Underhanded Connections


Lorayit.jpg Suli.jpg Keane.jpg (NPC) Vaputero.jpg

Date: October 15, 2010
Location: The Blood and Bucket bar, Telgar area / Weyr Gardens, EW
Synopsis: Vaput makes a social call by the Blood and Bucket; Lo gets a mission that will have him missing from the Weyr for a little while.
Rating: PG-18 for language, violence, and serious adult implications.
Logger: Lorayit

The Blood and Bucket thrives still, several months later, keeping up its reputation of being one of the most disreputable bars in Telgar.

Keane got himself a new barmaid a few sevendays after Bajaya left. Before the Dicori brat, the old barkeep didn't feel that he needed the extra help. Having Bajaya around had changed things - had made him realize that he needed the companionship. He had no qualms with bringing a woman into that type of establishment; Dicori could certainly handle the clientele that came through, being that she was practically one of them. The new one, Olira, was a pretty redhead with enough sensual spice to keep the men coming to oogle. She admitted to having familial ties to a renegade rival of Vaputero's - Kelarad, a Tillekian big-shot with hands in illegal runner races and ring fights. It's not like Keane actively goes out and finds these types of disreputable barmaids - Tackas, the guard responsible for protecting Jaya while in Telgar, had brought the redhead into the Blood and Bucket one night and insisted he take her. Tackas made it sound like he owed him one, too, though if you asked Keane he could tell you that he had no clue what. Keane knew about most of the major renegades throughout the north continent, and he made sure to keep the Blood and Bucket a neutral ground with all of them.

So he wasn't too surprised to find that one of them should deign it valuable to pay him a visit one night, after the Blood and Bucket was closed.

Vaputero Ilste was a big man - tall, broad-shouldered, muscle-bound but not overtly so. He had sharp features against a lightly tanned skin, setting off against gray eyes and very short-to-the-scalp dark brown hair that curled at the ends. His clothes didn't look as worn and weathered as they should for a holdless man, suggesting that he had the marks to afford such luxuries that most couldn't. That was the way of successful criminals, though. He looked like power, like influence. He never went anywhere alone, either. A man like him with far too many enemies couldn't afford to.

Vaput's small group of protection paused at the entrance by a lift of the big Bitran's hand, so groomed to take orders that they stopped as one. Vaput doesn't even pause his steps or look behind him to see if his order was carried; he takes a few steps into the bar and lets his sweeping gaze take the shabby place in for the first time. Gray eyes immediately land on a watching Olira, the Tillekian barmaid pausing in her sweeping to throw a wide-eyed look in his direction. Even the old barkeep himself, currently behind his long counter and in the process of counting the day's earnings, looks up from such activity with his customary statement to late-arrivals dying on his lips. Keane didn't know who this man was, but by looks alone he could tell that this wasn't some run-of-the-path traveler.

"Olira!" Vaputero turns toward the Tillek woman, his face carefully composed to only appear as if he was just seeing her for the first time. Of course, he had known about one of Kelarad's being implanted into the bar only after the fact. For now, Kelarad wasn't his focus. Not tonite, but he can be pointed polite, can he not? "You look fetching," he comments in his smooth, Bitran accent as he runs his gaze appreciatively over her curves. Meeting her eyes then, "I hope Kelarad's well," he adds, deliberately naming the renegade so that she was aware of the playing field she was finding herself in.

Olira did. Fingers curl instinctively around the broomstick, her green eyes narrowing onto this man that was speaking openly to her. "Is there a reason why you're here, traveler?" Keane saves her from having to answer him, the heavy-set man moving from behind the counter with set shoulders. Vaput's words to his barmaid may have seemed innocent enough, but he wasn't liking the tone set to them. He could tell Olira was uncomfortable in his presence too, so he approaches the young woman and firmly plants himself between the two. Turning his head just a fraction so towards her without taking his hard eyes off of the Bitran, "You can retire, girl," he sends her way in his gruff voice. He waits until Olira's gone, watching the barmaid out the corner of his eye as she darts toward the counter and around towards the backrooms. Certain she was gone, he his head turns fully towards Vaputero. "Whoever you are," he says this slowly and carefully with a note of warning in his tone, "I don't want any trouble."

