Lucky Knuckle Caper No 3: Furball

Reflections Tavern – Alhira – Demaria: Floor to ceiling mirrors ring this spacious tavern, with long, padded benches for lounging and a scattering of tables and chairs, as well as a bar fronted by a dozen elevated stools. The tavern is decorated here and there with potted purple ferns and brightly clinking chimes. A small raised platform in one corner serves as a performer’s stage.

Owein sits at a table in a corner of the pub, next to one of the potted purple ferns. He stands out in a room full of furballs.

Also standing out in a room full of furballs, in appearance if not posture and attitude, is Joca. She is sitting at a table near the entrance, having a conversation with yet another un-furry person. She seems agitated. “Qu’est-ce une douleur dans mon cul,” she grouses, pawing at her drink and being generally huffy. “Remind me again why I say I am going to ‘andle sis one -personally-.”

James Sterling rolls an unlit cigaretted wrapped in blue paper between his thumb and forefinger, looking around the place and shrugging expansively at Jocaira. “It’s a wild goose chase, Joca. At least maybe they got some good booze in here.”

Kilroy stretches a bit in the fold-out deck chair on top of his ship that’s parked on the table. “That’d help, certainly.”

Owein shoves his chair back from the table and stands, rubbing his belly with a pudgy-fingered hand. Looks like he hasn’t slept much in recent days, eyes rather sunken and haunted. He takes one last drink from his mug, then walks toward the bar counter with his jaw set. “Still no word?” he nearly mumbles at the hulking orange-furred Demarian fixing drinks. The Demarian’s snout shifts back and forth, negative. The Ungstiri’s fire seems to reignite then, his fist pounding on the bar, eyes flashing angrily. “How does he just hoopin’ disappear?! Someone’s gotta be helpin’ the bastard! Is it YOU?!” The bartender doesn’t seem to appreciate the customer’s attitude. One can tell just how little he appreciates it by the arc of Owein Panderyn’s path through the air and that smashing sound he makes when he lands on a table not far from Jocaira and company.

Jocaira perks up. “MUCH bettair!” she says, zipping up the front of her hoodie and chugging down half her drink in anticipation of needing to whack somebody on the head with it. After a small amount of consideration, she chugs the rest, and utters a very ladylike belch of challenge.

Sterling looks toward the bar at the sound of Owein’s shout, moving aside as the human comes flying through the air. He smirks down at the man and the wreckage of the table. “Nice one, mate. You this popular with all the kitties?” He tucks the cigarette behind one ear to free his hands in case it becomes necessary to bust somebody in the face.

Kilroy raises an eyebrow as he looks over at the crashed table “Lot of table left, there. Try landing harder next time.”

Owein struggles back to his feet, glowering at the bartender, who seems to have gone back to polishing a mirrored pane on the back wall with a red silk cloth. He looks toward the burping woman and her companions – well, the one he can see clearly, at least, who’s now wearing a cigarette behind his ear. “Done here,” he growls, stomping toward the exit.

“…well, sat was anticlimactic,” Joca murmurs, looking very disappointed, and plunks her glass back down on her table along with enough credits to cover the bill. She unholsters her PDA and looks at it, squinting between it and the Ungstiri who’d recently caught airtime. “Hm!” she says, and moves to follow the unfortunate fellow out.

One of Sterling’s big, meaty, but entirely human paws lands on Owein’s shoulder. “Hold it a sec,” he rumbles. “We gotta question for ya.”

Kilroy climbs back into his tiny ship, the deck chair folding up as he closes the upper hatch. No music starts playing today, he just pulls the Moth into a hover just over and behind Sterling’s shoulder.

Owein frowns at the hand clamped onto his shoulder. He then turns to regard the taller and arguably stronger man. “Don’t want any trouble with you people,” he says with a grunt, putting his hands in the air, empty palms open. “Just want to go home. Tired of wasting my time in this place.”

“You and us both,” Joca says, nonchalantly leaning against the wall by the door. “Per’aps we can be of ‘elp to each usser, ne? A fellow on Ungstir told us we may be able to find your mechanic ‘ere, but from se sound of it per’aps you are looking for ‘im as well?”

Sterling smiles down at Owein, nodding. “That’s what we wanna know. Where’s the mechanic bloke?” He maintains a secure grip on the other man’s shoulder.

The Limping Moth continues to hover there, but the speaker does let out a suitable dramatic sting.

