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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. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    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.”

    This is such a joyous, refreshing update. How wonderful for Ayesha and Thrawn, to share their love in such a beautiful way. Everything is going so well for them and for their friends! :D

    Uh oh. [face_nail_biting]
  2. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    “Is that what you call our child?” he asked without looking up. “The Lifeform?”

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

    After having read about the sad, yet dignified update about the funeral service I needed such sweet banter like this. Thank you! [:D]
    Gemma, Chyntuck and Nyota's Heart like this.
  3. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Oh my how I’ve fallen behind! And with such exciting, mahvelous things happening in these last few chapters, too! I promise that I have been following and reading and enjoying—I’ve just always had DRL swat me with a rolled-up newspaper every time I think I’m ready to write a proper comment. All right, without further ado:

    13: Well, this is certainly a plum for our Admiral Blue! @Nyota’s Heart ’s comment about “eating ceremonial hats” is right on [face_laugh]—he showed them. His misgivings about bringing Ayesha to the ceremony are certainly reasonable given the real threat posed by the Emperor, though I am getting some definite Bluebeard’s Castle vibes too, along with the general feeling that he wants to keep his professional and private parts of his life completely separate from each other. [face_thinking] Though heck, part of it is probably just my selfish side coming through (darn, that’s one fewer doll outfit I can daydream about! ;) ), and it does look as though reciting poetry to Master Nazmat all night was definitely the right thing for Ayesha to be doing at that time. (And naturally I can’t help but wonder whether “Here, in the luminous, windswept dusk…” was somewhere in the mix… :p )

    Intriguing ominous note on which to end, too. “Serving two masters” seems to be very much the story of Thrawn’s life, at least as it is presented in this story—which of course is an extremely difficult stunt to pull in any universe, as was pointed out. It’s interesting how those misgivings carry into the beginning of the next chapter, too. And it definitely seems more than a little significant that the Canted Circle pendant features a symbol that also appeared in Malki’s fortress... [face_thinking]

    Actually, speaking of doll clothes, Thrawn’s brand-spanking-new velvet Canted Circle robes would be wonderful on a doll too… :D

    14: Poor, dear Master Nazmat. :( I guess it wasn’t exactly unclear that her end was near, but it hits definite feels all the same. I really had grown to like her—a no-nonsense, determined old bird who was nevertheless brimming with love and support for her professional “children, ” all of them. So touching that all of them made the time and effort to be there for her in her last days—it says a ton about how much she meant to them (especially given the state of the times when they were learning from her, as we know from “A Tree-Dweller in Imperial City”). I love how she made young Tam one of her main inheritors, too.

    The funeral scene was wonderful. Love the details: the crowd, the pyre, the Wookiee ritual with the ashes, and of course I must add my kudos to Thrawn for his moving funeral speech. =D=

    One little thing I really like about this chapter is how Onion is starting to grudgingly warm up to Thrawn, even giving him such a fine compliment him on his speech without being goaded. That’s a step in the right direction, for sure! :D

    15: Double we-e-ell! :D I have to say that when I read the title, I kind of got an inkling of what would be revealed in this chapter... then the hearty appetite and the clinginess of the nightdress cinched it for me. Like Simon, I'm curious about how the "Chiss parameter" will play out, and about what they'll learn from their visit to him together. The Chiss/Human/Kiffar genetic mixing already seems to be doing something to the gestation period already.

    But as happy as this news is—and maybe I'm just being a mother avian again, but—I still can't help but be concerned about what implications the baby will have for the Emperor's ongoing vendetta against Ayesha. Such a huge new development can't not have implications, if that makes sense. And if Thrawn is going to be away so much, that leaves Ayesha all the more vulnerable. (This is not saying that she's some sort of weak female who can't take care of herself; quite the opposite. What it is saying is that her happiness in being together with her mate seems to do much toward shutting out the Emperor's attacks.)

    But for now, I'll just let Ayesha and Thrawn enjoy as much as they can these next 6 1/2 months, because after that their life will never be the same! :D
    Ewok Poet, AzureAngel2, Gemma and 3 others like this.
  4. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Ch 13

    I'm really curious what Thrawn thinks he is up to. While he probably can't tell Ayesha a lot of it, there's a part of me that thinks he's getting in over his head. That did seem to be his problem in the trilogy -- thinking he had everything covered. Something that is so easy for someone like him, because he's brilliant and 99 times out of a hundred it'll be true. It's the confidence of someone who is (almost) always right. But it's that one time that's the killer. [face_worried]

    That's kind of a big conversation to assume, Thrawn. :oops:Difficult as things have been on Coruscant, leaving for the edge of beyond is a big step. It's a bit different from just moving to somewhere that's still on the map.

    [face_laugh] Serves 'em right. And Nyota's Heart, thanks for the additional image of Tigellinus nomming on his hat. [face_rofl] He'd probably end up complaining about the flavor.

    Urgh. The Emperor is such a sheeving sheevy little sheever. o_O

    Liked the scene with Ayesha being disturbed by the Canted Circle pendant -- both that it could be considered a replacement (though Thrawn assures her otherwise) and that it has some connection to that symbol in Malki's fortress. Makes me think this smells of Sith (well, of course it does.)

    =D= One thing I'm really liking about this story is the way that it delves into how a choice to serve the Dark Side (or not) affects those who don't necessarily use the Force or understand it. Sure, it won't do to a regular person what it does to a Sith. But that doesn't mean it's not wrong and won't wreck up your life in various ways. Likewise, choosing to do good seems to have an effect beyond the explicable too. Although it's more subtle in the Imperial environment they're in, there does seem to be an effect of what goes around coming around in good ways as well as bad.
  5. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 25, 2013
    Thrawn's words at Nazmat's funeral were beautiful and touching -- just right and I adored that she asked for him as one of her children.

    Ayesha being pregnant is so sweet. As soon as she wanted food over more loving that was my clue and then him admiring her newly developed curves were a bit fuller and more noticeable cinched it for me. The chapter title was kind of a give away but I didn't want to get my hopes up yet. And the new father banter was so so cute.
  6. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Okay, I'm going to try and squeeze in a few replies before I fall so far behind that I can't catch up anymore :)

    Chapters 10-11
    [:D] Given your profession, it would make sense that you're exceedingly busy in the spring. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and review!

    I'm glad you liked my Hutt (and he'll be back very, very soon in his own story)! As for how/why the Emperor can sometimes intrude in Ayesha's mind and sometimes not, it's something that I'm going to elaborate on at some point in the Fanon Thread -- the basic idea being that Dark Siders would be naturally repelled by too much light, and that would have to do with their target's state of mind. On the other hand, I'm not sure that I want to come up with midichlorian-type Force pseudo-science, so I may just leave this open to interpretation :p
    That sounds like a title for the Galactic Correspondent :D

    Chapter 12
    If she wasn't, she wouldn't be Nazmat Koch :p I haven't been able to give her as big a role as I wanted in this story, because if I kept all the sub-plots it would just be endless, but I think I'll bring her back in my Ramblings thread once I'm done with the Family Holos. She's just too much fun to write.
    I think I said this already in a previous reply, but of all the canon characters, "old" Vos must be the most entertaining to write. Ewok Poet pointed out to me earlier today that some elements of his past are being re-canonized, which I find positively awesome -- I hope that they re-canonize the pickpocket girlfriend at some point too! But of course, he doesn't realise what he just did by giving Thrawn the ysalamiri. Basically they're both trying to fix an impossible situation with an old shoelace and duct tape, and they don't understand the future implications of their actions.

    Chapter 13
    This is where the mother avian parameter and the Bluebeard Castle's effect come together in all their glory, isn't it? And in a sense, this is another thing that Quin and Thrawn have in common -- trying to protect Ayesha without telling her what she's up against, and in the end treating her like a child -- just not a good idea. Not only is it exasperating for her, but it could very easily lead to something going wrong.

    Of course “Here, in the luminous, windswept dusk…” was part of it! [:D] How could it be otherwise?
    Now, after everything you've said about your doll-making hobby, you realise that you're going to have to start creating them at some point ;) I want to see pictures!
    This ties back to what was said earlier about Thrawn trying to be too smart by half -- by building plots within plots within plots and conspiring with the Emperor to have himself "exiled" to the Unknown Regions without however letting him know that he's aware of his designs for Ayesha, and without telling Ayesha what he's up to but still expecting her to follow his lead, he's trying to have his cake and eat it too. But in doing all this he's also ignoring Quin's warning that "the Force works in mysterious ways" and that means that his intrigues might not yield the results he expects because he's failing to take in consideration the greater scheme of things.

