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  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 for the reviews everyone!

    AzureAngel2 Welcome to this story [:D] I loved your description of Thrawn! I certainly hope your fanart account keeps going. Your secret garden is one of the threads I'm watching, it always cheers me up :)

    I'll be posting the next chapter tomorrow. I'm actually playing catch-up with my wonderful beta who's light-years ahead of me, but I need to double-check that what's coming up in chapter 5 corresponds to what I'll have in a bunch of future chapters that are only partially written yet. :confused: [face_thinking] [face_dunno]
     
  2. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    A good beta is essential since English is not my native language. I absolutely agree here. SWpants is a www = wise word wizard. Words disappear, whole sentences even. When she works with my texts and all the grammar abuse that I did, despite my university studies of the English language for 5 years, she produces real miracles. She also points out flaws in the plot and, she really loves that part, in the characters itself.

    I am also happy to hear that you lurk in my art thread. You are very welcome to leave comments in there, too. ;)

    And if you are interested in Greek sentences suddenly jumping into your face, you are very welcome to read my latest story, too.
     
  3. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Ooh, a fellow non-native speaker! We love our beta-readers, don't we? I don't know what I'd do without Nyota's Heart [face_love]

    You need to know that I'm terrible at commenting on other people's work. I was a lurker for far too long, and old habits die hard, but that doesn't mean I'm not following :) "Human heritage" is on my reading list for Christmas, thanks to Goodwood who convinced me to get out of my comfort zone and look at the "before" era.

    Okay, chapter 5 is up. I have a nasty cold and a fever, so I hope I won't have to retcon half this chapter later on.

    Tags: Findswoman Gemma AzureAngel2
    Please let me know if you'd like to be added to or removed from the tags list.

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

    Chapter 5: Zygerria

    Ayesha brushed the last of the dust off the fourth panel and stepped back to look at her handiwork. Noticing a microscopic bump on the otherwise smooth surface, she unclipped a needle-thin tool from her apron and set about peeling it off. The stylus slipped from her nervous fingers and rolled behind her on the floor. Turning around, she saw Thrawn standing in the doorway.

    “Good afternoon,” he said in his cool voice. “I came to see how you are doing.”

    She averted her gaze from the red eyes. Her face was drawn and her hands were shaking slightly. “Same as yesterday,” she mumbled in answer to his unspoken question.

    He took a step into the room and looked at her carefully as she set back to work, trying to steady her grip around the carving tool. He came to stand next to her and presented her with a thermal bottle. “Some refreshments in case you need a break. Mulled beet extract from Devaron. It has calming properties and” – he glanced at her hands, where a droplet of blood was seeping from a deep cut on her thumb – “it seems you could use some soothing, especially if you are to be handling sharp objects.”

    It made her smile. She took a few wipes from the basket and followed him to the balcony. She stood in her usual place against the railing and gratefully accepted the mug he poured for her. The sweet scent of mulled beet wafted through the air. She closed her eyes and took a sip, and her face seemed to relax somewhat.

    Thrawn sat back in his chair. “I found the programme of next month’s Zygerrian festival on my desk this morning,” he said after a moment to make conversation. “Will you be attending any of the events?”

    Her entire body jerked. “Not if I can help it.” Both blue-black eyebrows shot up. “I don’t like Zygerrian culture so much,” she added, vaguely embarrassed. The eyebrows travelled higher. She looked away again and, after an awkward silence, she crouched against the railing, hugging her knees to her chest.

    Thrawn looked at her carefully. “I did not mean to upset or offend you,” he finally said, uncharacteristically leaning forward. “I am truly sorry that I did, although I do not know why.”

    She looked up at him and studied his face while he sat facing her, elbows on his knees, his open hands palm upwards in a clearly apologetic stance. “I am sorry,” he repeated.

    She shook her head and put her mug on the floor. “No, I am. The truth is that I’m tired, I woke up on the wrong side of the starship, and talking about Zygerria always gets me in a tizzy. And seeing as you mentioned my father and we talked about... well, I assumed you knew.” She took a deep breath and tightened her hug on her knees. “I was born a slave to the Zygerrians. My parents were taken in captivity when my mother was pregnant and I was brought up to be a dance slave. It’s a time of my life I don’t like to remember.”

    Understanding and embarrassment flooded his features. “I am terribly sorry.”

    She shrugged. “Don’t be. In the end, there was no reason you should know.”

    “Yes and no,” he said cautiously. “The very first book I read when I joined the Empire was Namajib Eskari’s Silences from the Edge of Life.”

    Her eyes widened. “That book is banned,” she whispered.

    “It was not at the time. The Empire was only a few weeks old and the Old Republic’s laws against slavery were still in place.” He paused. “I take it that the Child with No Name referred to in the poems is you,” he added tentatively.

    She nodded and took another deep breath. “I didn’t have a name until the age of seven, when I was freed during the Clone Wars. The slavers wouldn’t allow it.” Tears were shining in her eyes but her expression became softer. “Those poems were my father’s way of leaving me with something when he understood he was dying. I was five years old, my mother had already passed away and he didn’t want me to be completely alone. He composed the poems in his mind and had me memorize them, so I could recite them to myself after he was gone. My grandfather wrote them down for me later and the collection was published posthumously.”

    There was another, long silence. “I apologize again for bringing up the subject at all,” he said. She went to interrupt him but he kept talking. “I did not associate what I read with Zygerria and the truth is that I was rather self-absorbed at the time.” She gave him a curious look. “This is the part where I should volunteer some personal information,” he added a little uncertainly.

    “You really don’t have to if it makes you uncomfortable,” she said. “I assure you I’m not keeping score. It’s just that... I guess I’d like to know how you came across that book. I never met someone who’s willing to talk about it, you know?”

