Clu drew his armourweave cloak around him to keep out the cold of Anchorage, consciously altering the rates of his secondary and tertiary heart in order to better cope with the cold. He took a sip from the mug in his hand and sighed weakly.
This planet reminded him almost of a cheap Muun's Mygeeto. He'd hated that world too but at least it had wealth to make up for its natural dreariness, they were both nothing like Muunilinst with its flowing fields and lush forests, and the warm oceans heated by thousands upon thousands of 'smokers' and other underwater geothermal vents. But the real glory of Muunilinst - something that no where else in the entire galaxy had been able to beat during his travels - was the sky itself. It was said to be the most beautiful in all the galaxy both at day and at night, and Clu could very much believe that claim.
Many nights spent gazing up at the beautiful and glistening sky of Muunilinst had fueled his wanderlust - a very peculiar trait for a Muun and one which had never earned him much adulation among his peers, not until his days with the InterGalactic Banking Clan in the Clone Wars when it came to be a major boon for his allies - and driven him to see beyond it.
When he had been taken across the galaxy to Coruscant by his mother, he had seen the stars from another perspective and it had done little to sap him of his desire to travel beyond Muunilinst further. Yet the rotting under city of Coruscant and the many dangers that lay amidst it had left him with no illusions as to how dangerous and terrifying the galaxy could be, nor did his Mother and Father's downright criminal and unconscionable plans to cause a drug epidemic just to profit off the treatments leave him with any illusions that business with the galaxy at large was a clean and pretty affair. If you wanted to make real money, you had to be willing to crush a few people and go to a few dark places to get it.
This planet was not quite like that; The city that they were in was dangerous, certainly, but it didn't even bother with the veneer of shine that Coruscant lay over its lower levels. It was seedy, reeking of criminality and, to use less flowery language, an absolute shit hole. The planet was almost entirely covered in ice with but a few scattered settlements beneath it and a space port or two dotting the surface of the world; indigenous life was a rare thing indeed in such an inhospitable environment, and watching out the window as they came in to land it looked as though life had simply abandoned the planet entirely.
This comparison held in almost every respect; Unlike Muunilinst where the sky seemed to revel in the wealth and natural beauty of the world, as if in direct competition for your attention, the sky on Anchorage seemed to be as desperate to get away from it as everything else; It was almost pitch black with only a slim band of stars left to mark that it was anywhere in the known galaxy. As adrift in space and time on a course to its own inevitable destruction as most of its patrons, who were adrift and wasting away on a diet of death sticks and alcohol.
In short, Anchorage was Mygeeto with none of the wealth or mineral resources that made it even slightly tolerable. You quite literally couldn't have paid him enough to live here, it was that dreary and rancid of a place, but it had good business and you couldn't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.
At least there was never a dull moment when you're in a cantina of criminals, scum and drug addicts; Clu's attention was drawn across the room for a moment as some poor bastard picked a fight with a KX-Series security droid and promptly got his bones pulverised into dust under the droids blows, a sickening crunch marking the impact of the droids metal fists and the man's cry of torment and agony piercing through the Cantina music. What an idiot.
The new KX Series really was something, though.. Clu had always had a thing for battle droids - or security droids as they were now called to skirt around imperial regulations - and he had been thinking perhaps he'd have to look into acquiring some of the KX Series the next time they made port somewhere with an Arakyd Industries subsidiary. Maybe he would have takenna look over the HoloNet or Shadowfeed with the hypereave transponder, with the proper reprogramming one might make a handy addition to the crew... If a very pricey one at that, having been designed for the imperial military. They were hardened against hacking and other such counter measures, making their acquisition difficult. But if there was someone inside Arakyd itself who might be willing to make an agreement, perhaps they'd be able to have one.
But in the end he'd decided that it probably wasn't worth it. There were enough Clone Wars era droids rusting away all over the place (including in their own shop, since they'd finally gotten a crew to help them manage the whole thing) that risking life and limb to get a KX series wasn't really a worthwhile investment, however much he'd have loved to own the shiny new security droids. Someday perhaps... Someday the Empire kgijt fall apart or even lift the restriction in battle droids, then he could finally see about getting more up to date ones or redesigning some of them. If only the C-B3 Cortosis Batle Droid could be realistically reverse engineered, but that required top of the line equipment which wasn't easily attained under the Empire.