"Not here to bring trouble," Vaput answers him with a genial smile while his eyes track the barmaid out. Once he couldn't see Olira anymore, he sweeps his gaze more critically over the bar now, stepping forward to take the place in. "I'm here to perhaps….help," he places that last word like a beacon of light as he gazes at the rickety tables and the dust still seen on some of the chairs.

Taking offense at the looks this man is sending his precious bar, Keane scowls heavily. "Don't need any help," he sends, "and I'm not looking to sell the place, either. If you're one of those—"

Vaput lifts his hand in such a way that the rest of Keane's words still. "Name's Vaputero," he finally introduces himself, keeping his gaze from the barkeep as he continues to inspect the place. "Not looking to buy your place. Think we can help each other out, however," and finally, his sharp gaze lands firmly on the old barkeep's. "I won't take up much your time, for you and I are busy men, but if you don't mind indulging me for a moment…" and like a host owning a bar, he gestures imperiously towards the closest chair, indicating that the man should sit before he would do likewise.

Like any big renegade name, the one supplied to Keane has his blood running cold. No one worth their marks wants to be visited by one of the big names on Pern - even if those names are changing every few decades or so. In his 50-odd turns alive, he's heard and seen some of the worst. Vaputero had quickly got his name up there on that short list, and the man hasn't reached 40 yet. Mutely, he eyes the chair indicated before he moves and drops into it as if the movements weren't of his own control. He keeps his eyes on the Bitran, the tick located in his right cheek starting up as his anxiety rises. Once she warmed up to him, Jaya had spoken about Vaputero plenty of times, but none of it had really prepared Keane for meeting him face-to-face. Frowning heavily, "Busy, right," he addresses, trying to make his stiff mouth move. "I know of you. What do you want?" He was making that sound as unpleasant as possible, too, so that the big Bitran was well aware that he was -granting- him a hearing - not welcoming it.

Once the barkeep is seated, Vaput sends a tight smile and joins him at the opposite end of the small table. He stretches his feet out under the table, the chair clearly being too small to accommodate him, but he leans back and looks relaxed all the same. Not bothering with any further pleasantries, "It has been brought to my attention that you used to harbor an employee of mine by the name of Bajaya Dicori," he states, his tone carefully relaxed so as to keep the barkeep genial with him as much as possible. Gray eyes taking the other in, "I know she has moved on from here, but I am of the mind to think that you and her are still in communication. Am I correct?"

A knot formed in Keane's stomach, and it takes much to keep him from doubling over in a show of weakness. Clearing his throat as he leans back more firmly in his seat as a sign of calm, "Jaya's moved on and I have not spoken to her since," he answers gruffly. It was no point in lying to the man, for he was certain Vaput has his spies. "I'm sure your spies tell you so, so I fail to see why you're bringing this up to me." He was walking a tightrope here, challenging him, but Keane was not about to be bullied in his own bar.

"Sometimes it's best to hear from the source's mouth," Vaput confirms Keane's suspicions without batting an eyelid. "They are not always efficient, like this instance." He pauses, regarding the other openly and without apology before he puts forth his next. Leaning forward with his clasped hands on the table, "I need you to get in contact with her," he proposes, his tone in earnest. "I know she is down in that Weyr in the south, and I need you to entice her to come up and see you. I'll make it worth your while."

"You assume too much of our relationship," Keane puts in sharply, the tick in his cheek spiking. "The Weyr has her now and she sure as shells don't need to come visiting an old watchwher like me."

"She'll come," Vaputero interjects smoothly with a cool smile. "I know her nature. She will come if you send for her. I recommend you do it."

Keane lifts his chin. "What's it to you, anyway?" he tries to deflect, to evade, his gaze staring back boldly at the younger man. "You got plenty of employees, as I can see and hear. Why come all the way to Telgar for one?"

Vaput's patience was starting to wane, but he was willing to indulge the barkeep just a little longer. "There are matters between me and Bajaya that are…unsettled," he explains in a clipped tone. "Besides, she is /my/ business, barkeep." His tone turns cold, harboring no more facades of calm and kindness. "She is mine and I will do what I please. I have no qualms with you, and I suggest you do not make me have to propose to you again."

