opposite the Bothan.
"I wonder what changed her mind." It wasn't a question. Orsk set the datapad aside, one hand stroking the fur on his muzzle as he considered Kalen thoughtfully. "She didn't tell me your name," he informed Kalen. "Loyal little thing, that one, even when she's in a terrible mood. She's the one who owes the debt, not you. So I find myself wondering ... why are you here?"
"What changed her mind?" Kalen echoed. So, Yana had come to Orsk to make a deal for a ship without any thought of Kalen, at least at first, even though he had been the one to offer a partnership to free her from Trethin. "We are much alike, Yana and I. Perhaps more than she cares to admit," he said, but that did not answer Orsk's question. Kalen bristled just a little at that very pointed question, Orsk wasting no time in coming straight to the point. "I want to be free of Trethin, once and for all." Simple answer to a simple question, but not such a simple predicament.
"I should think there are many people who think the same way," Orsk mused, leaning back in his seat. Canine eyes that were far too intelligent to mistake for the eyes of a dog studied the human across from him for an uncomfortably long time. "As it happens, Trethin is becoming something of a thorn in my side," he intimated. "His people have standing orders to attack mine on sight. Removing him would be the quickest way to end that problem."
"It's not that simple, I'm afraid. Trethin has something that belongs to Yana," Kalen started, unsure if he could trust Orsk enough to confide his own reasons for wanting Trethin dead, other than the obvious ones. Those reasons were many and varied, but went well beyond simple vengeance, and he had never spoken of it to anyone - not even Yana.
One furry brow rose as Kalen spoke. "And something belonging to you, if I'm any judge," the Bothan said pointedly. "Rhel Ardinn's son wouldn't throw in with a man like Trethin just because of a bounty on his head."
Kalen arched a curious brow, not only at the way the Bothan seemed to infer more than Kalen was telling him, but also at way he referred to him in connection with Rhel. "Foster son," Kalen corrected him, though in all honesty, Rhel had been the one who had raised him and more than a father to him than his own flesh and blood. He hardly remembered his parents past a tearful goodbye that had happened so long ago, it almost felt like it had happened to someone else and not him. Why then was he bothering to correct the Bothan?
"Son." There was a confidence in the Bothan's voice that was difficult to argue with. "Who else would your mother have entrusted you to at such a young age, if not your true father? Rhel didn't have the first idea he was a father before she contacted him with that request. He refused to tell you the truth - said you deserved to think of her husband as your father, rather than a smuggler with dubious connections. I pretended not to understand that last part."
Kalen blinked once, before staring in disbelief at the Bothan's revelation, and yet, Orsk seemed perfectly serious and perfectly convinced that what he was telling Kalen was the truth. Why now, then? Why not before? The implications of what Orsk was telling him were only just starting to sink into Kalen's brain. "No, that's ... that's impossible," he found himself saying, his voice suddenly hoarse.
Orsk watched him for a moment, turning to growl an order at the nearest droid. "On the contrary, boy, it's very possible," he told Kalen. "It's the truth. What you do with it, if anything, is your decision." The droid bustled over to them, placing a cup in front of Kalen. "Just water, I'm not trying to poison you."
Kalen found himself wishing for something a lot stronger than water, but was too polite to ask. Water was better than nothing. He took up the cup and drank it down without hesitation, wishing it would dull the ache in his heart, but at least it wet his throat. Yes, it was possible, but there was no proof really. If it was true, though, he had even more reason to kill Trethin than he already had. He found his fingers tightening on the cup in his hand, like they might around Trethin's throat, knuckles turning white with the effort, his jaw clenched tightly as he tried to control the war waging inside him.
"I have to ask ..." Orsk's mild tone made an attempt to bring him back from the brink. "Rhel had a daughter, too. He made a point of knowing that; didn't want to make the same mistake he'd made with you. Before his death, she was in the care of her mother - since then, my agents have been unable to locate her. Trethin's hand, I assume?"
Kalen jerked his head back toward Orsk, obviously stunned to hear him mention something no one was supposed to know - something not even Kalen had known until a few years ago. He thought to ask how he might know, but it seemed obvious that Rhel must have told him himself. Perhaps Rhel and Orsk had been better friends than even Kalen had realized. He narrowed his eyes, the hatred he felt for Trethin obvious in his expression and his tone of voice. "I'm going to kill him."