Saga - OT Spectres' Aubade (Rebels, borrowed OCs; humor, music, fluff)—chapter 3 and epilogue, 7/6

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman, May 19, 2017.

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  1. Findswoman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 27, 2014
    star 4
    Author: Findswoman
    Title: Spectres’ Aubade
    Era: Saga—OT; somewhere during Rebels season 3
    Characters: Crew of the Ghost, General Crix Madine, borrowed OCs: Raissa, Doran, Mara, Domnic, and Annina Blayne, the family that in stories by @Raissa Baiard makes up the Rebel cell known as the Idiot’s Array
    Genre: Humor, fluff, music; short multichapter
    Summary: The crew of the Ghost is called on to pay a very special tribute to a fellow Rebel cell.
    Contents: One (below) | Two | Three
    Content warning: Copious music geekery, particularly of the choral kind! :p I shall do my best to define potentially unfamiliar terms in the notes at the end of each chapter; please don’t hesitate to ask about anything.

    Some Additional Notes:
    It occurred to me in an idle moment (and yes, this is the sort of thing that occurs to me in idle moments, so please don’t judge :p ) that the crew of the Ghost have a suitable mix of voices for choral singing: Sabine on first soprano, Hera on second soprano (though in this story she’ll be conducting), Ezra with a boyish alto, Kanan on tenor (though I’m guessing from his speaking voice that he’s technically more of a baritenor, but hey, it’s close), and Zeb as the deep, rich bass. So, naturally, I felt the urge to write a story about them singing together, and this is the result. :p

    But—this story is also a bit of a gift for @Raissa Baiard, in gratitude for her friendship, her support, her talent in art and writing, and for introducing me to Rebels to start with. @};- In addition to the borrowed characters listed above (and again I thank Raissa for agreeing to let me borrow them), there will be occasional meta references and in-jokes related to her stories, so please feel free to ask about those, too. ;) She also beta-read this story and made invaluable suggestions, so I thank her for that, too.


    Spectres’ Aubade

    One

    The crew of the Ghost was assembled around the dejarik table in the ship’s common area, waiting on tenterhooks for a Very Important Transmission from Alliance headquarters.

    “So what is this all about, anyway?” asked Zeb.

    “No idea,” returned Sabine. “Hera just said headquarters was going to contact us.”

    “Well, I hope they do it soon,” sulked Ezra, crossing his arms.

    Kanan sighed. “It behooves us all to be patient. Especially”—he poked Ezra—“those of us who are Jedi.”

    “Bwop,” remarked Chopper. “Bwop bwop bwop—”

    He was interrupted by strident beeping from the comm. “Shh! That’ll be it now!” Hera hit the control to open the channel, then cleared her throat before announcing, “Phoenix Leader here.”

    The luminous blue-white image of a high-ranking Alliance officer materialized above the center of the dejarik table. “Greetings, Phoenix Leader. This is General Crix Madine. I trust you have successfully finished your supply run to Mayno-Mayzee?”

    “Ten-four, General. We even finished in time to spend a few down-time days at the Festival of Love and Light on Khorassan.”

    “Ah, the Festival of Love and Light! I was there back in ’76—the Veiled Queen was roughly the size of an ITT, and—”

    “With all due respect, General,” Hera interposed with a chuckle, “you didn’t comm us just to tell us about your visit to the Festival of Love and Light in ’76, did you?”

    General Madine chuckled, too. “Ah, of course not, Phoenix Leader, of course not. In point of fact, I have a mission for you.”

    Murmurs of anticipation arose from the group, including a “See, I knew it!” from Ezra that was promptly silenced by admonitory gestures from both Hera and Kanan. “What kind of mission, General?” Hera asked.

    “Well…” The general backtracked. “‘Mission’ may be… a bit of a stretch. Perhaps I should call it an assignment.

    Hera wasn’t quite sure why her brow furrowed in consternation at the general’s change of terminology, but it did. “What kind of… assignment?”

    “Well… do you see this?

    General Madine’s image disappeared and was replaced by a glowing, slowly rotating page of sheet music. A flashing orange arrow in one bottom corner invited the use of the comm unit’s forward/back controls to scroll through multiple pages. Hera did so, frowning in perplexity. Most of the others looked over her shoulder as best they could, equally perplexed as they squinted to make out the details. Finally Sabine ventured a conjecture.

    “It looks like… an arrangement of ‘The Sequential Passage of Chronological Intervals’ for mixed chorus with clavi-pian accompaniment.”

    “Precisely,” replied the general.

    Zeb scowled. “And just what are we expected to do with this… arrangement of ‘The Pestilential Sassage of…’ whatever it’s called… for mixed chorus with clavi-pian accompaniment?” he demanded. “Does it contain some kind of coded message? Do you want us make contact with this, um”—he squinted at the composer’s name at the upper right-hand corner of the first page—“this ‘Jai-Alt H’aah-Uus, GaSCAP’ being? Karabast, these Human names are impossible to pronounce…”

    Madine chuckled a little as his image reappeared. “No, no, I’m afraid it’s nothing like that this time. I believe you are familiar with the Alliance cell on Merkesh known as the Idiot’s Array?”

    At this Ezra’s eyes widened like those of a youngling in an ice-on-a-stick shop. “The Idiot’s Array? Yeah, of course we know the Idiot’s Array! They’re, like, our best fr—”

    “Yes, we are familiar with the Idiot’s Array,” Kanan cut in, scowling in the direction of his padawan.

    “Good. So you know, without doubt, of their fondness for this song?”

    “Yes, certainly, but—”

    “The leaders of the cell, the Mistress of Staves and the Master of Flasks, will be celebrating their nineteenth wedding anniversary on the first Taungsday of next month.”

    “That’s wonderful news,” said Kanan. “We naturally wish them all the very best. But could you please tell us—”

    “On that date, at or around 0800,” continued the general, “all the members of your cell are to position yourself outside their headquarters and perform this piece.”

    Gasps and exclamations ranging from surprise to horror went up from the assembled Spectres. “WHAT?!!” squawked Hera, her goggles almost flying off. “General, did you just ask us to perform this piece?!

    “Indeed, I did.”

    “But General—”

    “General Syndulla, Alliance Central Command has determined that your cell, out of all those currently active in this region of the Outer Rim, is the best positioned, socially as well as logistically, to pay proper tribute to these indispensable pillars of the Alliance. In addition, you are the only cell in this sector with the required configuration of voice parts.”

    “Bwop bwop bwop?” queried Chopper.

    “Yes, I did think to contact them,” the general answered. “And I found an admirable arrangement for male trio on HoloMusicPlus.gal. But unfortunately Gregor has developed a bad case of nodules and is on complete vocal rest. So, Spectres, I’m afraid it is all up to you.”

    There were a few minutes of nonplussed silence as the members of the crew looked at each other, then the holographic sheet music, then back at each other. At last Ezra piped up.

    “But General… um…”

    “Yes, Spectre Six?”

    “Well… um… what about… what about Kanan?”

    All eyes turned for a moment to the masked Jedi, who cocked his head and pursed his lips. “Yes, General, what about me?”

    “Oh, I have already arranged to have a Lairbbe copy of the score delivered to you at your next rendezvous point on M’nonk. A courier droid will be awaiting you at the spaceport. The code phrase is ‘You played it for her, you can play it for me.’” Kanan nodded in acknowledgment. “In addition, I have appended datafiles of several recordings to this transmission, which General Syndulla will be able to distribute individually. I particularly recommend the rendition by the CoCoTown Senior Citizens’ Jizzwail Choir.”

    “All well and good,” put in Zeb, “but there’s one other problem that no one’s mentioned. We don’t have a clavi-pian on board the Ghost.

    Even in the hologram, lines of worry became visible on Madine’s forehead. “You… you don’t?”

    “We used to.” Sabine shrugged. “It was a really nice Nidwalb concert grand. We kept it in the nose of the ship.. But we… um… dropped it on the Seventh Sister’s head back on Garel.”

    “I see. Hmm.” The general thought for a moment, then perked up. “Ah! I know just the thing! I shall have my staff program the accompaniment onto a music chip, which then can be played back by… your droid.”

