Although it was a popular tourist destination and so the locals were used to outsiders and their unusual fashion sense, Soraya embraced the cultural normality of Zeltros and their wildly coloured and revealing clothing by wearing a neon pink mini skirt with a matching cropped vest. The Zeltrons' emphasis on sexuality and pursuit of pleasure, as displayed by their culture, was an admirable philosophy she believed - if only more of the galaxy could be like that. Soraya was in a busy bar, a few drinks in to the start of her evening, or day... or whatever time it was here, not that it mattered anyway. She had been entertaining a Zeltron woman for the last few minutes who was being very flirty, as most Zeltrons were. Although Soraya wasn't a natural flirt herself, whatever she said did seemed to do the trick as she found herself locking lips with the woman who sat beside her at the bar in a passionate kiss but was soon interrupted by a slap to the face.
She opened her eyes in shock and turned to face the angry looking person standing beside her. "You stole my death sticks!" The woman hissed at her. "No offence sweetheart but I can afford my own death sticks." Soraya replied before turning back to face the Zeltron woman she had been so engrossed with moments before and leaning in for a second kiss only to be rudely interrupted again by being dragged off the bar stool by her hair. "Ow!" She screamed, trying to pry the woman's fingers off of her hair, only when she managed to do so she took a punch to the face. "What are you doing, you crazy bitch?!" She yelled, holding her bleeding nose. "If you don't give them back to me then I'll take them from your body." She replied. "Getting a bit ahead of ourselves there aren't we." Soraya scoffed.
Most of the time, people tended to stay involved in their own business but with the commotion they were creating, a small crowd had gathered around them. Punches were exchanged but the fight ultimately ended with the other woman on the floor, pinned under Soraya. "M-maybe I made a mistake." The woman said. "Yeah, maybe you did." Soraya agreed, glaring at the woman one final time before standing up and allowing her to depart. Most of the activity around the bar had gone back to normal so she returned to her seat at the bar, only to find it occupied by another Zeltron kissing the woman she had been with earlier. Typical Zeltrons, she thought.
Usually Arthur wouldn't be going to clubs like this. But he had been spending the whole day talking business with some big shots on Zeltros and relaxing would be great. Plus his associates had told him a lot of how good this club was so he decided to humour them. Not wanting having time to dress up, he simply took off his tie and loosened the top buttons before getting out of the speeder and making his way inside.
Inside a fight broke out which he ignored. This was Zeltros, after all. Things tended to get heated on this planet one way or another. He made his way towards the bar and waved over the bartender. She was a scantily clad Zeltron girl who seemed to be undressing him with her eyes. But he ignored the hints she threw at him. He was far too sober for behaviour like that. He ordered a whiskey on the rocks, and sat down on one of the stools beside him.
He turned his stool around to get a look at the crowd. The glass came up to his lips and he took a sip of the strong drink, before placing it on the bar and releasing a satisfied sigh.
Soraya slid into a seat that had just become vacant at the bar and ordered a drink. "Surprise me." She told the bartender as she placed a handful of credits down on the bar and after receiving her drink she pulled a couple of death sticks out from the front of her top and poured the contents into the drink. The woman who had accused her had been right, Soraya did steal her death sticks, only she was high enough to be tricked into leaving Soraya alone.
She took a large swig of her drink and began to feel the effects of the concoction of drugs within her system, making her feel at ease. She had been in a world of her own until the clink of glass on the bar drew her back to reality. "Oh, I'm sorry, how rude of me. Would you like a death stick?" She asked the man sitting beside her as she reached down the front of her vest again to produce two more death sticks. It was a lot easier to be generous when you weren't the one at a loss.
"You scrub up well." She said openly as she leaned towards the man with her elbow on the bar and chin resting on her hand. "Looks like you have a nice... white collar job." She said, eyeing him up and down with a smirk, thinking of what she could do with all the money that came with such a well-to-do job before having a sudden change in attitude. "How boring." She scoffed.
