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

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. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! The amazing Nyota's Heart managed to beta-read this on the spot, so the next chapter is here even though I forgot to send it to her on time! ^:)^ ^:)^ ^:)^ And you all know the drill by now, I'll reply to your reviews over the weekend because work, yada, yada.

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

    -----------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter 9: The fellows

    The inauguration of the Plebeian Exhibition was three weeks away and Ayesha was working frantically on the set on which she would display her pieces when Thrawn knocked on the doorframe. The workshop’s storage area was as chaotic as ever, with crates stacked between the sculpts, overflowing with carefully wrapped pieces and polished display boards. The table was covered by a thin sheet of wood and Ayesha was busying herself over it with a curved knife, removing shavings from its surface to leave in places a layer as transparent as flimsiplast. Her short braids and her face were coated in sawdust when she turned around to usher him in. It made him chuckle. “What’s so funny?” she asked.

    He brushed dust off her cheek. “Merely a pleasant memory, Ayoo’sha. Who knew, when I found you covered in grime in the Palace, that I had run into such a treasure.”

    She blushed a little and smiled. “Is your working day over?”

    “Not quite, but I wanted to let you know that we finalised the details of the next mission to the Unknown Regions. The Admonitor will be leaving on the first of the month.”

    She pouted her lips in disappointment. “That’s the opening of the Exhibition.”

    There was an amused twinkle in his eyes. “I am aware of that. Voss came up with a convoluted reason why we should not depart before midnight. We will therefore attend the opening and leave afterwards.” He paused. “Did you book passage to Corulag?”

    She pointed at her datapad. “I’m leaving on the fourteenth. That gives me exactly two months there, until the dedication of the monument. Captain Parck worked his magic, you know, so I’ll be staying in the Governor’s Mansion with his cousin the Deputy Governor and his family.” She caught a glimpse of a frown on Thrawn’s face. “Is there something you don't like about that?”

    “Quite the opposite. I am certain Voss’s cousin will take good care of you.” His lips twitched. “I am told that the Mansion has an excellent cook, perhaps that will help you gain some weight.” She gave an indignant sigh and went to speak, but he interrupted her with a deep, sensual kiss. “No, I will not quit demanding those few extra grams,” he murmured in her ear. “Not until I am content when I hold you.”

    “And apparently at the risk of coating your uniform in sawdust.” She pulled back from him. “Your request has been noted, Sir. Is there anything else I can do to please Your Admiralness?”

    Thrawn smiled. “There are many other things, but since my working day is not over yet, they will have to keep for later. Can you please remind me when the Fellows’ Dinner is due to take place?”

    She grimaced. “Zhellday next week. You’re coming with me, right? I really don't want to go alone, the idea of sitting at the same table as the Emperor gives me the willies.”

    “Are you certain that there is no way you can excuse yourself from the evening?” he asked.

    She sighed. “I’d like to, but short of breaking a leg it’s difficult. We already used the flu excuse for the ambassadors’ reception, I can’t pretend that I have other obligations when the event has been planned for months and I can’t go off-world because of the Exhibition. So I guess I’ll have to sit through it and hope for the best.” Thrawn frowned. “Why are you so worried about that? You can’t come?”

    “Of course I will come, Ayoo’sha,” he answered, shrugging off his concern. “I will be there with you. Now let me go and do some more work, and then I shall cook us dinner.”

    He took a few steps towards the door. “Is there something you know that I don’t?” she called after him.

    His face was set in a self-deprecating smile when he turned around. “Not at all, Ayoo’sha. This is only the mother avian in me taking control.”

    * * *​

    Thrawn was his impeccable, crisp military self when they entered the Emperor’s private reception lounge on Zhellday evening, but Ayesha could feel that he was unusually tense. “What in the Galaxy is wrong with you?” she whispered. “You’re so jumpy, you’re...” Thrawn gave her a stern look to interrupt her as an usher approached to welcome them. “We’re going to talk after this,” she said before the man was within earshot. “There’s something you’re not telling me.”

    His Majesty was, as usual, fashionably late. They weaved their way around the room to salute people – Ayesha noted with relief that Grand Admiral Zaarin was deep in conversation with one of the former music fellows and didn’t pay attention to her arrival. There were a few other white uniforms among the guests, one of whom – “Grand Admiral Ishin-Il-Raz, a prominent leader of COMPNOR,” Thrawn murmured – gave them a contemptuous look. She was about to talk to one of the Emperor’s favoured courtesans, a young woman with red-blonde hair who had struck her as a particularly talented dancer in the dance recital two years earlier, when Thrawn steered her none too gently towards Darth Vader. The Dark Lord was not in a talkative mood, but he did not dismiss them once they had exchanged greetings. There settled in an uneasy silence and Ayesha fidgeted with the hem of her sleeve until the doors to the dining hall finally opened and liveried waiters ushered them in.

    The Emperor was sitting at the head of the long dinner table, his face buried in the cowl of his cloak. The setting, the dim lighting, the design of the room itself was clearly designed to awe his guests, Ayesha thought with bitter irony, but she had to stifle a surge of panic when he instructed her to sit to his left. She didn’t miss the sparkle of glee in his yellow eyes as she curtseyed deeply and took her seat with Thrawn at her side, raising her chin defiantly as the other guests took their places. The red-haired dancer – Lianna, she introduced herself with a curt nod – was sitting across the table from her to the Emperor’s right, next to Grand Admiral Miltin Takel, a small, scrawny man with the bloodshot eyes of a spice addict. There were a few more familiar faces scattered along the table. Grand Admiral Declann was sitting two chairs away from Takel and Sate Pestage was at the far end, facing the Emperor, with another courtesan at his side. Darth Vader came to stand behind the Emperor, towering over his master, and the dinner began.

    The conversation revolved around casual generalities until the main course was served, and Ayesha was beginning to relax in her chair when Ishin-Il-Raz stood up for a toast. “Your Majesty will allow me to thank our guests for their work as beneficiaries of the Emperor Palpatine Fellowships. It is a honour and a pleasure to think that we have here such talented artists who are still promoting the values of the Imperial Order. To Human High Culture!”

    The assembled guests raised their glasses. Ayesha followed suit reluctantly and Thrawn remained perfectly impassive. The Emperor chuckled. “Young Miss Eskari here is far too shy to take up the issue in such polite company,” he said. “I am certain however that she would beg to differ with your views on art, if her choices for the Northern Lights room are any indication.”

    Miltin Takel, who had been staring at Ayesha since the beginning of the meal, gave her a curious look. “Miss Eskari is the single exception COMPNOR tolerated in this palace over the years and it was clearly a mistake,” a thickset man sitting near Pestage piped up angrily. “Several of our most faithful Navy officers have expressed their displeasure regarding the presence of Gungan-inspired art in the Northern Lights room. I personally deem it unacceptable that...”

    The Emperor barely twitched a finger and the speaker clutched his throat, unable to utter another word. “You would do well to remember that Gungan art is native to our Emperor’s homeworld, Vandron,” Darth Vader’s booming voice said. “The choices in this palace are your master’s choices. Do not forget that.”

    The silence that followed was interrupted only by Crueya Vandron’s gasps for breath until the Emperor waved his hand casually. The thickset human found himself abruptly released from Vader’s invisible grasp and collapsed on the table. The Emperor chuckled again and changed the subject, while Ayesha let out a small sigh of relief and gave the Dark Lord a grateful look before bringing her attention back to the conversation. The music fellow who had been chatting earlier with Zaarin was discussing his latest composition, a five-act opera that was due to premiere in Coruscant a few months later, but Ayesha found herself unable to focus. She was developing a bad headache and her vision was beginning to blur, and after a while all she could see was Miltin Takel’s bloodshot eyes that were glowing at her across the table. Random images started shooting across her mind as sharp claws pried them one by one from her memory – a kind-looking man in rags reciting poetry, an angry Zygerrian with bony spurs protruding from his chin, a purple-haired woman in a dark alley, a blank-faced Twi’lek in an armchair, a Kiffar warrior on the landing pad, a blue finger caressing her neck, a blue hand trailing down from her shoulder... “No,” she whispered. “No. You can’t see that. It’s private.”

