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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. JadeLotus

    JadeLotus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 27, 2005
    Okay, so I'm finally caught up with this fic! Loved the earlier chapters with Quinlan Vos (interesting to see he's still alive at this point in the timeline!) as well as learning more about Ayesha's childhood and the bond with her Wookie family.

    My favourite part of the fic is the interaction with Vader, and even though Ayesha can see glimpses into his mind, she doesn't perhaps quite understand what she's seeing or can possibly comprehend what it means. She knows so much about Vader and his life as Anakin and now that Luke is his son - and yet while she's emotionally affected by what she's seeing, she's quite curiously detached from what it means on a wider scale, perhaps because they are so far out with little information on what's happening in the Core. She knows Luke is a rebel leader and that he's Vader's son, but I wonder what she thinks of that - her viewpoint is limited to Vader's mind so she sees him, perhaps, as Vader sees him. It's very interesting.


    This whole section is just brilliant, with Ayesha coming into her own, being able to articulate that the terrible crimes committed against her didn't just "happen" and can't be brushed aside - someone did them to her, they were deliberate acts that can't be undone no matter how much Thrawn loves her. I got a shiver down my spine and then fist-pumped the air. Go Ayesha!

    Still, it's nice to see that she was able to talk things out with LaRone and Azada, and look outside her own perspective and understand maybe why Thrawn won't just throw of the Emperor - at some point she has to let go of her anger if she is ever to properly heal - whether or not she ever feels she can return to being Thrawn's lifemate. There's a lot she can blame him for, working for the Emperor and propping up an evil and unjust system of rule that condones everything that happened to her - and yet on the other hand Ayesha was also living within the system, benefiting from Thrawn's position and influence (and to a lesser extent Vader's). If either of them had known what the Emperor had planned for her or the true extent of his evil, she would have run far, far away long ago, maybe even taking up with the Rebellion or at least going into hiding on Kashyyyk or with Uncle Quin. Both she and Thrawn underestimated Sheev, they were both blindsided, and I wonder how much of her anger at Thrawn for failing to protect her is also anger at herself.
     
  2. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    It is hard to tell what awes me more. Your story or the comments made to it. I always try hard to come up with something clever and witty. Especially after a stressful working week that has not allowed me to be on-line in the evenings.

    Most of the time I only manage to gather my tired bones and walk those 5 minutes to the nearby fitness centre, happy that LaRone is not there and waits for me.

    With immense pride I make it to my fitness activities there (= Spine Gymnastics, Wellness Yoga/ Hathra Yoga and/ or my 120 minutes long fitness program for my arms, my back & my belly). And then I go swimming (= in the 25 metre swimming pool, the fun pool with experience showers or the whirlpool. Or I enjoy myself in the wellness area downstairs (= experience essences in the Finnish dry cabin, within the crystal Aroma bath or the blockhouse rooftop sauna, the bio-sauna, the Ottoman steam bath & ice igloo). But afterwards I am even more tired though immensely happy. Like Ayesha snuggling into the embrace of her Wookie foster-father.

    But then I am not very intelligent with a crystal clear analysis of your story. [face_blush]

    In the latest update I see that Ayesha improves for the better and it is logical that her emotional outbursts will stay for a good while. I wonder how Zarin will fare after his political stunt. I certainly wish him all the worst in the universe. But since old Palpy is such a powerful sith, I fear that he had seen this uprising coming and developed a plot within the plot of a plot. :rolleyes:

    Let us see when Thrawny & Ayesha will be re-united.
     
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  3. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    There is a lot packed into this chapter. It is good to see that Hartsil and co. will finally be getting their just desserts. I agree with LaRone that there definitely is something Vader-like in Ayesha's flash of hatred toward them—gives an interesting dimension to the Vader-Ayesha bond that I can't wait to see explored further. (And those seventeen days are still somewhat of a mystery, of course... or am I mixing them up with the 26?) The fact that Ayesha's scared of it too shows maybe that she has more clarity on her mental situation than she gives herself credit for.

    The Zaarin business is an interesting development. I'm still not quite sure what to make of it (if I were better up on my EU literature I might be more so), but I could totally see the Rebellion jumping on it. Of course it also postpones the inevitable and necessary Thrawn conversation... but perhaps for the best. [face_thinking]

    In any case, I found it sweet how LaRone uses the Talz nickname "kookud" to Ayesha. [face_love] And of course it's wonderful to see Reis Azada continuing to be such a source of strength to Ayesha, and to see a cameo (even if just of the "mentioned only" type) of the one and only Foul Moudama [face_dancing]. What you're doing with the Talz and their customs is just so cool—that Festival of the Stars was just incredible, and isn't just pure peace and quiet what our heroine and heroes need right now? (Heck, I wish more Earth festivals could be nice and quiet like that!) That and games in the snow with a big furry shaman, of course! :D
     
  4. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 6, 2003
    Haha, bad reviewer #2 ist back, too! :D
    I'm not gonna go into detail here, as this was oh so much information, and I'm almost on my way to the old capital for a meeting - but hey, I have to find a way to read the new chapter between talking about stuff-that-won't-change-anyway all day... :rolleyes:

    Looking forward to the great dramatic showdown... :D
     
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  5. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 25, 2013
    I'm glad that the Hand of Judgment liked the peaceful celebration. And that Ayesha is getting help from a Force user - makes sense since the invasion into her mind is being done through the Force. I loved how she invited the boys to play in the snow with her.
     
  6. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014

    Who's #1? :p
     
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  7. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! Some quick replies before we move on to chapter 32.
    The unholy alliance between Zaarin and the Rebellion is mentioned in canon, but I elaborated on it for this story. My interpretation of it is based on what happens often in RL situations of insurrection/civil war -- you don't always get to choose your allies :(
    Why am I not surprised? :D
    It's a good thing that Vader is busy looking for Luke, isn't it?
    Thanks! The Wook is one of my Bibles right now (together with the Essential Chronology and Timeline Gold) because I haven't played TIE Fighter, but since all the Zaarin stuff is happening off-screen (off-page?) it makes things easier :p
    I'll make sure I post very early on Thursday morning then!
    Thank you! You arrived at the right time, I guess -- part II is ending in the next few entries.
    Writing this aspect is one of the most exciting bits for me, as you can imagine :) It's also interesting because of the limited knowledge Ayesha has of these things. She isn't big on galactic politics in general, despite her anti-slavery activism and her claims that she would join the Rebellion, and until this chapter all she knew about Luke was his name. Now she can see his face on the "wanted" posters, but in a sense he's still nothing to her -- he would just be another rebel in the newspaper if he weren't Vader's son. Her emotional tie is to Vader/Anakin, so what affects him affects her.
    The answer to that would be, "a lot", and for many reasons. It's not like she didn't know that having an Imperial officer as her lifemate wouldn't make things complicated for her, and she knew that she should keep away from the Emperor way before he started intruding in her mind at the Plebeian Exhibition. Also, she put a lot of effort and had several arguments with Thrawn that he treat her like an adult, so she knows that she shouldn't have surrendered her own safety to him. On the other hand, she's now realising slowly that she can't be taking her anger out on him all the time, so possibly, maybe, things will get better (okay, you know me by now, don't count on it :p)
    I'm blessed with fantastic readers and reviewers, and you're definitely one of them [:D]
    =D= I think you'll have your answer on Thursday.
    Also on Thursday... sort of.
    Ayesha has every reason to be terrified right now. She's experiencing these huge, random mood swings that have little, if anything, to do with what she is doing at any given moment, and she has previous experience of what it means not to be in control of your own mind. The fact that she's not too well in her head in the first place, Vader or no Vader, doesn't help either.

