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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. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 6, 2003
    Yes, this "mine"...

    I mean, wow - but it is a little bit scary, too.
    "Mine, because I love you so much" or "mine, because the Emperor now can't get you any more"?

    Whew...
     
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  2. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! I said I'd reply over the weekend and I didn't because I was too busy with cooking, eating and digesting [face_blush] but since today is a public holiday in Greece we can all pretend that it's still the weekend for me :p

    JadeLotus Thank your for the long, detailed review of Part I. I'm glad and honoured that you are enjoying this story and I'll try not to disappoint in Part II.

    Of your various comments I'd like to focus on this one about Vader:
    You're spot-on about all of it, really -- the background idea is that there should be some continuity between Anakin and Vader, because without that the end of ROTJ makes no sense, and that continuity should also include his failures, in this case not helping all the slaves but just a few or even just one. Another point on which Vader can identify with Ayesha (which I borrowed from the various Vader books) is how much he hates the Emperor for manipulating him into becoming Vader. And then there's yet another thing that I won't spoil for you, because it comes in the early chapters of Part II :)

    As for the Ayesha/Mara encounter, that's something I had written initially, but then I removed it from this story because I was getting lost with all my sub-plots, but I might come up with some "deleted scenes" at some point *tries to rein in her megalomania* :p

    Chapter 10
    I know, eh? But it's the sort of thing that happens when people reach the ripe old age of 92 :(
    Soldiers and sailors, I think -- I have lots of background notes on issues facing Navy personnel that are based primarily on Greek literature about sailors (of which there are hundreds of such novels, as you can imagine) and being separated from their families is a recurring thing.
    To cheer you up (yet another "deleted scene"), Vermel gave Ayesha's two wooden toys to his children, one to each. He thought they'd like them :)
    Oh, Ayesha loves it when Thrawn gets her gifts, but like all Wookiees she believes that birthday presents are bad luck. Farewell gifts are fine though, and she'll look absolutely chahming once Eliskandro gets a chance to put those snow crystal beads in her hair 8-}
    To me it simply stands to reason that visitors to the exhibition wouldn't be too happy about having people in uniform in there -- you would expect that the casual visitor doesn't really understand the difference between "art using unconventional materials" and "alien art" in the first place, and to them a uniform is just a symbol of the Empire. On the other hand, Ayesha has worked herself in a tight spot there, participating in an exhibition that aims directly at undermining COMPNOR when her lifemate and guests work for the same set of institutions as COMPNOR. Kal likes Thrawn a lot and is smart enough to know that not all Imperials are cut from the same cloth, but he might have a point about being cautious who to invite and when.
    Yup, that's the mystery strategy this specific brand of ex-boyfriend seems to adopt -- trying to shame their ex into returning to them. Not that I ever saw that work... There's another sub-plot I dropped here, about how Makh's life went downhill when he challenged the authorities one time too many in his writing and ran into serious trouble. It was making Part II way too long and complicated, so I had to let it go, but there are times I wish I'd kept it because (for a change) it didn't show Ayesha in a particularly good light.
    [face_laugh] Eliskandro will definitely be back -- a little bit in this story (if nothing else to make Ayesha look chahming), but he's also getting his own set of stories at some point. I mean, he may be a hairdresser, but he's a Hutt. He knows how to deal with the mob ;)

    Chapter 11
    It's lucky no one sees Ny's beta-reading PMs. There's more of this in there ;) [:D]
    "Civilised caveman"?!?!? [face_rofl]
    Oh, definitely. They forget it far too often [face_mischief]
    The Emperor is definitely up to no good here (not that this should come as a surprise) but the real question is why he's doing all this. Hint: the answer is well-hidden in chapter 9 [face_shhh]
    Oh please do that -- now that I saw a sample of your work on FFAMA, I can't wait to see more!
    Thank you both for noting these aspects! The general idea for this was borrowed from French historical novels (although I'm pretty sure there must be a similar element in Victorian-era novels as well) that always describe how very rigid rules of court tend to get bypassed in provincial life, with servants attending their masters' celebrations and a social/cultural life that's more relaxed but also richer once it escapes the fetters of etiquette. I'm glad it came through [face_dancing]
    I won't reply to that now because I think the answer will be made obvious in the coming chapter but I'd be grateful if one or more of you could tell me if it isn't :)

    Thanks again! Chapter 12 is coming up in a few minutes.
     
  3. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    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.

    And as usual, thanks to Nyota's Heart for beta-reading and sending squeeing comments [:D]

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

    Chapter 12: Potted plants

    In the weeks that followed their return to Coruscant, Ayesha had been planning to take up her post at the Plebeian Exhibition, which was still open to great success, but she gave up on her artistic projects to spend her days with Tam at Nazmat Koch’s bedside. The old professor’s health had further deteriorated during Ayesha’s time on Corulag, she was now skeletal and it was clear to all that the end was nigh, but she always gave her former students her familiar wry smile when they came to visit and she continued exercising her sharp tongue against her oblivious great-grandson, who enjoyed slipping under the covers to curl up at her side. “I turned ninety-three years old this year, young man,” she told him as he traced the deep wrinkles on her cheeks. “You had better look as good as I do when you reach my age, or I might disown you as a Koch.” Ayesha put up a brave face when Thrawn came to pick her up from her daily visits to her master, but she was unusually silent and she held Tam a little tighter as they flew him back to Kal and Mira’s home.

    “You will be a wonderful mother to our children, Ayoo’sha,” Thrawn told her one evening completely out of the blue as they watched Tam run towards his parents when they dropped him off.

    She shivered. “Is that what you want?” she asked uncertainly. “You want to have children sooner rather than later?”

    “I do not ‘want children’, Ayoo'sha,” he corrected. “I want to have a family with you. If that family must be only the two of us, so be it. But I thought that, instead of constantly fawning over our friends’ children, you would like us to have our own. Do you not?”

    “I don’t know,” she muttered after a long silence. “It’s an awfully big responsibility.”

    Thrawn, meanwhile, was spending far more time than was typical in the Imperial Palace, and Ayesha couldn’t help but note his comings and goings at odd hours despite her preoccupation with Nazmat Koch’s condition. “You have a lot of meetings these days, don’t you?” she asked him once.

    “There are some issues with my crew,” he answered. He didn’t elaborate and she didn’t interrogate him further, but she could see under his usual impassive expression that he was working hard to suppress the frown that had been creasing his brow since their conversation about the Emperor on Corulag.

    “You know, I’ve been feeling a lot better since we came home,” she told him on one night when she found him in his study, looking particularly dour as he stared at the flow of data on his monitor. “I haven’t had those headaches since we came back here. I think I was overreacting. Maybe it’s just that the air in Curamelle wasn’t good for me.” Thrawn gave her a warm smile and opened a bottle of wine to celebrate, but she could still feel the tension in every one of his muscles when they went to bed.

    Another week went by where, between Thrawn’s work and Ayesha’s visits to Nazmat Koch and her shift at the Centre, they saw each other very little. Thrawn was staying in the Palace until late in the evenings, and he often came home to find Ayesha already in bed and asleep. It was on one of those nights that he woke up in the small hours of the morning, his mouth parched as if he had taken a trek in the desert. He slipped on his trousers and made groggily for the kitchen, activated the atrium glowpanel and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Quinlan Vos lounging in the armchair, balancing his lightsaber hilt on his knee. “Why is Ayesha still on Coruscant?” the Kiffar asked point blank.

    Thrawn massaged his forehead. His thirst was gone. “What are you doing here?”

    Vos gave him a wicked grin. “I’m here to ask you why Ayesha is still on Coruscant.”

    Thrawn closed his eyes for a moment. “Give me a few minutes,” he finally grumbled. “This is going to be a long night.”

    He was about to return from the kitchen with a cup of steaming black caf in his hand when the door of the refrigeration unit opened of its own accord and a bottle of Forvish ale floated out and followed him to the conversation circle. Vos popped it open and took a swig. “So,” he said smugly. “I woke you up, I made you believe that you’re terribly thirsty and I brought this bottle over here without coming anywhere near you. Do you believe me now when I tell you that the Force works at a distance?”

