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Beyond - Legends Saga - Legends Ἀνάγκη – Necessity beyond Sway | Thrawn, OC, drama/tragedy, pre-ANH to TTT | Epic, e-book available

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Chyntuck, Oct 6, 2014.

  1. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 25, 2013
    Their gifts to one another are sooooo heartfelt it makes me melt inside. (Pure goo) The idea of putting that much thought into a gift makes me cry happy tears. I was sorry when the food interrupted them. We need to continue that hug with her wrapped about him. I look forward to seeing them at the Ball that you mention also.

    The only people in my life that have ever put that much thought and love into gifts are my sister and my father.
  2. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    “The Captain insisted that I tell you to please be safe,” he added as he climbed in his speeder.

    She shook her head. “Only Thrawn could think of giving that sort of advice to others when he’s out there fighting a war,” she grumbled. Vermel laughed and revved up the engine to leave.

    That is a jolly good advice and she better pays heed to it.

    *feverishly, in the truest sense of the word, reads on

    Oh my, helping the sex slaves of Xixor. That is not a reptile you wish as your enemy. I hope Vader & Thrawn can protect her both IF an emergency should occur here.

    Anyway, your Thrawn shows that there are real gentlemen out there, being good to their girl. I had not had such love letters in ages or such sweet words said. But I guess that is marriage to you, sigh!


    And sorry. There is something in the air of that sleep over room at work that gets to me. If any scientist would put a Petri dish there, it would be the perfect bio-chemical weapon. IT has been 5 days now, my voice sounding like creaking branches, fever being on & off...

    Chyntuck likes this.
  3. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    Ok, I read that quickly and I thought it said "Xizor is a creepola who needs to be neutered." Well, that too, I guess.

    Boy, Thrawn and Ayesha sure missed each other a lot! They missed each other in the hallway, they missed each other in the bedroom, they missed each other in the kitchen.....=P~
  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Aack, catch-up time! :eek:

    31: Love the ongoing exchange of artistic gifts: they tell so much about each of the givers without using any words, just art and craft and amazing skill. The neck drawing really is a perfect emblem of their longing for each other. And in Major Vermeil's visit we see Ayesha's exemplary hospitality and generosity come through in spades; many who have been through what she's been through would likely have had those qualities sucked right out of them long ago, but it says so much for her strength of character that she didn't. The carving is certainly a gift he will cherish—how could anyone not cherish a gift from someone like Ayesha? @};- Love how Thrawn's letter is as full of information and detail as it is of romance.

    32: Wow, what a reunion, full of so many urgent reminders! ;) And there's the same neck and shoulder curve, that we've now seen in the drawing, the wood sculpture, and the musical glasslike stone from Matta Thryne. We get some of the best gifts ever in this chapter: the uncut stone piece plus the tool for Ayesha, and the study for Thrawn, complete with his own khraashyr (what a touch!)—shows just how much they know each other by now. But oh gosh, like the others have said, having Xizor in the picture adds a whole new element of danger... watch out, Ayesha! [face_nail_biting]
  5. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Good morning all, thanks for reading and reviewing!

    Your comments really cracked me up this time. For instance:
    Now that progression ^^^ had me -- literally -- laughing out loud! (Is creepola a "canon" word in English by the way? I like it.)
    Check out the Writers' Desk. There's an interesting conversation going on in there about post-marriage issues ;)

    More seriously now:
    They're doing better than the ball this year. See next chapter ;)
    Argh! I hope you feel better soon [:D]
    Thank you! I'm happy you're enjoying the artistic side of this story, it's one of the things I love to write. I remember how I was stuck on chapter 32 when I was trying to figure out what present Thrawn brought Ayesha, because a sculpture just didn't feel enough -- until the idea that he brought back something to sculpt popped into my head. Then the words started flowing again :)

    And finally:
    [face_shhh] [face_mischief] [face_whistling]
    Ewok Poet and AzureAngel2 like this.
  6. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Replies in the previous post ^^^ because they were too long.

    This chapter is a bit of an information dump, but it's a necessary one.

    Tags: AzureAngel2 Findswoman Gemma Mando-Man Raissa Baiard
    Please let me know if you would like to be added or removed from the tag list.

    And thanks to Nyota's Heart for beta-reading [:D]


    Chapter 33: The Empire of the Hand

    Thrawn’s hand was rubbing her back and she opened an eye to see him sitting on the edge of the bed, all dressed up and ready to go. “Is it time to wake up already?” she asked sleepily.

    “Not for you, Ayoo’sha’nek,” he murmured. “I only wanted to tell you that I am leaving to the Palace. As you know, I have some packing to do.”

    “Do you need any help?”

    “Not at all,” he answered with a smile. “You should get some rest so that we can enjoy the New Year Fete Ball tonight.”

    She rolled on her back and yawned. “I wasn’t planning on going to the Ball. I declined the invitation when I got it.”

    Thrawn cocked an eyebrow. “Were you intending to spend the evening here all alone?”

    “No, I was going to go to the Centre.”

    Thrawn gazed at her, his expression impassive. “Of course you were.”

    She gave him a concerned look. “We can go to the Ball if that’s what you’d like. I just thought that Simon and Uumana and Old Dex could use the company, and it would be nice to have a party for the Togruta women who are there. They’ll be stuck with us for a while, we haven’t been able to secure passage offworld for them yet.” He was still staring at her. “What? You don’t want to go?”

    Both eyebrows shot up in surprise. “You would like me to go with you?”

    She looked at him with puzzlement. “Of course. What did you think?” He opened his mouth to speak and closed it again. Understanding suddenly flooded her features, and she pulled him to her with a chuckle. “Get used to it, Qubshi be-khadeeb,” she whispered in his ear. “You’re moving in with me and I officially want to share every little moment of my life with you.” Thrawn’s lips played on her cheek until they found her mouth. “We can still go to the Ball if you’d prefer that, though,” she added tentatively after the kiss was over.

    He sat up. “Not at all, Ayoo’sha. I believe we will have a much nicer time with your friends in the Centre.” He laid a hand on her chest to feel her heart underneath and he was soon pinching her gently, making her whimper. “I can think of several other little moments of your life I would like to share in the near future,” he murmured. His eyes were twinkling with amusement at her reaction. “However, those will have to keep for the time being. I must go if I want to move my possessions today.”

    “Not fair,” she called after him as he left the room. “I’m going to make you regret this.”

    His head reappeared in the doorframe. “Empty threats,” he said smugly. “I heard that last night already and I am yet to see any conclusive results.”

    * * *​

    Ayesha stepped out of the turbolift and took the large box she was carrying to the kitchen counter when she saw Thrawn emerge from the hallway with an empty crate. “What did you bring?” he asked.

    “Flo made doughnuts for tonight. It’s Old Dex’s recipe and he misses them.” She pointed her chin at the stack of crates on the landing pad. “How’s the unpacking going?”

    “Come and see for yourself.” He led her to his new study. The bookcases were now stacked with his books and datacards, he had rearranged some of the pieces of art on the shelves and the leather armchair he’d had in his quarters was occupying the empty corner to the right of the door. Ayesha’s Fijisi wood self-portrait was prominently displayed on the desk, as it had been in the Palace. “I will have this calibrated and encrypted in order to conduct official business from here,” he said, gesturing towards the comm device embedded in the table. “And I have still not unpacked my uniforms and clothes,” he added, showing two space bags on the floor.

    “Don’t worry, I’ll move my formal outfits to the spare bedroom. That way there’ll be space for your stuff in the walk-in closet.”

    “Thank you.”

    He was speaking casually but there was something indefinable in his voice that made her give him an inquisitive look. “Is there something wrong? Is there something that makes you uncomfortable?”

    Thrawn smiled. “I am simply a little overwhelmed, Ayoo’sha. You are constantly giving me more than I could ever hope for. This is something I will never get used to.”

    She shook her head. “I think I already said this, but you really have the strangest ideas, you know?” She ignored his raised eyebrow and pointed at the Wookiee lineage shield engraved with his personal insignia on the wall. “How do you like your khraashyr? Rumpy made it for you. He’s allowed to carve them now that he’s an adult and he was bursting with pride when I asked him to do it.”