    As for the 17 vs 26 days -- the 17 days are the time it took for Hartsil's shuttle to bring her to the Admonitor, but the 26 days are still a mystery of sorts... until Thursday ;)
    Welcome back! [:D]
    Coming soon to a thread near you :D

    That's the Wookiee in her :p If she could, she's bring them over to Kashyyyk to play in the trees.


    Thanks again, everyone! Next chapter coming up in 5, 4, 3...
     
  8. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

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

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

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

    Chapter 32: Farewell

    New Year Fete came and went. Vermel arrived from the Core once more some five weeks later with fresh newsflimsies and stories of battles, ambushes and counter-ambushes between Zaarin’s followers and the Imperial fleet – loyalist forces had managed to rescue the TIE Defender technology from Zaarin’s very own Research station, only to be attacked by Rebels and pirates at the rendezvous point. “The good news is that we got most of the Defenders,” Vermel explained as he sat with LaRone and Ayesha around the kitchen table. “The bad news is that the Nami pirates got their grubby hands on some and they’re trying to replicate them. The Admiral is leading the campaign to stop them.”

    LaRone’s face became sombre. “Pirates with Imperial tech... I don’t like the sound of that. Pirates are the reason I joined the corps in the first place, and those who harassed us on Copperline weren’t that well-equipped. With Defenders... I don’t even want to imagine the chaos they could cause.”

    “They won’t cause chaos,” Ayesha said absent-mindedly. “Thrawn will get them all.”

    Vermel gave her a curious look. Her face was blank and her eyes were glassy, but she didn’t elaborate and he didn’t dare to ask. “The Admiral will be successful, Daric,” he rejoined. “You know how brilliant he is, a mere pirate gang couldn’t defeat him.” He stood up. “Miss Eskari, I have a letter for you. Should I give it to you now or would you rather I drop it in your quarters on the Admonitor?”

    Ayesha shrugged indifferently. It was unclear whether she had taken in the Major’s question. He hesitated for a second, then saluted and left.

    “Are you okay?” LaRone asked as soon as Vermel walked out the door. “Hey!” he exclaimed, poking her in the ribs when she failed to answer. “Are you there?”

    She brought her gaze back to him with great difficulty. “I don’t know,” she whispered. “He’s driven. He’s incredibly driven. He’s seeing things and he’s preparing something big.”

    The stormtrooper gazed at her for a moment. “You should really see the Doc,” he said finally. “I know we spaced your check-ups but –”

    “There’s no point, Daric. I don’t need Doctor Cottle to tell me that I’m getting worse, I know it. I’ll go to Reis Azada now, before it becomes too bad.”

    Her daily visits to the shaman now systematically began and ended with what she called ‘therapy sessions’ where she sat on his lap while he tried to push Vader’s thoughts out of her mind. “There is a new cause to your anger,” he noted one morning when she finally stood up, visibly calmer than the moment she had walked into his home.

    She nodded. “It’s true. Now I’m angry at him too. He’s stealing my love for you. I don’t like coming here as your patient.”

    The Talz tilted his head understandingly. “You are not my patient, kookud. I would never expose myself to such darkness if it weren’t for your love. Now sit and meditate. You need to relearn the self-control techniques your mother taught you.”

    She had told him succinctly how Messiri had helped her manage the memories of Paraseel Malki’s torture when she was a child, and he insisted that she use that experience against Vader’s intrusion in her mind. “It’s useless,” she often told him after the meditation session was over. “It doesn’t work like that. Ata’ Messiri taught me how to keep away bad memories, things that happened in the past. But now he’s inside my head.”

    The shaman’s eyes widened in disapproval. “You must relearn, kookud. Your mind is fragile because of this intruder. What will you do if old memories resurface?”

    She sighed. “I’d probably become like Uumana, but you know what? Maybe it would be for the best. I can’t take much more of this. This is not a life.”

    Reis Azada’s eyes widened further. “Do not say such things,” he said. “Your father is waiting for you to return. Fate has burdened you with this curse, but it can be overcome. When the Padshah is back, he will find a solution.”

    “Thrawn has no idea about these things,” she snapped. “If he did, he wouldn’t –”

    A stern look from the shaman silenced her. “It is true that the Padshah knows little of the ways of the Force, but you can enlighten him if you choose to talk. The matter is entirely in your hands.” She opened her mouth again. “Say nothing. You know that I speak the truth. Now come here and let me soothe you. You let anger control you again and your meditation has gone to waste.”

    Meanwhile, the Hand of Judgement’s training programme for the Talz was drawing to an end. “We didn’t do too bad, if I say so myself,” Brightwater said with a satisfied smile when they informed her that the graduation was planned for the fifteenth of the month. “A brand new battalion in forty weeks, and you should see the scout troopers. They look astral on their speeder bikes.”

    “What he isn’t telling you is that our engineers had to sweat blood to adapt the bikes,” Quiller interjected. “Between the size of the Talz and the cold, there was a lot of retrofitting to be done. I won’t miss this planet, it’s really just a frozen rock.”

    Ayesha gave him a sad smile. “Not even our neeya?”

    LaRone placed an arm around her shoulders. “We’ll all miss our neeya, little sister. But we’re not losing him forever. We know where to find him, and we’ll be back.”

    The morning of the graduation came, and Ayesha watched in awe as the weather shield reformed above their heads after the Lambda-class shuttle had touched the ground, but her admiring musings about Talz ice sculptures were interrupted by a beaming Captain Niriz. “I am pleased to announce that the so-called Zaarin insurrection is over,” he said without preamble as soon as he stepped on the boarding ramp. “I received word moments ago that he was soundly defeated last night. I know that I granted you a week of shore leave, but you must hasten your departure. The Admonitor will head out tomorrow morning to meet the Admiral who is now on his way.”

    The five stormtroopers grouped around the Captain and listened excitedly to his explanations – the brief message he had received on the emergency relay said that Zaarin had fled into the Unknown Regions with stolen cloaking technology, unaware that Thrawn had a tracking device planted aboard his ship – but Ayesha experienced an overwhelming wave of grief. She excused herself from the ceremony and ran through the snowy alleys to Reis Azada’s kashana. The shaman did visibly not expect to see her outside his door, but she flung herself in his arms and burst out sobbing before he could speak, and all he could do was to hold her until she quieted down.

    “What is it, kookud?” he asked as the grey light of dusk started filtering through the windows. “Why such anguish and sorrow?”

    “We’re leaving tomorrow morning,” she whispered. “The Captain said Thrawn is coming. We won’t even have time to say goodbye.”

    The Talz tightened his hug. “This is a good thing,” he whistled. “Extended farewells only prolong the pain of parting. It is time for you to move on.”

    She shook her head like a stubborn child. “I want to stay with you.”

    “I cannot protect you forever, kookud,” Reis Azada chirped softly. “As much as I try, I cannot fight the darkness inside you. This is something that you must ultimately overcome yourself, and the Padshah can help you. He brought this intruder into your soul, he will do now what is necessary to make him leave.” He paused. “You need not fear your encounter with the Padshah,” he added. “He is not a man to bear a grudge for the misery you caused him.”

    Ayesha sat up abruptly and gave him a furious look. “I didn’t cause him any misery. It was him –”

    The shaman buzzed a mirthless laugh. “The Padshah has more to apologise for than he will ever know, and you will live forever with the consequences of his failure. That much is obvious. However, in your sorrow, you made things worse for the both of you. You sought to hurt him, believing that it would alleviate your pain, but your pain is eating away at your soul. You must talk to him, not to hurt him but to share the burden.” He paused again to scrutinise her face. “Am I wrong?”

