Contract 045: Scelestus
The Gatekeepers had gathered at staggered intervals in the abandoned and slightly run-down warehouse, conversing amongst themselves and scoping out the new joint before the meeting began. The warehouse was of mid-size by Port Ol’val standards, with nothing very special about it, which made it perfect for a safehouse.
Socorra casually leaned back on a crate in the middle of a giant storage area, pale azure eyes intently watching over the members of her new team. She had studied and memorized every one of their dossiers. Some of them she had seen on the battlefields of New Tython. Some she only knew by reputation. But even the new arrivals were all said to be intelligent and capable.
The changing of the guard earlier had been fairly simple. Socorra replaced Sanguinius as Gatewarden while he transferred to Galeres as Aedile. While Marick’s reasoning to her on her own ascension was solid, she knew there was much more to it than just intelligence and merit. The young woman had literally been snatched out of Soulfire following Teroch’s attempt to assassinate Wuntila. She had managed to persuade Wun from killing the kid in the end - a very bold and risky move. While it had proved that she was a capable advisor, it had also exposed a softness for the Erinos family.
That, and the security that had shadowed her as she had been hustled off of Selen made her wonder if the Consul believed she was in danger as his personal assistant. The Krath knew something was brewing- she felt it in her bones. They were stacking the deck by putting her here on Port Ol’val and adding her to Arcona’s Summit. Pieces were falling into place for some grand scheme, that much she was sure of.
The last member arrived to the warehouse, and the new Gatewarden started addressing those present. Gone were Socorra’s customary robes seen while in the service of Wuntila as his Attaché, replaced with modern urban attire fit for the shadowport. The bronze-skinned woman began the meeting with some updates regarding Shadow Gate, House Qel-Droma and the Clan in general before concluding with an assignment. She spoke animatedly and pleasantly, her exotic Socorran accent rolling flawlessly off her tongue. She was clearly not used to addressing teams and was a bit awkward in doing it. However, her knowledge was far-reaching and everything she said had relevance. She even made a joke and pop-culture reference here and there that, as the public eyes and ears at the shadowport, most members recognized.
“We are in need of some safehouses. I obtained this one just to start, but I want to see some creativity. Some common and uncommon places. Play up to stereotypes, even, if it works. Do your research, stake out the joints, pair up, whatever appropriate to find and procure us one. My office in the back is at your disposal for whatever you need. If you find a winner, I expect full details so that I can follow up on it.”
“Lastly, I’ve been asked by the Summit to take on an apprentice of my own. Since everyone here is either well above my own rank and skill or has a master already.. the decision isn’t very difficult. Scelestus, you’re up.”
She raised and pointed a finger at the new addition to Shadow Gate, the Sith Protector Scelestus. He came highly recommended by the Shadow Academy staff. If he applied himself to Shadow Gate as much as he did his Academy studies, he just might outshine them all.
Going off of the above prompt, find and successfully procure a safehouse on Port Ol'val
This is a single-person contract for the Barn Raising competition
, but I encourage you to use other characters of Shadow Gate (including Socorra) for the fiction, just make sure your character is the main of the story. There is no minimum or maximum length; however, quality is much more important than quantity. Winning entries will be based on Technical (spelling/grammar), Story (plot/characters), and Style (writing style). You may use whatever means necessary to accomplish your mission, but remember that for the sake of Shadow Gate and HQD, discretion is advised.
Tyros Rhal...he had to be sure to think of himself in this role while he was out on assignment, settled back into the wall he was leaning against, watching the ebb and flow of the crowds around him, going about their business in the port city. The newly promoted protector and recently assigned apprentice to Socorra worked on getting a feel for this new environment and for the undercurrents of how the part of the society that he would be interested in. Rhal was a gambler and general conman by trade, but he had developed a smattering of most underworld skills in his time as a con. He ducked into a dark corner in a nearby alley to ensure that his new outfit and gear fit him well. He had obviously given up his usual robes and trappings of the brotherhood in favor of some loose fitting spacer clothing with a floor length black trenchcoat. A blaster pistol slung low on his right side and another in his right boot, along with a brace of three throwing knives concealed along his collar provided his long range defenses. For the up close and personal work he had a pair of vibro-shivs concealed on either flank and a regular knife in a left wrist sheath. He also carried a couple of credit sticks, a deck of Sabacc cards, and a number of datapads with various slicing programs built in for any unusual circumstances.
Satisfied that everything was in order, he set off in search of a local cantina or other place of business that would allow gambling or another sort of recreation that would allow him to start gathering the type of intel that he would need to properly fulfill the work of finding a new safehouse.