    “I am also very proud to be the first and only Chiss to own one,” he answered with a twitch of his lips. “The coat of arms of the Chiss Ascendancy was never carved in wood, even less so by a Wookiee.” He took a step closer and brushed his fingers on the line of Cheunh symbols running around the edge of the disk. “But these were not carved by your brother,” he added.

    It made her laugh. “You’re such a show-off. Always displaying your power of observation.” She laughed again at the look on his face. “No, Rumpy didn’t carve them, I did. He had trouble with the Cheunh script. By the way, I wanted to ask you, what’s a syndic?”

    “It is a political rank within the Ruling Families of the Chiss Ascendancy,” Thrawn explained. “What you wrote here, ‘Syndic Mitth’raw’nuruodo of the Eighth Ruling Family’, is, as you correctly assumed, my complete name and title in Cheunh. I told you about full names and core names quite a while ago,” he added when she eyed him curiously.

    “That wasn’t my question. I was just wondering how you can hold a political rank in Chiss society if you’ve been exiled.” Thrawn gave her a long stare. “Did I stick my nose again where it doesn’t belong?”

    Thrawn gazed at her a moment longer before saying, “I think it is time we put this room to good use, Ayoo’sha. Why don’t you sit down?” He closed the blinds, took a datacard from a shelf and sat behind the desk. “I need you to understand that I will tell you now a number of things in confidence. Very few people are privy to this information, and it is essential that it remains this way.” She nodded. He inserted the datacard in its slot and keyed a complex decryption code. A holographic map of the Galaxy filled the room, with sectors delineated in coloured lines. “What you see here demarcated in various shades of grey is the Empire. The blue area over there” – he pointed at a cluster of star systems on the edge of the map – “is the Chiss Ascendancy. And what is enclosed in those burgundy lines to its south is the territory I have opened up in the Unknown Regions.”

    Her jaw dropped. “This is huge,” she gasped. “It’s an empire in its own right.”

    A smile touched Thrawn’s lips. “It is. We call it the Empire of the Hand, after the fortress where we established our main base. However, it would better be described as a confederation of independent systems. It is only loosely affiliated with the Empire. The Emperor has been feeding me the resources to chart and pacify this area, but we are quite autonomous and we have managed so far to avoid the many shortcomings of Imperial politics, such as the Tarkin Doctrine and this absurd concept of human superiority.”

    She gave him a perplexed look. “Are you telling me that the Emperor is helping you establish an empire to rival his own?”

    He chuckled. “That would be one way of putting it.” Her perplexity increased. “There are many threats in the Unknown Regions, Ayoo’sha, threats so grave that even the full might of the Imperial Navy may not be able to contain them. The Emperor understands this and, as power-hungry as he is, he knows that he cannot extend his control over such a vast territory in one fell swoop. He also understands that I cannot challenge his rule as long as I am dependent on his support for ships and manpower. The key reason I joined the Empire, and the reason the Emperor welcomed me despite my being an alien, is that, by working together, we have the means to make all necessary preparations for the eventuality that one of these threats turns against us. By ‘us’, the Emperor means us here in Imperial space, but to me this also includes my own people from the Chiss Ascendancy, whom I am still committed to protect.”

    “And your people couldn’t provide you with those means? You told me once that the Chiss Expansionary Defence Fleet is at least as good, if not better, than the Imperial Navy.”

    Thrawn sighed. “The CEDF is a well-trained, well-equipped force, but its actions are constricted by a law that was passed nearly one thousand years ago. The Non-Aggression Law is the foundation of the Chiss military code and it bans any type of pre-emptive strike against potential enemies. This is the law I broke one time too many, and I was therefore exiled.” He paused. “I expect that you will now ask about the specific circumstances that led to my exile. I do not wish to discuss this with you, but if you insist, I will.”

    She gazed at him for a moment. “It’s okay,” she said finally. “I’ve watched you tiptoe around the subject for a year, and I imagine you have your reasons.” She gestured at the burgundy area on the holo. “So how does all this make you a syndic? Is your Empire of the Hand also affiliated with the Chiss Ascendancy?”

    “Not quite. There are however Chiss warriors who agree with me that our military code is outdated, and who chose to join me. I have thus established my own Household Phalanx, which is operating out of Nirauan.” He zoomed the holo to the Gradilis sector, on the border between Wild Space and the Unknown Regions. “This is where the Fortress of the Hand is located, and it is, shall we say, the capital of this confederation I have pieced together.” He zoomed out again and watched Ayesha as her eyes wandered between the various areas delineated on the map. “I cannot overstate the importance of maintaining absolute secrecy on this matter, Ayoo’sha. Not even the Grand Admirals are aware of the true nature of my work. Lord Vader himself does not know the extent of this project. This is one of the best-kept secrets in the Empire.”

    Ayesha was startled. “Why are you telling me this if it’s a state secret?”

    Thrawn smiled and switched off the holoprojector. “You have some rather strange ideas of your own, Ayoo’sha’nek. It seems that we make a right pair.” He walked around the desk and pulled her to her feet. “I cannot live with you in your home and hide what I am doing from you forever. I am certain that you understand why I will not share many details with you in the future, as I am certain that you will keep this secret for me.”

    She shrugged casually. “I will, but I have three conditions.”

    Thrawn tensed up a little but relaxed when he saw the sparkle of mischief in her eyes. “My power of observation indicates that your conditions should be relatively painless. I am all ears.”

    “Well, first, you have to stop referring to this apartment as my home. If you’re living here, it’s got to be a little bit yours too.”

    He crushed her mouth under his. “Your first condition is gratefully accepted,” he murmured. “Please go on.”

    “From now on, no more ringing the doorbell and waiting for my permission to enter. You just walk in as if you own the place.”

    “I will miss my Tarchalian gazelle, but that will be fine. Your second condition is accepted. What of the third?”

    She grinned. “I told you you’d regret how you left the bedroom this morning.” Her grin widened. “I am demanding absolute submission to my will for the coming hours.”


    A/N: The story of the Empire of the Hand is borrowed from the Hand of Thrawn duology, and the Chiss Non-Aggression Law from Outbound Flight.
  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Ooh, I always enjoy a good information dump—especially a Chyntuck information dump, which is among the best possible kind. :D Good that Thrawn's opening up about his secrets, and wow, what big ones! He basically has his own Empure, or close to it! Both are of course right that if they're going to live together, they should know each other's secrets. (Ayesha as Empress of the Hand... sounds nice, sounds nice!)

    This is all making want to read the various Thrawn books. Though I'm not sure how they could be better than this. [face_batting]
  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 31, 2004
    Great concise details of the Empire of the Hand. I love that he shares what he can. And I squeed over her three conditions. :)
    AzureAngel2, Gemma, Chyntuck and 2 others like this.
  9. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    May 6, 2003

    OMG, that was great.
    Best chapter of so many great chapters!!

    Ayesha and Thrawn spending New Year Fete at the Center instead of going to some pompous ball is just wonderful.
    Doing something meaningful and at the same time spending time together, without the Imperial Court's High Society.
    I'm looking forward to this! :D
    But then - didn't Thrawn's promotion to Grand Admiral happen in a secret ceremony at New Year's Fete? Or am I mistaken now? :confused:
    Don't remember that clearly... meh, too long ago.
    Anyway, your version is so much nicer!! :cool:

    So nice to see how much Thrawn trusts Ayesha by telling her about the Empire of the Hand. Wow.
    And Ayesha respecting his wish not to talk about what lead to his exile.
    A really, really strong relationship, I'd say! @};-
  10. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    Thrawn's life is so complicated, as is Ayesha's, but they have created their own sanctuary in this apartment. The description of the military campaign is very helpful to me in terms of figuring out what is going on. Thrawn has considerable clout and power here, being in charge of his own territory.