    There was a long silence. “You don’t understand, neeya,” Ayesha said in a small voice. “I can’t talk to him. He’ll want to know everything and it will break me.”

    “But to not speak your pain will poison you forever,” the shaman countered. “This is why you should have put more effort to master your self-control. I have told you this before and I will say it again, the choice is yours. Yet I know that you will not be broken.”

    She snorted. “How could you know that?”

    “I have faith in you,” he said simply. “I know that you have survived much already. I foresee that you still have much to do in this Galaxy and that you have much to live for.” A single claw trailed from her forehead to the tip of her nose, leaving the faintest of scratches. “You are a powerful sentient, you are a Wookiee and now you are a Talz,” he added in a whisper. “You will not fail the Padshah and you will not fail yourself.”

    It was late at night when Reis Azada accompanied Ayesha back to the guesthouse. “I will leave you here,” he said once they had walked half the distance. “This is where our ways part. But a little piece of us will always remain here.” He tapped his claws to his chest, then to hers, and pulled a small chain with a pendant from his satchel. “This is a pearl from my homeworld. Keep it in memory of the old Talz who loved you. Now go, and do not look back. Do not waste your life looking back at what could have been. You must look ahead to what will be.”

    LaRone emerged briefly into the hallway when she closed the door of the guesthouse behind her. “I know you’re sad,” he murmured sleepily as he gave her a hug. “But it’s time to go, and who knows? Maybe the Admiral will have good news for you. Maybe next time you’ll come here because you want to, not because you’re following five poodoo-heads who are trying to save the Galaxy.”

    She escaped his embrace before he could see her cry and went to her room. Her possessions were soon packed and she lay in bed, but sleep didn’t come and she kept tossing and turning as Reis Azada’s words played over and over in her mind. “You need not fear your encounter with the Padshah,” he had said, but panic was taking hold of her as she sought to imagine this conversation and the recollection of Royal Guards ambling on the landing pad floated insistently in front of her eyes, interspersed with flashes of eagerness, anger and hatred that weren’t hers. Her head was aching. She tried to breathe and meditate, but more unbidden images and thoughts came to her mind, and she finally sprang to her feet and looked around haggardly, as if seeking a way out.

    Her gaze fell on the thick fur cape that she would be wearing for the last time in the morning, and she suddenly made up her mind. She slipped on her warm clothes and hung the Alzoc pearl pendant around her neck. She gazed for a moment at the Troukree knives that were laid on the bedside table next to her panic button, then shrugged and sneaked out in the empty corridor to make her way to the landing pad. She deactivated the shield protecting the Baratta from the cold and walked inside. Once in the cockpit, she discarded her cape to the floor and sat in the pilot’s chair, trying to remember what Quiller had taught her of the pre-flight sequence. She was about to pull up the boarding ramp when a voice said behind her, “There isn’t enough fuel, you know.”

    She spun around to see Quiller standing in the doorframe. “What are you doing here?” she spluttered.

    He ignored her question, came to stand at her side and pointed at a gauge on the display. “There isn’t enough fuel even for a single jump. You wouldn’t make it home if you left now. You’d drop out of hyperspace somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and you’d be stuck there until life support runs out. Then you’d freeze to death before you even ran out of oxygen.”

    She gave him an angry look. “How do you know that’s not what I want?”

    “Because you’re smart,” he countered, not seeming remotely taken aback. “Freezing in space is a stupid way to die.”

    There was a long silence. “Let’s go back to the residence,” he said finally. “You don’t want LaRone to find out about this.”

    She blushed intensely, suddenly looking very ashamed of herself. “You must think I’m a horrible, manipulative person and a drama queen to boot,” she mumbled.

    “No,” Quiller said simply. “I just think that you’re unhappy and scared, and you don’t know how to cope with it. I’ve watched you go down a durni hole since we came here, and we all know that you’re suffering. I’m just saying LaRone shouldn’t know about this because I need my boss to sleep at night.” He picked her cape up and draped it around her shoulders, then pulled the hood over her head. “Come on, let’s go. Freezing on land isn’t a very smart thing to do either.”

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

    Author's note (the Ewok Poet special): we're now in 4 ABY.
     
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  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    =D= I love Azada in this - his forthrightness & loving compassion. He tells it like it is but so gently! :) :) Quiller & LaRone's continued support/friendship are invaluable!

    The stuff with Vader is coming to a crucial point. [face_thinking] But I too have faith in Ayesha. @};- She may feel fragile and brittle to herself, in particular, but she's got an amazing resiliency and too many in her corner. [face_love]
     
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  10. JadeLotus

    JadeLotus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 27, 2005
    Troubling that Vader's mind seems to be taking over Ayesha's bit by bit - but I suppose that's to be expected. I'm very curious as to how aware Vader is of the connection, what he has been seeing, and whether any of it is deliberate on his part. With it being 4 ABY things now seem to be coming to a head and I'm very intrigued as to what will happen as Endor approaches.

    Poor Ayesha, escape is blocked at every turn as she tries to avoid seeing Thrawn again - but she needs closure if nothing else.
     
  11. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    One always dies a bit inside when one had to leave behind someone who's been a dear friend, mentor, and benefactor all at once. And Reis Azada has done just about more than anyone in helping Ayesha endure and make sense of these Herculean mental struggles of hers (though in his way Cottle has come close), so it's completely natural that she'd be so shattered to leave him. But he's right that The Talk (to use that phrase in a completely different way from usual) with Thrawn had best come sooner rather than later, as undoubtedly tough as it will be. He manages to tell her that in a way that's firm and no-nonsense and yet doesn't deny the damage that's already been done. And of course I'm wondering if she or the five troopers will have a chance to see their wonderful neeya again. (Do I sense some Chekhov in his gift of the pearl?)

    And just what was this stubborn heroine of ours trying to do in that cockpit? Commandeer the ship and take it... where? To Kashyyyk, maybe? To somewhere where she wouldn't have to confront Thrawn, no doubt. Good thing Quiller intervened, or she would no doubt have come to a sticky end.

    And 4 ABY is here, as is the end of part two of the story—and if the last one is any indication, I know Big Important Things happen at the ends of parts of this story! Jitters! :eek: Will the events of that year [hl=black]ease some of the mental strain on Ayesha or make it worse?[/hl] Or both at once in different ways? Looks like we'll find out soon...
     
  12. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    This story does not represent my views on mosquitos in Ulan Bator and there is not enough Gordon Shumway in it. Please, gimmie some Melmac and ABSOLUTELY NO tabby pot pies before bed time. :(

    *ahem*

    This is the calm before the storm, right? Except that it's not really calm and one can see that something will break.

    She brought her gaze back to him with great difficulty. “I don’t know,” she whispered. “He’s driven. He’s incredibly driven. He’s seeing things and he’s preparing something big.”

    Well, we all know what it is, don't we? Yikes. This moment of connection was particularly scary as Ayesha seemed so "out there", that LaRone had to poke her. Good grief. O_O


    The Talz tilted his head understandingly. “You are not my patient, kookud. I would never expose myself to such darkness if it weren’t for your love. Now sit and meditate. You need to relearn the self-control techniques your mother taught you.”

    I want to marry this guy and have beautiful, furry, four-eyed children. He is such a great opposite to Ayesha in her current state, with his love-love-and-nothing-but-love philisophy.


    And thanks for the author note. :)

    * May edit this later, I can't brain today.
     
