Parts I & II can be downloaded HERE in pdf, epub and mobi formats Title: Ἀνάγκη – Necessity beyond sway Timeframe: Starts shortly before the battle of Yavin - ends around the time of the Battle of Sluis Van. Summary: An artist finds herself bounced around by the vagaries of Galactic history. Characters: OC protagonist, Thrawn, + a host of minor characters. The OCs appearing in this fic are listed here. Genre: If I really have to pick one, I'll go for drama/tragedy, but there's going to be a little bit of everything, from romance to adventure and back. Notes: This story is set in the pre-Disney EU, but I'm not really obsessed with canon, so I'll be taking liberties with stuff when I feel like doing it. I will be adding end notes to relevant chapters to explain references to EU material where necessary. Generally speaking, this story assumes that you are familiar with Timothy Zahn's character Grand Admiral Thrawn. I'm not a native English speaker, so feel free to tell me to correct what needs to be corrected. You should know however that my mother tongue, Greek, is a very florid language, and that I've never seen an adverb I didn't like Table of contents behind the spoiler tag. Spoiler Part I: Χάρις (Grace) Chapter 1: The modified Demahl Chapter 2: The fellowship Chapter 3: Lesser citizens Chapter 4: The raid Chapter 5: Zygerria Chapter 6: The firestone Chapter 7: The Twi’lek Dancer Chapter 8: The owner Chapter 9: Ted Chapter 10: Captain Ruud Chapter 11: The gift Chapter 12: The diner Chapter 13: The self-portrait Chapter 14: Anakin Skywalker Chapter 15: The colour of sunshine Chapter 16: Desire Chapter 17: Old Kiffar Chapter 18: Tam Chapter 19: Contradictions Chapter 20: The holosculpture Chapter 21: The appointment Chapter 22: The duel Chapter 23: Japor ivory wood Chapter 24: Jealousy Chapter 25: Taungsday Chapter 26: Qumawarat Chapter 27: The bacta tank Chapter 28: Nuso Esva Chapter 29: The flame miniature Chapter 30: The box Chapter 31: Major Vermel Chapter 32: The study Chapter 33: The Empire of the Hand Chapter 34: Eighty-Seven Chapter 35: The Admiral Chapter 36: The vultures Chapter 37: Power Chapter 38: The new ambassador Part II: Ἐρινύς (Vengeance) Chapter 1: Broken Chapter 2: The father Chapter 3: The death mark Chapter 4: The uncle Chapter 5: Tangled Chapter 6: The singing stone Chapter 7: The painting Chapter 8: Rumours Chapter 9: The fellows Chapter 10: The Plebeian Exhibition Chapter 11: Corulag Chapter 12: Potted plants Chapter 13: The Canted Circle Chapter 14: The funeral Chapter 15: The Lifeform Chapter 16: Morning sickness Chapter 17: Exile Chapter 18: The Admonitor Chapter 19: Side trip Chapter 20: Father and son Chapter 21: Hostage Chapter 22: Doctor Cottle Chapter 23: The Noghri and the stormtrooper Chapter 24: Friendship Chapter 25: Troukruka Chapter 26: Intrusion Chapter 27: The bond Chapter 28: Life Day Chapter 29: Destiny Chapter 30: Failure Chapter 31: Insurrection Chapter 32: Farewell Chapter 33: Endor Part III: Μοῖρα (Fate) Chapter 1: Liberation Chapter 2: Confusion Chapter 3: The silent stone Chapter 4: Threats Chapter 5: The jungle planet Chapter 6: Life debts Chapter 7: First contact Chapter 8: The dance slave Chapter 9: Deserters Chapter 10: Guest Chapter 11: Soontir Fel Chapter 12: Seeds Chapter 13: Nirauan Chapter 14: Reunion Chapter 15: The Fortress of the Hand Chapter 16: Coruscant Chapter 17: Homecomings Chapter 18: Petty and pathetic Chapter 19: The shuttle Chapter 20: Underground Chapter 21: Healing Chapter 22: Rejection Chapter 23: Dilemma Chapter 24: The plague Chapter 25: The fall of Coruscant Chapter 26: Observations Chapter 27: The tremor Chapter 28: Flight Chapter 29: The swarm Chapter 30: Silence Chapter 31: Fire Chapter 32: The ambush Chapter 33: Recovery Chapter 34: The battle of Viezoth Chapter 35: Staying Chapter 36: The black foal Chapter 37: Sacrifice Chapter 38: Obsession Chapter 39: Ghosts Chapter 40: The Chimaera Chapter 41: Killik Twilight Chapter 42: The vision Chapter 43: Betrayal Chapter 44: A second chance Chapter 45: Roads not taken Chapter 46: The mad Jedi Chapter 47: Ultimatum Chapter 48: Respite Chapter 49: The light in the dark Epilogue ---------------------------------------------------- Part I: Χάρις (Grace) "For in your