    “BWOP! BWOP BWOP BWOP BWOP!!” protested Chopper, gesticulating wildly with his graspers. Hera put out a reassuring hand.

    “Calm down, Chop. It’s all right.”

    Bwaaaah.

    “I know, I know quenk jazz is more your thing. But just this once, okay?”

    With a whine of resignation Chopper retracted his graspers. General Madine cleared his throat and spoke again.

    “So, Spectres, may I count on you to accept this… assignment?”

    The crew members looked around at each other once again, no one wanting to speak up first. At last Hera did. “We… we accept, General.”

    “Good! Then I shall patch the scores and the recordings through to you now, and the music chip with the accompaniment shall be dispatched to the courier on M’nonk along with the Lairbbe score. Contact me once you receive them. Oh, and General Syndulla?

    “Yes, General Madine?”

    “This is intermediate to advanced chamber-chorus repertoire. You may want to begin rehearsing sooner rather than later.”

    “Um… noted, General.”

    “Thank you so much. I have every confidence that you and your operatives will be able to execute this assignment with the utmost artistry and panache. Madine out.”

    “Phoenix Leader out.” Hera hit the END control, causing Madine’s hologram to flicker and disappear. She turned again to her crew.

    “Well, everyone, you heard the good general. Tomorrow morning we dock on M’nonk and collect the materials. And then”—she let out a long sigh—“we rehearse.”

    To be continued…



    Notes (open)

    clavi-pian: A GFFA piano. Fanon. First introduced in my story Opus Sixty-Six.

    CoCoTown Senior Citizens’ Jizzwail Choir: Fanon, thank goodness.

    Garel: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Garel

    Gregor: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/CC-5576-39 (the three singers making up the hypothetical male trio are Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor, the three aging clone troopers that the Spectres encounter in the episode “The Lost Commanders”)

    HoloMusicPlus.gal: The GFFA equivalent of www.SheetMusicPlus.com. Fanon. The .gal suffix was coined by @Ewok Poet.

    Ice-on-a-stick: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Ice-on-a-stick

    ITT (Imperial Troop Transport): http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Imperial_Troop_Transport

    Jai-Alt H’aah-Uus, GaSCAP: Fanon. Based on the fact that there really does exist a choral arrangement of “As Time Goes By” by someone named Jay Althouse. GaSCAP would be the GFFA equivalent of ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers).

    Khorassan, Mayno-Mayzee, the Festival of Love and Light, and that festival’s Veiled Queen are fanon, all introduced in my story The Jewels of . . . WHAT?! (which does indeed mention a year when the Queen was roughly circus-tent-sized).

    Lairbbe: The GFFA equivalent of braille. Fanon.

    mixed chorus: This means simply, a choral group consisting of both male and female voices, usually featuring soprano, alto, tenor, and bass voices (abbreviated SATB). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choir#Types.

    M’nonk: A totally random fanon planet, named after this Illinois town.

    quenk jazz: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Quenk_jazz (a genre established as being particularly liked by Sabine, but why not Chopper too?)

    “The Sequential Passage of Chronological Intervals”: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/The_Sequential_Passage_of_Chronological_Intervals (though I first learned about it from @Raissa Baiard’s story Everyone Comes to Doran’s Place :p )

    Seventh Sister: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Seventh_Sister

    Vocal nodules: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocal_fold_nodule

    Vocal rest: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocal_rest

    “We kept it in the nose of the ship”: A reference to a remark made by Dave Filoni at his “Animated Origins and Unexpected Fates” talk at the 2017 Celebration in Orlando. When one of the model designers for Rogue One told him the Ghost wouldn’t be able to land because it was too back-heavy, he quipped, “that’s all right, they keep a grand piano in the nose.” I wasn’t at the Orlando Celebration myself, but @Raissa Baiard was, and I thank her for passing this tidbit on to me, because it’s absolutely perfect for this story.

    “You played it for her, you can play it for me”: The famous line from Casablanca in which Rick insists that Sam plays “As Time Goes By” for him.
    Last edited by Findswoman, Jul 19, 2017
  2. Ewok Poet Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2014
    star 5
    Well, let me quote Chopper. BWOP BWOP BWOP BWOP BWOP. This is amazingly strange - all of it. From the idea that there used to be a clavi-pian in the nose of the ghost to the very goal of the mission: to entertain the Blaynes on their special day. And Madine thought of everything - special note sheets for Kanan, among other things. But these folks obviously never sang in a choir before. This might go the Portsmouth Sinfonia way before you know it.

    "CoCoTown Senior Citizens’ Jizzwail Choir" - Bwahahahahaha!

    And of course that Ezra is blushing a bit. I mean, who wouldn't. He's going to see his girlfriend again!

    Nice to see the Festival Love and Light and all the related fanon make a re-appearance. I have no idea according to which measurement this year Madine refers to was '76, but I love the fact that the festival is appreciated all over the Galaxy.

    I have a feeling that this will turn into some version of a Mickey Mouse cartoon - well, it's Disney now, aiight - but we'll see. :D
    AzureAngel2, Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  3. Raissa Baiard Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 1999
    star 4
    [face_love] Thank you so much! [face_love] This made me smile from beginning to end! I loved your idea for Rebels: the Musical when you mentioned and it is so lovely to see it be part of the development of the Spectres friendship with the Blayne family. There are so many fun things going on here, I don't know where to start!

    I love the crew's utter consternation at this assignment--well, it is a bit unusual--I get the feeling they'd rather Madine had asked them to fight an Inquisitor or blow up a Star Destroyer instead.
    Zeb's inadvertent mangling of the title seems to sum up the feelings of the crew nicely. Sabine seems to be the only who has any knowledge of music or enthusiasm for it. She is a true creative spirit in all media, it seems, though she's at least managed to instill an appreciation for quenk jazz in Chopper. I'm not much of a musician myself, but the librarian in me certainly appreciates the reference to GaSCAP (GFFA copyright for the win!). Love that Madine considered having Rex, Gregor and Wolffe do three part harmony; barbershop clones and the Coco Town Senior Jizzwail Choir both need to have their own stories (bunnies for you!)

    Dropping the piano on the Seventh Sister's head--[face_laugh] I see that I'm not the only one who can channel cartoon absurdity into the GFFA, and love how you tied in Filoni's comment, which was just too perfect, really. (Wondering now if Sabine played jazz on that baby grand...another plot bunny for you!)

    I give you many kudos for getting the quote from Casablanca correct--"You played it for her, you can play it for me" NOT "play it again, Sam.." =D= and that tiny, random town in Illinois turns out to be very near my hometown. The subtle influences of the Force!

    I love this so much and I can't wait to see how rehearsals and performance goes. Thank you for this sweet, fun addition to the Rebels/Blayne family saga. [:D]
  4. Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2000
    star 4
    OMG... Madine had better stay out of reach of Zeb; I see payback coming. It's a nice gesture for the Blaynes, although I also think there is more behind it than a simple song! And Chopper smugly thinking he'd get out of it scot-free, bwahahaha!!!

    And THIS: CoCoTown Senior Citizens’ Jizzwail Choir!!! OH THE PLOTBUNNIES! THE PLOTBUNNIES!!!!!

    Cannot wait to see where this goes!
  5. Kahara Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 4
    I can only imagine that Madine is getting a great deal of amusement out of this assignment -- all this and then recommending the CoCoTown Senior Citizens’ Jizzwail Choir. They may be amazing for all we know, but if it looks like a troll, recommends music like a troll, and probably cackles like a troll after ending the transmission... :p

    Especially liked the references to the sadly deceased clavi-pian (it died honorably ;) ) and Chopper's love of quenk jazz! He's such an opinionated little guy, so of course he has well-developed musical tastes. :D
  6. Findswoman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 27, 2014
    star 4
    Thank you all for reading and commenting on my first attempt at Rebels silliness! :D

    Thanks so much! "Strange" from you, my friend, is definitely a high compliment. :D I have to credit @Raissa Baiard for the thing with the piano in the nose—she mentioned it to me during beta, and it was just too absolutely perfect not to include. I had to look up the Portsmouth Sinfonia, but now that I know what it is, oh yes, that same sort of thing could well be in their future... ;)

    From the creators of StikkIt notes, Wite-A-Way strips, HK's Chalet, and the Deepspace Station Lawn Tennis Club... :D

    Teenager in Love alert! And you shall see the implications later on.