    He gave a mirthless chuckle. “There is hope for you to learn Chiss manners yet, Miss Eskari. However, given the distress I caused you today, it is only fair that I try to justify myself a little.” He leaned back into his chair and gazed at the cityscape behind her. “I read Silences on my second day of Imperial service on the Star Destroyer Strikefast. It was the only printed book Captain Voss Parck had brought with him, which I found surprising since, on my homeworld, hardbound books are the norm. I saw him handling it with reverence in his private quarters and asked him what was so exceptional about this object. I did not expect his answer.” He paused and collected his thoughts. “Captain Parck told me: ‘When I hold this book, I am holding a piece of a man’s broken soul. I fear constantly that, by letting it fall, I might shatter it further.’ What surprised me even more was that he then offered that I take the book. When I returned to my own quarters that night, I hesitated to open it but curiosity got the better of me.” He went silent again before resuming hesitantly. “The Strikefast had, shall we say, rescued me one day earlier from a jungle planet where I was marooned. I had broken the Chiss military code one time too many, and the traditional punishment among my people for such a crime is exile. When I addressed Captain Parck in the docking bay after my... rescue, I had not spoken to another sentient for several years. As you said, it is a time of my life I do not like to remember.” There was another long, pregnant pause. “There are no words to describe the experience of reading your father’s poetry that night. Let me only say that the book has remained on my shelf to this day. I never returned it to Captain Parck in the nineteen years that have since passed. And I handle it with the same reverence he did.” He sighed. “It is a great pity that this book is banned. Were it available for people to read, I am certain that the Galaxy would be quite a different place.”

    His eyes finally returned to her. He went to continue but she waved him off. She stood up. “Thank you,” she said simply.

    “For what?”

    “For sharing this with me.”

    She held his gaze for a long moment until a sarcastic voice broke into her thoughts. “I hope I am not disturbing.”

    She spun around. Makh’s swoop was hovering near the railing. Without another word, he slid a hand behind her neck and pulled her in a long, languid kiss. His head tentacles were flitting around her shoulders, tickling her skin rather explicitly. She was blushing when he let finally her go. “Aww, you’re all dusty now.” She brushed the corner of his mouth with her fingertips.

    He scrutinized her face for a while, then took her hand and examined the deep cut on her thumb. “You hurt yourself again.” She went to shrug it off but he interrupted her. “Go and clean up,” he said in a commanding voice. “I’m taking you home now.” She looked at him with raised eyebrows, clearly displeased with his tone. “Please,” he added more softly. “One cut for today is enough.”

    She glanced at Thrawn, as if hesitating to engage in an argument in front of him, before returning to Makh. She shrugged angrily and exchanged embarrassed goodbyes with the Imperial captain, then disappeared into the room. The two men stayed alone on the balcony for a moment, red eyes staring into black eyes. Thrawn finally gave Makh a curt nod and turned sharply on his heel to leave.

    “Stay away from her, you freak,” Makh hissed behind him. “Just stay away from her.”

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

    A/N: The story of Thrawn's escape from exile can be found in the short story Mist Encounter.
     
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  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I love the natural way you're revealing stuff about Ayesha and Thrawn. =D= =D= Makh is a piece of work no doubt! In contrast, Thrawn is a real gentleman ;) Of course that is part of his nature and culture :cool: Bravo on the marvelous artsy detailing. I can practically picture the art as it's unfolding. @};-
     
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  5. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    More absolutely amazing and fascinating details, both on the artwork and on Ayesha's family history—you've really got a talent fro that. :cool: We've met an artist in the GFFA, and now we get to meet a poet too. One who apparently had a powerful gift indeed, given the effect his poems produced on Parck, Thrawn, and his own daughter.

    For some reason I just love that the poems that had that effect were printed in a real, actual ink-and-paper book. Yes, details like that really do make me squee!

    Out of curiosity: is it canonical that the Chiss mostly use bound, ink-and-paper books, or is that bit of cultural detail a Chyntuck original? I guess it doesn't matter, because it's cool either way. :cool:

    And yes, this Makh fellow... hmmm. [face_thinking] I sense defensiveness and jealousy in big, huge spades. Will be interested to see how this will play out and what effect it will have on both Thrawn and Ayesha.
     
  6. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 25, 2013
    I loved the line ' waking up on the wrong side of the starship' cute. I love the informational exchange between Thrawn and Aeysha - with each chapter it seems like they are better and closer friends. Kindred spirits. I love that her father wrote poems and that Thrawn knows of them. I think this Makh fellow is going to tighten his grip on his girl a bit too much for her liking eventually. I can understand him wanting to make sure Thrawn knows she is his girl - but not how is doing it. Great update!@};-
     
  7. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thanks all [face_blush]

    Good poetry must be printed, whether in the GFFA or RL. C'm'on, can you imagine reading Heine or Neruda on an electronic support? *shudders*
    It's actually absolutely canon (or, well, Legends canon). It's mentioned somewhere in the NJO series that all books in the Expeditionary Library on Csilla are not only hardbound, but -- wait for it -- handwritten. How is it possible not to like these people? [face_love]

    One of my favourite reference pages on Wookieepedia is the List of phrases and slang. There are some true little gems in there :p

    Would you believe that Makh is an exaggerated version of my best friend's husband? My friend is admittedly this woman with such incredible charm that people tend to behave a bit silly when she's around, but after nearly ten years of marriage you'd expect him to be a bit less insecure. I swear... Men :rolleyes:
     
  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Chyntuck - no I cannot imagine reading Neruda or Cummings for that matter on a IPadd :p I will definitely have to check out that slang page LOL :* :*
     
  9. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Or Milton... or Petrarch... or Goethe... or Dickinson... the list goes on. Right with you on that, ma'am. This all makes me want to go read more about the Chiss. :cool:
     
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  10. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    An early (and tiny) update today, since I'm leaving on a work trip and don't know if I'll manage to update next Monday. Thank you once again to Nyota's Heart for beta-reading.