    Chapter 14
    Exactly ;)

    More generally (and to avoid quoting half a dozen reviews which were all very interesting but would make this reply post 20 km long) I'm happy everyone liked the Nazmat Koch death and funeral scene. I don't usually mind killing off characters, but Master Nazmat is a character I became particularly fond of, and it was a little frustrating already to have to cut her scenes out of the plot because it was all becoming so complicated. So I put a lot of my emotions in that scene and I'm glad it came through.

    Chapter 15

    Brings out the old broom and dustpan and sweeps the trail of mushy goo off the floor [face_laugh] [:D] :* (And thanks!)

    And this is where the quarrel of the optimists versus the pessimists starts, I guess :p

    No, thank you [:D]

    I can feel experience speaking here [face_laugh]

    Yes, there were a lot of giveaways for this scene. One option I considered at one point was to delete the discussion about children from the previous chapters altogether -- but to me it just didn't make sense that Ayesha, and even more so Thrawn, would find themselves with a pregnancy on their hands by accident. On the other hand, given the stage of Thrawn's plans, I'm pretty sure that he didn't expect to become a prospective father so soon ;)

    Thanks again! The next chapter will be up early tomorrow morning :)
    Gemma, Kahara, Findswoman and 3 others like this.
  7. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    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 16: Morning sickness

    The door to the Centre slid open and Ayesha ran straight to the ‘fresher to throw up. “Nothing to worry about, Eighty-Seven,” Simon told Thrawn with a grin. “They call it morning sickness but it can happen anytime. And I find it reassuring that the noble aroma of the Underlevels doesn’t agree with her, maybe that’ll convince her to stop coming.”

    Thrawn never got to answer because two massive hands slapped him on the back, causing the air to flee his lungs. “Congrats, Eighty-Seven,” Dex barked behind him. “C’m’on to the lounge now, we shipped everyone to wherever they were goin’ this mornin’ ‘n’ we got some downtime.”

    Ayesha joined them minutes later and curled up on the sofa next to Uumana, who was staring at the table with her blank expression. She planted a peck on the Twi’lek’s cheek and took her hand to lay it on her belly. “Everythin’ okay now, lil’ one?” Dex asked.

    “I’m good,” she said with a smile. “I’m almost hungry already.” Dex vanished to the kitchen to cook something and Thrawn shook his head in disbelief. “What? I just emptied my stomach against my will. I need to fill it.”

    Thrawn shook his head again as he sat on the other sofa next to Simon. “Get used to it,” the doctor told him. “Between the appetite, the nausea, the cravings, the mood swings and the hormones in general, knowing Ayesha, you’re in for a helluva ride.”

    “Tell him not to worry so much,” Ayesha interjected. “He’s been handling me like a fragile doll since I told him. I want my love life to remain the way it was.”

    Simon laughed and stood up. “See, what was I telling you? Come with me, I’ll examine Ayesha while Dex is cooking, and you can even get a sneak peek at whatever there is to see of your child.” He led them to his lab and took Ayesha’s vitals before having her remove her clothes and lie down. He then wheeled over a table with a holoprojector and activated the scanner hanging from the ceiling above her. The three-dimensional image flickered to life. “There. This is Ayesha’s uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries, and this here” – he pointed at a tiny shape nestled against the uterine wall – “is your baby. As you can see, it’s settling in quite comfortably.” He stopped for a second, as if something had caught his attention, and raised the sound to maximum. A soft, rhythmic thud echoed across the room. “What you hear is its heartbeat,” he said with a wide smile. “It’s a bit earlier than I expected it, but it’s not unusual either.” He rotated the image a little, then glanced at a monitor. “Implantation good, axis good, brain activity good. We need to discuss a few things, but it really looks like everything’s okay.”

    He turned back to them to find Thrawn staring at the holo and Ayesha lying back against the headrest with her eyes closed. “It’s the Lifeform,” she whispered. “It’s actually alive.” Her finger was tapping on the back of Thrawn’s hand, following the thuds of the embryo’s heart.

    “Of course it is,” Simon said. “It’s a new life, what did you expect?” She stuck out her tongue at him, making him laugh. “Come on, get up. I want to have a look at Eighty-Seven here.”

    “Why, is he pregnant too?” she asked as she started pulling her jumpsuit back on.

    “I may be,” Thrawn countered. “A block of duracrete seems to have settled in my lower abdomen since this morning.”

    Simon laughed again. “The duracrete sensation should fade away at some point, science says so, or at least my grandmother does. Now tell me a few things. I’ve never seen anyone else from your species, are there any more of you around?”

    “As far as I know, I am the only Chiss in this part of the Galaxy.”

    Simon grimaced. “Do you know if there are any differences between you and baseline humans, aside from the obvious ones? Do you have, for instance, two stomachs or three livers?”

    “My physician has told me that my physiology is remarkably close to a baseline human’s, with the exception of my skin and eyes. It also appears that there are some differences in our vocal systems.” His lips twitched. “As for two stomachs, I believe that there is someone else to whom you should address the question.”

    Ayesha was about to let out an indignant reply when Dex’s booming voice announced that their meal was ready. Both men chuckled at the greedy expression that flashed across her face. “Eighty-Seven has a point,” Simon said wryly. “Now off you go, Ayesha, we’ll catch up with you. I want to check out his eyes and throat.”

    They returned to the lounge to find Ayesha sharing a massive mound of food with Uumana. Dex brought more plates and sat in his reinforced armchair, and Simon spent the meal asking Thrawn questions about his species’s physiology and reproduction. He listened carefully as Thrawn explained that his people had an accelerated growth cycle and that they reached full maturity in thirteen standard years, then asked about the duration of Chiss pregnancies. “Six standard months. The embryonic stage lasts approximately ten weeks, and a foetus is considered viable after twenty.”

    Simon finally put down his plate. “I take it that there are no known cases of a Chiss conceiving with a Human?”

    “Not that I am aware of,” Thrawn replied. “Even less so with a half-Kiffar.”

    Simon shrugged. “The Kiffar bit doesn’t matter, there are no real differences in terms of reproduction and gestation. For all intents and purposes, we can consider Ayesha to be a human here. Which is good, we don’t need any extra complications.”

    Ayesha gave him a worried look. “Complications? You said everything was okay.”

    Simon smiled. “Everything is okay. It was just a bad choice of words.” He looked at her carefully and then at Thrawn. “Listen to me, you two. What you are doing is something that all living beings have been doing since the dawn of time, to great success, I may add, if the population of this Galaxy is any indication. So first baby jitters aside, it’s really not that difficult. This is our starting point, all right?” Ayesha and Thrawn nodded. “However,” Simon went on, “there are certain risks involved with this pregnancy, as with any other pregnancy. The first sixteen weeks are the most tricky period, and this is when you, Ayesha, should be particularly careful. No extreme sports, no heavy lifting, no exhausting yourself, no alcohol and so on. We discussed this already last time and I think we’re on the same wavelength here. And yes, as I told you, sex is okay,” he added with a chuckle. “I don’t know what you do in bed but it can’t possibly qualify as heavy lifting.”

    Ayesha bit back the reply that came to her lips, but there was a sparkle of mischief in her eyes. The doctor ignored it and continued. “Now, let’s get to the serious stuff. There’s one important aspect of your pregnancy that sets it apart. Inter-species breeding is not that common, but it’s not unheard of either. I did quite a bit of research about it when...” – his voice faltered a little – “when Uumana and I were hoping to have children, and if two beings as different as a human and a Twi’lek can conceive together and bring a healthy child into this Galaxy, there is no reason you two can’t, given how similar you are.” He looked at Thrawn. “One thing I am a little concerned about is the difference in the physiology of your eyes. It’s totally different from ours and this could possibly lead to some defect in your child’s eyesight. However, this is only speculation on my behalf, and in any case it’s something modern medicine can easily remedy should it happen.” He turned back to Ayesha. “Another thing that may cause problems, not so much for your child but mainly for you, is the fact that the baby may grow faster than usual given what Eighty-Seven told us about the Chiss gestation cycle. I don’t expect it to be anything dramatic, since the differences are not that big, but it might put quite a strain on your body. I want you to promise that you’ll be going for a check-up twice a month and that you’ll take it easy. And,” he added with a deep breath, “I don’t want you to come back here after today. Not until after the baby is born.”

