The Highest Quality


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The Highest Quality did not cut an impressive figure when compared to the ships that shared the same landing pad. An angular cockpit gave way to a bulky body of modular compartments of gray metal dirty with years of use. The ship had been painted once, stripes faded with exposure to sun, and under the cockpit the ship’s namesake had been embraizened in the sort of timeworn and smudged letters that implied that it had once been a part of a longer slogan. But, it wasn’t a slogan now, it was simply a name.

Highest Quality hissed to life as A0I approached, hydraulic pumps releasing a puff of steam as the gangplank extended. Interior lights hummed to life as she entered, casting the interior in a pale glow. The space within was cramped but neat cargo boxes set into recessed alcoves held in place by netting lead to a central hub that was likely meant as a communal workspace, currently a disassembled rifle sat on the table, with branching doorways leading to the different cargo holds for the ship. A dim light from one of the rooms showed several rows of weapons racks, and another had only a few closed crates with warning symbols stenciled on the side.

There wasn’t too much more to the tour, a closed hatch on the back of the central room led to the engines and hyperdrive for maintenance, another small hatch next to the cockpit to manual override controls for the simple swivel turret. The cockpit was about as spacious as those ever got, a pair of chairs by the controls with another pair of collapsible ones set into the wall for hyperspace jumps. A third cargo room had its access port opposite the first two rooms, and the weapon racks here were mostly empty. A little configuration and plenty of room could be made for organic habitation!

Now, she simply needed to wait for the arrival of her new companions.
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Cal stood in a dark alley near the landing pad where A0I's ship was. His helmet's visor glowed, a soft orange in the darkness. The front of his shadowy figure was bathed in the light blue light of a projected hologram of General Skarsgaard. "Yes ma'am. I received the intel." Cal glanced down at the built in datapad on his left gauntlet. It lit up with list:

•Sith Ship design from Corellia
•Corellian and Renilli Shipyards are vacant and unused by the Empire
•Deserting Republic Officers may know more
•Navy Commander Kreegs Takana, republic deserter, the commander on a new Harrower-Class Star Destroyer in the mid rim
•Find the Sith Empire's source of Coaxium

Targets of Opportunity
•Army Captain Heinrich Müeller, leading an offensive in the mid-rim
•Supply convoys moving along the Hydian Way
More targets to be added as information becomes available.

"I'll contact you again once I've made progress, General." The hologram disappears and Cal turns to face the light of the landing pad. His visor, glowing like the eyes of an unblinking monster in the night. Cal turns his datapad off and steps out of the alley. He slings his blaster rifle onto his shoulder as he walks onto the landing pad. He looks over the old ship, noticing the wear and tear and aging of the starship. "Huh, Highest Quality...not sure if that's true any more." Cal steps on to the gang plank, removing his helmet and holding it under his arm, "A0I?" He calls up into the ship as he climbs the gangplank. Once inside he runs his fingers through his hair, and takes in his surroundings.
Please enter, and make yourself at home,” Aoi called, exiting the cockpit. The interior of the ship hummed as power flowed to the engines for their routine pre-flight checks, a feed of data rolling through the back of Aoi’s mind, though nothing was outside of standard operating parameters. The human, Cal was it, looked like he was well equipped for this expedition, which Aoi took to be a good sign, however it seemed his companion was missing, which put a slight damper on things.

With a crisp motion of her arm Aoi motioned for Cal to join her at the blaster refurbishment table — which was now a meeting table, she supposed. How odd, supposing things. To help facilitate talks, the droid placed the tablet she had received from the chancellor down on the table, and opened the screen to the docket of provided Republic intelligence on Revan’s fleet.

I would offer drinks, but I have only water suited for organic consumption.” Aoi said, with a tilt of her head. “Will your companion be joining us soon? I would like to get our preparations for leaving underway soon, if possible.
Kesh-Dan came in after the human and droid, he'd been admiring the vessel's name upon the bow - The Highest Quality, at one point it must've been part of a long phrase but now it served well as the ship's namesake. The interior smelled clean, a far cry from the musty stench of the cheap transport he'd booked to get here.

