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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
    Great chapter - I loved the opening and the description of the journey through space.

    And fascinating discoveries made through art - I find art history and archaeology so fascinating, and what Ayesha was able to determine based on what was left behind. I can't recall much about the Vagaari, but I'm certainly intrigued as to where the story goes from here!
     
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  2. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    And now some chapter 4 replies...
    Thank you! I'm having a little bit of trouble writing these scenes because I find it difficult to include enough visual clues for Ayesha's reasoning to make sense without providing a complete description. I'm glad it's working out.
    I'll reply to these two comments in one go, since it's the same idea. It's an important step for Ayesha to start doing again what she does best in order to feel that she's her own person, not just an hostage, or the Admiral's (former?) lifemate, or the repository for Vader's thoughts. The next step will be to start creating for herself, not for others, but that will still take some time.
    Yes, all sorts of threats in the Unknown Regions... I'll do my best to write that story you always wanted to read [:D] although I have to admit that it's also a plot necessity for me. I was never completely sold on the idea of Thrawn trying to unite the galaxy in view of the impending invasion by the Vong, so I need to force myself a bit here to make the idea credible.
    To all three: she'll start talking to Thrawn tomorrow. But be careful what you wish for :p
    This was actually a reference to some really old stuff -- in the early chapters of part I, Ayesha explains that she doesn't like making portraits because the people who want their portrait made are the Zaarin megalomaniac sort, and to her making caricatures is a way of exposing these people for what they are. The sentence about people being able to see themselves in the mirror is a direct quote from Matt Ruud in part I, chapter 10, where he gains her sympathy by choosing a work that expresses her rather than a work that's about him. More generally, I'd say she's adverse to acting as a "scribe" because her art isn't about representing the things around her, it's about channeling the subject's emotions and her own in her works -- so her frustration comes from what she thinks of as a lack of perception on her behalf, not from a dislike for the people around her.
    Oh they definitely will get to talk this out... at some point [face_devil] But first they need to become equals again, and I like the idea that she will become his equal on his own terrain, because behind every great man, there's a great woman :p

    And now I'm really flattered [face_blush] because Sherlock Holmes is the character after which Timothy modelled Thrawn -- and also, Nuso Esva after Moriarty (the name "Nuso Esva" is actually created from a letter permutation for "Moriarty"). Thank you!
    I deemed it important to have a Chiss comment on this, because for the Chiss the threats of the Unknown Regions aren't something abstract you target on a military campaign far away from home -- they're right there on your doorstep and they threaten you and your civilians every single day. They encountered the Vong as early as 30 BBY, they encountered the Vagaari in 27 BBY, and they know exactly what they are talking about.
    Since you like Sherlock Holmes, you should definitely read Choices of One and Crisis of Faith, where Nuso Esva is the main baddie -- and a great baddie he is! I'm not such a big fan of the Vagaari, they're a bit too similar to the Yuuzhan Vong for my taste, but they're an important part of Thrawn's backstory in Outbound Flight. Plus, if you remember, in part II, chapter 7 it was revealed that they have had contact with the Vong and that they've been swapping tips about how best to maim and destroy. Of course that will come back to bite them in the butt at some point, and there will definitely be a confrontation [face_whistling]
    Thank you! I actually did some RL research about this, because there was a moment when I wondered, what does it look like when you reach the edge of the galaxy? And apparently, it's something like this -- there are fewer and fewer stars, and by the time you actually reach the edge you see nothing, only black space, because the next stars are just too far away to be visible. I thought the idea was creepy and exciting at the same time, you know what I mean?
    The Vagaari in a nutshell: all-around nasties :p Sadly, since this story sticks to canon, I can't have Thrawn eliminate them altogether because SQ needs to happen in the future, but they'll take a few hits.

    Thanks again for reading and reviewing, everyone! Next chapter coming right up.
     
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  3. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

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

    And as usual, a big thanks to Nyota's Heart for beta-reading.

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

    Chapter 5: The jungle planet


    Ayesha expected that the intercom’s buzz that morning indicated that the analyst team needed her help again, but she was surprised to hear Ensign Washeeya’s voice. “Miss Eskari? Captain Niriz would like to talk to you at your earliest convenience. Should I come for you?”

    Niriz’s courtesy in always sending an escort for her made her smile. She declined politely, pulled on her half-boots and rushed to the turbolift, but the sight of Prashat outside the Captain’s office with sergeant rank bars proudly displayed on his chest stopped her dead in her tracks. “You’re back.”

    The young sergeant blushed intensely, like every time he saw her. “We just arrived, Ma’am. The Grand Admiral wanted to see you.” He motioned towards the door. “I hope you’re okay now,” he added shyly as she walked past him.

    She swallowed and nodded, and stepped into the room. Thrawn was sitting behind the desk in his white uniform, conferring with Niriz. Both men stood up. “With your permission, Sir, I’ll take my leave now,” the Captain said.

    He left, closing the door behind him and leaving Ayesha facing Thrawn. There was an uncomfortable silence. “You seem to be well,” Thrawn said finally. “Captain Niriz was telling me that you have made a full recovery.”

    She was fidgeting with the hem of her tunic. “I’m good, thanks,” she mumbled. “Is there something you want to talk about?”

    “I merely wanted to see for myself that you are doing better. It has been nearly three months.” He paused. “I also wanted to thank you for the work you have been doing while on board. Squadron Commander Stent is fluent in Basic now, and your friends from the Hand of Judgement are quite proficient in Cheunh as well.” She nodded. “And Major Lasall has told me that your insights have been invaluable. Captain Niriz is most –”

    “Who’s Major Lasall?” she asked distractedly.

    He gave her a perplexed look. “Major Lasall is the leader of the analyst team you have been working with for the past several weeks.”

    She shrugged. “Oh, yes. Sorry.”

    There was another silence. “I further wanted to tell you how sorry I am about your father,” Thrawn said hesitantly. “He was a truly remarkable sentient and it was an honour knowing him, however briefly.”

    Her head jerked up. “Why are you speaking of Ada’ Yakooboo in the past tense?”

    He arched an eyebrow. “I wrote to you about it. Did you not receive –”

    “What happened to my Ada’?”

    Thrawn looked at her carefully. “You should sit down, Miss Eskari. This is an unpleasant piece of news I must deliver to you now.”

    She ignored him. “What happened?” she repeated. Her jaw was trembling.

    He took a deep breath. “The Nagai attempted to invade Kashyyyk when the planet was taken over by the Rebel Alliance after the Battle of Endor. The Rebels and the Wookiees organized to fight them back. It was a terrible battle and there were many casualties.” He paused. “Your father was leading a group of Wookiee warriors in the Fourth Level when they were ambushed by the Nagai. There were no survivors.” She stared at him, dumb-struck. “I am so sorry, Miss Eskari. I did not have the opportunity to see him very often, but I know that he will be missed by all who met him, if only once.”

    She shook her head. “No. That’s not possible. No one can beat Ada’ Yakooboo in the Shadowlands. He escaped.”