    Tags: Findswoman Gemma AzureAngel2
    Please let me know if you'd like to be added to or removed from the tags list.

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

    Chapter 6: The firestone

    Ayesha was singing a happy tune as she unbundled the second batch of white-blue threads and hung them carefully one by one from a floating bar. They glittered in the ray of midday sunshine filtering in from the balcony transparisteel doors, sending sparks on the walls. She smiled at Ceetoo as he shuffled out of the room. The droid was visibly relieved at the absence of dust. Ayesha herself was unusually clean in her tight tank top and the baggy trousers hanging over her hips. A soft cough from the door made her look up. She gave Thrawn a radiant smile. “You’re just in time for lunch, Captain.”

    He stepped in and gazed at the room. The grooves in the lightning-shaped pattern on the panel to the right of the balcony doors were already partially encrusted with the shimmering threads. “Snow crystal threads?”

    “Feed me to the fishes of Naboo,” she blurted. “I think I pick the most unusual material, and you just breeze in and identify it as if it were available in every grocery on Coruscant.”

    His eyes twinkled. “Certainly not on Coruscant.” He gestured towards the floating bar. “Where do these come from?”

    “Ando Prime. I travelled there for research when the Emperor chose the Northern Lights as the theme for this room and I found out about them by chance. I’d never heard about them before,” she added questioningly.

    “I have some experience with snow and ice from my homeworld. We have been locked in an ice age for several millennia. I am told however that snow crystal threads are difficult to harvest.”

    “I can confirm that,” she replied with a knowing grin. “Come on, lunch.” She directed him to the balcony. He hesitated. “What?”

    “I have the distinct impression that Mr. Vrill is less than appreciative of my visits to you,” he said cautiously. “I would not want to be causing you any... problems.”

    She shook her head. “Makh is a chauvinistic, domineering, insecure moron,” she replied angrily. “He never realized that he doesn’t get to dictate who I talk and don’t talk to, and now it’s too late for that since I won’t be seeing him anymore. So causing problems is really not something you need to worry about.” She gestured towards the balcony again and followed him as he stepped outside. “Never date a Nautolan, Captain. They pick your every mood change with those tentacles of theirs and they’re as un-Chiss-like as it gets when it comes to prying.”

    His lips twitched as he took a sandwich. “I will keep that in mind.” He watched as she poured two cups of caf before sitting across the table. She was humming to herself again. He cocked an eyebrow. “You seem to be in a rather cheerful mood.”

    “I got word from Ada’ Yakooboo last night,” she said happily. “The Trandoshan raid is over and everyone came home safely. Rumpy even got to snatch a silk thread from a syren plant and we’re never going to hear the end of it. So yes, I’m a happy person today.”

    He gave her a warm smile. “I am glad to hear that.”

    They ate their sandwiches in a comfortable silence. Thrawn finally wiped his hand with a napkin, dug into his uniform pocket and extracted a small package. He pushed it across the table. “I believe you might like this,” he said by way of an explanation.

    She unwrapped the package carefully to reveal a fist-sized piece of stone. She held it up to see the crystals embedded in its core sparkle in the sunlight and gasped. “Is this what I think it is?” she whispered.

    Thrawn’s eyes twinkled, matching the sparkle in the stone. “It is.”

    She stared at it some more, then licked her thumb and ran it over one of the jagged edges. “A Rathalayan firestone this size, and so clear... This is extremely rare. Where did you find it?”

    “On Rathalay.” She looked at him, curiosity written all over her face. He shrugged. “I just returned from a three-day mission there. Do you like it?”

    She returned to the stone, fingering it softly. “I never got to sculpt one of these,” she said with deep longing in her voice. “As a matter of fact, I never even got to touch one before.”

    “Then this is a good place to start. To cut one, I mean,” he added when her eyes shot to him.

    “You... you want me to cut this for you?” she stuttered.

    “No, I want you to cut it for yourself.”

    She stared at him, stunned. The stone was cupped in her hand while she caressed it with gentle fingertips. “This is an incredibly valuable gift, Captain,” she finally said. “I don’t think I can accept it.”

    “Of course you can,” he replied evenly. “There is no point in me holding on to this when all I can do is let it sit on a shelf in my study.”

    She looked at him hesitantly, visibly torn between the need for propriety and her desire to cling on to the stone. “Why? Why are you giving me this?”

    “Because I would like you to have it.” She shook her head. Thrawn’s eyes seemed to bore into hers. “Your family went missing for several days. I did not know if you had heard from them and thought that this was a good way to keep excessive concern at bay. As I said, I am glad to hear that they are safe, but it would be my great pleasure if you kept this stone nevertheless. Consider it my thanks for allowing me to watch as you develop this masterpiece,” he added, gesturing at the room. “As you have noticed, I am an eager spectator of art, but this is the first time I have the opportunity to observe the creation of a piece. That, Miss Eskari, is a truly invaluable gift.” She was still staring at him when he stood up. “I must go. There are several important meetings this afternoon that I need to prepare for.” He gave her a bow and turned on his heel to leave.

    “You’ve experienced it, haven't you?” she called after him, causing him to stop mid-step. “Someone you greatly care about went missing and you had to wait for them to return.”

    He turned around and looked at her. “Yes,” he said curtly. “I have.”

    “How long did you wait?”

    “Twenty-seven years,” he sighed. “And counting.” And with that, he gave her another bow and left the room.

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

    A/N: the story of the person who went missing from Thrawn's life can be found in Outbound Flight and Survivor's Quest.
     
