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olopi

[IC] Trade Terminal Trouble

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olopi   

GM

The Loiterer, Osshrak Commerical Station, Edge of the Orto Nebula

 

 

The Loiterer was one of the few establishments on OCS that weren’t subject to strict security. Hence, it was where the traders, crewmembers and other assorted folks with shady histories, bounties on their heads, or just a certain sense of adventure, stayed. OCS itself was not particularly notable, a medium size trading hub serving as a refuelling station for a few long routes.

 

And, thanks to its position, a popular destination in some traveller circles. Not that any of them would ever come to a place like the Loiterer, where the weekly maintenance budget could probably buy you two or three glasses at most. It was by far not the worst place Bliss had ever been in, still. The past few days had been rather unspectacular, and there wasn’t really much of a reason to even stay.

 

Or at least there hadn’t been, until a somewhat familiar face entered the building. Large, muscular and grey. Like always, wearing a white helmet. Kresh Melek, one of the Praetorians. Bliss had seen her before. And for a Praetorian to be in a place like this, it had to mean something.

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Bliss generally didn't care.  Not until the fight broke out.  Her presence generally meant such.  She was known and it was not for her ability to be peaceful.  But then that was expect when they interacted with her.  Her gruff, rasping behavior.  All sharp edges and coarse.  Realistically she didn't mind down time, as she tried to get better at the whole maintenance thing.  She wasn't nominally an engineer, but she needed to do things beside fight.

 

That is what she was told at least.  So she was busy working that particular thing, reading schematics, and trying to figure out some specific things.  She waited for the next job to show up, while finishing up a bit of guarding.  But she caught the one Praetorian.

 

Yawning maw of the...

Fighting would break up the monotony, and this was one of the Praetorians she wanted to thrash in a corner.

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olopi   

GM

 

The Praetorian didn’t seem to pay Bliss any attention. Was it intentional? Bliss may not have been sitting dead-center of the room, but even then, she still stood out. And Barrier, the Praetorian, had done a quick sweep of the room when she’d arrived, so clearly she’d seen her, right?

 

But not even a nod. She made her way through the bar, doing her best to not bump into anything. Which was difficult enough when most paths were about as wide as the person walking through them already, even when that person wasn’t twice as large as the average. She ordered a drink, an Orto Obliterator, a local speciality, and sat down, at a single table, just about visible from the entrance, a bit tucked away in a corner. Which made for an interesting sight, as both table and chair weren’t nearly big enough.

 

And there she sat, waiting. Looking at the door, not doing much else just yet.  

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She might have been upset.  If she cared.

 

Bliss just knew it meant trouble, so she glanced about, and then settled into a position in her chair that was prepping for the fight she now expected.  That was more her concern anyway.  She could survive quite a bit, and in general she had minimal concern over collateral, other than the problem it causes for her.  She was generally not someone who shied away from conflict, and tended to try and scare people off or, failing that, reduce them to a smear on the ground.

 

Her focus was shifted away from her reading now, and whether or not Barrier was drinking.

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olopi   

GM

 

Barrier sat there, drinking a bit, for about a minute, when somebody else walked into the bar. Somebody who probably didn’t want their identity known, judging by the very loose clothes they wore, including a hood, and below that, some sort of full-face breathing mask. It was hard to tell anything about them, apart from the fact they were about average sized. Infrared revealed that they had a Lor-style body type, and also weren’t entirely biological, some mechanical parts in there.

 

They too grabbed something from the bar, and then joined Barrier at her table. The two of them exchanged a few words, the music unfortunately too loud to make out more than a few words. Something about cargo, about arrival dates, and about the route. Something was handed over to Barrier, and then the figure turned towards the entrance. Barrier, for her part, turned over towards Bliss, now clearly looking at her.

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Bliss didn't, or couldn't, care about the exchange, other than how it signified things were going to happen.  Probably bad.  Definitely violent.  For all their claims the Praetorians weren't precisely peace-time leaders in these sorts of things.

 

Of course, Bliss tended to believe a lot of the Lor stuff was BS fronts.  At least the Khanate didn't have pretensions of benevolence.  Nor her people... But they...

