main
side
curve
  1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

  2. Hey Fanficers! In fixing the prefixes something happened and now you can't edit titles. Don't panic! We're looking into what happened and trying to fix it.

Saga The Beginning of Honor (Rebels/Zeb backstory) COMPLETE, author responses 12/29/17

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Raissa Baiard, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Zeb’s technique for dealing with Shai’s fear owes a lot to my Dad, the ex-Marine’s, pep talks to my sister and I, which were not quite “suck it up, little soldier” but sometimes close :D But he and Zeb were both right that it helps to focus on something, particularly something you can do instead of your fear. With Shai wanting to be a Guard, it’s easier for Zeb to get him to be brave.
    It’s Zeb; he’ll get out of it in true Honor Guard form. Boo-yah!
    Thank you! This is one of those cases where fanfic lead me to research some strange things; living in Central Illinois, we don’t have many dust storms, so I combed the ‘net for information on dust storms in Arizona and re-read a chapter of a fantasy novel set in the pseudo-Sahara about six times. But now if I’m ever caught in a dust storm or sand storm, I’ll know what to do! ;)
    Yes, he fortunately has a chance to make things right and show that he possesses true honor. And with Zeb, can there be any doubt that he will?

    Thank you! :) Shai is one of those characters who just take a life of their own when you start writing, and I think he’s one of my favorite OC’s now. He owes a lot to my nephew and my Youngling for youthful enthusiasm and chattiness, and of course, there’s more than a passing similarity between him and a another scruffy-haired youngster whose exuberant attitude drives Zeb up a wall.

    I think that this Zeb ethos has been there in his heart all along, or at least it’s been building there, thanks to the redoubtable Herleva, but this is the first chance he’s really had to put it into practice. And it is awesome that he doesn’t shrink from his responsibility even though it means putting himself in harm’s way. That’s real honor, and Herleva will surely be proud.

    Yep, a real Honor Guard can solve any problem with spacer’s tape and ice-on-a-stick sticks...Zeb probably should have grabbed some while he was at it :D And Shulma...certainly her stripes are very attractive, but you know Zeb would never go for some shrinking violet type. Heck, he’s got to find a girl who can hold her own against the the strong women in his family! ;) Shulma’s resoluteness in the face of the storm shows she might just be one [face_love]

    BOO-YAH! Sir, yes, sir! (Insert “Halls of Montezuma” here)

    Hesitant as Velibor is, he’s at least willing to do the right thing in the end. That big bantha bull (headed) Gunvar is ready to leave Shai in the wilderness alone. He’s quite fortunate Zeb doesn’t have time to demonstrate another part of the Zeb ethos—bashing.

    At fourteen, I think Shai’s at that age where he is SO NOT A KIT, at least in his own eyes. But with everything that’s happened to him, with his carefree festival day shattered, he wants to reach out for help. His Zebby rejecting him for stupid friends and even stupider girls (sorry, Shulma) has hurt Shai terribly, though. And it occurs to me that Shai is what Ezra might have been if he’d had his family all along (go away, plot bunnies, I don’t need any more of you!)

    He really does love his big brother, even after everything that’s happened, and some of that Orrelios Honor lives in Shai’s heart, too. Greater love hath no Lasat... putting himself in between his helpless brother and the storm, Zeb becomes a living embodiment of the Honor Guard motto

    i endeavor to give satisfaction. ;) I knew all the vocabulary words I learned for the SAT would be useful someday.
     
    Ewok Poet and Findswoman like this.
  2. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    First off, I apologize for taking so long between chapters. Darth Real Life has dumped a lot of stuff on me over the last couple months that has kept me from writing as much as I would have liked to. Hopefully, things are straightening out now, and I’ll be able to finish this story soon.

    Many, many thanks to Findswoman for beta-reading and for gently prodding me along. All possible purple heart emojis here...[:D]

    Part 4

    The dust storm raged.

    Zeb had no idea how long he crouched there, trying to cram as much of himself as possible under the ledge, but it seemed like an eternity. None of the survival training he’d had in the Honor Guard, none of the aurek-besh-creshes of storms that had been drilled into him from the time he was a kit had prepared him for the reality of a dust storm assaulting the senses.

    The noise was like a plague of locusts droning incessantly, only a hundred times louder. It was deafening, maddening, enough to drive a Guardsman to tears. Conversation was impossible, not that Zeb could have said anything besides repeating “I’m sorry, Shai” endlessly.

    The storm had sucked all the warmth from the day and the chill wind gusted around Zeb’s bare arms; the grit it carried stung and chafed them, like a giant was scrubbing him with Dad’s 30 grit sandpaper. It wasn’t just fine bits of soil and sand that the high winds carried, either. Twice something heavy hit Zeb’s head; a geniper branch struck him across the right side of his face from his temple to his cheek, and a fist-sized rock clocked him upside the head. He thought he’d wrapped the shawls around his head tightly, but the storm tore one corner free, leaving the tip of his left ear bare to the scouring wind. Dust worked its way into every fold and gap in the fabric; the musty smell was overwhelming. It tickled and itched in Zeb’s nostrils, making him want to cough, and left the flavor of dirt in his mouth.

    Sight, however, was useless. The storm had completely blocked out the sun, turning everything a dusky purple. Even Shai, less than half a meter from Zeb, was only a vague shape in front of him, huddled against the canyon wall. If he hadn't felt him leaning against his leg like a newborn rock goat kid quivering against its mother, he might not have been able to tell Shai was there at all.

    On and on the storm blew and droned and scoured, until slowly--so slowly Zeb thought he must have been imagining it--the winds began to abate. The deafening buzz of the storm died away, and the flying debris subsided to a few faint swirls of dust. Zeb straightened, or tried to, wincing. He muscles were stiff and clenched from being hunched over for who knew how long. He carefully unwound the shawls from his bloodied face, hissing as he pulled them away. As narrow as the gap between them had been, the dust had still worked its way in and scored a trail of stripes across his cheeks and nose.

    “Shai?” He gently nudged his brother, who was still huddled against him, and reached down to undo the wrappings that swathed his head. “We made it, Shai; the storm’s over.”

    Shai looked up, blinking slowly as if he was waking up from a nightmare. “We’re alive?”

    “Sure are. We beat the storm...Orrelios brothers together.” Zeb tousled Shai’s hair, already messy from being wrapped up in layers of shawls. “Now we just gotta get you home.”

    “Zebby, I can’t walk.”

    “Don’t worry kid; I got ya.” Zeb edged out from beneath the ledge, choking back several dozen “karabasts” at the pain that shot through his storm-abraded limbs. He maneuvered one arm under Shai’s knees, and Shai wrapped his arms around Zeb’s neck, like a kit who’d climbed his first bristlecone and couldn’t figure out how to get down. Zeb moved as slowly and carefully as he could but still managed to jostle Shai’s broken foot; he smashed his head against the ledge with a start at Shai’s yelp.

    Somehow, Zeb struggled upright with Shai in his arms and made his way up the steep slope. The trail was covered in a layer of dust and sand; the grit irritated his toe pads, already abraded from the scraping slide down the Warrior. Broken branches, pebbles, and bristlecone needles and cones littered the ground, and one venerable old bristlecone had succumbed to the storm winds and lay halfway across the trail. Zeb picked his way through the debris one painstaking step at a time, ignoring the protests of aching muscles and raw, stinging skin.

