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Nar Shaddaa Nights

Julian Valentine

"I don't come cheap."
-| Nar Shaddaa Nights |-


Refugee Sector, Nar Shaddaa. . .
"I'm telling you, it's related," Agent McLawrence insisted as he analyzed the droids destroyed frame. "Look at the scorch marks, they suggest its the same flamethrower typical of Mandalorian kits. Military-grade." Agent Anatazja turned her gaze from her floating datapad to her partner, her augmented white eyes matched her equally white hair, a disapproving frown on her face. "KV-N1 has no friends on Nar Shaddaa, McLawrence, they make enemies of everyone. They're droids gone rogue, everyone wants them gone."

"I've got a feeling about this. There's a trail of bodies all over the Refugee Sector with the same modus operandi that link back to Gorba's Pleasure Palace, I'm betting you my next pay that it's Koda Fe-" Anatazja interrupted before he could finish, chiding him loudly, "Enough of that or I'll have the captain write you up another warning. We don't want to make enemies of the wrong people." Agent McLawrence shut his mouth, although with some contempt for his partner.

Anatazja continued, "Bag and tag the frames, sell them to the scrapyard over in the Industrial District once you scan their memory banks. We'll have the techs go over their history." McLawrence shifted the droid over, the back of its head was fried but an empty slot told the detective enough, "One problem with that, someone's already taken their memory chip." McLawrence turned around and from behind the spectacles he gave his partner a familiar conspiratory look, she snapped, "I'm not hearing another word of your theory. Let's pack up and go."

Frida's Spaceport Cantina. . .
Julian Valentine entered the cantina. Frida gave a loud and warm greeting from behind the bar. There were several Ravens at the cantina tonight and a handful of unfamiliar faces. The bounty hunter ran his hand through his hair and stroked his beard as he looked at the lack of seats. He was about to go stand by the bar when Frida noticed his plight, yelled at two young men, they were obviously too young to drink, too old for Frida to care. The kids jumped and moved from the booth.

Julian waved his thanks and took a seat at the booth, his hand reaching under the table. His index finger tapped at a button and a yellow tranquility screen enveloped the booth, shielding both unwanted eyes and ears from listening into any conversations. A welcoming sight at Frida's and Julian was surprised the old tech still worked. He turned his wrist over and checked his datapad. Ghorua should be here any moment now. They had a meeting, a hunt would soon begin.

For now, drinks and conversation before they begin their investigation. Frida entered the bubble and placed a bitterfruit liquor on the table. "I always remember your favorite," she said to Julian, "My, it's been some years. I remember when you were a lad just AWOL from the Imperial Academy. Now, don't shoot too many of my customers." Frida then left the booth and moved back for the bar. Julian had been a green-as-grass twenty-two year old AWOL soldier when he first showed his face here, he was now in his early forties and a veteran bounty hunter.
Nar Shaddaa
Frida's Spaceport Cantina
Twilight Hours

So much had changed since Ghorua's first visit to Nar Shaddaa.

The Fish had been reckless, confident, jarringly loud and embarrassingly brash. He had just left Coruscant after his world imploded, aimlessly joining a Guild that would later define him. Through it, he would meet the person whose influence molded Ghorua into the menacing, tactful, indomitable hunter he was today.

In a way, returning to Frida's was a sort of homecoming.

It was here that the Shark was born, after all.

Ghorua stepped into the cantina, kitted in shiny new armor, refracting the light of the pub like little stars in the galaxy of black. His helmet rested casually under his arm, showing Ghorua's face, a canvas featuring dark, bottomless eyes, and a row of serrated teeth, curled into a bombastic smile.

He scanned the room for a second, eyes falling on Frida first. Ghorua waved casually, and Frida waved back. He had known her for some time. As if knowing what Ghorua was doing here, Frida nodded her head towards a booth, a yellow screen around it. Ghorua nodded a silent thanks, and walked on in, drawing a few eyes.

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.

The heavy footsteps betrayed his arrival before he came into view of Julian. The Shark pushed through the screen, laying eyes on his old mentor for the first time in years. His smile widened as he sat down opposite the hunter, the booth creaking beneath his weight.

"Ah," the Shark began, taking a big whiff in through his blowhole. "I have to say, I kinda missed the beautiful stench and decay of desperate living."

"Nice to see you, Valentine."

- [member="Julian Valentine"] -

Julian Valentine

"I don't come cheap."
"A pleasure, as always," Valentine said to Ghorua. A part of Julian knew that he'd never have true allies or friends in this world. The criminal underworld was always a game of knives and shadows. There was little room for mistakes. Everything had to be done right or you'd find yourself in deep trouble, and getting out of that trouble could put you into further trouble. Enough mistakes and you're some corpse in an alleyway. He wondered as he studied Ghorua for a moment if the alien could some day turn on Julian for a quick cred. It seemed so easy to quick this life of second-guessing everyone you met, but deep down Valentine knew what would happen. You never quit this life, because no matter how far you run, how well you hide, one day there will come a knock on the door, and you'll open the door long enough to regret you ever did before you're blasted into oblivion. Valentine resolved himself. He would always be the one knocking.