    All eyes in the vicinity shot to her. “My dear young lady, you are as white as the plains of Hoth,” the Emperor said. “Are you feeling all right?” Ayesha let out a small moan as the pain intensified and the memory flashes became a flood. The claws were now digging deeper into her brain, as if looking for the images they had lost. A Besalisk. A Sullustan. A small child. A newborn Wookiee. A treehouse. A besieged fortress. A duel. Thrawn’s japor snippet. Another japor snippet, this one around a woman’s slender neck. A gloved hand, a bulging belly...

    There was a swoosh of something indefinable across the room and Grand Admiral Takel was slammed against the back of his chair. “Enough!” Darth Vader thundered. “You will learn respect for what is not yours, Takel. Or you will have to deal with me.”

    Ayesha came back to her senses to find a scene most unbecoming of a reception in the Emperor’s private quarters. Vader’s fury was such that the air around him seemed to be crackling with electricity and the dinner guests were staring at their plates in an attempt to pretend that nothing was happening. Only Niall Declann and the dancer Lianna were looking at the Dark Lord, and the Emperor was eyeing him inquisitively, as if expecting an explanation for his behaviour. Thrawn finally broke the heavy silence. “With your permission, Miss Eskari and I will excuse ourselves, Your Majesty. She still seems to be suffering from the aftermath of her... malaise.” The Emperor waved his hand again, and after hurried salutations they were gone.

    * * *​

    Ayesha was still shaking by the time they reached their apartment, but colour had returned to her cheeks. “What happened?” Thrawn asked as soon as the door slid shut.

    “What happened? You want to know what happened?” she yelled. “That horrible Takel man was in my head, is what happened!” Thrawn went to interrupt her but she went on shouting. “How can you work with those people? Don’t they have any sense of privacy? Do they care about anything else than stabbing you in the back? How is your Empire even holding together? If Lord Vader hadn’t been there...” She was now pacing the lounge furiously and went on, “I hate him! He’s filthy, he’s lewd, he’s sleazy, he’s a voyeur, he...”

    Thrawn sat on the Alderaanian conversation circle and let her vent to her heart’s content. He patted the sofa at his side when she finally ran out of words and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “Tell me now,” he said softly. “Tell me exactly what happened.”

    He questioned her relentlessly until she had told him every little detail she could remember. There was a long pause. “It seems that there is more to this dancer than meets the eye,” Thrawn finally muttered. Ayesha looked at him curiously, but he merely shrugged, as if filing away the information for later. “Are you certain that it was not the Emperor seeking to pry memories from you?” he asked.

    “I told you already,” she said impatiently. “It was Takel. All he wanted to know is what you and I do in bed. As if it were any of his business!”

    Thrawn pulled her closer and pressed his lips to her forehead to prevent another outburst. “Ayoo’sha, you must never find yourself in the presence of any high-ranking Imperial officer, ever again,” he said firmly. “You simply know too much.”

    She gave him a startled look. “How am I supposed to do that?” she blurted. “I have my work, I...”

    “You are not listening to me,” he interrupted. “You know too much and you cannot keep these things away from those with the ability to read your mind. Takel may be a glitterstim addict and a pervert, but he got a glimpse of some of your secrets in his search for your memories of our time together. He saw your family, he saw your friends who are in hiding, he saw images of Lord Vader’s past. Do you want to betray their whereabouts? Do you want to betray the trust Lord Vader placed in you? Do you want him to find out about my project in the Unknown Regions? Please consider the consequences for a moment. You cannot allow this to happen.”

    There was another pause. Ayesha’s shoulders finally slumped in defeat. “You think I should go back to Kashyyyk, don’t you? What will happen of us?”

    Thrawn smiled. “I was actually going to suggest that you come to Nirauan with me. I could do much more in the Unknown Regions from the Fortress of the Hand and you would be perfectly safe there. There is more than enough space for a workshop, you could learn about the art of species from the Unknown Regions, and we would travel to Coruscant regularly so that you can see your friends and participate in exhibitions.”

    Ayesha sank into a meditative silence. “Would that be acceptable?” she asked finally. “For me to be on your top-secret base?”

    “I will make it acceptable,” Thrawn said. “But it is not a decision we need to take now. You are due to leave to Corulag next month. Will you accept to move your departure date and leave immediately after the opening of the Plebeian Exhibition?” She nodded. “Then let us go to bed and hope that the Emperor does not come up with any further schemes to torment you until then.”

    Ayesha was putting her formal dress back on its hanger when she suddenly spun around to look at Thrawn. “You’re really upset, aren’t you?” she said. “You called him ‘the Emperor’.” Thrawn arched an eyebrow. “You said ‘the Emperor’,” she repeated. “You normally always call him ‘His Majesty’.”

    Thrawn gave her another one of his self-deprecating smiles. “It seems I did, Ayoo’sha. Perhaps the mother avian in me has truly taken control this time.”

    ---------------------------------

    Author's notes:

    Ishin-Il-Raz, Crueya Vandron and Miltin Takel are all Legends characters and their support for Human supremacist policies is established in the EU, as is the fact that Takel is a pervert :p and that his use of glitterstim gives him some limited telepathic ability. Legends material also establishes that Niall Declann is Force-sensitive. I have also given Vandron a daughter, Marika (who is hardly more likable than her father) in my short story A tree-dweller in Imperial City.
     
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Takel is the vulture of the moment apparently! And worse than ever Zaran was, who is just a sneaky run of the mill snake! Yay literally for Vader putting him in his place, big time! As for Thrawn's plan of action re the trip to Nirauan [face_dancing] [face_dancing] I'm feeling that without dispute! =D= =D= I just hope the center hasn't been compromised! @};-
     
    AzureAngel2, Kahara, Gemma and 2 others like this.
  3. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 6, 2003
    EEEK!!! [face_hypnotized]
    Vulture of the moment, indeed!
    Oh my, who knows which memories he was able to get from her!
    And Vader - this is about his secrets as well, so no surprise there...
    Mara, oh yes, I love the Mara cameo! She's one of my favourite characters, always nice to see her!
    Yes, I'll stop throwing around with too many !!!!!!!!s now... [face_blush] but this chapter had me breathless!

    Very much looking forward to Ayesha visiting Nirauan!
    I'm especially curious how Thrawn's fellow Chiss will react to his very Human lifemate... :)
     
    AzureAngel2, Kahara, Gemma and 2 others like this.
  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    The shoe has dropped... this was the third invitation, and, sure enough, it involved a horrible, twisted person trying to get inside our heroine's mind by violent means. And once again Vader emerges as the unlikely protector of both her and her art—amazing. I was intrigued by the series of images that went through her mind—some I recognized from her own past and from the official lore, others less so—I imagine that means more will be revealed... [face_thinking]

    I had never thought about it before in quite those terms, but Thrawn's right on point: who knows to what secrets, both from Ayesha's past and Vader's, Takel now has access? Pretty harrowing possibilities could open up there. :eek: Definitely seems like the right time for both Thrawn and Ayesha to make themselves scarce, though I almost worry about what might happen in their absence (e.g., what Nyota's Heart says about the Center)... [face_nail_biting]

    Ah, Thrawn and his "few extra grams." Can't blame him for wanting her to get back to full health—but he'd better watch out that his care and concern for her figure doesn't devolve into body-shaming. He's gotta love his lady the way she is, no matter how she is! [face_dancing]

    And of course, for no particularly good reason other than the obvious ones, I am curious about the composer fellow and his opera and whether they are in the official lore at all. :D
     
  5. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Wow. Intense. That Takel is some incredibly arrogant monster of a man. What a horrible person!

