Zet was still more or less immersed in her holonovel when Callia left to get something to eat earlier, and by the time she gets back, the Twi’lek is nowhere to be found in their shared accommodations. Neither is Santos. Maybe it’s an ideal time to get in a bit of quiet meditation before those two troublemakers come back?
She won’t have long, though, as soon the green-skinned smuggler is bursting back through the door, two bottles of something colourful and likely alcoholic partially covered by the front of her jacket. “- lots of blankets on two beds,” she’s saying in a not-very-hushed tone to whoever’s following her. “More than enough to make a fort with the chairs- um…” Zet trails off when she sees that she and Santos aren’t alone, shuffling inside to make enough room for her friend to get in behind her and shut the door. Looking a bit like someone who isn’t sure if she’s in trouble or not, she plunks down the bottles on the counter of the kitchenette.
“Alright, I’ll attach one to the top of the closet..” Santos begins before realizing Callia’s in the room. Another two bottles are gently plunked down on the kitchenette. Well, one and a half.
“What’s she… is that how humans sleep” He asks in a whisper, studying Callia’s activity.
Callia was a little relieved to find the room empty when she came back. Perhaps that meant she could use the time for some more meditation. She hasn’t done anything too peculiar and is sitting quietly in the middle of the room, hands folded in her lap and letting herself flow into the Force. The serenity and solitude is a welcome change after the past days.
Of course, that could never last. She doesn’t open her eyes when the two enter the room, nor does she acknowledge them right away. Meditation can be distracting and enveloping, after all. There is a delayed response to them both. “Welcome back.”
Okay, well, that cracks Zet up. “No, they sleep laying down like everyone else… Hey Callia.”
Leaning up against the counter, she peers curiously at the woman on the floor, and then adds, “We were gonna build a blanket fort in here. And then drink in it. Excessively. You could help if you want!”
Santos is already hooking a blanket over the closet door as Zet goes over the plan. “Awesome. Callia, can you push that desk into place? We can line up the chairs on either side to make a great room.”
Clearly, to Santos’ mind, when confronted with the opportunity to build a fort, the answer is always YES!
Callia opens her eyes and studies both of the smugglers. Exactly how old are they, again? But then, didn’t Yoda always boast about the minds of children? The human smiles. “I can help with your fort, sure.” She replies and stands up in one smooth motion. So much for peace and quiet.
That’s right, playing is good for you. Zet flashes Callia a grin – she’s certainly looking better than she was earlier, although that half-empty bottle Santos was carrying might have something to do with that. “And the excessive drinking,” she prompts her, but she’s already moving to rearrange the chairs as the Chiss suggested. It’s almost like they’ve done this before. “We might need to steal the blankets from your bed too…”
Almost as if Zet’s narrating Santos’ movements, he’s busy stripping Callia’s bed of blankets, and tying corners together. “Yes, the excessive drinking is the most important part.” They probably should have brought a few more bottles for Callia. Ah well, hindsight.
Callia leaves anything about excess drinking unsaid for the moment. Really, she’s alright. The two of them are a force to be reckoned with, she decides, as they’re already so focused on taking over the entire room with a blanket fort. Callia cannot help but chuckle and start helping Santos strip down the rest of the beds and tie corners together. “So, are blanket forts something you two regularly build?”
That’s what room service is for. “Umm… define regularly,” Zet replies slowly, hauling the last chair into place. “Maybe we could just say… it’s not the first time. But we only make them on special occasions? Santos thinks we should be celebrating that we all got off of Bespin alive, therefore, blanket fort and alcohol.”
“YES! We’re alive, we’re free, and we’re heading home to my baby. What’s not to celebrate?” Santos works with surprising fluidity considering his fresh burn wound. He takes his forts very seriously.
“We do try to keep our building skills sharp. You never know when you’ll be stranded on the streets of Nar Shaddaa, right?” He follows up, cheerfully.
“I see. That’s quite the celebration.” Callia’s head bobs as she speaks, the amused grin on her face growing wider. “Ah, I suppose that would be a valuable skill. Is that home for both of you?”
“I’m never stranded on Nar Shaddaa,” Zet retorts with a cocky flip of her head-tails. She leans hard on the desk, but that proves to be beyond her abilities to move, so instead she wanders over to the blanket Santos had put over the closet door and starts to carefully stretch it towards the chairs. “It’s where we met. I grew up there.”
“And it’s where Dash is. until we get it up in the air again. There’s room enough for more too, if you’re in need.” Santos lets Zet take over the blankets as he moves towards the desk, gliding it across the floor with a little effort.