"I need your help on a target. This is off the records," Valentine began and shifted a datapad across the table. "I'd catch up with you but this is an urgent matter." The datapad displayed an image of Koda Fett, dozens of them from various angels. All the holo-graphs were taken from Valentines helmet during the fight he had on The Wheel against Koda Fett. There was even a recording of the entire incident. As Valentine played the video for Ghorua it was clear Valentine didn't know who Koda Fett was, or why he had specifically targeted Valentine. In the end, Koda fled from Julian's onslaught of firepower.

"Some Mandalorian smuck I encountered on the Wheel. I was working with the Ravens and a few other cartels in a joint operation to take the Wheel from Popo." Julian placed a gloved finger on the image of Koda, "I'm having my contacts try and identify them. I'm no good with Mandalorians, they all look the same to me. I want to look into him - or her. Everything. Who they are, who they work for. Why were they so insistent on taking me down." Julian retracted his finger from the image. "I want them eliminated. I don't need interference in a future mission. It ruins my reputation and my income. I'll pay you for your efforts if you take the contract and help me." Valentine took a sip from his bitterfruit and studied Ghorua's face, watching and waiting for his reaction.
Ghorua smiled across the table at Julian as he responded in kind, studying his contemporary just as his contemporary studied him. Julian had dove off of Ghorua's radar for a long time, but suddenly returned not long ago. Along with the rebirth of the Ravens' public appearance. Ghorua had already put the two occurrences together, without Valentine having to tell him.

When Julian began his pitch, Ghorua nodded, understanding. "Of course. There'll be time for that later. What do you have for me?"

The second the datapad blinked, Ghorua's jolly face fell. He examined the helmet for a second, daring it not to be the one he was thinking of. But there was no mistaking the dent above the brow. The one he put there.

The Shark said nothing for a while, letting the various shots and the recording play out, each passing second cementing his suspicion. Julian then explained the situation, and Ghorua could only nod. It all made sense.

"First," Ghorua began slowly, picking his words carefully, "Don't waste your credits on identifying him."

"Second," the Shark said, tapping on his own datapad, and sliding it across the table, "I'll help you take him down, free of charge."

"And third," the datapad displayed a helmet, identical to the one shown on Valentine's, along with hundreds of hours of video, lines of notes the Shark made himself, and too many stills to count. Ghorua tapped one of the routes with a quick finger, showing a video shot through his helmet, as the two of them duked it out in a dark alley. "It is a him."

"Koda Fett. Mandalorian Bounty Hunter. Ran jobs for the Galactic Empire, the Sith Empire, the Black Ties, and most notably in this situation, the Hutt Cartels. I tracked him down to teach him a lesson, but he slipped away from me as well. Threatened to blow up my ship." And my daughter, he thought murderously to himself.

"If you're going after Fett," the Shark finished, a growl forming in his throat, the anger radiating off of him, "you came to the right man."

- [member="Julian Valentine"] -

Julian Valentine

"I don't come cheap."
Valentine raised a brow, surprised, impressed, by Ghorua. As the alien continued talking, Julian rested back into his seat and folded his arms contently. Yes, this was working out far better than he could have hoped. His hands danced inside the helmet beside him and started the recorder, he would later broadcast it to Svel Droma for her clarification. He then leaned forward in his seat as Ghorua slid his own datapad across the table. Images of the same Mandalorian fighting Ghorua. Was this coincidence or a greater conspiracy? Was someone trying to take the two of them out? He wondered.

When Ghorua said Koda Fett it triggered something in his memory. "I know that name," Valentine said, pausing to think and nodding along as Ghorua continued to give him details on the Mandalorian. When all was said and done, Valentine pulled himself closer to the table, as though fearing to be overheard. The yellow tranquility screen prevented any stray ears from listening in, protecting their conversation, but Valentine began to speak in a conspiratory tone, "Fett, Vahn Fett. We tracked him down on Bespin, years and years back, the two of us. Do you think this is related? Family justice, maybe. But that hunt was never completed." Valentine pondered on this for a moment.