    Thanks so much. @};- I am guessing that it's the sort of thing that has made it into at least some Lonely Galaxy-type tourism guides, and if the point is to celebrate the love that binds all sentient beings, why not? [face_love] And you know what, by way of confession, I totally don't know which measurement that is, either—was basically just being random. :p

    We shall indeed see! [face_whistling] Thanks again. :)

    Thanks so much, and I'm so glad you're enjoying this! It just made sense to bring in the Blayne family for a musical tribute of this kind (along with their favorite song), so I thnnk you SO MUCH once again for letting me dip my feet into your wonderful sandbox. (OK, mixed metaphor, I know, but you know what I meant! :p )

    Probably so! For them, that's easy stuff—turning notes on the page into organized sound will be a real challenge. :p

    I figured that with her established artistic interests she would be the one most likely to know a bit about this art, too (and maybe she sang in choir in the academy). Those three would have made a whizzbang male trio; poor Gregor! But maybe in stories... I'll stash it in the hutch. :D

    I was thinking of you and the wonderful antics with pianos and Acme weights in "Toon Wars" when I wrote that—and of course that kind of squashage could not happen to a nicer person than the Seventh Sister (who I think still sounds like a New England women's college. :p ). And yep, that goes in the hutch too! :D

    Thanks—I figured you'd appreciate that. [face_love] And that tiny town is one that both Findsboy and I have stayed in before—plus, it's got a funny, GFFAable name, so why ever not? :D

    You're very welcome, and I'll do my best not to keep you waiting too long! Once again, this is my first Rebels story to speak of, and I'm so glad you're enjoying it. @};-

    Oh yeah, Chopper has to not just face the music but provide part part of it—bwah bwah! :p Zeb's blustery right now, but I think a time will come when he will embrace his deep, rich bassness (I always thought he had one of the best voices of the cast, and indeed I wonder if Steve Blum does any singing). As for whether it's a simple song, well, just wait and see... ;)

    Once again, into the hutch they go! :p Though you are more than welcome to borrow them if you so desire.

    Thanks! Again, hopefully I'll have a continuation up in not too long.

    Ah ha, just wait and see! [face_whistling] ;) And yes, I think he certainly is enjoying himself a bit here. And why not? Heck, as missions go, this is one of the less urgent and depressing ones, even if it is intermediate to advanced chamber chorus repertoire! :p

    Oh yes. Again, it couldn't have happened to a nicer gal. :p

    Yep, definitely a particular little droid, ain't he? As the accompanist, everyone will be responsible for following his pace (especially since he's just playing back a recording for them), so he is going to have a role of particular authority in this project (second only to guess who...).

    Thanks again, you all! @};-
    Last edited by Findswoman, May 25, 2017
  7. Findswoman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 27, 2014
    star 4
    And here, at last, is chapter 2! Once again, I thank @Raissa Baiard for beta-reading, invaluable input, and permission to refer to her characters. @};-



    Two

    The stopover on M’nonk proceeded without incident. While Hera and Sabine overhauled the Phantom, Chopper ran diagnostics on the Ghost’s central processor, and Kanan meditated, Ezra and Zeb were sent to retrieve the Lairbbe materials and the music chip from the courier droid. They spent upward of an hour going from one end of the spaceport to the other, calling out “You played it for her, you can play it for me!” before an outdated CZ unit pulled a document canister from a compartment in its stomach and handed it to them. Along the way they encountered a grand total of two Imperial stormtroopers, and upon being asked to show a docking permit Zeb simply bashed their heads together.

    That afternoon, promptly at 1630, the crew gathered in the common area for their first rehearsal. Hera led her crew through a series of vocal warm-ups, and for several minutes the halls of the Ghost reechoed with “yah-ah-ah-ah-ah,” “hah-yoh-oh-oh-oh,” and “rrree, rrreh, rrrah, rrroh, rrroo” (Zeb’s favorite, as it allowed him to showcase the notorious Lasat rolled resh sound). Once they finished, she gestured to them to sit around the dejarik table.

    “All right, everyone. The first thing we need to do is decide who sings which part. Now, on bass—”

    “Ooh, me, me, me!” Ezra’s hand shot up, only to be slapped down by Zeb, who rejoined with “That’s not how it works, y’know!”

    “—on bass,” Hera resumed, “I think we’d better have Zeb.” The Lasat snickered in Ezra’s direction as Hera continued. “I’m not sure anyone else could manage the low esk-flat in measure 55. Now as for tenor…”

    “Ooh, ooh, please, can I do tenor?” begged Ezra.

    Again Zeb grumbled, and again Hera ignored the interruption, stating matter-of-factly, “Kanan will sing tenor.”

    Kanan ran a finger over his Lairbbe score for a few moments. “Master Billaba always said I was technically more of a baritenor,” he said. “There are dorns here and there, but if needs be I can use the Force to reach them.”

    “Bwop bwop b-bwop,” put in Chopper.

    Kanan nodded. “Yes, I am well aware that bending your knees works too.”

    “Fantastic. You’re on tenor,” said Hera as she made a note of that fact on her score. “Sabine, what part did you sing when you were at the academy?”

    “Sometimes second soprano, sometimes first alto… it depended on the piece and on the director’s mood.”

    Hera flipped forward a few pages in her score and eyed one spot intently. “Do you think you can manage a high forn-sharp?”

    “Um, yeah…?” came the tentative reply. “If I’m warmed up enough…?”

    “Good, then. You’re on soprano.” Sabine shrugged as Hera marked this down in her copy of the score.

    “Wait, so then…” Ezra’s face was crestfallen as he eyed his score. “That… means… I have to sing… alto?

    “Yes.” Hera looked up, the slightest of smirks adorning her face. “Yes, it does.”

    “But—but—I’m a man! Don’t men sing tenor or bass? Alto’s going to be way too high!”

    “Oh, I don’t know about that,” laughed Zeb. “You’ve got some pretty impressive high notes. We all get to hear ’em whenever you take a sonic. ‘Hold me closah, Twi’lek dan-saaahhh…!’”

    Sabine stifled a giggle. Ezra’s face turned the color of an overripe pomato. Kanan reached over and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.

    “Ezra, just think of it as countertenor,” he counseled his padawan. “It is a perfectly respectable vocal register for a male sentient being. And you can always reach out in the Force when you come to the higher passages.”

    “Or you can bend your knees,” Sabine added with a smirk in Ezra’s direction.

    “Or you can bend your knees.”

    “Okay, fine, but… Hera, what about you?”

    The Twi’lek pilot crossed her arms and rolled her eyes. “Yes, Ezra, what about me?

    “Well, if Chopper’s playing the accompaniment, what part are you going to sing? There are only four parts with, like, words underneath.”

    “You’re very perceptive, Ezra. But I’m actually going to conduct.” And then, addressing Ezra’s gasp of outrage: “Well, someone’s got to keep you all together!”

    * * *

    The first few rehearsals went well. Hera was, on the whole, quite proud of her crew. Even if they weren’t exactly the CoCoTown Senior Citizens’ Jizzwail Choir, they were doing quite a respectable job with their little musical tribute. Sure, they fell into occasional disagreements about blend, balance, intonation, or whether Chopper was deliberately speeding up the accompaniment—but their ensemble was solid, they sang with gusto, and they had the notes down more or less accurately.

    With one exception.

    There was one entrance—a certain troublesome besh-flat in the alto part in measure 33, at the start of the line “the Galaxy will always be receptive to courtship”—that Ezra never seemed to get right. Hera had not said anything about it the first few times, thinking that it would eventually correct itself, but it didn’t. Indeed, Hera had noticed that Ezra was not doing any practicing on his own. He certainly hadn’t availed himself of any of the recordings General Madine had sent, and while the sounds of soft practice-singing could often be heard emanating from various nooks and crannies of the Ghost, none of it ever seemed to come from Ezra. (The top-of-the-lungs belting in the sonic, however, continued. Just that past Benduday the Lothali padawan had regaled his crewmates with an exuberant performance of “I wanna hold your app-EH-EHN-DAAAGE!”)

