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Arriving at the party on Nar Shaddaa. Earlier episodes are here. No spoilers except for companion names.


Masquerade Part 4: Let's get this Party Started

Five minutes out, three comm alerts chimed in the cab. Adiira slid back onto the seat next to Malavai and reached up to make sure her wig was straight, incidentally shutting off the comm nestled behind one ear. Malavai and Vette turned theirs off at wrist and waist respectively, and Jaesa just grinned and pulled the first smoke grenade from her utility belt.

The party was in full swing when they arrived, guests and gatecrashers spilling out of the museum’s broad entry and down the wide ramp leading to the taxi terrace. Good. They went in guns blazing; Vette laid down covering fire with the toy autocannon, sparks flying from the muzzle as she leapt from the cab. Jaesa was right behind her, lobbing grenades which sputtered on either side of the landing pad, sending up clouds of blue-tinged smoke and obscuring the hovering cab. Malavai gained the terrace and Adiira swung down at his side as Twovee paid the driver and exited more sedately, and by then the billowing cover and the screams had reached perfect intensity. The five of them strode through the curtaining smoke in phalanx, blasters shooting cascades of sparks which showered down over the crowd.

As planned, too, the fracas on the taxi pad had alerted the partygoers inside, and people were clustered in the wide entryway, staring. The commotion inside increased suddenly as a tall blue Twi’lek pushed his way through the crowd and made a stand in the doorway. He had on a half-fastened heavy breastplate, and the guns in both hands were real. Vette yelped in glee and slung the cannon onto her back to make a running jump straight at him, just as he brought his blasters to bear on the company. Adiira gasped in horror and clutched at her bosom but before she could draw her weapon the Twi’lek’s eyes widened and his guns fell. His arms came up to catch Vette, and he threw his head back and burst into relieved laughter.

She bussed him soundly on both cheeks and he hugged her and swung her around before setting her on her feet in front of him.

“I nearly shot you, girl!” he roared, still laughing but shaking her shoulders sternly at the same time.

“Toldja we were going to make an entrance,” Vette smirked.

Ripples of laughter and scattered applause swept the gathering. Adiira could hear the buzz of animated conversation rising over the music as the crowd dispersed, as people with front row views described what had happened to the less fortunate folks further back. Malavai and Jaesa holstered their weapons now that the show was over, and the three of them joined Vette and Flash in the museum’s entryway, overlooking a large atrium.

“Welcome to the Museum of Ryloth,” Flash said proudly. His wide gesture took in the atrium and the building beyond. Standing in the doorway, they looked down on the party which filled the broad atrium. The room was six-sided, laid out in two descending tiers from the entry. A short wide flight of three steps led down from the main doors to the first tier, where large statues flanked with smaller display cases centered the walls to the left and right. Temporary food and drink stations were doing a brisk business in front of the artworks. From that level, another two steps ringed the open center of the room, now serving as a dance floor and crowded with costumed guests. Directly across from the entrance, musicians were playing on a low stage on the first tier; to either side of the musicians, stairways similar to the one where they stood led to archways opening deeper into the museum. The walls were some sort of pale tawny stone with a rough finish; the floor appeared to be the same material, polished to a high gloss.

Adiira looked up to see the lights and traffic of Nar Shadaa’s night sky, through what appeared to be a glass ceiling. Her thoughts were voiced by Vette, with a hushed “Whoa...”

Flash grinned at that. “Yeah. It’s something, isn’t it? Never thought we’d have something like this.”

“Wouldn’t have, without Vette.” The red Twi’lek woman (who went by ‘Taunt’, if Adiira remembered correctly) came up to them from a nearby drink stand, her hands full of sweating brown bottles. “Hey, honey.” She leaned forward to kiss Vette’s cheek and return her enthusiastic hug, bottles clinking. “Nice entrance, sweetie, half a dozen people must’ve told me all about it.”

“You missed it?” Vette pouted.

“Sorry,” Taunt said with an apologetic shrug, “I was busy sorting out the caterers.”

“It was something, alright,” Flash said a little grimly, looking back at Vette. “I really did almost open fire before I recognized you.”

“Aww, buddy, I knew you’d figure it out.” Vette gifted him with a careless grin, earning an eyeroll and headshake in return.

Taunt extended her fistfuls of bottles to the rough center of the group. Malavai carefully took two from her fingers and passed one to Adiira; Taunt’s eyes followed the motion and widened as she took them both in up close. She whistled under her breath and turned to Adiira with a wink. “Very, very nice. You too, by the way. How’d they talk you into it?”

Adiira shrugged. “I’m not entirely sure.” Her eyes narrowed as she watched Taunt slide a step closer to Malavai, who was reading the label on his beer bottle and temporarily ignoring the byplay. The Twi’lek was well within his personal space and aiming a sultry glance in his direction when he looked up.

“From Bonadan?” he asked, raising his bottle to her in salute.

“Mmm, yes, do you like it?” Her voice was low and purring and her smile was warm. Vette jumped at Adiira’s nearly silent growl and stepped forward hastily, reaching out to tug at Taunt’s sleeve.

“Yes indeed.” Malavai gave her a cordial nod and took a half step back and to the side like a dancer, deftly positioning himself close beside Adiira and throwing an arm around her shoulder to draw her in against him. His move broke her concentration as intended, and she allowed it, letting her hand fall open, releasing the power that had gathered to choke the Twi’lek woman.

“I imagine my beautiful slave girl will enjoy it too,” he told Adiira and the group at large, clinking his bottle gently against hers.

Taunt made a little moue of disappointment, but nodded back politely enough.

Vette blinked in relief. “Sooo, Taunt, you were saying, about the museum?” she prompted.

“Museum... Oh, yeah. You and the museum. When you got the Star back, that was the start. Got some good publicity going, and that led to some larger donors taking an interest. We were able to get the museum in the public eye, and that sorta snowballed, and one last big donor came in-” Taunt broke off to scan the room. “He’s here somewhere; I’ll introduce you, remind me. Anyway, here we are, brand-new space, opening gala, and it’s all your fault, Vette.” She smiled at Vette and lifted her beer in salute, and the rest of the group did the same. Vette blushed violet, caught speechless for once.


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