The Krayt Flagon was a mostly run down, partially shady, and almost illegal cantina located near the outskirts of the little township that had grown around the Spike, Serenno's most infamous prison located deep in the Aparian Wastes. So it was no surprise that it was frequented by the more unsavory parts of the planet's populace. Which made it a somewhat dangerous place for someone like her, a tiny woman with no company, and no visible weapons on her. The fact that the cantina was known to only those with the right knowledge had left the few patrons who had noticed her with two possibilities. Either she was more dangerous than she seemed and was best left alone, or she was an unlucky fool who had ventured into the wrong place and was probably going to end up dead or worse by the end of the night. In either case it was best that they left her alone, both scenarios would probably land them in more trouble than it was worth.
So she was left alone as she sat quietly at a table near the bar, a bottle of some cheap looking whiskey in front of her. Dressed in her standard patchwork ensemble, which was hidden inside the cloak she had drapped around herself. Also hidden under the cloak was a pouch full of cred-coins and a tiny little surveillance droid, all items that might come in handy for the task at hand today. That was why she was here after all, waiting for her contact. That and one other thing, their targets were known to frequent this joint.
Talak had been told disturbingly little about what was going on here or what role he was to play in it. The network within the Sith Eternal had put him in contact with a woman who had some sort of plan for infiltrating Serenno, and Talak responded.
He had the distinct impression that they were going to get into some sort of trouble, and had packed a short vibrosword on his hip as well. In a shady place like this, blasters were more common, but he was perfectly content with his melee weapon. His hood was drawn up over his head, and the few people who gave him looks apparently decided he looked like he fit in well enough here.
Each one of his steps was slow and deliberate, and the Force reached out to the people around him. It was another place filled with malice and black. It was a dark place, and it was enough to make a chill crawl up Talak's spine. It was the kind of evil that even made him feel uncomfortable: senseless, pointless depravity.
Of all the people in the bar, there was only one that seemed to be out of place. While he couldn't be certain, he made his way over and looked down at her as she sat at the table.
Z? he asked quietly enough so that no one would easily hear. If she was Zarine she'd figure it out, and if she wasn't Zarine, then he wouldn't have betrayed the name of his contact. @Wit
Zarine looked up at Talak's whisper, smiling at the man and gestured towards the seat across from her, sliding over the bottle towards him in invitation. "You're early," she said without really checking her chrono, she just knew it to be true. "I like that in people I work with."
She waited till he was seated and had poured himself a drink before sliding across an envelope to him. Not many used actual paper in this day and age, but she had long since learned that it was one of the safest ways of communicating if you didn't want to leave a trace. Almost anything could be hacked, but no one would by any wiser about the contents of a written note once it was properly disposed off. The envelope contained pictures of their targets, two bodyguards in the employ of the current warden of the Spike, probably the most influential man in the upcoming elections. That information was also in the envelope. All they had to do was get their credentials and break into the warden's home, after that it was a simple matter of convincing him of supporting whoever they wanted him to support.
"We have some time before our friends arrive, gives us an opportunity to talk. I never get to talk to," she paused for a moment, picking her next words carefully, "someone from the same congregation as me. Tell me, what convinced you to respond to my call? Some have called my means too slow, too archaic. I believe by your being here you don't disapprove of a subtler approach to things?" She knew as little about him as he knew about here, and for someone who valued information as much as she did it was vital to remedy that. Was he the type to go in guns blazing, the new age fools that seem to be spreading like a plague among the ranks of the Eternal's followers, or was he someone she might come to trust?
Talak took a seat across from her, glad that they could already get started. He, too, appreciated the promptness of their meeting. Like her, he didn't often have the opportunity to sit down and talk to one of "their own" these days.
If you only have one way to handle things, you're bound to fail, he said, pausing for a moment. Especially when that one way is idiotic, he added a moment later. He had heard stories about people being too blatant - he was even partially responsible for one of them - but he did his best to stay out of the spotlight.
He took the offered paper and started looking through it. The Warden they were going after, that was easy enough. The candidate they were... oh kriff. His gut felt like it did a somersault, and there was a spike of raging fury that shot through him that would be evident in the Force. All the muscles of his face tightened and he looked up at Zarine. For a moment there was death in his eyes that reflected both the past and future.
This is who we're supporting? he asked, looking back down at the paper and back up again. What were the odds of it being this man?