"Sonja, honey, pour me another glass!" Alana shouted to her favorite person in the room. Sonja was a beauty alright, but so were all Zeltrons, blue hair, bright pink skin, and wearing something that was half bikini half onesie. Alana couldn't remember what it was called, but she was digging it. Alana had already got several shots of whiskey in her, to the point that she had let 'Sonja' take her iconic hat from her.
The Zeltron was more than willing to accommodate Alana, as she poured out another shot for the white haired woman and pushed it back to her. "Doll, you need to slow down. A girl like you is going to start getting some attention, and not all of it is good natured love." The bartender commented, leaving forward to speak with the currently blitzed huntress. Alana only shrugged her shoulders and pounded the shot down, letting out a sigh as the liquor burned hot in her throat. "What's got you pounding the poison so hard tonight love? Don't tell me someone done gone and broke your heart." Sonja asked, flicking a blue strand of hair back as she awaited Alana's response. The words caused a frown to stretch across Alana's lips, her shoulders sagging as the bartender hit the issue dead on. "Uhhh, I swear all you bartenders are mind readers." Alana grumbled, seizing her snow colored hair in both hands and groaning, prompting a laugh from the pink skinned woman. "Comes with the experience love. Now who do we need to put a hit on?" Sonja sat herself up on the bar, waving off a customer that was trying to flag her down. She turned her attention to Alana, her sliding up to squeeze her patrons arm. Alana hadn't run across this before. Usually if there was someone or something she wanted, she just went for it and typically went out in a blaze of glory when it didn't work out. But Ines.. this was something different. "Ugh, just this noble woman from New Alderaan. I can't stop thinking about her Sonja." The Zeltron snickered and took the hat off her head, placing it back on Alanas head; where is rightfully belonged. "Okay, well, I need to tend to the rest of my customers, and then I can give you some tips, alright?' Sonja hopped off the bar, pointing Alana over to a woman on the other side of the bar. "Try and make some friends until then, that lady over there has some death sticks on her. Go nuts love." Alana snickered and sat up, adjusting her hat to her liking as she waved the Zeltron off. "Alright, alright. Now get back to work before they fire you." Sonja stated to get into it with the man who had tried to flag her earlier. Alana turned her attention to the woman in question, taking not that she was with some striking looking man right now. It'd be a little hard to cut in right now. Maybe wait for her most recent shot to kick in, then try and make friends. Sounded like a plan to her.
Arthur's attention was drawn by the woman who offered him a death stick. She was a human...and not a bad looking one either. He slowly shook his head and gave a polite smile. "No, thank you." he answered calmly. "But a cigarette would be much appreciated." he continued, not wanting to just drop her immediately.
She commented on his appearance, to which he flashed a smile. "You don't look too badly, yourself." he quipped right back, taking a sip from his drink. She continued talking, commenting on what she thought was his job then proceeding to laugh it off. He smirked, leaning a bit closer to her. "I can assure you it's not all that straightforward...and it rarely lacks for excitement." he spoke smoothly, flashing her a wink.
Over her shoulder he spotted a woman who seemed to be eyeing the two of them. She looked like she wanted something. He ignored her for now. If she wanted something, she can come over and ask them. Right now he was a little busy. He was entertaining the idea of roping her into this conversation too. He sensed something curious about the woman, a conflict of sorts within her. There was also the fact that she seemed to be force sensitive. Maybe if he managed it, he'd have a chat with her and see what her story was.
"So, what's your story? You here on vacation or for work?" he asked the woman, helping himself to another sip.
"Hm..." Soraya responded by reaching down the front of her vest and pulling out a cigarette and handing it to the man. "Fair enough." Each to their own, she supposed. She was partial to a death stick or two every now and then but knew that if she got addicted then it would be an addiction she couldn't afford to have so was weary to use them sparingly, she enjoyed alcohol just as much anwyay.
Soraya smiled at his comment and brushed a loose piece of hair behind her ear before facing the man again. "Why thank you, kind sir." She jested. At the mention of his work, she raised an eyebrow and then smirked. "Oh? I know all about excitement." She replied. Having spent her whole life on one big adventure, the thought of a dead-end white collar job was far from appealing but this guy on the other hand... was not.