    Ayesha pouted her lips with genuine sadness. “Already?”

    “Dintcha hear the man, lil’ one?” Dex barked. “He said the first sixteen weeks. That’s now.”

    She bowed her head and took Uumana’s hand in hers. “I know, Old Dex,” she mumbled. “I was just hoping to have some time to say goodbye.”

    “You make it sound like you’re never comin’ back,” the Besalisk grumbled. “It’s only a few months, lil’ one.”

    There was a silence. Thrawn finally cleared his throat. “In fact, it is highly likely that Ayesha will not be returning here for quite a long time. By this I mean well beyond the birth of our child.”

    Dex’s gaze went from Ayesha to Thrawn and back. “I thought you two ‘ad an agreement that ‘e wouldn’t mess up with what you’re doin’ here?”

    “It’s not about here, Old Dex. We...”

    “For a number of reasons that we cannot discuss with you, we will be leaving Coruscant,” Thrawn interrupted. “Ayesha’s well-being and safety are at stake. And now, our child’s as well. This is not to say that we will never return, of course; however, for the immediate future, she will not be around. Please believe that I regret having to take this decision as much as you do.”

    There was another silence. Simon turned to Thrawn. “You spoke of your physician. Will he be wherever it is you are going?” Thrawn nodded. “Is this someone who would not only know your medical history but also have some experience with xenobiology and non-human species in general?” The Chiss nodded again. “What about gynaecology, obstetrics?”

    “I fear not,” Thrawn answered. “There is not much of that in his line of work. I am certain that he knows what every doctor knows and that he would be willing to learn more, but I did not expect this miracle” – he gestured towards Ayesha – “to happen so soon.”

    He paused again. “And?” Simon asked. “Are your reasons to leave Coruscant so compelling that you’d rather take Ayesha to a place with no adequate medical care?”

    Thrawn glanced at Ayesha, whose eyes were now clouded with concern, before returning to the doctor. “No. I will be establishing proper facilities for her. What I would like to hear is your thoughts about the competence of Wookiee healers to monitor her pregnancy in the meantime.”

    Ayesha’s entire face lit up. “I could go and stay with Ada’ Yakooboo for a while?” she asked eagerly. “He’s going to be so happy about it. And Rumpy too.”

    Simon sank into meditative silence. “This sounds like an excellent solution,” he finally said. “Wookiee healers are extremely knowledgeable and should be able to look after you just fine. When are you planning to leave?”

    Ayesha looked at Thrawn questioningly. “By the end of this month,” he said. “At latest, after New Year Fete.”

    The doctor did some quick mental math. “Eighty days into the pregnancy. That’s good timing to plan a trip. Until then, I can recommend one of my former colleagues from Coruscant General Hospital. And of course, if necessary you can always contact me. Either you could bring Ayesha here, or I could come to the surface.”

    Thrawn frowned. “You never come to the surface.”

    “I would for Ayesha,” the doctor said simply. “But only if it’s really important,” he added with a grin. “Make sure you don’t call me for a bout of morning sickness, or I’ll have your hide.”
    JadeLotus, Gemma, Ewok Poet and 4 others like this.
  8. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    May 6, 2003
    Hm, everyone wants to decide what's best for Ayesha, I get the feeling that sooner or later, she will do her own thing just on principle, and that will lead her into danger even more... [face_nail_biting]

    and after all those hints here and there, now I fear for the little one... hope he / she will be okay! [face_praying]
    Gemma, AzureAngel2, Kahara and 2 others like this.
  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    In reply to CG's observation above, Coruscant was never particularly safe for Ayesha. Things were and would continue to escalate until... Now she's pregnant, those who are concerned as professionals (Simon who is also a friend) knows it is best for her to be away. Vos's strategy with the ysalamiri is a brilliant first move. But the whole revelation that even a far distance isn't enough to ward off the Emperor's influence, and now with a child on the way, it's even more imperative!

    Frankly, I wouldn't want to be kept in the dark either, but if I found out later that [face_relieved] it was one less thing a ruthless sadist could pull out of my head and subvert, I'd be indescribably grateful for the hush factor.

    I loved the ultrasound viewing and the discussion. =D= =D= Spending time on Kashyyyk - fantastic! Fantastic! [face_love]
  10. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    This is so bittersweet, saying goodbye to Simon and Umana and Dex. But they understand that she has to be safe, especially now. Her life is going so fast now; it must be hard on her. I hope Thrawn appreciates that she may struggle with the transition. At least she will be able to spend time with her family,snuggling with Ata and Ada.

    My gosh, there must have been a clearance sale on ultrasounds lately... Lol
  11. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    1. It's so cool to experience Ayesha and Thrawn's first "look" at their child—that moment when you realize, "yep, it's really for real." And interesting to learn more about the various ways the Chiss factor is (or might be) manifesting itself: in the shorter gestation period, faster growth, and possibility of eyesight issues (though I wonder if the latter could be made up for by way of something like Force sight). Also, Ayesha's own pregnancy symptoms seem a bit different from the human "usual" in subtle ways—morning sickness and huge appetite together seems like something a bit new and different.[face_thinking]

    2. It is interesting, too, to learn that Simon and Uumana at least tried to have a child together at some point—it puts their current situation in a whole new light. If they once tried, and were unsuccessful, and then Uumana became the way she is now, then that almost certainly means that they won't ever get the chance to try again. It's very sad. :( But then, Simon also says "If two beings as different as a human and a Twi’lek can conceive together and bring a healthy child into this Galaxy..."—so maybe they did successfully have that child. If so, I would be curious to meet that child, who has two very brave and talented parents who have been through a lot.

    3. I'm now also curious to meet Thrawn's doctor! Of course it stands to reason that he and all other high-ranking imperials would have health providers furnished for them. But still, the very idea. :D

    4. It would certainly be wonderful to have Yakooboo back in the picture again, and to have a Wookiee healer (perhaps an old colleague of Messiri's?) would be lovely—I can imagine Wookiee healers treating their patience with the utmost dignity and gentleness, and having some of the Galaxy's best "bedside manner." :)

    5. And finally, à propos these couple lines of dialogue:

    Do I sense some couvade syndrome on the part of our dear Admiral Blue? :p
  12. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    May 6, 2003
    Findswoman, interesting that you mentioned Force sight - that was what came to my mind after re-reading it, too. [face_thinking]

    Which leads us to a totally new possibility I didn't think of before: Ayesha, though not directly Force-sensitive, is somehow connected to it - and the Force often is strong in whole families! :eek:
    Now wouldn't that be the epitome of cool - a Force-sensitive child?
    And that with Palps still in the game - aaaaahhhh, the mere thought...

    And, even more important, will it be a boy or a girl?
    My two credits are on a girl who will wrap Daddy around her little finger, but who knows?
    Wheee, I'm excited! :D
  13. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing [:D] Today's replies are going to be extra-short, because anything I say would give away too much for the upcoming chapter.
    [face_laugh] I think Trak's OC also had a baby recently, so there's definitely something in the air. It must be the spring.

    Funnily enough, that was my cousin's second pregnancy (the one that resulted in the little niece I'm completely gaga about). She didn't get morning sickness very often, but I never saw anyone launch themselves on food that way less than twenty minutes after vomiting.
    And that's my cousin's husband. Both times they became "pregnant" in parallel, with the difference that he never gave birth. His belly now arrives in the room a few minutes before him.

    Thanks again! Next chapter up in a couple of minutes.
  14. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    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 17: Exile

    The next few weeks went by in a blur. Ayesha went dutifully for her check-ups in the Coruscant General Hospital, only to be told that her pregnancy was evolving perfectly normally and that she had nothing to worry about. She had a long discussion with her friends about the Plebeian Exhibition and they agreed that Onion and Tashi would look after her exhibits after she was off to Kashyyyk, but there wouldn’t be much for them to do as most of her works were already sold anyway and would be collected by the buyers when the exhibition finally wound down. “It’s good I won’t need to produce any copies,” she told Thrawn one night. “I’m so excited that I can’t focus on anything. Ada’ and Rumpy will have to take care of making a crib and toys for our little boy.”

    Thrawn arched an eyebrow. “Do we know that the Lifeform is a boy?”

    She shrugged. “No. But I think it will be a little boy. A very smart little boy full of secrets, like his father.”

