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Zaza Kitan

I fight for whichever side has the bigger gun to my head

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a character in “Though I walk through the valley...”, as played by Mosswine Leader

Description

CHARACTER SHEET:

Name: Zaza Kitan

Age: 81 (in Human years)

Height: 7' 2"

Weight: 390"

Species: Gruunsh

Gender: Dual gender

Basic Description: Fairly unassuming for a member of her species, Zaza nevertheless commands respect wherever she goes. Her physique and numerous scars bear witness to the hard life she lives, as well as her multiple close encounters with death. She is inked almost over her entire body, bearing intricate, black swirling tattoos that seem to shift and writhe as she moves. Her left "ring" finger was cut off in a mining incident. Like most Gruunsh, she refuses to wear shoes, and as such the pad of her foot is permanently stained black with soot and tar. She keeps the sides of her head shaved, and the top in a tight braid that runs down to her waist.

Job: Miner/Rebel squad leader

So begins...

Zaza Kitan's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zaza Kitan Character Portrait: Kristabell Wirks

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While many cities claim to be "Cities that never sleep", seldom few have lived up to the claim like Harlin Port. The biggest commercial hub in twelve systems, Harlin Port keeps a feverish operational tempo all hours of the day, all year long. While this can be frustrating and stressful, for entrepeneurs like Zaza, the perpetual flux of the market means she gets to keep a fat wallet as often as she can rotate in stock. Mining isn't a particularly rare trade to have, but mining the heavy isotopes used to power Starships was delicate and hazardous work. The lack of supply and high demand means that Zaza could charge whatever astronomical prices for her cargo and it would still get snapped up as soon as she pulls into port each trip. Unfortuneately for her, heavy isotopes were getting rarer these days, so she was stuck harvesting mundane ores like iron and titanium in between mother lodes.

Having just finished with a month in the black, Zaza was more than ready for some R&R. Maybe she'd find something worth spending all the cash she had saved up on besides booze and hookers, though she doubted it.

"Okay, lazy bones. I expect each and every one of you back here in a week, sharp! No faffing about like last time, you hear?" shouted Zaza to her crew, but of course they were already gone. They always were. With a shrug, Zaza grabbed her manifest list and caught the nearest tram down to the industrial district. Maybe old man Wirks would have some tasty leads she could trade some info for today. Idly glaring at the pedestrians they passed, Zaza lamented for the thousandth time the lack of antigrav public transit. These rail systems were so damned slow! She passed the time flipping through the star logs she'd recorded, organizing them by value to her and what she thought would be valuable to Wirks. The crochety old man had a thing for the glittery jewels that formed out in the black, so she put those at the top of the list. Maybe he wouldn't fight her so hard for a lead if she gave him enough good stuff.

Hopping off the tram in the old factory section, Zaza quickly wove through the crowds of workers and picked out the Wirks office building. Ducking through the archway obviously designed for Empiricals, Zaza looked around the lobby to see which secretary was on duty that night. Luckily for her, Susie happened to be studiously ignoring the Gruunsh intruder, instead glaring at a ledger she'd been trying to balance for the last three hours. Chuckling quietly to herself, the miner stepped lightly up into the stairway and ascended to the the third floor. Wirks' office didn't seem like much from the outside, but his huge bay windows had a breathtaking view of the ocean that lapped gently at the edge of the industrial sector. Will's kid, Kris, sat in the waiting room, appearently waiting on her old man for something. Zaza ruffled the girl's hair playfully and grinned at her as she barged into Wirks' office.

William was nowhere to be found in his office. Unorganized papers lay unattended on his glass desk. Kris, bored to death, watched in amusement to her finding nothing.
"He's out for lunch" she called out.

Releasing a heavy sigh, the miner leaned out of the doorway and gave Kris a falsely angry glare. This was actually a pretty good opportunity to snoop.

"Did he say when he's coming back?"

"Yup." she said standing. She walked past Zaza into her father's office and decided to sit in his big black chair, and smack her feet up on the desk. She grinned.