    They make the right pair indeed. [:D]
  11. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 25, 2013
    This line made me giggle and Squeee. I just love it when a woman demands this of her man. It's just the best for both of them. Yeah!!!:)@};-@};-
  12. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    OK, here I go. I was writing my ideas as I was reading, not coming back to alter anything other than spelling. The moods of different chapters and how they may alter drastically with each relevation make it more fun.

    Chapter #1

    I am not sure if this is meant to be in medias res, if a Chiss would be so upfront about a non-Chiss woman for any reason other than Imperial doctrine that could cause him to conform; but even on the second read, I am surprised at how fast this took off. And the glowing red eyes, for me, are on thin line between pomegranate and creepy - nor 100% sure how to explain what I just said.

    At the same time, I love the idea of military people actually being educated and a person from such a cold, cold world, with such a cold, cold skin colour, having an affinity to art.

    It is also interesting how the colour of his uniform compliments the colour of her adopted homeworld.

    That said, I would kinda figure out she lived on one of the foresty planets from her purist approach to art only! Clever writing.

    And I had a totally wrong association about the last name Eskari - namely, Alberto Ascari, the legendary Formula One driver.

    Of course, the Naboo room! Even the worst of the worst have to remember where they are coming from.

    Chapter #2

    I was a bit freaked out by the first scene until you made it clear that Ayesha was wearing trousers!

    I like it how she's not thin or whatever the common stereotype is called nowadays to mask what it really is.

    Love how Vader is into arts and knowledgable about Gungan culture.

    Chapter #3

    It will be interesting to see how this changes, but my first impression of Ayesha's boyfriend is kinda negative. He is not a human yet he wrote that book? Not sure if that is sycophancy of holding on for dearl life, but it smells like earlier. I kinda sense that Thrawn doesn't like his c!?kblocking behaviour either and that he suspects something. It just does not look like an average case of jealousy.

    LOL, OWNED! :)

    Chapter #4

    Poor Rabarruk. :(

    I am not sure if I would ever share these holos with somebody working under a doctrine of human supermacy. Maybe it's my paranoid nature, but Thrawn's protective behaviour may just be in his blood, as a common trait of his people high culture and then, whoop, he will betray her family in some sort of a twisted blackmail.

    Caught up with what Outbound Flight is about and I can see that Thrawn's initial reason for serving the Empire was kinda...noble. He knew of Y. Vong and that allowed Palpatine to manipulate him into it.

    Now I am even more confused, which is probably good. That means you're not predictable, though the first chapter almost led me to thinking this was going to be a mellodrama. I hereby stand corrected!

    Chapter #5

    Is that drink some sort of kava juice in GFFA? Or a bittner? Don't make her do dr00gZ, Blue Man Group dude, y0!

    This is where I stopped reading the first time around - partly because of my strabismus causing me attention deficit, but more so because it...broke me. I obviously consider poetry to be one of the most important things in my life and, well, my favourite being from GFFA was the first character who was implied to be a poet. At the same time, I spent a third of my life catering to a broken soul who wrote a lot of poetry and who could have died due to completely different reasons (see the above paragraph) and the haunting, intimate but not in sexual way, echoing, horrific bits of a broken mind that was enslaved and was slowly losing both touch with reality outside of his microcosm and will to live...that got me.

    At this point, I care about finding out how Namajib Eskari's books were printed and how come the Zygerrian slave owners did not confiscate his manuscripts and destroyed them...I don't care if these two will hook up, I want to know more about Namajib's last days and if his book was published as a tribute, a statement against slavery...

    ...or, maybe, as an attempt of getting people hostile against alien cultures and then, upon somehow finding that he was friendly to one of the species the Empire discrimimated most, withdrawn as it could not make the wanted point?

    Ayesha's fetus-like pose upon Thrawn bringing up something that triggers her was brilliantly depicted.

    The grooming of an innocent child to become a dancing girl, from day one...DOWNRIGHT FREAKY. So politically incorrect, so bad, yet a perfect way to emphasize their evilness. Love it. Love it. Absototally love it!

    Chapter #6

    This is what I wanted to say in the previous chapter when he did the creepy stalking thing, but looks like I didn't have to! Also, I pity the mate of the real-life Makh. :(

    Glad that the Wookiees are alive and well!

    I obviously know whom Thrawn lost and now I see one thing that will lead these two to bond, and I love it that it's not the typical ex lover type of a thing!

    Chapter #7

    Love how Thrawn comes to see Ayesha again and again again, as if it was a new scene of a theatre play, and before either of the characters mentions anything time-related, one can vaguely tell the time by the phases of Ayesha's work.

    In this one, Palpatine is like a troll feeding on fear; though I am pretty sure that he's just being a horny old wolf by saying that he can read Ayesha's mind, re:Thrawn.

    Maybe this is a wrong assumption - but Thrawn seems to be petrified as well. After all, he knew that Palpatine was a Sith lord from day one, he knew the plot behind an early instance of purging the Jedi, he knows a lot and it's not easy to make a balance between serving somebody for assuming he'll save the world and not being exploited by him for having any weaknesses, for not being the equivalent of an Aryan in GFFA and whatnot.

    Chapter #8

    Both faceless sculptures in this and previous chapter scared the living cr4p out of me. Reminds me of a nightmare I had, where there were graves with question marks instead of names on them. I assume this represents Ayesha's search for own identity and her response to traumas of her childhood? Especially with the second piece being apparently human and UNFINISHED.

    Eeek, the sausage party at the dance recital. BLAST THEM. BLAST THEM ALL. This looks like a Tex Avery cartoon, but in a bad way!

    Palpatine seems to be emotionally blackmailing Ayesha, with how he is pleased the effect of his dancers' performance on her and how he brought her slave master and invited her over to the last things she'd want to be present at...CREEPY AS KRIFF.

    Chapter #9

    I understand that we all have the same assumption...well, sorry if this is what everybody thinks. The black jumpsuit, going out in the middle of the night and having an unusual alibi...did she kill her former master? Or contribute to it? Paid a bounty hunter? Intriguing!

    Ted reminds me of the subject of the Ramones' song Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World and I don't know why. Or do I?

    Chapter #10

    Ha, touché! Looks like I was right about Ted and she schooled him right there!

    And OMG, poodoo!

    I like this guy already. The first one I truly like from the beginning, mind you. Seems humble!


    Chapter #11

    Being immensely attracted by fish as symbol or, well, anything; I love the idea of the fish-ship.

    The ending, given what I said about faceless sculptures earlier, freaked me out a bit.

    Chapter #12

    I have some criticism: this should be marked with SEVEN MONTHS LATER.

    Caf here, caf there, strong as heck; one just KNOWS which part of Europe the author is from, as we drink the abnormal kind of coffee here. Actually, I don't drink coffee at all as I'm hyper by default, but you get idea. :p

    Oh, Dexter is no longer the owner of the place? Hmmm...where is he?

    Sernpidal? How ironic to see it mentioned in the same chapter as Alderaan. And obviously, the other thing. :(

    That black and red think sounds...kinda...Sith?!

    "The Agony of Tarkin" - is it normal to expect that this is one of the pieces they had half-completed, the same way newspapers have readymade articles on people's deaths?

    Chapter #13

    Ayesha's evening gown sounds like a combo of something furry, Wookie-ish and something from Padmé's wardrobe!

    Yes, yes, one thousand times yes!

    I see that you too like to write kisses in odd locations; yet predictable situations.

    Chapter #14

    D'aww, here comes Piett! :) And he apologises for lack of tacts, unlike the vultures. And he defends her upon Matt's request. Goes well with his no-nonsense attitude and manners!

    The only thing I don't like about this is how every other guy is into Ayesha. Would be fun if she wasn't that desirable, at least not to them all.

    And now I know how Palps got his information, so never mind my previous theory.

    BUT I HAVE TO SAY IT: OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD AT THE REVELATION. This fits so perfectly, given that Anakin Skywalker knew how it felt, though he was never exploited as much.

