From the book
Ryvester, Meridian Sector
13 ABY (31 Years Ago)
Imperial Admiral Kosh Teradoc paused, irritated and self-conscious, just outside the entryway into the club. His garment, a trades-being's jumpsuit, was authentic, bought at a used-clothes stall in a poverty-stricken neighborhood. And the wig that covered his military-cut blond hair with a mop of lank, disarrayed brown hair was perfect. But his posture--he couldn't seem to shake off his upright military bearing, no matter how hard he tried. Loosening his shoulders, slumping, slouching . . . nothing worked for more than a few seconds.
"You're doing fine, Admiral." That was one of his bodyguards, whispering. "Try . . . try smiling."
Teradoc forced his mouth into a smile and held it that way. He took the final step up to the doors. They slid aside, emitting a wash of warmer air and the sounds of voices, music, and clinking glasses.
He and his guards moved into the club's waiting area. Its dark walls were decorated with holos advertising various brands of drinks; the moving images promised romance, social success, and wealth to patrons wise enough to choose the correct beverage. And they promised these things to nonhumans as well as humans.
One of Teradoc's guards, taller and fitter than he was and dressed like him, kept close. The other three held back as though they constituted a different party of patrons.
The seater approached. A brown Chadra-Fan woman who stood only as tall as Teradoc's waist, she wore a gold hostess gown, floor-length but exposing quite a lot of glossy fur.
Teradoc held up three fingers. He enunciated slowly so she would understand. "Another will be coming. Another man, joining us. You understand?"
Her mouth turned up in the faintest of smiles. "I do." Her voice was light, sweet, and perhaps just a touch mocking. "Are you the party joining Captain Hachat?"
"Um . . . yes."
"He's already here. This way, please." She turned and led them through broad, open double doors into the main room.
Teradoc followed. He felt heat in his cheeks. The little Chadra-Fan--had she actually condescended to him? He wondered if he should arrange an appropriate punishment.
The main room was cavernous, most of its innumerable tables occupied even at this late hour. The music and the din of conversation grew louder. And the smells--less than a quarter of the patrons were human. Teradoc saw horned Devaronians, furry Bothans, diminutive Sullustans, enormous, green-skinned Gamorreans, and more, and he fancied he could smell every one of them. And their alcohol.
"You're upright again, sir. You might try slouching."
Teradoc growled at his guard but complied.
There was one last blast of music from the upraised stage, and then the band, most of the players nonhuman, rose to the crowd's applause. They retreated behind the stage curtain.
Moments later the noise of the audience, hundreds of voices, changed--lowered, became expectant in tone. A new act filed out onstage. Six Gamorrean males, dressed in nothing but loincloths, their skin oiled and gleaming, moved out and arrayed themselves in a chevron-shaped formation. Recorded dance music, heavy on drums and woodwinds, blasted out from the stage's sound system.
The Gamorreans began moving to the music. They flexed, shimmied, strutted in unison. A shrill cry of appreciation rose from Gamorrean women in the audience, and from others as well.
Teradoc shuddered and vowed to sit with his back to the dancers.
The Chadra-Fan led him to a table only a few meters from the stage. A human man sat...