 

She finished her drink, debating about picking up the fight she had with Barrier before.  They weren't equal in the slightest, it wasn't even, the ledger was still open.

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olopi   

GM

 

Barrier waited for a few seconds, keeping her focus on Bliss. And then, she got up, slowly getting out of the corner, doing her best not to break anything. It was an interesting sight, quite amusing even. Barrier picked up her drink, like everything else in this establishment too small for her, and slowly made her way towards Bliss through the bar. It was opposing ends of the room, so it was a certain distance.

 

Usually not an issue. Usually clients weren’t big enough to bump into other clients, either. In this case, exactly that happened. The Praetorian had slowly made her way across the place, when some guy slid back his chair, causing Barrier to trip into it.

 

Which only really led to said guy getting knocked onto the ground. And his drinking buddies, all looking even shadier than the rest of the clientele, turning their heads towards the Praetorian, and getting up in a hurry, clearly about to attack.

 

Which didn’t seem to faze the Praetorian at all, as all she did in response was to put her glass onto a table.

 

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"I'd stop."

Bliss spoke in that flat, raspy voice of hers.  Her attention back to the schematics she had been looking at earlier, demonstrating her complete, and utter, lack of concern or interest in these people.  Their anger.  Their breathing.

 

Bliss was no intimidating, as she was a species who's traditional gender role sat at odds with most peoples in Known Space.  However, as she rose, and stood, she carried herself like a brawl in this kind of place was like breathing to her.  It wasn't second nature, it was her first nature.  Her problem solving methodology started at violence, and ended at violence visited on others.  "That?  That there is one of those Praetorians.  They're good at it.  Real good.  Some of them like it."

She stretched slowly, "Now I love it.  It's rapturous and is my sacrament.  It is what I live for.  But in a case like this, I will wait, and laugh as she destroys you like a xcholi would sweep at a swarm of gnats.  So please, please give me a show "  She made a slow, sweeping gesture with her right arm, hand turned so her palm was up, between Barrier and the assorted idiots.

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olopi   

GM

 

Barrier didn’t budge. She didn’t turn to acknowledge Bliss, or even move a muscle. She just stood there, and stared down the goons. Quite literally, as she actually had to look downwards and still couldn’t meet their eyes fully. The goons, meanwhile, looked over a Bliss, with the occasional glance back at Barrier.

 

And drops of sweat forming on their face, as most of them backpedalled, hands raised in front of their chest. “Uuuh.” Some whispering. And some bumping into each other, as they all tried to back up further.

 

Barrier picked up her drink, turned around, and walked over to Bliss, without even paying any attention to them. “You know, staying quiet would’ve given you a fight.”

 

“Looking for a job?”

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Bliss snorted.  It was an expression she learned from the Zultasian.  Her nostril slits expanded with the noise, and the expression of annoyance.  Though honestly, her species generally looked annoyed, or uninvested.  Given that a lot of their emotional displays were on the infrared spectrum, or via pheromonal release, she had to make an effort to convey things to people.  But it was a skill that helped.

 

"It would have given you a fight.  Then you would have waxed false over the regret you felt in dealing with them. Even if you'd love to drive the consciousness out of them by punching them."  She finished her drink, and wiped her face with the palm of her gloved hand.  "Over, and over, and over again.  And when I got involved you would have stopped me, even as you'd concuss the idiots with repressed glee that would make you flagellate yourself later out of some made up guilt."  Her tone was as harsh as normal, but that was how she talked.  Though there was a layer of dislike towards Barrier in general.  It was clear.  She wasn't hiding it.

 

"If my gods still listened to me, I'd absolve you for having to ask me for help.  I'll take a job.  I wont even bring it up later to twist any metaphorical knives."

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olopi   

It wasn’t necessarily who Barrier wanted to work with. Out of everybody she could’ve chosen, out of everybody she’d met before, it had to be Bliss. And for the long list of complaints, Barrier still had to admit that Bliss was efficient. So if she already was in the area, she was a better pick than any Merc. Mainly because with Bliss, Barrier actually had an idea of what she was in for. The fact it would go wrong was predictable.