    He was halfway up the trail when he heard the shout: “It’s him! Karabast! It’s Orrelios and he’s got the boy with him!” A chorus of answering shouts echoed through the canyon. There was sound of running feet and suddenly Zeb was surrounded by Groz, Velibor and a bunch of other Guards he didn’t know, including one grizzled officer bearing the badge of a field medic.

    “Ashla! You did it! You found the kit, you karking lucky son-of-a-barve!” Groz whooped, while Velibor grinned widely, slapping Zeb heartily on the back.

    Shai scowled at the other cadets and tightened his grip on Zeb’s neck. “I told you, I’m not a kit! I made it all the way out here by myself. And you shouldn’t use that kind of language,” he informed them, sticking out his tongue. Zeb choked back a hysterical, snorting laugh; even a dust storm couldn’t wear down the kit’s….couldn’t wear down Shai’sspirit.

    “Here now, give them some space!” The medic bulled his way into the group of cadets, shoving Groz and Vel back. He regarded Zeb and Shai with a frown, looking them over with a practiced glance. “Hurt your leg, son?”

    Shai struggled to attention in Zeb’s arms. “My foot, sir. Broke it in a hole.”

    “Hmm.” The medic frowned, giving Shai another once-over. “Still, you don’t look too bad for having been out in a dust storm.”

    “Yes, sir.” Shai sat up even straighter and flashed one of his widest grins, his eyes--or what was visible of them beneath his unruly hair--practically glowing. “That's because Zebby stayed between me and the storm the whole time.”

    “Did he, now?” The medic’s grizzled eyebrows shot up, and his gaze slid to Zeb, who tried not to squirm under that appraising glance. He was surprised when the medic offered him a tight nod of approval. “Good job, Cadet. But I wouldn’t expect any less of an Orrelios. Speaking of which, we need to get you back to base before your mother blisters the stripes off Captain Porifiros.” He snorted. “Retired captain my left foot! The day Herleva Orrelios isn’t an Honor Guard is the day there isn’t an Honor Guard. Let’s get you to the transport. Move it out, Guards!”

    The transport speeder was waiting at the mouth of the trail. Zeb sank down onto one of the benches that lined either side of its bed, grateful for a chance to be off his sore, abraded feet. Shai was still on his lap; despite all his protests that he was most definitely not a kit, he seemed disinclined to move from that spot. In fact, spent from the excitement of the day and lulled by the hum of the speeder, Shai was soon dozing against Zeb’s shoulder, though it could hardly have been comfortable with his armor.

    Zeb looked down at his brother; Shai’s sleep-softened features made him look younger and more vulnerable. His wild thatch of purple-black hair had fallen forward into his face, and Zeb reached down and gently brushed it back. Shai’s arms and legs were only slightly abraded by the flying storm-grit; his face was untouched except for one thin stripe across his cheek. Zebby stayed between me and the storm the whole time. Zeb shifted uneasily. He didn’t deserve the hero worship that had been in his brother’s voice. He was no hero, especially not when it was his fault Shai had been lost and injured. He deserved for Shai to hate him, for his mother--his whole family--to hate him for failing his duty in the first place.

    And it wasn’t just his little brother who seemed to think he was some sort of hero now. Groz and Velibor were looking at him as if he was Baldomero the Bold from those comic books they used to read and not Zeb Orrelios, Lasan’s biggest nerf-brain, who’d just proven he was a worse babysitter than your average adolescent girl. A couple of the other cadets were whispering and occasionally shooting admiring glances at him, and even the gruff field medic smiled at him when Zeb looked his way.

    Zeb squirmed beneath the weight of all this undeserved attention and looked out towards the storm-ravaged landscape. The speeder made its way past more toppled bristlecones and several minor rockslides. Nor was it just the canyons and wild trails that had suffered; as they approached Lira Zel, Zeb saw the havoc the storm had wreaked on the holiday festivities. The gaily colored banners and awnings were hanging in tatters from the skeletal remains of the carnival booths. The convorees were already eagerly feasting on the spilled nuts and squashed pastries that littered the ground.

    Zeb had never been so glad to see the plain, squat buildings of the Honor Guard’s base. As the transport pulled up outside the infirmary, a team of medics wheeling stretchers swarmed out. Zeb struggled to his feet again, cradling Shai, who was somehow still drowsing against his shoulder.

    “I’ll take the boy for you, Cadet,” one of the medics said, stepping forward. “You need to get on the stretcher.”

    “No, sir. I’ve got him.” Zeb waved the medics away and pushed past all the unnecessary fuss and bother. He didn’t need a stretcher; he was an Honor Guard. And he wasn’t letting go of Shai until he got his little brother to safety.

    The medic with the stretcher looked annoyed, but the field medic who’d brought Zeb in just chuckled. “This way, Orrelios,” he said, steering Zeb into a curtained examination area.

    No sooner had Zeb set foot in the exam room than his mother swept in like a sirocco through the canyons. “Garashai! Oh, Ashla be praised!” Tears rained down her cheeks as she covered Shai with kisses. “Oh, my Shai, my boy! Thank the Ashla you’re safe!”

    “Aw, Ma…” Shai protested groggily, squirming in Zeb’s arms as he tried to wriggle out from under her enthusiastic ministrations. “I’m fine...well, except for my foot. But I was alright in the storm, because Zebby was was there, and he kept the wind off me the whole time.”

    One of Herleva’s eyebrows shot upwards. She stepped back and regarded Zeb, lips pursed and hands on her hips. Her eyes scanned him from head to toe, her inspection far more thorough than the field medic’s once-over had been. Zeb was suddenly aware of how he must look to his mother: covered in scrapes and scratches from the tips of his ears to the bottom of his toe pads. The new armor that he had polished so lovingly only that morning was now worn and pitted, the shiny gloss scrubbed away by sand and dust. The edge of one shawl, the lacy fringe matted and grubby, hung out of his belt satchel. And he was holding the brother who’d gotten lost and injured when Zeb was supposed to have been watching him. His mother shook her head, a peculiar expression on her face. “Garazeb… look at you.”

    Zeb hunched his shoulders. This was where she let him have it, all right. “I know. I’m a bloody kar…. I’m a right mess, and my armor’s a disgrace to…”

    “Is that what you think?” Herleva’s lips quirked into something that looked almost like a smile. “Do you know what I see when I look at you? An Honor Guard.”

    “Wha--?” Zeb nearly dropped Shai, who gave a startled yelp, and stared at his mother, certain he hadn’t heard that right. Had Ma just called him an Honor Guard? After the way he’d ruined the festival for his entire family? Shirked his responsibility and failed his duty? “But… I...my armor...and his foot...and…”

    “Do you what kind of Guard always has shiny armor? The kind that never leaves the parade grounds. You be proud of those marks, Garazeb--every scratch, every scrape, every scar.” She traced a finger down one of the thin stripes that the storm grit had scored across his face. “They’re badges of honor, and you earned every one.”

    “But...but I screwed everything up! I failed!” How could he have earned anything except a swift kick in the posterior for his actions? “I left Shai alone. He got hurt, and he coulda got killed, too, if I hadn’t found him. I was a stupid, bantha-headed idiot….”

    Herleva cut him off. “Yes, you were. And then you gave everything you had to keep your brother safe. You used yourself as a storm break and didn’t think twice about the risk to you. And that, Garazeb, is what makes a guard an Honor Guard.”

    Zeb opened his mouth, shook his head, and closed it again. There was a lump in in his throat and he was afraid if he said anything, he was going to squeak like a little kit instead of sounding like an Honor Guard. “Yes, ma’am,” he finally managed in a hoarse whisper.