  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    The firestone sounds gorgeous, and touched Thrawn was thoughtful and gifted it to her. I am happy Ayesha got great news, and gave Makh the boot. [face_dancing]
     
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  12. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    “You’ve experienced it, haven't you?” she called after him, causing him to stop mid-step. “Someone you greatly care about went missing and you had to wait for them to return.”

    He turned around and looked at her. “Yes,” he said curtly. “I have.”

    “How long did you wait?”

    “Twenty-seven years,” he sighed. “And counting.” And with that, he gave her another bow and left the room.

    I love this soft fragile part inside Thrawn´s heart. Thanks for writing him this way!

    Yes, Nyota's Heart is gorgeous as a person and a beta.

    But recently, I am dried out with new ideas. I work hard for the money, even though I love my current job position. My private life is just a total... ah, well. Things are complicated, very complicated. And I also need to adjust with the germs continuously coughed straight into my face by kids that are aged between 2 years of age and 6 years of age.

    I am sorry that it took so long (well 2 updates to be precise) for me to reacted on you thoughtful and somewhat romantic updates. Actually I have very little time this week, but I could not resist to sneak into the JC before paying my rent.

    Please keep me tagged! [face_worried]
     
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  13. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Wow, what a gift, what a gesture! Thrawn's gentlemanly manner is captivating, and I can tell it means so much to Ayesha to feel that she and her work appreciated by someone so genteel and cultured. Glad to see Ayesha happier now that she's had good news from her family—what a relief that the raid is over and they can breathe a little easier. (There's still her big brother, though, as I recall...)

    Indeed, good riddance to Mr. M. Vrill ("I'm gonna wash that man right out of my... head-tentacles"—well, except that he's the one with the head-tentacles... OK, I guess that didn't quite work :p ). Though I somehow have the feeling this isn't the last we've seen of him...

    And another very intriguing final statement by Thrawn at the end about his 27 years of waiting... enigmatic and fascinating. [face_thinking]
     
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  14. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 25, 2013
    Great update! I love the gift of the stone from Thrawn to her. And I too am glad she gave Mahk the boot.
     
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  15. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    I have an internet connection, so the Monday update is on time [face_dancing]

    Thank you all for the very kind reviews! Yeah, Makh... good riddance, but he'll be back, if nothing else because I enjoy writing unpleasant characters from time to time :p
    This is something in can indirectly empathize with. My cousin who lives downstairs is a primary school teacher. She always has something from the day schools open in September to the day they close in June. And then, of course, she brings it all home and passes it on to the rest of the Chyntuck clan. She's on maternity leave right now, so we're all a lot healthier :)
    You have nothing to apologize for and you're making me feel very selfish, because when I'm swamped with work (like these days) I read without reviewing [face_blush] But I will go on a review spree when DRL takes a vacation, promise [:D]
    These references basically assume that you've read Outbound Flight. It doesn't really matter if you haven't, but I still recommend it as a very nice book. It's not Zahn's best but it's definitely worth reading.

    Tags: AzureAngel2 Findswoman Gemma
    Please let me know if you'd like to be added to or removed from the tags list.

    And thanks to the wonderful Nyota's Heart for beta-reading [face_love]

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

    Chapter 7: The Twi’lek Dancer

    Ayesha was once again humming to herself as she poured more oil-wax in her handheld container. She collected her brushes from the floor and wiped them to remove any dust that may be trapped in the soft, silky hairs, then clipped them to her belt. Standing on the tip of her toes, she carefully placed the cup of oil-wax on the top shelf of her ladder and went to climb up when Thrawn walked in. “Welcome back,” she said. “I was wondering where you’d disappeared.”

    The red eyes swept the room, which had changed considerably over the past ten days. All panels were now encrusted with snow crystal threads and the three to the right of the entrance were already coated in oil-wax. Ayesha had apparently just started work on one of the two panels to the left. He finally returned his gaze to her. “It is nice to think that I was missed. I had to go off world for a short mission. I see that you have been keeping busy.”

    She smiled. “Yes, I’m finally seeing the end of it. It’s grease week.” He arched an eyebrow. She pointed at the bucket of oil-wax on the floor. “After mud week and dust week, there’s grease week. You want to be careful not to get any on your uniform. There’s no soap in the Galaxy to get rid of this stuff.”

    He gazed at the bucket for a moment, then at the brushes hanging from her belt. “I thought that oil-wax is sprayed,” he said. “But of course you have an explanation for applying it with a brush, which has to do with your lack of laziness and something more.”

    She smiled again. “Spraying oil-wax tends to flatten the sculpt,” she explained. “Applying it with a brush enables me to emphasize volumes the way I want. But it’s a bit messier, of course.” She pointed at the stains on her clothes.

    His eyes twinkled. “Yes, it explains your elegant outfit.”

    She waved a brush at him. “You weren’t around for crystal week, when I was clean for six days in a row. Your loss.” She wiped her cheek with the back of her hand, smearing a spot of oil a bit wider. It made him chuckle. “The dedication of this room is in a week from today, will you be around?”

    “I certainly hope so. I actually received the invitation this morning. Not that I needed a reminder to come and check on you.”

    She blushed a little and suddenly turned crimson, dropping into a deep curtsey. Thrawn turned around to see the Emperor walk into the room. He clasped his hands behind his back and stiffened to attention.

    “Please, my dear friends, there is no need for such formalities in this setting,” the Emperor said. Ayesha stood up but kept her head bowed, avoiding the Emperor’s yellow eyes. He placed a finger under her chin, causing her to take a step back.

    “My most sincere apologies, Your Majesty,” she said firmly. “I am in no state to be anywhere near Your Highness. It would be most embarrassing if I were responsible for staining your cloak,” she added with a humourless smile.