    Thrawn sipped his caf. “I am afraid that you came a long way to tell me something I already know. However, since you are here now and I am awake, perhaps you would like to take a guess on the Emperor’s reasons for tormenting Ayesha in such a way? She seems to believe that he is seeking a particular piece of information.”

    The Kiffar shrugged. “That’s your domain, Admiral. Apparently, Palpatine believes that Ayesha knows something he doesn’t. What could that be?”

    There was a silence. “The only person who can describe with certainty what the Emperor knows and what he does not is the Emperor himself,” Thrawn said. “Very well. Can you explain to me why Ayesha has not been experiencing his... mental intrusion since we returned from Corulag?”

    The Jedi shrugged. “It could be any number of things. Maybe he’s busy elsewhere, or maybe he just keeps away when you’re around. Maybe he’s finding it more difficult to focus on her here.” Thrawn arched an eyebrow. “There’s a trillion sentients on Coruscant and the Force can get a bit crowded, to put it in layman terms.” He paused. “Or maybe Ayesha is right and being happy with you is enough to keep him out of her head. She said you’ve been talking about babies, eh?” He chuckled when Thrawn almost spilled his caf. “Don’t worry, she doesn’t tell me all your secrets. It’s just that she needed to get a load of duracrete off her chest when she contacted me. She’s concerned that you worry too much. I, on the other hand, am concerned that you’re not taking this Sith business seriously enough.”

    “I assure you that I am,” Thrawn replied curtly. “However, I am not quite certain how much I can do to prevent the Emperor taking her from me if he can feel her presence from the other end of the Galaxy.”

    The Jedi chuckled again. “Cool your hyperdrive right there. Sidious is powerful, but not that powerful. I’m pretty sure he can’t zero on someone more than a couple of systems away. He hasn’t been able to find me, remember?” Thrawn went to speak. “Anyway. Babies?”

    Thrawn gave a sigh of surrender. “Indeed. Having children is something I have mentioned to Ayesha in passing, but she is a little reluctant – understandably so, given her own experiences as a child.”

    Vos waved his hand dismissively. “She’ll come around. Yakooboo will love it, I can tell you that. Me too, come to think of it. Playing Crazy Uncle Quin is astral.” He suddenly became serious again. “But I’d rather know that Ayesha is safe somewhere in the Unknown Regions before I start picturing myself with silvery blue nephews on my lap, so why don’t you tell me about your plan, provided that you have one?”

    “Much of my plan involves information that I am not at liberty to disclose,” Thrawn said coolly. “To give you a general idea, I intend to have myself posted permanently to the Unknown Regions and to take Ayesha with me. Her departure from Coruscant should take place in an orderly way so as not to rouse suspicion that she is fleeing the Emperor. I am therefore manipulating developments in court to make this happen.”

    “I hope your manipulation doesn’t take forever.”

    “No more than three months. By New Year Fete she will be offworld and safe.”

    The Kiffar frowned. “Three months is too much.”

    “The Emperor is spending two of those three months at his Retreat on Naboo. Ayesha needs this time for her goodbyes. She loves her friends dearly and her mentor is on her deathbed. I must give her the time to process this loss.”

    Vos nodded. “Yes, loss sits deeply with her. Does she know your plan?”

    “No. I deem it safer not to tell her the details. So far she has evaded the Emperor’s inquisitiveness, but I cannot be certain that things will remain this way.”

    Vos nodded again. “Good thinking. Well, looks like the potted plants my boy is bringing are going to be useful after all.”

    Thrawn arched an eyebrow. “Potted plants?”

    “Yup, two of them. What, they don’t have potted plants where you come from?” The eyebrow travelled higher. “They certainly aren’t big on humour where you come from,” the Kiffar grumbled. “So yes. Korto is bringing you potted plants, special plants called Olbio trees. Ever heard of them?”

    “Never. Should I?”

    “Actually, it’s a good thing you haven’t. Do me a favour and don’t tell anyone, will you? I don’t put it past Sidious and Vader to blow Myrkr to smithereens if they ever find out about the ysalamiri.”

    “Ysalamiri?”

    Vos smiled. “Yes, ysalamiri. Your new favourite pet. They’re ugly little critters” – he paused for dramatic effect – “that create a Force-neutral bubble around them.”

    A smile touched Thrawn’s lips. “You want to hide Ayesha in plain sight.” Vos nodded. “Tell me, will these ysalamiri affect her in any way? Will she still be able to create art?”

    Vos shrugged. “I think so. The ysalamiri don’t negate the Force, they merely prevent a Force user from manipulating it, so she should be fine. In any case, we got only two trees, one for here and one for your bedroom. She’ll still need to count on her art to keep the Sith at bay while in her workshop – which is a good thing, Sidious might notice that you’re up to something if she vanished from the Force altogether.”

    Thrawn sank into meditative silence. “Thank you, Jedi Vos,” he said finally. “Thank you. I am grateful.”

    The Jedi shrugged again. “I’m not doing it for you, I’m doing it for Ayesha. And for my nephews and nieces, when they come to be.”

    Thrawn smiled openly this time and held out his hand. “I am grateful nevertheless.”

    Their handshake was interrupted by the shuffle of feet in the hallway. “Thrawn?” Ayesha’s sleepy voice called. “Who in the Galaxy are you talking to?” Her astonishment at Quinlan Vos’s presence in their apartment in the middle of the night soon turned into a squeal of delight, and she flung herself in her uncle’s arms. “Why didn’t you wake me up?” she asked Thrawn a little angrily when she finally took a step back.

    “Your gentleman friend and I needed to have a friendly chat,” Vos intervened. “He still hasn’t understood that he can’t serve two masters yet, but he’ll be a lot less fidgety now. And” – he closed his eyes for a brief moment – “I have a surprise for you.”

    He walked to the turbolift and Ayesha let out another squeal when a twenty-year-old man with the same yellow Qukuuf as Vos stepped into the hallway. The Jedi was suddenly all business, taking over the floatpad that his son had been pushing and exploring the apartment, as if looking for something. “Our work here is done, kiddo,” he said as he returned to Ayesha, who was chatting volubly with her cousin. “I know they’re not pretty” – he pointed at one of the Olbio trees that was now standing near the comm desk – “but you take good care of them, okay?”

    “What are they?” she asked.

    “Just potted plants,” the Kiffar said evasively. “You know me, I’m all for modern design and decoration. Come on, Korto, we’re off.”

    Ayesha pouted her lips. “Do you have to go already? Korto’s my only cousin and I haven’t seen him in years.”

    “Yes, we do. You know how it is. Besides” – he pulled her into a tight hug and whispered something to her in Old Kiffar, making her blush. “Yup, that’s right. Now get to business and don’t worry about us, we’ll show ourselves out.”

    There was a long silence as she watched the two men disappear down the hallway to the back balcony while Thrawn examined one of the furry, lizard-like creatures lying on a branch of the tree. She finally turned around to face him. “You know, I made up my mind. Next time I go to the Centre, I’ll ask Simon to remove my contraceptive implant. If a baby wants to come, he or she will be welcome.”

    Thrawn came closer to crook a finger under her chin and look at her in the eyes. “Are you certain that this is what you want, Ayoo’sha? You should not take such a decision merely to please me.”

    “Yes,” she said firmly. “I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with this ghost of a family that appears only to disappear again. You and I are going to have a real family now.” She stood on the tips of her toes and whispered in his ear, “Now let’s go back to bed. I may still have the implant, but it’s a few hours until morning and we can start pretending that we’re having a baby. You know what they say, practice makes perfect.”
     
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  4. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 6, 2003
    AWWW, SQUEEEE!!! ^:)^
    How great is this!!
    Now I wonder what a Chiss/Human child would look like... :D
    Blue? But of course. Black hair? Sure. Red eyes? Hmmm. [face_thinking]

    And Quinlan! Nice to see that Thrawn and Quin now get along well.
    Good idea with the Ysalamiri, btw. And again, your story fits so well with the EU.
    Hehe, this just made my day!
     
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  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Huge SQUEE! and :D :D for the talk/decision about younglings. A pivotal, touching moment for a couple!