"My story?" She repeated, thinking about it for a moment. "Vacation technically, although I don't ever really have time off, I just work where I can, when I can." She replied, expecting a question about her line of work to follow. "You're not like law enforcement or anything, are you?" She checked before she revealed her occupation, after all, her mother had been arrested for her smuggling crimes and Soraya wanted to avoid a similar fate.
The woman handed him a cigarette and he fished for his lighter...which was also in the speeder. But that was fine. He pretended to pull out a lighter, but kept his hand closed to hide the truth. He then brought his other hand up to over the cigarette then proceeded to create a flame with his thumb. Just like that the flame disappeared and he pretended to put away his "lighter" again. Though, if the girl was paying close enough attention, she might be able to pick up on the ruse.
The girl's answer made him raise an eyebrow. "Oh, is that so? I'd like to hear about it." he spoke slyly, taking a drag from his cigarette and blowing it off to the side.
She continued to talk, explaining what she did and also asked a rather curious question. He gave a chuckle and lightly shook his head. "Not at all. On the contrary, I've had my run-ins and close calls with them every now and then." he explained to her. Of course, those "close calls" were quite serious accusations against him, but she didn't need to know the details around that.
He picked up his glass and finished it off before ordering another. "Would you like anything, miss..." he trailed off before blinking in surprise. "My apologies, I completely neglected to ask your name." he held his right hand out to her. "Arthur. And you are...?"
Soraya idly sipped her drink as her mind wandered for a moment before her attention turned back to the man next to her who light the cigarette while being oddly covert about the whole operation but she said nothing. "I bet you would." She teased with a smirk. "I grew up on a smuggling ship so there are many tales to tell." She replied. "Some will require more drink than others." She chuckled.
"Oh ok, cool. I'm a smuggler then." She replied, relieved that she may see another day without getting arrested. "Well... I'm trying to be, at least." She shrugged. At the mention of run-ins with the law, she smirked. "Now I'd like to hear about that." She told him, seemingly fascinated by their conversation. He seemed very mysterious and she was interested to see why.
"Soraya." She replied, accepting Arthur's handshake. "I'll have whatever you're having, you seem like a man of good taste." She said as she placed a hand on his arm. In that moment she could feel that there was something different about him, not that he was a really special guy, they were all pretty basic in her eyes, but there was something different about him in a way she couldn't quite explain and had never felt like it before.
Arthur hummed as he stared into her eyes. "Smuggler, huh? I'm sure you have a few tricks and stories from over the years." he commented. She proceeded to ask about his own history, but he merely gave a chuckle. "That will also require a few more drinks before I tell any of that. But I'm sure if you ask nicely enough, I might be more willing to share." he shot her a wink before taking another drag of the cigarette.
She introduced herself and shook his hand. He gave hers a firm, yet gentle, shake then took another puff. "I'd like to think I am. Very well." he quipped, then ordered her a whiskey as well along with his. In no time at all their drinks arrived and he raised his glass to toast to. "Cheers." he muttered, clinking his glass against hers before taking a sip.
She seemed curious. She was clearly force sensitive, but she wasn't Jedi nor Sith. She was still unaware of her abilities...at least that's what it felt like to him. He gave a kind smile. "Would you like to see a trick?" he asked her, scooting a little closer. "I bet you that I can read your mind." he smiled from ear to ear. "Think of a number, any number. I'll try to figure out what the number is and you tell me if I'm right or wrong, how about that?" he asked her, holding a hand out to take hers.
"Oh definitely. My mother was a smuggler so it's my way of life." She replied. The situation she had grown up in was an uncommon one, not surrounded by actual family but rather a family made up of different criminals of the galaxy who were all part of the same crew. She cocked her head when looking at Arthur, wondering where he was from, though she didn't know how willing he would be to share such information, he wasn't exactly an open book.