    Over the next few rehearsals, Hera found herself avoiding the passage leading up to measure 33 and Ezra’s besh-flat, but she knew she couldn’t keep doing so forever. There was just under a week left till the performance date, and Madine would undoubtedly comm at some point to check in on their progress. Besides, there was always the terrible possibility that he would ask for a run-through.

    So she steeled herself, and when the regular rehearsal time rolled around that Primeday, after taking the group through the usual vocal warm-ups, she asked them to begin at measure 29. They did, and, predictably, Ezra botched the offending besh-flat.

    “Okay, everyone, let’s take it again from the pickup to measure 29. That’s where you first have the words ‘the narrative remains unchanged,’” Hera added as she saw Kanan reaching for his Lairbbe score, which was lying on the dejarik table; he replaced it immediately. “Sabine, remember that your high notes in 29 are mezzo-piano, not fortissimo. Zeb, you have the melody at that point, so be sure to bring it out. And… Ezra?”

    “Yeah?”

    “Just, um… watch out in measure 33, okay?”

    “Uh, okay.”

    “Aw, no wonder that chord always sounds weird!” exclaimed Zeb. “I figured Mr. Howling Loth-cat had something to do with it!”

    “Hey! I don’t sound like a howling Loth-cat!”

    “Whatever you sound like,” put in Sabine, “if you don’t come in on the right note in measure 33, then I’m karked in measure 35.”

    Ezra crossed his arms and sulked. “Hmph. I told you that alto was going to be too high. But did you listen? Noooo.

    “Well, let’s try it again and see how it goes. Pickup to 29, everyone. Chopper, give us our notes, please.”

    Chopper did, and on Hera’s cue began the accompaniment. Four very different voices joined in song:

    The narrative remains unchanged:
    a struggle, with fame and affection as its objective,
    a conflict of mortal proportions;
    the GAAALAXY—

    “WHOA!! OOOOKAY!!” Hera rapped her baton—actually a repurposed droid antenna—on the makeshift music stand that Sabine had constructed for her from scrap parts. “Ezra, okay, there isn’t really a nice way for me to say this, but… you’re consistently not making it all the way up to that besh-flat in measure 33, and it’s… it’s throwing everyone off.”

    Ezra sighed and hung his head. “I know, I know, I’m really sorry… it’s just I’ve got that crazy augmented-fourth leap just before that, and…”

    “And it’s a little at the high end of your range, I know,” Kanan consoled him. “No need to be sorry. But this is one of those places where you need to concentrate and reach out in the Force. Only then will you nail that besh-flat.”

    “Okay, I’ll try”—then, preempting the response he knew Kanan would give—“I mean, I’ll do it, but...”

    “Bwop bwop z-bwop bwop.”

    This new piece of information startled Ezra. “What do you mean, Zeb has the besh-flat two measures earlier?! How was I supposed to know that?

    A barrage of exasperated sighs erupted from Ezra’s crewmates. The three working pairs of organic eyes rolled; the owner of the fourth, nonworking pair buried his face in one hand; and the inorganic member of the group let out an irritated “BWAAAAH!”

    “Ezra, you are supposed to be listening to your fellow singers!” stormed Sabine. “Honestly, Hera, if he’s going to be this dense—”

    “But it’s all I can do to get my own part right without being distracted by all these other parts!”

    “Ezra, back at the Jedi Temple, Master Nu used to say that choir is ten percent singing and ninety percent listening. If you want to get your own part right, you have to listen to everyone else. There is no other way.”

    “Ten percent? That’s ridiculous! If I only sing at ten percent how will anyone hear me?” He turned to Hera. “And you were saying just the other day how important the alto part is, since it’s an inner part that carries the harmony and—”

    Zeb laughed one of his throaty Lasat laughs. “Oh, believe you me, you’ll be heard. You don’t blend worth a womp rat’s hindquarters.” He leaned closer to his Human bunkmate, his eyes narrowing. “I’m sure that ginger-topped girlfriend of yours will love hearin’ you yowlin’ like a Loth-cat in heat outside her window.”

    Ezra turned bright red. Awkward silence reigned among his crewmates, too. They all knew that the girlfriend in question was none other than the eldest daughter of the couple for whom they would be singing on the following Taungsday morning—a young woman named Mara Jade Blayne, with the call sign Ace of Sabres. Ezra had met her the first time the Ghost had visited Merkesh, when they were transporting a wanted woman and her family to the Corporate Sector. Together they had dodged blaster bolts, run from bounty hunters, and braved the wrath of the local Imperial prefect—who had turned out to be none other than Mara’s own mother, the Mistress of Staves. She had fiery red hair, sparkling green eyes, and—perhaps most striking of all—sensitivity in the Force.

    And there was no doubt that she, too, would be listening to the Spectres’ performance that coming Taungsday.

    Under most other circumstances, Ezra had no difficulties coming up with witty retorts to Zeb, but not now. All he could manage was, “I already told you. I do not. Sound. Like a Loth-cat.”

    “That’s highly debatable,” remarked Sabine.

    Zeb placed a large purple hand on Ezra’s shoulder. “Look, just do your best to sound like an accurate Loth-cat, and things should be all right. All right?”

    “All right. But I still don’t get why I have to tune to you.

    Hera sighed. “Ezra, everyone has to tune to Zeb. He’s got the bass line.” Out of the corner of his eye Ezra could the Lasat’s immense chest swelling with pride. “Now, as entertaining as this all is, we really need to go on, so can we please skip to the pickup to 52, leading into the modulation? Ezra, you can work on that, um, trouble spot on your own, okay?”

    “Okay.”

    Chopper gave them their pitches, and the singing began again:

    …these truths are irrefutable… they’re irreFUTABLE…”

    * * *

    Later that evening, as Ezra exited the Ghost’s galley with a water bottle in one hand, a ration packet in the other, and a headphone-wrapped datapad pinned under one arm, Chopper rolled up to him with an enquiring “Bwop bwop bwop?”

    Ezra thought for a moment. A nice game of dejarik would certainly have been the perfect way to unwind from a long day of missions, maintenance, and rehearsals. But then he became aware of the sounds of soft singing wafting toward him down the ship’s hallways—Sabine’s clear treble here, Kanan’s warm baritenor there, Zeb’s rumbling bass somewhere else. And Hera’s admonitions rushed back into his mind, followed closely by all the remarks about Loth-cats and ginger-topped girlfriends (“ginger-topped”? Might as well describe the moons of Lothal as “kinda silverish”!)…

    “Nope, sorry, Chop, not tonight. I’ve gotta practice.”

    “Bwah-wop!”

    “Yes, I know it never stopped me before. But… well… this time it is stopping me. Okay? So maybe some other time.”

    Ignoring Chopper’s binary taunts and zoochberry-like noises, Ezra made his way to his quarters and shut the door, and soon a boyish alto joined the Ghost’s other practicing voices.

    To be continued…


    Notes (open)

    The measure numbers and their corresponding lyrics are based on those of the abovementioned choral arrangement of “As Time Goes By” by Jay Althouse. The pitches mentioned don’t particularly follow the Althouse arrangement, because in order to check them I would have had to order a minimum of eight copies of the piece. So I figure that the arrangement sung by the Spectres takes a few more, shall I say, melodic and harmonic liberties. :p

    However, all the stuff about which voices are able to handle which pitches is more or less based on real life. For example, a tenor/baritenor probably would not be able to manage a low E-flat; a high F-sharp might be a bit of a stretch for someone used to singing first alto or second soprano; and a B-flat in the treble staff would likely feel high to a teenage male alto.

    countertenor: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countertenor

    baritenor: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baritenor

    “bend your knees”: This is in fact a real-life technique for reaching high notes, and it really does work.

    “choir is ten percent singing and ninety percent listening”: An actual thing people say in real life, and which I had said to me in one of my first college choral experiences.

    Lasat rolled resh sound: Mentioned as a feature of the Lasat language in http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lasat_(language).