    He sighed. “I am sorry,” he said again. “He did make it back to the Sixth Level, but his wounds were grievous. He had simply lost too much blood. He said that you were the light that illuminated his life, and that you will continue to guide his path in the Hunting Grounds beyond.”

    She shook her head again. “No,” she croaked. “No!” She was shivering violently now. Thrawn took a brisk step towards her. Concern was written all over his face. She pushed him back brutally. “How do you even know what he said?” she screamed. “How do you –” He suddenly caught herself and gasped for breath. “You were there. The Empire sided with the Nagai, didn’t it?”

    His eyes took a sad, dull glow as he watched her sink to the floor and hide her face in her hands. “Oh, Ayoo’sha, do you think so poorly of me?” There was undisguised pain in his voice, but she didn’t hear him. She was sobbing. He crouched at her side and, for lack of anything better to do, extracted a neatly folded handkerchief from his uniform pocket and gave it to her. “I am terribly, terribly sorry for your loss.”

    It was more than an hour later when he finally helped her to her feet. She was staggering. “I will walk you back to your quarters,” he said. “There is more we need to talk about, but nothing that cannot wait.” She stood haggardly by the door while he gave a few whispered instructions to Prashat, and he escorted her to the turbolift.

    He let out a deep sigh when he saw his letters lying unopened on the small desk in her lounge. He dug a little through the pile, found the small parcel he was looking for and brought it to the sofa where she was curled up, hugging her knees to her chest. He discarded the envelope and unwrapped the box to reveal a small wooden cup. “This is wroshyr bark and Korrokrrayyo incense for Gyysharria,” he explained. “Your brother Rumpacharet came aboard with me. He is currently updating his vaccinations with Doctor Cottle, but he will join us shortly. At least you will not be alone for this.” She was staring blankly ahead of her, it was unclear whether she’d taken in a single word he said. He remained quietly at her side, straight-backed with his hands clasped behind him, until the door slid open for a chestnut-furred Wookiee with two ryyk blades in an elaborate leather harness strapped to his back. He was carrying a heavy stone urn. Ayesha looked up at him and burst in sobs again. “I will leave you now,” Thrawn said. “There is a meditation chamber at the far end of the corridor,” he added for Rumpy’s benefit. “You have my personal comm if you need anything.”

    LaRone, Grave and Marcross were baffled when they saw Ayesha walk past the training room that night, flanked by what appeared to be a walking carpet. They followed the unlikely duo to the end of the hallway and watched Ayesha and Rumpy kneel facing each other in a small, dimly lit room. The young Wookiee placed the small cup on the floor between them, laid his two ryyk blades on either side and lit a shaving of what appeared to be tree bark. He let out a deep rumble and dropped the flaming strip of wood in the cup, then took her small hands in his paws and let the fragrant smoke drift between the circle of their arms. The three stormtroopers nodded at each other and knelt behind her. LaRone placed a hand on her trembling shoulder and they sat there, perfectly still, until the last wisps of smoke faded away.

    * * *​

    Captain Niriz didn’t hide his surprise when Ayesha turned up on the bridge two days later, led by an armour-clad LaRone and followed by her Wookiee brother. He took a few steps away from Thrawn’s command chair to come and meet her. “The Grand Admiral told me what happened, Miss Eskari,” he said softly. “I’m truly, truly sorry for your loss. If there is something – anything – I can do for you, please let me know.”

    Ayesha was staring shyly at the floor. “Ask the Captain, Ayesha,” LaRone said in his electronic voice. “This isn’t such a big deal.”

    She took a deep breath. “Captain Niriz, I’d like to perform the Wookiee funeral rites for my father.”

    Niriz gave her a perplexed look. “Forgive my ignorance, but I was told that you already held a small private ceremony two days ago. Is this something different?”

    “The ceremony Miss Eskari and her brother conducted two days ago was Gyysharria, the blessing for the passage of the soul to the Hunting Grounds of the Netherworld,” Thrawn’s voice said behind him. “I assume that you would like to perform Ralyiikha now?”

    She was staring at the floor again. “Yes,” she whispered. “Rumpy brought Ada’ Yakooboo’s ashes with him. The passage of the soul cannot happen until we return them to the world.”

    Niriz looked from her to Thrawn and back. “Is this something that can be done in space?”

    “It should be done on land,” she mumbled. “Somewhere with trees. Ada’ Yakooboo liked trees. He liked them very much.”

    The Captain glanced at the star chart displayed on the bridge’s main screen. “Unfortunately, there isn’t much in this sector. However, we will be jumping to lightspeed in less than an hour. I’ll ask navigation to check for a suitable planet at our next destination.”

    There was an odd light in Thrawn’s eyes as he examined the star chart. “There will be no need, Captain,” he said suddenly, as if making up his mind. “There is a jungle planet a few parsecs away from our next exit point from hyperspace, near the border of the Chiss Ascendancy. With your permission, I will fly you there in one of our shuttles,” he added, turning to Ayesha. “I would like very much to pay my last respects to your father. I hope that you can tolerate my presence on this occasion.” Her jaw was trembling, as if she were ready to burst in tears again. She merely nodded. “However, I must inform you that there has been a change to your situation,” he went on. “With your father’s passing, the detention order against you is in essence obsolete. I have filed a request for the arrest warrant to be formally rescinded. Major Vermel took it with him to Coruscant when he left yesterday. Between his trip back and forth and Imperial bureaucracy, it will be several weeks, possibly months, before we receive an answer, but I am confident that you will be free to return to the Core in the not-too-distant future.” He paused. “Would you prefer to wait until you can perform Ralyiikha on Kashyyyk? I will assist you to get there safely from Coruscant.”

    She gave Rumpy a questioning look. The young Wookiee answered in a soft rumble. She shuddered. “It’s said that the soul is in agony until it has passed beyond,” she said as firmly as she could. “We shouldn’t wait. I’d like to go to that jungle planet. If it isn’t too much trouble, of course,” she added with an embarrassed glance at the Captain.

    “It’s no trouble at all, Miss Eskari,” Niriz answered with a kind smile. “We may appear to be hardened military men, but we’re not indifferent to death and loss. Everyone on this ship understands the importance of a proper farewell to a loved one. I’ll accompany you myself, if it’s acceptable to you.”

    * * *​

    Quiller manoeuvred the Suwantek TL-1800 out of the Admonitor’s hangar bay and pointed her nose towards a star similar to every other star in the black sky. The vessel disappeared briefly in hyperspace and materialized again in a system where a green planet could be seen in the distance. Two spacecrafts of alien design shot past. “These are fighters of the Chiss Expansionary Defence Fleet,” Stent said from the co-pilot’s chair. “It is unusual to see them this far out.” He fiddled with the comm frequency and hailed the two ships. “This is Squadron Commander Kres’ten’tarthi of the Empire of the Hand, on board the transport Baratta,” he said in Cheunh.

    “Transport Baratta, you are nearing the territory of the Chiss Ascendancy,” a voice answered. “State your intentions.”

    “We come in peace,” Stent replied. “We are heading to the jungle planet ahead to perform funeral rites for a valued warrior leader. We do not intend to encroach on Chiss territory.”