    But what I loved was that he inadvertently buried his claws into Vader's mind. Those last images weren't Thrawn and Ayesha. I cannot imagine Vader's rage at someone intruding into the memories of him and his own wife. I'm surprised Vader didn't kill him outright for such an atrocity. :eek:

    And this:
    Only Niall Declann and the dancer Lianna were looking at the Dark Lord, and the Emperor was eyeing him inquisitively, as if expecting an explanation for his behaviour.

    So I know why "Lianna" was looking at Vader - she sensed his agitation through the Force and knew that boundaries were being violated. But Declann? What attracted his attention?

    This whole thing makes me think that the emperor is using Ayesha as a tool to control Vader. Kind of like how a bully uses a magnifying glass to burn a smaller creature.
     
    AzureAngel2, Kahara, Gemma and 3 others like this.
  6. Mira_Jade

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

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Playing a slight bit of catch-up here . . .


    “Thank you, Miss Eskari. You just gave me a lesson in dignity and decency that I am not going to forget. I’ve walked past many a slave in the nearly thirty years I’ve been in the Navy, and I never felt anything but mild indifference. I am now very much ashamed of myself. It serves me right for still being, at my age, a Core World military brat.”

    This conversation was brilliant - I really appreciated Parck's open mind and ability to humbly listen and alter himself for the better. This whole scene was pleasant to read, that said - the perfect bit of social downtime for our two before things get hectic again. [face_love] ;) The 'before he was a Wookiee' line had me chuckling, as well. Grand Admiral Thrawn: Honorary Wookiee - oh, if only the rest of the galaxy knew. [face_laugh]:p[face_love]


    His eyes were phosphorescent as he brought his lips millimetres from hers. “Until you ask for what you want in Cheunh, Ayoo’sha. Voss believes that you are fluent, and you would not like the Admiral to turn out to be a liar, would you?”

    [face_laugh] He's such a flirt; but he's just so good at it! That whole little bit was just so much fun. [face_laugh][face_love]


    The Emperor barely twitched a finger and the speaker clutched his throat, unable to utter another word. “You would do well to remember that Gungan art is native to our Emperor’s homeworld, Vandron,” Darth Vader’s booming voice said. “The choices in this palace are your master’s choices. Do not forget that.”

    Boom! :cool: I love how Vader was able to subtly stick up for Ayesha, and defend Padme's memory in one swoop - while making it seem like he is insulted on behalf of the Emperor. That was just wonderful.

    Every word Takel said before that was practically nauseating, though - and he only continued to one-up himself! :( At first I thought that Ayesha was having an adverse reaction to the Dark Side Force powers being used, no matter how subtly, but then I understand, and wow . . . Takel really took the cake, here. He really is the lowest sort of scum. :mad:

    But I love that Vader stood up for her again, and that Thrawn got her out of there quickly. (The bits with 'Mara' were delightful as well - even just the small detail of her focusing on Vader and his anger on Ayesha's behalf. [face_thinking])


    Thrawn smiled. “I was actually going to suggest that you come to Nirauan with me. I could do much more in the Unknown Regions from the Fortress of the Hand and you would be perfectly safe there. There is more than enough space for a workshop, you could learn about the art of species from the Unknown Regions, and we would travel to Coruscant regularly so that you can see your friends and participate in exhibitions.”

    Thrawn's right - it really is the smartest thing for her to relocate herself right now. :( And aaaah!! There are so many possibilities with this. I am glad she is getting away, and (hopefully) giving the time Emperor time to set his sights elsewhere - just as I am intrigued as to just where the plot could go on Nirauan. I am very, very excited for this! [face_thinking][face_dancing]


    "You said ‘the Emperor’,” she repeated. “You normally always call him ‘His Majesty’.”

    Thrawn gave her another one of his self-deprecating smiles. “It seems I did, Ayoo’sha. Perhaps the mother avian in me has truly taken control this time.”

    And cue the goofy fangirl grin. That was the perfect way to wrap up the chapter! [face_love]


    =D=
     
  7. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 25, 2013
    I really loved this it made me Squee!!! A treasure indeed she is.

    That thing at their dinner party --- I didn't realize it was Takel that was invading her mind -- yuck. I think Ayesha needs a Jedi to teach her how to shield her mind.

    It was a shame she did not get to speak to her favorite red golden haired dancer. (Nice sneak in of Mara)!!
     
  8. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    There was a swoosh of something indefinable across the room and Grand Admiral Takel was slammed against the back of his chair. “Enough!” Darth Vader thundered. “You will learn respect for what is not yours, Takel. Or you will have to deal with me.”

    Ayesha came back to her senses to find a scene most unbecoming of a reception in the Emperor’s private quarters. Vader’s fury was such that the air around him seemed to be crackling with electricity and the dinner guests were staring at their plates in an attempt to pretend that nothing was happening. Only Niall Declann and the dancer Lianna were looking at the Dark Lord, and the Emperor was eyeing him inquisitively, as if expecting an explanation for his behaviour. Thrawn finally broke the heavy silence. “With your permission, Miss Eskari and I will excuse ourselves, Your Majesty. She still seems to be suffering from the aftermath of her... malaise.” The Emperor waved his hand again, and after hurried salutations they were gone.

    After reading this, I felt like getting Takel for mental rape and sending Severus Snape in to teach Ayesha to build up safety walls in her mind. [face_nail_biting]
     
    Gemma, Nyota's Heart and Chyntuck like this.
  9. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Saturday morning reply time! Thank you all for the wonderful reviews [:D]

    Chapters 6 - 7
    Thanks! [face_blush]
    The key here is "parts of her history that he doesn't yet understand" -- this is Thrawn we're talking about, remember? When I was writing that scene, I could almost hear the cogs whirring in his brain as he files away information for later.

    And about the family reunion... it would look like the GFFA equivalent of a UNICEF postcard, wouldn't it? [face_laugh]
    I would definitely like to read that! Can you send me the link please?
    Agreed! Findswoman and Gemma are definitely getting credit for it when I finally get around to turning this fic into a downloadable format @};-

    Chapter 8
    Yes and yes :) About the khraashyr, it's my bad habit of planting a clue in a chapter that I explain further down the road. And Parck was indeed the one to find Thrawn. The background to the Parck-Thrawn relationship can be found in three short stories by Timothy Zahn, Mist Encounter, Command Decision and Crisis of Faith. The three stories hint at a special relationship between Thrawn and Parck and show a different command style for Thrawn -- because of them, I always imagined Thrawn as being more relaxed when commanding his task force in the Unknown Regions. I particularly recommend Mist Encounter, it's a true little Zahn jewel.

    He won't be found. I'm not planning to say it explicitly in this story, but I've decided that he died on the first Death Star.
    Well, you got your wish, the discussion is on :) I'll swap the recipe of Kashyyyk bantha roast for Confit de Quadduck à la Coronetisi =P~
    [face_laugh] And Wookiee-ookies are canon! There's even a recipe in the SW Cookbook. Which reminds me that my friends who have a restaurant promised us a SW-themed night before the release of Episode VII, with only recipes from that book. I need to make sure they didn't forget!
    He gave her a vocabulary database. Do you think he left that part out? [face_thinking] [face_tee_hee]
    Well, as you all guessed, she is, but not under the circumstances you expect [face_mischief]
    You can't imagine what might go wrong there, can you? :p
    [face_blush]

    Chapter 9

    "Vulture of the moment" would make a cool chapter title too :p But seriously, if you go through the Wook article about Takel, he's just a repugnant character. He really comes across as a man who would abuse his position and behave as if he owns everything and everyone below him.