    Loth-cat: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Loth-cat

    Mara Jade Blayne (Ace of Sabres): Everything in this paragraph is a reference to the opening chapters of Raissa Baiard’s story Star Crossed, which details the first meeting—and beginnings of romance—between Ezra and her AU version of Mara. (Mara’s mother, the Mistress of Staves, is none other than the character Raissa Blayne, née Baiard. Again, I am greatly indebted to Raissa for her permission to borrow her characters.

    mezzo-piano, fortissimo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamics_(music)

    pickup: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anacrusis

    pomato: A fanon fruit created by @Ewok Poet.

    The vocal warmups are all ones we did regularly in choruses I sang with in grad school.

    The real-life bases for Ezra’s shower songs are probably obvious. :p
    Last edited by Findswoman, Jun 17, 2017
  8. Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2000
    star 4
    GFFA definitely needs better lyricists, LOL! "With fame and affection as its objective?" "I want to hold your appendage?" [face_rofl]

    This continues to be great (no surprise, it's the Findswoman writing it!). I think we can thank Zeb not only for carrying the bass line but for not-so-subtly pointing out to Ezra that he's going to make a fool out of himself in front of his red-headed hottie if he doesn't actually do the work and practice.

    I wish I'd known about the 'bend the knees' trick when we were doing the Mozart Mass in C Minor! Our director just told us to 'think down' when we were trying to sing up. I don't know whether Ezra's voice has changed yet, but yeah, he should be able to handle alto/countertenor.

    Starting the day with a goofy grin!
  9. Raissa Baiard Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 1999
    star 4
    Another wonderful chapter! Poor Hera; what a task for Space!Mom to turn this family into a functioning choral group. Fortunately, she's got the discipline and the organizational skills to be the conductor (complete with droid antenna baton; I hope Chopper doesn't need that anymore!), but even with all her best efforts, it sounds like this job is a bit like herding Loth-cats...or at least one Loth-cat. ;)

    And speaking of Mr. Howling Loth-cat...:D Love Ezra's insistence that he's a man who needs a manly part! Of course you are Ez, just keep telling yourself that. ;) It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that he shirks practice because when did he ever voluntarily practice anything? And singing is easy, right? Not like using the Force or something! (Which is totally sarcasm, of course, though it always boggles me how many people assume music and art are somehow divine gifts that don't require work.) His shower singing is priceless; I can picture Zeb's face while imitating him, and when pointing out:
    :oops: Now there's a vivid image for an out-of-tune, slightly hormonal teen--not a pretty one, but it's the kick in the shebs that Ezra needs to take this seriously. (What are big purple space!sibs for if not giving their younger sibs a kick in the shebs now and then?) Let's hope Ezra's new-found discipline pays off!

    As for the rest of the Spectres, Kanan is, as usual, full of Space!Dad advice and wisdom.
    :laugh; Who knew he had such a musical background? Master Nu's younling choir must have been exceptional (more plot bunnies for you!) I have no doubt that Chopper, prankster that he is, did speed up the accompaniment :chopper: and I could practically hear Zeb's rolling base on the "rrree, rrreh, rrrah, rrroh, rrroo-s"

    Once again, this is such a fun, fantastic story! You've nailed the crew's personalities and captured the spirit of this Space!Family perfectly, even while you've put them in a very different situation. And of course, your love of music shines through in all the details that make the story so rich! I'm happy my characters can be part of this [face_love]

    P.S. @Mistress_Renata, don't let Mara hear you call her a "redheaded hottie"! Just ask Ezra what happened when he made a similar comment...
  10. Ewok Poet Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2014
    star 5
    Showing the team that they need to work together, to me, takes this piece beyond the realm of fluff. Everybody here needs to learn that. I do get Hera's frustrations, but I must also admit that what's going on is pretty hilarious! Choir is a lot like any other activity where people, I mean beings, just need to learn how to accept each others' differences and, at the same time, learn how not to disrupt the harmony. This is actually thought-provoking, when one thinks like that.

    And there are so many things to love about it - the lyrics to the eventual song, the musicology terms that not all of us are familiar with, Ezra protesting about having to do, as you once said, a "trouser role" type of a thing, that Elton John joke - probably my favourite thing about it and the mention of Zeb's rolled resh sound. :)
  11. Kahara Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 4
    Mr. Howling Loth-cat? :p Zeb really is Ezra's (insufferable) older brother. Still, it looks like he got through to him where sense and reason didn't quite manage on their own. ;) (Though Kanan's words of wisdom are invaluable as well, of course. Now that Ezra is willing to listen to them a bit.) Maybe now that he's practicing more, Ezra will manage to get the hang of this. I do sympathize with him here since he's seemingly the least musically trained of the bunch. Poor kid! At least it seems like he does have a bit of musical enthusiasm... just no idea how to direct it and a bit of teenage discomfort with the part chosen for him.


    [face_rofl] I about died laughing, just so you know.

    I love how there's a part for each crew member and it seems to reflect them in various ways -- Hera as a conductor just seems perfect, especially. She is the Loth-cat whisperer around there! :D
  12. Findswoman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 27, 2014
    star 4
    Thank you all for reading and enjoying—glad this could occasion a laff or two! :D

    I think their equivalent of Tin Pan Alley must have hired a few droids! :p

    Thanks so much! There was simply no better being than Zeb for the job of singing the bass line (especially if there's a low esk-flat involved); don't laugh too hard, but I have always considered his voice one of the nicest of the Rebels cast. And we know he ribs Ezra a lot just as a matter of course, but this is one place where that ribbing has actually had the effect of lighting a very important fire under Ezra's shebs at a critical moment. Better watch your p's, q's, ees, ehs, ahs, ohs, and oohs, Mr. Loth-cat! :D

    That's such a beautiful piece! The "bend the knees" trick works on the same principle as the "think down" advice—the idea is that that motion sort of opens things out physically, allowing for that extra little stretch to the upper range. Ezra's about 19 at this point, so given that he seems well nourished and such (!) his voice probably has "mutiert," as one says in German, but he doesn't seem like the sort whose voice would migrate totally into bass territory anyway. So yeah, at least for now, he's stuck with countertenor. :p (I'm an alto myself, so I have nothing against them! ;) )

    Thanks so much for reading, Renata, and I'm glad this helped give a fun start to your day! :)

    Mrow! Hera's always seemed to me to be the de-facto leader of the group, even if she is officially "just" Spectre Two, so it only seemed natural to put the baton in her hand (that, and it worked out well for assigning the rest of the Spectres' voice parts :p ) In choral singing just as in Rebel cells, things can get to the Loth-cat-herding stage PDQ, and assigning her to the role of conductor simply seemed emblematic of the role she routinely plays within this Rebel cell: "Well, someone's got to keep you all together!"

    Oh, do not get me started on my many beeves with that attitude. :p If I had a credit for each time I've heard people get all confused and flabbergasted about the fact that music actually takes practice, that people actually do study it at an advanced level... well, I'd be able to afford going to a lot more Star Wars Celebrations than I've been to. :p And yes, that is exactly the attitude that I'm digging at a bit here with Ezra's lackadaisical attitude—and the mediocre results it can bring about if one isn't careful.

    This is of course where I have to extend my gratitude to you for suggesting that Zeb say that, because that helped me out of kind of a substantial hole while I was writing this chapter. In true big!space!bro fashion, Zeb may be a relentless tease at times, but there are times when that teasing really does play a role in, well, giving his crewmates (especially this crewmate) a much-needed kick in the shebs. As for the idea of Ez singing in the shower, it just sort of suggested itself—the character has that unmistakable streak of exuberance, and especially now that he has a Space!Family in which to feel secure, it's going to come out more than ever. :D

    Oh don't you worry, there will eventually be stories about Master Nu's youngling choir and a certain very enthusiastic young singer named Caleb Dume! I have no doubt in my mind that she worked with them at a very high level (heck, I too have wished I 'd had the Force at my disposal for reaching up to high notes in my own past choral experiences). I'm pretty sure Chopper actually did deliberately speed things up on more than one occasion, though I know a few directors out there who would not have shown as much forbearance with those sorts of highjinks as Hera did. [face_evil] The "rrree, rrreh, rrrah" exercise is a good one for tuning and vowel matching; it can be done either in unison or with each part on a different note of the same chord. Zeb undoubtedly shines in either version, of course, and I kind of imagine him being one of the group's strongest singers. :zeb:

    Well, you are most welcome indeed. :) I have really been enjoying writing the Rebels cast; they're a fantastic ensemble (in the literal/musical and figurative sense alike) that lends itself equally well to both the serious and the silly. The Blaynes are such a wonderful bunch too and you've done such amazing things with them and their family saga; thanks so much for letting me borrow them, and I hope I'll be able to do them justice when they show up in the next installment!