    There was a burst of static on the loudspeaker that sounded like a snort. “A likely story from a traitor who has joined the murderer Mitth’raw’nuruodo.”

    Quiller gave Stent a sideways look. “Not very friendly, are they?”

    Thrawn stood up and made his way to the front of the transport. “This is Syndic Mitth’raw’nuruodo of the Eighth Ruling Family. Has the Chiss Ascendancy claimed ownership of this system?” There was a stunned silence. “Has the Chiss Ascendancy claimed ownership of this system?” he repeated. Again, no answer came. “I will take that as a no. Pilot, maintain your present course. These fighters are of no concern to us.”

    The two Chiss craft fell in formation behind the Baratta and escorted her until she broke the planet’s atmosphere. Thrawn guided Quiller along the equator and pointed at a clearing in the dense forest. “This is where we will land. There is a boulder nearby that overlooks the jungle. It is an appropriate place for this ceremony.”

    The transport landed in a whine of repulsorlifts and the little troupe filed out. Thrawn’s eyes had taken the dull glow of sorrow as he stepped on the tall grass, but he shrugged it off and crossed the open field to two large trees on the other side of the clearing. “It will be a short walk. Hopefully the underbrush is not too thick.”

    The underbrush was actually very thick and soon Rumpy unsheathed his ryyk blades to clear a path. Thrawn came behind him, followed by Grave, Marcross and Stent. All four removed the chopped bushes and vines the Wookiee left in his wake to make way for Ayesha, who was carrying the heavy urn holding her father’s ashes, and LaRone and Quiller, who held between themselves a large, shallow wooden bowl. Niriz came next and Brightwater closed the procession on his speeder bike. They finally reached the foot of a massive boulder that sloped gently upwards from one side and fell sharply on the other, so tall that it almost qualified as a cliff. Rumpy turned around to look at Thrawn. [Someone has already been here, Kker-Bashha,] he rumbled in Shyriiwook. [This path has been cleared before.]

    “Yes,” Thrawn said simply. “It has.” The Wookiee gave him an inquisitive look, but he didn’t elaborate and gestured towards the boulder instead. “Shall we?”

    They climbed to the top. Rumpy took the wooden bowl from LaRone and Quiller and placed it near the edge overlooking the forest, then emptied the urn into it. He and Ayesha knelt on either side of the bowl. The two Chiss and the Captain fell to one knee behind them, while the five stormtroopers took off their helmets and stood in a neat row in the back. The Wookiee took a handful of ashes and raised his arm above the cliff. [Chieftain Yakooboo of the tribe of the Green Vines of Rwookrrorro,] he intoned as the thin grey dust flowed through his fingers. [We are returning the remains of his mortal life to these trees. May they guide him to many more successful Hunts on the Grounds of the Netherworld.]

    He turned to Ayesha, who was staring blankly at the jungle below, and took her delicate hand in his paw to plunge it in the ashes. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. She opened her mouth to speak and closed it again, and finally whispered something in Old Kiffar as the light breeze carried away a cloud of her father’s remains.

    She wiped her eyes angrily and took another handful, throwing it at the trees, then another, until the bowl was nearly empty. Rumpy stayed her hand and gestured to Thrawn to come forward. The Chiss gathered the last of Yakooboo’s ashes and extended his arm above the edge. “Farewell, Kker-Ada’,” he said softly in Cheunh. “Your teachings will not be forgotten, and your wishes will be executed. You have my word.”

    Rumpy allowed for a moment’s contemplation before standing up and lifting a sobbing Ayesha in his arms to return to the shuttle. He motioned for Thrawn to carry the urn but growled when LaRone went to take the bowl. “There is no need, Commander,” Thrawn explained. “This bowl is the property of Chieftain Yakooboo. It should remain with him.”

    Ayesha had mostly composed herself by the time they reached the Baratta. She stopped at the foot of the boarding ramp and closed her eyes, inhaling the scent of the forest and listening to the avians and the animals brushing through the trees. “Ada’ Yakooboo will like it here,” she told Thrawn and Niriz, who were standing a few steps away, waiting for her to climb on board. “Thank you.”

    Quiller lifted the transport off the ground, and soon the two Chiss fighters materialized at their side. The Grand Admiral made his way to the front again. “Hail them,” he ordered. He waited for Stent to secure the channel before speaking firmly in Cheunh. “This is Mitth’raw’nuruodo, Syndic of the Eighth Ruling Family of the Chiss Ascendancy and Grand Admiral of the Galactic Empire. I am informing the Chiss Ascendancy that this system is henceforth under the protection of the Empire of the Hand. The funeral rites we performed on the jungle planet mark it as holy ground. Any attempt by the Chiss Ascendancy to claim ownership of these worlds or to otherwise impede access to them for any type of craft flying the colours of the Empire will be understood as a declaration of war. Conversely, the Empire will guarantee free movement to Ascendancy craft across the system and ensure safe passage to any Chiss who wishes to visit the jungle planet.”

    There was no answer. Thrawn returned to his seat. “Are you certain they heard you, Sir?” Niriz asked.

    Thrawn merely shrugged, but Stent spoke up from the communications console he was monitoring. “They are re-transmitting your message to Csilla now, Sir. Should we wait for an answer?”

    Thrawn shrugged again, but he didn’t quite manage to hide the bitterness in his voice. “There will be no answer. Pilot, take us back to the Admonitor.”

    He returned to his seat and strapped himself in. The transport was pulling away from the planet’s gravity well and preparing for the jump to lightspeed when Ayesha stood up and came to sit in the empty chair next to his. “You didn’t have to do this,” she whispered. “Not that I’m not grateful,” she added hurriedly when he arched an eyebrow. “I do hope that I’ll be able to visit Ada’ Yakooboo’s final resting place again, but I don’t think I’ll ever have the opportunity once I’m back in the Core.”

    Thrawn nodded. “No, you will not. But it is not unlikely that I will come back to this planet some day. This was as much for you as it was for me.”

    There was a long silence during which the Baratta entered hyperspace. “I’m sorry,” she spluttered. “I shouldn’t have insulted you. Rumpy told me everything you did for us, how you went to Rwookrrorro under the guise of a Mandalorian warrior to lead the battle against the Nagai. He says they would all have been killed or enslaved if it weren’t for you.”

    “I was only doing my duty, Miss Eskari. Your father had adopted me in the tribe of the Green Vines. I did not forget that allegiance.”

    “No you weren’t,” she countered. “Not when Ada’ Yakooboo threatened that the Wookiees would hunt you down if you ever set foot on Kashyyyk.”

    “Your father had his reasons not to tolerate my presence,” he answered stiffly. “As you do. I deeply regret that he could not accept my help as a leader of the Empire. With a fleet of Star Destroyers at hand, many deaths could have been avoided.” He paused. “It was not my wish to be thought an enemy by you or any of your family, Miss Eskari. I am sorry that it ever came to that.” She went to speak but he continued. “As your brother may have told you, he considers himself to be under a life-debt to me. I want it to be clear that I am not demanding or expecting anything from him. He is free to do as he chooses. My preference however would be that he transfers the life-debt to you and that you both return to the Core. I truly hope that you will have this opportunity sooner rather than later. The Admonitor will be travelling deeper into the Unknown Regions in the coming months, which may cause an additional delay for you if we do not receive the necessary documents from Coruscant before we enter some of the most dangerous areas of uncharted space. I hope you understand that the plans of an Imperial Star Destroyer cannot be rescheduled to accommodate your needs.”