He found the two joined at a table that had been cleared for them - how polite. Kesh hadn't dealt much with droids outside of combat, he forgot the idiosyncrasies they could develop on their own. "Water is fine, thank you," the Zabrak said as he entered the hold and set down his bags in a corner away from the munitions. "I appreciate the hospitality - opening your ship to us and all that." He took a seat with his hands folded on the table. "Just us three, or are we expecting more?"

The Highest Quality-

Karana Shiori had seen better ships. She had sold better ships. She had, in fact, owned better ships, and technically still did, legally speaking. The trouble with legally speaking was that it required an army to enforce - either an army of lawyers or an army of mercenaries, depending on which route one found preferable. Since she was currently in possession of no armies, that meant she was also in possession of almost no ships.

She'd escaped the corporation with her personal transit ship. The official story was that Shiori Corporation's heir and CEO-designate was taking a leave of absence following the accidental death of her parents. Anyone who had spent much time in the corporation sector knew that this was a pit full of Sarlaac shit, but it wasn't like she had a lot of options. She could go to the media and point out that her parents had been brutally murdered and she'd had to run or be next, but that was just a good way to paint a target on her back. Karana didn't care to see if someone else's assassins were better at the job than she was - especially because the killer always had the upper hand.

So, she was on bereavement leave, which had meant picking up stories in bars she wouldn't have been caught alive in six months ago, looking for the sort of job that was going to get her that army she needed so that she could go back to the corporation sector and officially Chief Execute her way back into the position she was supposed to have.

One thing had led to another, and the current place it had led to was The Highest Quality, which she was beginning to fear was not a pun and someone was actually serious about it. Having a rustbucket and being able to laugh about it was one thing; having a rustbucket and thinking it was the next great aqueduct was something else.

But she was desperate and she wasn't going to get anywhere in a little two-seater ship with a single asteroid-shooter - and the Thorn Blossom was a tailored personal ship, which meant it was traceable, and she still wasn't convinced there wasn't someone out there trying to ensure her accidental death.

Of course, it was possible that she was ensuring her own accidental death just by getting onto this ship, but at least that would be quick.

The hatch was open, so she invited herself in and found the rest of her assumed companions, giving a nod to the ship's owner. She'd at least briefly messaged A0I to let her know she was signing on - and if the captain hadn't looked up the name, that wasn't Karana's problem. The other two already there looked rough, which was fine. Karana supposed she looked the same at first glance, though a discerning eye would pick up the fact that while her clothing was the same loose tunic over trousers as was common throughout half the galaxy, the fabric was of extremely high quality and the tailoring was bespoke. She'd thought about purchasing an actual slum outfit, but it seemed wasteful. Besides, this was comfortable and familiar - and easy to get to her weapons in.

"Evening." She took up a position against the wall, where she could see both the entrance passageway and the passageway to the cockpit - just in case there were assassins lurking on the ship.

More than one, anyway.

Cal looked at the new person aboard the ship, her demeanor, body language and position she took in with in the ship meant she was trained and didnt have trust or paranoid of attack or both. "Evening." Cal said back to the woman. Upon turning back to AOI, "Thank you for the offer, but I'm good. I guess we should figure out a plan of attack, and then go purchase supplies for the mission. I have a decent sum of credits saved that I'm prepared to invest for this mission. The reward is enough to refill my savings and then some." The crew definitely needed a holotable, food for the organics, more explosives than what Cal was in possession of and maybe, pay for information or additional help.
Two glasses of water then.” Aoi said, stepping into the largest of the three storage rooms. She removed a pair of glasses from an underused but clean shelf, and both were filled with filtered water from a wall mounted dispenser. A0I returned to the room and placed one before Kesh-Dan who had asked for one, and on the part of the table nearest Karana who hadn’t said no to a glass of water. Finished, and seemingly pleased with herself, A0I returned to her place at the table she had occupied before she had gone off to fetch refreshments.