Soraya raised the glass and joined Arthur in his toast, offering him a smile as she did so. "Thank you." She said before taking a sip. This was the life, she had to do this more often. So far Arthur seemed like a genuinely decent guy, if not somewhat questionable but then again - so was she.
"A trick?" Soraya repeated, hoping for some clarification on what kind of trick. She scoffed at the notion of him reading her mind. "No way." She thought for a moment, wondering why he would even make this proposition in the first place if there wasn't at least some truth behind it. "Okay..." She said hesitantly as she gave him her hand and thought of a number. "What number am I thinking of?" She asked.
Of course she didn't believe him, but she went with it. She took his hand and he looked her dead in the eye. She asked him for the number and he kept watching her for a few seconds before giving a smile. "One hundred forty-seven?" he asked her confidently, using his free hand to take a sip of whiskey.
He glanced around a bit before looking at her again. "You know, this place is getting a little crowded. What say you we take a bottle and then go somewhere more private?" he asked her as he finished off his cigarette and killing it on the ashtray next to him. He waved over the bartender and paid for the rest of the bottle they were drinking from then rose from his seat, turning to look at her with a soft smile. He held a hand out to help her to her feet if she chose to accompany him.
Soraya seemed taken aback by Arthur's proclamation, it had certainly proven to be a good party trick and only made him seem more all the more intriguing. "How did you do that?" She asked, giving him all the confirmation he needed to know he was correct. She certainly believed him now. "Good idea." She agreed, accepting his hand to get to her feet, scooping up her bag as she did, it had the essentials in it such as a blaster and lipstick. Soraya couldn't deny that Arthur was charismatic and he seemed like a true gentleman which was a breath of fresh air compared to a lot of the partygoers on Zeltros.
She wasn't entirely sure where they were going so she lingered at his side as they walked and linked arms with him as though they'd known each other for a lot longer than ten minutes. "Where are you from, Arthur?" She asked, taking the opportunity of their time alone to try and get to know him more since he was being very clever at not revealing much about himself. "I'm from Coruscant, well... born there, raised... everywhere else." She told him. So far he seemed better company than the Zeltron woman anyway so maybe things had worked out for the best.
Arthur chuckled at her surprise. He looked on with a smirk. "That's my secret." he quipped, shooting her a wink as well. Soon enough they were outside, walking along the paths to who knows where. He simply chose the direction back to his apartment, but the exact route was still up in the air.
They walked along the path, arms linked and bottle in hand, towards his apartment via a scenic route neither knew. She asked him about where he was from and also gave her own origins. He hummed in thought of how to put it, then gave a smile. "I was born on Serenno and...well, raised on Serenno." he answered honestly, copying her stammering a bit as a joke. "I grew up there, had a good education and all those nice things, though it's safe to say my childhood wasn't exactly pleasant." he continued to enlighten her. "But at around sixteen I went offworld for further education...and after one thing led to another, I ended up with a group of tomb raiders." he admitted with a chuckle, tremendously downplaying the actual events.
"After getting in trouble and doing a few less-than-legal things with them for a couple years, I returned to Serenno. In an unfortunate accident with my parents not long after my return, I inherited the family property and also became the head of my family. Not that it means much, my family is meaningless at this point." he glanced at her again, making sure she wasn't put off by him after the story. He tried not to sound like a snob about it, but that wasn't any guarantee.
He looked around again and noticed that they weren't exactly in a savoury part of the neighbourhood anymore. "...I think we might have took a wrong turn somewhere." he commented with a guilty smile, glancing at her again.
Soraya narrowed her eyes as she looked at Arthur, although he didn't return her gaze. He was mysterious but not suspicious, she didn't feel threatened by him at all, he just seemed very... peculiar. Still, she longed to know more, she had a taste of who he was but not enough. However, he seemed willing to share information about himself without much provoking.