    Brilliant idea bout the ysalamiri and yes, Quin and Thrawn seem to be getting along nicer ;) Three months does sound like a long time but at least the Emperor will be away for most of it. Sigh of relief and no-surprise that Thrawn put a plan into the works. :)
     
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  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    We-e-e-ell. :D

    I kind of knew that the possibility of a child for these two might eventually come up, since during the OC Revolution "family" discussion you mentioned Ayesha's hesitant feelings about starting a family of her own. And I had an inkling that this was part of what Thrawn was getting at with his "few extra grams." :p But it still packed quite a wallop to actually read about the possibility here in the story—because how could it not?

    So of course I have lots and lots of feelings about this new development, ranging from "wow, that could be really cool!" to "I hope these two know what they're getting into!" ( :p ) But given the Emperor's unholy interest in what's inside Ayesha's mind, I can't help but feel a little scared, too. Any child these two have is likely to have the same kind of unique Force presence as Ayesha, and the same kind of quasi-psychometric gift. And I imagine a pregnant Ayesha would be more detectable in the Force than a non-pregnant Ayesha, because of the added Force signature of the baby. I wouldn't put it past that horrid old Palpster to use the child to get at the mother, or vice versa... :eek:

    Oh, maybe I'm just being a worried mother avian. :p In any event, it looks like those ysalamiri arrived just in the nick of time. I hope they are low-maintenance pets. ;)

    I enjoyed Uncle Quin's reappearance, which was another fun opportunity to see him and Thrawn go at it—they're such complete foils! It's rather cute how nonplussed Thrawn gets by Quin's various antics, mainly because Thrawn so rarely gets nonplussed about anything. But, as has been noted, they seem to be warming up to each other, and that's a good thing. How wonderful that Cousin Korto got a quick cameo—hope Ayesha will get a chance to catch up with him more later. And fingers crossed about Thrawn's plan—I look forward to seeing how it unfolds.
     
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  7. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    “Actually, it’s a good thing you haven’t. Do me a favour and don’t tell anyone, will you? I don’t put it past Sidious and Vader to blow Myrkr to smithereens if they ever find out about the ysalamiri.”

    “Ysalamiri?”

    Vos smiled. “Yes, ysalamiri. Your new favourite pet. They’re ugly little critters” – he paused for dramatic effect – “that create a Force-neutral bubble around them.”

    A smile touched Thrawn’s lips. “You want to hide Ayesha in plain sight.” Vos nodded. “Tell me, will these ysalamiri affect her in any way? Will she still be able to create art?”

    Ah, THIS is how the ysalamiri where discovered by Thrawn. ;)
     
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  8. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Oooh boy, babies everywhere! [face_batting] This conversation was bound to happen eventually. The little hints about children - Tam's affection for both Ayesha and Thrawn, Vermel's sad resignation at being separated from his own kids - has opened the door for the possibility of their own children. Such a huge step, though, considering their unique places in the society.I echo Findswoman when I say that a pregnancy for Ayesha might be a dangerous thing.

    Loved Quin's smart mouth. Oh no problem, just help yourself to an ale.

    Everyone loves Ayesha so much. I hope that she stays safe! [:D]
     
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  9. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing :)
    That's pretty much my idea of what a Human-Chiss hybrid would look like too. I always told myself that the Chiss genes would be dominant, because, well, the Chiss are dominant, period :p

    And now to find out who, of Palpatine and Thrawn, has the best plan... [face_mischief]

    Oh, they're as low-maintenance as it gets. They feed off the tree they live on, so as long as the tree is happy, they're happy.
    Writing the Quin/Thrawn dialogues has to be the most entertaining aspect of this fic for me (together with the dialogue with Nazmat Koch during Ayesha's end-of-fellowship exhibition). One of Quin's traits I really enjoyed in the comics was how he has a sarcastic answer to pretty much anything. I remember a scene with Obi-Wan where, after getting attacked by Ventress on a rancor, thinking that Quin betrayed him and escaping death a dozen times, Obi-Wan lectures Quin on Jedi not having personal possessions. Quin just replies, "well, I'm not a very good Jedi, aren't I?" [face_laugh]

    Well, there had to be an explanation :D

    [:D] right back atcha!


    Thanks again! Next chapter coming up in a few minutes.
     
  10. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    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.

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

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

    Chapter 13: The Canted Circle

    Thrawn was considerably more relaxed after Quinlan Vos’s nightly visit – Ayesha could see that the frown had been wiped from his face – but he was still spending an inordinate amount of time in the Imperial Palace and answered her questions evasively when she tried to pry from him what in the Galaxy he was up to. She understood of course that he could not share all the details of his work with her, but she was incurably curious and often couldn’t prevent herself from asking the same questions again and again. An evening finally came when they were sitting together on the conversation circle to watch the news on the HoloNet, and they saw Grand Admiral Tigellinus, flanked by Ishin-Il-Raz and Crueya Vandron, engage in one of his diatribes against aliens and the damage they caused to the New Order. These speeches always made Ayesha furious, despite the regularity of their occurrence, and she was turning to Thrawn, ready to spit venom against Imperial ideology, when she caught a glimpse of a satisfied smile on his face. “What?” she asked a little angrily. “You think this is funny?”

    Thrawn reverted immediately to his impassive expression. “It is one of the inconveniences of working for the Navy, Ayoo’sha. However, these rants are sufficiently frequent and repetitive to border on the entertaining.”

    There was a silence. “There’s something you’re not telling me, Thrawn. This has to do with all those meetings you have in the Palace. And I’m pretty sure it also has something to do with me.”

    Thrawn glanced briefly at the Olbio tree behind them. “And you, my dear, are far too smart for your own good. This conversation will happen in due time, but meanwhile I suggest we open a nice bottle of wine and have dinner.”

    In the week that followed, Thrawn virtually disappeared from home. He left early in the morning and returned only late at night, relying on Corporal Prashat to ferry him to and from the Palace while leaving his personal speeder for Ayesha to use when she visited Nazmat Koch. “I see you more often on the HoloNet than in the flesh,” she whispered to him one night when she felt him slip under the covers, despite his efforts not to wake her. “Whatever you’re up to, I hope it’s worth it. This isn’t how babies are made, you know.”

    Thrawn chuckled. “Is this an unashamed attempt to distract me with your feminine wiles, Miss Eskari?”

    “Totally,” she replied with a grin. “And I’m awake now, so let’s see how successful I will be.”

    * * *​

    The next morning, Ayesha woke up early and, seeing that Thrawn was at her side, she got up to prepare caf before he could leave again. The HoloNet News morning broadcast was playing in the background, and she followed a report about the ban of slungerhounds in the Corula system as she prepared breakfast. She prepared a tray of spice buns and slid it in the oven when the anchor changed the topic to social announcements. She listened indifferently to the snippets about births, deaths, betrothals and weddings among the Imperial elite, and was about to switch off the display when a sentence finally caught her attention. “It was announced this morning that a date has finally been set for Admiral Thrawn’s induction in the prestigious Order of the Canted Circle. The ceremony will take place on the thirteenth of this month in the Skydome Botanical Gardens. An Order member, who desires to remain anonymous, claims that Thrawn’s invitation came at the behest of the Emperor himself, despite the forceful opposition of senior courtiers who believe...”

    Ayesha leapt with joy and abandoned her spice buns to their fate to run to the bedroom, where Thrawn was still soundly asleep. She shook him mercilessly to wake him up. “You’re being inducted in the Order of the Canted Circle and you don’t tell me anything?” she asked. Thrawn blinked but she didn’t give him time to answer, planting a passionate kiss on his lips. “I’m so happy and so proud of you, you forced them to put aside their prejudice to give you the recognition you deserve, that moron Tigellinus can eat his words now!” She stood up and pirouetted. “I need to order a dress. What would you like me to wear?”

    “What are you talking about, Ayoo’sha?” Thrawn asked groggily.

    “My dress of course! I need a dress for your induction ceremony, I can’t come naked!”

    Thrawn sat up abruptly against the pillow, all traces of sleepiness gone. “That is out of the question. You will not come to the ceremony.”

