Star Wars: Edge of the Empire

Movement. The Twilek slowly rouses to the feeling of hands pulling her from her bindings and laying her on something flat, binding her once more.

The world shakes to life with a rhythm of bumps as Zet’nuri is taken by stretcher on wheels down the loading ramp of Shard’s ship and into an unknown facility. When her eyes focus, the captive is able to see the predator who caught her, walking along side the stretcher. There are others, as well.

An Aqualesh standing ahead of Shard, pulling the stretcher. If it doesn’t cause nausea to turn her head, she would see a Rodian and a Zabrak to her right, pulling the stretcher along.

The lights above are overly bright but do little to illuminate the dark corridors they take her through. Sounds of machinery can be heard for a few minutes after the typical hangar soundtrack fades away. As she is taken deeper still into the facility she hears laughter and argument, the opus of large groups of people going about their daily lives. Wherever the Twilek is, she is not alone in this place.

Heavy metal doors scrape open and Zet’nuri finds herself hauled up from the stretcher to stand, whether she is ready or not. Shard holds her by the arm and moves her forward with the Twilek, fingers squeezing a little at the woman’s bicep in an attempt to reassure her.

She isn’t really sure whether she’s been asleep or not. Shard really hit her with the good stuff. Zet hardly stirs when she’s moved, although her eyes flutter sightlessly. It’s not until she’s rattling down the hall that she slurs something that sounds a little like Ryl, blinking to try to clear her vision. Shard swims in and out of view, and after a moment she just closes her eyes again to wait for the vertigo to pass. The bright lights are doing painful things to her frazzled brain anyway.

Zet makes this funny sound in her throat when her feet hit the ground — she barely remembers sitting up. Swaying into Shard as she overcompensates for her lack of balance, she gives her head a slow shake. She needs to be sharp, and it’s not happening. She doesn’t really have the clarity of thought to put up any kind of front right now; she just waits, squeezing her eyes shut and opening them repeatedly to make the room hold still in front of her. Her feet move to keep pace with the bounty hunter as best they can, but they are only now beginning to feel attached to her body again.

“What?” a gravely voice says from ahead. The buzz of voices ceases and a stillness fills the air.

“I found something you have been looking for,” Shard says through her helmet, the high range of the frequency through the powered vocoder carry her voice and make a stark contrast to the deep gravel of the reply. The huntress ushers her captive forward, standing alongside her.

“Am I looking for this one?” the gravel in the darkness says. A series of chuckles can be heard all around them. It is a den of Narglash, and the Twilek is in the center of it all.

The darkness shifts as someone stands and approaches. Behind them is visible a softly glowing orange rock, throbbing with heat. Stepping into the light of the room, a tall Falleen woman steps into view. She closes the distance between the she and the huntress very quickly, tilting her head slightly foward to look at her past red quartz sunglasses. “I’m not always certain you understand what I’m looking for, bounty hunter,” she says with a slither and grind in her deep voice.

A moment of staring into her own reflection through Shard’s helmet and the Faleen turns her head to inspect the catch, a hand already up and gripping Zet’s jaw. “I am Nyssa,” she hisses. Her voice is unsettling and her proximity to the Twilek- unnerving. “What is my present for today? What are you?” she asks, amused, turning the Twilek’s head side to side and looking her over like chattle.

This is really not the time to make a scene, and Zet isn’t sure her bound limbs would cooperate with her anyway. She shuffles forward with Shard, shrugging one shoulder to correct the uncomfortable way one of her headtails was draped over it.

Squinting into the gloom, Zet warily lifts her eyes to Nyssa’s face, saying absolutely nothing until she is addressed. She cringes when the woman takes her face but makes no move to pull away. Swallowing against the suddenly dry feeling in her mouth, it takes her a moment or two to remember how to use her tongue — that’s more unnerving to her than all the rest. “Zetnu’ri,” she replies quietly. Her eyes flick to the side briefly, towards Shard, the arguably friendliest being in the room, but just about anyone would be inscrutable under that helment.

The reptilian hmms thoughtfully, yellow eyes dilating and blinking sideways as she scrutinizes the prisoner. “Zetnu’ri? Hmm. Ah yes, the girl who doesn’t like slaves,” she says with a slither, bearing a predator’s set of teeth in a wide grin.

Long, scaled fingers climb from jaw to side of head and up to threaten squeezes to Lekku. “Do I recall correctly? Well? Speak up, dear,” she teases, clearly enjoying the captive response.

For her part, Shard looks on silently, the angle of her helmet indicating she is returning Zet’s look.

All it takes is the lightest touch of her headtail to snap Zet’s attention back to Nyssa’s face. Her pupils have dilated with fear already, even if she seems to have the rest of her expression under control again. Nothing like adrenaline to clean the drugs out of your system.

