Lucky Knuckle Caper No. 1: Into the Soup

July 2650: Lucky Knuckle Casino chief Yantos Gazz meets with Red Eclipse mercenaries interested in hunting down the thieves behind a recent heist on Antimone…

A popular restaurant among the locals, this building tends to be busy most hours of the day and early night. The source of its unusually brief name becomes apparent within a few moments of entering- the place’s decor is striking enough, but attention invariably drifts to the tureens. A square bar rings the inside of the room, studded with twenty-six of those stainless steel pots inset into the lavender and violet-veiled marble. They simmer lowly with their contents, each holding a different variety of soup. The menu changes throughout the day, and though a few perennial favorites remain, also every few months.

Black-tiled floors with violet grouting provide an even surface underfoot, matte black tables and chairs upholstered in cheery lavender scattered about in the space between bar and door. Wide windows provide an excellent view of Valsho Peak and the Antim Sea below, bathing the room in pleasant light during the day. 

The bright lavender walls are festooned with pictures of various Timonese celebrities who have visited, though none seem to be too famous- the restaurant’s prices and atmosphere geared towards common folk, despite the quality of the food. Double doors varnished black provide egress back onto Chance Road.

Gazz is sitting at the bar, tapping his slender fingers on the countertop as he peruses the holographic display of his PDA.

An average sized human female, with blue streaked black hair walks into the Restaurant. She is wearing jeans and a zipped up leather jacket, a duffelbag slung over one shoulder. Following her is a Moss furred Fox creature with what seems to be a gem in the middle of its forhead, It also has an odd artifical jitter in its step. She finds a spot at the bar and seats herself.

Gazz glances toward Umishi, silver brow knitting. He nods, then returns his attention to the PDA as it cycles through several images of different individuals.

Umishi looks at the menu, shrugs and just orders ‘the soup of the day’…though given half the menu is soup..before leaning back in her seat.

Gazz doesn’t look up from the images on his PDA as he tells Umishi: “Never order the soup of the day. They are none too concerned about which day it is from. It could be the soup of some day last week. Or the week before.”

Umishi grins. “I have done that on my own sometimes when I have too. But I will remember that.”

Gazz offers a bland smile. “At least be sure to get properly inoculated soon after dining.”

Umishi laughs.

Gazz freezes the PDA display as it shows the somewhat fuzzy image of a Vollistan Light Singer.

Umishi raises a brow. “I hope that’s nothing lewd…”

“No,” Gazz replies. “Indeed not.”

Gazz sits at the bar, not far from Umishi, peering at the holographic display of his PDA. It’s currently showing the fuzzy image of a Vollistan Light Singer.

At the Bar is Gazz looking over a PDA and Umishi sitting at the bar with her duffel back and a moss furred Fox nearby. Umishi wearing a leather jacket and jeans with black hair and blue streaks.

“I am just saying, I sink it would ‘ave been perfectly fine to meet at se casino, I am perfectly able to make professional decision in a -fun- place, it is just to save se fun for afterwards,” Joca says, sauntering into the restaurant with a rhythmic jingle of belts and bangles. She appears to be addressing whoever is behind her, and props the door open with her hip while she casts an appraising eye over the bustling restaurant.

Tirax isn’t far behind Joca, but doesn’t really appear to be paying much attention to her. “Uh huh,” he agrees, distracted. “Well…I never thought I’d ever come back here,” he considers idly, frowning back out of the door. “How strange,” the Timmie mumbles.

Gazz swipes across the image of the Light Singer, bringing up an Odarite instead. His bland smile fades into a grimace. “Even harder to identify these.”

A tiny ship, no larger than your typical pack of cards, is flying in a bit behind Tirax. Not in a flight pattern generally considered sendible, though. This vessel opts for a path more suited to an injured moth than anything else. Someone looking closely might see Limping Moth emblazoned on one side.

“‘Soup’,” Sterling grunts as he looks around at the interior of the restaurant. “Who’d base a restaurant around soup?” He glances at Joca. “We really meetin’ this guy in a soup restaurant?”

Umishi tilts her head “you mean due to the image or just reacial features?”

Jeff Allen follows along behind the rest of the REM folks, taking in the sights as he does so, but definitely sticking close to the others.

“Odarites,” the Timonae casino exec replies to Umishi. “They all look alike, save for some occasional variants in chitin coloration, limb differentiation, antennae length and angularity…” His voice trails off before he swipes again to show a Demarian. “This one, though, we are fairly certain about him. Oh, quite certain.”

“Comment suis-je suppose savoir?” Joca says to James with a shrug. “Sis is where sey said ‘e would be, so we will find ‘im ‘ere.” After a little more looking around, and a few moments of distraction. “Donc, beaucoup Timonae,” she murmurs, and snaps her fingers twice. “Sere. I see ‘im sere.” With that, she jinglesaunters in the direction of the casino executive.