    The starlines shrank back into stars as the Baratta dropped out of hyperspace and Quiller landed the transport in the hangar bay. Thrawn stood up. “Let me say once again how sorry I am for your loss,” he said very formally. “If you will excuse me now, I must return to the bridge.”

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

    Notes: The Nagai attempt to take over Kashyyyk is described in Star Wars 91: Wookiee World. The Wookiee funeral rites described above are my own fanon (to be found here when I write it up). The jungle planet is the one described in T. Zahn's short story Mist Encounter.
     
  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Exquisite, like totally! The blend of poignancy, the support Ayesha receives from her friends (there are just no words for how precious! that is!), and Thrawn's demeanor towards her. Very natural and well-written. Her acknowlegement of his actions in her family's behalf - a broadening of her perceptions towards him I think. Doesn't quite heal the past of course, but it's a step towards making the present and future different than an sorta truce. I am struck by the fantastic conversation Bree and Blue were able to have surrounding a similar loss, though the circumstances were different. Grieving that kind of thing together I hope will be part of the process for Thrawn/Ayesha. That will doubtless unlock more of her creativity in a reciprocating cause effect loop.
     
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  5. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 25, 2013
    WOW - what sadness and a loss for Ayesha. I knew not reading that mail was going to bring trouble for her eventually. I was glad that Thrawn was able to understand her loss and help her out with the rituals. Well since it may take several months before her paperwork is cleared --- maybe they can finally clear the air also --- I hope.
     
  6. JadeLotus

    JadeLotus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 27, 2005
    Oh, dear...but I I loved the funeral rites and fasciating glimpse into Wookiee culture. Have you read Aftermath?

    Apparently one of the interludes indicates Han and Chewie were heading to Kashyyyk to help liberate the Wookiees from the Empire, so I wonder if this was the same battle?

    Thrawn seems genuinely repentant, but wisely keeps his distance - hopefully Ayesha's spirits will be brightened with Rumpy present - although usually he would be someone she could trust completely as the only person around her not under Thrawn's command, but the life debt (however much Thrawn has said he doesn't expect or demand it) may complicate things...
     
  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    OH NOOOOOO! ADA’ YAKOOOOBOOOO! NOOOOOOO!

    Tender father, faithful lifemate, upstanding chieftain, valiant warrior to the end. Memory eternal. @};-

    Oh gosh oh gosh, just the fact that the announcement of his death is pretty much the first thing Thrawn says to Ayesha after the two have been near-estranged for... gosh, how long is it now?... oh gosh. I can barely. And now we know what that unopened, unread letter was about... which adds to the pathos of the situation immeasurably. (OK, I know I'm goshing a lot, but the situation seems to call for it.)

    Well, I can at least hope that such a beautiful pair of rituals (beautiful Chyntuck fanon for the win!), and the latter in such a beautiful tree-filled setting, will be the start of comfort for both Ayesha and Rumpy. Just that he could be there for her at this juncture is already so lovely, and it's nice to meet him as an adult. I guess he's pretty much Ayesha's only living relative now! :eek:

    For some reason, the fact that the path on the jungle planet was previously cleared is one I'm going to file away in my mind. And hooray for the opportunity to learn yet another one of those wonderful Wookiee "in-law" terms: Kker-Bashha. :D

    And Thrawn... oh gosh, Thrawn. Part of me is glad to see him and Ayesha talking to each other again, but I just can't help wondering whether he hasn't got some ulterior motive here. Does he really want to make things up? If so, helping her memorialize and mourn her Ada’ is perhaps a good start—perhaps. And yet, can this wheels-within-wheels leopard really change his spots? He's still in his old habit of biting off more than he knows for sure he'll be able to chew; the Mandalorian disguise on Kashyyyk was a valiant move, for sure, but what a risky one! Methinks there will be implications, ripples, etc... just gotta wait for the next chapter, I guess. :cool:
     
  8. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. :(

    Also, you promised a trigger warning next time there is a specific item in the story. Now I'm...not OK. :(

    Proper comment later, when I can cope with this. Because I totally wanted to adopt that Wookiee as my new dad.
     
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  9. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 6, 2003
    Oh my... just when Ayesha starts to recover from everything, here comes the next bad news.

    It is really sad to see her and Thrawn both trying to cope with the situation and still not finding a way to leave everything that happened behind.
    At least Ayesha seems to be willing to acknowledge that what Thrawn did on Kashyyyk was not to be taken for granted, so there might be a little bit of hope for both of them?
    I admit, there was a point in the story where I thought, well, even after considering all the horrors that happened to her, just drop her off somewhere and be done with it, it's not worth it, as all the apologies are for nothing anyway, but well, who knows... might she finally start to see his side in all of this, and not only hers, and hers, and hers again?

    I guess that planet Thrawn took her to for the funeral is the one he was exiled to back then?
    "There will be no answer". Aaah, so sad. He is dealing with his own demons here, and still he is trying to do the best for Ayesha.
    Well, I guess hoping for her to be just a little grateful is too much, but, as I said, I'm not giving up hope! ;)
     
  10. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    I finally caught up with this beautiful gem of a story. RL has been busy for me recently & I almost have no on-line time let.

    Ada’ Yakooboo dead is heavy news, but I like the way Thrawn dealt with it. I hope Ayesha can see his thoughtfulness & kindness, too.

    Pardon me for saying that, but he reminded me a bit of a certain Doctor (when played by Matt Smith) when holding speeches that also were NOT answered. ;)
     
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  11. Mira_Jade

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

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh, Ayesha . . . talk about another blow to the gut after her just beginning to move on from a catastrophic collection of such blows . . . my heart broke for her there. And my heart completely went out to Thrawn, as well - her family is his family, as he said; then, couple that with her accusation of his siding with the Nagai, even if made in a moment of grief; none of his letters being opened; returning to that planet - this was an emotional rollercoaster for him, too, and I am really, really looking forward to a time when they can help each other through this, rather than existing as islands alone. After being apart for so long, with so much needing to be sorted through, for this to be their first interaction . . . it sucked, for the lack of a better word. Yet, in a way, I am glad that Thrawn was there to help her find an outlet to channel her grief. The funeral rites were absolutely beautiful, and I truly hope that Ayesha is able to look back on this as well as she can once she gets some emotional closure and healing. [face_love]

    And Thrawn's last words . . . ouch! :( The formal tone hurt to read, especially knowing how much emotion it was covering up underneath. Thrawn is doing the right thing in letting her go - but I do hope that these few months of grace they have will be enough for her to remember what they once had and decide to fight to have it again. She's strong; I know she can do it. [face_love]
     
  12. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! I'll do bulk replies for chapters 5 and 6 on Thursday, but for now it's lunchtime, so I'll take advantage of the fact that the boards haven't crashed (yet :p) and post the next chapter.