    Chapter #15


    I want to know what's the GFFA equivalent of cinnamon. You can't just leave me with "spice buns". :(

    "She looked at him straight in the eyes. “Forget about being ridiculously gentlemanly and listen to me now,” she said firmly. “I’m not a damsel in distress and I can make my choices. And my choice is you. I’ve wanted you virtually from the moment you carried that bucket of clay for me in the Palace and now I don’t need to hide anymore because freedom is around the corner. So don’t tell me about being older or alien or different, or about Matt Ruud or any other such nonsense. This is what I want. You didn’t take advantage of me, you’re not a vulture, and if you are... well, I’ll take what is given.""

    While I don't understand how primary sexual desire works, nor I ever will; this sounds empoweringand I believe her.

    Underlevels? Don't corridor ghouls live there?

    "The answer to that is "more or less". The definition is entirely mine, but the word Ayoo'sha is based on the way endearing diminutive names are formed in Arabic (e.g. Maya > Mayoosh, 'Ola > 'Oloosh, etc.)."

    This was my first guess, glad that I got that right.

    Chapter #16

    Nazmat reminds me of one certain dame I made my dog after, particularly her role in that film where she's a WWII hippie in Italy, defending art. On the other hand, her rhetoric is very Balkans.

    Chapter #17

    Not too crazy about making out = calming concept in general, but now I really, really want to know why Ayesha snapped and it's not like she can make out with me to calm me! :p

    Chapter #18

    A baby! :)

    And, well, what Spice Girls said, "If you wannabe my lover, you gotta get with my friends". Precisely what's happening here.

    Onion's concept art is so hip!

    AND LGBT+ FOLKS *AND* ZELTRONS, the hippies of the GFFA! I loved Dani in old Marvel comics so much, so this is a treat. :)

    Chapter #19

    Enjoyed reading about the keepsakes Ayesha's brothers left for her. A mini crossbow. :)

    “Some shades of purple can be quite jarring when displayed next to light blue and my reputation as an aesthete might be at stake if I were to be mismatched with you.” - is it normal that I read too much into this reply?

    Chapter #20

    This is clearly getting tangled up! Love the suspense!

    Chapter #21

    Did you just...did you just imply that Zeltrons are into polygamy?

    And the obsession with a particular piece of work that drags on and on is something many artists experience. Very realistic, brutal and I understand Ayesha's desire to know more.

    Chapter #22

    This is probably my favourite chapter, next to #5.

    I actually like what happened, that she faced it and that Vader re-created the duel for her. Hadn't that happened, despite leaving her utterly traumatised, she would have eaten herself on the inside.

    Chapter #23

    I hate to quote the shallow person I'm quoting now, but...
    "Destruction leads to a very long road, but it also breeds creation."

    Chapter #24

    "“Are you sure it’s a real Star Destroyer they’re giving you?” Ayesha asked doubtfully. “The way you talk about it, I expect it to be like Tammy’s.”"


    Chapter #25

    MOAR PIETT! And he's still kind and sweet. :)

    Chapter #26

    DEX???? AND HE'S A DOCTOR? I totally thought there will be some vigilant behaviour, but not this!!!! WHOA. Now I see how you left a bait in #9, for something that was obviously not happening.

    This was emotionally intense, even though it makes Ayesha a bit too perfect. Luckily, there's her enormous lust and obsessive personality to un-perfect her. :)

    Chapter #27

    I like how everything is coming into place, especially the somewhat obvious revelation of why Dex had to leave his job and who the faceless Twi'lek statue was of. Clever.

    And hmmm, wondering whom they killed? Maybe #9 was not a bait after all? If a Zygerrian is following Ayesha, there has got to be a reason. Hmmm.

    Chapter #28

    So, this is Ayesha's Kiffar side showing? Reading objects? I totally don't buy ANY OTHER explanation for this.

    Enjoed meeting her daddy.

    Also, Thrawn once again has a somewhat noble cause, but he'll have to be manipulated soon. Especially since Ayesha is pretty much the only thing she cares about, pretty much the only thing that keeps him sane and the only thing he's attached to in his post-Csilla life.

    Chapter #29

    I like the instance of self canibalism here:

    "...while Ayesha cooked chyntuck-and-topato mash."

    And here comes a larger scene with the guy from Outbound Flight. Yay!

    "“There’s not much to say,” she said shyly. “I’m an artist.”" - true dat, artists don't have to speak for themselves, their art does. Nothing to be shy about, actually.

    Car'das experiences with that Dark Jedi are terrifying beyond belief.

    Oooo, one of the older, precious gifts makes a re-appearance!

    Chapter #30

    Trinket tied to a brandy bottle, to somebody who will be flying? Hmmm. This is a bit...odd. But may I be stand corrected.

    And LOVE the mystery at the end! It's like a code ring, or any similar device. One can see you were reading detective stories!

    Chapter #31

    Is Rumpy an artist-to-be as well, or is it a part of his Trials?

    Love the gift Ayesha presented Vermel with, the birds. The symbol exists in so many cultures, so I'm not sure what exactly to compare them with, but I love it.

    At the same time, Vermel's behaviour and mannerisms hit pressure, fear etc. Should I assume that it's the way things were supposed to progress around 3 ABY, naturally and that many of the Imperial pawns would see what Palpatine was failing to see and so on?

    Chapter #32

    Is this thing with Gree canon? I thought they were history, like the Rakata.

    Chapter #33

    Looks like I arrived at the right time - things are starting to tie in and both Ayesha and Thrawn know way too much. With Xizor around, I can imagine things getting REALLY though in the near future.

    Stupid me, for thinking Rumpy was a fully-blown artist.


    OK, I'm done. Manic, as usual. Can't believe it. Thanks for this.
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  13. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing -- and special thanks to Ewok Poet for her extensive review (23 chapters in one go? :eek: ), I'm going to do my best to reply below!
    Oh, you must, must, must. The Thrawn books are among the most amazing in the EU!
    Why am I not surprised? [face_tee_hee]
    No, you're right -- but that's next year. Right now he's still a senior captain, so he has to make admiral first ;)
    Oh yes, more definitely, and we'll be travelling to the Empire of the Hand in the future. Please let me know if you find that my references are too obscure -- I'm such a fan of the Thrawn books that I tend to forget that not everyone has memorized them, but I'm happy to rewrite chapters if you think it's necessary :)
    I can't say I'm entirely surprised either [face_laugh]
    Okay, I'm going to try and answer as much as I can of this without writing an encyclopaedia :p
    Oh, Thrawn is THE art aficionado in the EU. Read the books, read the books! And yes, the eyes are a little bit creepy ;)
    Well, he was married to a queen/senator and was best buddies with Jar Jar. Some of it must have rubbed off :p
    Could be -- but Thrawn is also the only non-human officer in the fleet (which is the main reason I chose him for this story) so he has his own issues with the human supremacy thing. I don't think that Ayesha would have shown her family holos to, let's say, Zaarin.
    There's something of an answer to that in chapter 15, but more will also come in the "ramblings" thread.
    About the theatre play ambience: I was working on a radio drama in Greek while writing this, so there goes your explanation ;)

    About Thrawn's relation to Palps: yes, it's problematic, but you have to remember that Thrawn never lived in the Old Republic. His only knowledge of the Force is a Jedi master who turned to the Dark Side, plus Palps and Vader, so his perspective on this is different from other people. Also, he's a master manipulator (or he thinks so at least.) Read the books, read the books!
    Close enough :)
    Maybe you do, but I don't :p *calls YouTube to the rescue*
    He's the James Kirk of Star Wars :D
    Fixed :)
    No, Yuuzhan Vong, see here:
    In the Balkans? Perfectly normal! :p
    Well, not all of them. Not Vader for instance [face_relieved]not Piett and not really Matt either. It doesn't have to do with desire so much as power ;)
    I'll disagree on that. I think Anakin was exploited pretty badly. He was born in slavery, sold a couple of times, worked from a very young age... He didn't have it easy.
    Yup. And all sorts of other nasty stuff.
    At last someone who catches that reference at first sight! (Okay, it was a bit of a private joke, but I'm glad you saw it [:D])
    ??? :p
    Yup. It's canon:

    EDIT - more replies :eek:
    "Bait" is a good description of what I seem to do ;) But just to clarify, Dex isn't a doctor. He's deactivating slave chips, just like Ayesha.
    I'm going to disappoint you here, but it's not. She's just reading art, Thrawn does it all the time too. Read the books, read the books -- and no, Timothy Zahn isn't paying me to advertise his work :p
    Well, you know, they don't have stupid rules on liquids on planes in the GFFA :p Also, as opposed to Matt, Thrawn didn't try to pilot his Star Destroyer himself!
    Totally fanon - I wrote briefly about it here but I'm yet to make it a fanon post.
    No, thank you!