"Look at you, Ms. Big for her Britches. You all ready to take over the biz, huh?" She chuckled and shook her head, rummaging through the papers scattered about on Wirks' desk. Her slightly compulsive nature urged her to sort the papers based on thickness and texture as she read them. "Your old man talk about any big hits lately?" she asked, not really looking at Kris.

"Not to me. I'm not getting this buisness, I can tell you that. He hardly wants me here now." she said, dropping her feet and turning, looking outside the window behind the chair. "He don't want me here." she said again, reassuring herself more than she was Zaza.

Something in the girls tone caught her attention. Zaza looked up from her crouch and examined her friend. She looked very unhappy. "Kris you don't know that. Maybe something's just on his mind lately. You know, since he's the head of a huge mining corporation and all, I'm sure he's just a bit stressed." She thought for a moment, trying to figure out something to say that might cheer the girl up. Zaza remembered being a child and having the same type of groundless fears. "Besides...If Old Man Wirks don't give you this biz, you can help me with mine. How's that sound, eh?" laughed Zaza.

Kris smiled, looking down. "Yeah...maybe. But I can tell you one thing," she said looking up at Zaza, "he wasn't like this when my mom--" she stopped, and her eyes grew wide, looking behind Zaza.
"Kris, what are you doing in here?" William snapped, walking in his office.
"Uh, I- uh," Kris stammered. William scoffed, then smiled at Zaza.
"Hello."

"Heya, Wirks." She looked from him to the sheath of papers in her hands. "Y'know, you should be more tidy. These papers were lying all over your desk. I just had to help myself and neaten them up." quipped the Gruunsh, tapping the stack against the desk to emphasize how serious she was about cleanliness. "Anywho, I'm here on business, not pleasure. Just stopped by after a stint in the black, and I was wondering if you'd gotten any juicy reports you'd be willing to trade me? You know I got the goods in return," she remarked with a grin, waggling her eyebrows.

He glared at the papers. "Yes I know. That is supposed to be Kris' job around here."
Kris looked at her dad in disbelief, "You told me not to touch--"
"Go, do something useful, go go." he waved her off.
Kris shaked her head, and left, shutting the door.
"Hmm...I may have something, depending on what you have." he said, sitting down and folding his arms.

Belting out a loud chuckle, Zaza pulled her tablet out of her jacket. She plopped herself down on Wirks' desk, one knee over the other as she scrolled through her list. "Well, let's have a lookey. I found two rocks with a total of 80 kilos of pure emerald between the two. I've got one with a ruby the size of a fat Emprical buried in the southern crust. I also found one that's about 30% diamond. And those aren't even the choicest picks on my list," she purred, walking her fingers over his desk and up his arm. "So, I'll ask again...Do you have anything for me?"

William cleared his throat and sat back, preventing Zaza's reach to his arm. "You say you come for business, so let's talk buisness."
He turned to a cabinet, reached in his pocket for a key, opened it, and pulled out a really thin file. He placed it on his desk.
"You, out of everyone knows that those isotopes are hard to find nowadays. My buisness can't rely on that anymore," he sighed. He picked up the thin file again, "These are all the rare ones we last found. We still haven't went for them, and honestly, won't try to. You want them?"

A bright fire sprang to life in the miner's eyes. She knew Wirks was good for his word, and this kind of payday was impossible to pass up. "Oooh Wirks, you devil you! Name your price!" she cooed gleefully.

He nodded in the direction of the door.
"Take her. Don't let her come back. After Noemi and the kids, she doesn't do anything anymore, and she just...ugh...I'm done." He held her gaze, as serious as could be.

"That's all? You want me to drag your kid with me? That's it?"

He chuckled, then sighed. "That's it."

Zaza almost did a dance, but restrained herself in case he changed his mind. She pretended to think about it for a minute before making a theatrical show of giving in. "Fine, you old scrooge. I'll do it. But since I'm so nice, I'll leave you with a little extra, since my Hog isn't really equipped for gemwork anyways." Fiddling with the tablet, Zaza emailed Will the coordinates of ten big gem asteroids. She pocketed her tablet and reached out for the file still in his possession. "I'm a girl of my word. You give me the file and she's outta your hair."