We're going to want to find a new candidate, he said quietly. Or convince the other one to work with us, he said. And then he realized that he was going to have to actually provide and explanation for his unusual "demand." Well, it was really more of a suggestion, wasn't it? He realized he wasn't off to making a good first impression.
This candidate is on a different list to... have an accident, he said. Talak had already marked this man for death after discovering some very horrid truths about him before. Truths that had led to Talak slaughtering.... a lot of human traffickers and burning a small warehouse down to cover the evidence. Fine, so Talak wasn't always subtle. @Wit
Zarine smiled at Talak's subtle joke at the expense of their more exuberant comrades, raising her glass in acknowledgement before leaning back in her seat to let him examine the contents of the envelope. The reaction though wasn't the one she had expected. She saw it on his face, in his posture, through the Force. Something in the envelope was not sitting well with him.
A little concerned, a little curious, she nodded as he sought to confirm the identity of their target. A multitude of thoughts and emotions raced through her mind as he finally explained himself. She was very much intrigued by this other list, what the man must have done to earn a spot on that list. At the same time she was calculating, running the scenarios through her head, trying to figure out their options.
"Okay.." she finally said, "Okay. If you say so." She thought for a few moments, but time it seemed was not on their side as at that very moment the two guards walked into the bar. "Okay, we can still make this work. Somehow. But you will owe me one." She emptied the rest of her drink in a single gulp and pushed back the her chair as she got to her feet. "I have a few replacements in mind, further research could easily offer another option. But.." She turned to glance towards the guards, who had just plopped down at another table. "why waste time doing that when our friends here could take us to someone who might already have all the information we need. We were going to use them anyways." She shrugged the cloak's hood off her head, and began walking towards the guards, picking up the bottle from the table as she started. A few steps away she glanced back from over her shoulder at Talak, "Coming? You're just the big guy's type."
With that she walked over to the guards and placing the bottle at their table, flashed an inviting smile at the smaller one, though even he was probably more than a couple of heads taller than her.
Talak pushed the anger back down inside of him and focused his mind on the task at hand. His target wasn't here, but this other job was, and he needed to see it through. Particularly since he'd just lowkey ruined Zarine's plan.
But he had to say, she was taking it remarkably well. There were a lot of mindless brutes in the Sith Eternal that he was confident wouldn't have been so open minded, but she seemed ready to alter the plan as necessary. He assumed that was at least in part because she'd already decided not to put all her eggs in one basket. With a mind for something more than just brute force, he had to assume she was a planner and capable of adaptation.
She mentioned other candidates and that he would owe her a favor, and he bristled for a moment. He knew in one capacity it was only fair, but he was still helping accomplish the mission... fine, it's probably fair, he thought to himself. He gave a nod of agreement.
I'm the big guy's type? he thought to himself. Talak cast a glance over at the Abednedo sitting at the table that he had been given as a target. Before he could formulate a plan, she was already heading over. Yes, because this was going to be nice and easier for her as an attractive woman.
Talak was not an attractive woman.
My friend is a sucker for a man in uniform. She kept muttering about how cute you looked, so I forced her to come over, he said.
And I believe in coming bearing gifts, he said, motioning to the bottle on the the table. The "big guy" didn't look all that interested in anything outside the bottle, but the smaller one was quite interested in her.
Oh, really? I'm glad you came over, the man said, his hand now settling on her thigh as he looked at her.
Zarine was pleased with how quickly he had picked up on the plan, he was begining to show himself to be someone she could potentially rely on, which was a rare occurrence nowadays. But the pleasant mood was almost immediately soured when the human guard spoke, words accompanied by his hand slipping onto her thigh.
Smile still plastered on her lips, she inquisitively raised an eyebrow as she glanced down at the hand on her thigh. She could see his eyes on her, probably waiting to see how she would respond. Though she wanted to literally rip his arm off, she tabled that thought for later, though Talak would definitely sense the reaction hidden behind her smile. She had thought to pull off this first leg of their mission without bringing much harm to the guards, but that was the thing with plans, they were always changing.
"I have to say," she finally said, rubbing a finger on the man's hand, imagining what the most painful way of separating it from its owner would be, "I was starting to think we had walked into a dead town till I saw you." She smiled deeper as she let her hands linger higher up his arm. "Tell, what's fun to do around here? Besides you I mean?"