Julian couldn't help but wonder why Ghorua had sought out Koda and it was imperative that he knew. "Why were you chasing him? Better yet - how did you track him down? Where do we begin." Valentine knew that Ghorua had the upperhand in this hunt, the large alien knew more than himself, but Valentine had all the underworld contacts. "Give me some details on his ship, if you saw it, and I can start putting in inquiries with the right infochants." He wondered if he should call up a smuggler and friend of his, Blue. Use her ship, keep themselves off the radar.
Ghorua watched his former mentor's mind whirl into action as he was given the new information, feeling a twinge of pride enter his system. He had picked up his own string of underworld contacts in his years, and had lived off of solely infochant deals to upstart hunters for some time. For the first time, the Shark felt proud of what he had become.

Which quickly vanished as Julian tried to pry deeper into the occurances of the feud between Ghorua and Koda.

"He took a bounty on one of my friends. Hit her with a stun bolt while she was pregnant. She was lucky." Ghorua's voice was even, but the rage simmering underneath was plain to see. Ghorua wisely made the decision not to mention who it was exactly who had become Ghorua's friend, even though basic searches of the Shark would easily reveal it. [member="Lady Kay"].

How could Ghorua explain their first bounty had become one of his most trusted friends? He decided not to.

At the hunter's insinuation that these events were connected, Ghorua shook his head, albeit unsurely, as if he were slowly piecing it together himself. "Not likely. I went after Fett, not the other way around. He's a bounty hunter, like us. Odds were the three of us would cross paths with each other eventually."

Ghorua took time to ponder that. The three most dangerous bounty hunters of the time were about to find themselves in the same room.

And two of them were going to beat the third into a bloody pulp.

"And as a matter of fact, I did trace him via his ship. It's hard to miss." Ghorua rewound one of the videos on his datapad, which was dated at the bottom as the oldest of the bunch. The location was difficult to tell, but the ship itself, and a basic overlay of it, was displayed clearly. "The Concord Spear. A Firespray. Nasty ships, those."

Ghorua cocked his head, questioning. "It shouldn't be too hard to pin down, if you've got your ring of thieves backing you up." Ghorua looked outside the protective bubble of energy, at the patrons, all conveniently not looking their direction. He'd heard a few things from his time bartending at Frida's.

"I'm not concerned with finding him. Bagging him is the true challenge. My little ambush didn't work last time. What makes you think this attempt will be any different?"

- [member="Julian Valentine"] -

Julian Valentine

"I don't come cheap."
Valentine frowned and half-turned his head, as if not believing what he had just heard from Ghorua. Was he suggesting that Valentine couldn't take down Koda? No job was too dangerous for him. He wasn't some dime-a-dozen kid on the street, he was Julian Solo. "Because," he said in a warning tone, "When Koda ambushed me, I was the one that had him running." He sat back into his chair and reminded him, "I couldn't take Koda at the time because I had another task. I let him run. He was an interference, capturing him was not my goal. But now it is."

His datapad beeped. There was a bounty for Mereel Vaun, Julian browsed the board listing for a brief time and then chucked it back onto the table. "Holo project," Valentine announced and a hologram of the information forum was projected onto the table. "It's not an amazing reward," Julian said, often working for far larger amounts for elite clientele. "I'm going to start on this. It's the right price range for new and veteran hunters to go after it. I'll take the hunt and gather information from other hunters, and if I am lucky, he might show up."

"What will you do in the meantime?" Julian asked, almost suggesting that Ghorua should begin devising a plan, but Julian knew that Ghorua was already aware that was among the first steps to take in a hunt. He then reflected on their first meeting on Nar Shaddaa and gave a soft smile, the Herglic had shouldered an immense weapon out in public for no particular reason but to show he was armed and ready to defend himself. Thats not how one got around in these streets. How far he has come. Julian, in a way, was proud.
"Good answer."

Ghorua smiled at Valentine's confidence, expecting nothing less from the veteran hunter. He had posed the question to get a read on Julian, see where he stood. The Shark knew of the skill of Julian, and didn't doubt it for a second. He was confident in both of their abilities, and knew that if Valentine thought they could do it, chances were they could.

But he also knew the track record and slipperiness of the target they had taken on. Koda wasn't small potatoes. He was a threat, plain and simple, and if Valentine and the Shark wanted to bag him, they would need to adapt for the situation. The human would work on tracking down their target, so what could he do in the meantime? What tool could they use to pin down a Mandalorian?

The Shark had an epiphany.

Ghorua face slowly morphed from concentration to inspiration, the sparks of humor returning to his endless eyes. "Well, first, I'll send you everything I have on him. Maybe you can cross-reference it with your contacts." With more info, maybe they could find a pattern to exploit. However, that wasn't what made Ghorua suddenly so happy.

Ghorua's smile returned, as if he were about to share a secret. "Then, I might go have a chat with Mr. Lung about Mandalorian tech."

If you can't slice through a target's armor, slice into it.

"It looks like we have our work cut out for us," Ghorua said, reclaiming his datapad.

- [member="Julian Valentine"] -