    His mother didn’t smile often, and when she did it was usually so slight you could miss it if you didn’t look at just the right angle. But this time her smile bloomed slowly, like a rare and elusive wildflower. “Good.” Herleva leaned forward to ease Shai from his arms, stretching up to plant a kiss on Zeb’s cheek as she did. “Now you go with Lieutenant Esclepios and get cleaned up. No arguments, Cadet; a Guard has to take care of himself, too.”

    “Yes, ma’am.” Zeb followed Lt. Esclepios into another exam room, where the field medic made him strip to his skivvies, put on a horribly ill-fitting gown, and endure all the poking and prodding a proper medical exam entailed. He proceeded to scrub the dirt and grime off Zeb’s already raw sand-scoured skin with a disinfectant that smelled like Dad’s geniper brew and stung like a million pinch beetles attacking him at once. After that, Esclepios slathered him with sickly smelling bacta paste, and slapped layers of bacta pads all over Zeb’s arms, legs, feet and face. But Zeb bore it all with only a wince and a hastily stifled growl here and there, because he was, after all, an Honor Guard.

    Once he’d finished torturing—er, treating— Zeb, the lieutenant led him to a double room upstairs. Shai was already there, in the bed nearest the door. He looked so small there, his leg encased in a heavy cast up past his ankle. The twigs and dust had been combed from his hair, but it still refused to stay in any kind of order. His eyes were heavy-lidded and a bit unfocused from the painkillers he’d been given, but he struggled upright when Zeb entered the room. “Zebby!”

    “Hey, kid.” Zeb tousled his brother’s dark purple hair, and Shai immediately scowled and pushed his hair back the way it had been. “So, worst Storms’ End ever, huh?”

    “Yeah. I spilled all my warra nuts, I lost my belt knife and I never got to play any of the games.” He sighed and flopped back down to his pillow before brightening again. “But, hey, I bet none of the other guys at school have ever been out in a storm! That stupid Dagrivar thinks he’s something because he hiked the Swamp Canyon trail, but that’s nothin’ compared to surviving a dust storm! Oh, and Zebby, look! The medic’s assistant signed my cast--and she had some really nice stripes!”

    “I bet she did!” Zeb laughed as he sat down on the other bed. “Since you didn’t get to buy that belt knife, I’ve got a little somethin’ to make it up it to you.” He picked up the bag marked “patient’s effects,” which contained all of his clothes and armor, from the foot of the bed, and rummaged through until he found his own knife and sheath. He brushed some of the remaining storm grit off it and handed it to Shai. “Here you go, kid; it’s all yours.”

    Shai’s eyes widened to the size of Gran’s good saucers. He stared down at it reverently. “Zebby, this is your real Honor Guard knife! I can’t take this!”

    “Sure you can; you earned it. Even those old duffers from the ale tent haven’t been through a dust storm and lived to tell about it, but you did. It’s yours now; you keep it until you get your own and become my lieutenant.” He ruffled his little brother’s hair affectionately. “Orrelios brothers together.”

    “Aw, yeah...” Shai smiled as he stroked the leather sheath and settled it next to him in the hospital bed. “I’ll always keep it, Zeb, even then.”

    —————————————————

    And he had. Lieutenant First Class Garashai Orrelios had been wearing his brother's belt knife the day the Empire invaded Lasan. Zeb had ordered Shai to fall back to protect the Inner Court of the Royal Palace while he stayed at the gates, because the only way the Imps and their bucket heads were getting through those gates was over his dead body.

    Except Zeb hadn’t died that day, and he’d failed the Honor Guard, failed to protect the Royal Family…and Shai. Wandering the wreckage of the court, he’d found Shai’s bo-rifle, broken and abandoned, and his knife, buried up to its hilt in the neck of an ISB agent, but he’d never found any trace of Shai. Zeb had wondered as he’d yanked the knife free whether that desperate act had won his brother a few extra moments of life or a gruesome end from the Imperials’ disruptor rifles.

    Zeb had tossed his own knife into the rubble, wiped the gore off Shai’s knife and sheathed it, promising his brother, wherever his spirit was, that he’d always keep it to remember him...and to remember that protecting those who couldn’t protect themselves was the beginning of honor.

    To Be Concluded…
     
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    =D= =D= Shai with Zeb was so endearing & Herleva's assurances -- splentabulous!

    Then we get the flash-forward -- :eek:

    Quite the reveal there. [face_thinking] But you can see the selfless bravery of both Shai and Zeb. @};-
     
  4. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    That was so awesome! =D= Then the break line, and the fast forward... That was so sad!!! :_|

    On the one hand, I understand where the story started, so we have to flash forward, sometime. On the other hand, I want to see Shai grow up and be that Lieutenant that supported his older brother, Zeb.

    I shed some tears. I'm not gonna lie... I am SO looking forward to the next chapter.
     
  5. Kahara

    Kahara Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    This was amazing, and I'm really curious to see what happens in the epilogue. =D=

    More and more, I seem to have become a setting junkie -- not just for actual scenery, but for details that give a really grounded sense of a character's life. And this story provides that in spades for one of the least-explored of the Rebels. I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the festival, the customs around climbing the Warrior, and the way that Zeb sees his family and his identity as a Guardsman (and how he initially doesn't get that he can't shove away the responsibilities of one of those and do justice to the other).

    The dust storm was really scary; while they're generally not very dangerous here, I'm more than familiar with the sense of creeping unease that can come with rising wind and the funny quality that the light takes on. (Certainly not the time to go rock-climbing! :eek:) I was worried with him when Zeb realized just how dangerous of a situation Shai had stumbled into because of his abandonment. While we know Zeb made it out, I wasn't too sure about his little brother. I was so relieved when they both made it through the whole harrowing experience! Herleva was wonderful, and I loved her conversation with Zeb at the end. He's impulsive and stubborn (even many years later :p), but he has heart and will always come through for those who need his help. [face_love]

    The end was painful to contemplate, even though I had expected it at the beginning. But then, I hadn't gone and gotten attached to Shai then. The lack of closure with never knowing exactly what happened has to be especially difficult for Zeb. :(
     
  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Ohmigosh, this is one of the most gutpunching chapters of this story yet—and that’s saying a lot, given the emotional intensity that has pervaded it from the start. It all comes together here, and as a result the Orrelios brothers are together again, closer than ever. Zeb absolutely shines with bravery here: he comes through on his word of honor in absolute spades and more than makes up for his negligence in leaving Shai behind. And it doesn’t stop even once he’s gotten his brother to safety: he carries him into the infirmary himself, stays with him as long as he possibly can, and even after he’s checked over himself by the lovably gruff Lt. Esclepios (very clever name, by the way ;) ) he goes and checks on Shai the first chance he gets, complete with fraternal hair ruffling and all. And along the way he earns newfound respect from his comrades-in-arms and glowing praise from the most redoubtable commander of all: his mother. Just so many lovely family interactions and reconciliations in this chapter. And then once the last section hits—well, I’ll say more on that in a bit.