    “I beg to differ,” he said with a chuckle. “I believe that the Lifeform will be a stubborn little girl, like her mother.”

    She gave him a mock angry look. “You can call me stubborn all you want, I’m not changing my mind. I’m always happy to spend time with Ada’ Yakooboo and Rumpy, especially now, but it’s not them I’m having a baby with, you know. So I’m not leaving until you leave, period.” She paused. “Unless you’d finally care to tell me what all this is about, of course.”

    Thrawn let out an exasperated sigh. “Ayoo’sha, as I have told you many times already, I cannot disclose any details to you before you are safely out of the Emperor’s reach. He will be returning to Coruscant on the twentieth of this month, and I would much rather execute the final phase of my plan without having to worry that you might unwittingly give it away.”

    She shrugged. “I won’t. That’s what Uncle Quin’s plants are for, aren’t they?” Both eyebrows shot up, making her smile. “I’m not entirely stupid, Thrawn. The most brilliant mind in the Navy must have rubbed off on me. Now let’s go to bed. You haven’t had your silent conversation with the Lifeform today and he needs time with his father, seeing as you won’t be around to watch him grow for the next couple of months.”

    All in all, and despite such minor arguments, Ayesha was glowing with joy and happiness. Thrawn was still going every day to the Palace, but he managed to be at home far more often now, and that was enough to keep her satisfied. Meanwhile, the HoloNet channels seemed to focus on the widening divide within the Navy –some officers were siding with Thrawn, while the vast majority stood behind Tigellinus – rather than his individual actions. Words like ‘un-Imperial clique’ and ‘alien-loving coterie’ were being thrown around on the evening news broadcasts, and more often than not it was Captain Parck who found himself challenged by sycophantic holoshills to explain how the scion of a proud Core World family could possibly choose to follow and support an Admiral whose contribution to Imperial warfare remained obscure. “I certainly hope you know what you’re doing,” Ayesha told Thrawn one evening as he switched off the HoloNet display. “I’d be really upset if Captain Parck found himself in trouble because of you.” Thrawn went to speak. “Yes, I know, you do know what you’re doing. But still, take good care of our friends, will you?”

    The next afternoon, Thrawn arrived from the Palace to find Ayesha chatting with Matt Ruud on the conversation circle. “I’m sorry for turning up unannounced, Sir,” Matt said. “Valeria and I just returned from a holiday in Kuat. She’ll be here in a few minutes too, we both wanted to talk to you.”

    “It is a pleasure to see you, Captain Ruud,” Thrawn answered evenly. “There is no need to apologize, you are always welcome in our home.” He sat next to Ayesha, who was munching on a bag of crystallised wasaka berries, and helped himself to a bottle of Forvish ale. “Are you satisfied with your new assignment?”

    “It sounds very interesting, Sir. And I understand that it’s close to your territory in the Unknown Regions. I seem to be edging my way into your task force little by little,” he added with a smile.

    He was interrupted by the turbolift bell. Ayesha opened the doors for Valeria. “You’re beautiful, sweetie,” Valeria told her after greeting Thrawn. “Don’t you agree, Matt? She’s even more beautiful than usual.”

    Matt nodded. “I didn’t want to say it first so the Admiral wouldn't get the wrong impression, but it’s true, you’re radiant, Ayesha. What are you so happy about?”

    Ayesha blushed as they sat back on the couch. There was a slightly embarrassed silence. “Did we say something we shouldn’t?” Valeria asked.

    Ayesha glanced at Thrawn, who gave her a microscopic nod. “No you didn’t,” she said. “What you’re noticing is the deadly cocktail of hormones that drifts around pregnant women. You should keep your distance, it’s quite potent, you know.”

    Matt’s jaw dropped and Valeria and Ayesha exploded with laughter. “That’s wonderful,” Valeria hiccupped when she recovered her ability to speak. “I’m so happy for both of you.” She poked Matt in the ribs. “Say something. You’re supposed to congratulate them.”

    Matt’s eyes went from Ayesha to Thrawn. “I... I’m not sure what to say, Sir,” he stuttered finally. He glanced at Ayesha again. “Perhaps ‘good luck’ would be appropriate?”

    Ayesha stuck out her tongue at him and Valeria rolled her eyes. “Looks like I’m going to have to take care of this bit,” she said. “Okay, Ayesha. Tell me everything.”

    The conversation between the two women revolved around the various issues surrounding a pregnancy – “yes, I get a bit of morning sickness, but not so much, and no, we haven’t thought of baby names yet, we’re still getting used to the idea, to tell you the truth,” – until Valeria took Matt’s hand. “You got your voice back?” He nodded uncertainly. “Then ask them.”

    Matt turned to Thrawn. “Sir, as you know my new assignment with the task force Discipline is a one-year mission on the very edge of the known Galaxy,” he began hesitantly. “We had a long discussion with Valeria and we decided that she would come with me and...” His voice trailed off. He suddenly stood up and gave Thrawn a formal bow. “Sir, will you and Ayesha be our best sentients for our wedding?”

    He was nearly knocked off his feet by Ayesha, who sprang up to hug him. “I believe you can take that as a yes from Ayesha’s side, Captain,” Thrawn said when she moved on to Valeria. “Before I answer for myself however, I want to make sure that you are aware of my situation in the Imperial Court. Having anything to do with me might not be politically wise at present.”

    “If you’re referring to the scuttlebutt I keep hearing about with that mor... with Grand Admiral Tigellinus, that’s really not something I’m concerned about, Sir,” Matt replied.

    “You do understand that I might be losing this round, do you, Captain?” Thrawn pressed.

    Matt smiled. “Sir, do you remember the first thing you told us when you started your Tactics and Strategy seminar in Carida? You said, ‘a good commander is one who never loses a battle, unless he intends to lose it.’ I’ve never seen you lose a battle and you’re the best commander I know. If you’re going to lose this round, it’s because you were planning to lose it.”

    Thrawn eyed him carefully. “It seems that I should have been more cautious in my teaching,” he muttered. “Very well, Captain... Matthias.” He held out his hand. “It will be an honour and a pleasure. On one condition however,” he added as an afterthought. “You must stop calling me ‘Sir’. It would be entirely ridiculous if we are to be family.”

    Matt shook his hand eagerly. “Thank you, Sir.” Thrawn’s lips twitched and Matt laughed. “It’s going to take some getting used to, but I promise I’ll get there in the end.”

    Ayesha hugged him again. “So when are you planning to get married?”

    “I don’t know,” he answered. “We haven’t really planned anything yet.”

    “How about now?” Valeria interjected. Matt gave her a baffled look. “Why not? We’re both here and we have best sentients. Do we need anything else?”

    Matt’s gaze went from her to Ayesha and then to Thrawn, who nodded again imperceptibly. “You’re right,” he said slowly. “Let’s do this straight away.”

    * * *​

    On the nineteenth of the month, Thrawn hurried home around midday when the news broke that the Emperor was due to arrive on Coruscant the next morning. The HoloNet was awash with speculation once more, and overexcited anchors took a perverse pleasure in repeating that His Majesty would discipline the small cabal of officers who had caused undue trouble by setting their sights well above their rank. Ayesha was sitting at the comm desk, browsing for youngling gear, and she quickly interrupted Thrawn’s convoluted explanation as to what the Emperor’s return meant. “Yes, I know he’s coming,” she said placidly. “You told me so last week, and since you were apparently the only one to know it, I imagine you have it all sorted out already. And before you ask, no, I’m not leaving tonight or even tomorrow, but I’ll book passage to Kashyyyk as soon as you have your travel dates.”

    Thrawn sighed. “There is no point in telling you that I will have very little time for us as long as the Emperor is on-planet, is there?”

    “Nope. I’ll take whatever time you have for me.” Another sigh from him attracted a furious glare. “Stop that right now,” she snapped. “It’s the last time we’re having this conversation. We sealed our lifebond now and we’re supposed to be entering a happy period of our lives together, not to be discussing every day how we should be apart sooner rather than later as if we were on the run.”

    “We are very nearly on the run, Ayoo’sha. This is what you fail to understand.”

    There was a long silence. “Then this was not the right time to have a baby,” Ayesha finally said. “Or maybe there is no right time for us to have a baby at all.”

    Thrawn took a step back as if stung. “Do you truly regret that we are having this child?”

    “No,” she replied. “But if the Lifeform is going to have the sort of childhood I did, I will regret it forever.”

