Author Topic: A Proposition  (Read 1067 times)

Kalen Dain

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A Proposition
« 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."

Kalen Dain

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Re: A Proposition
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2017, 10:48:43 AM »
The Bothan eyed him wearily. "I'm sure you know by now that charging head first into that fight won't accomplish anything," he said calmly. "I have a proposition for you ... and Yana, if you believe she will take it. Something that will benefit all of us."

"What proposition?" Kalen asked warily. Whether the Bothan had been a friend of Rhel's or not, Kalen was wise enough to know that few offered help without wanting something for themselves. They could both obviously benefit from Trethin's death, and that, more than anything else, made them allies.

"I can get you both into his lair," Orsk said mildly. "Once inside, you can gain access to his quarters and do what needs to be done. In return, I will cancel Yana's debt to me."

Kalen wasn't a murderer or even an assassin, but Trethin had it coming in more ways than one. It still wasn't quite as simple as all that. "I don't want Yana getting hurt," he said, though he also know there was no way he was going to be able to leave her behind. She was as much a part of this as he was, and she had just as much at stake.

Orsk looked surprised but amused by this condition. "Tell you what," he suggested, "if you can convince her to stay behind, I'll give you a planet to rule over as well." That was as close as he was going to come to saying that Yana not getting hurt over this was never going to happen. He'd known her father, too.

Kalen snorted, knowing fully well that that was never going to happen. Yana was never going to agree to be left behind and leaving her behind on purpose was not a way to build trust. "What else do you want, besides Trethin's death?" he asked, knowing there had to be more to this than the Bothan was offering.

"A copy of his network notes," Orsk told him. "Something only accessible from the console inside his personal quarters. Make a record of it and delete the information, bring the copy to me. This isn't without risk, you understand. But I intend to send you back to him with enough money that he'll cancel Yana's debt and invite you both to stay for a few days. Just mention that you may have ripped me off over a deal, and he may even throw a party for you."

"What makes you think he'll tell me where he's keeping Rhel's daughter?" he asked, realizing with some distress that if Bothan was telling the truth, that made Rhel's daughter Kalen's sister. While Yana might be after a holo of her father, as well as her freedom, Kalen thought his stakes were much higher.

"I'm sure he won't tell you a thing," Orsk nodded. "But that information will be on his personal console as well. Information you want, for information I want. A fair deal?"

"And after that?" Kalen asked further, wanting to know whether he and Yana would then be in Orsk's debt. They'd be debt free, with a ship of their own, but no jobs prospects to speak of without connections.

"After that? You'll be picking up your sister, I'd imagine." The Bothan chuckled as he shook his shaggy head. "Depending on how much money you get away with, you'll either need work to bolster yourselves, or you'll find your own set up. Either way, we stay friendly, yes?"

That much was true, and though Kalen wasn't fond of murder, he wasn't above committing a little theft, especially if he was stealing from a man like Trethin. Of course, there could be repercussions if any of Trethin's men decided they wanted revenge, and Kalen wondered if they shouldn't just blow up the entire compound and let the chips fall where they may. The last thing he wanted was anyone tying him or Yana to the place, but they'd work out all the details later. "You were a friend of ... of Rhel's?" Kalen asked, unable to refer to the man as his father, just yet. It would take some time for him to absorb that, though it made a lot of sense now that he thought about it. He wondered why the thought had never occurred to him before. He had swallowed what Rhel had told him and never questioned it.

Orsk's chuckle grew to a laugh. "Wily bastard saved my life once," he shared easily. "Never let me forget it, either. Triem was pretty pissed when we lost him - could be why he went into service with Trethin himself. I never did find out exactly what happened to either of them, but it's another reason to go after the man. He killed my friends. I don't let things like that go without retribution."

"You've waited a long time for it," Kalen remarked, more observation than accusation. If truth be told, so had he, but he'd had his reasons and he figured so had Orsk.

"I have a long memory." The Bothan's tone was dark as he said this. He repaid every slight against him, and against those he considered to be his friends. That revenge might be years in the planning, but it always happened. "Trethin might have been expecting it a few years ago. No doubt he thinks he's safe now. But he doesn't know about little Yan's connection to me, and I doubt he has even an inkling of your attachment to her."