    Where even to start… well, the beginning’s as good a place as any. :p The description of the storm is just masterful—from the tedium of sitting there for hours being scoured by flying dust and debris, not being able to move or talk or do anything except sit there in a horribly uncomfortable position getting constantly bombarded by flying debris. But if anyone can stay steadfast in the face of that kind of ordeal it’s Zeb—even when it quite literally nails him in the face (or close to it). (You know, of course, why I smiled at the descriptions of the injuries caused by the various flying rocks, twigs, etc.—and it’s not because I’m a sadistic meanie, I promise! :p )

    Shai continues to be wonderful. His defiant “I DON’NEED YOU!1!” attitude has now fully melted away; I just love the way he clings to Zeb, even falls asleep on him, which goes to show just how the implicit trust he places in his big brother at this critical time. And how he “tells the whole world” about how his big bro stayed between him and the storm. The comparison of Shai to "a kit who’d climbed his first bristlecone and couldn’t figure out how to get down” really struck me. First it brought to mind Gunvar’s dig about Zeb’s climbing mishap in chapter 2, “I’ve seen kits climbing their first bristlecone do better than that!” But then it got me thinking: Shai went out there to try to climb the Warrior himself and prove he wasn’t just a kit. Well, now, here on his brother’s shoulder, he quite literally has climbed his Warrior. Zebby is his strong rock, just as the magnificent spire towers over the surrounding landscape. :zeb:

    You know how much I love a good mother-son scene, and Zeb’s scene with Herleva is just lovely. He thinks she’s going to give him another Standpauke for looking like a bloody karking mess—and then she turns the tables on him and gives him pretty much the best, glowingest compliment a Guard could possibly receive. Along with a loving kiss. @};- (And tense is everything—yes, he was a bantha-headed idiot, but he more than turned that around.)

    Several happy moments along the way too. The exam scene made me smile: it put me in mind of a similar story from later in Zeb’s life, of course, and plus, huh-huh-huh, she said “skivvies” :p I enjoyed Lt. Esclepios; it’s always fun when a minor character like that ends up taking on such a distinct personality. It’s so fun to see Shai return to his gabby, enthusiastic little-brother self again when Zeb walks into the room (though I know the painkillers are magnifying his natural tendencies somewhat :p ). His final scene with Zeb and the belt knife was not only a beautiful brotherly reconciliation but also very much in the Lasat spirit, a poignant instance of the boosahn keeraw.

    Now, finally, this last section… ohmigosh. oh. my. gosh. That is one of the gutpunchingest things I’ve read on here in a while, and I too am pretty sure I shed a tear or two when I first read it. Wow. Shai did not lose his gumption, even in the face of grave danger. And even here we see Zeb protecting his little brother at all possible costs: I’m sure that’s why he sent Shai to the inner court to begin with. How wrenching for Zeb to never be able to find out what happened to the brother he promised himself he would always protect—the guilt we know he feels about the fate of his homeworld. And now, many years later, that’s no doubt going to impact his approach to the new brother-like figure that he’s tasked with protecting—fantastic segue you’ve set up between the two time frames there.

    I know you have wonderful things in store for the conclusion to this rich tale, and I can’t wait to see how that will take shape! @};-
     
  7. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    The final chapter is finished at last! [face_dancing] It’s just pending a final beta to post, so in the meantime, responses....

    Thank you! I enjoyed being able to show a bit more of Herleva’s maternal side here. She may be a fierce Honor Guard Captain, but she’s also a fiercely loving mother, and Zeb has made both sides of her proud. With a mother like her, it’s no wonder that her children grow up to be selfless and brave, even in the worst of circumstances.
    Thank you so much! When I was creating Zeb’s family, I knew what their ultimate fate was, and I thought I was okay with it. But they took on such a life of their own that I kind of fell in love with them, especially Shai. I’m pretty sure I cried when I wrote the flash forward. So on the one hand, I’m sorry to have made you cry, too, but on the other hand, I feel really honored that you cared that much about him. I also have to say that I think there will be more stories about Shai as he grows up. He and Zeb are so much fun together that I would love to do more with them.

    Thank you! This is my first real attempt at creating a fanon world and culture, so I’m delighted that you enjoyed it! (Of course, it helped considerably to have the fabulous Findswoman as my collaborator. No one does non-human cultures like her [face_love] ) Zeb has turned out to be a richer and more complex character than I thought, and I hope someday we’ll get an official look at Lasan and the Lasat culture, but in the meantime, Findswoman and I have a few ideas for filling in the gaps.

    I’m glad the storm sequence turned out well. It’s funny the things you wind up researching for a story! I kind of took the worst parts of dust storms and sand storms and threw them at Zeb (sorry, big guy!) I wasn’t sure at first how badly Shai should be hurt, but I decided I just couldn’t be that cruel to him or Zeb. I know, I know, given what happens in the flash forward, that may sound odd, but this way Zeb got to learn A Very Important Lesson, and Shai lives to become an Honor Guard like his brother. Zeb is stubborn and gruff and a lot like his mom, but like her he’s got a heart of gold and a soul of true honor.

    And again, I’m so honored to know you feel that strongly about Shai. Having readers care about him as much as I do has to be the ultimate compliment!

    Thank you! Of course, this chapter owes a lot to your support, suggestions and gentle nudges. [:D] The Orrelios brothers are together—aw, yeah!—and back with their family after a Storms’ End none of them will ever forget. Zeb’s made things right and shown himself worthy of the title of Honor Guard. His mother could not be prouder.

    A lot of the inspiration for the dust storm came from a fantastic scene of a sandstorm in pseudo-North Africa in Marie Brennan’s In the Labyrinth Of Drakes. Zeb’s paid attention to his training, so though he’s not quite prepared for the reality of it, he’s capable of making it through for Shai’s sake. And well I know why you’re smiling...I know you’re not sadistic. I promise everyone else she has a good reason. ;)

    Sometimes even fourteen-year-olds who are totes not kits anymore need someone to lean on, and Shai knows he’s safe now with his big brother [face_love] I think it would have been quite moving for Shai to have Zeb, who’s already a hero to him, put himself literally in the path of danger to keep him safe. No wonder he’s telling the world! And I love the comparison of Zeb with the Warrior—a guardian and protector to Shai the way the legendary Warrior protects Lira Zel, whose love is as strong as any rock.

    Herleva is such a proud mother there :) She understands how much Zeb has given of himself, both physically and emotionally, to keep his brother safe. And he has put all those principles of honor he’s learned from her and his other Guard instructors into practice. His actions were those of a true Honor Guard. How could she do anything but glow with pride?

    The good Lieutenant just stepped onto the page, and started taking charge. :D I’m glad you like his name; I love to work a good (or bad) punny literary reference in whenever possible. Shai is definitely back to himself; he and his Zebby are reconciled and all’s right in the world, and Zeb’s gift is a tangible symbol of this reconciliation and the trust and love between the brothers...for as long as one of them has it.

    I struggled with whether that last part was too maudlin, so I’ll take that as a compliment. :) Shai grew up to follow in his brother’s footsteps— he had a great role model of bravery and honor :zeb: And you’re correct that Zeb sent Shai to the inner court to keep him safe, once again using himself to shield his brother. The fact that he survived, but was unable to protect Shai adds another layer to his guilt, and certainly adds another level of complexity to his relationship with Ezra.

    I hope you’ll enjoy the final chapter as much as I did.
     
  8. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    And here it is at long last!

    Many, many thanks to Findswoman, lover of all things purple and stripey, for beta-reading, suggestions, support and shebs-kicking as needed! This story would not have been completed without you! :zeb: @};-

    Part 5

    5 BBY

    Over the next few days, Zeb came to an uneasy truce with the nagging voice in the back of his mind that kept telling him he was no fit Honor Guard if he didn’t accept his responsibility to watch over Ezra. All right, fine, he told it grumpily. I’ll look after the kid. Doesn’t mean I have to like him. Doesn’t mean he’ll ever be like a brother to me.

    And yet…something about the kid reminded him of Shai.