    His tone was so stern and categorical that it brought tears of humiliation to her eyes. “You don’t want me to come to the ceremony?”

    Thrawn sighed and patted the mattress for her to sit at his side. “Please, have a seat. Please,” he repeated when he saw her hesitate. He hugged her warmly. “I apologize for my rudeness, Ayoo’sha,” he murmured. “This is not how I wanted to start this day. But you cannot, you should not come to the Skydome Gardens. We agreed that you should never find yourself in the presence of any high-ranking Imperial officer, and the entire court will be there. The Emperor will be there.”

    She gave an angry shrug and pulled back from him. “What difference does it make? We know that he can read my thoughts at a distance.”

    Thrawn glanced at the ysalamir that was chewing placidly on a leaf on the Olbio tree beside the bed. “But that has happened only once on Coruscant, and I am confident that it will not happen again,” he said soothingly.

    There was a long pause. “What is it that you aren’t telling me?” she asked. “You disappear to the Palace for hours every day, you obtain an honour that beats any Navy promotion and you don’t even tell me, you look at these horrible plants every time I mention the Emperor, you...”

    “Do you trust me, Ayoo’sha?” he interrupted her. “Do you trust your lifemate’s word?” She nodded sheepishly. “Then please believe that the reason I am keeping some information from you is not a mere whim. When we move to Nirauan...”

    She arched an eyebrow. “When we move to Nirauan? Is that something we’ve decided?”

    “Ayoo’sha, you are being difficult now. There are things that you should not know and things that you cannot do for your own safety. And I know that you do not want to spend your life with the fear of the Emperor nagging at the back of your mind. Once you are in the Unknown Regions and out of his reach, I will explain everything to you, I promise.”

    There was another pause. Her shoulders finally sagged in defeat. “Fine,” she said petulantly. “What excuse are we going to come up with this time? Did I get the Blue Shadow Virus?”

    Thrawn smiled. “There will be no need for something so fancy. Your excuse is that you chose to spend the evening at your master’s bedside, and you will be reciting poetry.” He sniffed the air. “But there is a more immediate priority. We should have breakfast before our spice buns turn into useless lumps of charcoal.”

    * * *​

    When Thrawn came to collect Ayesha from Nazmat Koch’s apartment late in the evening of the 13th – he had dropped her off a few hours earlier with strict instructions to focus on the poetry she would be reciting to her master, and she had dutifully trotted out every poem of her father’s she could remember, even after the elderly lady had fallen asleep – he was wearing a midnight black velvet robe over his dress uniform. “Well, look at you! A true member of the Coruscanti elite,” she said with forced cheerfulness to hide her lingering frustration.

    Thrawn regaled her with the details of the ceremony as they flew home. He described the rituals of the Order and his witty account of the uptight expressions of some members of the audience finally gained her over, making her roar with laughter. “I can only imagine Tigellinus’s face,” she giggled as they reached their landing pad. “And Zaarin’s. Stars know how they will cope with it when you become a Grand Admiral.” Thrawn arched an eyebrow. “You don’t think you’ll become a Grand Admiral? I’m sure you will. The first and only alien Grand Admiral in the history of the Empire. And by then the Emperor will be gone, and I’ll come to all your fancy receptions and be Madam Grand Admiral.”

    Thrawn cleared his throat as they entered the apartment. “Speaking of the Emperor, did anything...”

    “Nothing,” she said happily. “I didn’t feel him in my head for a single second. Maybe he gave up on me.” To her great surprise, Thrawn frowned at her reply. “What? You wanted him to check on me while you were being inducted?”

    “Not at all, Ayoo’sha, not at all. As a matter of fact, he enquired after you during the reception after the ceremony. He said, and I quote, that you are a very compassionate young woman to be spending your evenings with your elderly master instead of entertaining yourself.”

    “As if he’s ever heard of compassion before,” she said with a derisive snort. “At least there’s one thing he learned from me, even if only a word.”

    She followed him to the bedroom and caressed the velvet of his robe while he changed out of his uniform. “This is beautiful fabric. How often will you be wearing it?”

    “Never.” She gave him a curious look. “It is for ceremonial purposes only,” he explained as he slipped on the soft, baggy trousers that he favoured at home. “I do not plan to attend any further inductions of members of the Canted Circle, therefore I could just as well wear it when I get out of bed in the morning.”

    It made her laugh again. “That would be stellar,” she said. “Now let me see what you would look like, barefoot and bare-chested, with your elegant robe on.” She suddenly stopped dead in her tracks and pointed at the hexagonal pendant hanging from his neck. “What’s that?”

    Thrawn held out the small jewel for her to see. “This is the symbol of the Order. All members are expected to bear it at all times.” She examined it with visible distaste and finally turned her back on him to fold the robe and put it away. “What is it, Ayoo’sha? Why are you so upset?”

    There was a long silence. “Does this mean that you won’t be wearing my japor snippet anymore?” she asked.

    Thrawn smiled and extracted the little ivory wood flame from his uniform pocket. “Do you seriously think me so vain as to swap a present from you for a useless trinket?” He passed the chain holding the pendant of the Canted Circle over his head. “Please put this in the closet with my robe. That is where it belongs.”

    His friendly tone failed to appease her. “Good,” she snapped. “I wouldn’t want to be seeing that... thing every day.”

    She spun on her heel and went to leave the room. Thrawn caught her wrist and pulled her back to face him. “What is this, Ayoo’sha?” he demanded. “Are you having a fit of jealousy against the Imperial Navy? You should know that you have nothing to worry about. I told you this on Corulag and I will say it again. I am yours and you are mine, now and forever.”

    She shook her head. “It’s not the Navy, Thrawn, it’s that symbol. Malki had it in his fortress.” Thrawn stared at her, at a loss for words. She let out a deep sigh. “Uncle Quin was right. You can’t serve two masters. What will you do when you have to choose? ”

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

    Author's notes:

    I played around a bit with the date of Thrawn's induction in the Order of the Canted Circle. In Legends it takes place on 37:11:13 GrS (which doesn't even make sense, since Legends was operating on a ten-month calendar when this date was published). The chapter above ends on 37:8:13 GrS instead.

    The Sith inspiration of the Canted Circle's rituals is canon, I threw in the symbol for good measure.

    Last but certainly not least, to get a taste of what Namajib Eskari's poetry was like, make sure you read the wonderful fic Findswoman wrote for me: Opus Sixty-Six. It's a true gem [face_love]
     
  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Woot! I can just bet the others in the Canted Circle wanted to eat their ceremonial hats when Thrawn was inducted! [face_laugh] :p
    I love Ayesha's prediction: about Thrawn becoming Grand Admiral, totally feeling her being Madame Grand Admiral. [face_dancing] [face_dancing]


    ~!

    Love Thrawn's insistence that his silence on certain details is for her safety. This is a fact! If he divulged any smallest detail, the Emperor would be on it like in less than a second and her safety would be compromised! :eek:

    ~!

    I enjoyed immensely the entire conversation surrounding the symbol of the "Circle." I like and was touched that Thrawn doesn't value the pendant or the robes, but rather her japor pendant. [face_love]

    I am struck trmendously by the "You cannot serve two masters." True in any galaxy and at all times. [face_nail_biting]

    "What will you do when it's time to choose?"
    That snagged the Jedi of the Old Republic, when it came to non-attachment. :rolleyes: It's terrible when you get boxed in by arbitrary rules and circumstances you didn't ask for and lose more than you can afford or would wish. Because the chance to get it back doesn't always occur. [face_thinking] :(

    Brilliance, again! =D=
     
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  12. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 25, 2013
    Well -- sorry I am just catching up. I adored the talk about babies/children and her worries; but I loved how he told her that he just didn't want to have children with her; that he wanted a family which I thought was beautiful. Thought it was cute that she had told her Uncle Vos about the babies comment almost causing Thrawn to spill his caf. I loved it when later she decides it's time to have a family. I liked Vos' present of the special trees and creatures. Was happy they didn't have to concoct a story for her to not attend that ceremony.

    The way that she describes how wonderfully soft that robe was and that he would never wear it again --- thought that they would use it as a soft like fur to make love on --- but since she put it away in a huff --- guess not. Making out on furs makes me Squeee!!! Sorry if that's TMI.