    Coming soon to a forum near you [:D]
    There will be more details about some of these in future chapters, but it's no big spoiler -- the images are: Namajib Eskari (the man in rags reciting poetry), the slave master (the Zygerrian), Khaleen Hentz (the purple-haired woman), Uumana (the blank-faced Twi’lek), Quinlan Vos (the Kiffar warrior), Dexter Jettser (the Besalisk), Tashi (the Sullustan), Tam (the small child), Rumpy (the newborn Wookiee), Yakooboo's home on Kashyyyk (the treehouse), Malki's lair on Kiffu (the besieged fortress), the Anakin-Dooku-Ventress duel and the memories Vader shared with Ayesha in chapter 22 (the duel, the second japor snippet around a woman’s neck, the gloved hand, the bulging belly).
    That's the downside with mother avians, isn't it? They tend to go a bit over the top.
    Not that it really matters for the plot, but the one I was thinking of is this one. As you probably know by now, archaeological digs in the Wook are one of my hobbies ;)
    Because that would make a nice and friendly evening even nicer... :p Seriously though, does Vader want the Emperor to know that he shared the memories of his past with Ayesha?
    Just to clarify here, Declann is also Force-sensitive. That bit of info is buried in the Who's Who of Imperial Grand Admirals in SW Insider -- he was the one performing battle meditation during the Battle of Endor. I added that to the Author's Notes in the post above.
    Close enough :)

    Hey, Vader is smart! He might be going around strangling people with the Force, but he also knows how to behave in the Imperial Court (one would hope, at least -- can you imagine people dropping dead in the middle of every formal occasion? [face_laugh] )
    :*
    Well, there's a shortage of Jedi these days, and Snape is busy elsewhere, but it would be fun... *pushes the crack!fic plot bunny away*
    I thought I should give Mara some love here. I initially had a minor sub-plot involving Mara in this fic (something about her being fascinated with Ayesha's pieces that really channel the Light Side of the Force) but I cut it out because it was all becoming too bushy and complicated and ultimately unnecessary. I might write a few "deleted scenes" when the fic is over though.

    Thanks again all for reading. Off to edit Monday's chapter now, I won't forget to send it to Nyota's Heart this time!
     
    Ewok Poet, AzureAngel2, Gemma and 3 others like this.
  10. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 25, 2013
    Thank you for liking the 'The Singing Stone' --[face_blush]. It reminded me of Killashandra - the Crystal Singer --- in this series they used swords to cut crystal through vibration of singing to it and that's what it really reminded of.
     
  11. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    And chapter 10 is up, thanks (once more) to Nyota's Heart beta-reading efficiency. I'm not too happy with it because it's essentially just one of those chapters where I tie loose ends, but I re-wrote it seven times over the weekend, so it is what it is.

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

    ------------------------------------------

    Chapter 10: The Plebeian Exhibition

    The opening of the Plebeian Exhibition was in full swing and the venue in The Works – a vast industrial hangar that had been disaffected since the end of the Clone Wars and refurbished by Kal and his team of volunteers – was packed with hundreds of Humans, Rodians, Mon Calamari, Nautolans, Bothans and sentients of a myriad other species who had come to admire the unusual pieces of art on display. Ayesha, Kal and Mira were sitting and chatting on the bench near Ayesha’s exhibit – a gigantic flower made of flimsi-thin wood shavings that was held in the air by a repulsor system, with miniature Goorlish lights interspersed between its petals and smaller plant sculpts floating on a complex array of rotating shelves that projected their shadow on the central piece and transformed it at will – when Tam suddenly tugged at Ayesha’s hand, pointed towards the doors and looked at her questioningly, as if asking for permission. She nodded with a smile and the little boy ran off to meet Thrawn, who was followed by Parck, Prashat and Vermel. The latter was wearing civilian clothes – he was not due to leave Coruscant for another two weeks – but the arrival of three Imperial Navy officers in full uniform did not go unnoticed, with visitors to the exhibition giving them a wide berth as they weaved their way through the crowd. “I’m not entirely sure inviting them was a good idea,” Kal muttered.

    Ayesha shrugged as she stood up. “People will get used to it. It’s not like they’re up to no good or something.”

    “But still, Imperials in uniforms here – look at how people are jumping away...”

    She spun around and gave him a terse look. “This is an open event, Kal. That’s what we wanted it to be. The Emperor himself could come and we wouldn’t have anything to say about it, even if we don’t like it.” And she stormed away to greet her guests. Thrawn arched an eyebrow in question – her cheeks were flushed with anger – but she merely shrugged again and started chatting with Vermel and Parck while Tam dragged Thrawn towards her display.

    Their tour was punctuated by the two officers’ admiring exclamations while Prashat remained one step behind them, his eyes taking in eagerly every aspect of the colourful crowd. Ayesha slipped away for a moment to greet a fat Hutt who was reeking of nlorna flower perfume as he waddled to the music that had started playing in the distance. “He’s my hairdresser,” she explained when she came back. She ignored Parck’s bemused look and took the young corporal’s arm. “Come with me, Mr Prashat. The show just began. This is your chance to see a Twi’lek dancer in the flesh.”

    She led her guests to the stage at the far end of the room, leaving Thrawn behind with Kal, Mira and their son. “I was hoping to pay my respects to your grandmother tonight,” Thrawn said when he finally managed to disentangle himself from Tam’s grip.

    Mira gave him a sad smile. “My grandmother hasn’t left her apartment in weeks, unfortunately. Her health is deteriorating fast. But she will be delighted to hear that you are thinking of her.”

    Tam came back to take Thrawn’s hand and gave him a small wooden flower Ayesha had made for him, then pulled him in the direction where she had disappeared. A thick throng had gathered in front of the stage and Thrawn had to lift Tam on his shoulders to enable him to watch the show. At one point the little boy let out an angry yelp and pointed at a figure in the crowd that Thrawn couldn’t see. He elbowed his way in that direction and finally spotted Prashat, who was staring mesmerized at the stunning performance delivered by a troupe of Twi’lek acrobats while Ayesha, Parck and Vermel applauded cheerfully, oblivious to the suspicious looks that the rest of the audience was giving them. Some of the aliens were openly hostile, pointing at the little group and commenting and snorting none too discreetly, but a single glare from Thrawn’s silenced them as he joined his colleagues. The circle around them widened when the Twi’lek acrobats were replaced by a Bith Jizz band and Ayesha started dancing with Tam, and soon all suspicion and hostility was forgotten as the rest of the crowd joined the fun.

    Parck finally glanced at his chronometer. “All good things have an end,” he said with a sigh. “The Admonitor is waiting, we should be going. I hope that my cousin will be able to provide similarly lovely evenings for you on Corulag, Miss Eskari.”

    Ayesha left Tam in Vermel’s custody and showed Thrawn, Parck and Prashat to a side door that led to the landing platform. Parck and Prashat said their goodbyes and left discreetly while Thrawn lingered behind and cupped her face in his hands. “You will be missed,” she said after the kiss was over.

    “I know,” he answered smugly. She gave him a mock furious glare. “But it is nice to hear it again from time to time.” He dug into his pocket and extracted a small box. “You would not let me get you a present for your birthday last week, but will you accept a little farewell gift to remember me by?”

    Ayesha smiled when she saw the collection of snow crystal hair beads in the box. “Well, this is my chance. Eliskandro is here, so maybe I can get an express hairdo before I go.”