Tirax is completely out of touch with the rest of the group, wondrously staring around. “I wonder,” he muses, glancing around.

The Limping Moth adjusts its flight pattern to hover a more steady path along by James.

Sterling follows along after Jocaira, smirking briefly as he allows himself to enjoy the sight of her backside as she moves away from him. He glances aside at the tiny ship, grinning. “Soup, Kilroy!”

Jeff Allen continues to listen for the moment.

Gazz glances toward the approaching newcomers. He considers the group with his pale eyes and tilts his head, the light of the restaurant playing off the pattern on his scalp. “I am guessing this is not the typical tourist entourage.”

Umishi sips her drink looking behind her briefly. The moss furred fox near her chair looks at the ‘limping moth’ and tilts its head to the side with a audible clicking noise.

Jocaira reaches out, well within Tirax’s field of vision, to try to draw his attention with a gesture or touch. “Cheri, revenir a aujourd’hui, s’il vous plait,” she murmurs, before making a ‘hold here’ gesture to the gathered mercs. The last several feet, she closes herself. “Good Evening, Monsieur, Mademoiselle,” she addresses Gazz and Umishi. “If you will pardon se interruption? One of you is looking for mercenaire, if I am not mistaken? If sis is not an opportune moment, we can return later, ne?”

Tirax blinkblinks down to Joca. “Yes, of course,” he says softly, moving to rejoin the main group. Even if he’s still looking around the restaurant, his attention seems to be a little more focused on the actual going-ons.

“Now would be an optimal time for such a discussion, I feel,” the Timonae at the bar replies. “I am Yantos Gazz. The Lucky Knuckle Casino is my responsibility. If your team wishes to have the contract for those involved in the recent heist, I am happy to talk with you about it.” He gestures at a corner table that should seat everybody, with a little room left over for the Nemoni vessel. He nods to Umishi before making his way toward the table.

Sterling stops where he’s told, watching Joca and the Timonae at the bar warily, cracking his knuckles in a not-entirely-unconcsious gesture.

The Limping Moth stops along with James.

Jeff Allen steps over near the table, taking great care not to hit the Nemoni vessel by accident, something he’s still trying to get used to.

“But yes,” Joca replies, looking up as the Timonae stands. Her grin widens. “I saw you on se news.” The bridge of her nose crinkles with the force of her merriment. “I like your ‘air, it is very interesting and fun, yes? I am Jocaira d’Agneau, Capitan of se Red Eclipse Mercenaire, and I would be -very- pleased to ‘ear ‘ow we might be able to assist you.” Another gesture, this one for ‘all clear’ is made, and she motions towards the booth before heading there herself.

Tirax pokes James in the side as he wanders over towards the table. “Try to look less like a lughead,” he teases softly before following Jeff over, “I imagine it’s an incendiary device, easiest way to make sure you’re aware of it at all times,” he murmurs to the human. Gazz gets a dip of his head. “A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Gazz,” he says in Timonese. It sounds slightly tentative, as if the Timonae hasn’t spoken in his native tongue for some time.

Gazz slides into the booth, finding a place at the center for himself. He tells Jocaira: “You can assist me by capturing or killing the five individuals who stole a fortune from my casino. A bonus, of course, if you also secure the purloined funds.” To Tirax, he gives a nod and then speaks in Timonese: “You have an interesting accent.”

Sterling smirks up at Tirax, also heading to the table. “It’s a gift,” he replies. He makes a show of sizing Gazz up, then nods as if in approval, allowing Jocaira to sit at the table before taking a seat himself.

Umishi turns her chair and listens from her spot at the bar.

The tiny ship takes a quick detour to fly past the fox at eye level before heading back to settle into a parking spot on the table.

“But of course,” Joca replies, leaning back in the booth and crossing her legs, appearing momentarily distracted by the Timonese-language discussion. “Just a few preliminary question? Do you ‘ave suspects, or will we need to make investigation? Do you believe it was, ‘ow do you say, se inside job? We would be more sen ‘appy to make some… inquiries.” Again comes the grin, a bit of a glint coming from a gold-backed canine tooth. “Do you prefer live capture? Please be advised sat we will not take action outside of se law systems of se planet or system we are dispatched upon wisout a full waiver of liability.”

“I haven’t had anyone to speak with in a while,” Tirax responds in the same language before leaning back and letting Joca take the meeting.

Yantos Gazz lifts an eyebrow and laces his long, slender fingers together as he ponders Jocaira’s query. He taps the PDA on the tabletop. “Surveillance images of the five suspects. We are almost certain that one of them, a Demarian, has ties to the Sandwalker House in Alhira. I would hesitate to classify him as the brains of this operation. I suspect the leader is the Vollistan Light Singer, who we have yet to identify. If the surveillance AI is accurate in its assessment, however, the Demarian is called Halffang Whitestar. More muscle than mindpower in that one. So far, he is the only suspect that we have been able to identify with a great degree of confidence.” He eases back against the booth cushion. “Live capture would be ideal for our purposes. For yours too, I feel, at least when it comes to Whitestar. Capture him, perhaps you learn the identities of his accomplices. After that, do what you will with him.”

