+++BEGIN LOG – CMDR TANITH LOW: PABLO’S LOUNGE, KUBE-MCDOWELL CITY – 10.07.3302+++
The stunningly tall redhead lead me across floor of the club. I’m not normally bothered about what people think of my appearance, but with 30 seconds I was starting to feel very underdressed. Tailored suits and hand custom dresses were the order here, not leather and unkempt dreadlocks. I was very conscious of the fact that I’d come straight from my ship, that I hadn’t showered, and that I was in desperate need of some sleep. Nobody here was going to be impressed with my 20 million, there were people here wearing shoes which must have cost that much. The whole place was tastefully upholstered in a dark wood and red leather. The carpet under my feet was thick and luxurious.
One of the patrons stumbled up to us, drunkenly.
“Ah, Caia!” He announced, rather too loudly. He looked at me, “A bit of rough is it for you this evening is it?” He slurred.
The redhead, Caia apparently, fixed him with a gaze that provided scientific proof that looks can’t, in fact, kill.
“No.” She said coldly. “In fact, Jeremy, this young woman is a friend of Vex’s.”
In the space of about 5 seconds Jeremy went from being drunk; passed through a late night fast food snack, a bit of disreputable company, a good night’s sleep, an early morning hangover, and arrived on the other side suddenly very sober. It was an education to watch.
“I am so terribly sorry madam.” He said without any hint of sarcasm. “Please accept my most humble apologies.”
He bowed deeply to both myself and Caia, and immediately made a beeline for the door. Caia looked at me and smiled. It was the kind of smile that made you want to make her happy, just so you could see it again.
One wall of the main mezzanine level was constructed out of glass so that you could see out over the station’s parkland. Since we were one the 28th floor of the building the view was incredible. Discrete little booths were set along the wall, so that patrons could look out over the parkland but others in the club couldn’t quite see into them. It was to one of these booths that Caia led me, and gestured me to sit down. Before my arse had even touched the leather a waiter came over and asked us what we’d like to drink.
“Two Eranin Sidewinders,” Caia said, without even looking in my direction, and the young man scurried away.
I sat there quietly and waited for her to speak, gazing out of the window at the curve of the station below me.
I was so completely out of my depth at this point it wasn’t even real. I knew that Vex was respected in the circle he ran in, but the reaction of the doorman and Jeremy the Drunk wasn’t just respect. It was fear.
Dear Past Tanith,
Why did you think it was a good idea to go looking for a slightly unhinged bounty hunter? What have you gotten me into?
You utter moron!
The drinks arrived and Caia pushed one towards me. She looked at me over the rim of hers. God, her eyes were stunning. They were a deep emerald green, perfectly complementing her shock of red hair.
She smiled again, and my heart skipped a beat.
“So you’re the daughter of Samuel, are you?” She asked, rhetorically. “Dexter talks about your father a great deal.”
I was slightly nonplussed by that. I knew the two of them were close, but Father died over a decade ago. Surely by this point he’d moved on from it.
Caia obviously saw my confusion.
“He’s never really forgiven himself for not being there when your father died, my dear. You could say that it changed him.”
This did nothing to alleviate my confusion. I took a sip of my drink. How was I going to approach this apparition in front of me? I was standing on the precipice of my own ignorance and I felt like, if I fell, I’d never even hit the bottom. I decided that charming naivete might be my best defence.
“Look – Caia, isn’t it? I’m tired, I’m confused and I have a case of jump fatigue like you wouldn’t believe. You also seem to know a lot more about me than I do about you, and I’m starting to find all of this a little overwhelming. So if you wouldn’t mind, why don’t you tell me how you know Dexter Vex?”
Caia gave me another of her looks. She seemed to have a repertoire of them for every occasion. This one said very clearly: “I know when I’m being played little girl. Don’t.”
“Vex is a…client of mine.” She said eventually.
The light dawned “Oh, you’re a prosti…”
Caia interrupted me. “I’m going to stop you before you say something we’d both regret. I work for a company that provides discreet companionship to wealthy individuals. Vex has had an agreement with me and my Matron for many years. I am, in many ways, the closest thing he has to a friend. He confides in me, trusts me…”
I couldn’t help myself:
“…and leaves the credit chit on the night stand afterwards?”
The slap came out of nowhere and knocked me out of my seat. I lay on the very expensive carpet, my ears ringing. Caia looked down at me.
“You get one, little girl,” she said, all trace of her former warmth gone. “Do not push me.”
Don’t insult the pretty lady again. She hits like a runaway cargo crate.
The Idiot Lying on the Floor.
I picked myself up a little unsteadily. “I’m sorry, Caia,” I said, as sincerely as I could. “My mouth sometimes gets the better of me.”
Caia fixed me with another of her looks – which lasted entirely too long – and then it was gone. In its place we had a return to soft eyes and gentle smiles.
“That’s alright dear, we all say things we regret from time to time.”
I didn’t entirely believe it – I’d seen the real Caia behind those gorgeous eyes. I also didn’t care much. As long as she kept smiling, I was happy.
“You were telling me about Vex?” I asked, tentatively.
“Ah yes, Dexter. An interesting individual. He held your father in great regard, still does for that matter. That is the only reason I invited you into this establishment. The name ‘Dexter Vex’ carries a lot of weight around here, and he would want you to be shown some respect.”
I nearly said ‘Does that include the slap?’ but thought better of it. I’d been told that I‘d had my warning, and I didn’t want to blow this opportunity. I also didn’t want to be slapped like that again – the side of my face still felt warm.
But I was still curious about the reaction of the doorman and the drunk.
“Is it respect they’re showing? Only everyone who hears Vex’ name seems, I dunno, scared of him. Isn’t he one of the good guys?”
Caia threw back her head and laughed. A big, hearty, full bodied laugh. I couldn’t help but smile, even though I suspected I was the butt of some obscure joke. That laugh was infectious. It didn’t help that her breasts bounced distractingly in her decently indecent dress.
“Oh, dear girl,” Caia said when she had regained her composure. “Where in the galaxy did you get that idea? Vex is most certainly not a ‘good guy’. Vex is – and he would be the first to admit this – a thorough bastard. Oh sure, he may work with the good guys – might even call some of the acquaintances – but he most assuredly not a ‘good’ man.”
I was confused.
“But, isn’t he a bounty hunter? Doesn’t that mean that he protects people? Isn’t that a good thing?”
Caia shrugged. “Oh, he does good things, but that shouldn’t be confused with him being a good person. He’s a murderer for hire dear, and he’s good at it because he’s enjoys his work. He’s a violent, dangerous, and feels very little empathy for others. His redeeming feature is that he chooses to use those skills virtuously, and he is loyal to a fault.”.
I felt we were straying far too close to comparative morality. OK, so he killed for money. I knew that already – that’s what a bounty hunter does, isn’t it? Besides, I had more important questions. I could get to know the man when I actually met him.
I looked at Caia. She was watching me over her drink with a small smile playing over her lips.
“Why are you looking for Dexter, my dear?” She asked finally.
I sighed. “Well, he’s already told you about my father. From what I’ve heard, Vex knew him better than anyone. I was hoping he could tell me more about him, about what he was like. I never really knew him you see, but from as far as I’ve been able to make out he was quite a lot like me.” I grinned. “I certainly don’t take after my mother.”
Caia chuckled. “I know that feeling – my mother was an utter shrew.”
I smiled and took another sip of my cocktail. It was, unsurprisingly, bloody good.
“Well, Caia, we have than in common at least.”
+++END LOG – CMDR TANITH LOW: PABLO’S LOUNGE, KUBE-MCDOWELL CITY – 10.07.3302+++