    Thrawn glanced at his chronometer. “That will not be possible, as your transport to Corulag is leaving in three hours. Please promise me not to be late. Vermel will fly you to the spaceport.”

    “No, mother avian, I won’t,” she said impatiently. “And I’ll also eat everything I can on Corulag so that you don’t find a stick when you come back.”

    * * *​

    Ayesha returned to the performing arts area to find Tam sitting on Vermel’s shoulders and clapping cheerfully while the Navy officer danced about. “Well, Major, you certainly have a way with children,” she said. “Tammy seems to like you.”

    Vermel gave her what may have been a forced smile. “I have two children of my own, a two-year-old and a five-year-old. So you could say that this is not so much about having a way as about experience.”

    “You should have brought them along. I’m sure they would have been good friends with Tammy.”

    This time there was no mistaking Vermel’s sadness as his eyes became clouded and his face sagged into tired lines. “I would have liked that very much, but unfortunately it is not possible. Their mother filed for legal separation during our campaign against Nuso Esva last year. She has now moved to Chandrila and I hardly ever see them anymore.” Ayesha blushed crimson and looked away embarrassedly as she mumbled an apology. “Don’t worry, Miss Eskari. You haven’t been indiscreet at all. My story is the story of oh so many Navy officers. Our spouses often find it difficult to cope with the long periods when we are apart – and frankly, they have a point.” Ayesha shook her head angrily. Vermel smiled. “The Admiral is indeed a lucky man. Now, seeing as it is already twenty-two hundred hours, should we return this young man to his parents and perhaps have a last look at the exhibits before I fly you to the spaceport?”

    They ended up squeezing their way to the bar – the throng was extremely dense by now, particularly in the food court, and they had some difficulty finding a corner to sit and enjoy their Corellian ale. The crowd was as diverse as ever and was growing more rambunctious by the minute, and they almost had to shout to make themselves heard over the outbursts of merriment at neighbouring tables – Eliskandro the Hutt was particularly loud as he regaled his companions with an endless string of anecdotes from his hairdressing salon. Ayesha told Vermel how she had come to meet Mira and Kal and made him laugh with her description of the more uptight students at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts. He described in turn some of the most exotic aspects of the Unknown Regions – “believe me, Ayesha, you would love some of those places, there are space anomalies out there that, I am sure, would be a source of inspiration for you,” – and they were preparing to leave when a green hand slammed their table and a very drunk Nautolan dropped in the chair next to Ayesha’s. “Long time no see, cheeka.”

    Ayesha kept her gaze on her glass of ale. “Hi, Makh.”

    Makh’s black eyes travelled from her to Vermel, who held out a cautious hand. The Nautolan ignored it and returned to Ayesha. “Who’s this one?” he asked.

    “Meizh is a friend,” she said. “And you can talk to him. There’s no need to be rude, you know.”

    Makh was still staring at her. “So you thought it’s a good idea to bring an undercover Imp to an alien art exhibition?”

    “This isn’t an alien art exhibition,” she snapped, finally looking up. “It’s an exhibition about the use of unconventional materials in art.”

    The Nautolan snorted. “Yeah, right. And I’m the Palpster incarnate. Haven’t seen much Human art around tonight.”

    Ayesha sighed. “You saw only what you chose to see, I’m afraid. There are many Human artists who helped organise this exhibition and who have displays here tonight.”

    “Not one bit of Human art! Not one single little bit,” he repeated shrilly as if she hadn’t spoken a word. “And not a single Human other than your Imp friend here.” He waved to a waiter to refill his glass. “Come to think of it, I did see a couple other Humans,” he slurred. “Those were Imps in uniform though. And then there was another uniform with that blue freak of yours in it. Where’d he go? You chucked him out?”

    There was a flash of anger in Ayesha’s eyes. “You’re drunk, Makh. You stink of alcohol. Please go home before you make a complete fool of yourself.”

    He leaned closer and exhaled loudly in her face. “So what’s the deal? I thought you’d decided to stick with that traitor, but one Imp wasn’t enough for you? What did you gain from this, cheeka? What did they pay you to get you on their side?” He sat back in his chair. “Oh, I get it. They pay you by the night. Surely better money than art, anyway. Does the blue guy get a discount?”

    What followed happened so fast that Vermel was hardly able to grasp it. Makh found himself lying flat on his back with a splatter of Corellian ale on his face and chest while a raging Ayesha towered over him, screaming furiously in Old Kiffar. He tried to turn on his side and stand up but his head tentacles were squashed under the bulging belly of a Hutt. “It’s considered bad manners to insult one of the evening’s hosts, dahling,” Eliskandro rumbled in Huttese with absolute indifference for the silence that had taken hold of the food court. “The great Bonvika would never tolerate such a thing in her palace on Nal Hutta and you know what?” – he bent down and spoke in the Nautolan’s ear – “She’s a Hutt. Like me. Now why don’t you stay there, nice and easy, while the lady and her friend finish their drink?”

    ---------------------------------------------------

    Author's notes:

    Eliskandro the Hutt is several hundred years old in-universe but only a few days old on these boards. I introduced him to the GFFA here.

    Also, Findswoman gets royalties for the expression "the Palpster", which she used in one of her reviews earlier in this thread :p and for Bonvika the Hutt, which is a mahvelous being of her creation.
     
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    The exhibition sounds gorgeous! Sad about Nazmat. @};-

    Vermel's family situation too. [face_thinking] An occupational pitfall of military life, sounds like.

    Makh is one piece of work so you know! I loved how he was taken down and put in his place at the end there. [face_rofl] =D= [face_dancing]

    Priceless
     
  13. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    This time there was no mistaking Vermel’s sadness as his eyes became clouded and his face sagged into tired lines. “I would have liked that very much, but unfortunately it is not possible. Their mother filed for legal separation during our campaign against Nuso Esva last year. She has now moved to Chandrila and I hardly ever see them anymore.” Ayesha blushed crimson and looked away embarrassedly as she mumbled an apology. “Don’t worry, Miss Eskari. You haven’t been indiscreet at all. My story is the story of oh so many Navy officers. Our spouses often find it difficult to cope with the long periods when we are apart – and frankly, they have a point.” Ayesha shook her head angrily. Vermel smiled. “The Admiral is indeed a lucky man. Now, seeing as it is already twenty-two hundred hours, should we return this young man to his parents and perhaps have a last look at the exhibits before I fly you to the spaceport?”

    This made me sad for Vermel, too. I bet this is a fate that a lot of soldiers share with him, anywhere in the universe. Also in our own. :(
     
    Kahara, Gemma, Csillan_girl and 2 others like this.
  14. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 6, 2003
    Oh, poor Meizh - so that's what made him so sad a while ago.

    And Makh - oh my, what a scene!
    Absolutely loved how the Hutt handled it!
    btw, a Hutt as a hairdresser - haha, just great!

    And now I'm expecting the things to come... :D[face_nail_biting][face_praying]
     
    Kahara, AzureAngel2, Gemma and 2 others like this.
  15. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 25, 2013
    She turned down a gift for her birthday, hmmm. I'm not a material person --- but the occasional gift in a relationship -- I think is very nice and it's a sweet way of letting the other person know that you are thinking of them --- I adore the way they have given gifts back and forth and with such thoughtfulness ---Awwwww always pops to mind.

    I was sad about Vermel's family situation.
     
  16. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Interesting how there is prejudice on both sides, although heaven knows the Empire certainly deserves its reputation as being hostile to non-humans. At least most of the guests eventually warmed up to the officers.