"I need to contact him," Kalen said with a sigh. He'd let it go too long as it was, and he was going to have to lie through his teeth so that Trethin didn't suspect what was going on right under his nose. He hadn't decided yet what exactly he was going to tell the man, which was in part why he hadn't contacted him yet.

"Have you decided to take my proposal?" Orsk asked him, his tone returning to the mild gentility that wrong-footed so many people who thought they could swindle him. "I can give you a tale to spin for him, if so."

"I don't see how I can refuse," Kalen replied, both of them knowing that Orsk's proposal benefitted them both, as well as Yana. Though they might have different reasons, they all wanted the same thing.

"Then you can inform him that Pandora was attacked by unknown pirates, damaged beyond repair," Orsk told him. "You were taken captive - both of you - by agents of Hitin the Hutt. You escaped and stole your current ship, and have just sold the cargo for a handsome sum. I will provide you with the credits to pay him off."

"You've thought this all out," Kalen remarked, realizing that the man had been considering this for at least a few days - probably ever since Yana had come to him for help. He couldn't help but be impressed, but then he would have expected no less from a man in Orsk's position.

"I'm not known for acting recklessly." Orsk smirked, well aware of his reputation, and what he'd done to reinforce it. "Trethin is unaware that there is anything outside his galaxy - any communication sent from this side of the Nexus Gate will be encrypted at his end."

Kalen Dain

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Re: A Proposition
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2017, 10:49:06 AM »
"Not so unaware that he wasn't able to arrange for a bounty on my head," Kalen said, unable to repress the loathing and anger from his voice. If they could get to Trethin's console, they might be able to withdraw the bounty, and Kalen would be a free man. "I didn't kill Rhel," he added, though it seemed the Bothan didn't need convincing.

"The Bounty Hunters' Guild has a long arm, but it's in their interests to make sure that their clients are unaware of how far it is possible to reach," the Bothan pointed out. "With Trethin dead, there will be no one to pay them for your death. Without monetary incentive, there's no bounty."

"True enough," Kalen agreed. Again, it seemed that Orsk had considered this already. "It seems we have a deal then," he said. Though he still needed to relay all this to Yana, he doubted she would be in disagreement. And then, there was the matter of Rhel's daughter - or rather, Kalen's sister.

One furry hand reached toward his to seal the deal. "You'll have to move quickly once you have the information you need and Trethin is dead," Orsk warned him. "I have no doubt he has contingencies in place for your little sister should anything happen to him."

"Understood," Kalen replied, reaching to take the Bothan's hand. There was no way around it, it seemed, and it was a chance he was just going to have to take. Of course, there was always the option of taking Trethin prisoner until his sister was free, but he thought that might be even riskier.

"I'll have the credit bars delivered to your ship by this evening," Orsk told him confidently, evidently more sure that Yana would agree than Kalen was. "You should contact him today, leave tomorrow. He'll expect you back at his side sooner rather than later."

That didn't give them much time to get the ship ready or for him to tell Yana what he and Orsk had discussed, but it would have to do. A deal was a deal, and Kalen was anxious for this business with Trethin to be finished. "Very well," Kalen said, moving to his feet as he sensed this meeting was at an end. What else was there to say, after all?

"Good luck, Captain Dain," the Bothan nodded to him. "Try not to die. I'll have to find someone else to take revenge for getting Rhel's boy killed, and I'm really not ready to die myself."

There was that word again - Captain. He didn't really consider himself to be worthy of the title, which seemed meaningless amidst a crew of two, but he didn't argue the fact. He might have bristled a little at being referred to as a boy, but when it was said in connection with Rhel, he couldn't help but feel proud of the fact. "I'll be in touch," he promised, but it probably wouldn't be until after they were finished with Trethin. He said nothing about the risk to his own life. He had no intention of letting Trethin win again. "Thank you," he said, offering a nod of his head in return.

Orsk watched him out of the grounded starship that was his base of operations, turning his eyes to follow the human's progress out of The Graveyard on the monitors that recorded every angle. The task he had set the man was not impossible, but it was risky, and Orsk had sent not one, but two of his closest friends' children into that danger. He had faith, but sometimes faith wasn't enough. Sometimes faith needed a little help. He sighed, watching as Kalen met Yana on the edge of his property, and sent them on their way with a wish he had not heard spoken aloud in decades.

"May the Force be with you."