    Zeb tried to tell himself it was only the way Ezra’s perpetually untidy hair fell into his face or his persistently impish grin, but it was more than that. There was something of Shai’s spirit in the way Ezra pestered Sabine and tormented Chopper. The way he talked back to Kanan and smarted off to Zeb himself. Sometimes when Zeb heard the sound of running feet and laughter as Ezra fled from the victim of his latest prank, he could have sworn it was Shai instead. He’d catch himself smiling...

    And he had to remind himself that this kid—this annoying, thieving, insulting kid—was nothing like Shai. Zeb would keep an eye on the kid, because he was an Honor Guard and he protected those who couldn’t protect themselves, but that was as far as it would ever go.

    Then the kid had to go and save his life.

    That Imperial goon Kallus had had Zeb dead to rights until Ezra used the Force to slam him against a rock. After that, Zeb felt more useless than a shoe salesman at a Hutt convention. What kind of bantha poodoo failure of an Honor Guard was he if the kid he was supposed to be protecting had to pull his shebs out of the fire? And of course—of course—Ezra had to keep reminding him of it every five karking seconds, until Zeb was snappish as an underfed massiff and disgruntled as a rock goat during spring molt. He avoided Ezra as much as he could by hiding out in his cabin. Ma would have said he was sulking in his bunk, but Zeb preferred to think of it as evasive maneuvers.

    Unfortunately, his cabin was now their cabin. The kid pestered him incessantly. Would not leave him alone. Would. Not. Leave. Even when Zeb snarled and threatened to crush him, Ezra just grinned. “Sorry, roomie. No deal!”

    Zeb grumbled to himself as Ezra vaulted up into his bunk. Sharing a room with Shai had never been this much of a pain in the shebs. Oh really? the annoying voice in the back of his mind, which had been pretty quiet until now, demanded. Shai Orrelios? Annoying tag-along brother? Peskiest kit on the face of Lasan? Any of this ringin’ a bell? You loved Shai anyway, so why can’t you even let yourself like Ezra? Because you know you do.

    Do not! Okay, maybe a little…

    And then the bunk collapsed, flattening Zeb beneath forty kilos of mattress and bunk platform and fifty odd kilos of flailing Human, and any tiny bit of good will Zeb might have felt was squashed along with him.

    Hera was unamused by the ensuing scuffle. She ordered both of them off on a supply run to the nearby town of Kothal with strict instructions not to come back without at least one meiloorun. Zeb had her game figured out even before they left the ship: send the boys off to work together and they’d come back best, best buddies! Well, not bloody karking likely. Zeb intended to get this little jaunt over as quickly as possible, and when he got back to the Ghost, he was gonna lock himself in his cabin. Let the kid stand out in the hall and pound on the door all he wanted.

    It sounded like a great plan, but like all plans it went completely sideways once it was put it into action. There were a few minor hitches…

    First off, meilooruns didn’t actually grow on Lothal and hence were rarer than nunas’ teeth. There was only one crate of the bloody fruit to be had in the entire marketplace and, as Zeb’s terminally rotten luck would have it, it had just been purchased by Imperial Supplymaster Yogar Lyste. Ezra, sneak thief that he was, grinned like a manic Loth-cat as he eyed the crate of melons: “It’s not like we haven’t stolen from the Empire before.” But when he tried to lift the crate with the Force, all he did was jiggle it a bit and shift it a few centimeters. Going after the fruit the old-fashioned way yielded similarly disastrous results and put a squad of bucket heads hot on their tails.

    Zeb lost the rest of the supplies by hurling the crate at the troopers to knock them down. Hera was going to have them both scrubbing carbon scoring off the hull for this one. For the next six months, probably. “At least we're even!” he snarled at Ezra as they charged down the crowded streets

    “Even? Please,” Ezra scoffed, even as the stormtroopers gained on them. “I had the whole situation under control.”

    Zeb groaned. Right. Because being surrounded by bucket heads was having things under control. The kid sure had a healthy opinion of his own abilities. It was a good thing Zeb was here to take care of him. “Come here!” He grabbed Ezra, tucked him under one arm and leapt up the nearest wall, digging his claws into the crumbly stucco. He caught a glimpse of Ezra’s face, wide-eyed and gape-mouthed as he dangled from Zeb’s grip, and almost chuckled. Who’s got things under control, again?

    The stormtroopers chose that moment to start shooting, and Zeb tossed Ezra up to the roof as the blaster bolts zinged around them. The boy definitely did not look in control as he arced upwards, arms and legs flailing wildly, and landed with a thud, but at least he was safe up there. Safer than Zeb was, anyway. He kept scrabbling up the building amid the hail fire of shots. Just when he’d reached the top one of the bucket brains did the impossible and made a decent shot. The bolt hit the roof’s edge, causing it to shatter into shrapnel just before Zeb reached for the ledge. His hand faltered on empty space, and Zeb lost his balance, plummeting backwards.

    The stormtroopers were kind enough to break Zeb’s fall, but even so, he lay there stunned for a moment. He groaned, staring up into the bright Lothal sky, and saw Ezra staring down at him from the rooftop with a look of concern. “Zeb!”

    Zeb struggled to his feet. “Just keep going, Shai. I'll catch up to you!” he called up, taking off at a jog before the troopers could recover. Behind him, he heard the squad’s captain order “Split up!” Karabast! He’d hoped they’d all follow him so the kid could make his getaway. Well, he’d lead as many as he could on a wild bantha chase and then take them down. Ezra might have his spooky Force powers and some tricky moves, but no bucket head alive was a match for an Honor Guard. Never had been, never would be.

    Unless of course, they were backed up by some Imperial hotshot in a TIE fighter. Zeb realized too late that his zigzag path had taken him right into an outdoor hangar. He slowly raised his hands as the troopers surrounded him and the smirking pilot trained his laser cannons on him. There was no way out of this one...unless…. Zeb leapt onto a nearby crate from there to the TIE itself. He pried open the craft's hatch—stupid Imp hadn’t engaged the mag locks yet!—seized the pilot, who was no longer quite so smirky, and tossed him out like a sack of topatoes. Zeb slid in, giving the controls a cursory glance. He’d never flown one of these things before, but it couldn’t be that hard could it be if the Imps could do it? At least he knew the controls for the guns were there on the steering yoke. Zeb snapped off a couple shots and watched the bucket heads scatter. "Too bad the kid wasn't here to see that!" he chuckled, maneuvering the fighter airborne and out of the hangar.

    Which kid? A snide voice wormed its way into Zeb’s thoughts. Because you just called that karabastical Loth-rat “Shai.”

    No I didn’t!

    Yes, you did. What were you thinking? How could you?! That kid is nothing like Shai!

    Zeb’s shame burned hot—hot enough to feel it all the way to the tips of his ears—as he spotted Ezra sprinting over the rooftops of Kothal’s marketplace, his blue-black hair flying, a couple of troopers hot on his heels. The kid’s eyes widened in panic as Zeb brought the TIE fighter in low and evened it up with the buildings… until he realized who was at the controls. “Zeb? Zeb!” Ezra yelled, relief and desperation warring in his voice. “Hey, Zeb, let me in!”

    Zeb snarled. Karking kid; this was all his fault! His fault for breaking the bunk and making Hera send them on this wild bantha chase. His fault for going after the meilooruns and getting caught so Zeb had had to sacrifice their supplies to save him. His fault they’d gotten split up and Zeb had to steal this flying eyeball to come pull his worthless shebs out of the fire—again! And he was. Nothing. Like. Shai! “So now, I'd be saving your life, right?”

