The locker room of Coruscant Security Force headquarters was designed on utilitarian lines; such was the norm on Coruscant. Still, the hot water was never hot enough, at least according to Tollan Antilles. He wondered for the hundredth time if Captain Vantel had something to do with it, perhaps citing some long-forgotten regulation of the benefits of lukewarm water on personnel.
And the shower head was a bit too low for someone of Tollan's height, he had bumped his head against it several times before he was done.
Tollan hurriedly dried himself and changed to civilian clothes. Sometimes he lingered, but not tonight. Tira Sengel, Jali’s long-standing girlfriend, had told him that Jali had just got out of prison. Tollan couldn’t wait to see him. He had had an idea that Jali would get out soon, but not the exact date and he had been permitted no contact while Jali was inside.
Inside. That was still something that stung, even after seven years. At the time of Jali’s arrest he couldn’t believe it, there was something that just was not right about it. His suspicions had increased during Jali’s trial yet he had nothing actual to go from. As far as he knew, Tollan was the only one who had stood by Jali during that hard time and his allegiance had not wavered in those seven years.
He was a good natured-sort, Tollan. With his wiry-red hair and seemingly innocent pale face. Many who encountered him made the mistake that he was one to be easily duped. But this was not the case. He had a certain instinct, and of late it had achieved results in an unexpected way. As now he had something, something that could prove his friend’s innocence once he got his hands on it. It would take a few days, and a bit of hard currency, but Tollan knew it would be worth it.
“…make sure there’s no trouble…he doesn’t hinder us at all…” Captain Vantel’s voice trickled out of his office through the partially open door. Tollan tried to ignore it, he knew from experience if people tried to overhear conversations they never got the whole story.
“I know Dawler, sir, and he knows what’s good for him,” answered another voice.
This time Tollan forgot his scruples. He sauntered closer.
“Just make sure he does,” said Vantel. “I know I can count on you, Kian to serve our needs, just make sure my trust isn’t misplaced.”
“It won’t be, sir,” replied Kian. There was the sound of chairs scraping on the floor and Tollan continued to walk, replaying the conversation over in his mind.
Sorel’s was a bar near enough to the Security Force headquarters to be attractive to personnel and far enough not to scare away potential informants. Jali knew that he would see Tollan here tonight; they both used to stop here as a matter of course every evening unless one of them was staying late.
There wasn't anything particularly remarkable about Sorel's, nothing like the strange colour schemes and themes that some Coruscanti bars seemed to have. Just the basics. The bar, some tables, the refreshers and no places to hide. The cheap grey-metal panels usually gave Jali the feeling he was in some sort of factory.
Waiting at a table, Jali had ordered a Salna Spritzer, yet the bright green drink had remained untouched.
He knew Tollan had come in before he saw him, even with the Bith band blaring in the background. Tollan approached the bar, ordered a drink—a lomin ale to be precise—and gave the room a surreptitious glance. Then he saw Jali.
“Jali?” His drink forgotten for the moment, Tollan walked towards him and the two shook hands in a rather loud and rousing greeting. Talking both at once, they sat down at the table together.
“It’s just like you to spring on me like that,” laughed Tollan.
“I know your life, it used to be mine,” shrugged Jali. It was said lightly, yet there was a definite sense of dryness in his tone. Tollan noticed this, so they talked about other things for a while.
After another drink each, and with their tongues loosened, Tollan finally mentioned the conversation he had overheard.
“Do you think there’s anything in it?” Tollan asked as he finished.
Jali shook his head. “Vantel’s just not that kind, and you know that too.”
“Yes, but there’s something else,” Tollan said. “Remember when we last spoke and I said that something was wrong, that you had been set up.”
“I knew I had been set up,” Jali argued. “It was just a question of who. Those credits didn’t appear in my account by themselves. But as to who put them there…” He ended with a shrug. “Of course I had ideas who did it, still do, but they’re nothing more than that. Ideas.”
“But that’s just it,” Tollan said in a whispered tone. “I’ve been doing a little sniffing around on my own.” Jali grinned. “Vantel won’t like that.”
Tollan shrugged. “What Vantel don’t know won’t hurt him.” He lowered his voice. “I think I have it… what you need to get clear.”
Jali stared. “You mean…you know?”
Tollan nodded. “I don’t have the proof, but I will,” he said.
“Can’t you just tell me right now?” Jali asked.
Tollan looked around cautiously. “I wouldn’t like to say,” he murmured, “especially if it turns out that I’m wrong. There could be a good explanation.”
Jali snorted in annoyance. “There usually is.” He downed the rest of his drink. “When can you get it?”
“Soon,” Tollan reassured. “Why don’t you come up to my place for dinner in about…three days? I should have it by then.”
“Fine then, Tira should be back and we can both be there,” Jali said.
“That’s fine,” Tollan agreed, though rather reluctantly. Jali ignored this; Tollan had never particularly liked Tira.
At that moment, Tollan’s comlink sounded. He picked it up, it was his wife Verda. “Looks like I’m being summoned,” he laughed, he polished off the rest of his drink and threw a few credit chips on the table. “So, I’ll see you in three days.” They shook hands.
“Sure,” Jali said, then sat down to watch his friend go.