It took a couple of hours of wandering around the city, listening to the conversations of the passers-by before Rhal found what he was looking for, a little hole in the wall cantina near the busy part of the port that catered to the workers and shadier side of society. As he approached the exterior he gave it a once over and like what he saw, a run-down exterior with a small sign flickering weakly with the universal symbol for a place of drinking and other entertainment. Passing through the portal to the inside, he likes the interior even more...dark, smokey, with a number of random dancing girls and something resembling a band. But his favorite part is that the owners of this establishment appear to be lazy, there are no weapons checks or monitoring of any kind. It appears that the patrons are expected to police themselves. It is the perfect atmosphere for gathering the information he wants, and Tyros orders a Correlian ale before finding a Sabacc table with an empty spot and sitting down to join the game. The gambler takes out enough credits to buy into the game and sits back, deliberately losing the first five hands to get a feel for his fellow players and learn their tells. The subtle addition of the Force to hear their surface thoughts helps tremendously. After he is fairly certain that he has what he needs to start winning, he waits another couple hands while striking up basic conversation about the port, its comings and goings, the major players in the underworld, etc. He had found in the past that people where much more likely to talk to someone that they felt superior to, and there was no better way to engender those feelings than to be losing at cards and have someone taking your money.
Eventually he got the rudiments of the information that he needed, and won enough hands to recoup his losses. He didn't want to make any overt enemies at this point and he didn't need the money right now for anything other than this assignment. Obviously, the Brotherhood gave him everything he needed, so he was content, with no need for a supplemental income to support any lavish habits, and his persona of Tyros wasn't a big spender...being in debt leant itself to all sorts of open doors, since people that pity you are just about as loose-lipped as people that feel superior to you.
Having gained what he sought and the next clue in the puzzle...a local gambling den that was the ideal gathering place for his type of clientele, he excused himself from the game and left the cantina, heading ever further into the seedy side of Port Ol'val
The Gilded Credit was a typical gambling den for the criminal element. Unlike your cantinas, that might feature a Sabacc table or two, this place would offer any and every game in the galaxy along with betting booths for all types of sporting events and just about anything else that someone might care to wager on. The presence of in house loan sharks to help out the desparate gambler with a line of credit completes the picture of the ultimate gaming establishment. The advantage of place such as this was threefold...first of all it attracted a higher tier of the criminal underworld, the sort of people that had information and knew to keep their mouth shut typically, secondly it wouldn't be on the radar of the tax officials of the planet, so it was a more concealed location, and thirdly it would have security and observation equipment already in place. Making it an ideal spot for which to gather intelligence.
In keeping with its place as a finer establishment, but for a discrete type of patron it was a building that was in great condition, a stand alone structure near the center of the port, allowing for easy access to just about everything. It boasted no advertising or signage to indicate what it was, nor did it need to, all of its business was done by word of mouth. The only sign that set it apart was the presence of the two bouncers at the door, but even that wasn't necessarily unusual in this port city. The human checked it at the door, getting a ticket for his weapons and storing them in a locker. With this step done, Tyros went to the area set aside for betting on sporting events and looked around for liking sources of information. This time he was searching for a different type of target than he had at the cantina. He wanted a mid level officer in one of the local gangs, one with a certain amount of responsibility already but looking to make his move and head up the hierarchy of their organization. These would be the sort that would talk, and would be open to the sort of deals that would set him up with a start to the network of contacts that would become so critical to his future with the Shadow Gate Battleteam. He found a few possible candidates in the pod speeder areas, so he headed that way and placed a bet on the next race before he took a seat, ostensibly to watch the vids displaying the race, but his true purpose was to attempt to learn as much as possible about these individuals from their surface thoughts, body language and any casual conversation that he could overhear.
After about an hour of observation Tyros had pinpointed a human female in her mid 30s as the best target available. She was a member of the local Hutt crime gang and felt that she had to become more involved in the drug trade to really make a name for herself. She appeared to be conflicted as she felt that she would have to do something above and beyond to prove herself as a woman. There was obviously an opportunity to exploit here if Rhal could just figure out what it was.
The key at this point was to make the approach in just the right way to be able to insinuate himself into her confidence without it being overly obvious. Come on too strong and she would shut down...come on too subtly and she would never get the point, or think he didn't have the stones to get the job done. Already the gears in his head were spinning wildly as he began to come up with the rudiments of a plan.
He waited until the end of the current pod race they were both watching, and stood up in disgust after the announcement of the leader, and in a voice that was pitched to carry just a little ways, while acting like he was talking to himself outload, said "I can never catch a break...came here trying to make some credits, so I can pay off the loan sharks. They will be on my ass now for repayment and I still can't believe that spice deal fell through, I had such a great client set up looking for some product..." He trailed off as if realizing he had said too much and looked around quickly as though hoping no one had overheard him. Smiling inwardly at the ilght of interest he briefly caught in the eye of his target, he ducks his head and moves over to the bar in the corner of the room trying to look inconspicuous. This was the type of fish that needed a slow play, let her catch herself on the hook. Manipulating people was such a complicated game, but the con-man loved every twist and turn of it. He ordered another ale and sat to wait and see if she would take his bait.
As it turned out, he didn't have to wait nearly as long as he was expecting to have. He was only a quarter of the way done with his ale, when he heard the silky voice from over his left shoulder, "Is this seat taken?" Still playing the part of the despondent man, he simply replied, "No, feel free to sit, but I doubt I'll be much company." As he expected the woman slipped into the seat and ordered a drink of her own. She drank a couple sips before beginning a conversation, "I can see that you are having a bad day, but I think that I can help you improve it. I couldn't help but overhear that you had a spice deal fall through recently," Tyros shot a guilty and suspicious glance at her, "if you still have access to that buyer I can get you in touch with a seller. If all pans out, we both get a nice finder's fee and that should improve both of our days." Tyros pushed back from the bar a bit, and gave her a speculative look, that was tinged with a touch of avarice. "This seems like a fortuitous meeting then. I could really use the money, I like my knees the way they are," he grinned sardonically at the small joke. "Who is your seller and where do we meet?" The woman laughed at that and replied, "Ha, I hardly trust you enough at this point to reveal all my secrets, I know how that works...you go and cut me out of the deal. Just be at this warehouse tonight at 2100 and bring your buyer." Tyros took the offered datapad and thanked his new contact. Settling his tab at the bar and buying the woman her drink as a sign of good will, he made for the exit. Collecting his weapons and making sure he wasn't followed he took his time getting back to the safehouse and his master.
As Tyros passed through the portal to the warehouse he was already looking for his master. Fortunately it didn't take too long to find her. "Master, I need your assistance in establishing a contact that I hope will lead us to finding a new safehouse. You will be posing as a spice buyer, so please dress the part and get a hold of as many credits as you can on short notice...I'll be your broker/agent and can handle most of the talking." It said a lot of her in his mind that she didn't even bat an eye at all of this, but went off to change immediately.
As she prepared for her role in the mission, the sith apprentice did the same, getting all the intel about the meeting point that he could get a hold of on short notice. He paid special attention to entry and exit routes for the area, trying to get a feel for where possible escape routes would be and where an enemy might set an ambush if they were likely to do so. About an hour or so passed while he was thus engaged, and he felt that he had as good a grasp on the tactical situation as possible. He finished his assessment just as Socorra finished her preparations, and there was no denying that his master was breathtaking and looked absolutely stunning in her form fitting black gown. She looked every bit the wealthy socialite with a taste for a dark vice and the need for an agent to get it for her...the perfect cover and she'd come up with it all on her own--obviously she wasn't new to this game.
They arrived at the designated meeting site with a half hour to spare before the time given to Tyros earlier in the day. The gambler spent the extra time getting familiar with the layout in person, maps and images could only tell you so much, after all. Once he was sure that he was ready for any surprises, they finished up their story. Socorra would pose as a pampered noble lady from the capital, who had met Tyros in the market there after he had conned her into buying some real estate. In exchange for not prosecuting his crime once he was discovered he served as her agent in the underworld.
His new contact and her seller showed up right on time, which wasn't surprising, but the fact that the seller was the owner of the Gilded Credit was--fortunately, Rhal was well versed in keeping his reactions off his face and was able to quickly recover and carry on with the meeting. Of course with this latest bit of information the meeting was not nearly as critical to his plans as it had been, but he wasn't about to miss an opportunity or put Socorra at risk by not fulfilling his end of the deal. This first meeting didn't take long...they never did...as they were basically nothing more than a get to know you type of affair, the sort of thing where the two sides involved got a feel for each other. The point was that the buyer proved they could get credits and the seller proved they could get product, and if neither side had any bad feelings about the other then they would set up a subsequent meeting to actually get done to serious business. These introductory formalities took no more than 30 minutes, after which each party was on their way back to where they came.
Once they were back at the warehouse Rhal sat himself down at one of the tables to ponder what to do with the boon of information that he had just received.
Having spent most of the night wracking his brain for ideas, Tyros finally felt that he had the answer to the question of what to do next. Grabbing a couple hours sleep, he was on his way back to the Gilded Credit by midmorning. Once inside he sought out his female contact and passed her a note asking her to meet him outside in a couple of minutes. Heading back to the street he found an alleyway that would suit his purpose, and stood at the mouth of it, waiting to wave over the woman when she exited the casino. He cleared his mind as he waited for he would have to be on his toes to pull off this con he was about to attempt.