  13. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! I'm going to skip the replies for now, first because I'm late for work, and second because EP might initiate an invasion of Greece by Serbian mosquitoes if I don't post before she leaves on holiday, but I'll be back asap.

    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 33: Endor

    The Admonitor sped across the Unknown Regions to rendezvous with Thrawn’s new ship, the Grey Wolf, and Ayesha tried to settle back in her life aboard the Star Destroyer. Stent had worked hard while she was on New Alzoc. He had put his language skills to good use when discussing the comparative advantages of Chiss clawcraft and Imperial TIE fighters with the ship’s engineers, and he had begun teaching Basic to an ever-growing group of Chiss pilots who were envious of his ability to communicate with the Human crew. “It is a blessing to have you back,” he told her in the clipped Imperial accent that had rubbed off on him over the past six months. “I am nowhere near as good a teacher as you. With your help, Syndic Mitth’raw’nuruodo’s Household Phalanx will now be transformed.”

    She could tell that his pleasure at seeing her was genuine, but his face was set in the impassive Chiss expression that so reminded her of Thrawn that she experienced a surge of panic again, and all she could do was to mumble a vague ‘thank you’ before she fled his presence.

    Her awkwardness since they were back on the Admonitor did not escape LaRone, but his attempts to get her to confide in him, or merely to visit Doctor Cottle for a mild tranquilizer, were unfruitful. “What must happen will happen,” she always answered, shaking her head. “There’s nothing you, or I, or anyone can do about it anymore.”

    “You sound like someone who’s walking to their death,” he told her once.

    “I don’t know. But what must happen will happen.”

    As the days went by she found it increasingly difficult to separate her own anguish from Darth Vader’s eager anticipation of a development she couldn’t understand. She sometimes caught glimpses of eyes – red eyes, blue eyes, yellow eyes – and, although she couldn’t always place who they belonged to, she could sense that her visions pertained to men who would change the course of Galactic history, and her life. She was increasingly confused and distracted, and when a morning came where she was in the training room alone with LaRone – the Hand of Judgement were taking turns to join her every day until they could finalise the reports and debriefings from their sojourn on New Alzoc – she didn’t actually react to the beep of the stormtrooper’s comlink that signalled Captain Niriz requesting his presence on the bridge.

    “You stay here,” LaRone said firmly. “There are lots of exercises that you can do on your own. I’d rather know you’re here beating the blazes out of this punching bag than fretting in your room. Or here’s an idea, you can dance. Maybe that will calm you down, and you really need it.”

    He activated the sound system and went to the changing room to put on his armour, leaving Ayesha alone on the training mats. She closed her eyes and tried to focus on the music – it was one of the pieces Vaantaar and his fellow Troukree had played for her on Life Day – but before she could even understand the rhythm a discreet cough broke her concentration.

    Thrawn was standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame with his arms crossed. He was wearing the white uniform of a Grand Admiral. The silence between them grew heavy as neither knew where to start, and Ayesha spoke first. “Congratulations on your promotion.”

    He shrugged ever so slightly, as if reaching the highest level of command in the Empire were an entirely indifferent matter. The silence grew heavier, until she couldn’t take it anymore. “Is there something you want to talk about?” she finally blurted.

    “I came to inform you that Grand Admiral Zaarin is dead.” He spat the name with utter loathing. “He sought to jump to hyperspace in a cloaked ship, believing, on the basis of falsified information I had leaked to him, that it was safe to do so. He is now nothing more than interstellar dust. He failed to heed my warnings that he would die by my hand when he least expected it. My only regret is not to have torn his heart out of his chest with a blunt blade.” He paused. “The crew of the shuttle that brought you here are also dead. I signed their execution order and I activated the airlock myself.” He paused again and continued, choosing his words carefully. “I understand that to seek vengeance is not the Way of the Wookiee. I also understand that this does not remedy my many failures towards you. I am not asking for your forgiveness, for I know that I do not deserve it. I am merely asking you to understand that, in the eyes of a Chiss, this was not vengeance. This was justice and it had to be dispensed. I can only hope that you will think of this Galaxy as a safer place now that the men who... who did these things to you are gone.”

    He gave her a formal bow and spun on his heel to leave. “It wasn’t those men who deserved to die, Thrawn,” she called after him. “It was the Emperor you serve.”

    He turned around sharply to look at her again. “I investigated that possibility,” he said as calmly as he could. “The idea crossed my mind given the circumstances of... The idea crossed my mind. Yet I could not find a shred of evidence, or even an indication that this was the case. His Majesty was in the Deep Core when you left for Kashyyyk. I tracked his communications, he was not informed of COMPNOR’s manipulation by Zaarin until –”

    “He wasn’t in the Deep Core. And I didn’t go to Kashyyyk.” Thrawn arched an eyebrow. “I was there, Thrawn,” she said with a bitter laugh. “I can tell you for certain that he wasn’t in the Deep Core. It was the Emperor who took me, and you just killed Zaarin in his service.”

    “Do you mean –”

    The words came tumbling out of her mouth. “You know what he did to me? You want to know what the Emperor did to me? He went inside my head and he checked every one of my thoughts. He was trying to find out why Lord Vader was protecting me, but I wasn’t giving him the answers he wanted. So he looked for my deepest fears, the ones I never told anyone about, and he made me live them. He made me live them, every single day, for I don’t know how many days. He was in my head all the time!”

    She was shouting now. Thrawn took a brisk step towards her. “Stay away from me!” she yelled. “Stay away. I’m not done yet.” She was trembling violently and her eyes were darting in all directions. “And then... then, when I couldn’t fight back anymore and he found what he wanted, when he found the name of Luke Skywalker... then he wanted to punish me. So he took a Force pike from one of the Royal Guards, and he stabbed me in the belly, and he showed me everything in my head – every detail of how he was killing my baby. I could see the baby thrash and die, and I could hear the Emperor laugh – and he enjoyed it you know, he really enjoyed it, because he knew I couldn’t tell you, he knew –”

    She suddenly let out a scream of pain and fell to the floor, clutching her head with both hands as if it were about to explode, flailing and writhing like one possessed as she shouted gibberish in Old Kiffar. A dismayed Thrawn knelt at her side, visibly at a loss how to restrain her without hurting her. She was biting and kicking and hissing at him like a rabid asyyyriak when an armoured hand pushed him aside brutally and a hypospray materialised on her neck. “This is LaRone,” the stormtrooper barked in his comm. “Someone get Doctor Cottle. I have an emergency case coming in.”

    * * *​

    It was late afternoon by the time LaRone could complete the tasks assigned to him by Captain Niriz, and he changed to his crew jumpsuit before heading to the med lab. Ayesha was lying on a hospital bed in one of the transparisteel cubicles, her wrists and ankles restrained by padded cuffs. A fresh bag of sedative had recently been attached to her drip line. Thrawn looked up from his chair when the stormtrooper’s shadow in the doorway obscured the small room.

    “I apologise for overhearing your conversation with Miss Eskari, Sir,” LaRone said hesitantly. “I was halfway through putting on my armour when you arrived. It wasn’t my intention to snoop.”

    Thrawn waved absently and nodded for LaRone to sit at his side. There was a long, heavy silence. “It was right in front of me,” the Grand Admiral finally said, his tone dripping with bitterness. “Her travel bag was still on Coruscant, Vermel brought it here. Of course she had not gone to Kashyyyk.” He paused. “I spent months alone in our apartment, wallowing in my memories, berating myself for my failure to foresee that my enemies were scheming to hurt her, without seeing it at all. It was quite artfully done. Zaarin’s fingerprints all over the data trail, his authorisation code on every document, which he was no doubt happy to supply... Falsified records of the Emperor’s whereabouts and communications, perfect timing to claim that she was taken from Kashyyyk to Research and then here, absolute necessity to keep her on board...” He gestured towards Ayesha’s sleeping form. “Clever manipulation to plant the seeds of mistrust while I would focus single-mindedly on taking out her rapists... and this heinous failsafe, that speaking the truth was tantamount to self-destruction. I can only imagine how he revelled in this knowledge. I had sought to fool him, and either way, he won. Yes, it was artfully done.”