    “What?” Ezra shot a frantic look back at the troopers. “Yeah, sure. Yes! Whatever!”

    “I let you in, we're even!”

    “Fine!”

    “You have to say it!” None of that “I had everything under control” poodoo this time! This was going to be the end of it! They were going back to the Ghost! And he was locking the kid out of his cabin for….as long as he felt like it. So much for Hera’s best, best buddies idea! He’d told her from the start it wasn’t going to work.

    “All right, all right! We're even! Now let me in!”

    With the words said, Zeb unsealed the hatch and Ezra scrambled inside. And that would have been the end of it, except that on their way to Kanan’s coordinates, they saw smoke on the horizon, and the kid gave him those mooka-pup eyes, begging Zeb to go after an Imperial convoy to help his friends. The next thing he knew, Zeb was on the comm with Supplymaster Lyste pretending to be Commander Meiloorun while Ezra jumped onto a moving troop transport to free the farmers whose home the Imps had just fragged.

    Unfortunately, Lyste wasn’t nearly as dumb as he looked; the central transport began firing on Zeb’s fighter and the other two transports picked up speed in defiance of Commander Meiloorun’s orders.

    The TIE fighter had lots of zip, but the engineers had put all their oomph into those twin ion engines and forgotten to put any into the shields—an oversight that came in handy when Zeb was manning the Ghost’s gun turret, but not so much now that he was sitting in the pilot’s seat. Zeb had no choice but to retreat, leaving Ezra to deal with the transport’s guns. And you watch, Zeb thought, grumpily, He’ll claim that he saved my life somehow. Ha! That time with Kallus was a fluke and we both know it. He’s gonna owe me his life three times over before this little jaunt’s over. Ought be good enough to keep him outta my room for a while at least!

    A sudden twinge of guilt prodded Zeb’s conscience the way Ma used to poke him in the sternum when she was giving him a particularly well-earned scolding. And the insistent voice that sounded so much like hers decided it wasn’t going to stay quiet any longer. What is your major problem, Orrelios? it demanded. Honor Guards don’t keep score; we protect those who can’t protect themselves because it’s our duty. Doesn’t matter who it is or what they’ve done. It’s our duty and our honor.

    I know all that! Zeb scowled as he steered the fighter into a wide loop around the tallest rock formation. The kid had just better have that gun taken care of by the time he got back or explaining to Hera why they didn’t have any supplies was going to be the least of their worries!.

    Poke, poke, poke...the guilt continued to hammer at him. So why aren’t you acting like it? Why are you shutting the kid out, making him tell you he owes you before you’ll help him?

    Zeb squirmed in the pilot’s seat, hunching his shoulders like miserable kit. He knew the answer to that, as much as he’d been trying to deny it, but it looked like this poking, prodding nag of a voice wasn’t going to leave him alone until he admitted it. He reminds me of Shai, all right?! A lot. Too much.

    And that excuses your behavior how, Cadet?

    Because! Zeb raged. Was he really gonna have to spell this out in all its excruciating detail? Well, fine then! He’d say it! There’s only one Shai! There’ll only ever be one Shai, and I’m not gonna let that kid take his place in my heart!

    Is that what you think Shai would want—what any of them would want—for you to keep your heart as some kind of memorial? For you never to care about anyone else? The voice was softer now, but no less insistent.

    I don’t want to forget Shai! I don’t want to lose him again!

    You’re not gonna lose me, Zebby! Ever… You know that. Not his mother’s voice now…. Shai’s. Shai exactly the way he’d sounded the day he promised to keep Zeb’s belt knife forever. But there’s more to it than that, isn’t there?

    All right, all right… I can’t let myself like the kid. I can’t let him like me because, if I do… someday I’m gonna screw up again and the kid’s gonna get hurt. Maybe it’ll only be a broken foot, but maybe… I don’t want to fail anyone as badly as I failed, you, Shai! I should have died before I let the Imps get to you. I failed everyone on Lasan that day, but you most of all.

    Zeb, you didn’t fail me. The voice shifted again, no longer Shai the kit but the Honor Guard he’d grown into, the one Zeb had been proud to have as his lieutenant. I was an Honor Guard, too, remember? I was there to do my duty, just like you. There wasn’t anything you could have done for me that day, but there is something you can do for Ezra now. Don’t be a stubborn nerf! You only fail if you give up.

    You’re right. Ashla help me, you’re right… He was no kind of Honor Guard if he left the kid there to go it alone...and no kind of pilot if he couldn’t evade a few shots. Zeb jerked hard on the steering yoke, bringing the fighter back around towards the transports and gave it all the juice it had.

    Ezra had somehow managed to get all the prisoners free, but Lyste had sent his troopers up top to deal with him. The kid was cornered behind the meiloorun crate and was holding the troopers at bay by lobbing the fruit at them… resourceful, but that wasn’t gonna hold ’em off long. Zeb lined up his shot carefully—didn’t want take the kid out, too!—and picked the bucket heads off one by one.

    Once again, Zeb cursed the stupidity of Imperial engineers; who the karking Karkadon would put the only access to a ship on top? In order to retrieve Ezra, he was either going to have to fly it so low the solar arrays touched the ground….or fly it upside down, and if he was low enough for Ezra to climb in, he’d risk crashing into the transport. Unless…

    No! That’s got to be the craziest idea in the history of crazy ideas!

    Crazier than staying out in the worst dust storm in ten years? Besides you got any other ideas?

    No…. This was either going to be the most brilliant bit of flying he’d ever done or it would kill them both in a ball of flame while looking like a couple of idiots. Zeb engaged the autopilot, popped the hatch and maneuvered himself onto the seat. There was barely room for both his feet. Stupid Humans and their tiny little posteriors. He crouched on the seat and cranked the yoke until the fighter was upside down. Zeb fought a moment of panic as gravity decided he really didn’t need to stay in the fighter any longer. He grabbed at the yoke and his toes clutched at the seat until he forced himself to let go of both of them…and caught the yoke with his feet.

    Zeb hung out of the hatch, arms dangling, blood rushing to his head. It took him a couple of nerve-wracking moments to get the hang of steering the thing with his feet, but he maneuvered it in line with the transport and edged down...closer, closer!...until his outstretched arms caught Ezra’s. “Gotcha!”

    Ezra stared up at him, a mix of relief and astonishment on his face. “Uh, how are you flying this thing?” Without waiting for an answer, he scrambled up Zeb, planting a boot squarely in Zeb’s face as he climbed. But Zeb didn’t even mind—much—because the kid was safe now. He’d finally done the honorable thing, and pulled off the craziest stunt in his life at the same time. Zeb thought that Shai would have approved. Aw, yeah…

    ——————————

    Epilogue

    Ezra came up with a wild scheme to hide the TIE fighter and tell Kanan they’d purposely crashed it instead of returning with it as ordered. Zeb had to admit it was a pretty clever idea. For all its lack of shielding, the eyeball was a zippy little thing. Zeb kind of liked it, even if it was an Imperial craft, and you never knew when you might need an extra ship. Kanan always had to be a killjoy about things, but what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them.

    Zeb located a valley between a couple of the weird, rocky hillocks that dotted Lothal’s prairie, just big enough to stash the fighter. As the two of them headed back across the grassland to the Ghost, Ezra asked, “So, just how did you fly that fighter, anyway?”

    “Prehensile toes.” Zeb held up a foot and wiggled its digits. “Great for rock climbing—or flying fighters when you’ve got your hands full of Human.” Someday, he’d have to tell the kid all about climbing the Warrior on that fateful Storms’ End...and tell him all about Shai, too.