I believe this is everyone, thank you for joining us Miss Shiori, this is Mr Qel-Droma and Mr Tao, they will also be joining us for the foreseeable journey.” A0I said, as it seemed her responsibility to ensure they all knew each other's names. Which they now all did, splendid. She reached down and tapped on the datapad, bringing up the list of objectives. “I had been planning on heading mid-rim to speak with business contacts I had in the area as well as offload some remaining product.” And likely refresh her supplies given the fighting in the area.

However, I am in no rush if there is somewhere a passenger wishes to go to first.” Aoi said, affecting a cheerful tone of voice. “As far as habitation is concerned, the largest storeroom should suffice once the weapons have been moved into the ordinance room — that room is mostly empty anyway — but I will leave it to the three of you to decide on allotment, if we are all agreed there.” It seemed the best to let the organics figure that out.

Oh, and I am willing to offer a discount to passengers looking to purchase weapons the The Highest Quality’s wares.” That seemed to her to be the last of what she had to say, so she cheerfully ended with a bright “Welcome aboard!

The Highest Quality-
"I'm up for anything, as long as it turns a profit." Being picky about what jobs one chose was a luxury, and Karana could not afford much in the way of luxury right now, no matter how accustomed to it she happened to be. She needed a great many things - resources, information, weapons, personnel - but the first thing she needed was credits, in order to get all of that. Technically she had an account with a near-infinite credit line, but very people were willing to work for technically when she didn't actually have access to it at the moment and trying to do so would almost certainly get her killed. She needed to play it quiet, play it safe, and quite possibly blow something up in a spectacular fashion - but one that wouldn't be linked back to Shiori Corporation.

She looked over the one who'd spoken - the one who apparently wasn't having the same credit-flow issues that she was. Karana said nothing of this, merely gave him a nod. "If you want company on your supply run, I do well enough as a negotiator." Often, she did far better than 'well enough,' but that was when she'd had enough time to gather intelligence and figure out how to blackmail people into a better deal. As it was, she'd just have to rely on knowing quality or lack thereof, and putting forth a good front.

It was remarkable how many people didn't know how to do that. She gave the ship's captain a nod, not particularly looking forward to sharing living space but not complaining about it either, because that would get her nowhere. "And I wouldn't mind looking over those weapons later, just to see if anything catches my eye."

And to find out what they had on the ship, just in case anyone decided they wanted to come at her with it.

Cal listened to Karana. She was an interesting character.

"I say we head down to the bottom of Coruscant, veterans here are one of the leads and I know where an information broker hangs out at. We can try to get some info from there and get supplies on the way back. Then we can go to the mid-rim." Cal looked around at the others. He didn't really care if they followed him. He had a job to do and was going to do it regardless. "I'll be back in a bit, all of you are welcome to tag along though." Cal spoke as he walked back to the boarding ramp. Looking back one last time, he put his helmet on and walked down the ramp.

The level of coruscant he needed to get to was by far one of the lowest. The bar where the information broker hung out is rumored to sit on the planet's surface itself. They could've taken the ship down many of the levels but he didn't trust leaving an arms dealer ship alone in the Coruscant underworld.

Cal left the landing pad with a steady pace. The upper level Coruscant city lights illuminated the major walkways. The constant hum of hovercraft, hustle and bustle of pedestrians, and the occasional accent of a starship landing or taking mixed together, composing the city ambience. The flickering videographic billboards running ads or, what could be seen playing most, a speech from the chancellor calling on participants for his search.
Further from the spaceport and the closer to the turbolifts to the lower levels Cal got the darker the lighting and the people on the street seemed to get. Being this far up, there was hardly a worry of being jumped or robbed for someone with Cal's skill set. However, once off the turbolift, that would be a different story. Criminals would be braver and more skilled.
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Aoi was no stranger to the lower levels of Coruscant, there was no shortage of people on the lookout for a new firearm for all matter of reasons she had no wish to learn. The customer’s business was their own, after all. Still, the lower levels were never her favorite places to do her business, even if there was a need to fulfill. They held no shortage of crooks and ne'er-do-wells who were more than happy to invite one down just to try to steal premium goods. Which seemed to Aoi to be a most dreadful way to conduct business.