Clu was a little concerned by the presence of such an enforcer droid here on Anchorage, however; Usually, wherever and enforcer droid was, the Imperials weren't far behind, and if there was a crackdown coming he'd rather not be caught at the table with an small band of rogues and wanted criminals. But the Empire wouldn't be this far out. Perhaps it was a rogue? On the one hand perhaps they could get it to join the crew, in the other hand if its programming was unstable it might be more dangerous to them than an assistance. Either way, the crew probably wouldn't take well to an Imperial droid running around the shop but their abilities made them quite the prize for anyone who could them. Perhaps he'd ask Solace about this particular droid once they were done here.
Clu remained quiet as Solace and the Rodian spoke of Viron Jek listening in the conversation. They may as well have been talking past each other, the Rodian was concerned about Viron Jek, and with good reason as far as Clu was concerned. Solace on the other hand... Solace was Solace, and some pirate running around with an edgy name wasn't enough to scare her, he knew that by now.
Now, Viron Jek... Viron Jek had entered back onto the scene recently, making trouble for the Empire and being a general pest for them. The Imperials didn't take kindly to being messed with, and a general rule of business was that you left the Empire alone and the Empire left you alone. Admittedly it wasn't a rule he always followed himself, but anyone brave enough and powerful enough to openly fuck with them and get away with it was a formidable adversary indeed.
As Solace finished and asked the crew if she was right that they'd add Viron Jek to the score, Clu couldn't help but grimace. Some of them crew might chest pound in agreement, he wouldn't be surprised by that, but he was going to take a more tempered approach. That was, after all, what he was here for, to provide the information to the crew. That included information they didn't want to hear, like how Jek was not some two bit pirate but a cold hearted killer who gave the Republic a run for their money.
The crew might stand a chance of killing Viron Jek, but having 'a chance' wasn't the sort of thing that pleased Clu. From what little he knew about Jek and his crew Jek was a veteran reaver with hundreds of raids under his belt, many men had tried to take him and those many men were dead. The Noreaster and her crew were a solid team on a solid ship, there was no doubt about that, but Viron Jek was just as solid and it could go either way.
Indeed, he knew some very respected Brokers who'd already started backing the other side, and that didn't exactly raise Clu's hopes. That he himself had started to shift towards betting on both parties in this equation made his mind even less at ease. If push came to shove, he'd find a way out of the Noreaster and benefit from this- he always did, that was what he did best and it was all just good business. But he did genuinely like this crew and, even if he hadn't, they were still a damn sight better than Viron Jek was.
"Viron Jek should not be underestimated." Clu said as he placed the Holocom down and pressed a button on it, showing an old wanted post from the Clone Wars era as he clasped his hands together, interlacing his fingers and furrowing his brow; His voice was somewhat nasally as all Muun's were, and it cut through the cantina music harshly. Yet it carried with it the undertone of certainty and finality, as if the statement itself were true by design rather than being a matter of opinion.
It was important that the crew know what they were up against, and if they weren't going to listen to the Rodian, perhaps at least they'd listen to him. If they wouldn't, then perhaps it would be best to have an exit strategy for if Viron Jek showed up to play, the best way to lose a fight was to walk into it half cocked and certain you were going to win regardless, especially when you're dealing with a cunning and proven foe.
"Your exaggerated description of Viron Jek may be closer to the truth than we realise; from what I hear of his personal combat skills if he were to attack us now, some of us would be dead before we'd even drawn our blasters. His penchant for ridiculously edgy names aside, Jek is a dangerous monster with a list of war crimes that would make Grand Moff Tarkin blush. He comes from a family of reavers and pirates which had been pillaging and looting the Republic since day one, some of them have been quite successful but I'm personally not sure if any have quite rivalled the brutality and destructiveness of Viron Jek." Clu continued, pausing for a moment to think. Viron Jek was definitely not a man to be underestimated; He remembered the Confederacy having contracted him during the Clone Wars, it was one of the few times that the Confederacy itself had dismissed a commander for being too harsh... And given that the Confederacy had fielded General Grevious, that was saying something. Now if Viron Jek had been messing with the empire without suitable recompense, that made him even more dangerous. The Imperials were not easily trifles with, and any pirate with enough ships or big enough ships to take on the Imperials had enough firepower to turn the Noreaster into a pile of scrap without breaking a sweat.
And if Jek did blast their ship to pieces, they'd have gotten off easy. He didn't even want to know what the man might do if took some of them prisoner. Probably something akin to The Burning. That didn't even bear thinking about. He didn't exactly have a track record for being a kind and merciful man.
Clu lifted his mug and took a long and refreshing drink from it as he let what he said and the holo image sink in for a moment, thinking back to Solace mocking the name of Viron Jeks ship. She was right about one thing; It was a stupidly edgy name, and he understood her discounting him based on that. Names of ships didn't mean Jack shit, you could call your ship the Sun Crusher and it be a useless pile of junk or you could encounter the Rainbow and get smashed by its Turbolasers before you'd even fired off a warning shot. Dangerous sounding names did not a dangerous ship make.