    The Emperor chuckled, his eyes travelling from her to Thrawn, who was still standing with his hands behind his back. “I see that you have made the acquaintance of the very best tactician in my fleet,” he said. “And you, Captain, have met Miss Eskari. Tell me, what do you think of her?”

    “Miss Eskari is a remarkably talented artist,” Thrawn said coolly. “I found her here entirely by chance when she was beginning her work in this room and she was kind enough to allow me to observe her progress. It has been a true privilege.”

    The Emperor returned to Ayesha. His eyes locked on hers, and she abruptly turned deathly pale and stifled a gasp, as if in sudden pain. “I do not need to ask what you think of Senior Captain Thrawn, my dear. It is written plainly in your mind for me to read.” He paused. “Although this is rather unsurprising given the unfortunate matter of your parentage.” A flash of anger flickered across her face, bringing some colour back to her cheeks. He gave a satisfied chuckle. “It is a pleasant coincidence that I find you both here,” he went on casually. “I am hosting a dance recital in my private auditorium tonight and it would be my great pleasure if you could join my other guests.”

    “Your Majesty,” Ayesha blurted before Thrawn could answer, “it is of course a great honour for me. However I do not see how I could possibly attend, I have no appropriate clothes with me and...”

    “Now, now, my dear,” the Emperor interrupted. “The good Captain here won’t mind flying you home and bringing you back. I am certain you can manage to transform into a presentable evening companion in the next three hours.”

    Thrawn bowed his head deferentially. “As Your Majesty wishes.”

    “It is settled then.” The Emperor moved to the door. “I will be expecting you in my private auditorium at nineteen hundred hours.”

    Ayesha dropped again into a curtsey and did not stand up until she heard the turbolift doors closing in the distance. Her whole body was trembling. Thrawn eyed her curiously. “Are you alright?”

    “I hate it when he does that,” she whispered shakily. The blue-black eyebrow arched in question. “When he reads my mind. I feel like there are maggots wandering inside my head.” The second eyebrow joined the first. “Doesn’t he do it with you?”

    “No,” Thrawn said. “Not that I am aware of at any rate.”

    She sighed. “This fellowship... it’s like indentured servitude.”

    Thrawn remained silent for a moment as she shuffled around, putting things away. “I will go and change to my dress uniform while you clean up here. I can fly you home afterwards.” She answered with a noncommittal grunt, and he was gone.

    The speeder trip to Ayesha’s apartment took place in an uneasy silence. She was visibly moody and limited her conversation with Thrawn to directions through the Coruscant skylanes. “Why are you so upset, Miss Eskari?” he asked finally as she pointed to a landing pad outside a penthouse apartment. “There are surely worse things than an invitation to a dance recital in His Majesty’s private quarters.”

    “I like to choose the company I keep, thank you very much,” she snapped. She got out of the speeder and dug into her satchel for the key card. She was halfway across the platform to the door when she realized that Thrawn was not following her. She turned around to see that he was still on the landing pad, leaning back against his speeder. “Aren’t you going to come in?”

    “I will wait for you here, Miss Eskari,” he replied stiffly. She gave him a perplexed look. “You made it abundantly clear that my presence is unwelcome.”

    She sighed and walked back to him. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to offend you. I'm just...” She took a deep breath. “The idea of spending a whole evening in the Emperor’s presence makes me very uncomfortable, I hate him for making you play driver for me and I expect there will be many people I don’t want to see at this shindig. I’m very, very sorry. I actually enjoy your company very much. Please come in.”

    He hesitated. “I do not want to intrude upon your privacy.”

    She shook her head. “Captain, you’re being silly now,” she said a little impatiently. “You’re not intruding at all. Please come in before I have to drag you across this platform. I’m sure there’s enough oil-wax left on my hands to ruin your nice dress uniform forever,” she added with a grin.

    His features relaxed as he followed her through the door into a spacious apartment with a domed transparisteel roof. There was an Alderaanian conversation circle in the middle of the large room and an elaborately carved dining table to its left, with a kitchen counter behind it. The double doors to the right were closed and a wide hallway started across the atrium, presumably leading to the bedrooms. A single statue of polished black stone occupied the space between the conversation circle, the hallway and the closed doors.

    “This is quite a place you have here.” His glowing eyes took in every detail of the tasteful decoration.

    She dropped her satchel by the door and slipped off her sandals. “It’s one of the perks of the fellowship. An apartment that doubles as an art gallery when needed. And the best part is that I get to keep it after the fellowship is over.”

    She disappeared into the kitchen. When she returned, she found Thrawn examining the stone statue. “One of your earlier works?” he asked, taking the glass she was offering.

    “My first ever life-size statue, the Twi’lek Dancer. I’m very fond of it despite all its imperfections. I had no idea what I was doing, but somehow I got the movement right.”

    The statue represented a stylized female Twi’lek standing on one foot with the other lifted slightly off the ground. Her arms were gracefully curved above her faceless head, and her lekku were flying behind her, as if in the middle of a pirouette. “It is quite stunning,” Thrawn said, finally taking his eyes off the statue.

    She held up her glass. “Cheers. It’s cortyg brandy from Kashyyyk,” she added when he gazed at the contents somewhat suspiciously.

    He took a tentative sip. “This is actually quite nice, albeit very strong.”

    She laughed. “You should see the variety they brew for Wookiees. This stuff is recycled water in comparison.” She watched him as he took another sip. “It looks like you can handle it. Listen, I need to take a shower and make myself presentable, which might take a while. Why don’t you make yourself comfortable? There’s a holoscreen over there and some databooks on the table.” He nodded and she moved towards the hallway, but caught herself mid-step. “On second thought” – she walked to the closed doors behind the statue – “I think that this is where you really want to be.” She pressed her hand to the activation panel and ushered him through the doors as they slid open.

