Chapter 1 The Murky Mynock - - - The steady metallic plink, plink, plink, of water falling from the sky had lulled her into a trance-like state, eyes glazed over as tumultuous thoughts fought for space in the girl's mind. In these quiet moments when Lyra had a moment to herself her mind oft wandered. What might have been? What could be? Usually these thoughts were tempered by a firm boot or a curled fist. Alvor. She could still visualize the almost gleeful smile the overweight Twi'lek wore as his fists and feet fell across her cheek or boot swept into her side. And yet, she stayed. Before Alvor there had been hunger. There had been vulnerability. She could withstand the beatings if it meant a roof over her head and a meal. If it meant safety. They may not have been friends or even family but it was the only family Lyra had ever known. Her internal musings came to an abrupt end as she heard the familiar sound of footsteps coming up the small stairway behind her. Practiced ears picked out the sound of light footfalls. "Cairn." she said quietly, her gaze still focused on the street below. "How you do that?" the young boy shook his head, speaking again before Lyra could offer an answer. "Alvor wants you, important meet." The boy Cairn spoke bruskly, his lack of education evident in his clunky speech. She sighed, quickly tucking her feet beneath herself and standing. If she was slow she'd catch the back of a hand. When Alvor called, you appeared. She grimaced slightly at a tightness in her side, the bruised flesh concealed by her clothing. "Alright Cairn, thanks." Lyra shuffled past the boy and made her way down the stairs towards where she'd find Alvor. Cairn was a wonder, younger than Lyra but a similar upbringing she suspected. The two hadn't ever been close exactly, the boy kept to himself mostly but she had begun to think they might be friends of a fashion. They both held lowly positions in the gang, as it was. Of course Lyra had managed to make herself slightly more useful. No doubt why he's calling me now. Entering a large room from the side door her eyes swept across it. Tables filled the space, dim lighting and low music creating a more intimate atmosphere. Across the room along the wall stretched a wide bar top, stools nestled up against it - most of them empty but a few here and there filled with faces she recognized. Other members of their crew. Not very full, it can't be a new gig already can it? She squinted in the low light, trying to see who was seated at the bar but that didn't reveal much. None of the usual players in their schemes. A slight panic gripped her lungs as she wondered if Alvor still held anger about their last gig and the minor slip up she'd made - she hoped not. Nimbly weaving between the tables she headed for a door in the opposite corner. That's where Alvor would be. Probably drinking, possibly staring into the console at his desk. Electronic communication was risky, trackable, and it had been the end of many a crew boss who didn't somehow conceal their activities. No, Alvor is too smart for that. He'd proven it time and time again, though who exactly he'd hired to slice for him remained a mystery to her. It wasn't a talent she had, her talents were somewhat more subtle and lay within the physical realm. Lyra couldn't explain it exactly, it came naturally to her. Good things seemed to happen around her when she focused, when she set her mind on something. The girl found she could influence people to make choices they might not otherwise make. Nothing controlling, simply a push in the right direction. It allowed her access to places she wasn't supposed to be, created openings where she could create space or distraction for others. Lyra paused at the door, readying herself for what might come next. Taking a breath, she pressed the button on the control. The door hissed open and she stepped inside. - The Murky Mynock. Alvor shook his head. Whatever infernal spirit had convinced the establishment's previous owner to name it such he couldn't fathom. It was a minor irritation compared to the present conundrum he faced. At his root the man was a con, consistently finding ways to talk people out of their money - of course he used false names, disguises. It made running the Murky Mynock much easier as a front. A way to launder his ill gotten gains. Their last gig had ended abruptly, only paying out half of what he'd expected. They'd had to pull out early due to a mistake made by one of his crew. Lyra. The girl was useful, quick and nimble, unassuming. Often times people just ignored her, she had a way of hiding in plain sight. Usually. Alvor was still chafed about the loss but already he had his eyes set on a new goal. Something that would do more than make him rich, it would make him a legend. At least, he hoped it would. To get there however, he would have to do a fair amount of planning and set up. Alvor's eyes scanned the screen of the console in front of him, a blue glow emanating from the images and text. Bulletin: Taris Association of Art Subject: Exhibit Preparation 1AKL Mr. Director. We are pleased to inform you that the pieces you have requested will be available and should arrive at your designated drop off point within the next several hours. I have instructed the moving element to contact you directly. I have also made amendments to the proposed security plan which you will find attached to this communique. It is imperative that we address these vulnerabilities prior to the establishment of the exhibit. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact me immediately as I may be unavailable for several days. Thank you and I look forward to visiting the exhibit. It was a strange thing, reading secret communications. Like listening in on a conversation you weren't meant to overhear. Alvor silently mouthed a blessing in the direction of the screen. Thank the stars I found that slicer when I did. It was... fortuitous. A sudden chirp at the door drew his attention away from the screen, a few keystrokes and the screen in front of him blacked out. Ah. Lyra. The girl stepped into the office, door fully sealing before Alvor spoke. "Decided to stick around, huh?" he smiled. The girl stayed silent, her head bowed. "I've got another task for you." He paused. Alvor noticed that she remained silent still. "There's money in it for you, an extra share but we've got to move fast." At that, her ears perked up and her eyes darted towards Alvor. Good. I've got you interested. "Don't you have any nicer clothes than that?" he scowled, noting her dull attire. "I... might have something." she squeaked out, eyes darting to the floor again. "Good. You're to accompany me first thing in the morning, we're going to an art gallery.