She could see him get flustered at that, looks like he wasn't used to women being so direct with him. And given his reaction to her she wasn't surprised. After a few fumbling uhhs and umms he finally managed to get a few words out of his mouth. "There's the joint down the street, lights and dancing and stuff. Never been inside, need a gal to..I mean it never felt fun. But might be fun with you."
Smooth, she thought to herself. "Sounds like a date," she glanced at Talak and the Abenedo for a moment, "what do you think?" The Abenedo seemed more engrossed in his drinks, so she gave Talak a quick twitch of the eye to ask him to get him to come along somehow. With that she grabbed the hand, still on her thigh, and got to her feet, pulling the much larger man to his feet after her.
"Come, let's go!"
With that she moved for the closest exit, which just so happened to be the one that opened up to the alleyway behind the cantina. So very convenient for them, to have been sitting so close to the exit that brought them out to a dark an abandoned alley. So many things one you do in the shadows.
The burst of anger in the Force was plain as day to Talak as they sat there. For a fraction of a second he frowned in confusion, but caught himself before anyone noticed. Through the table, he couldn't see where the man's hand had strayed, and it escaped him as to what had made her so angry.
To her credit, she didn't miss a beat in hitting on him and making him feel "welcome." Let's just say the guy wasn't all that smooth in his interactions and it was pretty obvious that he didn't often have any female attention directed his way.
In short order, Zarine had convinced Mr. Lover to head out of the bar, which left Talak to get the other one out. He was absorbed in his drink and didn't look like he wanted to go anywhere.
Come on, he said, nodding toward the door. She's very spendy when she thinks she's gonna get some. She'll buy rounds the rest of the night to impress your friend, he said. Oh, if Zarine had heard that he doubted she would have appreciated it, but it was part of the cover. He had... actually no idea how she normally acted.
Needless to say, it got the Abednedo's attention, and - taking the bottle with him - he went out to follow the rest of the group into the alley.
Talak was following Zarine's lead on how they wanted to handle these guards, but he had a bad feeling that settled in the pit of his stomach.
Hey, baby, why don't we head back to my place? Just the two of us. I've got some... umm... more drinks we could have, and we could, uh, have some alone time, he said. If they wanted to keep this charade up they would have to think of some reason to go against that... or they could start removing the limbs Zarine wanted. @Wit
Zarine missed Talak's comment, which was probably for the best as in that moment it might have only further spurred her on. The disgusting slob's hands on her had been more then enough to well and truly break through her normal calm demeanor.
The moment Talak and the Abedonedo were outside and beyond earshot of anyone inside the bar, and even as her would be suitor was trying to convince her to go back to his place, Zarine spun around and came to a stop. The sweet, coy look was gone from her face, replaced by one that could cut steel. The tall guard was taken aback, coming to a stop as she stepped up to him.
"Sure," she said softly, stepping up close and reaching up with her right hand for his left, the one that had touched her, "but I just need you to give me a hand with something." With that she gripped his hand at the elbow and pressed. She was a tiny little thing, with barely much physical strength to speak of, but she had the Force, and she had her anger, and when those two combined she had all the strength in the world at her disposal. So as she gripped and pulled in swift motion, the guard's arm simply ripped out of its joint.
She glared at him as the shock hit him, the very breath sucked out of him as he fixed a dumbfounded gaze at the stump where his arm had been. Before he could begin screaming in pain, the oh so excruciating pain that was just begining to register through the shock, Zarine swung his dismembered arm and hit him in the head with the same strength that had helped her create the makeshift club.
As he was knocked out cold, dropping to the ground, Zarine tossed his arm to the ground besides him and finally pulled her eyes away from him, seeking out Talak. She regretted her actions then, or at least she had some regret. Actions had consequences, and the Dark Side was not kind with exacting that cost. He would understand, and if he didn't, well no one was perfect.
Talak walked outside and felt that cold, black of malice crawl up his spine. It radiated from his partner, and gave him a nice idea that things were about to go down hill fairly quickly. She quite literally ripped his arm out of the socket and started to beat him with it, and Talak took the chance to get the jump on his guard as well.
He stuck his arm out toward the alien's head and let a blast of the Force flow through his palm. It bashed into the man's head with more force than a heavyweight, and his hand slammed hard enough into the wall to leave an impression. He reached out with the Force and cracked his neck after that.