    He went silent as Doctor Cottle stepped in and walked to the bank of monitors. He looked at a screen where two curved lines were jolting up and down wildly and sighed. “How is she doing?” Thrawn asked.

    “The same,” the doctor grunted. “The same, which means bad, terribly bad. Her mind has gone in overdrive. I don’t expect that she’ll be less hysterical when we wake her up.” He stared at the monitor for a moment. “You wouldn’t happen to have a Jedi handy, would you, Admiral? We’ve been through this already. Vader doesn’t seem to be around, and I can’t keep her sedated forever.”

    Thrawn turned to LaRone. “Can you read poetry, Commander?”

    Cottle gave him a furious look. “Admiral, this is not the time to discuss your taste in art. We need to focus on the matter at hand.”

    “I am focusing on the matter at hand, Doctor,” Thrawn answered glacially. “Commander LaRone, can you read poetry?”

    “I guess so,” the stormtrooper said a little shyly. “We used to recite stuff in school, my teachers said I was good.”

    “Then we will wake her up and you shall read her this,” the Grand Admiral ordered, handing him the small, leather-bound volume he was balancing on his knee. “She will no doubt be screaming and thrashing at first. Ignore her and keep reading, slowly and steadily. A friendly voice and a familiar text might bring her back.”

    LaRone glanced doubtfully at the book to see the title Silences from the Edge of Life embossed on the black cover. “And if it doesn’t work?” he asked.

    “I will think of something else,” Thrawn said with a sigh. He stood up. “I will wait outside. I have caused enough damage as it is.”

    He pulled a chair into the hallway and watched Doctor Cottle fiddle with the drip line. LaRone opened the volume and started reading, tentatively at first as he tripped over the unusual rhythm of Namajib Eskari’s poetry, but he soon steadied himself and he had found his pace when Ayesha began to stir. He was so absorbed in the book that he didn’t notice when her eyes swivelled around wildly as she took in the room, and he nearly lost his balance when she let out the gut-wrenching howl that Thrawn had anticipated, but he quickly overcame his distraction and ploughed on, dropping his voice by an octave to a slow, musical rumble akin to the Talz shamans’ incantations as they gazed at the stars.

    Ayesha’s screams grew so loud that Doctor Cottle had to activate the privacy shield around her bed, trapping her with LaRone in a soundproof bubble to protect his other patients, but Thrawn didn’t need to hear. He could remember every one of her cries of terror, every one of her convulsions when she had broken down at the mere mention of Paraseel Malki’s name; and he could recall every verse from the book – every word of pain and despair that the poet had committed to his daughter’s memory, every word of guilt for failing to protect her, but also every word of love, of trust in a better future, of hope against hope that, some day, she would walk free. As the minutes stretched into hours and Ayesha kept wailing uncontrollably, he could see LaRone’s exhaustion – sweat was beading on his brow, tears were running from his eyes and he had to suppress a sob every time he turned a page, but he was not conceding, refusing steadfastly to abandon his friend in her ultimate hour of need. He reached the final poem and Thrawn’s lips formed the words with him, as if reciting a prayer. The stormtrooper tempered his pace even further, articulating the last lines as slowly as he could, visibly at a loss what to do next, but when he closed the little volume and looked at Ayesha, his face shone with relief. The Child With No Name had found her way out of the chaotic labyrinth of her mind and her glassy eyes were focusing on him at last.

    Thrawn let go of the breath he didn’t know he was holding, and he watched on as Doctor Cottle deactivated the privacy shield and started fussing over Ayesha while LaRone murmured words of comfort in her ear. He stood up and stepped aside so as not to be seen by her – her eyes were still darting around like those of a cornered animal and he feared that his presence might bring about a relapse – but his search for an adequate place to hide while remaining close by was interrupted by Corporal Prashat.

    “This came for you on the emergency channel, Sir,” the young corporal said, handing him a datapad. “It’s encrypted with your private code.”

    The Grand Admiral took the datapad and keyed his personal commands to display the text.

    My friend, the message read,​

    The trap has been laid in its finest details and the time to obliterate the Rebellion has come. The Rebels are currently amassing their forces near Sullust in a foolish attempt to attack my new battle station and to take my life. Needless to say that they will be sorely disappointed.

    You are to gather every ship under your command and join me in the Endor system immediately. I will be waiting for you aboard the Death Star, where you will assume command of the Imperial Fleet. With your strategic skills and the help of the Force, we will bring about the end of this pitiful clique who deluded themselves into believing that they could challenge the might of the Empire.

    As always,

    Your Emperor

    Thrawn’s eyes were still swirling with molten lava when he entered the Captain’s private office a few moments later. He saluted Niriz and Parck, who had been waiting for him, and took his seat at the head of the meeting table.

    “I have received my orders from His Majesty the Emperor himself,” he said, placing the datapad in front of him. His voice was so cold that the two Human officers shivered, but he ignored them and continued. “The Admonitor and the Grey Wolf are to conduct a reconnaissance mission to the edge of the Galaxy. You will not engage in combat. You will merely map any potential threats in the uncharted area of space beyond Matta Thryne. Is this understood?” Parck and Niriz nodded. “Commander Parck, you are hereby promoted to Captain. You will assume command of the Grey Wolf. The remainder of the task force will patrol the systems under the authority of the Empire of the Hand to ensure the keeping of the peace. Once I return from the known Galaxy, we will proceed with the reorganisation of our fleet into two task forces.”

    “Am I correct to understand that you will not be leading this mission, Sir?” Niriz asked.

    “I am leaving immediately, Captain,” Thrawn answered. His voice was even colder than before now, if that were possible. “Corporal Prashat is preparing a shuttle for me as we speak.” An ominous smile touched his lips. “I have a... very personal appointment with His Majesty on the Forest Moon of Endor.”

    END OF PART II
     
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  14. divapilot

    divapilot Game Winner star 4 VIP - Game Winner

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Oh my.

    I have been swamped with end of school year responsibilities but now that summer break is finally here I have caught up with ths amazing story.

    And oh, oh my.

    I love how you've woven the thread of Fate (heh heh see what I did there?) throughout this story. It's Ayesha's fate to have fallen for someone so closely connected to her worst nightmare. It's Thrawn's fate to have all those skills and intelligence at his disposal and yet they are useless when it comes to protecting the woman he loves most dearly. Such a horrible thing for her to have to endure; it's a statement of her strength that she didn't completely break apart earlier.
    She keeps reminding me of Antigone, which I am sure is not accidental.;)

    LaRone is an amazingly devoted brother to Ayesha. If anything can reach her, the sound of his trusted voice reading her father's loving words may be it.

    Excellent, amazing work.
     
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  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Yes, that is it in succinctness. Excelent, amazing! Not only is this heart canon but head too. How this interweaves with the OT so seamlessly! =D= I too am floored by LaRone. He is a literal blessing. @};-

    Glad Ayesha was able to vent, Thrawn certainly needed to know that. :(
     
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  16. JadeLotus

    JadeLotus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 27, 2005
    Oh, Ayesha - horrifying to learn exactly what was done to her - this add such an interesting dimension to the earlier ESB scene between him and Vader she witnessed - "I have no doubt that this boy is the offspring of Anakin Skywalker" - because Ayesha is how Palptine found out, and Vader must have known that's how he knew and was twisting on the knife. Wow.