“Yes.” She speaks at a normal volume this time, though it comes out as a bit of a croak. “That was me.” A thready, self-depracating smile tugs at her lips. “Were those yours?”

The Falleen nods, mockingly nodding her prisoners head by the Lekku in sync. "Yes,they were. Oh yes they were, weren’t they? " she says in a time of voice better suited to addressing a Voorpak.“You cost me dearly, Zetnu’ri. I will repay you in kind.”

“Enough,” the Mandalorian interrupts. “My credits. Now,” she says abruptly. There is no patience in the huntress for behaviour such as this.

Nyssa straightens up, markedly taller than the bounty hunter, though not nearly as well equipped or historied in acts of violence. “Very well. I do believe this little liar fetches fifteen thousand credits. I’m happy to oblige,” the Vigo offers with a smile and a show of grace.

“Thirty thousand,” Shard retorts. The woman is hardly in the mood for negotiations. “I want my credits you shuuta,” she adds for good measure, palm on her side arm, the other raising.

Nyssa laughs in a way that chills the room. The Suns lounging in the area have their weapons trained on the center of the room.

Though that’s really the problem, isn’t it? Scum like the Black Suns are rife with ambitious, dim-witted thugs clamouring to the top of the food chain. A gun fight with Nyssa in the middle would surely result in a tragic accident, a case of unavoidable friendly fire.

Nyssa realizes it after a moment and runs her forked tongue across her lips as she surveys the huntress before her. “I do so love a woman in charge,” she flirts and waves her hand in consent. “Twenty-five thousand and a free refuel for that so of yours,” the Vigo offers.

Wincing, Zet is forced to move her head as directed or suffer the painful consequences. She hasn’t said a thing in response when Shard cuts off the proceedings.

Suffice to say being the subject of a tense negotiation is not her typical experience. When she hears the rattle and hum of blasters, her eyes dart from side to side. Wow, that is not what she needs today. Thank goodness Nyssa is here to play meatshield.

“I’m not even worth thirty K anymore?” Her voice is soft again, coloured with a vain attempt to inject a little levity. “She fell out a fifty story window for this paycheck.”

Shard tilts her head to the side looking quizzically at the sudden comedian. The humour breaks the tension in the room. Nyssa let’s out a hearty laugh and the room relaxes.

“Thirty. She’s funny, " Nyssa capitulates.

The Rodian from earlier shuffles over and gives the bounty hunter her payment. The exchange is complete.

The Black Sun Vigo snaps her fingers and thugs grab Zetnu’ri and haul her away to her new life. Shard begins to walk away. She stops, looks back at Zet.

Then she leaves.

Zet flashes a slightly manic smile at Shard. Yes. Ha ha. So funny. Her breath escapes her in a sharp gasp as she changes hands, and she, too, twists to glance back over her shoulder at the bounty hunter, who may well be the last not-unfriendly face she sees.

She has to turn back around quickly to keep pace though, giving her head another small shake as the last of the drug cobwebs leave it. Her eyes dart from one spot to another, taking in whatever features of this place she can as she tries to make herself as small and compliant as possible. If they’re planning to hurt her she doesn’t really want to give them any extra reason to be angry with her this early on.

The Black Sun walk her through a few corridors. Had the Twilek likely has not discovered the facility is in an artic location, she would be pleasantly surprised to find the temperature and humidity in within the facility was downright tropical. It is a blast of cold mist that comes as an unwelcome surprise and further wakes the prisoner once they enter a damp, dark room with flickering hallogen lighting overhead.

“Get naked,” goes the rough translation from a Gand standing at a table. He points his finger at the table leaving one with the assumption he either wishes Zet to lay down on the table or to place her clothing on the table. In the corner she sees a Quarren with a hose standing in an enormous puddle, watching the water trickle down the grating floor.

Shockingly enough, this is the first time Zet has been taken into custody in her entire criminal career. But she’s seen and heard enough about how it works. The Quarren gets this bland look as she’s waiting to have her hands unbound so she can strip down as ordered.

She shrugs out of her new jacket first, taking a subtle opportunity to feel over the hidden pockets. Zet is downright startled to feel the small shape of a holdout blaster still tucked away in there. Was Shard half-asleep when she searched her? With her hands up to show she’s not going to try anything funny, she approaches the table to lay her jacket down on it. Her vest and belt follow, then boots, shirt, pants, underthings. Beneath all the bravado and straps and pockets, Zetnu’ri is just another skinny green Twi’lek. She folds her slender arms over her chest, awaiting further instruction in silence.