    It was her workshop. A large table occupied the centre of the room, surrounded on three sides by waist-high bookcases overflowing with both printed and electronic books. There was a stool and a stand similar to a potter’s wheel at the far end of the table, with an unfinished woodcarving wedged in a durasteel collar on the wheel. The top shelf of the bookcase behind it was covered in carefully catalogued tools, while more styluses and the Rathalayan firestone were spread on the edge of the table nearby. The back of the room was a jumble of statues, sculpts and flats. She keyed to open the blinds. The afternoon sunlight flooded the room through the domed ceiling. “There. The treasure trove.” She looked at Thrawn and smiled when she caught the eager glitter in his eyes. “Now I can take my time to prepare myself.” And without further ado, she disappeared in the back of the apartment.
     
  16. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 25, 2013
    Wow --- I just adore at every turn how you bring Thrawn and Ayesha together. I can't wait for them to dance together so he can hold her in his arms. And I am loving the art too.
     
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  17. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    “I hate it when he does that,” she whispered shakily. The blue-black eyebrow arched in question. “When he reads my mind. I feel like there are maggots wandering inside my head.” The second eyebrow joined the first. “Doesn’t he do it with you?”

    “No,” Thrawn said. “Not that I am aware of at any rate.”

    She sighed. “This fellowship... it’s like indentured servitude.”

    I hope Palps does NOT bring drama and heartbreak into a promising relationship. Then I will personally seek him out and kill him (and all his clones) in painful ways.

    About "Outbound Flight": @MsLanna/ Etain, Chilla & DarthUncle, my husband, made me read it. ;) But it is a life time ago now!
     
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  18. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thanks all for the likes and the reviews :)
    It's still a few chapters away, but there will be dancing in this story. Lots of it [face_dancing]

    Well, Palps is Palps, so he's clearly up to no good, but if I were him, I'd be careful now that you issued such an ultimatum :p
     
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  19. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Works on Kindergarten kids only, I fear. Not on a sith lord.
     
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  20. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Very nicely done. I love how Thrawn is formal and yet so intuitive to her feelings.
     
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  21. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    [face_laugh] I'm trying to picture you giving the teacher's stern look to Palps. It's a very entertaining mental image.

    Thank you and welcome to this story [:D]

    Well, thanks to Nyota's Heart efficiency at beta-reading, chapter 8 is up!

    Tags: AzureAngel2 Findswoman Gemma
    Please let me know if you would like to be added or removed from the tags list.

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

    Chapter 8: The owner

    Thrawn was standing with his hands behind his back, his gaze fixed on the unfinished wood carving on the potter’s wheel, when Ayesha came back to the doorway of the workshop. “You seem mesmerized,” she said.

    “That would be because I am,” he replied in a distant voice. He tore his eyes off the sculpt and moved them to her. They glittered with a phosphorescence she had not seen before as they swept over her. “And now I am stunned.”

    She blushed with pleasure and clipped on her second earring. She was wearing a formal evening gown the colour of moonlight. A thin veil covered her arms and shoulders, under which the light shimmersilk of the dress proper flowed elegantly to the floor. Her small feet were encased in pale grey slippers. She had removed the braiding from her hair and styled it in soft spikes to frame her face, and her discreet makeup enhanced the yellow Qukuuf mark underlining her left eye. Her hands fiddled with the clasp of her necklace, a dragon pearl pendant held by delicate silver filigree. “Can you please help me with this?”

    He took the chain from her and clasped it behind her neck. “Say what you will of His Majesty,” he murmured in her ear, “but I for one am grateful that he ordered me to escort such a beautiful woman.”

    Her blush darkened. “Thank you.” She took a step away from him to collect her glass from the table and noticed that his glass was still full. “Didn’t you like the brandy? I can get you something else.”

    He composed himself. “The brandy is excellent, thank you. I was so absorbed in your work that I simply forgot about it.” He pointed at the wooden sculpt on the wheel. “This piece is fascinating.”

    The sculpt represented the bust of a faceless woman. The bald head was thrown back, the slender neck arching in a crescent, and the shadow of a mouth was open as if letting out a scream. Curling, waving tendrils emerged from the base of the bust, as if licking the woman’s round shoulders in water or flames. It was still raw and unpolished but conveyed a powerful emotion.

    “Fijisi wood,” she said. “One of my favourite materials.”

    His eyes were fixed on the sculpt again, his gaze intense as if seeking to pry answers from it. “Did you name this piece?” he finally asked.

    “No. I haven’t quite decided what it represents yet.”

    He stared at it for a long moment before tearing his eyes from it with visible effort. “So,” he said conversationally, “who is the lucky courtier who ordered this?”

    She shrugged. “No one. This is something I’ve been doing for myself, to keep my sanity. Sometimes I need to do things without the limitations of the fellowship.”

    “I understand. I think I do at least.” He gestured towards the jumble of sculpts in the storage area. “I do not claim to comprehend what you seek to express. To be honest, I have never been exposed to such a whirlwind of emotions as embodied by those pieces you created without obvious constraint. There is something deeply contradictory about them. Having to work under the conditions of your fellowship must feel like being caught in a straightjacket.”

    She merely nodded in assent. His eyes swept the workshop once more and came to a large wooden disk hanging from the wall above the potter’s wheel. A five-point star carved out of the yellowish wood was inscribed in a circle consisting of what appeared to be twisted rope, with five spheres decorating the gaps between the points of the star. Thrawn looked at it carefully. “This is not your work, but given the place you chose for it, it matters to you a great deal.”