 

Barrier simply raised her head for a short moment. “If you say so. “ She didn’t say much more, instead walking over to a nearby spot and sitting down, waiting for Bliss to follow. And once it was clear nobody was listening, she started. “There’s been  claims of smuggling happening, centered around this station. All sorts of things. Weapons, Drugs, Exotic Creatures, People. This could lead to major consequences for you and your crew. Payment will, of course, be appropriate. If you still want to take on this mission, leave in 5 minutes, and find me in the alley behind this building. “

 

With that, she got up and left, without even a single other word, leaving a few people to wonder, and some looks directed at Bliss, even if everybody in the bar knew that minding your own business was the best idea.

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Fortunately, her species did not look smug either.  There was a blink of her interior eyelids, and she stood up after a few moments, and stretched her arms over her head as she made her way through the people, and followed Barrier once, nodded curtly at her words, and then she left.  She could argue with Barrier some more, but it was a job, and she disliked Barrier on a personal level.  This, though?  This was professional.

 

Bliss worked with, and for, the Lor more than once.  Besides, she had actively tried to save Barrier from the hassle of a bar fight.  Of course she blew her cover to do so, but she was keenly aware that Barrier was less subtle than she was.

 

So she went to the rendezvous, and settled back against the wall.

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olopi   

PC

 

Barrier was already waiting, casually leaning against the wall, doing her best to look inconspicuous. Which, with her size and shiny white armor only sort of worked. Once Bliss turned the corner, Barrier turned her head. “Good.”

 

She walked over to meet her, and also to get out of the one-way alley. “Let’s go. First stop, a place even shadier than this. I know where somebody who’s involved is usually loitering, just have to get a name or two from him. He has connections with some officials, and those are what will lead us to the big suppliers.”

 

The two walked through the streets for some time. Barrier didn’t attempt to strike up any conversation, instead walking along, always keeping an eye out for anything that looked suspicious. Then, they arrived, at what appeared to be a small private hangar, a few ships parked inside.

 

“I should be able to get us in with my status. But as soon as we’re in, all hell will break loose, and people will probably run. Maybe even before that. How quickly can you get past the checkpoint and towards the ship in the back there?”

 

The checkpoint was pretty simple. A security guard booth, and a sliding door of strengthened glass, with a, probably thin, wall running all the way up towards one of the station’s many pillars, to make sure nobody would fly in.

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Bliss' eyes narrowed as she shook her head a little.  Barrier was over dramatic, "This really could have be better served in the bar, there is noise there.  You are too big to be a sneaky hualc," she said referencing a leech like creature from her homeworld.

 

But then, common sense seemed to be an allergy to the Star Knights, and Praetorians, and a whole host of others.  She followed along until there were watching where she needed to get to.  "I don't know, I've never done it.  Just keep them off of me, and I can get there before they can lock down, probably."  Her assessment was short, and honest.  She was confident she could do it.

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olopi   

GM

 

Barrier’s response came quickly, but she kept it short. “I had good reasons to not continue the discussion there. And I don’t need to be sneaky.” She turned to walk away, towards the checkpoint. “If the door opens, just join me. If it doesn’t, just get through somehow.” With that, she walked towards the checkpoint, and spoke.

 

The door slid open, and Barrier casually stepped through, making sure Bliss caught up, before continuing to walk towards one of the space ships. A small freighter, not the most recent model, but good to quickly get inexpensive goods from one system to another. She held up her shield, creating a nearly transparent green cube some distance around the ship, then approached the intercom.

 

“Was told to meet Ja’hag. Open up. Red Berries. “

 

The cargo door opened up, slowly rising, revealing 4 men of various species, sitting around a cargo crate, playing a card game of some sort. Their heads all turned towards the two outside. One of them spoke a few words while seemingly stunned. “Ohh ####”, and then, they all scattered, two running further into the ship, the Lor trying directly towards Bliss, and one pulling a gun that had been attached on the table’s underside.

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Bliss shrugged at what she said.  As the moment approached, she shifted from the snarky, standoffish person Barrier was familiar with.  After all, the former gladiatrix had to have some redeeming value, right?  Or the other Voidrunners would have dropped her at a backwater without much fanfare, right?