    And Thrawn to learn just how easily he was manipulated by Palpatine - artfully done, indeed. Is Thrawn almost impressed? As much as he is horrified and angry, there seems to be a level of detachment in one master gamemaker acknowledging the superiority of another. But then the ending...since he is defying orders and going alone it clearly is a very "personal" matter indeed - I gather a desire to make the Emperor suffer as much as Ayesha did.

    I forgot to say in my earlier replies that I loved Doc Cottle - I saw you mention he was inspired by the character in Battlestar Galactica, whom I also adored and I can just picture his gruff, no-nonsense attitude!
     
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  17. divapilot

    divapilot Game Winner star 4 VIP - Game Winner

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Oh man, if I am interpreting JadeLotus correctly - since Palps knew that Vader could be present in her mind, when Palps himself stabbed Ayesha and murdered her child so violently, and then projected the image so graphically into her mind, the intention was really to show Vader? So Vader would see the baby stabbed and dying, and understand that this is what the emperor intended for Luke (metaphorically)?

    Oh that is evil on an incomprehensible scale. He isn't even killing the baby to hurt Ayesha or Thrawn. They are just being used as the conduit to project sadistic pain onto a third person, Vader. :eek:
     
  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Argh! That is demonically evil!
     
  19. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 6, 2003
    Oooh, the Sheevster is in so much trouble, I'd say... [face_devil]
    And what JadeLotus said. I also thought that Thrawn was almost impressed by how His Sheeviness played this.
    Hm - so Thrawn will be present at the Battle of Endor?
    Maybe this is how he later knows in TTT how Palps manipulated the Imperial fleet with battle meditation ("like puppets on a string", I think his words were, and, after Palps died, "fighting on like cadets" or something; I don't remember the exact dialogue with Pellaeon any more). Now this will be interesting!

    Oh my, poor Ayesha; horrible, just horrible. :(
    But this last sentence gives me hope: "The Child With No Name had found her way out of the chaotic labyrinth of her mind and her glassy eyes were focusing on him at last."

    Whew.
    SO waiting for Monday. ^:)^[face_nail_biting][face_praying]=((:)
     
  20. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    The Talz tilted his head understandingly. “You are not my patient, kookud. I would never expose myself to such darkness if it weren’t for your love. Now sit and meditate. You need to relearn the self-control techniques your mother taught you.”

    His friendly, almost fatherly love goes deep. I wonder if our heroine can recognize how deep Thrawn´s love for is. Still!


    The words came tumbling out of her mouth. “You know what he did to me? You want to know what the Emperor did to me? He went inside my head and he checked every one of my thoughts. He was trying to find out why Lord Vader was protecting me, but I wasn’t giving him the answers he wanted. So he looked for my deepest fears, the ones I never told anyone about, and he made me live them. He made me live them, every single day, for I don’t know how many days. He was in my head all the time!”

    She was shouting now. Thrawn took a brisk step towards her. “Stay away from me!” she yelled. “Stay away. I’m not done yet.” She was trembling violently and her eyes were darting in all directions. “And then... then, when I couldn’t fight back anymore and he found what he wanted, when he found the name of Luke Skywalker... then he wanted to punish me. So he took a Force pike from one of the Royal Guards, and he stabbed me in the belly, and he showed me everything in my head – every detail of how he was killing my baby. I could see the baby thrash and die, and I could hear the Emperor laugh – and he enjoyed it you know, he really enjoyed it, because he knew I couldn’t tell you, he knew –”

    She suddenly let out a scream of pain and fell to the floor, clutching her head with both hands as if it were about to explode, flailing and writhing like one possessed as she shouted gibberish in Old Kiffar. A dismayed Thrawn knelt at her side, visibly at a loss how to restrain her without hurting her. She was biting and kicking and hissing at him like a rabid asyyyriak when an armoured hand pushed him aside brutally and a hypospray materialised on her neck. “This is LaRone,” the stormtrooper barked in his comm. “Someone get Doctor Cottle. I have an emergency case coming in.”

    So, Palpatine is indeed the sadist I always feared him to be. :eek: I hope he feels his death on the second death star and every death that might come after that. Full force!

     
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  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I wonder if our heroine can recognize how deep Thrawn´s love for is. Still!

    Ditto!
     
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  22. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    And another fabulous third of a fantastic story draws to a close. =D=

    There's of course still very much an "Ochsen am Berge" feeling in the inevitable conversation with Thrawn, of course. But it makes perfect sense given that they're only just now starting to talk to each other again, and it will certainly take more than one conversation (more than conversations in general) to mend what's broken between them—if indeed they want that mending to happen. Also makes sense somehow that it's in this conversation with Thrawn that we finally found out what happened during those "missing" 26 days with the Emperor. I figured it would be some kind of terrible mind torture, given that that's a major specialty of His Sheeviness, but the sheer horror of the particular form this took—torturing the baby while projecting all the sensations of that torture onto the mind of the mother—was still a fall-off-the-chair surprise to me. Earlier on, back when Ayesha's pregnancy was first introduced, I remember being concerned about the possibility of the Emperor using Ayesha's child as a way of getting at her. Well, that he certainly did—though in a way I never would have guessed in a million years, but still one that's absolutely 100% in keeping with his low-down, sheevy nature. And I must say, as thoroughly evil and demoniacal as he is, your characterization of him is just plain superb.

    Though now I guess we now know that there really is no hope of getting the Lifeform back. :_|

    Some echoes of the end of part 1 are showing themselves here: like part 1, this part closes with Ayesha in uncontrollable, terrible hysterics that are the aftereffects of mental torture. Only this time we know much more about Ayesha's history of this sort of thing and have a clearer picture of what she's feeling and what this kind of reaction means. And Thrawn by now knows enough about it that has a plan for helping her—one involving her father's incredible poetry, read by her new "brother." Art really does have more healing power than people give it credit for.

    Speaking of parallels, we see yet further examples of the amazing ways you have managed to integrate this epic with the Saga: the different eye colors (I have a few guesses about whose they are), and the fact that [hl=black]it's from Ayesha that the Emperor learns about Luke Skywalker.[/hl] Indeed, given that this part ends on the way to Endor, it looks like the three parts of Anánke correspond very much to the three movies of the Saga—and that not only chronologically but also thematically. The cháris (grace) of part 1 accords with the newness, beauty, and pristine excitement that pervades ANH. The erinýs (vengeance) of part 2 reflects the increasing darkness and "striking back" of ESB (and how fitting that this final chapter includes Thrawn's vengeance against Zaarin and his explanation of the Chiss concept of vengeance and justice). No doubt the moîra (fate, destiny) of part 3 will explore the concepts of "it is your destiny" that are such a major theme of ROTJ. Just a guess here. :D

    And of course I can't wait to see how the events of this story will interlace with the pivotal events of Endor. Monday! Monday! Monday! =D=
     
  23. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! I'm going to reply properly this time, since I'm not going to work today, and then on to Part III, chapter 1 :)

    Chapter 32
    Thanks! It's good that I didn't reply to this comment last week, actually -- most of answers, if not all, are in the upcoming chapter, so all you have to do is scroll down [:D]

    Thanks! You too will find an answer in the upcoming chapter :) I'm leaving the Vader perspective open-ended along the lines of "Ayesha has a role to play in the Force", because I don't like it when there are too many technical details of what's going on in the Force :p but I hope it kind of covers your question.