    That Makh. The nightmare ex boyfriend who can't simply go away. Ugh. Way to go. Yeah, a drunken rant in which you call her a whore - that'll win her back.
     
    Kahara, AzureAngel2, Gemma and 3 others like this.
  17. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Love all the detailed hustle and bustle of this chapter—sounds like the Plebeian Exhibition was super fun, and it's cool that it had so many things for the younger set (viz., Tam's age cohort) to enjoy too. The depiction of the (counter)prejudice against the Imperial visitors is spot-on and very thought-provoking: Ayesha's right that an exhibition meant to be open to everyone really needs to be open to everyone, without exception. And that can be hard to do. But I love that the power of music was at least partly responsible for the (temporary?) cessation of hostilities. :D

    And the situation with Vermel's family struck a poignant chord with me too. Especially on account of his children—so young to have to deal with that sort of thing. And believe me, even very young children can figure out when something's wrong between their parents, and become affected by it—speaking from experience here. :(

    But ugh, that repulsive Makh is back in the picture. What a slimeball! I hope to goodness this isn't a portent of more trouble than he's already caused in this chapter. Eliskandro's appearance was certainly well-timed—and hilarious, too. You can bring him in whenever you like, dahling. [face_laugh] I know he will make Ayesha's hair look just fabulously gorgeous with those snow-crystal hair beads.
     
  18. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! I'll reply as usual over the weekend (and I get a loooong weekend, so you can expect looong replies) but meanwhile here is chapter 11.

    Tags: AzureAngel2 Findswoman Gemma K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku Mando-Man Mira_Jade Raissa Baiard

    -------------------------------------------------

    Chapter 11: Corulag

    Ayesha remained moody and brooding throughout her stay on Corulag, despite Deputy Governor Parck’s and his wife’s best efforts to provide everything a visitor could wish for. She blamed her bad temper on her encounter with Makh. She was still furious at him, but she was also angry at herself for taking the bait and deeply ashamed of allowing such an outburst in front of Vermel. The Major has been extremely understanding – “you got him before I could,” he told her with a humorous smile, “I didn’t even have time to stand up before your Hutt friend took control of things” – but she knew deep down that such aggression was something foreign to her. As a matter of fact, she continued experiencing unexplainable flashes of rage, hatred or glee that had little to do with whatever she was doing at the moment, together with a constant headache, as if something were gnawing at the edge of her brain. The only remedy was apparently to bury herself in her art, and that was what she did every day for two and a half months. She spent hours and hours in the great bamboo forests, looking for stems of the right shape and size, and often carried them herself back to the Governor’s mansion, to Mrs Parck’s great distress. “Ayesha dear, you are going to kill yourself,” the Deputy Governor’s wife would tell her over dinner. “You are working hard every day and you are staying up far later than you should. Please have some spiceloaf, our new Corellian chef prepares it most excellently and you certainly need sustenance if you are intending to return to your workshop tonight.”

    The Corellian chef was indeed a master of his craft – he had recently been featured on the cover of Galactic Wining and Dining for his outstanding pastries – and Ayesha spent some time in the kitchens with the Parcks’ children learning how to make ryshcate. She often thought of how she would impress Thrawn with her new culinary skills and she always wondered where he could be now. She knew that Vermel couldn’t take side trips to Corulag when he travelled back to the Core to liaise with High Command, but she was disappointed not to have heard from him at all since the day she arrived in Curamelle. “Pay attention, little lady,” the chef said in his big voice every time her eyes became clouded. “Achieving the right texture for ryshcate is a science, and you will not master it if you don’t keep your mind on the task at hand.”

    The days stretched into weeks and the weeks into months, and the day finally came when the monument to the Perlemian Trade Route would be unveiled. Ayesha woke up at dawn and went down to the courtyard to double and triple-check that everything was in place. She had a migraine again and sought to chase it away by focusing on her work, but mere verification did not provide the same relief as actually working on the raw material. She finally went back to her suite after lunch and poured herself a bath, she prepared the outfit she would be wearing at the ceremony – the very same dark green tunic and trousers she had worn at the inauguration of the Northern Lights room – and she was about to step into the ‘fresher when the intercom buzzed. “Miss Eskari?” the guard’s voice said. “There’s a visitor for you.”

    She stifled a curse. “Can you please let him? I’ll be there in a minute.”

    She donned one of her thin, floor-length nightdresses, pulled a tunic over it and went to the lounge of her suite. There was no one to be seen but the balcony doors were wide open. She stepped outside and froze at the sight of a Navy uniform in front of the stone balustrade. “I should have known,” she whispered.

    Thrawn turned around and smiled. “Did I manage to surprise you, Ayoo’sha?”

    She beamed at him. “Only because I’m a half-wit, I should’ve guessed that the entire Parck family would be here for the dedication of the monument, so you’d come too. Are you staying planetside?”

    Thrawn came to stand at her side and caressed her face. “I am, today and tomorrow. Not only that, I am taking you back to Coruscant on the Admonitor.”

    She laughed. “Well, that explains all the mystery about the booking that the Deputy Governor’s office did for me. Does the whole governorate know everything about the Admiral’s wife?”

    “Yes, there appears to have been some advanced plotting between Voss and his cousin. Add Corporal Prashat to the mix, and the level of anticipation to your arrival on the Admonitor is unprecedented.”

    “I can live with that,” she answered, “as long as military decency doesn’t demand that you have your own suite here, or that I’m assigned guest quarters on your ship. I missed my lifemate, you know, and I intend to make up for time lost.”

    He pulled her tunic over her head before she could say anything else and crushed her mouth under his. “Perhaps we can start dealing with this issue right now,” he murmured as his lips moved to her neck. “We have quite some catching up to do.”

    “Not now,” she whispered weakly. “The dedication is in three hours and I need to get dressed.”

    “That was rather unconvincing, Ayoo’sha,” he chuckled. He lifted her in his arms and carried her to the bedroom. “We do not need three hours for an improvised reunion celebration. And as for getting dressed, I have seen you work miracles under pressure.”

    * * *​

    Everybody who was anybody in Curamelle appeared to be attending the unveiling of the monument. A large crowd of Humans, but also some Sullustans and Ithorians, gathered on the plaza outside the Governor’s Mansion as Governor Zafiel Snopps gave his speech, followed by Deputy Governor Parck and finally by Ayesha. When she flipped the switch to reveal the monument – a tangle of bamboo sections of various sizes, each one carefully shaped into a cogwheel and made to mesh with several others to create the impression of a giant engine – the oblique rays of the afternoon sun filtering through the gaps projected a shimmering map of the Perlemian Trade Route on the facade of the Mansion, to a round of deafening applause.

    Ayesha took the time to mingle politely with the audience while refreshments were being served but slipped away at the earliest opportunity, followed by Thrawn. “The Admiral’s wife added another artistic triumph to her list of achievements today,” he said teasingly as they stepped into the suite. “I was interviewed minutes ago by an ignorant holoshill for the cultural supplement of the local newsflimsi and I had to explain to him that your ability to manipulate light around your sculpts is truly what sets your technique apart.”

    She gave him a weak smile. “I guess that’s how I fight the darkness inside.” Thrawn arched an eyebrow in question. She took a deep breath and started speaking very fast. “Vermel told you what happened with Makh, right? Well, that wasn’t me. I’m not saying this to excuse myself, but I know it wasn’t me. It’s as if someone else planted that idea in my mind. And it happened again while I was here. I’ve been having these... spikes of emotion, and I know they’re not mine.” He went to speak but she continued anxiously. “It’s the Emperor. It feels like him. I think he’s trying to be inside my head all the time. He’s looking for something but I don’t know what.”

    There was a silence. “Ayoo’sha, the Emperor is light-years away. Surely...”