 

The door opened, and she didn't even both waiting for them to react, they hadn't even finished looking towards them before Bliss was surging forward ahead of Barrier.  She was on their table, before their gun was fired and leaping off with her tendrils shooting out to bring her movement up laterally, as she was focused on the door to the ship.  It was a bit difficult to avoid just giving into Liquor of Xcht'ala, but rage was not the goal.  It was to thread to the entrance of the ship, and in, before it was sealed up.

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olopi   

GM

 

Bliss managed to be faster than the two running inside, but they did not feel like turning around. The next room was a corridor, connecting the cargo bay to the rest of the ship, a second corridor leading to the living area on the side. And there, at this intersection, Bliss could await the two who ran inside. One of them, a Zultasian, spoke.

 

“We have friends in powerful places. Do what you want to, but know they’ll strike back harder than you could imagine. Or, you can take these 20k and just turn around. You get cash, and you don’t have to deal with them. Win-win.”

 

Meanwhile, outside, just visible through the doorway, the gun was fired at Barrier. And the bullet simply bounced off her skin, as she grabbed the remaining criminal, who tried to escape in the chaos, managing to get a grip on him as he tried to slip past, and to pin him under her arm, holding her shield in the other one.

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Bliss laughed.

 

It sounded like a file dragged across volcanic rock, as she started to shack while this was happening, her arms bent a bit, so that her hands were held before her.  She staggered a little bit towards a wall, leaning on one hand, as the other pressed to her stomach.  "Oh... you don't know who I am, if you did, you'd realize that funny."  And she made an exultant face of transcendental glee.

 

And she snapped forward whipcrack quick.  Her tendrils shot out, and slapped into the Zultasian hard, battering him against a wall, and then immediately cinching around him, as she shifted and pulled, ready to start batter the other person with the one in her grasp.  Why?

 

It was funny. 

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olopi   

GM

 

The Zultasian couldn’t defend himself in time. Once he’d realized what was happening, it was already too late, he was already in Bliss’ grasp. And he wasn’t going to get out of that any time soon. He was still conscious, suggesting that he was a fair bit sturdier than the average person, but even with him struggling, he wasn’t likely to escape.

 

Meanwhile, from outside, there were more gunshots. Bliss no longer was in a position to see what was happening, but the *clunk* shortly afterwards gave her a pretty good idea. Meanwhile, the other man started to talk.

 

“What do you want, then? What are you here for? “

 

Behind him, Barrier stood in the doorway, carrying the two thugs that had been outside under her arms, their heads and arms pinned. She just nodded at Bliss, seemingly content with her position for now.

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"The suppliers."  Bliss made two words just drip with hatred, as she squeezed on the Zultasian, a little for him to realize what precisely was happening, and she lifted him up looming him over his compatriot threatening.

 

She had found that beating one man with another man was a great way to get information.  Or laughs.  So many laughs.   Though, there would be no bonding with Barrier over the savage thrashing.  "Also letting me know the big important people would be be good.  So I can get to them, first."  The eagerness dripped from her raspy voice.  "As you are both here, with me, and my mercies.  Tender as they are."  She didn't make explicit threats, just implicit.  Letting them fill in the blank space.

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olopi   

GM

 

The Zultasian did his best to not scream. But the fear was easily readable on his face. He knew what came next, and he did not look forward to it at all. Neither did the man below, who was glancing upwards, while keeping turned towards Bliss. He was mumbling, just barely audible.

 

“I was set-up. #####. Shouldn’t have trusted him. Now he’s out there, making the bucks…”

And then, he spoke at a proper volume. “The big important people? No idea who you’re talking about. I run my own op, I have the buyers who deal with all that. I just get them the product. Your intel … your intel’s off. “

 

He was slowly backing off, just a step at a time. Which made him bump right into Barrier. He jumped forward and turned around, only to see her staring him down, still holding the other two. “Come on, Ja’hag. We both know that’s wrong. You can either spill it and get away free, or she can get the info from you another way. Your choice. “

 

He stumbled backwards, looking pretty unsure about everything in his life right about now. And his back was turned towards Bliss…

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