It’s up to the boys to battle it out over who gets to be the real pilot en route to Selonia. Zet just stays out of it, remaining aft during the initial takeoff and probably doing something real nosy, like touching all of Palob’s stuff. Anyway, once they’re free of the docks and out into open space the Twi’lek appears at the rear of the cockpot, wandering right in to lean off the back of the copilot seat.
“I can’t believe we’ve never used that one before,” she says to Santos like Palob isn’t even there. “It’s a good thing you never took the sleeves off your old uniform, huh.”
“Could you imagine if I did? Csilla would be knocked off orbit due to the tension of all the jaws and asses clenched in indignation.” There wasn’t much of a fight. The ship technically is Palob’s and he did spend an hour or so in a box.
Santos does make himself comfortable in the co-pilot’s chair. He’s reclined as far as it will go, feet up on the console. He’s also found a way to change back into his ne’er-do-well clothing.
“We definitely need to use that trick again. Only the Chiss wouldn’t sent a delegate who can’t speak Basic. The Chiss just wouldn’t deign to speak to a lesser species.”
“What were you after back there, anyway?” Palob asks from the pilot seat behind them. His posture is relaxed, one leg drooped off the edge of the slightly raised platform. “You were trying to pull the wool over the eyes of CEC or something? You’re bonkers.”
“Yeah, okay, we can definitely get the details straighter the next time…” When Palob speaks up, Zet turns around, leaning back against Santos’ chair to face him with arms crossed. Her grin is just a little sheepish. “Uh, no. Just your ship, actually. We probably weren’t gonna keep it though?” She pokes him in the foot with the toe of her boot. “You can take it up with Catrinna if you want.”
“Yeah. We were just borrowing it. You got some glory out if it any way.” Santos takes advantage of the space his reclined position affords him, stretching his arms straight out behind him. He’s certainly missing the spaciousness of the Rainbow Dash. “What’s going down in Selonia? Figure there might be something we can do to help you make up for lost time.”
Palob is genuinely surprised by the offer. “Uh, well that’s downright neighbourly of you. Not altogether similar to the circumstances under which we met,” he says, giving Zet a look. “What with the locker stuffing and all.”
“As far as what’s the word on Selonia, I’d figure you ought to ask the Selonian you hang out with,” he teases and gets quiet, looking out the window at the nothingness of space surrounding them.
After a moment, his boredom sets in. “Yeah lots going on down in Selonia- beneath the waves and above,” he says, addressing his attention to the pair of smugglers once more. “Lots of ships to be built, and I hear some major contracts are up. Selonia’s about to become the most popular aquatic vacation destination for high ranking shipwright executives, if you take my meaning,” he says without a hint of any idea of what he is talking about.
“It was just a little knockout gas,” Zet fires back. “You should see what we did to the last guy whose ship we ‘borrowed.’”
She shifts away from Santos’ chair to give him room to stretch, edging around to perch on the arm of it instead. The weird silence just kind of stretches on, and she shoots a puzzled look at Santos, like, what, that’s all he’s got to say? If we wanted to ask the Selonian we’d ask them…
“…..” The Twi’lek just blinks at Palob. “Unless that’s some kinda double entendre I… guess we do take your meaning…” She fiddles with the zipper on her vest. “But why are you in such a rush to get there?”
Santos returns Zet’s look. Rich people want to vacation on an ocean planet. Pretty straight forward. “Sounded like you had to meet with someone.” Someone Santos is eager to meet with too.
Palob grins and shrugs. “I have no idea if that’s true about the executives. Just something Bel said. He says a lot of course. Real info dump, that one,” he explains.
The smuggler follows Santos in a stretch out of arms and crosses them like a pillow, really leaning back in his home, the Void Crow. “Yeah, I’ve been retained by Bel for a few months now. Pretty boring but the pay is stellar! I’m just liasion between he and this Trandoshan. They’ve got some business and I just move the box back and forth. No biggie,” he says nonchalantly, clearly unaffected by Santos’ piqued curiosity and unaware of what bubbles beneath the surface of his query.
It occurs to Zet that she literally did not ask that executive’s name. Well, whatever, the Chiss Ascendency probably wouldn’t care about it either. “Wow. Wish we could get an easy contract like that. What’re they shipping back and forth?” She, for one, is good at making it sound like the kind of perfectly innocent question a fellow smuggler might ask, and there’s nothing in her relaxed body language to give away that she’s especially interested in the Trandoshan.