Feeling better now? he asked, looking down at the bloody mess that was formerly the other man's arm and body. This may not have been the best time to sass her, but it was just too good of an opportunity.
He bent down and started rummaging through the various belongings on the guard before finding his ID card and holding it up for her to see.
So, the Warden, then, he said before heading out to the street. There were still plenty of people puttering around here and there, but the crowds were starting to thin. That meant it was the perfect time for a break in when they reached their objective.
But in the meantime, Talak was snoopy. He always had been; curious about other people and unwilling to share about himself. Perfect combination.
So, Guardian? How'd you wind up... in the employ of our boss? he asked. Not that there was anyone around to hear him, but it never hurt to be more subtle in public. @Wit
Zarine let out a deep breath, trying to force herself to calm down, but her heart was still racing when she replied to Talak, and the desire to snap at him was not an easy one to suppress. "Yes," she said, "much better." And she wasn't lying, she did feel a whole lot better. She wasn't normally a violent person, but some people deserved what had come the guard's way. How many others might he have acted like that with? How many had lacked the power to retaliate, or even refuse?
The ID card that Talak held up was a welcome distraction, and brought her focus back to the mission. She knew that true masters of the Force could tap onto the Dark Side without letting it drag them away like it did to her when using it, but she was still far from reaching anything resembling that level of control. Even now she felt a storm raging within her, inviting her to take action, to be reckless. Which was why Talak's question, normally one she might have deflected, actually drew answer from her. Talking would help calm her down.
"Where to begin." She said softly, thinking on it as they walked towards the warden's house. "I am the bastard child of a spoiled brat from a noble family, a family that made sure my mother would never get employed anywhere. A guardian took us in, raised me, taught me everything I know." She smiled as she thought back on her earliest memories, something she hadn't done in a long time. "What I have here, I inherited from her. I was just meant to be another one of her birds, a pretty face that she would use. And then she sensed the Force in me, and I became even more valuable to her. She taught me everything about the.. about the boss. I would have been dead or a beggar on the streets without that knowledge, so I continue doing what she did, serving."
She wasn't sure if it was smart to be telling him so much, but she couldn't be paranoid forever. And it wasn't out of any sense of threat like the Sith of old, she knew the followers of the Eternal to be different, or hoped that they were different. No, the hesitation was simply because of who she was. Information was power, and by sharing it she was sharing power. So it only made sense that she reclaim some in return.
"What about you? What recruitment drive got you the job?"
Talak was used to dealing with violent people - and in many instances he was a violent person - but it didn't seem that Zarine was going to lash out at him. Because, she was also a violent person, no matter what she wanted to believe.
As they walked along he was glad that she had actually decided to answer his questions. There were many in the Sith Eternal - including himself on some occasions - who weren't willing to talk about themselves and became very difficult to get to know.
Talak listened to her story, and it was surprisingly tragic. It was odd to hear all the ugly stories that had brought the members of the Sith Eternal out to the service of their leader. He wondered if the stories of the Sith Lords of old were the same. He figured she didn't want his pity, though. She didn't seem like the type, and Talak respected that.
I was born into the Legions... or at least as good as being born in, he said. He seemed to be one of the only people to have been there since the beginning. Most people he had talked to had been involved in coming to the Sith Eternal later. Talak wasn't sure if it was a blessing or a curse that he hadn't known anything else until he entered the rest of the galaxy.
The boss came to our home before I was born, so I was raised to be... I was raised with purpose, he said, trying to pick slightly more subtle words.
But I left the home world almost five years ago. I haven't been back since, he said. It was filled with bad memories for him, and he was actually enjoying his time in the wider galaxy.
He had just finished speaking when a young child ran up and tossed a folded up piece of paper at Zarine's feet and promptly began to run off without saying a word and without giggling. There was something unsettling about the child, and the paper, when it was opened read "I know what you did. I'm watching." @Wit
His story was intriguining, she had always wondered what it would have been to grow up surrounded by those who followed the Eternal, to not have to hide who you were from everyone near and dear to you. Even her own mother had not known the true extent of what Maighdin was really teaching her. She was about to ask him about it, to ask why had had left and never returned when they were interrupted by the child.