Still, he thought as he placed his mug back down, it was wrong to discount Viron Jek on his poor choice of names alone. The pirate had more than proven himself worthy of taking edgy names here and there, whatever the crew might think of them.
"During the Clone Wars, the Confederacy of Independent Systems contracted Jek to raid and pillage a number of Republic border worlds near the outer rim. It was the belief of the Confederacy that he would send a clear message to the Republic borders that they were not protected, that the Republic did not care for them and that it was better to secede and join the confederacy than face its wrath in the coming storm. Viron Jek excelled at this task... but the sheer brutality with which he did it gave even the Separatist leadership pause for concern and he was eventually let go by the very men who had suggested his services, who thought that his actions were ultimately doing more harm to the confederacy than good." Clu shook his head lightly, the holographic poster floating in circle slowly, listing several of the many dozens, if not hundreds of various war crimes Viron Jek had managed to accrue just in his short time raiding republic planets, let alone his wider career. It contained a smattering of details the republic had on the man, but in truth the list itself was what Clu was hoping to catch their eyes; putting aside the list of atrocities, there were some impressive accomplishments mixed in there, this man had proven himself a deadly opponent against the Republics navy.
And this was just the stuff people knew about Viron Jek, who even knows what he had gotten up to that nobody knew about. Solace was being too laissez-faire about this beast and it out him on edge. Brokers knew what they were on about, and with the way the underworld was swinging, the Noreaster and her crew would have their work cut out for them if Viron Jek decided to start infringing on their business.
"You see, everything was a fair target for Viron Jek; Refugee camps, Hospital ships, civilian offices, prisoners of war. He would bombard his own positions from orbit to deny them to the enemy and whatever you might think of CIS battle droids and whatever pirates he'd have working with his crew at the time, it's needless to say its a rather cold act to blow up your own forces. Jek also wiped entire cities off planets in seething orbital strikes and made little distinction between civilian and military targets and infrastructure. Whereas many separatist generals at least made an effort not to gun down random civilians, Jek didn't care for how much collateral damage he caused, if he could destroy or steal it, he would. No amount of attempts to bring in rules and restrictions on his and other mercenaries conducts from the Confederacy of Independent Systems could bring Jek to heel, he simply did what he pleased as he pleased... and more often than not what he pleased was a bloodthirsty rampage that could hardly have been rivaled by a Rancor high on Spice. That should tell you about the kind of person we are dealing with; He is a man seemingly without a conscience, cold as this planet's glaciers and sharper than an Echani Vibroblade." Clu said with some finality, changing the holoprojector with a click of a button to show one of the scenes from the clone wars that had been captured on the holonet by republic reporters, a single scene from a village by Jek's order; In the centre of the image stood one of Jek's mercenaries with a deathstick in one hand and his weapon clutched tightly in the other, stomping the head of an old woman into the curb as a couple of his comrades passed by talking to each other with almost bored and disinterested expressions on their face, as if the slaughter around them was utterly banal. A single battle droid stood guard over the scene, blaster in hand and making the connection between Jek's wrath and the Confederacy of Independent Systems quite clear- indeed this had been one of many ways in which the hiring of Jek had backfired on the confederacy. Lying beside the old woman on either side were two other people, an older gentle man and another woman. The woman had her hands on her head still with her face obscured from view by the body of the old woman- but a small pool of blood surrounded the mans head, making it clear that he had already met his fate. Clu leant back again, letting the crew take in the grisly scene of the massacre.
"To summarise... Please don't underestimate him, I am rather attached to my head and am not in a hurry to lose it." Clu finished at last, setting himself back in the seat and bringing one of his hands up to his chin, rubbing it lightly as he regarded the Rodian Solace was in contact with. He left the holocomm on the table, the image still displaying the brutal killing for all to see.
If this Rodians reaction was anything to go by, Viron Jek really was as dangerous as he had sounded. He didn't at all seem at ease from Solace's responses, if anything he seemed more worried. Clu glanced over the other present crew members for a moment, furrowing his brow in consideration before looking towards B-22.
The C-B3 Battle Droid had served him well for many years and he had no reason to doubt its durability or its competence. Perhaps even Viron Jek would be unable to best his robotic bodyguard, but he wasn't particularly open to the idea of trying it out. He had lost too many of the C-B3's in the Clone Wars, he wasn't about to lose the last of his batch now because people weren't taking Viron Jek of all people seriously.