Sterling studies the images on Gazz’ PDA, nodding slowly.

Jeff Allen looks at the various images, his eyeridge raising at the non-humans, but he’s seen enough so far it’s not a big shock. “Tag ’em, bag ’em, shake ’em down. Sounds straight forward.” he says, mostly to himself.

Umishi sips more of her drink listening on from the bar.

Jocaira taps her own PDA, capturing images and making scrawled notation with her pinky finger nail. She pauses, makes a thoughtful sound, and adds a few more notes. “Last sighting? For the Monsieur White Star. Do not worry, se per diem time invoiced will not begin until we ‘ave an accord, your team ‘as been assigned, and we begin active mission. Initial consultation is gratis, yes? We are just talking, always a pleasure to talk. Your language, it is very pleasing.” Another wolfish grin crinkles the bridge of her nose. “I can provide team of specialists for investigation, acquisition of your missing asset, and capture. Would you care to make an offer at sis time?”

“The individuals took separate shuttles offworld, all to various destinations with layovers and vessel switches,” Gazz replies. “All rather ridiculous, really, as we tracked their itineraries and each of them appeared to have Tomin Kora as their final destination. From there…” His voice trails off for a moment as he stares at his hands. “Our representative met with an unfortunate demise. The path was lost.” A sigh, then he looks back at Jocaira. “The offer we made public was 25,000 credits per suspect. Your organization also would receive a percentage bonus based on any recovered funds.”

Sterling chuckles. “Tomin Kora. Not surprisin’, eh?” He grins at the mention of cold hard credits and numbers thereof.

Tirax fidgets slightly at the mention of Tomin Kora, but keeps his mouth shut, glancing down.

A small hatch opens in the top of the Limping Moth, and Kilroy climbs out to have a seat on top.

Jocaira sketches a few more notes into the PDA, uttering a throaty chuckle. “Ahn, per’aps sey sought se dangerous place would deter following, ne? Or per’aps it was…” she gestures as she thinks. “What is it called, when someone makes a book for complete flight and does not board for se rest? Secret stop? What was se -second- to last stop for Monsieur White Star? We will check sere before se Tomin Kora.” Her short but manicured fingernails tap the table top. “Do you ‘ave anyone else working on sis? I am not opposed to it, but I would like to know if anyone is going to ah, get in my way, as it were.”

Gazz shakes his head. “No one else.” He taps the PDA display, bringing up a graphic of the various itineraries. “It appears that Whitestar’s next to last stop would have been Ungstir Prime.” He shrugs, waving the display blank again. “If all else fails, you should be able to make contact with people on Demaria who are familiar with him. He is a sort of idiot nephew to Senator Stumppaw Sandwalker.”

Umishi chuckles to herself at that comment from her spot at the bar before moving a bit closer. “Not much on mercenary work, But this sounds interesting.”

Jocaira raises a pale eyebrow. “Interesting.” She makes a few more notes. “A Senator, eh? Interesting. If you would like to contract our services, your pricing is acceptable. I will ‘ave contract sent for review…” With a *bleep* said contract is sent over, including a blank space for ‘please fill in any additional non-monetary incentives that undersignatory would like Red Eclipse Mercenaries and its agents to consider when assigning resources to your business needs’. “Also we would like your security department to send us any and all relevant footage and already gathered intelligence so sat we may waste no time in attending to se reacquisition of your assets.” She cannot help a suggestive smirk and a slight brow-waggle at the word “assets.”

“I will have the information transmitted to your organization as soon as the contracts are signed,” Gazz assures.

Sterling’s face splits into a grin at Joca’s response to the word ‘assets’. “I like yer assets better, Joca,” he says, nudging her with an elbow.

Kilroy smirks to himself and taps some notes in his pda.

Umishi says, “I am not really in an organization myself.”

Jeff Allen continues to simply observe, getting an idea of how things in this day and age work.

Jocaira says, “Wanderful. Sen we ‘ave an accord,” Joca says, rising to her feet and offering her hand to the casino manager. “You will indulge? I am se old fashioned girl at my ‘eart, aftair all.” Both of her eyebrows raise at Umishi’s input; after giving the other human female a casual once-over, she offers a quiet snort before turning back to her business. James gets a smirk. “Dans le temps, mon loup.””

Gazz peers at the offered hand, then takes it in his own and shakes it firmly. “That, I assume, is the custom.” He offers a wan smile, then says, “The Lady smile on your efforts.”

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Wes Platt

Lead storyteller. Game designer and journalist. Recovering Floridian.

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