Silence meets those cold words, and Keane is finding it hard to look away. Things were getting heavy really fast, but he knew about the Bitran's temper. Still, Jaya was his friend, as much as he saw it. Grimacing, "And if I refuse?" he puts forth just as coldly, not mincing his words.

Vaput makes a show of taking a look about the Blood and Bucket before returning his gaze. "I can burn this place down with you in it," he answers that simply, his gaze devoid of any further emotion. "Either way, it would get Dicori the message, so I would be happy." He looks expectantly at the old man now, awaiting his response.

Keane figured that, but the old dog was stubborn. He didn't get this far for being a push-over. He wasn't about to go out like that now, either. Signing his death sentence, "Jaya's not some fucking toy you can throw a tantrum at," he states, ignoring the obvious threat. "You're like a two-turn old still crying for his ma's tit!" Getting abruptly to his feet to signal an end to the discussion, "Go chase the brat yourself," he tosses down at the stony-faced Bitran, his eyes going hard. "I want no part in it, and if you ever come to my bar and threaten me again, make sure you got more than those men outside."

Keane's words and insults washed over Vaputero's face like fire. He's slow to uncurl and get to his feet, keeping back the shock of having someone he considers beneath him speak to him like that. He moves around the table and close to Keane's face in seconds, breathing him down as he says in a low voice, "You're very lucky that I am needed elsewhere tonite, barkeep scum, or I would be more than happy to make that a reality." As such, he looks to be letting the insults slide for now, based on that. Taking a step back to put distance between them, "A shame that we couldn't reach a satisfactory arrangement," he continues more cordially, a hand lifting to snap twice, loud. As one, the men enter into the bar as if on cue, their eyes hard and unyielding to only Vaput's command. At Keane's blanched look, "There's always another time," he states, a cold smile forming as two of the men grab Keane by the arms. "When you have the proper respect to show me. Until then…" and he turns heading towards the counter, behind it, and in the direction of the back rooms before adding over his shoulder, "…I've got another message I need to send out before I go."

Before Keane could even get a word out towards Vaput's retreating back, the first blow knocks the wind out of his lungs. After that, the blows start coming down like heavy rain from all sides, battering him back and forth, left to right in between the tight circle of barrel-chested bodies. He desperately struggles to get free, but it was little use as both his arms were held in firm grips. It was little too late to say or do anything else.

The last thing the old Blood and Bucket barkeep remembers hearing was the screams and shrieks of his new barmaid somewhere in a room beyond before a blow knocks him out to the ground.


After taking out his sexual frustration on Olira - something that would incense the Tillekian Kelarad immensely - Vaputero finds himself in a much better mood on his way to the Reaches. Once sated, he could think.

He knew he was taking chances on the barkeep helping him out, but at least the trip wasn't a complete waste. His sources weren't always the quick sorts - otherwise he would have caught up to Jaya in Telgar long before she had went south. Not that he would have been able to get her even then. He -did- teach her well the techniques of evading, or getting out of dodge and untrackable when it came down to it.

Vaput couldn't help the expletive that fell from his mouth while he rode his trusty runner onwards. He was clueless about the things going down at the Weyr, but he wasn't too pleased to see that she had chosen to go there. He expected better from his pupil in shacking up with the enemy - dragonriders. He was more than certain the Weyr didn't know about her criminal background for her to be still down there slinging drinks. That was something he -could- use to his advantage. He still had Lorayit down in Southern Hold on standby, keeping tabs on the Bitran so he didn't have to….and then, there was Suli. She was proving to be valuable in this - someone he could rely on, and could have used so much sooner than he had. The old Telgari woman turned down his propositions of joining his gang at every turn, which admittedly incensed him at times. While he could easily have forced her otherwise like he did most everyone else, he wouldn't bother going there. Suli may have been weyrbred, but she had strong ties to Limarek, an old renegade that even he looked up to. Because of him, Suli was untouchable.