    Thanks again everyone! Next chapter coming right up.
  14. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    I responded to all of the remaining chapters, btw. I read it like a novel. :)

    Re: 5

    I'll keep that in mind.

    Re: 10

    That's one of the original Star Trek guys? I'm not into it, but I'll look him up.

    Re: 12

    Even worse! Yikes!

    Re: 14

    I meant to say the creepy ones, but still too many of them for a standard. Then again, what do I know? They may be doing the same with every possible girl.

    I think submission for girls is worse than what he went through, so...I'll stick to what I said. ;)

    Re: 16

    While the film is a bit of "BRITS ARE SO CULTURED AND EVERYBODY ELSE IS A BARBARIAN1111!!1!", I love her character in it. :)

  15. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Replies in the previous post because they're the size of my dissertation :)

    Tags: AzureAngel2 Findswoman Gemma Mando-Man Raissa Baiard
    Please let me know if you would like to be added or removed from the tag list.

    And thanks to Nyota's Heart for beta-reading!


    Chapter 34: Eighty-Seven

    The sounds of a wild party echoed between the dark buildings of the Underlevels as the door to the Centre slid open. “Looks like the Biths did it again,” Ayesha muttered. She pushed Thrawn inside and shut the door swiftly before the racket could attract the attention of the whole neighbourhood.

    The place could not be more different from the first time Thrawn had visited it. The beds had been pushed and stacked against the back wall of the ward and a dozen sentients in masks were dancing and chatting with a variety of aliens wearing hospital gowns. There was a large table covered in food and drinks – the diversity clearly showing that this was a potluck – and three hooded musicians with the large heads and lidless eyes of Biths were playing Jizz music in a corner. Ayesha dropped the box of doughnuts on the buffet without removing her balaclava and suddenly found herself lifted in three of a Besalisk’s four massive arms. The fourth hand popped a few doughnuts in his mouth. “Hey!” she exclaimed. “Leave some for the others.”

    “I got priority on these, lil’ one,” Dex said with a satisfied smile. “I invented them. How’s Flo?”

    Thrawn helped himself to Corellian whiskey and went to join Simon, who was standing in a corner. Uumana was sitting at his side, wearing a pretty dress and makeup, but her face was as blank as ever. The two men shook hands. “I did not expect that you could transform this clinic into a night club,” Thrawn said.

    The doctor gave him a small grin. “Everything is possible where Dex is involved. I wouldn’t be surprised if this place could take off and fly away, he did it with a restaurant once.”

    The revelry went on for hours. Ayesha was going from one group to another and dragging people to the improvised dance floor. One of the Togruta in hospital gowns joined the musicians and sang the lyrics of the piece they were performing. The song ended to thunderous applause. “Don’t get used to it, folks,” the klooist said. “Next year we’re competin’ with Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes on the galactic circuit.” There was laughter and cheering, and the band started playing again.

    More masked volunteers arrived and came to greet Simon, who introduced them to Thrawn with numbers. “We use numbers instead of names,” he explained after the volunteers moved on. “That’s where the nickname lil’ one comes from, actually,” he added, pointing at Ayesha who was now dancing with a Devaronian. “She was the first volunteer. We gave you number eighty-seven.”

    “Midnight,” a masked Quarren suddenly barked. He raised his tankard of ale. “A toast, people! To Simon! To Uumana! To Dex!”

    “And to a whole new year of successfully breakin’ the law!” Dex barked back to an explosion of laughter.

    The Bith klooist took a step forward. “And now, ladies and gentlebein’s, before we call it a night, let’s go for the main attraction. We didn’t have her with us last year, but tonight she’s here and she ain’t escapin’.” He played a few notes on his kloo horn and the entire room chanted, “Lil’ one, lil’ one, lil’ one!”

    The band launched into a bouncy rendition of Mad about Me and Ayesha leapt to the dance floor. Her eyes were sparkling under her balaclava and she danced with teasing grace, weaving a tale of joy and mischief as she went from one sentient to the other around the room. People were laughing as she mimed the music. She finally reached Thrawn and pulled him to join her to whistles and cheers from the assembly. The klooist engaged in a wild, swinging improvisation. “Are you having a good time?” she asked as the dance ended.

    She couldn’t see his face under the mask, but the twinkle of amusement was there in his eyes. “This is quite an experience, lil’ one. I dedicated my life to protecting order against chaos, and you have me toasting to breaking the law. I must have been bewitched.”

    Simon clapped his hands. “That’s it for this year, everyone. Now back to our regular programming, there are people here who need to rest. Team One, put the beds back in place. Team Two, put the food away. Everybody else, leave in twos and threes, and for Vader’s sake, try to be inconspicuous, as inebriated as you are.”

    People started moving with near-military discipline, and soon the room was a hospital ward again. The runaway slaves slipped back in their beds and Dex monitored the intervals between departures as the volunteers left. Ayesha took the box of doughnuts, a jar of a gelatinous green substance and a bottle of whiskey and guided Thrawn to a small lounge behind the reception area. Dex joined them a few minutes later, followed by Simon who was leading Uumana by the hand. Ayesha pulled her balaclava off her head. Thrawn hesitated for a moment and did the same. “Ayesha trusts you with her life,” he said evenly when Dex and Simon looked at him with astonishment. “I believe I can trust you with my face. I would very much like also to tell you my name, but there is far too much riding on it. I shall therefore remain number eighty-seven.” He shook hands with them and sat on the sofa next to Ayesha.

    “It’s nice to meet you,” the doctor said. “Give me a minute to help Uumana to bed and I’ll be right back.”

    “No, wait,” Ayesha interjected. “There’s Rylothan mould jelly, it’s her favourite.” She put some of the green jelly in a bowl and spoon-fed it to Uumana. The Twi’lek ate in silence without showing any sign of contentment or displeasure. Ayesha wiped the woman’s mouth and stood up to pull her to her feet. “I’ll take care of Uumana, you stay and have a drink,” she told Simon. She reached a door to the side of the lounge with the Twi’lek in tow and added with a smile before closing it behind her, “Just so you know, I don’t have secrets for Qubshi here, so you can gossip about me as much as you want until I come back.”

    Dex poured two glasses of whiskey for Simon and Thrawn and held the box of doughnuts in his lap as he sat back in his reinforced armchair. There was a silence. “Ayesha loves your wife very much,” Thrawn said, speaking to Simon.

    “She does,” the doctor replied with a sad smile. “They were close friends.”

    “They are close friends,” Dex grumbled. “Uumana’s still there, we just gotta find a way to bring ‘er out.” Simon sighed and Dex turned to Thrawn. “Ayesha toldja about crazy Quin? Her Jedi uncle?” Thrawn nodded. “Well, Quin ‘n’ his Padawan both lost their minds at one point. They were investigatin’ a spice smugglin’ network or some such before the Clone Wars, ‘n’ they were kidnapped ‘n’ overdosed on glitteryll. It’s lucky Quin could do psychometry, ‘cause he found his lightsaber ‘n’ got some of his memories back. We’d still be lookin’ for ‘im otherwise. Was a few ships short of a Starfleet after that, o’ course, but then he was a bit of a loony even before it all happened.” He paused and popped a few doughnuts in his mouth. “But the Padawan, Aayla Secura was her name, she got it all back. Was a Twi’lek, see. It was all stored somewhere in ‘er lekku.”

    Thrawn looked at Simon. “From what little I know of lekku deep memories, I understand that Dex is justified in his optimism.”