    Her tone had turned to deep grief and sorrow and her eyes were clouded with tears. “Ayoo’sha, listen to me,” Thrawn said firmly. “You are letting your fear of the past rule your life. Our child will be safe, healthy and happy. This is what I am working towards and this is what we will achieve. There are only some temporary issues that I need to sort out, but very soon we will not need to concern ourselves with them anymore and we will be a perfectly normal family.”

    There was a silence. “I know you mean this when you say it,” she mumbled. “But... maybe I was wrong, maybe it was wishful thinking, maybe I just talked myself into it... I thought that if we could have a child, we could be a normal family now, or as normal as it gets when we need to leave behind all our friends and our lives and the place where we made our home.”

    Thrawn pulled her in a tight hug. “I understand that these are major changes that you find difficult to come to terms with,” he said soothingly. “Let me propose an intermediate solution. You will stay here but you will remain at home for the duration of the Emperor’s stay on Coruscant. Once he is gone again, we will have a few days to spend together before we both travel out. Would this be acceptable to you?” She nodded. “But you will never leave this apartment during those two weeks, do you understand?”

    “I understand and I promise,” she whispered.

    He lifted her face up with a finger under the chin and gave his best approximation of a warm smile. “Then I suggest that we take advantage of this last day to collect Tam from the nursery and spend the afternoon with him. I am certain that he will miss his namegiver, and he needs to be told that you will be thinking of him, wherever you are.”

    Ayesha hardly saw Thrawn at all after the Emperor’s arrival on-planet. He was spending his days and a good chunk of his nights in the Palace once more, and she mostly heard about him on the HoloNet news channels, where journalists and commentators explained at great length how, in a remarkable display of patience and clemency, His Majesty was actually taking the time to hear from all the parties concerned in the Thrawn-Tigellinus dispute rather than mete out punishment on the spot. The tone of these reports was so fawning and unctuous that she soon gave up on listening at all, and she decided to start putting things away in her workshop instead. However, her bouts of morning sickness, which had mostly subsided by that point, were becoming more frequent once more, and she was often tempted to call a medical assistant or even to go to the hospital. But the sensation of nausea always vanished as soon as she walked to the comm desk, and she assumed that she needed to rest. She ended up spending most of her time in bed, staring absent-mindedly at the lizard-like creatures that were chewing on the leaves of Uncle Quin’s ugly trees and trying to imagine what her life would be once she and Thrawn were safe with their child on the remote planet of the Wild Space where he had made his base. She was usually asleep when Thrawn came home, but he found her a few times wide awake and speaking aloud to her belly, making plans for the future, and even on those nights where she didn’t emerge from her drowsiness as he slipped under the covers, she felt his hand over her womb and huddled in his warmth before slumbering again.

    The end of the year drew near and Ayesha was beginning to wonder if Thrawn’s plan was taking longer than expected, when he came home one night and, instead of curling up at her side like he always did so as not to wake her up, he entwined himself around her and planted a passionate kiss on her lips. His hands were insistent and demanding as they had been in earlier days of their relationship, and she let herself go with the flow, enjoying the moment of intimacy to the fullest as if the world around them did not exist. Only when, sweat-soaked and panting, Thrawn finally rolled to her side, she reached to increase the neuro-lamp setting to maximum and look at him. “It’s over, isn’t it?” she asked.

    “It is,” Thrawn replied. “Tomorrow morning, the Emperor will be leaving to the Deep Core, after a short public ceremony where he will announce that I and my posse of alien-loving supporters are exiled to the Unknown Regions with no hope of return.”

    Her curiosity turned to bewilderment until she caught the hint of a satisfied smile on his face. “Is this what you wanted? You wanted the Emperor to exile you to the Unknown Regions?” He remained silent, as if expecting her to answer herself. “You conspired with the Emperor to be exiled,” she said slowly. “You convinced him that it was in his best interest to make your project in the Unknown Regions appear like a form of exile. Now you have the Grand Admirals off your back and you have a legitimate reason to leave Coruscant forever.” He nodded approvingly. “But why did you need to hide this from me, if the Emperor already knew it?”

    For the first time in months, Thrawn laughed openly as he pulled her close again. “You are incurably curious, Ayoo’sha. All I will tell you for now is that there are things that even the Emperor does not know. Now let us sleep. I am certain that you will greatly enjoy watching the holostream of the ceremony tomorrow morning, and I cannot be late for my last appearance in court, can I?”

    Ayesha stayed in bed until late the next morning, but she was up in time to watch the live broadcast of the Emperor’s brief address to the citizens of the Empire before he departed for the Deep Core. Thrawn arrived home bearing an appropriately contrite expression for one who has fallen in disgrace, but he beamed at her as soon as Corporal Prashat flew away and plopped himself at her side on the couch to watch the Lambda-class shuttle take off from the landing platform of the Imperial Palace. “The Admonitor will be leaving to the Unknown Regions on New Year Fete at dawn,” he said as soon as she switched off the holoprojector. “I suggest that we book your passage to Kashyyyk now, and then we can plan what to do with the five days we have ahead of us. Parck will take care of all necessary preparations for me, and I am henceforth at my lifemate’s full disposal.”

    Ayesha’s last week on Coruscant went by in a flurry of activity and bliss. They spent lazy mornings in bed before getting up and scouring the market for baby clothes and other youngling gear, and Thrawn encouraged her to purchase clothes for herself – “the Nirauan Fashion Concourse offers only limited possibilities,” he said with a chuckle. They usually had a late lunch at Flo’s and returned home to sort out their possessions. They collected their little troupe of friends from the Plebeian Exhibition in the evenings – if Kal and Onion, who followed Imperial politics more closely than the others, were surprised to see Thrawn in such a carefree mood, they didn’t show it – and went out to dinner, avoiding the more upscale places in favour of small, alien-run restaurants where the food was exquisite and exotic and where other Navy officers wouldn’t be caught dead. They even paid a final visit to the Centre – “my morning sickness is completely gone now,” Ayesha said, “Simon won’t like it, but I think we should go and see them anyway because Force knows when we’ll be on planet next time” and attended the premiere of the Rodian play on which Tashi had been working on New Year’s Eve. The actors’ performance garnered a standing ovation, and Tashi’s sets attracted so many compliments that she turned almost as red as her mohawk until Thrawn could steer her out of the foyer and into the speeder. “Let’s go to Gort’s,” Ayesha suggested. “They make the best sulyet on Coruscant.”

    Lamtee rolled his eyes. “Pregnant women and their cravings,” he muttered. “Cheeka, the Yaam sector is thousands of kilometres away. Let’s go to Old Zeltros, nice and easy, because it’s already late and the Capt’ and you are travelling tomorrow.”

    The evening dragged on longer than they had expected, and Thrawn was able to catch only a few hours of sleep before Prashat came to collect him in the morning. “It is time to wake up,” he murmured to Ayesha. “Yes, already,” he chuckled when she groaned. “Your transport is leaving in three hours, and you do want to give your lifemate a proper send-off, don’t you?”

    Prashat looked away discreetly as Ayesha accompanied Thrawn to the door and kissed him deeply, oblivious to the presence of the young corporal. “Vermel will come for you in no more than three months,” Thrawn reminded her. “I am counting on your father and brother to take holographs of the Lifeform’s growth and to feed you appropriately in the meantime.”

    Ayesha laughed. “Don’t worry about that. If Ada’ Yakooboo has his way, I’ll be the size of a fat bantha next time you see me. Now go before I change my mind and jump into that speeder with you.”

    She watched the Navy speeder fly away and made herself a strong cup of caf before she set about sorting out the last of what needed to be sorted out. She put the sheets and bed covers in the sonic cleaner and launched it on the shortest cycle, then emptied the refrigeration unit and took a long shower. Her laundry was ready by the time she came out and she folded it away. She programmed the housekeeping droid to water the Olbio trees and dust the apartment every few days, slipped on her travel clothes and commed the transport company for a speeder cab to the spaceport. She brought her travel bag to the door and was checking that all the lights were switched off when a shuttle with Imperial insignia manoeuvred on the landing pad. Her smile faltered when she saw cloaked Royal Guards step out and amble to the open transparisteel panel. “Ayesha Eskari,” a voice said from under the red hood. “His Majesty the Emperor is requesting your presence.”