"Serenno... I don't think I've been there." She said idly after hearing the name of the planet before politely listening to his story about his upbringing. Soraya thought about how her origins contrasted with Arthur's but said nothing about them, embarrassed by her lack of education. Although her upbringing had been full of love, she had no formal education but learned Huttese from a crew member of her mother's who babysat her often. She was born into the life of a criminal and that was where she remained. "A few less-than-legal things sounds like an average day." She chuckled, trying to keep the mood somewhat cheery.
"Oh, I'm sorry." She said in response to his comment about his parents. "My mother is in a prison somewhere and I don't know if I'll see her again." She said sadly before quickly changing attitude. "You have to surround yourself with others who can provide support." She told him, resting her head on his shoulder.
Soraya smirked and turned to Arthur, placing a hand on the back of his neck. "Are you sure that wasn't intentional?" She asked before leaning in to kiss him. She paused however when she could see a figure observing them out of the corner of her eye and her head immediately turned to face them, her hand reaching for the blaster.
Arthur could sense the discomfort coming from her. He figured that this would happen if she heard about where he came from. He listened closely to what she had to say, looking for a moment to try and divert the conversation. Though, it didn't look like that would easily happen now.
"Don't be. There wasn't much love between my parents and I." he commented. When she spoke about her mother, he slowed his pace and glanced at her. Before he could say anything, she continued and rested her head on his shoulder. "Having friends and people to support you will always help...but at the end of the day, you are the only person you can always rely on." he spoke softly, but realized it wasn't perhaps the best choice of words. "I hope you see your mother again. It sounds like the love you share for each other will help you to reach each other one day." he commented, giving her arm a light squeeze. Already his mind was starting to wander. She was a force user, but it didn't look like she was aware. There was an opportunity here...
She came to a halt and faced him, wrapping a hand around the back of his neck. His own hand came up to cup her cheek and neck. "Maybe a little bit." he commented, before leaning in to place a kiss on her lips...but the both of them stopped.
As she glanced behind him, he quickly turned her head back to him. "Don't look at them, look at me. Follow my lead." he whispered to her, then pulled back. "Not here." he spoke normally, giving a soft smile. "This is hardly a romantic setting, wouldn't you agree? Let's go back to my place, the view is a lot better." he continued with a light chuckle, then turned her around and started walking back the way they came with an arm wrapped around her shoulders to keep her close and moving.
"We're not in the clear yet, there's more of them." he muttered to her, his left hand disappearing into his jacket.
As they walked, the thugs came out of hiding from all around. They were surrounded by six of them. Arthur came to a halt and took a step in front of Soraya, but kept his head on a swivel to keep an eye on the ones behind him. "Gentlemen. I implore you to let us pass in peace, before things get out of hand." he spoke politely and clearly, turning to look at all of them. His hand remained in his jacket, but he was clearly holding onto something...
His right hand hung by his side, but steadily he was drawing the force through himself in preparation for what was to come.
Everything about Arthur entranced Soraya, down to the way he spoke. After hearing his story, Soraya felt exceptionally lucky for growing up in such a loving environment, although it had made her all the more bitter when her mother was taken from her. His cynical comment rang true with her and she found herself nodding in agreement. "Yeah, I can believe that." She replied. "Me too, thank you." She said with a small smile.
Soraya smiled at Arthur when he turned her head back to him and removed her hand from her blaster before she leaned in to kiss him again but it seemed that their minds were in different places as Arthur wanted to get away from whoever was nearby so she was denied yet again and groaned in frustration when he led her away. "The view is pretty good here too." She smirked at him, running her hand down his arm until she could hold his hand and intertwine her fingers with his. "Who?" She asked, trying to look over her shoulder before following Arthur's hand with her eyes, expecting him to pull a blaster out.
Before long, they were surrounded so Soraya stood with her back to Arthur so they could cover all of the thugs. "No can do." One of the men replied, training a blaster on the pair with a couple of others following suit. Soraya felt a pair of hands grab her by the arms and instinctively stuck her arm out to elbow the woman behind her in the face, knocking her backwards. "I've already taken one bitch today, another won't hurt." She taunted but was met with a blaster to the back of the head. "Now that's cheating." Soraya rolled her eyes and put her hands up to show she wasn't reaching for a weapon.