Maighdin had warned her, people made mistakes when they gave in to their emotions. She had thought she had learned that lesson, but it seemed to not be the case. A normal person would have panicked on reading the note, and she couldn't deny the temptation to do so, but Maighdin's training came to her rescue once more. She had told her she would fail, make mistakes. Sooner or later everyone made mistakes. But it was still early days for her, not even months removed from Maighdin's death. That was good, the sooner you failed, the earlier you learned from your mistakes. This would be good for her. Yes, it would be good. She wasn't sure if she actually believed that, or was trying to convince herself.
"Well," she finally replied, trying to appear nonchalant, "that seems ominous." If they were indeed being watched, then their observer would surely draw meaning from how they reacted to their message, and Zarine was not going to give them the satisfaction of seeing her panic. "It's too late to chase after the kid, but if we're being watched then we shouldn't keep our audience waiting for the next act." She began moving, thinking as she put one foot after the other.
She opened herself up to the Force as they continued walking, trying to sense those around them, to spot anyone with a significant interest in them. But the streets were still relatively crowded, and it drowned out anything that she might have noticed. Giving up, she whisper softly, barely loud enough for Talak to hear. "Do you sense anyone, are they still watching us? I saw we just continue on to the warden's, maybe its him, and if not then maybe it will draw out whoever this note it from."
At first Talak just looked at the kid in confusion. He watched him scamper away, and there was a temptation to follow him as he rushed into a crevice in an alley, but he remembered the last time he did that. He had nearly been killed, nearly killed another woman, and had a generally horrid experience.
Looking at the note brought a whole new slew of questions. He was about to walk into the alley to get out of the way of sight but Zarine seemed to be walking on... so he cast a look around and then continued after her. Was this a reference to what had happened in the alley or something else? It was the logical thing to assume it referenced the guards, but as they said: the road to assumption was lined with coffins.
No, he disagreed. If they don't know why we're here already, we may expose our intentions, he said before breaking off and heading down a side street that was far less crowded.
He took another side trip into a convenience store and moved to the back of the store immediately to where they were shielded from the view of the street.
We could try to lose the tail, we could go back to the alley to see if we can find a trail, or we could try to lure this person out, he said. Whatever they would do, they'd likely have to decide quickly.
Zarine paused for a moment as Talak broke off, heading down a side street. She thought on what he said and after a moment's thought followed after him. Despite what might be the right thing to do, she did know that they ought to stick together. And try as she might to act like she knew what she was doing, she couldn't deny that she was still inexperienced at this sort of thing. Managing her birds, sifting through a mountain of information to spot what was most important, extracting credits from gullible fools, she had spent years doing that, had learned the right way to act in those situations. But this was till new to her. Maighdin's death had not been so long ago that she had mastered every aspect of her former's Master's craft.
With such thoughts racing through her mind, by the time Talak lead them to the convenience store and laid out his argument, she was ready to concede to him. He obviously seemed to know what he was doing, definitely more than her. It seemed pretty obvious now that what he said was logical, but she hadn't seen it ill he had laid it out for her. Another mistake to learn from.
"Alright," she finally replied, having realized the best option for them lay in trying to pick up the child's trail, "let's find who our admirer is. Come, I might know a way to find who this person is." With that she began leading them through side alleys and crowded streets, back towards the alley. "Every street here is owned by someone, they own the rights to collect coin there. Be it through beggars, pickpockets, or con-men running games." She spoke as they walked, trying to explain her plan to him. "They also normally have a ear in the going-ons in their turf. We just need to find the right ears."
She lead them to the mouth of the alley, having lead them back to it, and started looking around, finally spotting an old man sitting on a corner, a bowl full of alms before him. "There, the old man." She started moving towards him, when he happened to look in their direction, noticing them through pure chance and eyes widening as he spotted her. That was all the confirmation she needed that he had either seen what they had done, or knew who had been following them.
She walked to him and came to a crouch in front of him, the man visibly uncomfortable as they approached. "I ain't seen nothing, please don't hurt me." He seemed to be a quivering mess, but Zarine could sense through the Force that here was not an ounce of real fear within him. It was all an act. "Drop the act gonzo," she locked eyes with him and gestured up at Talak, "my friend here doesn't have much taste for dramatics. We just want to know if anyone else noticed us." The old man's demeanor changed, the fragile man suddenly replaced by one that was totally in control of the situation.