A guffaw or a chuckle comes from the Quarren once the Twilek is nude and embarrassed. He looks on as the Gand begins to search the items. Having several eyes if of apparent value while searching, because where Shard was unable to find Zet’s secret compartments, the Black Sun have no such difficulty. “What!?” the Gand yells in his native language, surprised as he pulls out a grenade! One, then two, then three, then four, and on and on it goes. His large set of flat teeth chatter as he continues his shock.

The Quarren actually steps closer, water drizzling from the hose at his side as he looks on from behind Zet, sharing the Gand’s bewilderment.

Zet flickers one more glance at the Quarren, her headtails giving an irritated little twitch where they hang down her bare back. Her current unease has more to do with the audience than her state of undress. She’s run with beings like this before and heard the way they talk to each other.

A faint smile starts to pull at her lips as the depth of Shard’s complete failure to search her comes to light. Granted, Zet was hoping to make use of those, but this is the second best outcome. “I guess you get what you pay for, huh boys?”

The Quarren moves behind Zetnu’ri, towards the doorway. He bangs on the heavy metal door and it slides open with a scrape. The Quarren’s tendrils dance and flicker as it relays in a casual amused way what happened. A rumor mill begins regarding the Twilek prisoner and all her grenades.

The door slides shut again once more and suddenly Zetnu’ri is bombarded with torrents of icy cold water. The Black Sun laugh as she is hosed down from head to toe for what seems like an hour to the Twilek but it likely fewer than five minutes.

Most of Zet’s attention is fixed on the Gand, curious to see what else it will find in her jacket. When the holdout blaster never materializes, she carefully schools her features. If she doesn’t get the trenchcoat back it won’t matter anyway.

She lets out a startled squeal as the water hits the small of her back. Twisting to protect her sensitive lekku from the water pressure, she lifts her arms to guard her face as well. Her fingers and toes are beginning to feel numb from cold by the time the hose shuts off, and she’s shivering from head to toe. Swiping water away from her eyes, she flicks it off the ends of her fingers, her shoulders slumped miserably.

The barrage of water continues for some time, well beyond what would be necessary to clean someone. Once the experience becomes boring for the pair, the Quarren turns off the water, leaving the prisoner to shiver.

“You not so tricky now,” the Gand says in its native tongue. Zet can hear the tendrils of the Quarren move as it laughs at her. Another bang on the door, louder this time, and it screeches open. The Aqualesh and Rodian from step inside and grab their prisoner at the arms, pulling her.

The Gand shines his large mouth of teeth at Zet. He picks up her clothes and throws it at her. The pazaak deck remains with the grenades on the table.

Whatever fight Zet had left in her is temporarily washed away by the blast of the hose. Her eyes fix on her cards, then lift to the Gand’s face, but she says nothing. In the end, it’s better to bide her time and stay alive.

She tenses as strong hands close on her biceps, then lets out a soft grunt as she captures her balled-up clothes against her chest. The jacket is particularly bulky and heavy, but she manages. “Now what?” she asks in Huttese, glancing at her two escorts.

The Aqualesh ignores the Huttese but the Rodian turns to address the Twilek. “We put you in box,” it replies in broken Huttese. Rodians have difficulty with languages outside their native tongue. While Huttese is not entirely dissimilar from their own language, the challenge Rodians face in becoming polyglots mean many do not usually bother learning at all.

The facility is like a catacomb. Zet is dragged through multiple corridors before they stop in front of a cell and throw her roughly inside, slamming the heavy metal door.

Then she is alone.

The cell is similar in dimension to the container in Shard’s ship. 8 × 8 but instead of clear plastoid, it seems to be made of concrete. It is cold to the touch, dirty, and shows signs of claw marks; a Trandoshan or similarly equipped captive was held here at some point. There is a simple bed that must have been salvaged from a starship, a rough knitted blanket that has more in common with a sac than something you’d snuggle up with for rest. There is also a small refresher. There is no privacy and no plumbing.

Zet has to fumble several times to keep her grip on all of her things. She’s silent and cooperative, but her head turns from side to side as they walk. Maybe if she pays attention she can memorize the way out, or spot a good hiding place or two, like a trusty vent.

Her bare feet scrabble for purchase when they thrust her into her new living quarters. She spins in place to watch the door close, then backs away to drop her clothes on the bed. Quickly, she dresses — and, finally given the chance, inventories her pockets herself. A dose of ryll and a holdout blaster. Could be worse.

Sitting, she pulls the ‘blanket’ over her lap to try to warm back up after the icewater combined with a long, nude walk. Zet presses the heels of her hands into her eyes and takes in a slow breath. Her shoulders tremble as this quiet moment allows the gravity of the situation to sink in: she’s alone. Her friends have no idea where she is, and she has no clue what the Suns have in store for her.

They leave her there for three days.