Of course they refused. He could sense the confidence. The arrogance. Why wouldn't they be confident? They outnumbered their prey...but this time wasn't going to be so smooth for them.
When one tried to grab Soraya, his hand left his jacket with something hidden behind his arm. When the blaster was levelled against Soraya, a loud snap-hiss erupted and in a glowing crimson trail the thug's arm was falling to the ground. The man stumbled back in shock and the rest were frozen in place for a second.
Arthur placed himself between him and the thugs once more, holding his lightsaber at the ready. "It's a Jedi!" one of them cried out, making Arthur scowl. "I'm far more powerful than any Jedi." he spoke coldly, giving his lightsaber a twirl. He could take the thugs on without any issue. But Soraya changed that situation. She was in danger if things went bad. So he opted for the next best thing.
He pushed out to the sides with both hands, and all the thugs went flying. The next moment, the lightsaber was extinguished, both arms were wrapped around Soraya, and both of them shot away at lightning speed. About 50 meters away they finally slowed down, but Arthur didn't stop there. He took hold of Soraya and led her further from the seedy area until they finally reached a public space. With that, he let go and drew a deep breath. "Are you alright?" he asked her, reaching out to place a hand on her shoulder.
Soraya's jaw dropped at the sight of a lightsaber and in the same moment the pressure from the blaster against her was gone. Her eyes darted around, trying to understand what was happening and one of the thugs took the words right out of her mouth. It's a Jedi. She thought until Arthur quickly disputed the claim that he was a Jedi. She had only ever known of Jedi having laser swords so questions came flooding to mind.
She had basic knowledge of the Force and could recognise when Arthur used it against their opponents but she barely had time to process the situation before he whisked her away to a public area where they were less likely to be disturbed. When he spoke to her, she seemed agitated and pushed him away, still running on adrenaline. "Who are you?" She asked before persisting. "What are you?" She asked more loudly.
Her mind raced, searching for every possible answer to her questions while coming up with many more. How can someone be more powerful than a Jedi? She thought. Although she wasn't well educated, the Jedi were somewhat of a galactic legend. Their fame, or infamy, had been witnessed across every corner of the galaxy at one point or another and the stories of them lived for generations but she couldn't say she knew much about them, all she knew was that their laser swords were iconic.
He fully expected her to be disoriented, but not angry. He took a step back to give her space as his hands came up. He watched her calmly for a few seconds before giving a sigh. "I am part of a group that is as ancient as the Jedi. An 'order' if you will. Those tomb raiders I mentioned earlier? They are those people." he explained calmly and honestly. "They saved me from a very dark time in my life and made me strong when I was weak." he continued as he inched closer to her.
He came to a halt in front of her, his eyes sincere as he looked at her. "I wield great power, Soraya. To make myself stronger. To help others. What I did there to save you? That was only a fraction of it." he continued, keeping his cool and sincere tone. "If you want to know more, I can tell you. But this isn't the place...or time." he glanced around then back to her. "Would you rather we go back to my place and talk about this?" he asked her gently, holding a hand out for her to take.
When given the space to do so, she calmed down quickly. She had been on edge from the confrontation they had just had and lashed out on Arthur because of it. She listened to his explanation of who he really was and only felt more and more intrigued by young man and his story, although it only seemed to scratch the surface of the amount of questions she had with more and more arising with every sentence he said. She hadn't known there were any groups beyond the Jedi but after recently learning of her own force sensitivity, she was fascinated by how some people chose to use their abilities.
"Power?" She echoed, thinking of how incredible it would be to be revered for power. For the last three years she had been entirely alone in the galaxy and in a less than reputable profession such as smuggling, it was easy to get taken advantage of by the more experienced criminals or those with friends. The thought of being strong and having no one mess with you ever again and live to tell was a nice one. Soraya gave Arthur an apologetic look for her outburst and placed her hand into his, "Yes, I'd like that." She replied, letting him lead the way.