Will picked up the file, and placed it soley in the reach of Zaza. He glared and said once more, "She cannot come back."

"Cross my hearts and hope to combust." Zaza made a strange squiggle motion over her ample chest and snatched up the file. "Have fun, Will. You need a vacation anyways. You work too hard." She snickered under her breath as she let herself out, quietly closing the office door behind her. Kristabell awaited her in the tiny lobby, looking at a picture of something and just being sad in general. Sighing internally, the Gruunsh snatched the girl up and slung her over her shoulder, tickling the child and yelling incoherently.

"You're comin' with me, girl! The wild life awaits!" she proclaimed in a sing song voice. When they reached the bottom, Zaza let the girl down and took her hand, leading her out of the building she was never allowed to return to. Outside, Zaza straightened up and looked back, catching sight of Old Man Wirks in his office.

"Why are you holding my hand for?" she asked, pulling her hand away. She fake-smiled at Zaza thinking all this was just a joke, and started to go back inside the building.
"What if my dad wanted me right now? You delayed me like a minute!"

"Ah ah ah! Sorry kiddo. No dice. You're coming with me." Zaza grabbed the girl again and sat her on her shoulders, pointing at the office above. "Say bye. Wave," she suggested, waving to Will and smiling as wide as she could. "It's part of a deal I made with your old man. I get these claim coordinates, you become my apprentice. Think of it as a promotion!" She bucked the girl on her shoulder and strode away, towering over the humans crowding around them.

"Okay okay!" Kris yelled. "Apparently I have no choice, but can you at least put me down!?" Kris hated being carried, and was about to freak out.

Zaza looked at her new charge in confusion. However, the girl was 14, so she supposed in human years that made her almost an adult. Zaza gently deposited Kris on the pavement next to her and shrugged down. "Fine, have it your way kiddo. Stick close to me though. Don't need you getting lost or abducted around here. You hungry?" Zaza scanned the nearby buildings, looking for some sort of food joint, but alas, none were to be found. She scrunched up her face in annoyance. That meant they' have to ride the tram again and go down to the culinary district.

"Okay well too bad if you're not, cause my stomach is killing me. Gotta feed all this body, y'know." She shoved her way through the crowd onto the tram platform, impatiently awaiting the next pass.

Kris looked back in the direction of her dad's office building. How could he de this to me? she thought.
"What was he going to do when the twins were my age? Send them away too?" she followed Zaza.

Twenty minutes passed, loud and annoying, before the tram announced its arrival with a jarring ring of the station's intercom system. Zaza grabbed Kris and pushed her into the tram ahead of her, fending off the complaining masses with bared teeth and a raised fist. She ducked into the tube and dropped heavily onto the bench seat next to her new accomplice. With a sigh, she coiled her braid around her neck and stretched loudly.

"So kid. Tell me about yourself. You've always been so quiet when I come to visit your old man." She glanced at the sulking teen breifly before deciding to ignore the obvious signs that the girl probably didn't want to talk to her. "Like...What are your hobbies? Favorite foods? What do you wanna be when you grow up?" She waited out a bit more silence before speaking up again. "C'mon kid. This isn't endearing. If you wanna make the best of your time with me," Zaza leaned in close for the next part, "And believe me you do, then you're gonna have to talk to me." She sat back up in her seat.

Kris, who was tracing her finger along the pole that holds the seats up, turned. She thought for a moment about what she was going to say. What could she say? She never really thought about herself for a long time, longer than she could remember. She opened her mouth to speak.
"I...hm...I...I...." her hands began to tremble at her lack of knowledge about her own self. Her entire life she devoted to her siblings, then when they were taken, she did nothing productive. She looked around the tram and felt everyone, including the Gruunsh sitting next to her staring. "I can...I can't do anything." she said, louder than she expected.