    It's absolutely true, Renata. I can confirm this 100%. Ezra came very near to having a sizable can of whup-shebs opened on him. :ezra: :p

    Thank you so much! I am thrilled and honored to hear that you find it so, and that you feel that this story goes beyond fluff. Learning to work harmoniously together despite differences is such an important thing for so many areas of life beyond music, and music is a prime area in which to hone those skills. Each person, or being, has a distinct role to play based on their abilities, but they must come together to make those roles work together in concert (literally or figuratively as the case may be).

    RRRRRRRRRRRRR! :D Rolled reshes are a bane to some singers, a boon to others, but they do indeed figure in some RL choir warmups, and when I saw on the Wook that they were a feature of the Lasat language too I just couldn't help but put that in there. I put the Elton John song reference in there with you in mind—for some reason (probably having to do with the falsetto), "Tiny Dancer" was the first thing that came to mind when I was first contemplating the image of Ezra singing in the shower (not like that, people!). In true teen fashion, Ezra is indeed balking about having to sing one of those high parts, though I always thought that if there were an opera of Rebels he would totally be one of those "trouser roles" (there's a long operatic tradition of teen male characters played by women). And he should listen to Kanan's advice: it is indeed a bona fide voice type for men too.

    Oh yes, again, Zeb definitely has a talent in that direction! As does Kanan, in a totally different way—the space!dad way as opposed to the space!big!bro way. But Ezra definitely needs both, and even though he probably wouldn't admit at this point, he appreciates both. Mostly it was just a lot of fun putting musical and choral jargon into the mouths of those two very different characters, in totally different ways. :p

    Here, as with his Jedi training, he has much to learn in the way of self-discipline, self-confidence, and hard work. And just as with his Jedi training, his practice will indeed pay off, as you soon shall see. ;)

    Thanks! That indeed was the point, or part thereof. :D

    That was exactly my thinking too, when I first was planning out this story and noticing that each character corresponded to a different voice part or musical role. Hera has always been the one to "keep everyone together" in pretty much every other situation, so naturally she would retain that role in this rather extraordinary situation too. And not only does she have that knack for keeping everyone together, she's also got understanding and compassion for each member of the ensemble, and that's huge. :hera: (Heck, in that regard she beats out some RL choir directors out there! :p )

    Once again, thank you all for reading, commenting, and enjoying the wackiness! @};- The third chapter and the epilogue will be incoming shortly, so stay tuned...
    AzureAngel2, Kahara and Raissa Baiard like this.
  13. Findswoman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 27, 2014
    star 4
    Once again, many thanks to @Raissa Baiard and @Ewok Poet for beta reading, and to Raissa for letting me borrow her characters—who will actually appear in person in this installment. @};-


    Three

    In the days that followed, every minute of Ezra’s spare time was spent practicing his part in “The Sequential Passage of Chronological Intervals.” He listened to the recordings sent by General Madine (and even had to admit to himself, albeit reluctantly, that the CoCoTown Senior Citizens’ Jizzwail Choir sounded quite decent). At various points he managed to coax informal rehearsal time with Zeb, Chopper, or both (though now he was absolutely certain that Chopper was deliberately speeding up the accompaniment). There was even one day that week when the languidly crooned words “Lunar radiance and poetry on amorous themes… these things know no obsolescence…” could be heard wafting from the Ghost’s sonic shower. Hera kept an ear on him, and on the whole she was pleased with his progress.

    There was, however, still that troublesome entrance in measure 33. Ezra was getting it more or less right more often, but even when he reached out in the Force, bent his knees, or listened extra hard to Zeb’s part two measures before (“get out of my personal space,” the Lasat growled at one rehearsal), he could never be quite sure of making it all the way up to that tricky besh-flat. It didn’t help that Chopper had taken it upon himself to inform him, at each rehearsal, exactly how many cents flat he was (he had yet to beat 49.8). Hera still felt a little wary about practicing that one passage; even though Ezra was clearly doing all he could (and everyone on board the Ghost knew exactly why), there was always that “will he or won’t he?” element of uncertainty. If Hera had been a different type of woman, she might have set up a betting pool.

    But there was no time to dwell on it. Hera quickly resigned herself to the fact that she would just have to deal with Ezra’s high besh-flat, however it came out. The performance date wasn’t getting any farther away—quite the opposite.

    At least, she thought with some relief, Ezra had only been 51.3 cents flat at Centaxday’s dress rehearsal. (General Madine, predictably, had asked to listen in via comm, and later on had specifically commented to Hera on the “fine countertenor” that belonged to her crew. All she could do was smile, nod, and hope he hadn’t noticed the nervous twitch of her lekku.)

    * * *

    The fateful Taungsday arrived. Red-tinged dawn clouds were coloring the eastern sky as the Ghost touched down at the Merkesh City spaceport. Hera gathered her crew in the common area for a quick warm-up. After a round of “hah-yoh-oh-oh-ohs” and a few “rrree, rrreh, rrrah, rrroh, rrroos,” they filled their water bottles, secured the ship, and headed into town.

    The group was uncharacteristically quiet as it made its way through the sleepy city streets toward the residential district—partly for reasons of stealth, partly because it was early morning and they were still tired, and partly so as not to tire their voices prematurely (Hera had been very adamant on this point). All had put on their best appearances for the day. Kanan’s beard was neatly trimmed; Zeb’s was carefully combed and waxed. Hera had treated Chopper to a sleek new coat of polish and herself to a little eye shadow and lipstick. Sabine had given her hair a brand new jade-green dye job and painted her armor in a colorful pattern of sabacc cards.

    As for Ezra—who had spent longer than anyone sprucing up in the ’fresher—he had slicked his hair back with a copious dose of styling gel and given his jacket a fresh dose of leather cleaner. The distinctive odor of VibroAxe fragrance spray emanated from him. In fact, as they walked arm in arm through the town, Kanan commented, “Scoundrel’s Moonlight again, eh?”

    “Yeah, and?”

    “Hey, nothing at all wrong with Scoundrel’s Moonlight. I’m sure Mara will love it.”

    Ezra jumped, almost dropping his datapad and water bottle. “You really think so? I mean—yeah, yeah, of course she will.”

    Kanan cracked a vague smile. “You’re nervous about singing in front of her, aren’t you?”

    “What, m-me? N-no! N-never! I mean—”

    “The Force doesn’t lie, Ezra. It moves erratically in the presence of uncertainty and nervous tension. And right now it’s kind of… bouncing around you.”

    “B-bouncing around?” Ezra reeled, once again nearly dropping his equipment.

    “Not exactly canonical Jedi terminology, but that’s pretty much what it amounts to.”

    Ezra breathed a deep sigh. “Well, I guess… I just… I just really don’t want to mess up, you know? That one note…”

    “I understand,” was his teacher’s gentle answer. “But go easy on yourself. You’ve been working so hard on this.”

    “But Mara’s going to be listening… and if Zeb and Sabine are right and I really do start sounding like a Loth-cat—”

    “Don’t let your attachment to Mara cloud your judgment,” Kanan warned, in true Jedi Master style. “Look at it objectively. You’re doing all the right things—getting good breath support, balancing well with the others, and I can sense you reaching out in the Force at the difficult spots. You just need to remember to listen. Remember what Master Nu said. Ninety percent listening.”

    “Okay, but—”

    “And ten percent singing.”

    “All right, fine, but—”

    “There is no ‘but,’ Ezra. There is only the Force.”

    “Don't tell me Master Nu used to say that, too!”