Callia watches Zet try and fail to push the desk around so she goes to take over there, pushing it close enough to have blankets drapped over. “Zet had mentioned as much and I’ve accepted her offer. It’ll be fun.”
Zet glances up when Santos invites Callia along, darting a quick look between them. She hadn’t exactly mentioned the invitation to her business partner yet… she’d just kind of assumed it would be okay. Good thing it is! “I was gonna tell you,” she says to Santos with a bit of a shrug. “Especially after Bespin… I’m kinda feeling like there’s strength in numbers right now.” Although she’s not so great at moving heavy furniture, she’s got quick and clever fingers, and she’s making easy work of getting the blankets hooked or tied to the chairs in creative ways.
With the work almost done, Santos heads to the kitchenette ask produces three glasses from the cupboard. He carefully cradles two bottles in each arm, holding the glasses in place with his fingers, and makes his way into the fort.
“Hmm,” he mutters, “it’s a bit dark in here. You still have those glow rods, right Zet?”
Callia helps Zet finish up once the desk is in place. Once everything is together, she too climbs inside. “I haven’t done this since I was a child.” She murmurs. “We would build forts with our sleep mats…” She trails off wistfully.
“Watch your head so you don’t wreck it all, Santos,” Zet says breezily. Still outside the fort, she reaches into one of the pockets of her belt. They’ll both hear two soft cracking sounds, and then a pair of lightly glowing blue plastic tubes come rolling into the front, faintly illuminating the insides. The Twi’lek follows close behind on hands and knees, settling in to sit beside the Chiss. “You and your siblings?” Zet supplies, looking across at Callia. She’s actually pretty positive she isn’t talking about brothers and sisters.
Santos gets busy filling the three glasses nearly to the brim with the half-full bottle. He passes a glass to each of the women, and holds up his own, waiting to the expected, satisfying “ching” of glass hitting glass. “You had a large family?” Also directed at Callia, completely believing she’s talking about brothers and sisters.
Callia chuckles, giving the pair a look. “A very large family, yes. Most of them died during the Clone Wars twenty years ago.” Really, they were her brothers and sisters. “I haven’t thought about them much in the recent years.”
Callia looks at the glass handed to her and does indeed ‘ching’ with Santos’ glass. She’ll only take a few sips, though.
Zet gives Santos a much more enthusiastic clink with her glass, though not so hard as to splash precious alcohol everywhere. She’s avoiding Callia’s eyes now under the pretense of watching her drink as she lifts it to her mouth. Only after she’s swallowed a mouthful, with a slight twitch of one eye at the faint burn in her throat, does she reply, “Sorry to hear that.” She sounds sincere, at least. “Santos probably doesn’t know what you’re even talking about. Are your parents still around somewhere?”
Santos sees Callia’s “few sips” and raises half a glass. “I’ve heard about the Clone Wars,” he shoots back, slightly defensively, “although the way I learned about it, it was called ’The Collapse of the Decadent Galactic Republic.” He gives his best stuffy professor impersonation, which might have been more convincing if not for the quivering of his mouth trying to burst into laughter."
It strikes him that laughing after Callia’s comment might seem a bit insensitive. “Did anyone survive?”
“The Decadent Galactic Republic. Yes, that is a good name for it. It was becoming rather…corrupt from the amount of power it was weilding. Not that a Dictator calling the shots is an improvement.” Callia takes a bit of a larger drink. This is a rough topic. “No, they are not. As for survivors…I’m sure some did but none of us have come across each other in years. The Empire is too big and it’s become increasingly more difficult to traverse space or send messages.”
Zet was only a kid when that all happened, so she doesn’t have much of an opinion either way about the decadence or non-decadence of the former republic. She just grins, having another swig of her drink. “See, that’s why you need to travel with a pair of smugglers. We know all the sneaky ways to look around.”
“We’re very good at sneaking.” Santos grins wildly, oblivious to the absurdity of that statement, given how ‘sneaky’ they were with entering the room. He looks down at his empty glass with a frown, and tops it up. While he’s at it, he tops up Zet’s glass and empties the remainder of the bottle into Callia’s. “One down, three to go!”
“Clearly.” Callia agrees sardonically. “Very good at sneaking. We can sneak in and out of all the dangerous places.” She takes another sip of her beverage, smiling just a little after Santos tips the rest of the bottle in her glass. “How do you plan to get back to Nar Shaddaa? We should look up where exactly this cruiser is headed.”
