...he got his drink at the bar and made the long walk all the way down the cantina, past the band playing some quiet, background piece, past a couple of fellas playing Pazaak, all the way till he reached a spot at the back. He wore his wide brimmed hat and long brown coat that was all the rage at the moment, with a black band around his upper arm, his blaster holstered on the inside of the coat. A good smuggler knows not to stick out. A good smuggler also knows to let a client come to him. After a moment of sipping his drink and letting the warmth spread, somebody had found their way to the seat opposite him. It was an out of the way place, deep in an alcove where not too many eyes would stare, and close enough to the stage for the smooth music to drown out their sound.
The seat’s occupant took a quick look at the band around his arm and nodded towards it. In return, Astor nodded slowly back and smiled, lounging back on the seat.
“I feel like I know you,” the Weequay frowned making his already squashed up face look like an old prune left to dry some more.
“Nope, not me.” The man remained lounging, looking at the Weequay. “Sorry to disappoint.”
“Not a problem,” the Weequay muttered. He stood up quickly, his long hair twirling as he did. As he walked past, the man felt one pocket suddenly become a little heavier and that was that.
This happened twice more before a Rodian came by. The Rodian slipped onto the seat looking a little twitchy. “What can I do for ya?”
And it spoke up in common, with a shake to its voice. “I heard you delivery man?”
The man replied in Huttese, guessing that to be the Rodian’s native tongue. “Cool it bug breath, don’t strain your brain with common. And yes, I’ve been called that before,” his mouth curled up into a half smile. “Who’s asking?”
Once more the Rodian spoke up. This time in Huttese, at least a little relieved. This was definitely a first-time nervous, not an ‘I’m-going-to-screw-you-over’ kind of twitch. “Um... A client of a client is looking for a sm—an esteemed courier to deliver some er—sensitive goods?”
The Rodian’s inexperience was annoying, and was like to get them both in prison. The man altered his tone, getting straight to the point. “What does this client want exactly?”
“I couldn’t say but...” and the Rodian fished something out of a bag after a minute of shifty rummaging. With a clunk the wooden box touched the table and he slid it over. The man leant over and took the box, about ready to open it, “no!” the Rodian yelled, somewhat too loudly. Heads turned. “Er, I mean please don’t open it.” Its buggy eyes looked towards the bar and back. Somehow, its eyes had gone wider. “The client asks that you do not look to see what’s in it. But that you deliver it to them on Coruscant. The name is Attorn Radd, remember—“The man’s hand slammed onto the box. His face grew furious in an instant.
“—naw, that aint possible!” It had jumped almost out of its seat. “Spit out the right name, now.” His tone was calm as anything, but the demand held the threat well.
“Er—that’s the name I was given. And the client asked for you specifically. They gave me a description and everything.” He sat and stared at the Rodian for a full minute, but it seemed to be telling the truth. The Rodian seemed to find this unbearable, “so will you do it?” impatience mixed with anguished, squirming noises.
“Sure, I’ll do it, but I want half the pay up front.” The Rodian twitched horrendously.
“If your client asked for me personally, and you want my cooperation... well, seems to me as it’s in your best interest to give me what I want.” The Rodian twitched a little more before pulling out a bag. It hesitated for a little while, and then dropped the bag on the table before standing up.
“That’s everything I have on me, it’s all I can give right now. The rest will be given on delivery.” As the Rodian turned, a hand clamped it on the shoulder, the hand of a red-eyed Chiss. The Rodian shrugged off the Chiss’ hand and practically ran from the Cantina.
The man grabbed the small box and the bag, weighing it as he did, and placed them next to him on the seat as the Chiss took the one opposite him.
The two sat, sizing each other up. The man went back to leaning against the seat whilst the Chiss clicked his fingers for a server. A Twi’lek came running over with a tray in hand.
“What may I get you guys?” she asked in Huttese.
“Whatever he’s having.” The Chiss replied in the same language. Odd sight that, a Chiss speaking Huttese. “And get him another one, his drink’s too close to empty.” The Chiss handed over the credits and the Twi’lek bustled off.
“Generous.” The man said. But he had a bad feeling about this.
“It’s all I can do for a name like yours.” The Chiss’ eyes sharpened a little, the beginnings of a coy smile appearing. “The almighty Astor Cassen... oh yes, stories have been going round about you. Morda’s little pet, now reduced to easy runs an Ewok could pull off.” Oh there was definitely a bad feeling alright. He fingered the blaster inside his coat. “Tell me, are you enjoying playing it safe?”
“I do what I gotta to pay my way, Chiss. And it aint all easy.” The drinks came over. Astor grabbed his and placed the cup to his lips. He surveyed the Chiss from over the rim. “It’s a mighty tough job just keeping a ship in working order.” He took a long draught.
“Ah yes. That old tin bucket, Sorrow—“
“-don’t you insult my ship.” Astor’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly. The Chiss held out his hands.
“My most humble apologies.” His tone dripping with sarcasm.
“I’m doubting the existence of a single, humble bone in that blue body o’ yours. What d’you want Chiss.” The last word was almost like a spit.
“Now, now. I come with an offer. Something a little hotter than a simple spice run.” A little laugh escaped his smug mouth. “Something big’s going down. It might be tomorrow, it might be a year from now, it might even be ten years from now. But when it does, you’ll want in. Because those not in, will be out. And those that are out...” he stood up, a finger caressing the table, “...well those that are out won’t know it, if you get my meaning.”
“What’s your point, Chiss?”
He held out a datapad. “Trade information. When the time comes I’ll contact you again with a job. Once it’s done, you’ll be rich. Like raking in the money, retiring to New Alderaan rich.” Sometimes you have to go against your better judgement. Sometimes being a smuggler means doing things you don't particularly want to. so Astor got out his own datapad and the information transferred. “Be seeing you Astor. The name’s Atran Garr.”'
After no more potential clients came to sit down, Astor stood up. Five was a good number, and as he moved to leave he saw a few black band's give him dirty looks. Apparently he'd hogged all the customers. He moved past the Pazaak players once more and saw that it was a good game, intense.
He didn't stay long though.
Astor opened the door to the Cantina and stepped out.
And there, six metres away, stood two Fat Gamorreans and a different Weequay, all armed with Vibro weaponry and all looking at him.