    “Wow, that’s...pretty amazing, actually.” Ezra’s brows shot up, almost disappearing under the fringe of his unruly hair. He gave Zeb in a look of frank admiration. “I didn’t know you could do that.”

    “Heh,” Zeb chuckled. “Neither did I.”

    Admiration dissolved into puzzlement and then into indignation. “Wait….you didn’t…you never…?” Ezra spluttered. “Are you crazy? You could have gotten us both killed!”

    Zeb glanced at him slyly and punched him on the shoulder lightly—but still hard enough to make Ezra stagger sideways a bit. “Yeah, but I didn’t, did I?”

    Ezra stared at him for a moment and then burst out laughing, grinning a grin that was almost too big for his face. “Hey, Zeb, you know, we made a pretty good team today!”

    Zeb grinned back as he reached over and tousled the kid’s messy blue-black hair. “Aw, yeah!”

    ++++++++++++++++++++

    Notes: Most of the action and dialogue in this chapter comes from the Rebels Season One episode “Fighter Flight.”
     
    Kahara, Ewok Poet and Findswoman like this.
  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Love the expression a shoe salesman at a Hutt convention [face_laugh] and the inner arguments Zeb kept having with himself about responsibility, duty, and caring. =D= I enjoyed this muchly. @};-
     
  10. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Congrats on finishing your masterpiece. :) I know how much it meant to you and how emotional it got you.

    I'll probably scrap the reply I wrote when I was a plant, rewatch Fighter Flight and leave you a comment that a story like this deserves. But until then...YAAAAAAY, YOU DID IT. ^:)^=D=[face_love]
     
  11. Findswoman

    Findswoman Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    [ :zeb: ]Aw, yeah![/ :zeb: ]

    The story has come full circle, back to the Rebels era, and we see Zeb grappling with the hard-learned lessons of that fateful Storms’ End in his first mission alongside his new Little!Space!Bro. Once again, you absolutely nail the brotherly dynamic between Zeb and Ezra—just as you did the dynamic between Zeb and Shai in the previous chapters. (I love that Zeb accidentally calls Ezra “Shai.”) The blend of bickering, shoulder-punching encouragement, and the “we’re even” rivalry about who’s saved whose life is just perfect. I have a lot of respect for people who can write sibling and sibling-like relationships well, as I feel like I know so little about them—so thanks for being a model in this are as in so many others. :)

    The way you’ve integrated Zeb’s memories and internal monologues/dialogues with these scenes from “Fighter Flight” is really fantastic; I know you worked hard to get the balance of new and old material right and went through several different iterations along, but what you ended up with comes off really well. Indeed, I love that we get a look at what might be going through that big, purple, pointy-eared head during that exciting episode. (TV shows are great, but let’s face it, they don’t always give one as good an idea of characters’ internal states as literature does. :p )

    I really love Zeb’s internal voices in this chapter, and particularly the progression of voices at that pivotal moment where he almost flies away and leaves Ezra. And it picks up from where the internal voices in chapter one left off, with Zeb’s mother’s scolding. But it softens this time, and then shifts—and that one “Zebby” in Shai’s voice has the power to get Spectre Four to face up to his feelings in such a game-changing way:

    Then: just mooie, mooie [face_love] for the fact that the voice that finally convinces Zeb is the voice of the grown-up Shai, Shai the Honor Guard, Shai his lieutenant. (Which of course is exactly what Ezra’s rank will be later in the series.) And it’s extra emotional in that this mental voice is the first and only time we hear from that Shai within this story. I have no doubt that Shai remained proud of his brother till the very end. :_| :(

    Zeb’s upside-down flying scene has always been one of my favorite moments in “Fighter Flight,” partly because (a), in my opinion at least, Zeb has pretty much the coolest feet ever and because (b) as someone who plays a musical instrument with both hands and both feet at once, I have been there (or almost). :p So I ABSOLUTELY ADORE that you’ve given us the nitty-gritty of how he actually pulled that off, step by step—and all in a way that makes perfect sense, from seats designed for tiny little Human posteriors ( :p ) to life-threatening freefall moments ( :eek: ). And here again—it just occurred to me—this is where Ezra too gets to climb the Warrior, just as Shai did. Okay, perhaps a bit of a stretch, but you know I’m a sucker for these poetic parallel type things—and Zeb really does offer his own body as the means of rescuing both these bros. of his. <3

    And what a sweet final scene between the two Space!Bros., just walking and bantering together after it all. The image of Zeb holding up his foot and wiggling his toes (almost Hokey Pokey style!) gives me the giggles, and I do indeed imagine him someday telling Ezra the whole story of that Storms’ End. Finally, what a perfect touch that the story ends with a hearty “aw, yeah!” from Zeb, given that it began with him saying “No, no, NO!” (insert GIF here). We really have come full circle.

    Kudos to you on bringing this wonderful story to a conclusion. =D= And thank YOU, so, so much, for letting me be part of this story in some small way. “ :zeb: @};- “ really sums it up. <3
     
  12. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    This was perfection.^:)^ You have once again added to the Rebels lore so seamlessly that I can't tell what was in the show and what is yours.

    And this:
    Seriously, I got tears in my eyes. That happens about once a decade so there you go. You've added such an incredible depth to Zeb that I can't ever look at him again without thinking of his mom and his brother Shai, and the sacrifices they made.

    Beautiful story!!=D=
     
  13. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks! It was the most useless thing I could think of in the GFFA. :D I’ve loved seeing the way Zeb’s character has developed on Rebels, because he has a depth of emotion you that isn’t apparent at first glance. Beneath the curmudgeonly exterior, he really is a truly honorable and caring being.
    Thank you [face_love] I’m blushing at “masterpiece”! It was definitely an emotional ride.

    Well, thank you. My older sister and I are close, though at times we’ve had the kind of “I love you but get out of my space RIGHT NOW” relationship that Zeb and Shai (and later Ezra) have. I will admit to having certain similarities to the peskiest kit on Lasan, including the inability to stop calling my sister by her childhood nickname past the point when she was like “STAHP ALREADY.” :)

    Thank you so much! I’ve never had to write something that occurs within an existing scene before, and turned out to be pretty tough not to just give in to temptation and cut and paste the transcript and put Zeb’s thoughts in. :p Thanks for helping me get the balance right and not write a tedious rehash of the episode!

    Zeb’a family are such strong personalities and he was so close to them, especially Herleva and Shai, that even after all these years, he still knows what they would tell him. In a real way, they’re still very much alive in his memories. [face_love]

    Oh, I have no doubt he did. Shai never would have blamed anything that happened on Zeb. Even if Zeb was still a bit of a protective older brother, Shai, too, was a an Honor Guard and knew his duty and the risks. And of course, Shai loved his brother enough that he would want him to go on with his life.

    It really is a pretty impressive maneuver, or should I say an impressive feat (feet? /rimshot) That was one of those fanfic moments where you just go “hmm...how did Zeb do that? Well, he would have had to get his feet on the yoke...” I didn’t really think of the parallel of climbing the Warrior, though I love it, but the fact that he does have to use himself as a means of getting both brothers to safety was intentional. Zeb gives his all, and doesn’t even hold back risking himself bodily—true honor in action.

    Hee! Okay, now you’ve got me giggling picturing toe-wiggling Zeb. :D Yep, it all comes full circle for Zeb, with the brotherly hair-tousle he held back from before. He recognizes that Ezra is a lot like Shai...and that’s a good thing. Accepting Ezra doesn’t diminish his love for Shai. And someday, he’ll regale his new little bro with plenty of stories about Shai.