As always when he has a moment to himself, Vaput's thoughts turn back to Jaya. Such fire and chaos in such a woman, and yet he had sometimes seen a vulnerable and gentle side to her, too. Vaputero wasn't the sentimental sort. Nor was he emotional. What he felt for Bajaya Dicori was hard to categorize, even to himself. He saw so much of himself in her when he met her for the first time - that rude, knock-kneed little Dicori brat that tried to pickpocket him at a gather - just because she could. He was impressed by the fact that she tried to, even though she knew who he was, and she stood up to him nonetheless. Such fearlessness in those eyes, such daring!

Being that she was a Dicori, that the reckless line was in her blood, grooming Jaya was easy for him. It didn't take long before she was hooked, and she quickly went up the ranks faster than he could imagine. She was down for anything, and didn't care about the consequences. She stole anything, smuggled anything, anywhere….conned anyone he pointed to without hesitation. She didn't ask questions, and she didn't back down when a job was too difficult. Vaput liked that most about her, and with someone like her by his side, his little organization grew into something great.

There was one thing about the Dicori woman that did put them at odds with each other - her temper. The Dicoris were known for their tempers, which usually leads to them doing some pretty crazy things. He didn't mind that, at first - Vaput had a temper himself, though it wasn't as explosive as the Dicoris were rumored to be. It was only turns later, when enemies like Kelarad were growing stronger and were starting to challenge him that he started losing his cool.

It was unfortunate what went down between him and Bajaya, and a part of him regrets the events that led up to her becoming a fugitive, but business was business. He had a reputation to uphold, so to play favorites would be detrimental to his line of work. He didn't want any of his enemies thinking that he was going soft over one woman - even one he loathe to let go of. Everyone knew what he did to those that crossed him, and Bajaya Dicori had crossed him. With a temperament such as hers, many that worked for him said it was bound to happen. You couldn't control a Dicori for long.


Vaput's mind trips over that one word - the familiar logic that circulated his mind always managing to reach this stopping point. But. But…

He never lets it get beyond that word. Gray eyes narrowing, he pushes his runner on harder and faster. Vaput's mind goes blank save for the agenda of the night and what he needs to do next in the High Reaches. In time, Jaya will be taken care of - dead or alive. Vaput was only certain of that, and all that blocks his path to her will suffer the same consequences she will. That's what is fact, and one wouldn't need a 'but' to the contrary on that.

The only 'but' he made a note of was the fact that he needed to send his next set of instructions to Lorayit, especially since it's been a good while since he's heard from the erstwhile farmer.

--At Eastern Weyr…--------------

A couple of days later, sweet Ermina sent Lorayit the note from Vaputero that he should have gotten while in Southern. The Weyr gardener was busy setting aside a patch of soil for some new strand of medicinal plants needed for the infirmary when one of the lower cavern boys dropped off a small package of folded hides into his lap. He knew who it came from, and a large part of him was hesitating to open the package. Getting to his feet with a heavy sigh as he looks down at the package he holds, "I might be absent here and there for the next month or so," he estimates, only turning a fraction towards the person he's speaking to.

"Expected," Suli answered to that, the Telgari barmaid standing some paces behind him with a small package of marks in hand. She was on her way to the Headwoman to deliver the month's Weyr profits from the bar and stopped by the garden briefly while there were few people out and about at this time of the morning. Eyes falling on some of the package she could see, she nods toward it and asked, "I doubt he'll be asking you to move on the Dicori, so I wonder what he wants?"

Lo turned, sending his customary easy smile over his shoulder towards her before answering. "So long's he doesn't know I'm here, I could give a fuck." Part of being one of Vaputero's men was that you had to do some things you didn't necessarily like. Lo was certain what he'll read in the package will detail him to do so, but that was the price you paid for the luxuries you got. He stepped over and reached out to briefly grip Suli's shoulder, his gaze fond before he stepped back and tucked the package under one arm as he prepared to depart.

Suli merely inclined her head gravely in understanding, her smile one of a grimace when he gripped her shoulder. "I'll have someone keep an eye on the garden for you while you're gone," she gave, her tone slightly warmer than usual before she herself continued on to her errand. "Stay alert, Lo."

"Aye," is all Lorayit returned, his blue eyes narrowing before he started off to find his private place to read and prepare for the mission to come.

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