"I know who you are, this isn't your turf girl. You're getting nothing from me," he smirked, "atleast not for free." Zarine glanced up at Talak, before leaning in to whisper in the old man's ears, negotiating quickly and settling on a cut of her earnings for a few months. When she got back to her feet she had a pleased smile on her face, gesturing for Talak to follow.
"We're looking for someone called the Meatman, operates out of the south district. Not too far from here. I suppose you want to scout his place out and see what our options are?"
Talak took the backseat to Zarine on this particular part of the mission. Dealing with local spies and underworlders seemed to be something she was quite comfortable with. As they approached the man, she seemed to know him, and it was clear that he wasn't what he appeared. When Zarine mentioned that Talak didn't have a taste for dramatics Talak did his best to look unamused. That was easy because he almost always looked unamused, and when he actually tried it just started to look more like a murderous glare than anything.
Nothing for free? Talak felt a flare of anger welling up within him. It felt... uncharacteristic and out of place. He didn't normally lose his temper, but with his recent flirtation with the dark side, it seemed like a more common theme. He was about to turn the man's mind into pulp when Zarine stepped in to handle the situation.
Get a hold of yourself, Talak. What the kriff? he reprimanded. He was glad to step away from the man if only because the temptation to pulverize him diminished.
Yeah, he said, trying to pull his mind back from the track of violence it had been so ready to run down.
What kind of a name is the "meatman"? he asked, scrunching his face up as he realized the name. He also realized it's potentially ugly implications, and he wondered if this was going to turn into another blind rage where he sliced and diced up an entire human trafficking ring.
Kriff, I hope not, he thought. He couldn't afford any more publicity... right now.
He took a few moments to consider their best option for finding this "meatman" and started walking in the direction of the south district immediately.
What does this "meatman" do? he asked, hoping the answer wouldn't be what he hoped it wasn't.
South district, so that's... pretty big. We'll need to narrow it down either with another one of these street mites or something else, he thought. Sometimes he hated the fact that he didn't know how to use psychometry. It seemed like it had infinite uses. We don't know what this guy feels like, so no tracking him that way, he thought.
If we know his business, we can track him that way, he said. The kids he had running for him would likely be watching, but even they might provide information of their own. He didn't love the idea of raiding the mind of a child, but they were Force-users after all, they were likely agile enough to follow one.
Or track down one of these spies he has. Can you identify ones working for him? he asked. He had no idea how this world of spy children worked, but maybe that was possible?
Zarine supressed a smile at Talak's question, the name had thrown her off in the past as well. Having seen the worst that Serenno had to offer, her mind had also wandered in the worst directions with regards to the name's origins. The truth though, had been much more tame. "He used to be a butcher," she replied, pulling out her datapad and begining to punch in some commands, "ran a small thieving crew out of his shop. You want a crew, you want credits, you want to sell merchandise too hot for your average fence? You seek out the butcher. They say he'd slip the information into the meat he sold. You walk in and buy a steak and the law's none the wiser."
She handed over her datapad, a beaten and battered looking exterior which hid its top of the line innards, with a holomap pulled up to the new street view feature that they now came with. On it was the complete three dimensional layout of a butcher's shop. "He still keeps on eye on his old shop, though he hasn't sold anything in over a decade. We could just walk in and ask for an audience. Or steak out the place and see if we can find something."
Or they could walk in guns blazing and beat up whatever thugs he had stationed at the butcher's and get them to tell them where the meatman was. She left that option unsaid, eager to see what Talak would think of it. She was getting more and more interested in this man that had come to help her, to learn more about him. Both in his choices, and his sense of humor.
Talak felt a wave of relief wash over him that would likely be evident in the Force as she explained who and what the meatman was. It was better this way, he decided. Much better.
All the better still that she knew where he operated out of. That would make tracking him down that much easier. She earned a side-eyed squint when she... did she make a pun? He was pretty sure that had to be intentional, and it wasn't entirely clear whether he approved or disapproved.
Okay, so if we... stake out his shop... he couldn't believe he had just repeated that and did his best to suppress a smile ...we can pick a time when he's inside and infiltrate from the roof or a back door, he said. It seemed like a better option than "guns blazing."
Unless you think he'd be amiable to a meeting, he said. This was her area, and if she thought she could manage things through a more peaceful alternative, that'd be great, too. He wasn't sure if the note was meant to be threatening or not, but Talak being Talak assumed that everything was threatening.
