Coruscant, 3 957 BBY
Dinnah's Den was exactly the type of bar your mother had warned you to stay away from when you were young. There was more cigarra smoke choking the room than there was breathable air, and the floor was slick with spilled drinks and vomit and other bodily fluids you didn't want to look at too closely. Over the deafening rowdiness of the crowd and the nasal crooning of the obese Rodian on stage, you could hear the occasional blaster bolt being fired when a friendly argument between patrons became a little less friendly. Half a hundred people from twenty different species were laughing, talking, gambling, and drinking – always drinking. It was a place to lose yourself, in alcohol and memories and noise.
At a low table in the very corner of the room, Bao-Dur was trying to do just that.
He sat alone and quiet, which meant that very few people noticed him. His remote was hovering beside him, low in the air over his right shoulder – it was his favourite drinking buddy, because it didn't try to make conversation. There were certain times when drinking was very much a private, one-man affair. Directly after learning your home colony had been bombed out of commission was one of those times.
He raised his drink to his lips (in his right hand, of course) and drained it. He couldn't remember who had brought him the news; he was trying not to think on it too much. He hadn't been home in four years. He'd been too ashamed to show his face there after the war had ended. After what he'd done.
A shadow fell over his table. Reluctantly, Bao-Dur looked up. A enormous, grey-bearded human, smelling of spirits and burnt hair, was pointing at his remote with a joyous expression. "Look! It'sh floating!"
"Yes, it is," Bao-Dur replied, biting back a sarcastic remark. Wit was wasted on drunkards.
"How'sh it do that?"
"A potent combination of engineering, magic, and strong Corellian brandy," the Zabrak replied. "Which reminds me, I think it's overdue for a top-up. If you'll excuse me." He snatched the remote from the air, ignoring its beeped protests, and made for the exit. The place's prices were extortionate anyway.
He was two feet away from the door when someone grabbed the back of his jacket. Bao-Dur turned, still clutching the remote in his hand, and stared into the eyes of the grey-bearded human. "Can I help you?"
"It'sh rude," the man said with difficulty, releasing his jacket after a pause, "to leave in the middle of a convershation."
"I'm terribly sorry –"
"I wash in the middle of shaying important thingsh."
"Perhaps I could –"
"Don't talk back to me, Shpikesh!" the man screamed.
Spikes. Bao-Dur sighed inwardly. Never heard that one before. Maybe not from one quite so drunk, at least. He took a step backwards. "Look, I'm going to –"
The man roared and threw a punch, which missed Bao-Dur's head by at least a foot. The human was determined, though, and followed up his clumsy punch with a full-body tackle. The weight of him sent the slight Zabrak sprawling and the remote went flying from his hand. He struggled with the human for several moments, spit and insults pelting him like rain, before he managed to slam the man's head into the floor with enough force to free himself from under his body. The man could only groan. He showed no indication of getting to his feet any time soon.
Bao-Dur stood and glanced around for his remote, but it was nowhere to be found. Maybe it drifted outside to get away from all the noise. He wouldn't have blamed it if it had. After searching the room again more thoroughly, he concluded that it must have done, and exited the bar.
The sudden drop in noise level was comparable to turning off the engine of a shuttle you had just been standing beside. He coughed to make sure he hadn't become spontaneously deaf. A second later, a familiar beeping from around the corner his right reassured him again that he had not.
"There you are," he said, turning the corner. "I was beginning to wonder if you'd –"
He broke off. Someone was leaning against the wall at eye-level with his remote, if his remote had possessed eyes. It was another human male, although this one had olive skin and dark, curly hair. Nor was he staring at the remote with the usually provoked fascination – in fact, he almost looked bored. For its part, the remote was beeping contentedly. It knew this man. Bao-Dur knew this man.
"Bruce Banner," he said.