“We snuck into that skyscraper just fine.” Callia wasn’t there to witness the high-pitched sound Zet made as she ziplined from one building to the other or the way she needed a solid object like a wall or Santos to lean on until her knees stopped wobbling. As far as the Twi’lek is concerned, it’s better that way. “Umm, well, the bad news is, passenger vessels like this follow major trading routes and basically the only way to go from Bespin is in. Like, deeper into Imperial space. So, probably we should hop off within a stop or two and get ourselves turned around properly, whether that means taking a job or two that will get us moving back in the right direction, or um, commandeering another ship.” A beat, as she swallows. “Probably it’d be better to work back that way or we’re gonna come up short,” she adds, with a glance at Santos.
“Heading into Imperial space might not be that bad an idea though. It would definitely be easier to find transport to the boarder of Hutt space.” The Chiss wastes no time in emptying another half his glass. “I mean, you and I are nobodies as far as the Empire is concerned, and get I get the feeling Callia can get around well enough unnoticed.”
“Imperial space means checkpoints and getting through security without getting caught, though,” Callia mutters softly. It was so much easier before the admiral was on her ass. “We’ll just have to be careful and…sneaky, as you two put it so eloquently. For some reason, I doubt Qurzer will have any trouble. Who knows about Ingrid, though.” She takes another drink. “As much as the idea of Hutt space doesn’t seem any better, it might be good to get back there as soon as we can.”
Zet is finally almost finished with her glass – which is more like a glass and a half, thanks to Santos topping it up before it was empty. Draining it, she hopefully holds it out towards the bottle. Refill?? “It’s true that the deeper we go in, the more trade routes we can follow to get back out,” she admits uneasily. “But um, you do remember that message Callia got back on Tatooine, right?” If Zet had eyebrows she’d be pointedly raising them at Santos right now. “I don’t know that we’re all nobodies to the Imperials.”
Santos tips the bottle into Zet’s glass, wavering just slightly. Of course, it would be rude to fill Zet’s glass and no one else’s, so more for Callia, and more for himself.
“Yeah, Zet. I haven’t forgotten about Admiral ’let’s just set three tie-fighters after them.’” His drink sloshes from side to side as he waves his arms around energetically. “Seriously, that was just an insult. Wasn’t even a challenge. We can work around it though. You can make us some fresh credentials, and after I break out my disguise kit, no one’s gonna recognize her.”
One look at Zet and he already knows he’s not winning this one. “Or we can go the scenic route. At least we might make enough cred to get my ship up and running again.”
Callia has maybe had half a glass at this point. When Santos tops her up again, she gives the Chiss a look. “It’s alright, you don’t have to pour more in mine every time you want a little more.” She says.
“Scenic routes are alright. There are more hyperspace lanes in Imperial territory, but…they are heavily controlled. Lots of checkpoints and the whole nine yards. Maybe not as much as there used to be, but with the rumors of rebels in the Empire, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t start cracking down more.”
“We do need the credits,” Zet points out, trying to make the idea even more appealing. “The more we make the more we get to keep. Or the bigger payment we can make which means less interest later…” She empties about a third of her glass all at once. She likely hasn’t had as much to drink as Santos, but she’s quite a bit smaller than he is, so she’s starting to look almost as wobbly. “Like, there’s actually no point in trekking all the way back there if we don’t have it together… They’re already gonna be pissed that we blew Teemo off. So on top of the fact that it’s better for Callia this way…”
Santos gives Callia a confused look, nearly identical to the look he gave her in Vorse’s penthouse. How else would she get excessively drunk?
“Ok. We’ll stay in the Outter Rim. We can’t avoid the Empire forever though, and it would be helpful to know what we’re in for.”
“We’re in for a lot.” Callia mumbles. “I lived in the Empire long enough to know it’s not the sort of place you want to be any longer than you have to. There are plenty of places to hide and people who will help you, but they’re getting fewer and further between these days.” She takes another gulp from her glass. “Plus, from the sounds of it you both owe some people moment and it might be better than having another bounty hunter on your trails, no?”
“The Hutt cartel.” Zet, for one, is well on her way to excessively drunk, so she’s maybe getting a little too chatty. Then again, if Callia’s going to travel with them she should know. “It’s actually not a big deal, it’s not like this… Black Suns situation.” Insert long swallow from drink here, given the point of this exercise is to Not Think About That. “Our ship needed a ton of repairs, and the Hutts are doing it for us, and we’ve gotta give them a down payment against the cost. No bounty hunters or anything.”