    A/N: Sulyet is the GFFA version of sushi/sashimi. The restaurant Gort's appears in Michael Reaves's Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight.
  15. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    May 6, 2003
    Aaaaaaah - Ayesha, run!!!! [face_hypnotized]

    Oh, what a mean cliffhanger!!
    More later... :)
  16. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    Her smile faltered when she saw cloaked Royal Guards step out and amble to the open transparisteel panel. “Ayesha Eskari,” a voice said from under the red hood. “His Majesty the Emperor is requesting your presence.”

    Dang! She was almost gone. Argh! I knew the old, evil man would pull something like this.
  17. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005

    I hate that sheeving sheever of an Emperor.

    Brilliant maneuver on the part of Thrawn. Get his butt booted to the UR so that he is free to do what he needs/wants to do. No one will come after him because they don't want to be associated with him. Makes me think that he and Palps cooked up the idea for him to be inducted into the Canted Circle to tick off the human candidates who had been waiting ahead of him. But working with Palps is a dangerous game. As brilliant as Thrawn is, the emperor is just evil incarnate.
    Now I wonder if Palps "played along" with this whole thing because he knew at some point Ayesha would be vulnerable.

    So the James Kirk of the GFFA is off the market. And a galaxy of nubile young women wept.
  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Happy about Matt and Valeria. @};- The talk about Ayesha's past being echoed and repeated for their child, so incredibly heart-tugging! :(


    I hate that sheeving sheever of an Emperor.
    Seconded and thirded!

    I also am starting to wonder if that was the whole secondary agenda behind the timing of Thrawn's "exile" and departure time: wait till she's vulnerable. [face_nail_biting] Could there have been a way, now that we all think of it, that she could have left with Thrawn or snuck away like Vos seems able to do?
  19. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Wowzers. [face_hypnotized]

    I have to say, of everyone who's stories I've read here, no one is as much of a wiz as you at the gut-punchingly urgent cliffhanger at the the very tail end of a chapter where things are apparently going 100% hunky-dory. And I mean that as an absolute compliment—that sort of thing contributes greatly to the emotional punch and depth of this story and indeed all your stories. I am reminded of the very end of your part 1, which was like that as well and had the same effect.

    Indeed, it seems highly significant that Ayesha's sudden summons to the Emperor comes fairy soon after Thrawn reveals to her his wheels-within-wheels plan of getting himself exiled to the Unknown Regions. It has very much the feeling of being one of those "too clever by half" ideas of his that you mentioned several responses up. I hope to goodness that his strategic cleverness isn't coming back to bite him in the behind: divapilot's right that the Emperor is an especially dangerous person with whom to try such stuff, and who knows for what sheevy purposes he has sent for our heroine moments before her departure (really coudn't have been planned more precisely). And part of me can't help but wonder whether there's a snitch involved, and, if so, who that might be... [face_thinking]

    But, then, the thrill-loving reader in me is also kind of excited at the directions in which this will take the story. :D

    And all that serious stuff aside, it's so nice that they had the time to enjoy some tender moments and to just hang out together and with friends, to shop a bit for youngling stuff, to speculate about their child, and to enjoy some culture and fine dining (sulyet sounds fab) before Thrawn's departure. It was fun to see Matt and Valeria again—seems like a while since we've seen them—and I enjoyed Matt's nonplussed reaction to Ayesha's pregnancy. Wonder if he and Valeria will end up with a little one of their own in due course! :D
  20. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 25, 2013
    This I adored and thought was so cute!!!

    But the Cliffie with Palpatine wanting to see her --- made me say 'Oh NO.....'
  21. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Ch 14

    The progression of Thrawn's anti-public relations campaign continues, I see. :p

    We know there's a plan (isn't there always?) But I share Ayesha's concern that this will backfire in the end...

    Onion's 180-degree change of opinion from his first meeting with Thrawn is really funny and I like it even though I'm not sure I share his assessment. They're so different they're alike, almost. [face_laugh]

    I really love how Nazmat demands the presence of "all her children" at her deathbed -- including Thrawn. That he doesn't make it until late seems in line with how he's become distracted by his plans to the extent that they're blotting out other aspects of life.

    Beautiful portrayal of the funeral, both during and with Ayesha's circle of friends afterwards. Thrawn's speech is wonderful, even as I have mixed feelings about how it seems to serve a double purpose -- furthering his "get exiled" plan. [face_thinking]


    The details on how a Wookiee burial is conducted (and that Nazmat chose to have one thanks to Ayesha's influence) are really interesting and touching. It has that sense of letting go rather than holding on, and I can see how that would appeal to her. All this not wanting a fuss or to be grieved over -- genuinely well-meaning on her part, but difficult in practice. So it's good that they understand it on that level and manage to honor both her wishes and the needs of mourning.

    Ch 15

    Chef Gormaanda reference! [face_dancing] It makes me so happy when the most random bits of canon make it into fanfic. It's a broad and occasionally silly universe for all its drama. ;)

    [face_laugh] Thrawn and Ayesha's running competition to see who can be the most over-the-top flirt of the two of them always makes me grin. One of the positive aspects that I really like about the relationship that you've established for them is their playfulness and sense of joy in each other. I suspect they're both able to show a side that few if any knew existed. (Would any of Thrawn's subordinates believe that he has such a sense of humor? Maybe a few of the closest like Parck, but precious few I'd think...)

    And the announcement of Ayesha's pregnancy was both sweet and hilarious. Poor stunned and overwhelmed Thrawn.

    This section was just amazingly emotional:

    I don't know that I have any coherent comment. Just "aww." [face_love]

    Ch 16

    Nice to see Simon and the gang again, even though we apparently won't again for a while. I especially liked the background scenes of Ayesha sort of introducing Uumana to the Lifeform and how she quietly tries to include her friend in this visit every way she can. All the discussion of how the "Chiss factor" might change the pregnancy and so on is very interesting. (And I'm a little curious given the comments on Kiffar here and elsewhere -- are they only "alien" by the GFFA's cultural definition rather than biology?) Kind of wrenching to hear that Simon and Uumana were hoping to have kids at one point.

    Wookiee healers sound like a good idea -- if she makes it to them, given the later cliffhanger... [face_nail_biting]

    Ch 16

    Hmm, and Thrawn's way of handling all of this continues to worry me. He really does seem to mean well by it (in the extreme, even), but there's such a thing as too much of being managed. I can definitely see in Ayesha's reactions that she is trying very hard not to stress him out even as he's worrying over her (the battle of two mother avians :p) -- but she can't shake the doubts either and that comes out in her questions.

    Matt and Valeria were a nice surprise, and likable as always.


    The discussion of how they are "nearly on the run" and Ayesha's fears that the Lifeform will repeat her own chilhood experiences is one of those that tug at the gut-level emotions, as this story so often does!

    And then the cliffhanger. I have so much beyond a bad feeling about this it's in a whole new category.
  22. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Good morning [:D] Thank you all for reading and reviewing -- it's going to be another set of very short replies, because spoilers and all that, but I still wanted to say thanks all for your kind words.
    Thank you [face_blush] You have no idea how encouraging this is for me -- I never had to manage this sort of effect in my original fiction writing, and these scenes/chapters take a lot of work.

    [face_laugh] I need to write up at some point another "deleted scene" where Thrawn and Onion talk about art. They disagree about everything yet think it's the best conversation they ever had.
    I'm glad someone noticed this -- that was my idea when I was writing, and I was thinking that, if Ayesha hadn't been busy mourning her master, she would have bitten his head off.
    Browsing the food entries on the Wook has got to be one of my favourite time-sinks. It's amazing the number of zany references you can find in there :p
    Oh, not even Parck! I seriously doubt anyone other than Ayesha ever saw Thrawn "let go". Except... well, just read on.
    Uumana is someone Ayesha cares for deeply, but not only because they're friends. It's also because Ayesha fears/knows that she might become like Uumana, and that's why she needs to believe that Uumana is still in there somewhere.
    The Kiffar are something of a Legends oddity because they're defined as near-Human, but there aren't any visible differences from Humans at all. There are also several cases of Kiffar having children with Humans in Legends, without that being a problem at all. When we discussed this on the Fanon Thread with Gamiel, we came up with some minor differences, e.g. the Kiffar having some psychometric ability, or being more resistant to electricity than Humans, but it's nothing particularly striking. My personal fanon on this is that the Kiffar were so isolated from the rest of the Galaxy for such a long time because of the electrical storms surrounding their planets that they ended up being "culturally" defined as near-Humans, i.e. both being perceived as not completely Human by outsiders and thinking of themselves as a sub-species of Humans. This would also apply to the Chiss in my view, whose physiological differences from Humans don't really warrant calling them a separate species (in the case of the Chiss however, their cultural identity is much stronger and more bellicose, and most of them would refuse to admit that they have common origins with Humans.)

