Salem laughs in response to Rathien's words. "Of course," he mutters. "The violence is half the fun with you. Doesn't make your..." he places a hand on Rathien's shoulder and squeezes, mockingly comforting, mockingly somber, "Er... judgment sound."
He listens as this... 'Jorek' introduces himself. "Came to the right place if you want a freaking hive of bounty hunters," he mutters to himself. He then shrugs, puts on his 'charming businessman' smile, and holds out his own hand to Jorek. "Pleased to meet you. Name's Salem. I'm a trader. I've got something I need to do, but I'd love to talk to you more. Chances are, even if I can't help with your little... problem, we can at least find a... uh, mutually beneficial arrangement." Though, he reasons, the odds this Imperial is here to have him assassinated probably aren't bad. He's fairly sure Rathien and Keshin would both think twice before trying to off him, but he's going to need to keep a close eye on Jorek until he figures out what the Yeerk's game is.
He watches the interplay between Keshin and Rathien, and listens with some concern to the conversation between Myitt and Rathien, and sighs. "Rathien," he says, his voice showing a trace of annoyance and resignation, "play nice. Myitt and Kess are friends, and you know you could use a few more of those." He smirks, muttering, "I swear, all you bounty hunters make up this 'code' stuff as you go. Don't jump into lovers' spats. Jobs at the GESB are dumb. If the mark is wearing white and it's a Tuesday, buy their widow ice cream after it's done or face the consequences." He laughs again.
With that, he turns and follows Keshin to the booth. He slides into the seat across from Keshin, angling his body so he can comfortably keep an eye on those still at the bar counter. As he sits, most of his 'businesslike' demeanor seems to evaporate, and he's back to looking haggard and exhausted.
"How've you two been?" he asks, his tone conversational. "Still having attempted murders a few times a week, I see." He points to his own neck at roughly the spot where Joanne's is cut. He smiles. "It's good to see you both."
"As for business..." he leans close and says, in a hushed, conspiratorial tone, "I've got a job. A big one. Biggest I've ever seen." He looks into Joanne's eyes, searching. "It's not a solo job. Nobody could handle this one alone. I'm putting together a team. We're playing it smart. Planning everything." His eyes rove back towards the counter. "It's pretty high-stakes stuff. Fate of the Galaxy levels of high. But it pays well, and if I can put together the right team with the right plan, we can be in and out again before they even know what hit 'em." He smirks, though it seems a little halfhearted. "Interested in hearing more?"
"Ah," says Al, nodding sagely. "Your cost for superpowers is sanity and empathy." He studies his own nails and says loftily, "I don't mean to brag, but sanity and empathy is sort of my superpower." He pauses, and then looks slowly up at Jeffrey, feigning shock. "Do you suppose my power costs sanity and empathy too?" He frowns. "Would Sanity and Empathy be a good name for a line of frozen dinners? Or is it better suited to a pair of tiger siblings?"
Al looks into Jeffrey's eyes and shrugs. "Raspberry three times. As for me, I guess you'd say I'm..." He frowns, searching. "An android? Sort of? I mean, I guess the closest thing I'd be is an artificial intelligence currently inhabiting a purpose-built android body, but that's a little bit of a mouthful, so I usually just introduce myself as Al." He laughs. "Salem's a... friend, I guess. I met him at a party, a long time ago. We had a few mutual friends." He shrugs. "There was another party, later on." He pauses, wrinkling his forehead. "Sometimes, I think I party too much, but then I just tell myself that's stupid. I've only ever partied once. I just haven't stopped since." He laughs. "Anyway, at this other party, I was just plastered drunk, and Salem offered to give me a ride home. You know how it goes," he says, waving one hand vaguely into the air. "One thing led to another, and before you knew it, we were both thrown together into an alternate universe to live out our days as outsiders. We've been living with whoever would have us and hopping from universe to universe ever since."
"One of those universes was the home to the Serylians. Between me and Doctor McRobotKidnap," he jerks his thumb towards the bar, "we helped advance their science by... I dunno, a few centuries?" He takes a step over and raps on the hull of the black ship with a dull thud. "This is one of the things they came up with. I think they gave it to us as partial repayment for helping them so much. Or something. All the trading and wheeling and dealing is sort of Salem's thing, not mine."