gift are all our mortal joys, and every sweet thing, be it wisdom, beauty, or glory, that makes rich the soul of man."Pindar, Olympian Ode 14 Chapter 1: The modified Demahl The dimly lit corridor of the Imperial Palace seemed deserted as she stepped out of the meeting hall and went to the pile of materials stacked against the wall, humming to herself along the way. She added the two empty buckets she was carrying to the stack on the left, tucked the lids behind the boxes and turned to the last bucket that was full. She took a deep breath and went to heave it off the floor to carry it into the room. “Allow me.” A cool, cultured voice behind her caused her to jump in fright. A blue hand protruding from the olive-green sleeve of an Imperial Navy officer’s uniform grabbed the handle and lifted the bucket with ease. She followed the blue-skinned man back into the meeting hall. His glowing red eyes swept the room once and came to rest on the tarpaulin covering the floor and the tools laid out at the foot of the wall panel she was working on to the left of the balcony. Without a word, he carried the bucket to that corner and set it down as casually as if it were empty. “Thank you,” she said. She presented him with a basket of wipes. He took a towel silently while she also cleaned her hands as best she could and gave a cursory wipe at her mud-smeared face. He was standing in front of her in the straight-backed posture of a military man as his red eyes wandered around the room, going from one panel to another and lingering on the unfinished one before returning to her. He arched a single blue-black eyebrow in question. “You seem... perplexed.” She appeared to be a little intimidated but there was a hint of amusement in her tone. A small twitch flickered at the corner of his mouth. “I came here for a meeting with High Command,” he replied in a deep, even voice. “I was expecting a roomful of stiff senior officers. I will admit that to find instead a woman in Berchestian artisan trousers running around barefoot and carrying buckets of Gungan swamp clay is... intriguing.” His eyes glittered with their odd inner light. “Especially when the woman in question is obviously neither Berchestian nor Gungan” – he took in the room once more – “and she is no mere artisan either.” Her face broke into a warm smile and she held out her hand for him to shake. “You’re right on all three counts. I’m Ayesha Eskari, I’m the Palace’s... let’s say, resident artist until the end of this year.” He executed a perfect military bow as he took her proffered hand. “Senior Captain Thrawn, at your service.” His gaze flitted to the panel briefly. “Are you related to the poet Namajib Eskari?” She eyed him curiously, apparently surprised that he had made the connection. “He was my father.” The red eyes stared at her for a moment. “Interesting.” He gestured towards the wall panels. “May I have a look?” “Of course. Please don't touch that one,” – she pointed at the panel to the right of the double doors – “the clay isn't dry yet.” Thrawn gave her a curt nod and absorbed himself in a careful examination of the panel mirroring hers across the transparisteel doors leading to the balcony. With a slight shrug, she returned to the bucket he had carried, removing the lid before flipping it over. The clay slipped out of the plastoid and landed on the tarpaulin with a soft thump. She selected a potter’s wire from her tools and sliced off a chunk of clay that she added to the basin of water in front of her. Kneeling by the basin, she set about flaking the clay in the water, dissolving it until the mix acquired the creamy texture of liquid mud. Humming to herself, she turned to a box and extracted a cupful of white dust, which she poured into the basin. She swept her hand across the liquid a few times, careful not to spill any onto the floor. She pulled yet another measuring cup from another box, adding this time a shiny, granular substance to the mix. With a satisfied smile, she went to pick her potter’s wire again when Thrawn’s voice broke into her thoughts. “Is that the modified Demahl technique you are using?” Her eyes shot up and she looked at him with renewed curiosity. “I think it is my turn to say that you seem perplexed, Miss