    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, a big thanks to Nyota's Heart for beta-reading [:D]

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

    Chapter 6: Life debts

    It took a while for people aboard the Admonitor to get used to Rumpy’s presence. The crew were well-acquainted with Ayesha by now – she had been on the ship for a year and a half – but watching her walk around escorted by what appeared to be, for all practical purposes, a Wookiee bodyguard, always came as a surprise, even more so after she took to introducing him as ‘my little brother’. What added to everyone’s astonishment was that, a week or so after Rumpy arrived on board, he was seen leaping across the mess with a roar of delight to greet Thrawn, who had just walked in for lunch. A number of hands went for the blasters hanging from the officers’ belts, but the Grand Admiral merely gave the Wookiee one of his rare warm smiles before stepping aside for the small, steel-grey figure who must have been standing behind him to seemingly materialise out of thin air. The stormtroopers of the Hand of Judgement, who were sitting with Ayesha, exchanged puzzled looks when Rumpy lifted the sinewy humanoid in his arms for a bear hug, as if he were being reunited with a long-lost brother. The three aliens exchanged a few words, and Rumpy came back towards the table with his mysterious friend while Thrawn left to join Niriz and a few Chiss officers who were waiting for him on the other side of the hall.

    Ayesha recognised the newcomer as Thrawn’s agent Rukh and the rest of the lunch was somewhat awkward. She was visibly embarrassed in the Noghri’s presence, remembering how scornful she had been during their first and only encounter so far. Meanwhile, despite Rumpy’s enthusiasm, Rukh was not very talkative, and he ate his ration bars in silence, answering Brightwater’s attempts to engage him in conversation with short, curt sentences. He stood up as soon as he had finished his meal, saluted the little assembly with a nod and vanished into the shadows as soon as he reached the durasteel wall. No one knew how to react to this odd behaviour, and it was a relief when the five stormtroopers left to return to their duties and Ayesha and Rumpy could go back to their quarters.

    The Admonitor’s maintenance crew had said that they could adapt the second VIP suite to Rumpy’s needs by building furniture that matched the Wookiee’s size, but he had declined, insisting instead to stay with his sister. All he had asked for was a sleeping mat for himself, but Ayesha put in a request for a larger bed, and they found a team installing it in her bedroom as they arrived. Rumpy went to protest, but Ayesha slipped her hand in his paw and squeezed it tightly. “It’ll be just like when we were younglings,” she whispered. “You loved sleeping in my bed. You thought I was protecting you.” He let out an amused growl and she laughed, swatting his arm. “Yeah, right. You may not remember it, but there was a time when I was bigger than you.” He huffed. “Don’t ever think that you can fill Ada’ Yakooboo’s shoes, or those he didn’t wear,” she added in a brave attempt at humour. “You may be my legal guardian now, but you’re still my little brother. That’s not going to change.”

    The Wookiee sat on the small couch and waited for the maintenance team to leave the room before he spoke again. [I will ask you this question only once, Rryi-Bashhi,] he said cautiously. [Are you certain that you should have a legal guardian?]

    She gave him a perplexed look. “I don’t really have a choice, do I? It’s the Way of the People of the Trees.”

    [The Way of the People of the Trees matters little when it comes to you. You are not truly a Wookiee.]

    All colour drained from her face. “I fought back, Rumpy, I promise I did. They can’t expel me from the tribe, I –”

    [That is not what I meant,] Rumpy said hurriedly. [Please come and sit with me.] She was still staring at him pleadingly. [Rryi-Bashhi, please forget my poor choice of words and come and sit with me. Please?]

    She was trembling as she went to settle at his side on the sofa, but he pulled her on his lap and hugged her fiercely. [You are my sister,] he rumbled in her ear. [You are my Rryi-Bashhi. There is no tribe without you. You are my tribe. You are my only family.]

    She hugged him back, clutching at his fur. “You’re my only family too, Rumpy. We only have each other now.”

    [That is not true for you,] the Wookiee countered. [You have your blood relatives, Quinlan and Khaleen and Korto. And you have my Kker-Bashha.]

    She shook her head. “Not anymore, Rumpy. That horrible man – the Emperor” – she shuddered at the mere mention of his name – “he took everything from me. The family I had, and the family I was going to have... Now Ada’ Yakooboo is gone and Uncle Quin is in hiding, we don’t even know where. There’s only you, and until you arrived here last week, I thought I’d never see you again either.”

    [Nonsense,] he growled. [Did you truly believe that my Kker-Bashha would not find a way to reunite us? He would have torn down planets from the skies to bring me to you.]

    There was a brief silence. “You really like him, don’t you?”

    [It is a life-debt, Rryi-Bashhi,] the Wookiee said simply. [I lost our unit during the battle and I found myself encircled by a gang of Nagai on the Fifth Level. Their leader had a bunch of scalps hanging from his belt. He was not there to enslave, he was there to slaughter. They had me cornered, and there was no way to climb up or down. I was getting ready to jump, hoping to catch a vine before I could hit a wroshyr limb, when Rukh suddenly fell from the sky. He is a fearsome warrior. He dispatched my attackers within moments and he led me back to Ada’ Yakooboo and my Kker-Bashha. My life belongs to him now.]

    Ayesha looked up curiously. “Your life-debt is to Rukh?”

    [Rukh could not accept it because his kind are pledged to serve the Empire. Their code of honour is very similar to our own. A debt to him is a debt to his overlord and] – he hugged her a little tighter – [my Kker-Bashha asked me to transfer it to you.]

    She shook her head. “I don’t want you to have a life-debt to me, Rumpy. I’d rather you just be my brother.”

    The Wookiee huffed and patted her shoulder. [The Way of the People of the Trees does not recognise ‘I’d rather’ as a valid reason to erase a life-debt.] The twinkle of amusement in his eyes made Ayesha smile. [However,] he went on, reverting to a more serious demeanour, [you should know that in our case, the situation is somehow... complex.]

    Ayesha pulled back a little to look at him. “Is this where you explain to me that I’m not truly a Wookiee?”

    [Ada’ Yakooboo made it so,] Rumpy explained. [He always knew that a day would come when you would choose who you want to be. And he proved that he meant it when you announced to him that you had a lifemate. My Kker-Bashha is a man of another kind, one who could even be thought of as an enemy. Under Wookiee law you were still a pup, yet Ada’ respected your decision as if you had taken your Trials. He saw you as an adult. And how could he do otherwise, when refusing you a lifemate would sentence you to a life of loneliness among us?]

    “But he adopted Thrawn into the tribe,” Ayesha objected. “That way, it didn’t really change anything for me, did it?”

    [My Kker-Bashha was a member of our honour family, and he is one of us again now. This does not mean that he is bound by our laws. It means that we are bound to accommodate his.] He took a deep breath and continued hesitantly. [But this is of no importance, as he informed me that you have broken your lifebond.] His voice trailed off slightly, as if waiting for an answer, but none came and he went on. [What matters now is you, Rryi-Bashhi. Who do you want to be? And, to return to my original question, do you want to have a legal guardian?]