“Yeah, we’re in a bad spot, but we’ll get out of it.” Santos fills his glass again, and tips the bottle towards the others, offering the chance to say no if they’ve reached or passed the excessive point. "I just want to get back as fast as possible. I’m not losing another ship on that planet. He empties the glass in a few moments.
“Another ship? How many have you lost, then?” The human asks, one delicate eyebrow arching upward. She declines the offer for more booze. Instead, the glass is set down so she can stretch her back out. “You two are going to suffer from some pretty bad hangovers tomorrow if you keep this up.” She laughs.
Zet gives Santos a nod, holding her glass out for him to top it up. She’s only on the way to excessive. “Whatever… we can sleep in tomorrow.” She’ll let Santos tell his own story if she wants to, but she does sassily correct him: “It’s a moon.”
As Zet offers her glass, Santos empties the second bottle into it all the while pretending to be indignant at her sass. “More like stolen.” He explains as he fills his glass again, “I had just left the Unknown Region, which by the way is a stupid name. I know the place. Billions of Chiss know the place. Yet another example of how ‘aliens’ are marginalized.” He pauses for a moment, and takes another sip. “I apologize. I’m slightly inebriated. I got in with a Trandoshan who I foolishly thought I could trust. We were doing great for a while, until we landed on Nar Shaddaa. He beat me, took my ship and left me for dead.”
Another pause, and another drink. “So, as long as we’re sharing our pasts,” he asks sheepishly, “what’s going on with this admiral?”
“Perhaps we should all just go to the Unknown Region. If there are billions of Chiss there and you can survive in this sort of habitat, it would be best for us all.” Callia smirks. “Aah, well…I am sorry. I suppose that wouldn’t be a good first experience to the ‘known region’.”
“The Admiral would like something from me that I am not able to give him, it would seem. And until such a time that I can, he’s holding it over my head.”
From the little downward glance and smirk on Zet’s face, she’s likely heard the Unknown Region complaint before. Not that she looks like she particularly disagrees that it’s hard out there for a nonhuman. Having been steadily working on emptying her glass as Santos explained his situation, she’s apparently drunk enough at this point to helpfully append, “That and the fact that she escaped Order 66. I know it was before your time.” She playfully elbows Santos in the ribs.
Before his time, yes. But he’s Chiss, AKA, possibly the Empire’s only ally. He was taught about how Order 66 hunted down the monstrous Jedi, protecting the Empire from its greatest threat. Of course, since he’s been on his own he’s learned to questions what the Empire feeds people.
He’s quiet for a moment, with a focused look on his face, as he tries to fight the alcohol and string a thought together. Then he bursts out laughing. “Of course. You’re a jedi. It makes so much sense. The Gamorreans, that trick with the Cathar. You’re totally a jedi.”
That’s right, tell people when they’re drunk. A good idea. Callia looks slightly surprised, perhaps because this isn’t the way she expected it to be blurted out. Who knows what the blue man’s reaction will be, especially now that he’s gone all silent.
When he starts to laugh, she looks even more confused. “Yes, I was a Jedi.” Her brows knit together. “The trick with the Cathar? You knew what I was doing?”
When Santos says the word “Jedi,” something clicks in Zet’s brain and she realizes what she just did. She casts an apologetic look over to Callia, opening her mouth to say something, but then the woman interjects with a question of her own. Huddling down a bit to see how this plays out, she just fumbles for the third bottle to pry it open and pour herself another glass. She tops his up without asking, her eyes lingering on his face with a puzzled frown.
“Yeah,” Santos responds, confused by her question, “I could feel it, like the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up. We all felt it.” Suddenly at a loss for confidence, he downs the freshly poured drink and turns to Zet, “You felt it, right?”
Interesting. Callia doesn’t speak as she studies the Chiss carefully. Very interesting. Her eyes turn to Zet, knowing what the answer will be. “It’s not something those who are not…sensitive to the Force normally feel.”
Zet is already shaking her head at Santos. “I mean, it was suspicious, but I didn’t… ‘feel’ anything. I didn’t know anything was up until we were in Tabarith’s office… Callia tried to do something to him, and he noticed and called her out in front of everyone.” She’s almost gaping when she looks back to the only slightly sober person left in this here blanket fort of truth. “What’s that mean, then? He could learn to do that stuff too?”