    I think they will make wonderful parents --- but Aeysha pregnant - WOW - that could get scary for Thrawn.
     
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  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Gemma - probably a lot of furlined, fur-covered surfaces on Csilla for ... spontaneous romps of love. LOL SQUEE!
     
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  14. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    I love how you expanded on the Canted Circle. Privileged men in a secret society of privileged men. Whee!

    As to the first part, I understand how Thrawn needs to keep some things quiet from Ayesha just to keep her safe. This isn't him being duplicitous, he just knows that the fewer people who have information, then the more secure that information is. This is how the military operates after all, on a need-to-know basis. But this is all new to Ayesha, and the idea of being taken from her friends, her work and activism, and everything she has established must be pretty traumatic.
     
  15. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Thrawn cleared his throat as they entered the apartment. “Speaking of the Emperor, did anything...”

    “Nothing,” she said happily. “I didn’t feel him in my head for a single second. Maybe he gave up on me.” To her great surprise, Thrawn frowned at her reply. “What? You wanted him to check on me while you were being inducted?”

    “Not at all, Ayoo’sha, not at all. As a matter of fact, he enquired after you during the reception after the ceremony. He said, and I quote, that you are a very compassionate young woman to be spending your evenings with your elderly master instead of entertaining yourself.”

    I think this is a boogie trap on some kind!

    Otherwise I am happy about the prospect of babies coming any time soon... :D
     
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  16. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing!
    Sometimes I get these really funny mental images stuck in my head from your comments, and Zaarin eating a hat is definitely one of them [face_rofl]
    I'm all for making out on fur, velvet and any soft material, but Sith-inspired robes? :eek: That would take the wind out of my sails in a heartbeat! [face_laugh]

    Thanks! I thought that the Canted Circle was brilliantly described in Darth Plagueis -- this Freemason-type secret society that's controlled by the baddies behind the scenes, but shhh, don't tell anyone. That's one of the elements I really wish they would re-canonize.
    True, but there's also the Bluebeard Castle's effect at work here -- what else is he hiding from her that she might not like? Plus, not telling someone the dangers they are actually facing may also mean that they're not aware of these dangers.

    Ya think? ;)


    Thanks again! Chapter 14 is coming up in a few minutes.
     
  17. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    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.

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

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

    Chapter 14: The funeral

    If Ayesha had hoped that she and Thrawn would revert to their day-to-day routine after Thrawn’s induction in the Order of the Canted Circle, she was sorely disappointed. The Emperor did leave for Naboo two days later, as Thrawn had said he would, but he announced in an Address to the Galaxy that he was withdrawing to meditate on tidings of the future, and that his trusted advisors, Grand Admirals and functionaries would continue to administer the business of running the Empire in his absence. The court stayed therefore on Coruscant, and Thrawn still left their apartment early every morning to return late in the evening. All tension in his attitude was gone, but he was incredibly focused on his work and, when Ayesha caught a glimpse of him on HoloNet broadcasts, he came across as supremely arrogant, on one occasion shrugging so dismissively at Grand Admiral Tigellinus during a debate about the progress the Imperial Navy was making in quelling the Rebellion that he sent the senior officer into a public fit of rage. “The Capt’ did great on the news last night,” Kal told Ayesha with a grin when she went to take over from him at the Plebeian Exhibition. “Tigellinus made a perfect fool of himself. It was very entertaining.”

    Ayesha sighed. “I don’t know, Kal. I think he’s getting himself in trouble. If he weren’t an admiral and a member of the Canted Circle, Tigellinus and his clique would be screaming for blood.”

    “Let ‘em scream,” Onion grumbled. “It’s about time someone stood up to those poodoo-heads anyway.” Ayesha sighed again. “What? You know something we don’t?”

    “He doesn’t tell me anything,” she replied angrily. “I hardly ever see him anyway. But these public stunts aren’t his style. I think all the Canted Circle excitement got to his head, you know?”

    “Nonsense,” the Dug snapped. “Nothing ever got to the Capt’s head and nothing ever will.”

    Ayesha was about to spit out an acid retort, but Kal intervened. “Onion’s wrong. One thing did get to his head, and it’s standing right in front of me.” He gave her a warm hug. “I have to go now, Mira’s waiting. Just take it easy, okay? He knows what he’s doing. You worry too much.”

    Ayesha gave him a sad smile. “I know. It’s just... I have a bad feeling about this.”

    Nazmat Koch’s health had utterly collapsed over the past few weeks, and Ayesha, Kal and Mira now had a fixed schedule to relay each other at her side, with the rest of their friends taking over for them when their presence was needed at the Exhibition. The elderly lady was a ghost of her former self, her breath came out in wheezes and she regularly slipped in a comatose state for hours or even days at a time. “She cannot hear you, Miss,” the Emdee droid who was catering to her needs once told Ayesha when he found her kneeling near the bed and whispering in her master’s ear. Ayesha merely shrugged and continued her tale, but there were tears in her eyes.

    An evening finally came when Ayesha was about to leave Nazmat Koch’s bedside to return to The Works, and she was bending over to press her lips to her mentor’s brow when the elderly lady’s eyes snapped open and she spoke in her normal voice. “Please bring me my children,” she said firmly. “It is time.”

    Ayesha ran to the comm desk and Kal, Mira and Tam arrived within minutes, followed by Tashi, Onion, Lamtee and Dacco, who remained in the anteroom. “All my children,” Nazmat Koch said. “All of you. Where is Admiral Thrawn?”

    Ayesha ushered her friends in and trotted back dutifully to the desk to contact Thrawn. His comm was switched off, and she left several messages in hushed, urgent tones in-between her trips back and forth to the bedroom. Nazmat Koch was speaking of how she wanted her affairs settled as calmly and casually as if she were ordering dinner – she bequeathed her material possessions, including her vast apartment near the Manarai Mountains, to Tam, and she wanted each one of her students to choose one piece of her art for themselves, after which they should donate the rest to young artists they deemed worthy and forget her – but she was declining fast. Soon her voice became a slurry whisper, and she asked a few more times for Thrawn before she slipped into a coma again. When Thrawn finally arrived in the middle of the night, he found Ayesha kneeling on the floor holding her dying master’s hand beside Mira who was hugging her son tightly, and all he could do was to stand back with Kal and their friends until the old professor let out a final wheeze and the Emdee droid pronounced her dead.

    * * *​

    Ayesha had expected Nazmat Koch’s funeral to be a subdued affair – her mentor’s scathing opinion of Imperial cultural policy was well-known, and it was only her notoriety as an artist that had enabled her to keep her teaching position at the Academy since Senator Palpatine had proclaimed himself Emperor – and, as was entirely foreseeable, COMPNOR failed to send a high-ranking official to attend the funeral. What she hadn’t anticipated, however, was the massive turnout of admirers of Nazmat Koch’s work. The news of her death had spread like wildfire in the Plebeian Exhibition, and the organising committee decided to shut down the venue in The Works for the day in order, the press release said, “to mourn the loss of one of the greatest creators in Galactic history, a woman of immense talent whose artistic contributions will grace our common heritage for generations to come, and whose determination to support, protect and nurture young artists was essential in allowing for the development of marginal forms of art in our times.” When the funeral pyre’s flames finally died down and Kal, Mira and Tam stepped out of the crematorium, followed by their group of friends and those few of Nazmat Koch’s colleagues who shared her defiance towards Imperial ideology, they found themselves facing a silent throng of humans and aliens of all shapes, sizes and ages who had come to pay tribute to the late professor. There were cameras of the major HoloNet channels hovering in the air and the reporters were visibly expecting Mira to deliver a eulogy. The young woman was clearly in no condition to address such a crowd – the death of her grandmother had hit her harder than she let on until that moment – and, after a few seconds of hesitation, Thrawn stepped forward.