    Thank you! Reis Azada should definitely be back at some point in part III. He's just a delight to write, and the Unknown Regions are the one area of the Galaxy that is sheltered from the mess about to take place. The pearl is just a pearl though, it won't save anyone from anything ;)
    Where she was planning to go... I don't know, and I think she didn't know herself. She's not in her right mind at this point, because she knows what is going to happen to her if she talks to Thrawn.

    Ahem. The first part of the storm hit the fan in chapter 33. And now the second part is coming up in chapter 1 of part III [face_whistling]
    Can Ewoks interbreed with the Talz? I think we need a Fanon post about it :p


    Chapter 33
    Thank you! As usual your comments are so totally spot-on that I can't really find an answer that doesn't give it all away, but I can confirm that the Theban dynasty will make an appearance in the quote I'll use as an epigraph... for the epilogue ;)

    PS: Oh, and enjoy your vacation [:D]

    Thank you (again!) And yes, Ayesha definitely needed to vent at some point -- speaking the truth may have been self-destructive, but not speaking it was so too, especially with Vader in her head.

    Thank you! Chapter 33 was intended (among other things) as an explanation for the dialogue between Ayesha and Vader in chapter 20

    And to answer divapilot's later comment...
    ... yes, Palpatine used Ayesha against Vader, but not by projecting Ayesha's pain in his mind. He used her as a pawn to get the information Vader was hiding from him, believing that this would enable him to assert his control over Vader again. BUT. BUT. The one thing he hadn't counted on is that Thrawn would get Vader to put Ayesha in a healing trance, and that this would create the mental bond between Ayesha and Vader. Until now I wrote about how Vader's thoughts invade Ayesha's mind, but what you'll see in the upcoming chapter (and what Palpatine has no idea about) is that some of her thoughts seep into his as well.
    Thanks again! I thought that this would be the "normal" reaction for Thrawn in this situation: rational analysis followed by cold fury. Not knowing about the Vader/Ayesha mental bond isn't the only way in which Palpatine overplayed his hand -- because of course a moment would come when it would happen to him, like it happened to Thrawn. He also didn't consider that Thrawn would find out about being manipulated, and that Thrawn wouldn't like it, not one little bit. Now the question is, will he make it to Endor on time?
    Yay, a fellow Doc Cottle fan! I absolutely love that character. If I ever decide to write a BSG fic, he'll be the protagonist for sure.

    Will he? It's happening soon, very soon... [face_whistling]
    Hehe. You might be on to something here... [face_whistling]
    Thanks! Monday is here, so just scroll down :)

    I think she'll get there in the end... Don't you? :) ;)
    I won't be saying much about Palpatine's second, third, fourth death in this fic, but you won't have to wait long for the first one...

    Thank you [:D]
    Thanks! One of the most remarkable scenes in ROTS for me -- purely for Ian McDiarmid's performance in those few seconds -- is the moment when, after Anakin has chopped off Mace Windu's arm, Palpatine unleashes more Force lightning, and he's screaming in hatred and laughing at the same time. In my view, that's the moment when the viewer is given to understand the meaning of evil: it's not only that Palpatine does unfathomable things, it's that he enjoys doing them. Given the structure of this story I didn't have the opportunity to write such a scene, but I wanted the idea to be there.
    Yes, but... [face_whistling]
    :) There's more of that coming up just now. It was a difficult chapter to write, I hope it won't disappoint.
    And a rather good guess too :D I can't claim credit for the idea though, it was right there in the Thrawn Trilogy for me to plagiarise unashamedly, but I love the thematic structure of the OT and of course I was going to use it here.
    Monday is here! [:D]

    Thanks again, everyone! Part III is starting now.
     
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  24. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    An author's note before I start: unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past few days, you've heard that Greece is (again!) a terrible mess. I'm trying to keep away from Greek politics to preserve my sanity, but it's not always possible and updates in the coming two weeks might be a little erratic.

    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]

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

    Part III: Μοῖρα (Fate)
    “Who then is the helmsman of Necessity?
    The three-shaped Fates and the mindful Furies.”
    Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound


    Chapter 1: Liberation

    Ayesha was so shaken by her descent into madness that Doctor Cottle had her spend two weeks in a bacta tank, for lack of anything better to do. “I have no idea when she’ll recover!” he barked in frustration one night when LaRone asked him, for the umpteenth time, if her condition was improving. “I have no idea if she’ll recover, and I have no idea if she can even recover. I’m a doctor, not a wizard! I’ve been monitoring this woman for over a year, I saw her nearly die on my watch, I had to break through her barriers, I had to improvise when she had visions... and all I can do for her is to stick her in bacta because I still have no idea.” He slammed his fist on the console. “And that Chiss barve waltzes in and sends her into a tailspin, and then he waltzes out again before we can think of a proper solution – and before we can even tell him that a raving lunatic took control of her mind! Because he’s back, you know.” He pointed at the monitor, where a three-dimensional image of Ayesha’s brain was displayed. “That’s him right there. Vader. He left for a bit when she lost it, but now he’s back with a vengeance. You tell me! What am I supposed to say? What am I supposed to do?”

    LaRone gazed at the limp body floating in the tank. “I guess it’s lucky Vader wasn’t meddling with her mind when she had that meltdown,” he muttered. “That’s possibly the only thing that could have gone worse.”

    “I’ll bet you this ship that it wasn’t luck,” Cottle said scornfully. “He fled. That’s the only explanation. The all-mighty Dark Lord of the Sith fled, because he couldn’t bear the pain in her head. And frankly, I would’ve done the same. I thought the scanner was going to explode.”

    The stormtrooper stared at Ayesha some more. “Is there a reason she should be in bacta right now?”

    The Doctor shrugged. “No. But there’s no reason she shouldn’t either.”

    “Then let’s bring her out in the morning.”

    Cottle gave him a baffled look. “Why?”

    “Why not?” LaRone countered. “At least we’ll be able to talk to her.”

    “It’s pointless,” Cottle grumbled, gesturing towards the monitor. “She probably can’t even hear. That part of her brain has all but shut down.”

    “I’ll talk to her anyway,” LaRone said firmly. “I’m pretty sure she wasn’t listening when I read her father’s poems, and yet it brought her back. Let’s give this a try, what do we have to lose?”

    * * *​

    Her body should have been as light as a feather, yet her limbs could have been cast from duracrete. She knew that this was meant to be a world of comfort, a world of love, a world as safe as a mother’s womb – but in truth it was a world that caused nothing but pain. Fragmented, disjointed thoughts kept flashing through her head, and the effort to string them together was so beyond her strength that she couldn’t even try to keep them at bay, but the flood of foreign images was hurting her. She couldn’t bear the gaze of those eyes anymore – red eyes, blue eyes, yellow eyes, they surrounded her at all times. Sometimes they shifted from one colour to the other, sometimes they stared at her as if piercing her soul, but they were always there, and she wondered who these men were who had conquered her mind. She knew them, she thought dimly, they were men she had known, she thought she did at least – but it was impossible to remember, it was impossible to search deeper within herself, and they pushed away the few glimpses of beauty that somehow showed themselves when she least expected them. There were moments when she thought she saw a pretty woman, and the blue sky and the sun, and a mansion near a lake, there were moments when she perceived another soul, a tiny one, engulfed in the same liquid as her, there were moments when all she could see was pure, white light – but these were fleeting instants that vanished as soon as they manifested themselves, and then darkness took over and the eyes were looking at her once more.