    The doctor nodded. “In a sense, yes. It’s true that a Human for instance would not have the same chances of recovery.”

    “Do you believe that your wife’s condition is due to a spice overdose?” Thrawn asked. “Ayesha seems to think that it has to do with some Dark Jedi. She also mentioned the Anzati once, in the context of an unrelated story, but there were... similarities.”

    “No,” Simon said forcefully. “No. Whatever happened to Uumana – or to Ayesha for that matter – has nothing to do with the Anzati. There are telltale signs to identify Anzati victims and neither of them presents any of these symptoms.” He sighed. “As for the Dark Jedi... it’s possible and I obviously don’t know much about such things, I never got to study them as a xenobiologist, but... it’s also possible that in this case, Ayesha is projecting her own bad experiences.”

    Thrawn’s eyebrows had reached his hairline by the time the doctor was done speaking. “I apologize for changing the subject,” he said cautiously, “but are you implying that Ayesha’s... panic attacks are directly related to an assault by a Dark Jedi? Do you know for a fact that she actually fell victim to one?”

    Simon looked at Dex. “We got clues,” the Besalisk grumbled. “She went hysterical when we found Uumana like this. We kept ‘er sedated for two days but nothin’ doin’, she’d start barkin’ her head off every time she came out o’ it. We had to bring ‘er father from Kashyyyk in the end, no one else could calm ‘er down. When we finally got ‘er back, she went to Simon ‘n’ explained this theory of ‘ers about a Dark Jedi that... howdsha put it, had been leechin’ on Uumana’s mind.”

    There was another, long silence. “There is no doubt that something happened to Ayesha, something dark and terrifying,” Simon told Thrawn. “But no one knows exactly what, except perhaps her Wookiee parents, and I’m not even sure about that. Whoever helped her recover did a pretty good job at teaching her how to keep a lid on those memories, but her mind hasn’t healed. It’s still fragile. I’m very concerned that, if she’s exposed to a serious shock, she could snap, and it will be much worse than a simple panic attack. There’s a very real risk that she may become like Uumana.”

    Thrawn went to speak but the door to Simon and Uumana’s room slid open. “Are you done gossiping, can I come in?” Ayesha asked cheerfully. She sat next to Thrawn and tucked her legs under her. He laid a protective arm around her shoulders and remained silent. She looked at him, then at Simon and Dex. “Is everything alright?” she finally asked.

    “O’ course it is,” Dex said with his big laugh. He passed around the doughnuts. “I was gonna tell Eighty-Seven ‘ere how I started making these, Flo never got the recipe right. You know the story?”


    A/N: The story of how Quinlan Vos and Aayla Secura lost and later recovered their memories is borrowed from the Republic: Twilight comics.
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  16. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    That's some underdog New Year's celebration, indeed. And Dex is such a Glutton. It's funny how his cold and Thrawn's cold are different - in Dex's case, one has to read up on the species to know what cold plane tthey came from, in Thrawn's, it's manifested in every single thing there is about him.

    Love Dex's slang, too!

    Is Uumana catatonic, mind-fried ("Strange Days" style) or both? I hope there's a way to bring her back.

    Nice to see a reference to Aayla Secura!

    Is it safe to assume that Thrawn will connect what Dex just described to him to Ayesha's strange stress reaction that took a while to recover, after she witnessed a reconstruction of Vader's fall to the Dark side in #22?
  17. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    May 6, 2003
    oooh... :eek: poor Ayesha!
    And yes, Vader said something along the lines of "her mind was broken once, this can happen again" to Thrawn.
    But Thrawn's a smart guy, he'll find a way!
    And to show his face, oh my, sooner or later, someone at the Center will make the connection. Oh oh...

    And Chyntuck, of course, Thrawn's promotion has to wait, as Zaarin is still alive... :oops:totally forgot about that.
    Hehe, maybe Ayesha will even be present when it happens?
    Promotion ceremonies are nice... really! ;) *says CG who's still happy she finally got hers two weeks ago*
    Okay, they didn't promote me to Grand Admiral, and I'm still waiting for the nice white uniform and the fleet of Star Destroyers... but you take what is given, right? :p
  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 31, 2004
    Ewok Poet - you are amazing! I've never seen a reviewer do that before [face_laugh] I thought I was a gobbler of fics. =D= =D=


    Wonderful unwinding time at the centre and enjoyed reading more about Uumana. I too hope there is an eventual cure.
    Aayla Sekura - I always enjoy mentions of her. :cool:

    I have seen Ayesha's generosity of her talent and spontaneous vibrant nature and her time at the centre as outgrowths of her earlier trauma... [face_thinking] Ways she has channeled those and also become stronger, so that the word "fragility" now worries the ever-living daylights out of me!! [face_nail_biting]
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  19. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    Very cool party! Everyone at the hospital is so caring and selfless.

    I'm concerned about the comment as to how damaged Ayesha's mind is. They say genius and madness go hand in hand. Uumana's situation is tragic and I don't want that to happen to our amazing Ayesha.
  20. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    There was another, long silence. “There is no doubt that something happened to Ayesha, something dark and terrifying,” Simon told Thrawn. “But no one knows exactly what, except perhaps her Wookiee parents, and I’m not even sure about that. Whoever helped her recover did a pretty good job at teaching her how to keep a lid on those memories, but her mind hasn’t healed. It’s still fragile. I’m very concerned that, if she’s exposed to a serious shock, she could snap, and it will be much worse than a simple panic attack. There’s a very real risk that she may become like Uumana.”

    Vader´s earlier words make sense to me now. And his somewhat gallant behaviour towards her.

    I hope Palps is not involved in this dark secret...
    Gemma, Findswoman and Chyntuck like this.
  21. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Yes, amazing binge review, Ewok Poet! :D

    Awesome chapter that runs the gamut from celebratory joy to deep sadness to some very dark unknowns. So glad that even at the Centre they get a chance to celebrate now and then. Much more fun and life-affirming for everyone involved than the Imperial 'do the year before (though I still would love to make a doll-sized version of that dress). But the atmosphere of joy is tempered by the sad case of Uumana and by the terrible possibility that the same could happen our wonderful heroine—who, unless i missed some essential description of her appearance earlier in the story ( :p ), does not have recourse to lekku memories. Here's hoping full healing will be possible for both of them. I'm sure Ayesha's friendship means worlds to Uumana even in her catatonic state. And of course I'm now rabidly curious to find out what exactly happened to Ayesha—and to find out who it was who helped her recover the first time. (Vader again...? [face_thinking])
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  22. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 31, 2004
    It's been rattling around in my head that Aayla could help Uumana if she survived the Purge or could be found in exile? [face_thinking] Or if there is a Rylothian healing technique. :cool:
    AzureAngel2, Chyntuck and Findswoman like this.
  23. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 25, 2013
    Somehow I just don't think of the word fragile when it comes to Ayesha. This worries me too. And every time Uumana is mentioned I feel sad for her and hope that eventually she gets better.
    Chyntuck and Nyota's Heart like this.
  24. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing!
    About the Zaarin-type creeps, yes, that's the idea, but in Ayesha's case there's a specificity that will be discussed in next week's chapters.

    About the exploitation of child slaves -- it's true that in general young girls are worse off, but I can tell you that when I worked with refugees from Sudan and Mauritania who had been victims of slavery as young boys, I heard some stories so freakish that I can't post them here because of the ToS. It's not a generalized pattern of abuse as it is for girls, but when it happens it's incredibly sadistic and destructive, and then those boys are dumped in a society where there's no one to help them and where even human rights groups and social workers aren't prepared to deal with them. I really feel that in my line of work right now, the fact that we focused so much on girls and women is becoming a problem -- which is not to say that we shouldn't focus on girls and women, who are the largest victim group, but that it shouldn't come at the price of ignoring another population which is not insignificant at all in terms of numbers or of the abuse they endured.

