JT and the crew person reach the entrance to the cargo hold, and JT realizes she was droning on the whole way. “I’ve been so rude! Please excuse me. What is your name?”
“Thank you so much, Tcho,” she tells him as the Pantoran steps up to the keypad, positioning his body so that she cannot see how he gets the door open. Probably just maintaining the security of the passcode. What JT does see, though, is a slight bulge under his jacket at his waistline. Everything JT is doing on this ship is above-board… but she can still recognize a concealed blaster when she sees one. Her first thought is, That’s probably not regulation.
All passengers coming aboard Dame Metropolis were told to check any lethal weapons they owned, just like at Blue Spring Lodge. Weapons are allowed on the ship because travelers might need them on some of the tours or at their final destinations. The merchant levels even have some weapons dealers, but purchases are held for the entirety of the voyage, to be released to the buyer’s only as they depart the ship. Non-lethal weapons, like the whipcord launcher that she and Renci built together, are supposed to stay in the guest’s quarters. JT, however, is not entirely unarmed. She has been keeping her hydrospanner on her person, and her fancy shock gloves are tucked in her utility belt. He is on the crew, so maybe it isn’t crazy for him to have a weapon. It is probably just a stun blaster of some kind.
The door opens to a dark cargo hold. JT steps in and flips the lightswitch right inside. That takes care of the lighting situation, but it does nothing to remove the chill. This level is not really primed for guest comfort. JT is glad to be wearing her stylish jacket for its warmth now, not for its look. Tcho, who has joined her in the hold, seems unbothered by the temperature.
“Okay, so what do we have to work with?” JT strolls farther into the hold and is dismayed to find piles of cargo in it, including some very large containers. She will not be starting with a blank canvas, after all. At a minimum, things will have to be rearranged to make space for the tables. As she walks around, she starts considering her options. “Yeah, well, we might be able to use some of these cargo containers to make a stage…. That might actually work pretty well. Put down some boards on top, get some quick stairs up. That would be a good elevated area.”
JT calls out, “Stay safe, citizens!” to test the acoustics. “There’s a little bit of an echo, so we’re going to have to put some draperies up on the walls to dampen the sound.” From the center of the room, she turns back to the door, near which her crew escort stands, watching her. “Tcho, what do you think of this space? Would you have dinner here? Would you pay a million credits?”
He looks incredulous. “Would I pay a million credits to have dinner here?”
“I mean, but it’s for charity.”
“That’s a pretty steep price tag for tickets.”
“Well, war is expensive.”
“War is expensive,” he agrees.
“Cleaning up after it is even more expensive.”
Tcho walks farther into the hold, so that they are not shouting across a wide expanse. “What exactly do you know about war?” he asks her.
“I’ve been a victim of war before. I’ve been in some rough spots, taken some hits from the Empire. The Empire and some Imperial agents have done a lot of terrible things to a lot of people I know and some to me personally, too. But everybody gets what’s coming to them eventually,” she says philosophically. Then she clarifies, “I’m not a soldier, though.” She did steal an Imperial frigate, but that was on their job that the Rebels helped DRS with, not the other way around. “I care about what happens out there, and this charity is a way for me to do something, to help with some of the mess that war creates, particularly on the Outer Rim.”
JT leans on the Force, inducing a feeling of trust. The vibe she gets from Tcho through the Force is that he is lonely, seeking something… like he has something to prove. He looks several years younger than her and her friends in DRS, probably mid-twenties. Plenty of life still ahead of him, but also ample time for the galaxy to have beaten him up a bit.
This human woman seems genuine to Tcho, like she believes in what she is talking about. He nods at her comments regarding the war’s effects on the galaxy. “Yeah, Pantora’s very isolated now.”
JT has never been to Pantora herself, and most Pantorans she has met grew up on other worlds. Given what she has heard about the economic situation on that moon, such as all the tariffs on Pantoran goods, they were probably lucky that their forebearers emigrated. Since the end of the Clone Wars and the rise of the Empire, a number of the old trade routes that used to go that way have shriveled up. The population is torn between those who want to collaborate with the Empire, those who think the Empire is incompatible with Pantoran values, and those who are pushing to deal with slavers and other criminal enterprises rather than continue to go it alone. Maybe he is just trying to escape all that.
JT sets aside the gloomy realities of the galaxy and returns to gala prep. “So… do you on your staff here have binary load-lifting droids who might be able to help us rearrange some of these containers? If not, that’s okay; I’ll find some other way…” Tcho confidently assures her that such things can be arranged, and she asks him to call them in.
“Is this something that you need done right now?”
“Ah, sooner rather than later, just because I want to make sure I know how big the stage is going to be. That will affect what kind of decorations are going to go in other places…”
“Give me a moment,” he says, pulling out his comm. As he walks away, JT hears him begin the conversation, “Hey, Petey…” They are friends! JT thinks. That explains how Tcho got into the First Class lounge. Maybe everything really is above-board here.