Suddenly Santos doesn’t like the mood the conversation has taken on. Unfortunately, his can’t muster much to lighten it. “What, you mean I too could learn to put Cathar women to sleep?”
Callia nods her head. “If he is strong enough in the Force, yes, you could learn to put Cathar women to sleep.” She smiles lightly. “But we can save that conversation for when you are sober. I think we’ve all had quite a bit now.” She picks up her glass and knocks back a little more for good measure.
Zet gives Santos an encouraging little pat on the back, although between this rather significant revelation and all that she’s had to drink, she’s back to feeling a bit speechless. “You haven’t,” she informs Callia, although not as quickly as she might have if she weren’t all tipsy and confused. “We’ve been doing all the hard work. There’s another bottle and a half here to go. We can be sober tomorrow.”
Santos grasps for the half bottle, and starts filling the glasses again, no doubt spilling a bit on the floor. “That’s right. When you entered the fort you signed a verbal contract to get excessively drunk.” Maybe that’s drunk enough to forget this whole revelation. “There’ll be plenty of time to be sober when we get off at the next stop.”
“I don’t believe I ever committed to the getting drunk part,” Callia replies with a laugh. “Just that I would help build the fort. The rest you assumed.” Either way, she will appease them by drinking more. Let’s not make this party too melancholy.
“Well you didn’t NOT commit!” Zet has one hand down on the floor now for balance as she has another swig from her glass. “Ahh, don’t make a mess…” Her eyes fall on one of the blue glow rods and linger there for a moment — it’s kind of mesmerizing, when you’ve had enough to drink. After a second she remarks, “It could be kind of cool though, like besides the fact that you could get executed any time… You’d get a lightsaber!” She bats one of the sticks towards him.
Santos cocks an eyebrow as his pick up the glowstick. “Is this a challenge?” He holds the glowstick like a blade, as best he can considering the fort would come down as soon as he stands up.
Oh dear. Callia watches them both while she takes another sip of her drink. Her eyebrows arch upward and she’s prepared to watch them get into some sort of battle with the glow-rods.
It literally was not a challenge. Zet doesn’t know the first thing about sword fights, the glow rods are so short that someone’s probably going to break a finger, and they’re in a highly collapsible blanket fort. While excessively drunk.
“Obviously…” Switching her glass to her left hand and draining it in a few quick swallows, she snatches up the other one in her right. It’s kind of wobbly as she tries to smack his glow rod with the one she’s holding.
At least Zet managed to connect with Santos’ “lightsaber.” Santos isn’t so lucky, seeing as of the three empty bottles on the floor, he’s personally responsible for two of them. He swings slowly, and wildly misses the mark, leaving him lying on the floor, giggling like a child.
Ah yes. The disrespect of a very ancient and highly regarded martial art skill. Callia cannot help but shake her head and smirk. “I am glad those are only glow rods and not the real thing. Even younglings aren’t that careless when swinging their blades about.” She teases the two.
“Ha!” Zet points her glow rod at Santos’ throat, although she doesn’t actually touch him with it. Or, not on purpose, but her balance isn’t so awesome right now… so she might.. a little. “I’ll let you live because you’re my best friend, but you better remember who’s the best…” She glances up at Callia with a lopsided grin. “See, no killing.”
“You win! You win!” Santos declares, hands raised slightly above the ground. “But you know it would have ended differently if you weren’t on a boat!” He begins to push himself back up, before deciding it’s a much better idea not to. “I think I’ll stay right here for a while, if it’s all the same to you.” He says softly, as though told him to move.
“It is the Jedi way,” Callia tells Zet with a small smile. “I think that sounds like a good idea. You two rest…” she takes what’s left of the liquor out of the way so both can sprawl without any fear of spilling it everywhere.
Zet gives a gloating laugh, and then lightly tosses her glow rod aside to show that Santos is safe for now. “I honestly don’t think my legs are gonna work anyway,” she confesses, although she does shoot a sad look at the last, unopened bottle of liquor. “Hey, keep that somewhere safe. We might have another reason to party.” She flops down on her side beside Santos, sliding her empty glass a safe distance away too.
“Nah, that bottle’s gonna save us from the…” Santos starts with an idea, but somewhere between the first and fourth word he loses it, and instead decides just to sleep.
“We’ll save this for another night, yes. It’ll be safe and sound, don’t you worry, Zet.” Callia reassures as she sets the bottle aside for the time being. Yes, sleep little ones. Maybe she can fuzzily meditate now. Too bad the alcohol makes her connection to the force a little muddled.