    She nuzzled up to his neck. “I can live with you being my guardian,” she said playfully. “I don’t think you’d have much control over me anyway.”

    [I wouldn’t,] he replied with a hearty laugh. [However, I cannot be your guardian and have a life-debt to you at the same time. For me not to be your guardian, you must choose to leave the tribe, and my bond to you will be the life-debt. But if you choose to identify as a Wookiee and to keep me as your brother, we will have to stay here – together. I cannot abandon my Kker-Bashha while my debt to him stands, and it will stand as long as he lives.]

    Ayesha’s lips formed a silent O. There was a long pause. [The day when you will have to make that choice is coming,] Rumpy said finally. [And I am confident that you will choose wisely. But I have told my Kker-Bashha already, and you should tell him too, that, should his debt be transferred to you, it would be wasted. I would give my life for you anyway, not because of a bond of honour, but because of a bond of love. You are my Rryi-Bashhi. Your decision may change my place under the law, but it will never change my heart. Remember it.]

    * * *​

    When LaRone came around at eighteen hundred hours – he had taken to dropping by every afternoon to check on Ayesha since Thrawn had returned to the Admonitor, just in case she needed extra company – he let himself in, as was his habit, when her heard her voice, but he gave a start when he saw her huddled on her brother’s lap. “Is there something wrong?” he blurted.

    Ayesha looked up. “No, everything’s okay. Just come in. I’ll make you caf in a minute.”

    He closed the door behind him and came to sit on the armchair, but his face was still tense with concern. “What has you so worried?” she asked.

    “I’m just being silly,” he said, composing himself. “The last time I saw you sitting like this, it was back on New Alzoc with Reis Azada. I thought for a moment that... you know, he was back.”

    Understanding dawned on her face, and she sat up and moved to the couch. “He can’t come back, Daric. He won’t come back. He’s dead. Gone forever.”

    “He shouldn’t have been in your head either,” the stormtrooper countered. “You can’t be too careful with things like that.”

    Rumpy let out an inquisitive grunt. “We’re not talking about Ada’ Yakooboo, Rumpy,” Ayesha said impatiently. “We’re talking about Anakin Skywalker. Lord Vader.”

    This time Rumpy’s grunt was outright baffled. LaRone looked at him curiously and turned back to Ayesha. “You didn’t tell him?”

    She shrugged. “I haven’t had the chance yet. It’s not that important anyway.”

    The stormtrooper went into a coughing fit. Ayesha burst out laughing and Rumpy let out an angry howl. “No, we’re not pulling your paw. It’s just... it’s complicated.”

    A long and rambling explanation followed, by the end of which Rumpy was positively seething and Ayesha was visibly feeling very much ashamed of herself. [Does my Kker-Bashha know of this?]

    “I guess so,” Ayesha mumbled. “He wasn’t on board when it happened. But Captain Niriz knows, Doctor Cottle told him. So I imagine they told Thrawn too.”

    [And you were not going to tell me?]

    “Of course I was going to tell you, Rumpy! But there are so many other things I wanted to tell you too, and you know, it’s over, so really, it’s not that important anymore –”

    [Not important? The most evil man in the Galaxy stole your mind, and it’s not that important?]

    “He wasn’t the most evil man in the Galaxy!” Ayesha retorted heatedly. “Lord Vader – Anakin Skywalker – was a good man. He was a good man who was in terrible pain, and he just needed someone to –”

    LaRone shook his head and Rumpy stared at her in disbelief. [A good man who needed someone else’s mind to feel his pain?]

    “Yes,” Ayesha said firmly. “Sometimes you need others to feel your pain in order to process it. Besides, he didn’t do it on purpose. Thrawn brought him here to put me in a healing trance, like Uncle Quin did when I was a little girl, you remember? And something happened and... well, I don’t know exactly, a part of him somehow stayed inside me. But in the end, he saved my life. He saved my sanity, or what’s left of it. My mind would have snapped if he hadn’t agreed to help me.”

    “Your mind would’ve snapped if he’d lived a moment longer, Ayesha,” LaRone interjected. “And you would have died. Heck, I thought you were already dead. The Doc thought you were dead. He was just sucking your life away.”

    “No he wasn’t,” she began. “He –”

    “He was. I was there, I saw it. I saw how you were. He was draining your soul and –”

    “Shut up!” she shouted. “Shut up! I’ve seen what happens when someone has their soul drained. It wasn’t anything like that!”

    When she came to her senses a few minutes later, she was huddled in Rumpy’s lap again. He was rumbling musically in her ear. Her eyes wandered around as she sought to gather her thoughts and she caught sight of LaRone, who was staring at her, concern written all over his face. She blushed intensely. “I’m so sorry, Daric,” she whispered. “You said something that... triggered me. I didn’t mean to yell at you.”

    The stormtrooper came to sit at her side to hold her hand. “It’s one of those things you won’t talk about, isn’t it?”

    “It’s one of those things I can’t talk about,” she corrected. “You saw what happens when I talk. I don’t think you want to read my father’s book all over again, do you?”

    He smiled and stood up to collect the small leather-bound volume from her desk. “I can read a little bit for you anyway,” he said as he returned to the couch. “These poems have grown on me.”

    By the time he left an hour later, Ayesha had dozed off in Rumpy’s embrace. She emerged just enough to say goodbye, while the Wookiee gave LaRone a grateful look as he walked out. [I will tell you one thing, Rryi-Bashhi,] he rumbled inaudibly as soon as the door slid shut. [Someone saved your life and your sanity here, but it was not Anakin Skywalker. It was the man who just walked out of this room. This is your life-debt to honour, and you would do well to remember it even if you choose not to be a Wookiee.]

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

    Note: The mechanism I have developed for Wookiee life-debts will be summarised in this fanon post when I get around to writing it up.
     
  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb conversation with Rumpy! :D He gave her much to think about and mull over about choices. Love Daric more and more in this. @};- He is a perfect source of solace: no pressure but totally I have your back-ness. ;) Eagerly awaiting the next part! [face_love]
     
  14. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    I love learning more about Rumpy. So sorry that it was at the cost of Ada's death, but they are all the family that each has now. Maybe with Rumpy's strong feelings towards Thrawn, Ayesha will start to let him back in. It must have taken all he had to be so formal and distant with her.

    Daric LaRone is the best ever. ;)
     
  15. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 6, 2003
    Awww, Daric... the best friend you could ever wish for. [face_love]

    And that conversation with Rumpy was just brilliant.
    He is patient, understanding, but also telling her as it is.
    I firmly believe his presence is doing Ayesha a world of good.

    Can't wait for Thursday, haha! :D
     
  16. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    I like Rumpy a lot!!! He asks her very essential questions:

    [What matters now is you, Rryi-Bashhi. Who do you want to be? And, to return to my original question, do you want to have a legal guardian?]

    He keeps her thinking. This way she cannot glide into another depression.
     
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  17. JadeLotus

    JadeLotus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 27, 2005
    Aw, I love Rumpy. What a Wookiee, and lovely interactions with Ayesha - there's nothing like family to help you get through trauma. Very interesting twist that the life debt was originally to Rukh - that's quite a chain of passage!