    You'll find out in a couple of weeks ;)
    Hey, it's Thrawn we're talking about. He's a genius [face_mischief]

    Congratulations! I'm not sure what you could do with a fleet of Star Destroyers if they gave you one -- parking fees might be an issue [face_laugh] -- but I'm crossing fingers for the white uniform next time.

    Ayoo'shification 2.0 :p

    Heh. What do you think? ;)

    Aah, unfortunately this is canon, so no, no Aayla Secura in this universe =(( I might just write an AU version of this story just for you in the future though! [face_love]
    Ayesha as a person definitely isn't fragile -- her mind is, like people how have had some serious illness and need to be careful about this and that.

    Thanks again! Next chapter coming right up. I decided to keep posting the replies in a separate post, because I keep making them longer :)
  25. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Tags: AzureAngel2 Findswoman Gemma Mando-Man Raissa Baiard
    Please let me know if you would like to be added or removed from the tag list.

    And thanks to Nyota's Heart for beta-reading [:D]


    Chapter 35: The Admiral

    On the second day of New Year Fete Week, Ayesha commed Nazmat Koch, who had invited her for lunch, and asked a little shyly if Thrawn could come along.

    “I am counting on it,” the elderly lady snapped. “I intend to verify for myself that this young man is still up to the task after such a long absence.”

    She was now unable to walk and moved in a hoverchair, but she had prepared a sophisticated Coruscanti meal for her guests, which included several professors from the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts as well as Kal, Mira and their son. Tam flung himself at Thrawn and didn’t let him sit until his mother wrestled him away. Nazmat Koch looked at him with an ironic smile. “If my great-grandson deems you acceptable company, Captain, the rest of us cannot but follow his lead,” she said in her sharp tone. “This does however not exonerate you from all scrutiny. Our disagreement about Ob Khaddor still stands.”

    Thrawn found himself in a heated discussion with two of her colleagues about the artistic value of Alderaanian grass paintings, Ob Khaddor and the interpretation of Killik Twilight. Ayesha listened with half an ear, her attention mostly occupied by Tam’s warbling. The little boy was just over two years old and greatly enjoyed his newfound speech abilities, but he expressed himself in a language that only he could understand. Kal poked her gently in the ribs as they left the lunch table to return to the lounge and pointed his chin fractionally towards Thrawn. “I think we need a rescue operation here,” he whispered. “If case you haven’t noticed, Masters Jayo and Detrell are on a roll, and Master Nazmat is egging them on.”

    Ayesha looked at the scene and grinned. “Launch the Death Star.”

    She put Tam on the floor. The little boy went straight to Thrawn and climbed on his lap before delivering a long speech in his incomprehensible language. Kal laughed. “That wasn’t what I had in mind when I said ‘rescue’, but it’s pretty conclusive. And the Capt’ is actually answering Tammy. That’s a cool trick, he needs to teach me.”

    The next morning, Ayesha dragged Thrawn to the speeder and took him to see the monuments she and Tashi had created for the Coruscant Public Transportation Authority. The three pieces, which evoked destructured shuttles, were made of Tashi’s trademark recycled industrial materials, but they had the otherworldly luminosity of Ayesha’s work. “I learned so much from Tashi,” she said. “I’m competing for a commissioned piece on Corulag, and I really wish I could work with her on that one, but she doesn’t have time. She’s been recruited by this avant-garde Rodian theatre troupe to create their sets. We’ll go to the premiere, I saw her sketches and it’s going to be amazing.”

    They had lunch at Flo’s diner and were back home, settling on the conversation circle for caf, when the comm buzzed. Ayesha could feel Thrawn’s gaze on the skin of her back – she was wearing one of her backless tops – and had to work hard to contain her delight at the sight of a quarter-sized holo of Matt Ruud. They exchanged wishes for the New Year, and she asked how long he’d be on planet.

    “Not much longer,” Matt said. “My leave time is ending this week. Sorry I didn’t call earlier, I’ve been busy.”

    She gave him a wry smile. “Busy as in work, or busy as in the brunette from Pestage’s office?” She laughed at his astounded look. “I always watch that gossip channel on the HoloNet, Matt. I saw you in the footage of the Emperor’s Ball.”

    It was his turn to laugh. “See, I knew you were jealous.”

    “You wish, flyboy,” she retorted. She looked at the holo carefully. “Is that a blush I’m seeing on your cheeks, Captain Ruud?” she asked teasingly. “Is there something more serious than a casual flirt with this brunette?”

    Matt shrugged. “As serious as it gets when I’m spending most of my time at the other end of the Galaxy. Not everyone is like you and your blue captain, you know. How’s he doing?”

    Ayesha glanced briefly over her shoulder. “He’s good. He moved in with me four days ago. For real.”

    Matt gasped and she heard Thrawn chuckle. “Serious-dead-serious?” Matt finally spluttered. “Well, that confirms what I just said. He won’t mind if I still take you out every once in a while, will he? I didn’t play bodyguard against Zaarin for nothing.”

    She laughed again. “Why don’t you ask him yourself? We have friends coming over for drinks on Zhellday. Bring your new girlfriend so that I can play the role of the Wookiee mother-in-law, and you can negotiate with Thrawn about taking me out to dinner sometime.”

    Matt grinned. “Sounds like a plan, sweetie. I’ll ask Valeria and I’ll let you know.” He gave a little two-finger salute and logged out.

    She switched off the comm device and turned around to find Thrawn staring at her. “You don’t mind that I invited Matt, do you?” she asked a little apprehensively as she made her way back to the sofa.

    “Not at all, Ayoo’sha,” Thrawn said evenly. “You surround yourself with exceptional people, and Captain Ruud must be exceptional in his own way if you care for him so much. I will be glad to get to know him better.” She felt his fingers brush the small of her back as she curled up at his side, and she looked up just in time to catch the flash of phosphorescence in his eyes. “However,” he added, “a reminder of what I have and what he does not would not be unwelcome.”

    * * *​

    The usual group of friends had finished ooh-ing and aah-ing over Thrawn’s new study and was moving back to the conversation circle when Matt and Valeria arrived. Kal, Mira, Lamtee and Dacco sat on one of the two semi-circular sofas once Ayesha had finished the introductions, Matt, Valeria and Tashi on the other, Thrawn took the armchair, and Ayesha and Onion settled on the floor to try to keep Tam under control. Valeria Dalissis was a very outgoing woman a few years older than Ayesha, and she soon engaged in an animated discussion with Tashi about the specificities of Rodian theatre and its differences to other performing arts that made everyone’s jaw drop. Onion finally interrupted her when she launched into an intricate comparison of Mon Calamari and Bith opera companies. “How the blazes does someone working for Sate Pestage know so much about alien cultures?”

    Matt twitched uncomfortably – he was visibly not used to Dug bluntness – but Valeria took it in stride. “I’m a xenosociologist. Sate Pestage pays me to research alien cultures for him.”

    “And here I thought that to Pestage, a good alien is a dead alien,” Tashi muttered.

    This time, there was an uneasy silence. “Please don’t misunderstand us, Valeria,” Mira said in her kind voice. “It’s just that your boss has a reputation for being a human supremacist of the worst sort. All this is a bit surprising for us.”

    Valeria looked at the small group and shrugged. “I take it that what we say here stays here?” There were nods all around the conversation circle. “Well, the truth is that he is. The very, very worst sort. I’d much rather be teaching in a university, or at the very least working for someone who understands why I do what I do, but there aren’t so many jobs for xenosociologists out there, so I keep my mouth shut and I don’t ask too many questions.”

    “You could work for the Navy,” Thrawn suggested. “The Expeditionary Corps could certainly use someone with your skills.”

    “I’m keeping an eye on that,” Valeria answered. “But there haven’t been any openings in the past two years.”

    The Dug let out a bitter laugh. “The Navy’s been killing aliens in the past two years, not studying them. We all know what happened on Teardrop.”

    “Onion, that’s enough,” Ayesha snapped. “I don’t think anyone came here tonight to have an argument.”