    There were days when she tried to fight back, to forage into herself, into the thoughts that were smothered under this stifling burden, but all she could find was more pain. The red eyes sought to follow her in these incursions, but she always left them behind as she dived into her soul. Here she found arid mesas where sentients were dying, dank, fetid alleys populated by monsters, children who were screaming as their essence was sucked away. She found a devastated forest where a mother was wailing with grief at the loss of her son, and she saw that mother die again and again in merciless spasms as her body abandoned her. She saw a minuscule shape deep within her womb wither and fade when the thread that sustained and nourished it was severed, and she saw a sharp blade graze at it playfully to enjoy its torment. And here there was another pair of eyes, a yellow gaze that was dull and lifeless and cold, yet still so terrifying that it always caused her to flee, for the pain of the surface was a lesser evil.

    She was surrounded by the eyes again. Blue and yellow stared into each other in a contest of wills, the dim light of the room brightened for a moment and she hoped against all hope that the yellow would fade away and die. But then the blue shifted to red, and hope was lost, and the darkness submerged her once more.

    * * *​

    Ayesha seemed utterly confused when she woke up in her hospital bed the next afternoon. She didn’t recognise LaRone at all, and all spark was gone from her features as her gaze wandered indifferently around the room. “We’re losing her,” Doctor Cottle said grimly in the evening when the entire Hand of Judgement came to visit. “We’re losing her and there’s nothing I can do.”

    He answered the stormtroopers’ questions as best he could without naming Vader and sent them back to their barracks, but LaRone stayed behind. “You think he’s taking over.”

    “He isn’t taking over, he has already taken over,” the Doctor corrected. “Her mind has gone dormant, I can’t even detect it anymore. All I can see is him. I don’t know how much of her is left at all.”

    The stormtrooper stared at the hologram of her brain for a long moment, then sat at her side and picked up Silences from the Edge of Life from the bedside table. “I’ll read for her a bit,” he said. “Maybe it will help.”

    “Maybe,” Cottle grumbled despondently. “Or maybe not. Anyway, it’s up to you.”

    LaRone pulled a chair by the bed and sat quietly for a while to look at Ayesha. She had closed her eyes, but he couldn’t tell if she was sleeping. Her face had been slack and blank already when she was awake and there was no true difference to notice, save for the fact that she had been deathly pale earlier, and now she was even paler. He couldn’t hear or see her breathe. He whispered her name and reached to touch her arm, doubting that he would even find a pulse, when she abruptly sat up with a heartrending scream.

    Cottle barged into the room and shouted something, but LaRone wasn’t listening. Without the faintest hesitation, he punched the key to activate the privacy shield, cutting himself off from the Doctor, and he ignored Ayesha’s frenzied flailing and wailing as she stared at her wrist and flexed her fingers frantically. He sat back in his chair instead, took a deep breath, opened the book and began to read.

    * * *​

    Every nerve ending in her hand was on fire, but that wasn’t what hurt her the most. It was the pain of abandonment, of failure, of betrayal. She could see battles and duels, flashes of wars and explosions ran across her mind, shimmering blades sliced through heads and limbs, and for what? She didn’t know, she couldn’t remember. She wondered why she had done all this, why she had killed these people – because the only thing of which she was certain was that she had done it herself, even if she couldn’t remember why. The red eyes were hers now, the yellow eyes were laughing, and all she could do was stand by and watch as a storm of lightning burned away the last being she might have loved.

    And yet... and yet there was a presence, a friendly presence that took hold of her wounded wrist and tugged her gently towards the depths of her soul. She didn’t want to go there, she knew that it was a place populated by ghosts, she knew that the dead eyes would be waiting for her – but the grasp was soft and persuasive, its warmth was kind and protective, and the pain of the surface was such that she surrendered to its pull and descended cautiously into the memories that the red eyes had suppressed.

    She found herself alone at a fork in the road and she thought for a moment that her guide was gone. But as she looked around haggardly, searching for the way up, she saw him again – he seemed to have a body now, even if she couldn’t quite discern it, and he was beckoning for her to come. She glanced briefly at the other path, the one that was dank and fetid, and she saw the mesas and a fortress and a forest on fire, and she saw a silhouette on the top of the highest tower, and she knew that the dead eyes were waiting for her. Panic surged through her and she ran towards the ghostly figure that had brought her here, begging for his protection. He was just beyond her reach, and she wondered if he was fleeing her, but as she followed him she began to understand. He was leading her to a safe place, a place where trees were immense and evergreen, a place where a tender embrace engulfed her and where she could learn to love again. Her terror subsided and she slowed her pace to look around.

    There were many people here, sitting quietly on the branches as if they had been expecting her to come. Some were giants and some were waifs, some of them she could barely recognise, but she could feel that they meant her no harm and they merely held out a hand or a paw or a tail to touch her lightly as she pressed forward, looking for her guide. She felt the cool graze of armour on her skin, she walked past a cheerful slug she had nearly forgotten, she saw a couple with a small child who were smiling at her – and she smiled back. She glimpsed behind them a stern elderly lady who was staring at her proudly, half hiding from view a man who was bowing his head in shame as he cradled a silver-skinned infant – but her steps led her inexorably to the woman waiting for her at the back of the assembly. Her guide had stopped at her side and they watched her come to them, and when she finally reached them, the unknown woman extended a trembling hand to caress the Qukuuf on her cheek before pointing at her own and whispering a word Ayesha didn’t hear.

    She didn’t hear what her mother had to say because more people appeared, people who didn’t belong in her mind. They were sad and scared and tearful, and her heart leapt out to them because she knew that they had given all their love and lost it. Her vision was blurred now by the flashes of lightning, but she tried hard to focus on these newcomers, because she knew that they needed her help. She knew that the long-haired man’s eyes had once held a mischievous twinkle, before the gaping wound in his chest had snuffed it out. She knew that the younger man with the ginger beard had sacrificed his life to be a brother and a father and a mentor, only to be told that it was not enough. She knew that the woman with the sad face had given up her only joy in hope for a better future, but that future had been naught but darkness. She knew that the angelic figure with the bulging belly had died from abandonment, from failure, from betrayal, and she knew that the two lost children who were holding her hands expected their turn to come and darkness to swallow them.

    And then a blazing pain seared her chest and she screamed in despair, because the dreamscape was being stolen from her and she feared the other path – but before she could fight it, the darkness vanished in a dazzling blue flare and she found herself bathed in light. The pain was still there, yet it wasn’t hers anymore – now she knew that she was another, and even though he was sad, he was drinking the blue eyes and caressing her soul. She floated around aimlessly in this white world where comfort mingled with regret, remorse and sorrow, and she knew that the other was redeemed, that he had answered his calling, that he had found peace, and that she could find it too. His light was dimming now and soon it faded completely, leaving her alone in the penumbra, but she didn’t fear the dark anymore. She knew that, for the time being at least, it had been vanquished.

    * * *​

    She opened her eyes to see a panicked Doctor Cottle who was patting her cheeks and a devastated LaRone who was crying like a child. His brow was resting on her arm and his tears were running on her hand, as if he were bidding her a last farewell. She was trembling violently and she was drenched in sweat, but her voice was clearer and more lucid than it had been for months when she finally managed to speak.

    “He’s gone,” she said. “The Emperor, Lord Vader... they’re both gone.”
     
    yahiko, AzureAngel2, Gemma and 5 others like this.
  25. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Amazing, simply truly stunning! =D= =D=

    Your writing is vivid and intense!

    ~!

    Stay sane and safe amid the topsy-turvy. The place where a person is can become crazy-vicious with idiots who will do horrific things to "make a point" politically. :eek: