Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Tara McLaren.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:6:10) in the Brentaal system: Staark Station.
Commander Derek Atio, Staark, and Jagged Taig.

Commander Derek Atio was dressed in the outfit of a common smuggler. His brown leather flight jacket seemed old, worn, and a size too small. His trousers had various grease stains from heavy maintenance on his shuttle and he looked very much the ragged smuggler type. The middle-aged man's smile was seemingly ceaseless and found its way onto his face in seemingly any situation. He had gotten aboard Staark's station easy enough, but now was the hard part ... the audience. There was always a risk when dealing with these criminal types that he could be sold to the Empire.

Staark's audience chamber, so to speak, was located at the relative center of the massive, nonsymmetrical Cardan V-class space station. Security was decidedly strange aboard this station of cutthroats and thieves. In places it looked like it was nowhere, with no guards to be seen and virtually everyone armed with some kind of weapon. No heavy weapons, however. Those were apparently restricted from being carried aboard the station. Here in the antechamber of where Staark held court, however, things were decidedly different. The station's security was out in force, although they looked calm and had an air of invincibility around them. They were easy to pick out from among the riff raff, clad in Phase II Clone Trooper armor painted in onyx, their helmet clips at their side. One in particular seemed to be standing in front of the blast door and was apparently used to speaking to potential visitors.

Well at least it was not a battle droid, Derek thought to himself as he looked over the security forces aboard the station. The last time he dealt with a major criminal he was forced to deal with battle droids and that often reminded him of unpleasant memories during the wars. "Hello, there," he began as he spoke to the much larger trooper standing in front of the imposing blast door. "I request an audience with the mighty Staark," he said, nodding his head politely at the mention of the crime lord's name. "I represent a group of freighter captains and wish to welcome him to the Ringali Shell. There is also the matter of a business proposition..." he said slowly, as his hand moved to his pocket to flash a stack of credits he had brought with him for just such an occasion.

The eyes of the security trooper narrowed slightly. He wasn't young. Obviously they'd put him in this position for having a bit of a discerning demeanor. After a short while to process his request, he would slowly nodded and move to speak discretely into a comlink. His free hand he held in up in order to indicate for Derek to wait. It was then that the Commander would get a good look at a standard part of the security forces gear. His armor's gloves had been replaced with Pallandrix Personal Protection Gear stun gauntlets. All of the security forces had. That, in addition to a N'Gant-Zarvel 9118 heavy carbine, seemed to be their loadout of choice. It was all uniform, as was their training, an unusual way of doing this for a criminal enterprise.

"I must say, I rather fancy your tailor," Derek said with a soft chuckle as he sized up the guard. All the man had on him was a QuickSnap36T blaster carbine that had seen its better days strapped at his right side. All he could do was wait for his turn to speak to the fearsome Feeorin crime lord.

If Derek had tried that on a Hutt thug, it might have gotten him an angry glare. This security trooper seemed used to this kind of reaction. He merely nodded to the side arm that the Commander had. "You get a private audience. Gun stays." Apparently Staark was more cautious than Hutt crime lords, although it may have had something to do with this being a private meeting. The trooper had indicated for Derek to enter through the blaster door, Staark having apparently cleared his schedule for them.

Derek slowly unholstered his QuickSnap 36T and offered the carbine over the security guard. "Please be careful with it," he implored, offering a quick smirk. " being a family heirloom and all," he sarcastically explained, as he moved through the blast door and into the audience chamber. He had no idea what to expect, but he usually found these types to be quite theatrical.

"Unbelievable." The trooper grimaced as he took and secured the man's weapon. The blastdoor opened to allow the Commander entrance into Staark's audience chamber. In this case it was up to the individual to determine whether this crime lord in particular was theatrical. The massive chair that he sat on was much like a throne, and both decorated by and constructed with trophies. As a concession to practicality a large holographic display was in front of him. He was armed with a truly massive blaster pistol and he had a sword sitting across his lap. Not a vibroblade, a sword. The Feeorin was old, but with his species that just meant he was far stronger and more vibrant than younger members. He was silent, instead just watching to take stock of the man who had entered.

"Welcome to the Ringali Shell," Derek said as he came to a halt in front of the throne, and bowed accordingly. "My name is Derek Atio and I represent a group of freighter pilots that operate here in the Ringali Shell," he explained, as he slowly rose back up to a standing position. He reached into his jacket pocket and produced a stack of 10,000 credits and placed it on a nearby table. "We offer you this tribute out of respect for your power and as a ... welcoming present," he continued, heaping on the platitudes as he hoped to ingratiate himself to the criminal.

"Flattery will get you nowhere..." The Feeorin swiftly rose from his throne as he picked up his sword. As he began to stride across the room he would swing the vessel over one of his shoulders. Like Valeria he had a variation of the Blazing Claw tattoo, common amongst pirates. "I am no Hutt." There was a slight pause. "..but the credits are appreciated. Now..." He ceased in his pacing, his hand clenched shut around the hilt of the sword, as his head turned towards the Commander. Those eyes focused in on him like lasers, and the next words out of his mouth came in a voice that boomed. He had a very powerful voice. "...Tell me why you are really here." Something about that demand made it clear that dancing around the subject was not going to be a successful course of action.

"I can see there is no fooling you, Staark," Derek continued, as his eyes caught the gleaming metal of the blade that the crime lord seemed to so expertly wield. "Weapons. I need weapons," he said, rather bluntly, as he turned his rotund frame so that he was now looking directly at the man. The Black Sun had shot him only a week ago ... perhaps now he was going to be stabbed.