Within a few minutes, the woman had made her way outside and was coming over at his signal. He let her get just out of sight in the alleyway before he grabbed her wrist and flung her off balance and to the ground of the alleyway. As he expected, this took her entirely by surprise, and by the time she had recovered enough to swear and try to get up, his blaster was already in her face. The important part now was to keep her guessing, and move at a quick pace so that she didn't have time to think, only react. "What the hell were you thinking, selling us out like that? My patron and I were attacked soon after leaving the meeting last night. My lady was roughed up a bit and then we were warned off doing drug deals on their turf. Obviously only you could have sold us out." He stepped back a pace and waited for her response, which was obviously not long in coming, "What the hell? why would I ever sell you to Klass...what good does it do me to jeopardize our deal?" Rhal interrupts her with his blaster again, "Yes, yes, so you say, but I can see a scenario where you could play both sides and benefit just fine. But that really doesn't matter now. What we have here is an issue of trust, and I think it can be resolved by say another 10% of your half of the finder's fee?" Rhal had judged her desperation well and she agreed without any hesitation. Watching her go on her way, the gambler reflected that he no longer needed her or the deal...his gambit had paid off large dividends in the revelation of the name of Klass, and it was in that direction that his future lay.
Chuckling to himself, he set off to the headquarters of this Klass, ready to strike the deal of a lifetime.
Finding the base of operations of the criminal kingpin named Klass was no major issue, as its location wasn't exactly a secret and was a part of the intel that Tyros had been able to gather on the previous day. It was a humble-enough looking facade considering what it concealed. The only hints to the truth were the pair of guards out front, doing their best to blend into the scenery and act nonchalant. They wouldn't be any real trouble for him as he had legitimate business with Klass, which he made clear as he approached them and the front gate of the compound.
He was quickly ushered into a reception area in the inner parts of the compound and kept waiting for about half an hour during which he was sure that he was being watched and monitored. Apparently they like what they saw, as the seneschal to the crime lord came out to meet him. "Greetings, mister Tyros, they tell me you have some information that you think would be useful to Klass. Tell me what it is and I will pass it along to him." Rhal smiled to himself and replied, "It is a generous offer, but if I tell you then I have no bargaining chip left with which to get a reward, and I know that Klass didn't get to the place he is now by handing out charity and goodwill." The twi'lek seneschal had the sense of humor to return the smile and answered, "I can see that we are dealing with a pro here...very well, you will leave your weapons here and you may have your audience with Klass." Tyros had no trouble agreeing to these terms and shucked his weapons, leaving them on the table in front of him and indicating that he was ready to follow the alien.
The room he was led into was both opulent and functional at the same time, which was a strange juxtaposition of attributes. There were ornate rugs lying on the floors right next to expensive and high tech surveillance equipment. On a almost ridiculously bedazzled throne sat a male devoronian, Klass. He was prototypical for his species but had an extra light of intelligence in his eyes. The same eyes that he turned onto the advancing conman as he approached the throne. "What is this information that you have that is so valuable to me, human?" The human in question turned his own scrutiny upon Klass, liking what he saw, he answered, "I can provide you with the identity of another player who is trying to cut in on your drug trade and running it through a local business as a front and way of laundering the money." The crime lord's interest was obviously picqued despite his attempts to hide it, but he was smart enough to count the cost before committing himself. "What do you want in return for this information?" Rhal was ready with his answer, an answer that, if Klass agreed to it would solve the problem of a new safehouse. "I would like you to set me up in this new business with the understanding that I will launder money for you and provide a tribute of 30% of the business profits." Klass could see that this was a generous offer and had no reason to refuse.
The deal was struck and another night saw the crimelord move against the casino and it's people. Klass came out victorious and upheld his end of the bargain, turning the running of the casino over to Tyros. As long as the money was paid on time he and his people had no reason to interfere in the running of the operation and what used to be the security wing of the casino provided an excellent safehouse for Shadowgate, with its access to the rear alley and the fact that people came and went all the time at all hours of the day and night, thereby providing the perfect cover for the odd hours and movements of the operatives. The already established security feeds would serve them well and the profits from the business, while not overly large, would certainly be a welcome addition to the coffers.
All in all Rhal was incredibly pleased with himself and returned to the warehouse to relate his success to his master, Socorra.
Grade: Satisfactory +
This was a very well written contract. The characters were there, story was there, and it kept me reading through each post. It wasn't too long and never felt like it dragged on. The language was good and the descriptions were easy to read and I never had to re-read anything.
You changed tense at a few times during your posts, which when writing in the third person omniscient and past perspective causes some confusion. If you want to switch into a first person tense, that's fine, you just need to separate it into another paragraph, make it a journal entry, italicize it so that we know it's his thoughts, or a journal entry, ect.
Some grammar errors popped up, but nothing that made me unable to read it.
With some technical issues addressed and tweaked, i could easily see you putting out Excellents with your next missions. Never be afraid to get a spell check from one of the other members.