    For years afterwards, those who were in attendance would remember how the deep, cultured voice of this mysterious alien of an unknown species – he was not wearing his Navy uniform, but the white robes of Chiss funerary tradition, and his face was familiar only to those few who went to the trouble of watching what was universally lampooned as Imperial propaganda in the news broadcasts – had moved the audience to tears. He spoke at length of Nazmat Koch’s vision of Coruscant, of her love for the world where she had been born and that she had dedicated her life to depicting, but also of her awareness of the rot that had taken hold of the city-planet during her lifetime and of her unwavering desire to seek out those artists who, because of their species, would have been doomed to spend a life of misery in the Underlevels had she not found and supported them. “Nazmat Koch was not only an artist, a mentor and a friend for those who knew her,” he concluded. “Her true contribution to Galactic history was not the development of the arts. It was the development of civilisation itself, for every citizen of our Galaxy, and I am grateful that so many sentients chose to abandon their duties, their jobs and their families for a day to honour the memory of this extraordinary woman who will be remembered not only for her works, but also for her spirit, her tolerance and her curiosity for diversity.”

    The terrace outside the crematorium was still echoing with thunderous applause as Thrawn led the little troupe of family and friends to a shuttle that would take them to the skyhook from where they would disperse Nazmat Koch’s ashes over the city. Coruscant’s endless urban sprawl meant that families usually kept their relatives’ funerary urns in a dedicated alcove in their apartments, but Ayesha and Mira had agreed to follow the Wookiee ritual of Ralyiikha, under which the deceased’s remains were returned to his or her spiritual home to facilitate the passage of the soul to the Netherworld. It was a painful moment. They all heard the clatter of small pieces of bone against the dark wood of the large, delicately carved bowl that Ayesha had prepared when Kal overturned the urn’s contents into it, and even Onion, who had remained stoical and impassive throughout the ceremony, let out a sob when his turn came to take a handful of dust and watch it float away in the evening breeze.

    It was dark when they returned to Ayesha’s and Thrawn’s apartment. They had decided that, before they fulfilled Nazmat Koch’s wish that they forget about her, they would spend an evening together recalling their fondest memories of the time they had spent in her company. Ayesha brought out a bottle of her master’s favourite Corellian brandy and each one said in turn a few solemn words in his or her mother tongue before recounting an anecdote of the old lady’s many eccentricities. By the time they opened a second bottle, the atmosphere had become much lighter and they were all roaring with laughter as Tashi and Lamtee retold for the umpteenth time the story of their first day in Nazmat Koch’s class, when Ayesha left the room to take a comm call. “It was Valeria,” she told Thrawn when she came back. “Apparently the Coruscant News Network broadcast your speech in its entirety on their evening bulletin.”

    There was a pause. “That was a helluva speech, Capt’,” Onion grumbled. “Master Nazmat would have been proud.”

    Thrawn shrugged. “It was the least I could do after failing to be at her side when she asked for my presence.”

    “Still,” the Dug said. “It was a helluva speech.”

    There was another pause. “Your bosses won’t like it so much, will they, Capt’?” Tashi asked.

    The faintest of smiles touched Thrawn’s lips. “No,” he said thoughtfully. “They will not.”

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

    Author's notes:

    The Emperor withdrawing from court to meditate towards the end of 2 ABY is more or less canon -- in Legends he is attending to business in the Deep Core (I can't remember the source right now, but I'll find it :p) Thrawn's spat with Tigellinus is also canon, although in Legends material the specific form it took is kept quite vague.

    The various funerary rituals and customs I describe above (cremation, keeping the urns at home, Chiss white robes and Ralyiikha) are my creation -- at least I think so. I vaguely remember reading something somewhere about there not being a graveyard on Coruscant, but I just can't recall where; if anyone has a source I'd be grateful.
     
  18. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 6, 2003
    Whew, I caught up, finally! :)

    I could SO imagine Thrawn giving this speech. Wow. So artistically done. ;)
    No, I can imagine his Imperial bosses won't like this one bit, but that's the plan, right?

    Still, I'm even more worried about Ayesha now - first she is not sure what to make of Thrawn's behaviour, and then the loss of her beloved Master.
    But at least the Emperor is out of the way!

    Thanks for updating so early btw, so I could read the new chapter before I'm on the road again in a few minutes... :)
     
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  19. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Fantastic speech by Thrawn. @};- Sad about Nazmat but I am so incredibly touched she was loved so intensely by those who knew her best and by her true legacy.

    ~!

    Poodoo heads [face_laugh] Onion's commentary is on point. I love what he and Kal had to say about the person who had the deepest influence and best on Thrawn. [face_love]

    Speaking of, I think he drew the proverbial line in the sand and just crossed over it. He has made his choices and probably his bigger plans are at a stage that he does not feel they would be jeopardized, i.e., the ones regarding the Unknown Regions and the looming threat to forestall. [face_thinking] =D=
     
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  20. Mira_Jade

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

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Ah ha! And I am all caught up now. (My spring work season wrecks havoc on my online time, that is all I can say. And I apologize most profusely. 8-} [:D])

    From where I left off: I did think that Ayesha's outburst with Mahk was a bit on the extreme side (no matter how much of a pile of Bantha fodder he was), and it tickled my reader's funny bone - though I would almost rather it be an OOC moment than the Emperor playing with her mind, as it turned out to be. [face_worried] (That, and I have to take a moment to say that the Hutt hair-dresser was the best thing ever. ;))

    This:

    "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.”

    Was as beautiful as it was terrible to read. [face_love]

    Next: the conversation with Vos was an absolute delight! Anytime he features I just smile and settle in for the ride, honestly. He shed some great light on both Ayesha and the Emperor's abilities, and it was great to see the Ysalamiri make an appearance. I just love how all of the threads from canon are weaving themselves together in this fic!

    That said, I am torn over the idea of children for these two. On one hand, they deserve babies and happiness and everything good in life, but on the other hand - this is such a tumultuous time with both the underlying threat of the Emperor and Thrawn's playing the Imperial political game. But a child could be a blessing; a great source of motivation in the form of something to protect; or - while I do not want to say a burden - an added unknown factor in the chapters to come. Or, most likely, a baby would end up being all of the above. :p Yet, no matter how it turns out, I am so, so interested to see how you would handle their family growing any larger. [face_thinking]

    The line about him loving their family, even if it was just he and her, really stuck out to me, as well. I had to take a moment to mention that. [face_love]

    There was a silence. “There’s something you’re not telling me, Thrawn. This has to do with all those meetings you have in the Palace. And I’m pretty sure it also has something to do with me.”

    I hope that conversation goes smoothly. While his intentions are for the best, there are a few things he is keeping from her, and she does not at all seem the sort to appreciate being kept in the dark. [face_worried]

    “Not at all, Ayoo’sha, not at all. As a matter of fact, he enquired after you during the reception after the ceremony. He said, and I quote, that you are a very compassionate young woman to be spending your evenings with your elderly master instead of entertaining yourself.”

    Eugh, what a creeper. :mad: I will be so glad when they are off to Nirauan.

    I also loved his assurances about the importance he placed on her Japor pendent over the one he received from the Order. Moments like that let you know that it is going to work, no matter the hurdles they have to come to see their relationship through. [face_love]

    With this last chapter, the funeral was extremely touching - I loved Thrawn's speech, and Ayesha's love for her mentor. It was heartbreakingly beautiful to read. The political lines are getting even more crossed and tangled, as well, but I do not think it to be a big head on Thrawn's part - as she was worried for a line. Yet, that is most definitely another conversation they'll have to have - and soon, I trust? While Thrawn knows what he is doing, I do place faith in her instincts something fierce, and it has me wondering for the chapters to come, as well. [face_worried] In the best of ways, though. ;)

    As always, you have me looking forward to more! :) =D=
     
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  21. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Very touching and eloquent. This is a moving tribute to a wonderful lady who influenced so many people. It's another example of how there is the official society and then there is the grass-roots society. Although the government snubbed her, everyone else came out to honor her. It just shows how great the divide between the government and the people truly is.

    Such a warm and loving group of people who, although so very disparate, have become a true family. (I loved how Nazmat wanted Thrawn to be there as one of "her children.")