    I love Ayesha's defence of Anakin/Vader, but La Rone and Rumpy make some excellent points and it seems that Ayesha needs to believe, that she still identifies with Anakin so strongly and I wonder if this will hold her back...
     
  18. Mira_Jade

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

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    This update was absolutely beautiful - the support of family and friends is necessary to get through any sort of trauma, and, once again, Ayesha has that network of loved ones showing up for her in spades! I absolutely loved getting to know Rumpy in this chapter, and his and LaRone's insights were spot on - they definitely gave Ayesha a few good points to chew on, and I hope that that introspection helps her for the better. [face_thinking]

    As for other star parts of this chapter for me: Ayesha's defense of Anakin/Vader (their bond will never not fascinate me), and Rumpy's last words about LaRone. He is all too spot on in that regard, and I hope Ayesha realizes just how beautiful her family of the heart is here. [face_love]
     
  19. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Loved the heart-to-heart with "big little brother" Rumpy. Not just because it does Ayesha such a world of good to have a loving family member by her side at this difficult juncture, but also because things seem to have entered deep waters with the life debt vs. guardianship issue. It says a lot for Yakooboo that he had so much respect and acceptance for Ayesha's choices even though she technically counted as a "pup" under Wookiee law, and it says a lot for Rumpy that he recognizes that. It's looking like some important choices about allegiance and loyalty are just around the corne for Ayesha, and I wonder what she'll choose when the time comes. That Rumpy will still love her is of course a given, but it seems like either choice (leaving the tribe or accepting the life-debt) could have at least some tragic implications. I bet good old Rukh had no idea what his heroic behavior would lead to! (I wonder if we'll see him again...)

    Loved Rumpy's shocked and protective reaction to hearing about Ayesha's mental bond with Vader: "[Not important? The most evil man in the Galaxy stole your mind, and it’s not that important?]" And of course there's no way he can know it's more complicated than that (until his Rryi-Bashhi tells him, of course), but I still think he's spot on about "[A good man who needed someone else’s mind to feel his pain?]" I suspect, too, that Ayesha's statement that "Sometimes you need others to feel your pain in order to process it" stems at least in part from Ayesha's own long history of giving over her mind and body to others. It's become almost second nature to her, in a disturbing sort of way.

    You know, I wonder too whether Grand Admiral Chessmaster Thrawn didn't have some semi-sneaky ulterior motive in transferring Rumpy's life-debt to Ayesha. And I don't just mean as a way to "get her back." Knowing him, this could be part of some bigger wheels-within-wheels plan, yet another attempt to outstrategize someone somewhere for some unknown reason. Just a thought. [face_thinking]

    More soon, pleeze? :D
     
  20. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! This is the set of replies to your reviews that never ends, because every time I'm about to press the "post" button a new reply comes in :p

    Chapter 5

    I must be about 10 chapters late in reading The God of Second Chances (my unread fic list is the other thing that never ends) but now that you mentioned it I'm moving it to the top, because divapilot and I seem to follow similar thought processes in developing our characters (remember the failed pregnancy epidemic earlier this year?) And yes, finding out where Thrawn was during all this time is definitely a turning point for Ayesha -- the question now is how she will handle this new situation.
    And imagine how much more there might be in the unopened letters. There's at least half a dozen of them sitting on her desk, so chances are there are other things she missed. But yes, they'll have time to talk now, in the very near future, so maybe she can catch up, or at least, as you said, clear the air [face_whistling]
    Thank you! I haven't read Aftermath yet -- because of the stupid capital controls, I couldn't use my credit card to buy books on Amazon, and then when it became possible again I forgot to order it! But I'll do that now. However,
    there was already a Battle of Kashyyyk in Legends, which is the one I was referring to, and it looks like it's being re-canonised in the new continuity.
    Gosh, I never expected that this chapter would have anyone goshing so much :p
    You can file it away in your mind, because it will be explained later, or you can read Mist Encounter, it works too ;)
    Thank you! I need to expand on my Wookiee fanon post -- by now I have a whole list of points about Shyriiwook, including marks of the masculine/feminine, elements of word formation and syntax, etc. Not quite as impressive as @MsLanna's entry about Cheunh pronouns, but good enough to be posted :-B
    Hehe. You'll have to wait a bit longer for the implications of the Mandalorian disguise. You know me by now, I'll bring it back fifteen chapters later... As to if he really wants to make things up, well, what do you think? [face_whistling]
    Ahem. I'm not sure your dad would be happy to know that you intend to replace him with a fictional furry primate, so, um, maybe you should live with his memory instead? Real dads tend to be a lot better and they're never really gone [face_love]
    Given the nature of what happened, leaving it behind will never really be an option, will it? =(( At best they can hope to manage it properly and do some damage control, and, well, maybe they took a first step in that direction.
    Oh, Ayesha can be a pain in the backside when she's not thinking straight, but she has come a long way while Thrawn was in the Core, thanks to LaRone, Doctor Cottle and Reis Azada. So things are looking up now :)
    My Thrawn-fanon is that he always remained a Chiss at heart, and that he intended to return to the jungle planet into self-imposed exile once his work with the Empire was done and the Yuuzhan Vong invasion had been prevented. So on the one hand he's doing what's best for Ayesha, on the other hand he just reinforced his bond to that planet by performing rituals for someone he considers family there.
    Triple reply: "hope" seems to be a keyword in this week's comments! Thrawn is going full Chiss on Ayesha now, maybe he wants to give her space or maybe he has truly given up on fixing their relationship. But
    yes, you would be right to hope :D

    Chapter 6
    LaRone is a saint. Seriously, can you imagine putting up with this hysterical woman for months on end? [face_laugh]
    Rumpy is here to stay for a while now, and he won't let her get away with too much nonsense. Thrawn is his hero (I have plans for a one-shot about the Battle of Kashyyyk, which I may or may not write in the not-too-distant future) and he firmly intends to step up to the circumstances :)
    Thursday is here, and the hopers in you will find yourselves vindicated!
    And he had no idea what double meaning his words could have, not being aware of the Vader connection at that point in the chapter [face_laugh]
    Thanks! The life-debt is another thing I need to write up in the fanon thread -- how they're acquired, what they entail and how they're transferred from one person to another. Of course, Ayesha not being a "real Wookiee", she'll put her own twist on it, just scroll down ;)
    Ayesha has a unique perspective on Anakin, because she is the only living person who got to know him as Anakin, not only as Vader, and there's a lot that she can identify with in his personal history: the fact that he was a slave, the fact that he lost his mother, the fact that he lashed out at others in pain, the fact that he "lost" his child (the one that she knew of). So she's willing to overlook his darker side or at least to forgive it because she explains it from what he had been through. In a way, she's forgiving Anakin because it helps her justify herself.
    Oh she totally does, and you'll get to see it in detail in a chapter that may come as early as Monday!
    Hehe. I think everyone here has guessed already how Ayesha will manage to have her cake and eat it :p but of course, there will be implications [face_whistling] And no, Rukh had no idea what consequences his actions would have, but if you scroll down you'll find out that not only is he back, but he also found out something that makes Ayesha matter a great deal to him.
    I was wondering if someone would pick up on that sentence, and I shouldn't be surprised that it would be you [:D] And yes, it holds a double meaning for Ayesha. One aspect is, as you noted, that it's become what she thinks of as her place in life. The other is that, well, she's not above hurting others (or one particular other) to process her own pain, is she?
    Well, you're on to something here -- not that he's trying to outstrategise someone in particular, but there's a clue in the upcoming chapter as to what he may be up to if Ayesha decides to return to the Core...
    Ask and you shall receive!