Owein looks puzzled for a moment as he considers what Jocaira’s saying. “Wait.” He points first at Sterling and then at the woman. Eyes narrowing, he ventures: “You’re looking for Whitestar too? Why?”

Jocaira shakes an unmarked paper packet of cigarillos out of her sleeve, and tucks one into the corner of her mouth. “Beetch owes me money,” she replies, matter-of-factly.

Sterling chuckles at Joca, giving Owein’s shoulder a slight squeeze. “An’ lemme tell ya: ya don’t wanna be a person who owes her money.” He leans down slightly, adding, “She’s got a real temper.” He grins toothily. “An’ she’s got me.” He straightens again. “So maybe we can help each other out, eh? He owe you money too?”

The Limping Moth continues to hover ominously.

“He owes me money, and an explanation for why the hoop he sabotaged my ship,” the Implacable’s captain grumbles. “Three people died because of him. The security holos make it pretty damned clear. I want to know why.”

“…fan-tastic,” Joca grumbles. “Well, if you do not want to talk about it in front of se apparently sympathetic bartendair, would you like to go somewhere more comfortable? As much as I adore a good fight to get se blood going, I am feeling distinctly outnumbered and my teeth are not -nearly- as sharp, ne?”

Sterling grunts, lifting his hand from Owein’s shoulder. He glances around at the bar full of Demarians. “That’s a point,” he says absently, nodding.

The Moth starts playing some film noir-esque sax music a bit quietly.

Owein shakes his head. “No, I’m tired of talking about it. I talk, Demarians listen, they say nice things, and nothing comes from it. They cover each other’s tracks on this damned planet. It’s all shifting sand and mirrors. I’ve been away from home too long as it is. Maybe you’ll have better luck finding him than I have. If you do, give him my hoopin’ highest regards.”

Jocaira runs her tongue across her teeth, pausing at the left canine tooth, backed with gold, and makes a ‘tch’ noise. “It is not nice to tease a girl, Monsieur Panderyn,” she finally says. “You ‘ave got security ‘olo, you ‘ave got probleme wis sis… man, and all you are going to do is toss me a ‘good luck’?” Spreading her hands in a dismissive gesture, she shrugs. “I suppose you do not wish ‘im to be found so badly aftair all.”

Sterling grins at Joca, taking the cigarette from behind his ear and turning it around in his fingers. “Eh, if he ain’t gonna help we may as well quit wastin’ our time,” he mutters. “Some people just don’t have the stomach fer this kinda thing.”

The Moth bobs in an affirmative manner “Indeed.”

“Why would I do anything else?” Panderyn asks, brow knitting. He puffs his cheeks, then says, “I have the vid, but all that does is show him over-torquing the capacitor manifold on the main generator in the Implacable’s cargo hold. How could that possibly have anything to do with the money he owes you?” He looks toward Sterling at his comment – “fer this kinda thing” – and it’s like the sun going up over a darkened plain. “The *hoop* he owes you money. He *is* money. Right?”

“Non, non, you do no want to talk about it,” Joca says brightly, almost a singsong, her grin growing wide enough for the light to glint off of a gold-capped molar. Be-ringed fingers clack together as she waggles them in a farewell gesture. “You enjoy your trip ‘ome now.” The titter she utters next sounds absolutely brainless, echoing off of the metaphorical ‘this space for rent’ sign that simply -must- exist between her ears. However, her expression is one hundred percent catly triumph.

“Don’t -matter- either way, mate,” Sterling growls, turning an unfriendly glare on Owein. The glare transforms into an amused grin at Joca’s words. “‘At’s right.”

The Moth’s soundtrack changes from cliche film noir to boucy travel music number 3.

Owein shrugs. “Fine, then. Like I said: good luck.” He makes for the door, ready to depart.

Jocaira whips out her PDA and starts making notes. “Hokay, who knows ‘ow to spell ‘capacitor’?”

Sterling sticks the cigarette into the corner of his mouth and lights it with a metal lighter he produces from his jacket pocket. He takes a deep drag, closing his eyes. “Just use the voice recorder, Joca,” he advises smokily, his voice quieter and his attitude relaxed. “‘S what I do.”

The music stops for a bit so the tiny pilot can talk normally “Believe it’s c a p a c i t o r. You’d be amazed at how much of an explosion one of those things can produce.”

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Wes Platt

Lead storyteller. Game designer and journalist. Recovering Floridian.

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