“You’d give up the regular brushes with death?” Santos gently nudges the Twi’lek with his elbow. “My friend, you’re going soft.”
“I’ll have you know I’m quite partial to that. The only regular brushing I participate in is the those related to personal hygiene,” Palob says with a wink to the Twilek.
“I’m quite happy to courier information from A to B. I don’t know what Nossk is up to on behalf of the old man, but he’s made a lot of stops around the galaxy lately. I deliver the same thing I always do, a briefcase,” he explains to the pair, gesturing towards the back of the ship with his thumb. “I don’t make a habit of asking questions or opening cargo – do you?” he says rhetorically, fully aware that any smuggler who wants to get work in their lifetime wouldn’t dream of looking in on their cargo. They might learn things about their employers- about themselves that they have a hard time living with, right Zet?
Zet smirks at Palob even as she playfully swats Santos’ elbow away. “Not forever, but it’d be nice to collect a few easy paycheques in a row.” She follows the man’s gesture with her eyes, then glances back at his face, feeling her stomach give a funny little flip. As a matter of fact, she likes to make it her business now to have some idea of exactly what she’s carrying. Then again, you can’t hide literal slaves in a briefcase. “Not if the job’s that cushy,” she agrees easily. “But I sure would get curious if I was making the same run over and over again, and Bel talks a lot. I guess Nossk doesn’t?”
“He talks a lot and trusts too easily. Not a great combination for a man in his position.” Santos sits up and looks for some new shinies to play with. He settles on fiddling with a few harmless knobs like rear lighting control. If Callia could see the flicker of the lights she might expect the dubstep to start soon.
Palob looks uncomfortable. “Nossk talks plenty. I just don’t always like what he has to say,” he says, shifting in his seat and straightening up.
A sympathetic frown tugs at the corners of Zet’s lips. She shifts off Santos’ chair to her feet, almost like she’s about to pace restlessly, but of course there’s no room to pace in here so she just kind of ends up standing closer to Palob’s seat before stopping again. “I’ve worked for guys like that. You almost wanna start charging a premium for the amount of time you spend biting your tongue.”
“At least you’re getting steady pay.” Santos gives his full attention to the group now. “Can’t be that unpleasant if you’re still working with him, right?”
Palob swallows and gives a weak smile. “Hey, I’m not backing out of a cushy contract just because some Trandoshan gives me the willies,” he says in a transparent attempt to re-introduce levity.
“Whatever Bel’s got going on with this Nossk guy, it is not a good thing.”
She’s facing Palob, not Santos, so the Chiss won’t see Zet’s little eye roll as he seems to coolly dismiss Palob’s misgivings. Not that she doesn’t share his sentiment, to a degree, but she’s living proof that suddenly backing out of a contract is easier said than done when you’re dealing with powerful people.
Of course, on the other other hand, her every gesture right now is carefully calculated to try to convince Palob she’s on his side here. Put the whole knockout gas-box stuffing thing in the past! “Well… watch your back. I’ve known a good smuggler or two who had a real unpleasant surprise when their bad-news employers decided they didn’t need them anymore.” She flickers a smile at him. “You let us know if we can do anything to help you out. I probably wouldn’t have shoved you in a box and borrowed your ship without asking if I’d realized we were gonna get a good person in hot water with a creepy lizard.” That’s about as close to an apology as he’s going to get.
“Yeah. We’re pretty good at stuff. I’m sure there’s a way we can help you out of a rough spot.” Santos recognizes Palob’s reaction well. Nossk has always had a creepy vibe. More so than most Trandoshans.
“It won’t be a long stop at the shipyards,” Palob explains. “I don’t imagine Nossk would take kindly to an entourage so I’ll make the drop alone. You’re free to head to wherever you like from the station. Depending on the pay, I might tag along.”
The smuggler twists until he is sitting sideways, and peers back to the narrow passage where the others are stuffed. “What’s with the blind chick, anyways?” he asks.
They actually have no next destination whatsoever at this point, although it sure is handy to be heading to Qurzer’s home planet. Zet replies with a confident smile nevertheless. “Sure. We’ll swap comm frequencies.” Gimme your number to be gassed and boxed again.
“Oh, Miranda?” Zet shrugs, returning to sharing Santos’ chair arm. “Well sometimes things don’t go as smoothly as they did with you.” She winks. “Blaster fire a little too close to her face. She’ll getting better.”
“Miranda will be fine in no time.” Santos nods in agreement, “she’s tougher than she looks.”