    “No, that was Master Billaba. But only when she was really frustrated with me.”

    “Ah.”

    They walked on for several minutes through the quiet streets of Merkesh City, past closed shops and shuttered houses. Presently Ezra found himself vaguely recognizing some of the landmarks. There were the dim, winding alleyways; the marketplace, where a few early vendors were just beginning to set up their booths; the faded, peeling façade of the seedy cantina known as the Azure Kroyie; and then—how his heart jumped to see it!—the shining white stucco of the Café Alderaan, where he had first laid eyes on his beloved Ace of Sabers. At last Hera stopped them in front of the imposing house just next door to the café with the hiss-whispered order, “Okay, places, everyone!”

    The crewmembers of the Ghost ranged themselves into a slightly curved line, with Hera facing them and Chopper slightly off to one side. At a gesture from Hera’s makeshift baton, all who were holding datapads raised them. Ezra felt his fingertips beginning to sweat and shake; he gripped his datapad harder, not liking the way it had suddenly gone all slippery.

    Just then, a familiar, comforting, baritenor voice spoke in his mind:

    *Remember, Ezra. Listen to the Force, and the Force will be with you.*

    And then the music began.

    * * *

    “Mom! Dad! Wake up! Wake up!”

    It was barely 0800 when Annina Brandel Blayne (call sign The Star), the youngest member of the Blayne family, burst into her parents’ bedroom, placed a hand on each of the two blanketed bulges occupying the bed, and began shaking vigorously.

    “Whmurrff,” remarked a rather drowsy pygmy roba that was curled up at the foot of the bed.

    “Mmmph…” groaned the larger bulge, shifting to reveal a tousle of mousy gray-brown hair. “’Nina… too early…”

    “But Dad! There are beings outside! And one of them is EZRA!!”

    At these words there was a flurry of activity in the adjoining hallway as another girl, a teenager with thick, frizzy, flame-red hair, dashed past. “Ezra?! What?! Where?! My hair’s a mess! I’m still in my pajamas!”

    “He’s outside,” Annina said again. “Just kinda standing there with, like, five other folks, all holding datapads or something. I think one of them’s that Jedi with the helmet who visited us that time… and a droid… and some big purple guy…”

    “Waiwaiwaiminute…” Her father turned onto his side. “Jedi with a helmet? Do you mean Master Jarrus?”

    “Jedi? Ezra? Purple guy?” The bulge beside him rolled over as well, revealing itself to be a stern-faced but attractive middle-aged woman with long, dark red hair. “Doran, what’s going on?”

    “Whuff?” inquired the roba, echoing her.

    “It’s all right, Raissa. Nothing to worry. I think Annina is saying she saw… maybe Jarrus and his cell standing outside the house?”

    “Yeah! Holding datapads!”

    “Standing outside the house? Holding datapads?!” Raissa sprang up, causing the blankets to go flying, and immediately began working her hair into a braid. “Well, what are you all standing around for? Someone go outside and let them—”

    At that moment she was interrupted by a raucous, slightly tinny burst of musical sounds from outside, as if from a highly amplified clavi-pian. The roba let out a disconsolate whine.

    “Oh good skies,” groaned Raissa. “That had better not be that accursed ice-on-a-stick repulsortruck at this hour.”

    Annina dashed over to the window and peered out. “No, no, no, I think that’s them! Yeah, it’s them! I think they’re about to do something! I’ll go get Nick! NI-ICK!”

    And so it was that in seconds the entire Blayne family—the Master of Flasks, the Mistress of Staves, their three adolescent children, a gray pittin, and an elderly pygmy roba—were standing on their upper front balcony, listening to a musical performance unlike any they’d ever heard before.

    Commit this to your memory banks:
    to osculate is to osculate,
    to suspire is to suspire—
    the rudimentary principles are in effect
    throughout the sequential passage of chronological intervals...

    Meanwhile, down below, Ezra breathed a mental sigh of relief as he and his comrades completed these opening phrases. So far, so good; no one had muffed any notes, at least not yet…

    And when two beings engage in courtship,
    they are likely to express amatory sentiments,
    of that one may be certain—
    irrespective of future eventualities
    over the sequential passage of chronological intervals.

    Still no major repulsortrain wrecks, thank the Force. Everyone was staying together admirably, keeping in tune, blending, balancing. Ezra ventured to glance upward at his audience...

    Lunar radiance, poetry on amorous themes,
    these things know no obsolescence...

    The Master of Flasks and the Mistress of Staves had arms around each other. She was resting her head dreamily on his shoulder, and he smiled a languid, lopsided smile back down at her. And beside them was—

    Turbulent emotions, including but not limited
    to malice and envy…

    Mara, the beautiful Ace! How wide with astonishment her green eyes were as she gazed on the motley choir below… and especially on HIM…!

    And just then Ezra became aware of a sound he had never heard before during rehearsal: a sort of gentle humming sound hovering in the far background of the musical texture, barely but subtly audible. Was it feedback from Chopper’s music chip? A speeder going by in the distance? Some kind of background noise?

    But it couldn’t be any of those things—because it was humming along on his own part. And he realized he had heard it before...

    The female needs the male
    and the male requires a consort—
    these truths are irrefutable...

    This was the same hum that had cocooned him and Mara in its sonic glow when they had shared their first kiss in that Merkesh City alleyway, and then a few weeks later as they shared another, even longer, even sweeter, amid the flowers and birdsong of the Bouskoura Nature Preserve. It was none other than the Force, singing with him, singing with them. Could she hear it too?

    But for now Ezra had to keep singing, keep focusing, and keep listening—because measure 33 was just around the corner...

    The narrative remains unchanged:
    a struggle with fame and affection as its objective…

    *Listen to the Force, Ezra,* came the gentle, unheard reminder from his master. And yes, he could see that Zeb’s low besh-flat was coming up...

    ...a conflict of mortal proportions…

    Hera was looking straight at Ezra as she cued the fateful entrance, but this time he was ready. He took a deep breath in, glancing up at the lovely red-haired vision in the balcony...

    ...the Galaxy will always be receptive to courtship
    during the sequential passage of chronological intervals!

    ...and nailed it. (He did not miss Hera’s gasp of surprise.)

    It was a truly glorious moment, as though all the suns on all the worlds rose at once, as though all the birds in all the forests burst into song all at once. His own voice in pure melodious blend with the hum of the Force. And all for his own beautiful Mara. For as far as he was concerned, she was the one he and the Force were singing for in that sparkling moment—Mistresses and Masters of things and their anniversaries notwithstanding.

    He allowed himself to glance up at the balcony. The Master of Flasks and the Mistress of Staves had their arms around each other and were swaying gently in time with the music. Nick looked a little nonplussed, and Annina’s face wore a scheming smirk. But Mara had her hands clasped over her heart, and happy tears sparkled in her green eyes.

    *Oh, Ezra…!*

    *All for you, Ace. All for you.* The hard part was now past. It only remained to coast on waves of pure musical joy as four Rebel voices joined with the Force’s hum on the reprise and modulation:

    Lunar radiance, poetry on amorous themes,
    these things know no obsolescence;
    Turbulent emotions, including but not limited
    to malice and envy;
    the female needs the male
    and the male requires a consort—
    these truths are irrefutable… they’re IRREFUTABLE...

    The narrative remains unchanged:
    a struggle with fame and affection as its objective,
    a conflict of mortal proportions;
    the Galaxy will always be receptive to courtship
    during the sequential... passage... of chronological INTERVALS!

    Applause burst from the balcony as the final chords rang out. It was not a large quantity of applause—indeed, it was only Nick and Annina who were applauding. For the Master and Mistress were now locked in a passionate kiss—and Mara, who had begun scurrying down stairs the moment the music ended, now burst out the front door and threw her arms around Ezra, her twilight-eyed countertenor.

    “Oh, Ezra! That was so beautiful! You are so amazing!

    “Thanks, Ace,” was all he was capable of responding as he planted a kiss amid her waves of fragrant, red-gold hair. “Love you.”


    Epilogue

    A few days later, after the excitement of their musical debut had died down and things had returned to normal for the crew of the Ghost, General Madine commed again.