    You've made such a great connection here. This is really quite moving, and I could not help but remember scattering my own father's ashes when I read this. @};-
     
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  22. Kahara

    Kahara Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Okay, so I'm skipping forward because the most recent ones are more in my memory, but I had to pick this quote from an earlier chapter:

    [face_laugh] Mystery collisions on Corulag: an unexplained problem.

    Ch 12

    It's very sad to see Nazmat's decline. She's such a wonderful curmudgeon and her continuing friendships with the students she mentored are incredibly touching. Ayesha sticking by her until the end (and being torn up about it) is very much what makes sense given the history already established for them.

    :p I love how she's still all thorns and marshmallows in the same breath, even when on her deathbed.

    Interesting to see the children conversation come up now. I share the misgivings about that possibility. We all know something bad is waiting to fall at some point, just not what. And children could all too easily become pawns in the Emperor's game -- or some other enemy's machinations. But at the same time, I can't help thinking that the Thrawn and Ayesha we've come to know would be incredibly loving and devoted parents.

    [face_laugh] Just two meetings (that I remember), and I'm already getting the feeling that we know the essence of a visit from Uncle Quin. Makes himself right at home, no matter where/when/whether actually invited. (It was nice to see Korto is still around too!) Their conversation is interesting as always -- like Quinlan, I think Thrawn doesn't quite "get" what he's dealing with even though he's trying. So it's good (maybe) that he's got the ysalamiri now. Except that the ysalamiri are step in the direction of where Thrawn ends up in Heir to the Empire. I know this story is meant to intersperse with EU canon, and I'm still convinced it's going to rip my heart out at some point. Oh well, that's half the fun -- I love a happily ever after story, but there's something about angst and tragedy that draws me in as well. And hey, maybe this all works out in some less disastrous way than I'm fearing. You never know. ;)

    They are so sweet. [face_love] I still worry about them (mother avian time!) but there's so much true caring between them that I end up hoping for them anyway. Come on, just beat the odds for at least a couple more years, you two.
     
  23. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thanks all for reading and thanks for the great reviews [:D] I just spent my morning on the Writers' Desk and now I have to run to work, so I'll apologize once more for making you wait until this weekend for replies.

    On to chapter 15 then.

    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.

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

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

    Chapter 15: The Lifeform

    The feud between Thrawn and Tigellinus grew to epic proportions in the aftermath of Nazmat Koch’s funeral, and the arrogance of an alien officer challenging a well-established Grand Admiral seemed to have become the only talk in town, when Thrawn was abruptly summoned by the Emperor to Naboo three weeks ahead of the Festival of Stars. The HoloNet channels were now awash with speculation that he would be demoted, exiled or even executed, and Ayesha tried not to show her anxiety on the eve of his departure, but she was nervous and fidgeting and kept chewing her nails until Thrawn took her hand to remove it from her mouth. “I want you to listen to me carefully, Ayoo’sha,” he said. “There is nothing to worry about. Nothing. Do you understand?” She went to speak. “Please, Ayoo’sha. This is not the time for questions. Soon we will be in the Unknown Regions, and when that happens I promise that I will satisfy your curiosity. Now will you not have some of these excellent glowblue noodles? Flo follows Chef Gormaanda’s recipe to the letter and I am told that she distils the chav herself.”

    “I’m not really hungry,” Ayesha mumbled.

    Thrawn served her a large portion nevertheless, and, despite her claims to the contrary she was soon eating voraciously, making him chuckle. “If concern for my well-being will kindle your appetite in such a way, I will consider giving you more cause for apprehension in the future,” he said. “However, rest assured that I know what I am doing. So far everything has been developing according to my plan, and as your friend Captain Ruud will confirm, my plans rarely, if ever, fail. You should invite him over one of these days while I am away. He will put your mind at ease.”

    In the weeks that followed, they communicated occasionally by holocomm. A long conversation with Matt had indeed helped Ayesha feel more positive about the whole situation and Thrawn’s supreme confidence also appeared to rub off on her over time. “I need you to come back now,” she told him ten days into his stay. “First there was the Corulag business, and then you were awfully busy for three months after we came back. I want time with my lifemate, you know.”

    Thrawn gave her a warm smile. “That you will have, Ayoo’sha. I will be arriving early in the morning of the first day of the Festival of Lights.”

    The end of the month came and the sky of Coruscant was barely shifting to the first colours of dawn when Thrawn entered the bedroom and stripped off his uniform, careful not to wake Ayesha, whose sleeping form could be distinguished on the bed. She stirred when he slipped under the covers, and she turned around to look at him with a radiant smile. “Come here,” she whispered. “I haven’t seen you in ages and I want a hug.”

    There was a sweetness to her touch that completely disarmed him, and time and space spun out in all directions until she finally rolled back on the mattress and lay on her side, her face millimetres from his. “Welcome home,” she breathed. “I missed you.”

    “And you know how much that thought pleases me, Ayoo’sha’nek,” he murmured. “However, be warned that you are taking a risk. If this is the welcome I receive when I go away, I may do so more often.” His smile widened under her menacing glare, and he entwined himself around her. “A more likely consequence is that I will be impatient and unfocused in these all-night debriefings at the thought of what is waiting for me at home. That would reflect very poorly on my record of service.”

    Ayesha’s mouth played in his neck and along his jaw until she found his lips again. She abruptly pulled back and escaped his embrace. “Do they feed you at all in these debriefings? I’m going to make breakfast.”

    Thrawn watched her slip her nightdress over her head. “Is my welcome home party over so soon, Ayoo’sha?” he asked with mock disappointment. “I was hoping for more.”

    “Only if you’re very lucky,” she said with a wicked grin. “And if you’re not going straight back to the Palace after we eat. Now I need food.”

    He sighed in despair. “Food seems to be my worst enemy. I will take a quick shower and catch up with you.”

    The kitchen table was collapsing under a mountain of jars and buns when he joined her in the kitchen, bare-chested in his jumpsuit trousers. She was busying herself with bufferavian eggs and nerf bacon near the stove. Thrawn pulled his stool from under the table and sat with his back to the wall, watching her with great amusement as she brought two very large portions and laid them out in front of them. He cocked an eyebrow in question when she added cream and sugar to her usual mug of strong, black caf, but she ignored him and launched herself on her food as if she hadn’t eaten in days. She made short work of the scrambled eggs, gulped down her wroshyr sap syrup and immediately grabbed a spice bun, stabbing it open and spooning abundant quantities of wasaka berry jam on it.

    “Still the ravenous Wookiee appetite, I see,” he finally said with a twitch of his lips.

    She grinned. “What are you complaining about? You’ve been asking me to become more fat for months. I’m trying hard, you know.”

    Thrawn couldn’t contain his smile. “Of course. I should have known that my rivalry with food for a special place in your heart is not a rivalry at all. It merely stems from your desire to please me.”

    She grimaced. “Okay, right. I’ll go on a diet and become skinny like a Kaminoan, and then you can have my heart all to yourself. Happy?”

    “Not at all, Ayoo’sha, not at all,” he answered in the tone of a man thoroughly enjoying himself. “I would obviously be delighted to have your heart all to myself, but I would much rather it be wrapped in a warm and voluptuous body, at the very least in the one you already have.”

    There was a flash of phosphorescence in his eyes as he spoke and his fingers were making their way up her thigh under the table. “Stop that,” she said sternly. “I’m not done eating yet. Tell me about your trip instead.”

    He spoke evasively of his meetings with the Emperor – they had been fairly fruitful, he said – then asked for news from the Plebeian Exhibition. Ayesha described with elation how, five months after the inauguration, sentients of all species were still flocking by the hundreds to visit it, some of them returning for the second and third time. The organizing committee led by Kal was running out of ideas for entertainment events, but many small bands, and some better-known ones, were volunteering to perform for the crowds. “We even had Larisselle Chatrunis last week, and the Modal Nodes offered to come next month if the exhibition is still open.” Some of the participating artists had taken to organizing workshops for younglings in the mornings, and often had to fight back overenthusiastic parents who unwittingly took over the activity. “And Onion sold five pieces. Five, in the last two weeks. He’s becoming this big hit with art collectors. Even human supremacist news flimsies are giving positive reviews of his work now, and there’s going to be a one-hour show about him on the HoloNet. I’m so happy for him.”