    Thanks again, everyone! Next chapter coming up in a few minutes :)
    AzureAngel2, Findswoman and Kahara like this.
  23. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Content warning for this chapter: violence (Yup, that's me giving you a content warning!)

    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 18: The Admonitor

    Two months later...

    The Admonitor was gliding to the rendezvous point several thousand parsecs away from Terminus, the Empire's jump-off spaceport for the deep black of the Unknown Regions. Corporal Prashat and Major Vermel stood one step behind Admiral Thrawn and Captain Dagon Niriz in the hangar bay as a shuttle made its landing. The boarding ramp opened with a hiss and a young officer came out. “Lieutenant Balam Hartsil, requesting permission to come aboard,” he said with an arrogant salute.

    “Permission granted,” Thrawn replied in his cool, calculating fashion. “To what do we owe the unexpected visit?”

    “Prisoner transfer from Coruscant, Sir.”

    Thrawn cocked an eyebrow. “The Admonitor is leading a mapping expedition. This is not a prison ship.”

    Hartsil’s mouth curled into a smile. “The orders come from the highest levels of COMPNOR.” He held out a datacard. “The Empire has taken relatives of alien leaders hostage to keep those worlds in line. This one has been allocated to your guard.” Prashat took the datacard and handed it to Thrawn as Hartsil turned around. “Bring the prisoner.”

    Thrawn inserted the card in his datapad and started reading it when Prashat gasped at the sight of the silhouette that stumbled down the boarding ramp. It was Ayesha. She was in a pitiful state. Her torn, stained jumpsuit was sagging on her frame, her hair was dirty and matted, she had a black eye and there was caked blood on her brow and around her mouth. Her right arm was hanging at an odd angle in the wrist irons, and she seemed barely able to walk. The crewman leading her by a pole appended to the collar around her neck pushed her forward none too gently, and she fell to her knees on the durasteel floor, staring blankly ahead. Vermel took a brusque step towards her.

    Thrawn’s face remained perfectly impassive, but his eyes were swirling with molten lava when they moved back to Hartsil. “Would you care to explain this, Lieutenant?” he said in a voice so cold that a shiver ran down the assembly’s collective spine. “This missive states that the hostages are to be treated with utmost courtesy. Can you tell me why this one looks like a high-security prisoner fresh out of a brutal interrogation?”

    There was a hint of a smirk on Hartsil’s lips. “She gave us some trouble on the way here, Sir. We had to restrain her.”

    “Your shuttle has a crew of eleven, plus a squad of stormtroopers,” Vermel spluttered in defiance of all protocol. “Surely twenty-five men can contain a single woman without beating her to a pulp?”

    Hartsil opened his mouth to speak. “Silence, Lieutenant,” Thrawn snapped. He turned to his men. “Corporal Prashat, comm Doctor Cottle and inform him that a priority case is coming in. Major Vermel, please help Miss Eskari on a stretcher and take her down to medical. Company Commander LaRone?” An armour-clad stormtrooper stepped forward. “Lieutenant Hartsil and his crew are under arrest. You will disarm them and escort them to the detention block.”

    Hartsil smirked again. “If you read the datacard to the end, Sir, you will see that Grand Admiral Zaarin is ordering that we be returned to his command immediately.”

    “I am invoking Directive Six-Twenty-Two to countermand the Grand Admiral’s orders,” Thrawn said glacially. “There has been a clear breach of regulations in your handling of this prisoner, and you will be subjected to the appropriate investigation.” The smile disappeared from Hartsil’s face and his hand moved to his sidearm. LaRone raised his E-11 rifle a notch. “I strongly advise you to comply, Lieutenant,” Thrawn added. “Sedition on your behalf would force me to invoke directive Five-Ninety-Five as well.” Hartsil hesitated. “May I remind you that Directive Five-Ninety-Five authorizes me to order Commander LaRone to shoot at will,” Thrawn went on with cold murder in his voice. “Surrender your weapons immediately. I will not repeat myself.”

    Vermel took a step towards the crewman who was still holding the pole with which he had pushed Ayesha down the ramp. “Keys.” The other man gave Hartsil a questioning look. Vermel pulled out his blaster and held it to his head. “Now!” he ordered as LaRone directed two squads into the shuttle. He grabbed the keys from the terrified crewer and detached Ayesha’s collar and handcuffs. She let out a cry of pain and collapsed to the floor.

    Thrawn watched a medic lift her limp form cautiously and lay her on a hoverstretcher before removing her leg irons and steering her away, then turned to the crew who were now filing out of the shuttle. He kicked Ayesha’s binders towards Hartsil, and, after a curt nod to LaRone, he turned to Captain Niriz. “The bridge is yours until further notice, Captain,” he said coolly, but there was a thread of fury in his voice. He turned sharply on his heel and followed Vermel to the turbolift.

    An Emdee droid was hovering around Ayesha, cutting away her jumpsuit to reveal multiple bruises, and Doctor Cottle was readying medical equipment as Vermel and Thrawn reached the sick bay and stood outside the small transparisteel cubicle. The overhead scanner slid up and down her body twice and results started scrolling on the monitor. A string of curses escaped the doctor’s lips as he lifted Ayesha’s eyelid. She stirred vaguely when he shone a bright light in her eye. Vermel had averted his gaze from her naked body but held Thrawn back as the Admiral took a step towards her. “Can you hear me, Miss?” the doctor asked gruffly.

    “Don’t,” she whispered in terror. “Please don’t.”

    “Miss, I’m Doctor Sherman Cottle. You’re on the Imperial Star Destroyer Admonitor. You’re safe now. Can you follow the light with your eyes?” She was still mumbling incoherently. Cottle waved his little lamp a little. “Follow the light,” he pressed.

    “I don’t want,” she gasped.

    The doctor took another look at the monitor and swore again. “I must take you to surgery. I’m going to sedate you, okay?”

    “No,” she breathed. “I don’t want... I don’t want... Please!” she screamed when he pressed the hypospray to her neck.

    Her body fell limply again on the bed as the sedative took over. Cottle covered her with a sheet and went to steer the hoverstretcher to the hallway. Thrawn shoved Vermel aside and barged into the room. “What happened to her?”

    The doctor looked up. “Admiral, this is not the time...”

    Thrawn grabbed him by the collar so brutally that he almost lifted his feet off the ground. “What happened to her?” he repeated in a growl that could have belonged to an animal.

    Vermel intervened to separate the two men. “The Admiral is Miss Eskari’s lifemate, Doctor,” he explained softly. “In these circumstances, he is her next of kin and should be informed of her condition as well as your plans for treatment.”

    The doctor nodded and glanced at the monitor again. “She’s been beaten up pretty badly,” he grunted. “Ruptured spleen, broken ribs, fractured skull. Both her right shoulder and elbow are dislocated and there are at least two fractures to her arm. There’s also a half-healed stab wound to her lower abdomen” – he took a deep breath – “and signs of repeated sexual abuse and torture.” Thrawn sank on a chair and buried his face in his hands. “She needs surgery now. There’s blood leaking into her brain and abdominal cavity, and both could be fatal. It’s a miracle she’s still alive.”

    Vermel stood aside as the doctor pushed the hoverstretcher to the door. “She is pregnant,” Thrawn croaked. “She is twenty-seven weeks pregnant.”

    Cottle gave another, cursory glance at the monitor and shook his head. “I’m sorry, Admiral.” There was a brief silence. “We must take her to the operating theatre immediately. This can’t wait.” He motioned for the Emdee droid to help him with the stretcher.

    Vermel pulled Thrawn to his feet and followed the macabre procession. Cottle turned to them when they reached the doors of the operating theatre and went to speak, but Thrawn interrupted him. “I will wait here,” he said distractedly, and he sank into a chair again.

    “I’ll try to keep you informed regularly, Sir,” the doctor said grimly. “Bear in mind that this is going to take several hours.”

    Vermel came to stand at Thrawn’s side as the doors slid shut behind Ayesha. “With your permission, Sir, I’ll go and check that the prisoners aren’t giving Commander LaRone any trouble.” Thrawn waved absently and rested his elbows on his knees to hide his face in his hands again.

