Star Wars: Cruise Control | Scene 1.2

JT enters the First Class lounge and grabs a Rocket Fuel from the bartender, then begins to circulate with her drink. She looks around the room of wealth, taking in the potential donors. She has spent some time on Corellia in the past, which did include a high-rolling sabacc game, but most of that visit was spent in seedier environments. No one here looks familiar. As Petey said, there are indeed short, furry organics, as well as tall, furry organics and non-furry organics of a variety of heights.

All the droids, though, appear to be working. Her drink was prepared by a shiny B10 unit, all arms fully functional. Definitely in better shape than B10-DR was when they first met in New Meen on Ryloth. Hoverdroids carry trays of hors d’oeuvres and canapes. Discreet vacuum-droids suck up crumbs as soon as they hit the ground. As JT moves through the room, she whistles, “Excuse me,” in binary to one as she steps over it. “Thank you so much!”

“Hey, you! Sucker! See to this mess!” JT turns to see who spoke and spots a pudgy Zabrak gesturing widely, his drink sloshing over the glass’s rim. His well-tailored suit suggests pockets full of credits. 

This person probably has money since he’s a jerk, JT figures. She slips up to the small knot of people around him, a Selonian, a Gran, and a human. This close, she recognizes the logo on the yellow Zabrak’s tie clip; it is the starburst of Chiewab Pharmaceuticals. JT is sure there could be some good people who work for Chiewab, but most of the times she has run into that company, they have not left a good impression. They were chemical suppliers to the Imperial medical research facility in the Gesaril system, and they sent agents posed as poachers to try to pressure Blue Spring Lodge into selling their property. Even her friends from Whatever, Inc., ran afoul of them, recovering Xucphra’s latest bacta formulation before it could fall into Chiewab’s hands.

The Zabrak’s expansive arm movements cost him more of his beverage, and he summons another hoverdroid to refill his glass. As the droid performs its function, JT comments to the group, “Wow, it’s great that they have such good service here. These droids are really something! Class A service here.”

“Droids? What droids?” the Chiewab exec asks, oblivious to the serving class. He pulls another morsel from a tray passing by and pops it in his mouth. “These snacks are okay. I’ve had better.” He turns away from JT and back to the group. “I mean, have you ever stayed at the Yarith Bespin? The Three Beldons has an excellent…”

As Adipex Westcor describes his favorite dishes there, JT settles on her approach. The grandeur of Cloud City is something she can work with. She has stayed in the Yarith Bespin; all of Desert Rose Solutions did the night after they prevented the entire city from sinking into the gas giant it orbits. “Oh, really, you’ve spent time in Cloud City?” she asks. “I know the Baron Administrator, Lando Calrissian. Had dinner with him once or twice.” In reality, dinner was only included once, but DRS did talk with Lando several times in the process of clearing their names, saving the city and CH-1 from Killjoy, and freezing Renn Herkin in carbonite. She describes the food, decor, and service at the Ithorian Gardens where she and Lando made their deal. “Of course, it was at the Figg Gallery that I first met the Baron Administrator. Oh, did you get to see the Jewel of Yavin before it disappeared from there?”

Introductions are made, and in the conversational back-and-forth, it is clear to the others present that this new arrival really does have a lot of familiarity with Cloud City and knows Lando Calrissian. One of the group, a young human woman in a jewel-encrusted sundress and fur stole that complement her light brown skin and deep black hair, watches JT more and more closely as time goes on. “You look a little familiar. Were you…? You were there that night, too!” Emla Phazlo declares with certainty.

“Yeah, that’s what I said,” JT agrees. “I was in Cloud City during the Jewel of Yavin exhibition.”

“That’s funny because I didn’t see you the next day when they made us all come back in.”

No, the next day JT and the rest of DRS were long gone, heading off to deliver the jewel to Xzozist Sevan of Black Sun. “Oh, well, I’m also good friends with several people in the Wing Guard, and I met with them in private.” She and her jetpack led those cloud cars for a merry chase under the city following the gala. “I was working security for Mr. Eli Tusk, you see, so I—”

“Oh,” the Zabrak drawls, “you were working the event.”

JT leans on the Force a little, trying to guide the group towards sympathy, towards empathy, as she preps the way for her charity pitch. These people, though, are all very self-assured and very strong-willed. They are not as pliable as a bored guard or receptionist. That’s okay, JT thinks, I can win them over. “Actually, I am now running a charity, the War Orphans Fund,” she explains. “It’s been a hard time in the galaxy these past several decades. It’s left a lot of orphans out there. Many of them just need a small bit of help.”