    “It doesn’t matter,” she interrupted. “There are ways. For instance, when I was little, Uncle Quin told me of something Jedi could do. It’s called Battle Meditation and it allowed a Jedi commander to coordinate the action of entire armies and fleets, thousands and thousands of people. He said that a very powerful Force user could even use it to control each person individually if they chose to. And he said it worked better on people nearby, but that some Jedi had mastered it over great distances, and Coruscant isn’t so far away.” Thrawn remained silent, as if deep in thought. “It’s possible, Thrawn. Please listen to me, these things are possible. I...”

    “I am listening, Ayoo’sha,” he said soothingly. “And I must say that some... events I witnessed make sense now that you mentioned this.” He brought his eyes to focus on her. “Tell me, can you feel the Emperor’s mind prod as we speak?”

    She shook her head and gave him her most radiant smile. “Not since you arrived. It seems that you and my work are the two things that can keep him out of my head, Qubshi be-khadeeb. He doesn’t like the light.”

    Thrawn sank into meditative silence once more. They sat quietly on the sofa for a while, until Ayesha glanced at the wall chrono and stood up. “I need to get ready again, the reception starts in half an hour.” She cupped Thrawn’s face in her hands to kiss him. “I’m really happy that you’re here. They say there’s going to be a lot of dancing tonight. Now stop thinking so hard, you’re going to break something.”

    * * *​

    She came out of the bedroom twenty minutes later in a dark blue, crystal-studded shimmersilk dress with a very revealing neckline, and spun around slowly for Thrawn to see that it was entirely backless, with a low waist cut under which the skirt flared all the way to the floor. The two narrow shoulder straps crossed in the middle of her back and caught up with the front of the dress just under her ribcage. “Mrs Parck’s tailor, Maya, made this for me. What do you think?”

    Thrawn’s frown was wiped from his face when she turned around again, and his jaw was slightly open in astonishment. It made her laugh. “It is lucky no one will be flying a speeder in this reception, Ayoo’sha,” he answered finally. “This dress is likely to cause quite a few accidents.”

    She laughed harder and came to stand in front of him. “I thought I should show off the fact that I regained every single gram of lost weight, tummy bump and all, thanks to the amazing chef they have here. I hope you like it, I worked hard for this, you know.”

    He leaned closer to kiss her shoulder. “I like it very much,” he murmured. “Although I have already argued that a few more grams would not be amiss.”

    She rolled her eyes indignantly. “You’re never happy, you know that?” He didn’t answer, his lips were playing up and down her neck and his fingers were brushing the bare skin of her back. “Uh-uh, not now. The reception is starting in ten minutes and we can’t be late. Help me put this on instead.” She gave him the box with the snow crystal thread jewels he had ordered for her from Csilla and turned around again so that he could fasten the necklace. She felt a fingertip run down her spine and tug at the skirt’s waistband. “I said not now,” she repeated sternly, but there was that mischievous smile when she spun again and found his glowing eyes fixed on her cleavage. His tongue invaded her mouth. Her lips were still over his when her hands finally pushed him away. “I see that I owe a special thanks to Maya,” she said after the kiss was over. “Now let’s go.”

    Thrawn placed an elegant stole studded with the same crystals as the dress on her shoulders and they took the turbolift to the Mansion’s ballroom. Mrs Parck greeted them by the door. “Ayesha, my dear, you look stunning,” she said. “I see that Maya was not exaggerating when she said she had created the perfect dress for you.” A majordomo led them to the head table where Captain Parck was waiting for them. Ayesha dropped her stole on the back of her chair and stayed up chatting with him and Thrawn. The Admiral was his crisp military self now, but Ayesha couldn’t help but notice the frown that creased his brow every now and then.

    Governor Snopps gave another short speech and announced that the festivities had begun. The band started playing the Perlemian Waltz and he turned to Ayesha and Thrawn. “You will allow me to invite Miss Eskari for the first dance, Admiral. Rumour reached Corulag of her extraordinary talent on the dance floor after some particularly memorable performance at the Emperor’s Ball, but I haven’t had the opportunity to verify it for myself.”

    Ayesha found herself swept away and accepted one dance after the other. She was keeping the corner of her eye on Thrawn, who was standing making conversation with various local politicians and military officers, and whose face was becoming increasingly expressionless, while something that could have been anger flashed in his eyes. She chose a moment when the crowd around him thinned a little to return to the table. He was chatting again with the Deputy Governor’s wife. “You must be the only man in this room who hasn’t asked me for a dance,” she said wryly.

    “I was telling the Admiral the exact same thing,” Mrs Parck exclaimed. “These men are all the same, Ayesha dear, they don’t seem to understand that they must continue seducing a woman every single day of her life.” Ayesha laughed and Mrs Parck patted Thrawn’s arm. “Come now, Admiral. You were involved in that rumour from the Emperor’s Ball, and I’d very much like to start a rumour from Corulag as well, if nothing else to prove that we are not so backrocket as Coruscantis may believe.”

    The band was starting yet another waltz, this one from Alderaan. Thrawn placed an arm around Ayesha’s waist, held her hand snugly in his and took her to the dance floor. “Are you really as upset as you look?” she asked as they started swinging between the other couples.

    His face was still entirely impassive. “This dress of yours may not have been such a good idea after all,” he said stiffly.

    She gave him a teasing smile. “Why not? I find it attracts rather admiring looks.”

    “It attracts the looks of men who are imagining you without a dress at all, Ayoo’sha,” Thrawn answered in a stern tone. “You know that I do not like that.”

    Her smile widened. “You don’t like it when men look at me, period.”

    Thrawn looked at her and saw that her eyes were sparkling. “You are enjoying this. You are enjoying making me jealous.”

    “Hmm, not really,” she replied. The waltz was picking up pace and he held her tighter. “But I do occasionally enjoy the consequences of your jealousy,” she whispered in his ear. “And since this afternoon was just a quickie, I thought I should give you an incentive for something more tonight. With a little bit of luck, you might even stop brooding.”

    His face remained expressionless but the stiffness of his demeanour was suddenly gone. The waltz ended and was replaced by a Corellian tango, then a very old rumba that had originated on Coruscant, then a languid bolero from Chandrila. Ayesha was flying around him, shivering ever so slightly every time she felt his hands on her bare skin or caught a glimpse of the flash of phosphorescence in his eyes. “I think this is enough, Ayoo’sha,” Thrawn murmured as the bolero ended. “Mrs Parck has her rumour, and we may not want to start another, more scandalous one by engaging in a certain activity in public, which is bound to happen if we do not return to your quarters soon.”

    They thanked their hosts and exchanged goodnights with Captain Parck and Major Vermel, and were on their way back to the turbolift when Ayesha stopped to greet a young woman who was sitting shyly in a corner near the door. “Maya, I owe you a very, very special thanks. This dress is an absolute hit.”

    “You look beautiful in it, Miss Eskari,” Maya said, “I’m really glad you chose this one. The other one is for a stiff event in the Emperor’s Court, not for dancing on Corulag. We may not be the centre of the Galaxy here, but we know how to throw a party.”

    Ayesha gave her a hug and caught up with Thrawn, who was already by the turbolift. “Did I hear something about another dress?” he asked.

    The doors slid open “Yup. There’s a more conservative one made of the same fabric. I was supposed to wear it tonight, you know, for the Governor’s formal reception and all that.”

    Thrawn keyed for the guest suite floor. “Was there an indication that the reception would be any less formal?” he asked very seriously.

    She gave a mock indignant sigh. “You’re the most brilliant mind in the Navy and you can’t figure it out on your own? No wonder the Empire is going to the canids.”