"...And...there is more than you are telling me about who it is you represent." Staark sheathed his blade behind his back, though of course he still had that blaster pistol at his side. "I did not come into this 'Shell' of yours blind. This station..." He gestured, indicating the bulkheads around him. "...was never meant to move. It took a lot to bring it here. My choice was deliberate."

"I guess you could say we're a coalition of the unwilling," Derek said with a coy smile, as he took two steps slowly towards Staark. "Unwilling to live under the tyranny of the Empire," he continued, as he folded his arms in front of his chest. He was playing a dangerous game and this was the point in the discussion where he felt the most vulnerable. For all he knew he was about to be asked to leave, turned over to the Empire, or flushed out the nearest airlock.

He nodded slowly, and it looked like he was not at all surprised by this revelation. "I operated under the Old Republic for centuries, and I had no more love for it than I do for the Empire. Your credits will spend just as well here as any others...provided you don't get found out. You do and someone else on this station wants to kill you, I won't lift one finger."

"Do not concern yourself with that. I have a good track record of blending in," Derek said, as he adjusted his ill fitting jacket and once again smiled at the man. "I am very rarely suspected given my appearance and pleasant demeanor," he explained, as he moved closer towards the Feeorin once again. "I think you will find the turbulence in the region to be a great financial benefit for you," he concluded, nodding his head emphatically at the statement. Indeed ... with the war, the criminal infightings, and the various need for supplies the underground economy was doing better than ever.

"There's more." Staark reclaimed his throne and pressed some buttons on a panel installed on one of the arms, bringing up a non tactical map of the station they were on. It was for merchants, basically, a list of them and the services they provided on the station. "I own the station, not the business that provided services or merchandise here. You Rebel types have a reputation for disliking slavers. That won't work here. Disrupt one of the business here, slavers or no, and my security forces will eliminate you."

Derek cringed for a moment, but then quickly remembered himself and feigned composure. The truth was he detested slavers, but he had his orders to entreat with this crime lord and that meant playing by his rules. "Very well," he said, begrudgingly, but honestly. Once the war was one they could worry about things like slavery. For now they had a bigger problem to overcome. In a way, they were all slaves, from his point of view.

"And of course the same goes if you see an Imperial counterpart to yourself here trying to see the same aims achieved. You understand I can't allow this station to become known as a haven for Rebels." His shook his head slowly as he began to bring up the weapons shops, starship repair facilities and other places onboard he might have interested in. "If you abide by my rules, it will be better for both of us."

"You have my word that while I am on your territory I will abide by your laws, Staark," Derek said in an honest, sincere tone, as he bowed his head to the man. "I predict a wonderful business relationship between our two parties," he said, as his smile widened further as he considered the position he had no put himself in. Dangerous times called for difficult choices if he was going to continue keeping the Rebellion equipped.

Staark looked at the Rebel sternly. He had laid out his rules clearly. It wouldn't blow back on Staark if the Commander decided to break them, that much was made clear. "We can help each other. By moving here I know I'm already the most significant criminal force in this sector. You know I'm willing to deal with you, but I'm willing to bet there are other existing elements who aren't. It's in your interest to help me absorb..." He clenched his fist tightly. "...or crush them."

Derek swallowed slowly, his throat bulging visibly against the collar of the shirt that he wore beneath his jacket. Indeed, he was eager to be done with the Black Sun element that seemed to be playing both sides and had only recently put a slug in his belly. "Of...of course," he stammered, not having bargained for such a thing. Surely sector command would have their own thoughts as to involving the Rebellion in the petty squabbles of criminal warfare.

"I can see I am not quite what you expected." He grinned as he watched the Commander, those eyes of his no doubt imagining him squirming underneath his gaze. Staark was ruthless, but according to what he was saying, he was also fair. "Consider what I have proposed. This would not be an alliance between our two forces, just a business arrangement. By cooperating with me you will be dealing with a criminal syndicate that does not play favorites between the Rebellion and the Empire ... and that's the best you are likely to get in this life."

Derek paused for a moment as he considered the crime lord's words carefully. "Of course. I can see how playing favorites at this stage of the game might prove difficult," he said, as he took another look around his surroundings. "Is there anything further?" he asked, as his eyes darted down at the chronometer on his wrist. In the event that he was detained he had set a rendezvous that he did not want to be late for.

"Ask questions now, if you have them. And between now and our next meeting ask anyone you wish about my pirating days...I believe the tales are still on the HoloNet. You'll find I'm fair." His mouth spread wide as he smiled. "If an ship surrendered in the given time period I always honored the terms of the surrender...and once I offered no quarter no mercy was ever given."

"I find in these situations the less that one says ... the better," Derek replied briefly as he bowed to the man respectfully. "I will leave a list of the items we are looking to purchase with your man at the door," he said, as he waited for permission to depart.

He shook his head and indicated the still active holographic display. "I own the station, not the business within. I will, however, send a communiqué to the ones you'll be needing to deal with. Just make sure you don't advertise your...businesses."

"Discretion has kept me in the game this long, Staark," Derek said, sounding rather confident as he reached into his jacket pocket and produced a small datapad that contained a rather long and complicated shopping list. "I am confident in your ability to attract the caliber of businessmen who can meet our needs," he explained, as he forced another smile upon to his pudgy face.

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