    She smiled. “It’s a khraashyr,” she explained. “A Wookiee lineage shield. Ada’ Yakooboo made it for me when I came to Coruscant.” She pointed at the various features on the disk. “The pentagram stands for my mother’s clan on Kiffu. The twisted vines represent my Wookiee tribe and the five spheres are the five planets of Corellia, in remembrance of my father.” She took a step closer and showed Thrawn the line of symbols carved around the edge. “And this is my full name. Ayesha Eskari of clan Vos, of the tribe of the Green Vines of Rwookrrorro.”

    His gaze returned to her. “You still have not told me how you ended up on Kashyyyk instead of Kiffu.”

    A haunted expression clouded her eyes. She glanced at the chronometer on the wall. “I’m afraid that will have to keep for another day, Captain. We don’t want to keep the Emperor waiting.”


    * * *​

    All the eyes in the Emperor’s private auditorium turned to them as they made their entrance, the most senior courtiers and military officers not even bothering to conceal the loathing glares they gave Thrawn, nor their predatory stares as they took her in. She raised her chin in defiance as Thrawn led her serenely to the seats that had been assigned to them. She kept her head high but sagged back in her chair as soon as the lights were dimmed for the recital to begin.

    The dancers – all human of course – were the Emperor’s favoured courtesans. They performed to pieces of music from all over the Galaxy. They wove in and out of the stage with astounding grace, seemingly radiating a glow that took the audience in its thrall. When the last dancer, a slender woman with red-gold curls, fell into a death spiral, bringing the performance to an end, the atmosphere in the room was electric. Behind Ayesha, Grand Admiral Zaarin let out a rasping breath when the curtain finally fell.

    Thrawn waited for most of the audience to leave before offering his arm and guiding her to the foyer of the auditorium, where refreshments were being served. All faces turned to them again. She was struggling now to remain impassive and did not manage to hide her weariness as her eyes darted around the room. She was tense like a cornered animal.

    He led her silently to the buffet and offered her a glass of cold wine. She sipped at it gratefully but nearly let it drop when the Emperor suddenly materialized at her side with his usual entourage of advisors and courtiers. She barely managed to put down the glass with shaking hands before giving him a deep curtsey.

    “The effect of my dancers’ performance on you pleases me greatly, my dear," the Emperor said. She mumbled vaguely and kept her head down. A wrinkled hand emerged from his cloak and pulled her chin upwards. He scrutinized her face with his yellow eyes, somehow causing her to turn deathly pale again. “It is a great pity such an extraordinary creature as you would have no sensitivity to the Force. It is highly unusual for someone who is not Force-sensitive to shine in the Force in such a way.”

    The wrinkled hand let her go, making her stagger against the buffet table. The Emperor chuckled and waved at a man standing a few steps away to come closer. “May I introduce Master Kchak Pr’ollerg,” he said without taking his eyes off her, as if gauging her reaction. Ayesha sucked in a breath as she looked into the man’s face. He was very much human in appearance, except for his pointed ears and the two bony spurs protruding from his jaw. The Emperor looked at her a moment longer before he continued. “Master Kchak” – he laid special emphasis on the word ‘master’ – “is the organizer of the Zygerrian festival which is due to begin in two days. As you know, Zygerria is a valued supporter of the New Order and I intend to honour the festival with my presence. I will be most pleased that you escort me to the opening ceremony.” His yellow eyes twinkled with glee as she took another deep, calming breath. “Dance performances, I am sure, are a source of inspiration for an artist of your quality, and you of all people know the quality of a Zygerrian dance troupe.”

    The courtiers surrounding him were now devouring Ayesha with their eyes, as if trying to grasp the hidden meaning behind the Emperor’s words. She steadied herself and bowed deeply. “I am humbled by your kindness, Your Majesty. It will be a great honour for me to accompany you to the festival.”

    The Emperor’s gaze lingered on her before travelling warningly to Thrawn. “I will be expecting you then.” And with a swish of his cloak, he turned around and moved on to another group, taking Kchak Pr’ollerg and his courtiers with him.

    Ayesha reached for her glass on the buffet table and downed the wine in a single gulp. Thrawn gave her a concerned look and was about to speak when a jovial voice called her name.

    “It looks like I won’t get a break tonight,” she grumbled before turning around to see Grand Admiral Zaarin walking towards them in long strides.

    “Miss Eskari, it’s such a pleasure,” Zaarin exclaimed. He took her hand and kissed it, shooting Thrawn a scornful look. The Chiss captain remained regal and impassive, merely acknowledging the Grand Admiral’s presence with a curt, formal salute. “I hope you’re well, it’s been a while since I last saw you.” Without giving her time to answer, he put his hand on the small of her back and steered her towards a dark-skinned man a few steps away who was talking to Grand Admiral Tigellinus. “I want to introduce you to Grand Admiral Niall Declann. I believe he hasn’t had the pleasure of meeting you yet.”

    Thrawn was left to stand alone near the buffet and observed from a distance as the three men in white uniforms circled around Ayesha like a pack of Utapau rock-vultures. They were invading her personal space, causing her to repeatedly sidestep one or the other in order to avoid physical contact. Their hands hovered around her, reaching out every now and then for her cheek, her arm or her shoulder. Zaarin in particular took every opportunity to place his hand again on the small of her back. She was looking increasingly annoyed and breathed a sigh of relief when the dancers, having changed into elaborate evening dresses, made their entrance, providing her with a welcome distraction to take a few steps away from the trio.

    She felt a hand on her wrist and spun around with renewed exasperation to find herself facing Thrawn. He let her go and offered his arm. “I think that this is a good time to slip away unnoticed,” he whispered. His eyes had taken the colour of molten lava and there was fury in his voice. She gave him a small, grateful smile as they made their escape to the landing platform. He helped her into the speeder without saying a word and took off in the Coruscant skylanes.

    “Are you alright?” he asked after a while as they flew over the city.

    She snorted bitterly. “You mean after an hour of being pawed by three men with a libido even more inflated than their ego?”