    “I did figure it out on my own, Ayoo’sha,” he murmured, tickling the small of her back with his fingertips. “But I want to hear it from you.”

    “Let’s see if this dress lives up to my expectations first,” she said airily. “Or rather if you live up to my expectations.”

    Thrawn gave her a feral smile but there was something unusual – an element of despair perhaps – in the way he crushed her against the wall of her quarters as soon as they stepped in. “You are mine,” he whispered hoarsely in her ear. “Do you understand? I am yours and you are mine, now and forever.” He gave her a passionate kiss. “Say it. You are mine.”

    “I’m yours,” she whispered in bewilderment. “I’m yours, now and forever.”

    He lifted her in his arms and waltzed across the lounge as he carried her to the bed. “Mine!” he shouted triumphantly in Cheunh. “Mine! Mine! Mine!”
     
    JadeLotus, Ewok Poet, Kahara and 4 others like this.
  19. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Can I just. Just.
    SQUEEE! SQUEE! SQUEE!?! Yup, I can. I've been waiting ever since yesterday to SQUEE! [face_rofl]

    Magnificent. The exhibition, his surprise arrival. The dress! And that final scene -- =P~ =P~ Had me fangirling all over the place!

    ~!

    The only jarring note, and I admit it's a biggie, is the Emperor's far-off effect [face_nail_biting] He is just about in the same category as that unmentionable Takel. They need a literal lobotomy! :p :eek:

    =D= on a wonderful chapter.

    ~!

    Armed with this knowledge, and with Yakkoboo's "instructions" ;) I hope and pray! Thrawn keeps her with him on the Admonitor. [face_batting]

    ^:)^
     
  20. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    There was a silence. “Ayoo’sha, the Emperor is light-years away. Surely...”

    “It doesn’t matter,” she interrupted. “There are ways. For instance, when I was little, Uncle Quin told me of something Jedi could do. It’s called Battle Meditation and it allowed a Jedi commander to coordinate the action of entire armies and fleets, thousands and thousands of people. He said that a very powerful Force user could even use it to control each person individually if they chose to. And he said it worked better on people nearby, but that some Jedi had mastered it over great distances, and Coruscant isn’t so far away.” Thrawn remained silent, as if deep in thought. “It’s possible, Thrawn. Please listen to me, these things are possible. I...”

    “I am listening, Ayoo’sha,” he said soothingly. “And I must say that some... events I witnessed make sense now that you mentioned this.” He brought his eyes to focus on her. “Tell me, can you feel the Emperor’s mind prod as we speak?”

    She shook her head and gave him her most radiant smile. “Not since you arrived. It seems that you and my work are the two things that can keep him out of my head, Qubshi be-khadeeb. He doesn’t like the light.”

    THAT made me very, very thoughtful of how dangerous the old man is.

    Yet, you managed to turn around the gloomy atmosphere with a sexy dress & turned Thrawn into the equivalent of a civilised caveman... ;)

    You write pretty hot at times! Thank you! @};-

     
  21. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 25, 2013
    I think Mrs. Parck needs to show this from the rooftops to all men.

    Love the dress it sounds absolutely beautiful and sexy. I loved it when he put on the necklace from the stones he had given her. And the quickie and the scene when they got home made me melt!!:)[:D]@};-
     
    Kahara, Nyota's Heart and Chyntuck like this.
  22. JadeLotus

    JadeLotus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 27, 2005
    Okay, I have finally finished Part I - what a complex and layered story you have here, Chyntuck! I really admire your worldbuilding and rather unique perspective of a civilian living in the Empire just trying to get by and not really taking an active part in the Civil War (other than her work with escaped slaves.) The breadth of your OCs and the way you've fleshed out life on Coruscant is very compelling.

    I really like Ayesha, and adore reading about her various artistic works - one doesn't often read about art or artists in Star Wars and this gives a really interesting aspect to the universe, particularly in Ayesha's personal works and her heritage which is certainly mixed! The connection to Vos, her poet father, her adoptive Wookie family and her history as a slave, all fascinating aspects of Ayesha's life and personality that really gives her a richness. Of course, she had serious issues, but with that history it's to be expected and she clearly still has a long way to go on her journey.

    Thrawn has never been one of my favourite characters - I don't dislike him, he's just never really interested me that much. But I have really enjoyed the way you've characterised him here and the choices he has made serving an Empire and yet pursuing his own agenda. You've fleshed out his admirable qualities without woobifying him - to me he is still the villain we see in the Thrawn Trilogy - he's still arrogant and possessive, and his at times proprietary attitude towards Ayesha does set off alarm bells - but all of that seems to be shades of grey one expects of a complex and difficult character.

    The interaction with Vader on the fringes of this story is very intriguing - I was very surprised that Vader allowed Ayesha to discover his secret and see his history to such an extent, but I suppose he doesn't see her as a threat. In some respects he identifies with her as a former slave, and feels protective of her in the dangerous Imperial Court where he knows how vulnerable she is - deep down he is still the Anakin that wanted to free all of the slaves, and while he's caught up in a regime that has in fact made slavery much, much worse, he can help Ayesha as Anakin once did. I'm very, very interested to see if/how Ayesha factors in to the search for Luke - and of course if she will ever interact with Mara, as that is a conversation I would like to see! Two women who are so very different, and yet both zealously guard their secrets and true selves.
     
    Ewok Poet, Kahara, Findswoman and 2 others like this.
  23. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Very interesting update. I like the idea of her experiencing imperial life somewhere other than Imperial Center. The cultural reach of the Empire surely goes far, but it gets diluted and flavored with the local sensibilities. It seems that the further away from the abyss that is the palace one gets, the more light shines through.

    I wonder what is going on with Thrawn. This jealousy, and the rather puzzling (and a little disturbing) declaration at the end that she is literally his, has me scratching my head. Is he jealous of her success, both socially and in terms of her career? Is he on some level concerned that he, as a nonhuman, is competing against the humans and Ayesha is the living trophy of his sucess? I'm just hoping we aren't seeing signs of an Othello emerging here.

    Or maybe I'm just being overprotective of my favorite artist. O:)
     
    Gemma, Kahara, Findswoman and 2 others like this.
  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    The insightful divapilot raises some valid and intriguing points here. My take on that last thingy was tying back to 1. All the guys' relentless interest in Ayesha. :eek: And 2. Her disclosure to Thrawn earlier about how the Palpster is always kinda there in her mind. :eek: [face_nail_biting] I think he's not wanting to lose her to something like what happened after Malki. Probably, he would imagine, there would be no getting her back a third time. [face_worried]

    Oooh, Othello, yup, that is one jealous dude there, but Iago was the button pusher. There has to be a button pusher. :p
     
    Gemma, Kahara and Chyntuck like this.
  25. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Well, I don't blame Ayesha for feeling rather down in the dumps about Thrawn's absence, but at least between the Corellian cook and Madame Parck (now there's a mother avian! :D ) she was well taken care of during her stay on Corulag. It's very interesting and illuminating to learn that her violent reaction to Makh's taunts was a result of the Emperor's mind control—that puts that scene in a whole new light. [face_thinking] Realizations like that make me so glad she has such a rock-solid support network—not only her blue-skinned, ember-eyed lifemate but also friends like Vermel and the Parcks. The fact that her art and Thrawn's love both aid in keeping the Emperor out of her mind is a ray of hope—sounds like something that could play out later in interesting ways in whatever final or semi-final showdown scenes might come along. [face_thinking]

    And again, these dresses of hers really are tempting me to resurrect my doll hobby. Great work by Maya. (Just a detail, but I find it interesting that Maya is "sitting shyly in a corner," apparently unnoticed by most. Reminds me a bit of how Mara finds Jari'kyn crying by herself in Union.)