Oh great, groaned Zaza. Another basket case. She exhaled lightly and dropped her forehead into her open palm, rubbing her temples with her thumbs. "That can't be true, Kris. You just need a bit of time to decompress I think. How about we get some chow and then you can relax for a bit? Y'know. Get to know the ship and learn what you'll probably be doing for awhile." Zaza gently elbowed the teen, giving her a reassuring smile and a slight shrug. "After all, it could always be worse, right?" The train made two stops between the industrial district and the culinary district. Once they'd departed the tram, Zaza led the way to her favorite restaurant. Well, it was more of a noodle stand than a restaurant, but she loved the taste of human noodles, and it always kept her coming back for more. It helped that the Altherian that worked the stand was really cute.

"You ever had noodles before, Kris?" Zaza asked, gesturing to the stand. Large, simmering vats of noodles and broth bubbled away on burners, while customers eagerly slurped their meals at the bar along the outside of the stand. Zaza pulled up a stool and winked at the Altherian.

"Hey Vooli. You got a bowl for me back there somewhere?" Vooli laughed, a pleasantly high and crystaline sound. She grabbed a bowl and quickly ladled in a heaping helping of noodles, serving it with the traditional pair of eating sticks.

"You *sluuurp* want some *slurp*, kid?" queried the Gruunsh between mouthfuls and moans of delight.

Kris held her arm with the opposite hand and nodded. She watched as Zaza ate and then began to talk. "You could leave me here you know? If I was no use to my dad, I'm sure I'd be no use to you. So now that you have your information, you could leave me here, and he wouldn't know." She looked at the Gruunsh stare and then she smiled. "Sorry, I probably sound like a big ray of pessimism, but I'm not. But hey? What can you do when your mom and little childish things die, then your dad gives you up into the real world. Not knowing literally ANYTHING about me. So I apologize." she smiled sarcastically again.

"Eh, *sluuurp* it happens kid. My mom tried to eat me when I was born. You *slurp slurp* don't got it all bad." She briefly waved to Vooli and jerked a thumb at Kristabell. The other woman nodded and filled up a smaller bowl with noodles, serving it to the girl with a smile.

"So, kiddo. You're stuck with this ugly mug, eh? Sounds like poor fortune indeed. I'd hate to have to live with her on that dinky boat she calls home," teased the red skinned woman. She laughed as Zaza made a face at her, blowing the Gruunsh a kiss and returning to her duties. Zaza leaned close to Kris, but spoke loud enough that Vooli could overhear.

"Don't listen to that she-devil. She may be a firecracker, but you can't trust a word from her mouth." Zaza got a wad of hot noodles across the face for her trouble, but it was all in good spirits. She laughed and turned to her charge fully.

"Seriously though, Kris. I'm not that kind of person. You're one of my crew now, and that means I'll stick my neck out for you. I only hope you'll do the same for me if it ever comes down to it." Gazing at Kris meaningfully, Zaza turned back to her noodles and was once again lost in a hazy, blissful cloud of noodle pleasure.

Kris rethought her attitude toward Zaza and thought. If her dad didn't want her anymore fine, she thought. She watched Zaza eat her noodles, and her stomach rumbled loudly, indicating her hunger. She looked aroung at all the other people around looking for a firmiliar face.
"Can I eat now?"

Pausing briefly, the Gruunsh looked from Kris to the bowl in front of her. She realized that Vooli hadn't given the girl any eating sticks, and was probably doing it to give Zaza a hard time.

"Vooli, what in the blazes do you think you're doing? You can't tease someone with these noodles and not give them the means to eat them! That's just cruel!" Vooli, suitably abashed, produced a pair of sticks and handed them to Kris. "Sorry Kris, it was probably just an innocent mistake," reassured Zaza, tossing the Altherian a dirty look.

As soon as she got the sticks, she scarfed down the noodles like she never ate in her life. She finished eating within a couple minutes and sat like nothing occured.
"Okay...I'm done now."

"By the Eight, you are quick! Did you even stop to taste any of that?" Zaza stared at Kris for a second, then shook her head and went back to enjoying her own meal. "Find something to entertain yourself with *sluuurp* then, I guess. Don't wander *slurp* too far," instructed the miner. Zaza dropped Kris off at her ship and left the child with a paging device that would alert Zaza if she was needed, though she very sternly instructed teh child that it wasn't to be used except for emergencies. She also left a small credit chit with the girl, telling her that that's all she got for now and to make the most of it.

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