Eskari,” he said. His lips were definitely twitching into a smile now. “Impressed, really,” she replied earnestly. “Most people wouldn’t know a Demahl, modified or not, if you gift-wrapped it and served it to them on a platter.” There was a twinkle in his eyes. “Perhaps I am not most people.” “Apparently not. Are you an artist yourself?” “I am a Captain in the Imperial Navy.” “I didn't know that art and the Navy are incompatible,” she countered. “After all, I am redecorating this room for High Command.” The twinkle in his eyes was still there, but his expression remained cool and calculating. “Well, to answer your question,” she continued once it became clear he wouldn't say more, “I modified the modified Demahl.” There was that questioning blue-black eyebrow again. “I decided to add pseudolime to the mix. I find it makes the clay adhere better.” She sliced off another chunk of clay and lowered it in the basin. He was observing her with great interest. “So you could say that this is the recently invented, top secret and otherwise perfectly obscure Eskari technique,” she added with a grin. He chuckled softly. “Indeed. I will make sure I look it up in art books in a few years from now.” She laughed and set back to work. “Oh, I doubt you’ll ever find it anywhere. Nobody bothers with Gungan mud anymore.” There was a long silence during which he went back to his examination of the lightning pattern she had created on the wall panels that were dry. When he turned again to look at her, the mud in the basin had become thick and sticky. The muscles in her shoulders and arms were tensing as she kneaded the mix, and sweat was beading on her forehead. “Could you not use a duracrete mixer?” he asked. She shrugged without looking up. “Machines are for lazy people.” Amusement seeped into his voice. “I have no doubt that you are a very hard-working person, Miss Eskari, but would you not obtain a smoother, more consistent texture if you were to use one or another of the oh-so-reprehensible mechanical contraptions available to sculptors for this?” She shrugged again and wiped a drop of sweat from her cheek with the back of her hand, smearing a little more mud on her face. “Smoothness and consistency of texture... they don’t make a work of art special. These new alloys that artists like to use, the perfect mix, calculated with absolute precision by the foundries down to the last molecule... yes, they’re smooth, and consistent, and malleable, and some would argue beautiful. But I find they just produce soulless works.” She paused to run her forearm across her brow and push out of her face the short, beaded braids that were hanging in front of her eyes. “What makes a sculpture worth looking at is in the imperfections, in all the little signs that the sculptor tried – and failed – in his or her struggle with matter. In his or her attempt to take still matter and make it express life.” She paused again and stared at the contents of her basin. “To have a machine shape your material for you... there’s just no challenge in that,” she added with a sigh. She suddenly looked up at Thrawn, as if remembering that she was talking to him. “I’m sorry, I’m rambling and I probably don’t make much sense.” He was fixing her with his glowing red eyes. “On the contrary, Miss Eskari, you are surprisingly eloquent.” He took one more look at the room. “Now as much as I would like to continue this conversation rather than engage in discussions on war and strategy, I am afraid that I must go and find out where the High Command meeting is being held before I am late.” She smiled again. “It’s in the Naboo room. One floor up, across the hall. All the meetings have been moved there until I’m done here, which should be another five to six weeks.” “Thank you.” He took a step towards the door. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Miss Eskari.” “The pleasure was all mine, Captain.” She stood up and wiped mud off her fingers before gesturing towards the now-empty bucket of clay. “And thank you for your help.” “You are most welcome, Miss Eskari. With your permission, I will visit you again in the coming weeks, to watch our meeting room transform under your care.” And with another military bow, he turned on his heel and left.