    Onion looked at her and grumbled something in Huttese. Thrawn intervened before she could reply. “Do not mistake my silence or Captain Ruud’s for wholehearted approval of all aspects of Imperial policy, Mabalsa,” he said, uncharacteristically addressing the Dug by his first name. “We are not at liberty to discuss our work with civilians, but that does not mean that some of us do not share your concerns and that we do not take up these issues with our superiors.”

    Onion nodded and stared at the floor, apparently a little ashamed of himself. There was another uneasy silence. “Can we talk about Mon Cal opera now?” Valeria asked. “I promise it’s a lot more fun than it sounds.”

    Tam suddenly abandoned his stuffed Wookiee toy on the floor, scrambled to his feet and gave one of his obscure speeches. “The kid likes Mon Cal opera too,” Onion growled to general laughter. “But don’t let him sing, or I might jump in a fully populated rancor pit.”

    The discussion resumed in a much lighter tone and Ayesha got up to fetch more snacks from the kitchen. Matt collected a few empty dishes and followed her. “I may not go all Wookiee mother-in-law on Valeria after all,” she told him as she refilled the plates. “I really like her.”

    Matt gave her a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “I wish your friend Onion felt the same way.”

    “Onion’s a Dug, Matt. They’re mostly known for their lack of manners. What he said about her knowing so much about aliens despite working for Pestage is as close as it gets to a compliment coming from him.” She looked up from the kitchen table. “Non-humans don’t have it easy, you know. Sometimes they just need to let out some steam.”

    He sighed. “I hate being on the receiving end of bashing meant for someone else, but I understand what you mean, and unfortunately, you’re right. Anti-alien sentiment in the Navy is growing worse by the day because so many aliens are joining the Rebellion. The blue boss would’ve made Grand Admiral a long time ago if he were human.”

    Ayesha spooned pickled gorg legs in a bowl. She was grinning. “In a way I’m glad he didn’t. I’m sure he’d look great in that white uniform, but he wouldn’t have time for me.”

    Matt chuckled. “You’re completely besotted, you know that?”

    Her grin widened. “Totally.”

    The young captain grinned back. “I hope he knows how lucky he is, though given the brains he’s got, he probably knows it a million times better than me.” He took the snacks from the table. “Come on. I can hear them laughing and I want to know what it’s about.”

    They returned to the conversation circle to find Tam sitting on the arm of Thrawn’s chair, his little feet resting on the Chiss’s knee as he brandished his stuffed Wookiee toy and blabbered away. Thrawn was answering very seriously, as if it were a perfectly coherent dialogue. Matt took in the scene with utter bemusement. “I believe young Tam is telling me about his holiday on Kashyyyk, Captain Ruud,” Thrawn said when he caught him staring. “If I am correct in my assumption, it is quite a fascinating story.”

    Matt’s expression went from bemused to baffled. “The Capt’ is Tammy’s best friend,” Dacco interjected. “You didn’t know that?”

    Matt looked from Dacco to Tam and then to Thrawn, who was now holding the toy. “And to think I won’t be able to tell anyone about this,” he muttered. “Not that anybody would believe me anyway.”

    Tam let out an indignant squeal to get Thrawn’s attention and continued his story, with Thrawn giving the Wookiee’s replies. Matt stared at them with pure bewilderment and Ayesha burst out in laughter. “What’s so weird? Or funny? Or both?” Lamtee asked.

    Matt’s eyes went from one face to another. “You people never saw Senior Captain Thrawn in his work environment, did you?” All heads shook in denial. “Captain Thrawn is known for... being very composed at all times.” He looked at Thrawn again and somehow decided to throw all caution to the winds. “You’ll probably have my hide some day for what I’m going to say, Sir, but I’ll take my chances.” He turned back to the others. “Actually, ‘composed’ doesn’t do him justice. He’s, like, the height of military cool and he’s always going around in this perfectly crisp military step, wearing this perfectly crisp military uniform, and most importantly with this immovable, crisp military expression on his face that’s the stuff of legend in the Imperial Navy. If I told my second-in-command that I saw Captain Thrawn like this,” – he gestured towards the stuffed Wookiee doll in Thrawn’s hand – “I’d find myself relieved from duty at blasterpoint and shipped off to sick bay in a straightjacket to have my head checked.”

    “Gee, Capt’,” Tashi said, “you’re the height of crisp cool and the stuff of crisp legend, and you don’t tell us anything?”

    Everyone laughed, and even Thrawn, who’d raised a disapproving eyebrow at Matt’s breach of protocol, couldn’t suppress his smile. “You just earned me several months’ worth of teasing from Tashi, Captain Ruud. Be warned that this is a truly good reason to have your hide.”

    “I told you I’d take my chances, Sir,” Matt answered with a grin that was slightly embarrassed but mostly just irreverent and boyish. “This is so totally worth it,” he whispered to Valeria.

    Ayesha was laughing her head off. “I think we should tell them before Matt digs himself in a hole so deep he can’t get out of it anymore,” she told Thrawn. He nodded and she raised her glass. “Other than the new year, peace, prosperity and good health, let’s toast to the new, and apparently very crisp, admiral among us.”

    Lamtee and Dacco burst in congratulations, Tashi clapped her hands and Onion swore loudly in his mother tongue. Tam hesitated for a fraction of a second before deciding that cheering was the appropriate reaction, and Kal, Mira and Valeria started giggling uncontrollably as Matt buried his face in his hands. The back of his neck was beet red. “Right,” he said finally, straightening himself. “I can’t hide in the Unknown Regions, since I might run into you there, Sir, so please tell me when your promotion will be officially announced and I’ll apply for asylum in Hutt space.”

    * * *​

    Ayesha was still grinning when Thrawn joined her in the bedroom. “You won’t be too harsh on Matt, will you?” she asked while he folded his trousers on a chair. “I think he’ll never forgive himself for his self-inflicted embarrassment tonight anyway.”

    He slipped under the covers. “I will mete out the harshest of punishments. I will have him reassigned to the Unknown Regions with me.”

    She turned on her side to face him. “That’s no punishment at all. He told me when he was promoted to Senior Captain that he was disappointed not to have had the opportunity to serve under you. He hero-worships you, you know. That’s why I like him so much.”

    Thrawn entwined himself around her. “And you say that I have strange ideas, Ayoo’sha. Here I am with you in your bed, and you are telling me how much you like another man.”

    “In our bed,” she corrected. “And you can’t seriously still be jealous of Matt, I think we’re pretty clear on that now.” Thrawn tightened his embrace and said nothing. She pulled back a little to give him an inquisitive look. “Don’t tell me you still are.”

    He arched an eyebrow. “Do you think that this is the appropriate setting for me to tell you how charmed I was by Valeria Dalissis? What would you have to say if I were to tell you that I find her beautiful and smart?”

    “I’d say you’re right,” she answered without hesitation. “She’s beautiful and smart and all-around awesome, and Matt is really lucky to have her in his life. And I find there’s something special in the way he looks at her. I think his playboy days are over if this works out for them.”

    Thrawn stared at her for a moment, then pressed his lips to her forehead. “I should never forget that you are the better person of us two, Ayoo’sha. You keep giving me lessons in compassion and generosity while I waste myself with pointless envy.”

    She shook her head in disbelief. “For someone who’s said to be the most brilliant mind in the Navy, you’re a bit slow on the uptake, you know. I told you already that there’s no one like you in my life. There never was and there never will be.”

    Thrawn pushed her on her back and lay over her to give her a spine-shattering kiss. “The Navy is about planning and strategy, Ayoo’sha’nek,” he murmured in her ear. “But all my attempts at tactical thinking are defeated when faced with a contradiction like you. How could I ever predict what you might do next?”

    She giggled. “You’re predicting what I’ll do next quite well right now, Admiral,” she whispered between kisses. “And I greatly appreciate the idea. As I recall, last time you were jealous, what happened in this bed was the stuff of legend.”


    A/N: Killik Twilight is a famous moss painting by Alderaanian artist Ob Khaddor whose fate is the key to the plot in Tatooine Ghost. Teardrop is a planet where the Empire massacred a whole town, starting with aliens, a few months after the Battle of Yavin; the details of the story are found in Allegiance.