    “I apologize for the attitude of my superior officers,” he growled through clenched teeth. “Their behaviour was unacceptable and, frankly, disgraceful. I am truly sorry that you had to endure that.”

    She leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes. “On days like this I wish I’d never left Kashyyyk. Sometimes I feel like this fellowship made me a piece of property that can be passed around and toyed with.” She remained silent for a moment. “That man is vile,” she sighed.

    “Grand Admiral Zaarin?”

    She shook her head. “The Emperor.” Thrawn arched an eyebrow at her bluntness. “Yes, I know, this sort of talk can land me in a prison cell, but I assure you, right now I don’t care. He’s vile and evil.”

    Thrawn gave her a sideways look without taking his attention off the traffic on the skylane. “You are not referring to the scene with the Grand Admirals anymore, are you?”

    There was a long silence. “He was my owner,” she breathed finally, her voice barely audible over the hubbub of the city. “The Zygerrian man. He was my owner. He was the one who wouldn’t give me a name. And the Emperor knew. He always knows.” She was fighting back tears now. “And I’m going to have to smile at him and talk to him and...” Her voice trailed off.

    The speeder landed outside her apartment. Thrawn turned on the side to look at her. She grabbed his arm. “I’m scared. I’m scared that the Emperor will give me back to him.”

    “I am certain that it is not His Majesty’s intention,” Thrawn said calmly.

    “He will,” she panted. “He will, he showed me in my mind, he showed me...” She was visibly panicking now; sweat was beading on her forehead and her eyes had become unfocused and glassy. Thrawn took her trembling hands in his and squeezed them tightly.

    “Miss Eskari, look at me.” Her eyes darted wildly in all directions. “Look at me,” he repeated louder, snapping her out of the panic attack. “No one will give you to anyone. You are a free woman and you will remain a free woman,” he said in a soothing voice. He let go of her hands. “Now take a deep breath and calm yourself.”

    She was still staggering slightly as he walked her to her door across the platform ten minutes later. “Are you sure you will be alright?” he asked. “You may want to call a friend to spend the rest of the evening with you. Or perhaps Mr. Vrill?”

    She shook her head. “I told you, I’m not seeing Makh anymore. But I’ll be fine.” She slid the key card in the lock and looked up at him. “Thank you. For everything.”

    He nodded and returned to his speeder as she entered her apartment. She didn’t see him pull out his datapad to look up information. He didn’t see her emerge from her room in a plain black jumpsuit and slip into the turbolift.

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

    A/N: This is where I start taking liberties with canon. I use the depiction of the Zygerrians as they appeared in the Slaves of the Republic comic books, not the TCW TV series where they were redesigned as a feline humanoid species (Wookieepedia source).
     
  22. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    That emperor is both creepy and a creep. Poor Ayesha! She was remarkably composed for that ordeal.
    I bet the dancer with the red-gold hair picked up on some of this twisted emotional mayhem.
    Great update!
     
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  23. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    A compelling sculpt Thrawn was admiring indeed. @};- Woot on the dancer - I know who that is ;) [face_love]

    Ayesha's composure and dignity are extremely admirable. =D=
     
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  24. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Oh me, oh my, I'm behind again! :eek: Wonderful couple of updates—as always, I'm basking in the astounding detailing of the artworks, materials, clothing, dancing, decor, characters, etc. And Thrawn's very gentlemanly affection as contrasted with the creepy leering and inappropriate touching of the other officers and of the Palpster. Love it. :)

    So here goes:

    7: Oh my, a surprise visit from the Big Boss ihmself! I'd be dropping things and breaking things, but Ayesha regains her grace and poise quickly despite the initial shock (and creepy demeanor). Wonderful to get a glimpse of Ayesha's home and workroom. The "Twi'lek Dancer" sculpture sounds gorgeous; I can just see it in a shimmering, refined Art Nouveau interior. :cool:

    8: Glad Ayesha has been able to take the time to make at least one artwork for herself—I can only begin to imagine what the woman in the flames might represent. Super cool detailing of the lineage shield; I remember your mentioning it in the "six items in seclusion" discussion in the "OC Revolution" thread, and my curiosity was piqued. I love how it pays tribute to both her birth family and her adoptive family.

    What an evening out, from the performance to the reception to all the introductions and groping. I almost wonder why Thrawn didn't stand up for her more to his colleagues, though I bet there's part of him that (understandably) doesn't want to rock the boat where his superiors are concerned (in the Empire that kind of thing is more dangerous than just about anywhere else). And what a feeling for Ayesha to come across the very man who used to own her as a slave! In her revelation to Thrawn after the party we really get to see a more vulnerable side of her than we've seen so far, and he responds with admirable gentleness.

    And after Thrawn drops her off... I wonder what he's writing down and where she's slipping off to. [face_thinking]

    Nyota's Heart, I have a guess about the red-blond-haired dancer, too. :D
     
  25. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    There was a long silence. “He was my owner,” she breathed finally, her voice barely audible over the hubbub of the city. “The Zygerrian man. He was my owner. He was the one who wouldn’t give me a name. And the Emperor knew. He always knows.” She was fighting back tears now. “And I’m going to have to smile at him and talk to him and...” Her voice trailed off.

    The speeder landed outside her apartment. Thrawn turned on the side to look at her. She grabbed his arm. “I’m scared. I’m scared that the Emperor will give me back to him.”

    “I am certain that it is not His Majesty’s intention,” Thrawn said calmly.

    “He will,” she panted. “He will, he showed me in my mind, he showed me...” She was visibly panicking now; sweat was beading on her forehead and her eyes had become unfocused and glassy. Thrawn took her trembling hands in his and squeezed them tightly.

    Her grace should make Palps cry. IF he had a heart... [face_frustrated]
     
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