Still, it was with a chipper attitude that Aoi followed Cal down into the capillaries of the planet, there was no use wasting processing power wishing things were different when it could be better used keeping from being shot. And perhaps making a new business connection.

How well do you know this broker?” She asked as they made their way along. It seemed as good a question as any for getting a feel for things.
The newcomer hadn't been at the meeting with the chancellor, but that didn't matter to Kesh-Dan. With a prize as big as the downfall of Revan's fleet and an entire galaxy to search, he wasn't picky where they started.

"I'm not picky - I do better when I'm taking orders anyway." The Zabrak shrugged and listened as Cal offered a plan of action. Kesh-Dan wasn't exactly excited about slumming it in the lower levels, but if that's where the information was then that's where he'd need to be. Without protest, he grabbed his equipment and followed the others.

The lower levels were not unlike the slums he'd wandered on the Smuggler's Moon, only here the criminals were more discrete with their intentions - police still patrolled these streets, sometimes. It wasn't a battle that made him anxious, it was the aftermath. Hopefully no one would try their luck on a party consisting of a war droid, a masked gunman, a girl who could cut you with words (also blades), and a seven foot tall Zabrak - but then again, he'd seen stupider warriors.

At Aoi's questioning, Kesh-Dan conferred. "Better be good, we're on their turf - never underestimate the homefield advantage."

The Highest Quality-
The lower levels of Coruscant were filled with all sorts of places that Karana previously wouldn't have been caught alive in. Dead, maybe, because undoubtedly her corpse had once been worth something in certain circles. Now? Well, now she didn't even know how much she was worth as a corpse - something diminished, almost certainly. This bothered her, and it annoyed her that she was bothered by it, because she would have thought that she wouldn't have cared very much at all, given that she'd be dead anyway.

The only way around it was going to have to be to continue to be alive, so that the relative marketing power of her various body parts never came up in conversation. Since this was her plan anyway, she set her thoughts on the subject of her corpse into the back of her mind, where it would continue to be an irritant, like a tiny rock in her shoe, but at least she could pretend she wasn't paying attention to it.

At least there were other things to distract her. Cesspit though it may have been, it was at least a particularly vibrant cesspit. She knew plenty of people who enjoyed "slumming" on occasion, but she'd always been restricted from such activities. It was better not to end up in the tabloids when you were a corporate heiress, after all.

She wondered if she'd end up in the tabloids after this excursion - but since those same tabloids were the ones who were claiming she was on a leave of absences, so her opinions at the moment could be summed up with the delightfully gutteral fuck 'em.

Corporate heiresses were not permitted such language, generally speaking.

"How likely is it that we'll have to kill someone?"
Elevator rides were usually quiet, even awkward, but not this one. Once everyone got into the elevator, they voice their concerns about the Underworld. Compared to what Cal saw during the Mandalorian War, anything they could encounter down here would be nothing. He decided to be honest.

"I have never met the broker." Cal shifted his stance. "As far as killing somebody, you never know what you might have to do til you are in the moment. The establishment the broker works out of has a strict no fighting rule that is emforced lethally. We'll be good once we're there."

The elevator dinged once they reach the lowest layer and the doors slid open. "If something happens, let me handle it." The party was being eyed by every creature near the elevator. A few completely stopped what they were doing to eye the newcomers. Cal stepped off the elevator and out onto the street. His eyes behind the helmet's optical lenses bounced back and forth between every individual waiting for the one that would try their luck. It was a little bit of walk before they would reach their destination and meet with the information broker.