    Prashat was standing in the hallway outside the sick bay. “The Admiral is by the operating theatre,” Vermel told him. “Go and hide somewhere in there in case he needs anything.” Prashat’s eyes were welling up with tears, but the major didn’t pay attention. His usually kind face had become hard and dark by the time he got off the turbolift and entered the brig. The officer and soldiers manning the consoles stood to attention and LaRone, who had been punching in authorisation codes, gave him a crisp salute. “Any trouble, Commander?” Vermel asked.

    “Nothing serious, Sir,” LaRone said in the electronic voice that filtered out of his helmet. “I put them all together in the cage and cuffed them to the bars, to make sure they can’t cook up anything more.”

    “Good,” Vermel said. “Come with me.” The stormtrooper followed him to the area where the shuttle crew were held. Vermel went straight to Hartsil, pulled out his blaster and held it to his head. “What did you do to her?”

    The smirk was back on Hartsil’s face. “My, my, you too? I thought the little slut shacked up with the blue guy, but apparently one loser wasn’t enough for her.” Vermel flipped his blaster around and slammed the handle into his jaw. Hartsil spat blood and what looked like fragments of a tooth. “You’re going to regret this,” he grunted, “you and that alien freak you follow. Grand Admiral Zaarin is going to skin you alive.”

    It was Vermel’s turn to smirk. “You forget that we are in the Unknown Regions, Lieutenant,” he said, emphasizing the title. “Your shuttle was ambushed by the Ebruchi pirates and was destroyed as you left the rendezvous point. There were no survivors.” He turned to LaRone. “Commander, if you would be kind enough to prepare a report to that effect, I will file it under my name.” His eyes swept the group of prisoners. “You’re already dead, all of you. You’re finding out a bit late that little pieces of scum like you are expendable to your dear Grand Admiral. Now you better watch your mouth if you want your death to be painless. Admiral Thrawn won’t be as merciful as I am.”

    He took a step towards the door. “We was just havin’ a bit of fun on the way,” one of the prisoners spluttered. “Gran’ Admiral Zaarin said it was okay, he said the woman was a military whore.”

    Vermel turned around sharply. He set his blaster for stun, pointed it at the man’s crotch and fired at point-blank range. The prisoner wailed in pain. “How many of you raped her?” he thundered. There was no answer. He rammed the blaster into the man’s genitals, eliciting another scream. “Tell me who raped her or I’ll shoot again.” The prisoner remained silent until Vermel switched his blaster to fire and pointed it again. “I’ll give you five seconds to speak. One, two, thr...”

    “All of us,” the prisoner whispered. “She put up a helluva fight though.”

    “Who beat her up?” Vermel barked.

    “The lieutenant,” the prisoner said. “And some of the stormtroopers.”

    Vermel turned to Hartsil and fired a live shot in his knee. “Good luck to get medical attention for this,” he grumbled as the other thrashed and screamed. He switched his blaster back to stun and checked the level gauge. “Only ten stun blasts left,” he muttered. “Commander LaRone, stormtroopers are your department, feel free to discipline them as you deem appropriate.”

    The prisoners’ cries could still be heard when the turbolift doors closed on LaRone and Vermel. The stormtrooper took off his helmet and looked at the major straight in the eyes. “Meizh, I trust you and you’re my superior officer. I followed your lead in there, but we don’t normally torture people just for the heck of it on this boat. What in the blue blazes is going on?”

    The major sighed. “You remember the woman Prashat kept ranting about when he first came on board? He told everyone she was the Admiral’s wife and Thrawn never managed to rectify?” LaRone nodded. “Well, that’s her.”

    There was a silence. “I’m sorry to say this, Meizh, but I still have a problem with what we just did,” the stormtrooper said cautiously. “That bunch of brutes deserve a court-martial, but we don’t torture. Certainly not for vengeance.”

    Vermel’s face hardened. “This wasn’t a random rape, Daric. It came from Zaarin. It was vicious and personal. If I know Thrawn, he’ll chop off their balls and feed them to Zaarin for breakfast.”

    There was another silence. “Do you think the hostage warrant is bogus?” LaRone asked.

    “Probably not,” Vermel answered. “Her father is a Wookiee chieftain, so it makes sense.” He didn’t notice the baffled expression on LaRone’s face. “But I don’t get how she found herself in Zaarin’s clutches,” he muttered. The doors opened as the turbolift reached the bridge and LaRone put his helmet back on before they walked to the command chair and saluted Captain Niriz and Commander Parck. “Permission to speak freely, Sir,” Vermel said before the Captain could talk.

    Niriz nodded. “Permission granted.”

    Vermel looked around to make sure no one was within earshot. “You need to release Commander Parck from duty for the next few days, Sir,” he said in a low but firm voice. “The Admiral isn’t coming back to the bridge anytime soon, and if he tries to, he shouldn’t he allowed.”

    Niriz looked from Vermel to Parck, who looked just as surprised as him. “I don’t suppose you would bother explaining this to me?”

    “I will, Sir, even though I feel I’m encroaching on the Admiral’s privacy here,” Vermel replied. “May I suggest however that we retire to your private office so as not to be overheard, and that Commander Parck goes and checks on the Admiral while we talk. Prashat is with him right now but I don’t think he can handle this situation.”

    Parck listened to Vermel’s whispered explanations on the way to the Captain’s office and rushed to the turbolift as fast as military decency would allow. Thrawn hadn’t moved a millimetre when he arrived in the sick bay. The Commander dismissed Prashat, who merely took a few steps back, and sat at the Admiral’s side without saying a word. Their wait was only interrupted by the Emdee droid, who came out twice to say that Ayesha’s surgery was moving forward, but warned that there were complications. Doctor Cottle finally emerged from the OR a full six hours later. Thrawn sprang to his feet.

    “She’ll live,” the doctor said in his gruff manner before the Chiss could ask, “but I can’t tell you in what shape. We fixed her spleen all right but we won’t know about her brain until she’s awake and that won’t be for a while. The droids are transferring her to a bacta tank now, but she’ll need another surgery for her arm.”

    Thrawn looked at him haggardly. It was unclear if he’d taken in a single word the doctor said. “I want to see her,” he muttered.

    “Admiral, I don’t recommend that,” Cottle answered. “It’s a rather distressing sight right now.”

    Thrawn shrugged. “I want to see her,” he repeated more firmly.

    Cottle’s eyes moved to Parck, who gave him a microscopic nod. “Okay,” he growled. “Come with me, but you’ve been warned.”

    He gestured to Parck and Prashat to stay put and led Thrawn to a large room where bacta tanks stood in a row along the wall. Ayesha was floating in the second one from the left. She had lost so much weight that her breasts had shrunk to virtually nothing and every one of her ribs was clearly visible through the gelatinous liquid. Her hair had been shaved for the operation and there was a wide line of stitches running from ear to ear over her head. Her right arm was encased in a splint that looked like a torture device, with plastoid rods sticking out of her shoulder and elbow to keep it apart from her body. There were more stitches on her belly and a deep scar marked the stab wound on her lower abdomen. The dim, bluish lights of the room enhanced her deathly pallor. Had her eyes not been rolling in their sockets under her eyelids, one would have thought the body floating in the tank was a corpse.

    Thrawn took a few steps and reached to touch the transparisteel wall. He trembled violently and, under the doctor’s stunned gaze, he fell to his knees and cried like a child.



    From this chapter onward, we are in 3 ABY.

    Dagon Niriz is introduced in Timothy Zahn's short story Command Decision, which takes place between chapter 17 and 18 of this fic.

    Daric LaRone is one of the stormtroopers of the Hand of Judgement.

    I wish that I could say that Dr. Sherman Cottle is an OC, but he's not. I spent hours developing a military doctor persona until I realised that the character I wanted existed in Battlestar Galactica, so I went ahead and borrowed him.
    yahiko, JadeLotus, Ewok Poet and 2 others like this.
  24. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    May 6, 2003
    OMG, I'm crying here...

    Well, I knew something bad was about to happen, but this is worse than I feared.
    At least she is safe now, my hope is that she recovers from this ordeal...
  25. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Echoing CG. @};- One of the hardest things I've read since registering around here. :eek: JadeLotus' marvelous "Insatiable" severed Luke and Mara in a heart-wrenching, seemingly final way. I know A. and T.'s journey back will be arduous. :( But her tormentors deserve what?! No corner, no mercy. =D=