    Thank you! And thank you for being part of it! Without your support and encouragement i never could have done it.
    Aww, well thank you... [face_blush] [face_blush] [face_blush] @Findswoman waa a great help in developing the Lasan fanon, and in helping me figure out what kinds of things I needed to consider when developing fanon for a species and world. And of course, the Rebels cast and writers have created such a vivid corner of the GFFA, that it’s just loads of fun to make castles in their sandbox. :)

    Once again, I’m blushing! I’m truly overwhelmed by that my little story has been able to spark an emotional reaction for people. When I started making up,a family for Zeb, I really fell in love with Shai and Herleva and knowing their ultimate fate almost made me cry. It’s incredible to think that others feel,the same way about them.

    Thank you so, so much for the amazing compliments[face_love]
    ————
    Can I take a moment now to note that @Findswoman and I are continuing Zeb’s early adventures (and Shai will almost certainly pop up in there, too. He insists that he deserves his own story!) You can find out more about Zeb and the lovely young Shaman with the strrrrrrrrrrripes in Tales of Lasan: Short Stories in the Lasan Series—"Sleeping Honor" (Zeb/OC early romance, 12/27). @Findswoman’s tale picks up immediately following that fateful Storm’s End. :zeb:
     
  14. Kahara

    Kahara Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Congratulations on a spectacular ending here! =D= I really enjoyed how the flashback story ties back into the present day and provides a great perspective on Zeb's thoughts and feelings during the Rebels episode.

    [face_laugh] Mama Orrelios is becoming one of my favorite (sometimes Disappointed and sometimes not) Space Moms of the GFFA. Even when she's not there in person, her presence is there in Zeb's life (as we see later as well, along with Shai's) and she is such a treasure.

    Poor Zeb, it's really heartbreaking to see him struggling with the idea that he can be a big brother again and thinking that it's somehow a betrayal or a replacement. :( That Ezra has some coincidental similarities makes it even more difficult, and I could feel the wince when Zeb realized he accidentally called him "Shai" at one point -- guaranteed to make him feel like he was doing exactly what he feared.

    I'm glad he has Herleva and Shai there to tell him off and set him straight, in the most loving way possible. ;) Maybe they are actually pulling an Obi-Wan Kenobi (wouldn't put it past either of them to manage it out of sheer stubbornness :p ) or perhaps it's the memory of them that lives on in Zeb's heart. (As I think someone or other said earlier, and now I cannot find their comment to save my life.) Either way, his family is there for him to remind him that he doesn't have to close himself off from Ezra to still be Shai's brother too.

    I especially loved this part; it's beautiful. @};-

    The action parts were really well-done too; I could picture what was going on, which is often a struggle for me with scenes like that. Since I haven't watched the episode in a while, I could have been entirely lost but that didn't happen. Making things that easy to follow and suspenseful takes skill, and you did a really great job!

    Aww, Space Family! They're adorable when they get along for five minutes. [face_love] (Kanan and Hera think so too, I'm sure. :p)
     
  15. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    A hearty, Lasat-sized thank you for all Fan Fiction Awards nominations! I was quite overwhelmed by them! This story has been nominated for:
    • Best Multi-Timeframe Story
    • Best New Canon
    • Best Multi-Chapter
    • Best Drama
    Zeb was nominated for Best Interpretation of an EU Character and Best Non-Human, and Shai for Best Original Character.

    I'm so honored by the reaction to this story; I never expected to strike such a chord, but I'm just so pleased that people really cared about Zeb and Shai, because I certainly fell in love with them while writing this story. Once again, thank you so much!

    Aw, yeah! :zeb:
     
  16. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Finally! I get a chance to catch up on some reading, and I get treated to the final chapter and epilogue of this wild and touching story!

    Zeb's inner dialogue came in the different voices of his mom, his brother, but in the end, it was really Zeb's goodness that lectured and chided Zeb's stubbornness, using those voices, until Zeb did what he really wanted to do. He wanted to befriend the spunky little human while honoring his brother's memory.

    The story was a wild ride, and I'm glad I got to read it. Excellent work Raissa Bairard, and congrats on your nominations! Good luck in the awards!
     
  17. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    So, it's time for me to make a shameful confession: I've had this tab on my phone open to read for months now. I skimmed it during the Awards season for nomination purposes but now I've had time to sit down and read it in full, and you better believe that I'm glad I did. :D =D=

    This story is just so rich - both in building a believable backstory and an incredibly dense fictional world. I adore the Lasat culture that you and Finds have so lovingly expanded on. From the environment and the festivals to the local lingo and fabrics and food and system of belief and naming traditions - it all felt as real as anything here on Earth, and it was a treat to just immerse myself in this from start to finish.

    And there is my heart - squeezing already! I could see where you were going with this right away and I was instantly hooked. Of course Zeb is going to see his little brother in his (eventual) little space!brother. His grief was touchingly handled, and made for a very emotionally intense read.

    That said, I have to say how much I love Shai! He's such an adorably rambunctious scamp with a big ol' heart and such an endearing case of hero-worship. I love your branching out to introduce all of Zeb's family to us (and Mama Orrelios in particular! [face_love]), but little Shai was spot-on wonderful for me. [face_love]

    :oops: Ouch! - quite literally! That was not at all what I expected to result of him climbing the warrior after such a build-up, but it was a stroke of genius to have his climb be so anti-climatic in the end. It was understandable that his guilt would grow during the day and then kick in his commonsense. His conscience and his willingness to fight for others always seems to find a way to manifest, even when, perhaps, he'd like to go his own way and ignore everything else. (Although, that said, the lady he's trying to impress seems to be more than worth the effort! [face_mischief] [face_love])

    Ack, I could hear the Disappointment in her voice with a capitol 'D'. Herleva is such a relatable mother - and clearly an Honor Guard herself, through and through. I love how rich the voices were you gave the characters - each one is so individual, and even Zeb himself I can 'hear' speak straight from canon.

    You made the build-up to little Shai's predicament quite intense! I was on the edge of my seat for its outcome the whole time.

    Oh, sweetie. :( Looks like Zeb's stubbornness is a family trait. But it's so easy to understand why Shai would want to impress his brother - and then see how easily he got in over his head. Reading about the sandstorm, once again, felt real. I really appreciate the research you did, because it really felt like a life or death survival situation. Every word was completely gripping.

    Oh!! [face_love][face_love]!! I tried to shorten this quote, but I just couldn't - because this really is what the story boils down to. I adored Zeb's surprise at his mother's pride, and, once again, Herleva just takes the cake for me! Her words of wisdom and commendation were so spot on accurate - the perfect way to build up Zeb after he stumbled and kept on going. Just, masterful work!

    Everything coming full circle in the end was just beautiful to read. And I especially loved the glimpse of an older Shai through Zeb's inner voice. The back and forth dialogue with his own self-doubts and guilt was an emotional gut-punch, but in the best of ways. In the end, he's still an Honor Guard - and of course that means keeping an eye on Ezra and opening his heart enough to let him in. It really goes great with the theme of found family in Rebels as a whole. Each character has lost so much, but together they're able to make a new whole out of each other. This was an excellent way to honor that recurring theme - and to dive into Zeb's past and explore how that influences his motivations in the present.

    I can't say it enough: this was a wonderfully crafted piece that I truly enjoyed reading! Now, I have to wander over and dive into the rest of the series . . . [face_love]=D=