    Her face was glowing with joy and excitement. Thrawn shook his head as he caressed her cheek. “Your capacity to rejoice over the happiness of others never ceases to astound me, Ayoo’sha,” he said in response to her questioning look. “You give all your love without ever expecting anything in return. You experience your friends’ every success, every moment as keenly as if it were yours. You have no idea whatsoever how exceptional that makes you, and I hope you never will.”

    She blushed and started clearing the plates from the table. Thrawn leaned back against the wall and watched her potter around the sink. Sunlight was pouring over her through the transparisteel window, revealing her silhouette through the thin cloth. She was wearing one of the floor-length nightdresses that Thrawn had seen many times, but there were minute differences about her this morning. The curve of her hip was slightly softer, the roundness of her buttocks was slightly more pronounced, the nearly-transparent fabric was stretched slightly thinner over the bulge of her breasts. She caught him staring and asked, “What?”

    Thrawn smiled. “Your Wookiee appetite must finally be catching up with you, Ayoo’sha’nek. I believe that I am seeing some very welcome new micrograms of Ayesha here and there.”

    She came to stand in front of him and let him run his hands up and down her waist, as if he were seeking confirmation. “I was wondering if you’d notice,” she said. “But then, I should know that you always notice everything.”

    He was now rubbing his palm on her navel. “How could I not notice, Ayoo’sha? I have never seen you so beautiful. You are radiant, you are luminous, you are...”

    “Pregnant,” she interrupted.

    All the stars in the Galaxy held their breath as he gazed at her, too stunned for words. His eyebrows reached his hairline and he opened his mouth several times to speak, but no sound came out and he closed it again. She thought it uproariously funny and was giggling uncontrollably when she bowed to whisper in his ear, “Congratulations, Admiral. You’re going to be a father.”

    “How?” he finally blurted. “How, when?”

    She giggled harder. “I think you had a hand in the how, you know. You don’t believe that thrantas bring babies, do you? Even Tammy lost his illusions about that a long time ago.”

    Thrawn pulled her closer and hid his face in her belly. “You are absolutely merciless, Ayoo’sha, and you are letting me make a fool of myself. Please show some compassion and tell me everything I should know about...” – he took a deep breath – “about our child.”

    The word made her shiver violently. “There’s not much to know, Qubshi be-khadeeb,” she said in an unsteady voice. “I only got confirmation from Simon last week. According to him, thirty-nine days already and six and a half months to go, give or take, although he says that could vary because he doesn’t know how the Chiss parameter will play out.”

    Thrawn looked at her with the proverbial eyebrow. “The Chiss parameter?”

    “His words, not mine,” she chuckled. “You told me that Chiss children grow up faster, so it could affect the development of this little lifeform, but he says that everything looks like a regular human or Kiffar pregnancy for now.”

    He was staring at her as if she had sprouted a second head. “Do you... feel it?”

    She laughed. “Other than being both queasy and hungry all the time? No. The Lifeform is far too small. Simon says it’s big like this.” She showed the tip of her little finger.

    Thrawn buried his face in her belly again. She felt his breath through the thin fabric and realised that he was whispering inaudibly in Cheunh. It made her laugh once more. “Talk all you want, I don’t think the Lifeform has ears to hear you yet.”

    “Is that what you call our child?” he asked without looking up. “The Lifeform?”

    “Can you think of a better name?” she countered.

    He shook his head, rubbing his nose on her stomach. “Admittedly at this stage, I am not thinking at all,” he muttered after a while.

    She laughed again and ran her fingers through his hair. “Anyway, to go back to our original discussion, it’s good that you like the extra fat, because the micrograms are going to turn into kilograms.”

    His hands travelled down the back of her thighs and up again. “I will like that,” he said absent-mindedly. “I will like all of it.” He suddenly stood up and cradled her in his arms as if she were made of delicate crystal to carry her to the bedroom. He laid her carefully on the bed, pulled her nightdress over her head and lay down with his ear on her heart. His fingertips trailed very softly on her womb. “This is better,” he murmured. “I would like to have a silent conversation with the Lifeform now, if you don’t mind.”

    His touch was hypnotic and Ayesha dozed off. He hadn’t moved a millimetre when she woke up. She could feel his breath on the skin of her belly, and his palm was lying protectively on her little bump of tummy fat, as if sheltering the tiny life within her from the outside world. There was a poignancy to the gesture that brought silent tears to her eyes. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and planted a fierce kiss on the top of his head. “Are you getting used to the idea?” she whispered.

    There was a long silence. “How can you be so calm, Ayoo’sha? Right now, it is taking every ounce of my self-control not to... well, I do not know not to what exactly, but it is taking every ounce of my self-control in any case.” He propped himself up on his elbow to look at her and saw the remnants of her tears. “Is something wrong? Are you feeling alright?”

    The expression of undisguised concern on his face turned the crying jag into an uncontrollable laughing jag again. “I’m very much alright, Qubshi be-khadeeb,” she said, pulling his head to her shoulder. “I’m more than alright. I just love you more than before right now, and I didn’t know that was possible.” She caressed the nape of his neck. “Are you going to the Palace today?”

    Thrawn snorted. “I will not. I was planning to do some work from here, but that will have to wait until I am less distracted.”

    “Then could we go and see Simon this afternoon? He needs to talk to both of us.”

    “Of course,” Thrawn said, then asked hesitantly, “Would you like Simon to follow you throughout?”

    “No,” she replied thoughtfully. “He can't. That’s one of the things he wants to talk about.” Thrawn lifted himself up again, an eyebrow arched in question. “I shouldn’t continue going to the Centre,” she went on. “Scampering around the Underlevels isn’t such a good idea for the Lifeform. And I think the mother avian in you would worry too much, even though you wouldn’t say anything.”

    Thrawn gazed at her in silence. “Thank you,” he finally said.

    “I’m not as crazy as you seem to believe, Thrawn,” she chuckled before pulling him closer and planting a kiss on his lips. “Now, since we have some time until I need food again, there’s an unfinished welcome home party that needs to be taken care of.”

    He gave her an uncertain look. “Are you sure this is appropriate for... for the Lifeform?”

    She burst out laughing again. “First thrantas, now this,” she hiccupped. “Qubshi, the Lifeform does not herald a seven-month period of abstinence. It’s bad enough that I have to give up on cortyg brandy, I’m not giving up on you.” Her tongue darted teasingly in his mouth and her fingers tickled his spine until she felt his hand crawl up her waist. “This is how the Lifeform was made, you know,” she whispered. “I’m sure it won’t mind the reminder.”

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

    Author's notes:

    Glowblue noodles and Chav is a Legends dish. =P~ The music bands mentioned in this chapter, Larisselle Chatrunis and the Modal Nodes are also Legends and canon respectively.

    After a lot of math, I finally converted the duration of a pregnancy to the GFFA calendar (in which 1 year = 10 months of 35 days + 3 Fete weeks). Okay, maybe I messed it up completely, but if you find anything that doesn't add up in terms of duration, please be nice to me and pretend to chalk it up to the Galactic Standard Calendar. :p
     
  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Ayesha is a true, rare, irreplaceable treasure, rejoicing in her friends' happiness as if it were her own.
    Glad about Onion getting artistic acclaim. :cool:

    I positively unabashedly love "We're pregnant" moments! [face_dancing] [face_dancing]
    I love exuberant Ayesha.
    That's partly due to the pregnancy natch but it's also her genuine ebullience resurfacing.

    Now to Thrawn's taking the news: d'awwwoon where d'aww is added to a swoon! :D He is as lovably discombobulated as Luke Skywalker would be. :*

    That whole scene with them after she told him was just edible. :) :) [:D]
     
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  25. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 6, 2003
    This is so wonderful... *wipes away a single tear*

    "Admittedly, at this stage, I am not thinking at all".
    Those words from - yes, Thrawn, of all people. :eek::)[face_love]
    I think, more than anything else, this says it all.

    Yes, we all know that sooner or later, this relationship will have to endure quite some troubles, but they. will. make. it.
    Whatever happens in TTT, they will find a way.
    How can they not, when there is so much love.
     
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