They continued on until they found the butcher shop, and as Talak looked across the street and saw the inside, he felt all kinds of sketched out.
He assumed the disgustingly creepy thing behind the counter wasn't the meatman if he hadn't sold anything in over a decade, but wow... that thing looked like it killed humans to use in its meats.
This looks quaint, he said in a voice dripping with sarcasm. His eyes swept up the side of the building to the surrounding buildings as well. There were two that looked tall enough to jump onto the roof, and he motioned with his head toward the one to their right.
We could get onto the roof from there, he guessed, starting to make his way over toward it. It wasn't clear if the meatman was inside right now, but time was ticking and Talak figured they could probably find something in there even if it wasn't the man himself
Zarine smiled at Talak's mention of staking out the shop, pleased with herself for having managed to slip in the pun at such a serious time. Another one of Maighdin's lessons, never lose your sense of humor.
"I don't know." she replied, "maybe its best to just sneak our way in. There's no knowing how he's going to respond, maybe the element of surprise will work in our favor." What doubts she might have had about taking a more direct approach vanished when she noticed the creature behind the counter. He looked too scary, too scary to not be a complete villain or a complete sweetheart. And given his employer she was sure there was no chance of the latter.
Zarine followed Talak's gesture to the building on the right, and nodded in agreement. The two of them carefully made their way into building, with the day having wound down for most it was a little easier to do so. Getting onto the meatman's roof was easy enough, the Force making up for any lack of physical finesse on her part to pull off the landing safely. Things were going pretty well for them, she even spotted a hatch on the roof that opened up into the building below, and all it took was a slight tug with the Force to pop it open. But that was when their luck ran out.
"Here," she called out softly to Talak, the two having split up to scope out the roof for a way in, "I found something." As he came over she popped the hatch open and seeing darkness below, jumped in. Again she showed her inexperience for this sort of thing, not thinking before jumping in blindly into a potentially dangerous situation. As she landed on the ground, giving Talak barely any time to react, the light in what turned out to be a storage room of some sort went on. Standing not a few feet from a one eyed Ewok. Her eyes locked with its single brown one, Zarine wasn't sure who was more shocked, the gruff looking furball or her. But luckily she was the one to shake off her shock and spring into action. She lunged forward and clamped a hand onto the Ewok's mouth, bodily slamming it to the ground in the process.
"Talak, get down here! Close the door!" She called out to Talak in an urgent voice, speaking in as loud a whisper as she dare. Once he was in the room and the door the Ewok had opened was closed, Zarine turned her attention back to the Ewok. Pulling out a small knife from its sheath at her waist, she pressed it up against its throat, mouth still covered with her other hand.
"The meatman, is he here?" She asked, getting a scared nod in response. "Where is he?" The Ewok responded with a simple gesture of its hand, pointing a tiny finger out the door he had just come in through. Turning to Talak she gesture towards the door, wordlessly asking him to try to get a look outside the door.
Talak followed after her as they made their way through the building. It smelled musty and old, and it caused his face to scrunch up. She dropped down and he called the Force to himself as he dropped as well. His decent was quick but came to a rapid halt as he was caught in the grip of his own Force energies and touched down relatively softly.
He turned and looked around to see if anyone had spotted him before moving toward the same entry Zarine dropped through. He felt something... alarming below. He didn't know what or who, but something was of concern and he darted over to the drop down and spotted her in a quick "scuffle" with... was that an Ewok? This mission seemed to just keep getting weirder.
Talak dropped in after and he wrapped a hand around the vibroblade in his sheathe as she asked where the meatman was. With any luck this wouldn't turn into a fight, but... well, hopefully it wouldn't be a fight, and that was it.
The fact that they weren't supposed to use the Force only made things more complex. He would have put the ewok out and moved into the next room to restrain this guy with stasis, but that wasn't an option.
He crept toward the door and it slid partially open. He didn't know what a meatman looked like, but there was someone... very large and very nonhuman inside. He assumed from the authoritative way he was sprawled out on a couch that this was their "lead" man, but he couldn't confirm it.
As he was turning back to Zarine, the ewok suddenly kicked up and kicked the knife from his throat, trying to peel her hand away from his mouth to yell for help. @Wit