“What do you mean?” Emla asks, perplexed. “What kind of hardships?”

“Well, when you grow up without any parents, there is nothing to inherit,” JT replies, appalling the woman. “You don’t have a home; there’s no roof over your head.”

“What happened to the one you were living in?”

“It was destroyed by a bomb,” JT says, not cushioning it in anyway. “It doesn’t matter if it was clone troopers or battle droids—” She stays clear of the current war scene. “—or Hutts. When you’re just a kid surrounded by war, you’re not on a side; you’re just a target,” she says sadly. “So… they need your help. Mr. Tusk was kind enough to kickstart this fund, but, as you may have heard, his businesses haven’t been doing as well lately. So they need the help of successful people like yourselves to make sure these orphans can get the care they need and get the most out of the galaxy.”

Adipex dismisses JT’s concerns. “War is such a fertile ground for developing new medical treatments,” he says, bringing the topic to an area about which he is knowledgeable. “Other people will benefit from all that chaos eventually. Battlefield innovations and discoveries feed back into commercially available pharmaceuticals. Once the fighting is done and everyone clears out, we move in and harvest everything of value. The homeopathic treatments of the little natives of these backwater war zones usually have some sort of scientific underpinning, usually some chemical substance we can extract.”

The others listen to him prattle on for a while about some of Chiewab’s products, occasionally punctuated by questions from the Selonian Mukry Boze, but then Emla interrupts, addressing JT directly. “How long did you say these charities have been running? A year or so? So they started about when the Jewel of Yavin was stolen, stolen from Tusk. How interesting… he started these charities right when he suffered a major financial loss. Who cares about children; what’s your real connection to Tusk? What are these charities really for?”

Jai Tessa was cleared of any charges related to that theft, but she finds it a bit uncomfortable navigating around the topic of one of her past crimes. “Yes, Mr. Tusk did start these charities right then. And I will admit, part of it was because his companies were having a tough time. But he also suffered a crisis of conscience. Years back, Mr. Tusk was in business with a very powerful droid, MA-R3. That droid, he piled up too many debts and as a result was rudely disassembled. Tusk did not want that to happen to himself. He knew he needed to change his reputation. He was down on his luck and could not get more loans on the strength of his credit rating, so he had to get loans through strength of goodwill. He was able to do that by starting some charities—which, I will admit, I suggested to him—including one for war orphans. I’m a war orphan, myself. I’m from Christophsis, as you might have guessed,” she adds, gesturing to her blue hair, streaked with shades of teal and sapphire, like that of so many natives of that world.

“I don’t know if you’re aware,” JT continues, “but that planet suffered greatly during the Clone Wars. But that’s all in the past, and we’re looking to the future now. You don’t even have to do anything. We have lots of people who are helping out. We’re not asking anyone to adopt any of these kids. Although, certainly if you do want to, I can point you to some of those orphanages.” At the horrified look on Emla’s face, JT rapidly continues, “If you’d rather just donate a million credits, two million credits… we could open up a new orphanage, maybe right here on Corellia. Maybe sponsored by the Phozlo family? With this money we could get the children tours of the major engineering firms, get them apprenticeships so they can work for the shipbuilding companies. And hopefully, in a hundred years, we won’t need these orphanages, especially not these war orphanages.” JT goes on to tell the group about the fundraising gala that she is hosting during the cruise.

“You just need me to write a check?” Emla pulls out her checkbook and scribbles something quickly, then hands it to JT. “I’d like to know more about this, so count me in for your gala.” 

One of the others in the small group, a Gran named Tenex Sinemet, latches onto the topic of shipbuilding and directs the conversation towards a favorite hyperdrive manufacturer. Under other circumstances, JT might have stayed to hear about a new engine or other piece of interesting tech. However, she has been in here a while, and she cannot miss the launch of her lower class shuttle to Dame Metropolis, so she slips away. As she leaves the First Class lounge, she looks down at the scrip in her hands and sees that it is not just the ticket price for the gala, but orders of magnitude higher. Not bad for her first pitch, getting an attendee and a donation!

The pale human woman with the blue hair exits the lounge, watched by several quantities of eyes. So this is someone who has Tusk’s ear… what else could she get him to do for the right price? one person thinks while sipping a cocktail.

I wonder if she takes commissions, ponders another. I know a few people who could stand to have a crisis of conscience like Tusk did.