    “Phoenix Leader here,” said Hera as the general’s image once again materialized above the dejarik table.

    “Good afternoon, Phoenix Leader! Madine here. I understand you and your crew made quite the sensation last Taungsday with your performance of the H’aah-Uus arrangement of ‘The Sequential Passage of Chronological Intervals.’”

    Hera glanced around at her assembled crewmates, taking particular note of the moof-milker-esque smirk that Ezra was trying in vain to suppress. “Yes, things went well,” she replied. “The Idiot’s Array seemed to enjoy it, and—”

    “Yeah, they enjoyed it all right,” guffawed Zeb. “You shoulda seen ’em! They were snoggin’ like there was gonna be no tomorrow! And their daughter would’ve done the same to Ezra here if we hadn't—”

    “Shut up, Zeb! You’re just jealous!”

    “All right, you two,” Hera quickly intervened. “Let the general speak.”

    “Ah, it certainly is good to hear that they reacted so… favorably,” resumed Madine. “Though it just so happens that the members of the Idiot’s Array were not the only ones listening that morning. The programming director of a prominent mid-Rim music festival was staying with friends a few houses down. He was up early having a cup of tea on the rooftop deck and was most impressed with what he heard. In fact, I have him here with me now. Master Reep?”

    A tall, lanky Gungan moved into the projected image, grinning a grin that stretched from one of his long, floppy ears to the other. “Hidoe!” he began. “Mesa Norks Reep, Gunga City Summer Music Festival, and mesa pleased to sayen with all-n kindsa sinceeritee dat mesa liken berry much yousa perf yousa given in Merkesh City last Taung-a-sday. All-n yousa musicality an’ artistry an’ intonation an’ ensemble wasa induspootably mooie, mooie bombad. So mesa wonderen, maybe next moon yousa fancyen be’en una da actees on oursa Summer Music Fest main stage? What yousa sayen?” ¶



    Notes (open)


    cent: A unit used in measuring the size of intervals between pitches, defined such that a perfect octave equals 1200 cents. In equal temperament, the tuning system used on most modern pianos, the octave is divided into twelve equal semitones (half steps), which makes each semitone in that system exactly 100 cents. Thus, at his best, Ezra is still about a quarter tone (50 cents) flat.

    Although “The Sequential Passage of Chronological Intervals” is an established song in the SW universe, this set of lyrics are made up by me. They are, of course, a takeoff on the lyrics of “As Time Goes By.”

    Mara and Ezra’s kiss in the Merkesh City alleyway was their first kiss, and is recounted in chapter 6 of Raissa Baiard’s story Star Crossed. Their kiss in the Bouskoura Nature Preserve, during Mara’s second visit to Merkesh, is recounted in Raissa’s Love and Other Stupid Poodoo, the sequel to Star Crossed. In both cases the Force does indeed hum around them, so that whole image is indebted to Raissa too. <3

    Norks Reep is an OC, and the Gunga City Summer Music Festival is fanon. This last paragraph also marks my very first attempt at writing Gungan Basic; I thank @Ewok Poet (a maven in that dialect) for feedback on fine-tuning it. And indeed, much of what inspired this epilogue is EP’s comment on chapter 1 that
    “this might go the Portsmouth Sinfonia way before you know it.” Future plot bunnies ahead! :D
    Last edited by Findswoman, Jul 6, 2017
  14. Raissa Baiard Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 1999
    star 4
    =D= =D= =D= Bravo to both you and the Spectres for this fabulous performance! A very big thank you for this sweet, funny and tender story; I loved every moment and this last chapter turned me into a puddle of goo [face_love]

    Now that he's found sufficient motivation, Ezra has turned into a Very Serious singer, even practicing in the shower :D Of course, Zeb and Chopper are still giving him a hard time, especially that darn Chopper speeding up the music and letting Ezra just how flat he is. Thanks, Chop, that's very encouraging!
    And I know who would have been the first to bet against him :chopper:

    Love how the whole crew gets spiffed up for the performance, especially Sabine's tribute of jade (Jade?) green and sabacc cards. I'm sure she was even more spectacular than usual. But of course it's Ezra who spends the longest on his appearance, polishing his leather jacket, gelling up his hair and spritzing of the VibroAxe spray ("Scoundrel's Moonlight " [face_laugh] Wonder if Han wears that, too?) He's totally not nervous, though. Okay, maybe a little...but it's completely the datapad's fault that it's slippery, not that his palms are sweaty or anything. Lucky that Kanan is there to talk him down with sensible Space!Dad advice of both the musical (90 percent listening!) and the Jedi master sort.
    So she said it a lot, did she? ;)

    Then we join the Blayne family, and I have to give you an extra round of applause for how well you portrayed them. Raissa is so perfectly herself here, ready to get up and play hostess even though she's just been woken up. Frugly is, as usual, in sync with his mistress's emotions. Annina is sparkly and enthusiastic even while her parents are half asleep and her sister is freaking out because EZRA'S HERE AND MY HAIR'S A MESS!

    And the performance--oh the performance! [face_love]
    This is where I officially goo-ified. All Ezra's hard work and sincerity has paid off, because the Force itself sings along on his part. I have no doubt that Mara hears it, too, the way she heard it humming when they kissed. And I think even her parents must sense it, even if they're unaware of the reason, because the romance of it all seems to affect them strongly--snogging like a couple of teens after nineteen years of marriage. :D I hope Zeb let Mara and Ezra kiss a little--he earned it. And I know exactly why Annina's smirking; she's jotting this idea down for a certain file she's compiling...(better keep practicing those high notes, Ez!)

    Love carries the day, General Madine gives our heroes well-earned congratulations, and their performance earns them some newfound acclaim. Do I sense a sequel? Rebels: The musical -- LIVE ON TOUR? :D

    Once again, thank you so much for this beautiful story[:D] It's a lovely addition to the Blayne family chronicles and the romances of both couples. For Raissa and Doran and Mara Ezra, the narrative remains unchanged...over the sequential passage of chronological intervals! [face_love]
  15. AzureAngel2 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2005
    star 6
    You certainly managed an unusual challenge for the Ghost crew and added your expertise of music to the story. It was fun to read! :D
  16. Kahara Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 4
    Fantastic conclusion to a story that was a day-brightener all the way through! [face_dancing] The humor continued to be entertaining (the lyrics you created to go with "The Sequential Passage of Chronological Intervals" had me giggling and aww-ing at the same time [face_love] ). The moment where meditation, performance, and twitterpated-ness converges during the song for Ezra and Mara, though, that was just beautiful. =D= Now Ezra had better be prepared to face THE MUSIC FESTIVAL! (Dun dun dun!) [face_rofl] Honestly though, I bet he and the rest of the crew would end up enjoying that sort of event. Anyway, I liked the incorporation of Raissa's series into this story -- as she said herself, you did a great job.
  17. Ewok Poet Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2014
    star 5
    I keep on forgetting that this story's name is not Sequential Passage of Chronological Intervals, because that's what my mind has renamed it to. A satisfying ending of a satisfying fluff-fest which was a pleasure to read. :) And once I've remembered the original song, I love it how you turned it into a space!earworm with a touch of classical remake.

    My favourite thing about this story is how our always oh-so-serious mrs. Blayne completely puts her guard down and engages in some much-needed snogging with mr. Blayne. :p As if that had been one of the essential parts of this unusual, albeit cool Specter mission.

    And then, there's also MARZRA squeee factor. Ezra is trying his best and that is lovely to see. Mara thinks that her hair is carp, but it doesn't matter. And every single thing was written perfectly following the microuniverse of @Raissa Baiard. Wow. Annina just HAS to be the one to take the action first, which is what we all love her for.

    And you were right. I do appreciate the ending. I mean, MESA MOOIE MOOIE LOVEN DA ENDING.
  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 7
    @Findswoman !!!!!!!!!!!! Oh SQUEEEEE! and [face_laugh] [face_laugh] The rehearsals and the final performance! Bravo! Then the gungan music director -- put it right over the top! [face_rofl] [:D] =D=
  19. Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2016
    star 4
    A thoroughly enjoyable story. However, I think I prefer the Earthly version of that song.:)
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