    Thanks again, everyone! Next chapter up in 5, 4, 3...
     
  21. 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, a big thanks to Nyota's Heart for beta-reading [:D]

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

    Chapter 7: First contact

    Ayesha’s turn to spar with Brightwater came and LaRone retreated to the bench along the wall to sit at Rumpy’s side. “He can’t win,” he chuckled after watching her bow, duck and twirl for a few minutes, avoiding the scout trooper’s training dagger with every graceful step. “She’s too supple for him, and she still doesn’t follow conventional moves. It’s like she’s dancing.”

    The Wookiee rumbled. [She is dancing.] The words appeared on the handheld auto-translator that had been hung on the wall for this purpose. [And she is a very talented dancer too. Have you never seen her?]

    “Just once. She taught the Doc some of your war dances on Life Day. I can’t say I really paid attention to her though. Cottle trying to resist her iron will was just too good a show to miss.”

    Rumpy let out a hearty laugh and they returned their attention to the training mat. “She’s coping better than I expected,” LaRone said after a silence. “With your father’s loss, I mean. I thought she’d be devastated."

    The Wookiee glanced at Ayesha and lowered his voice. [She is. But she will not show it. She knows that death is a natural part of the Cycle of Life. She is strong.]

    “I know that,” the stormtrooper acknowledged. “But she’s been through so much. I’m not sure how much more she can take.”

    [She has had a hard life and her hide is thicker than you will ever know. As long as no one intrudes into her mind again, she will be fine.] His claws emerged briefly from the tips of his fingers, in a reflexive gesture that denoted anger. [Thank the Force those who would wish to do so are dead.]

    There was another silence. “You believe in the Force, do you?” LaRone asked.

    [I have seen the Force do wondrous things. But when it is used for an evil purpose –]

    His sentence was cut off by a victory whoop from Ayesha, who had pinned Brightwater to the floor and held her training knife to his throat. She let him wriggle a little and finally got up with a triumphant smile. “I win,” she said cheerfully. “Rumpy, your turn. You said you’d demonstrate ryyk combat today.”

    Over the weeks he had spent aboard the Admonitor, Rumpy had struck a fast friendship with the five stormtroopers of the Hand of Judgement, and particularly with Brightwater, who had always been the most curious of the lot about alien species, their culture and their traditions. The scout trooper had shown him the small collection of artefacts he had gathered during his travels, and Rumpy had taken to telling him about Wookiee customs and to teaching him Shyriiwook. Brightwater had made little progress so far, but he absorbed every word the Wookiee said like a sponge, and he often disappeared to the library for hours, only to return with more questions and comments. His eyes shone with child-like excitement as he sat next to Ayesha while Rumpy unsheathed his blades from the harness strapped to his back and took centre stage.

    LaRone and Brightwater’s mouths gaped slightly at the sight of the Wookiee’s transformation as he began swinging through the forms. The shaggy primate often looked clumsy and ill at ease on the Star Destroyer’s sleek durasteel floors – an unmistakable clue to his arboreal nature – but with his ryyk blades in hand he seemed to be perfectly in his element. He attacked and parried and feinted, letting his weapons carry his movements as he fought an invisible enemy while Ayesha named the moves. “The rroshm bluff... The asyyyriak lunge... The needlebug sting... The netcaster throw...” He completed his demonstration with a flourish, spinning the blades in the air before sheathing them again in a single fluid gesture and letting out a frustrated growl.

    “He says you’d understand much better if he had a real opponent,” Ayesha translated. “I can help a little next time, but only with staffs, and it isn’t quite the same. Full-size blades are too heavy for me to manipulate properly, but handling their weight is an important element of this style of combat.”

    They left the training room to go to the mess for lunch, where the remainder of the Hand of Judgement were due to meet them, and, soon after they had settled and tucked in, they saw Thrawn walk in. Ayesha gave him a timid smile which he answered with a polite bow, but Rumpy stood up to greet him, like every time his Kker-Bashha entered the room. He returned a few moments later, followed by Rukh, and went to pull a chair for his friend at the far end of the table. To his surprise, Ayesha stood up and held out her hand. “I realise that I never introduced myself properly,” she said. “I am Ayesha Eskari of clan Vos, of the tribe of the Green Vines of Rwookrrorro.”

    The Noghri lifted her hand to his snout and sniffed it carefully. “Thank you, Ayesha clan Vos,” he answered finally in his strange, hissing voice. “I am Rukh clan Baikh’vair.” He saluted the rest of the group with a nod and sat to eat his ration bars in silence, but he was visibly less shy this time, and his eyes went curiously from one of the Humans to the other while they discussed the exercises they had practised that morning. Rumpy finally turned to him and placed a paw on his shoulder.

    “Rumpy says you should watch him spar with Rukh,” Ayesha translated. “He says the Noghri fighting sickles are a worthy weapon against a ryyk blade. If the Grand Admiral would allow it –”

    The Wookiee interrupted her with a low rumble. She laughed. “Yes, I think he will. It’s not like he needs a bodyguard on his own ship.”

    Rukh went to say something but Rumpy rose to his feet and dragged him away, grunting and huffing and patting him playfully on the back. “They make quite a pair, don’t they?” Quiller commented.

    Ayesha smiled, but her eyes were focused on the wrappings that Rukh had left on the table. “Does he always eat ration bars?”

    “I never saw him eat anything else,” LaRone said with a shrug. “Maybe they don’t have suitable foods for him here. But then, he’s usually standing behind the Admiral while he eats, so maybe it’s for reasons of convenience too.”

    It turned out that Thrawn was more than amenable to the idea of releasing Rukh from his duties and they all agreed to have an extended training session two days later, followed by a debriefing over lunch in Ayesha’s lounge. Rumpy could see that his sister was preoccupied that afternoon and throughout the next day, but she wouldn’t say why. She went about her teaching duties and spent some time in the analysts’ office, but she disappeared to the library in-between and just mumbled ‘research’ when he asked what she was up to. Benduday morning finally came, and Rukh was already in the hallway when Ayesha and Rumpy headed out of their quarters, standing by the training room door with a long-handled, vicious-looking curved blade resting on his shoulder. The stormtroopers soon joined them, and the six Humans sat along the wall while Rukh and Rumpy bowed to each other and took their positions on the training mats.

    The Noghri was indeed a fearsome fighter, and Ayesha shuddered more than once at the thought of the wounds he could inflict had this not been a mere demonstration of skill, but she didn’t stay in the training room for long. As soon as she was certain that the two combatants were too ensconced in their mock fight to pay attention to her, she whispered ‘‘fresher’ to Quiller and slipped outside, but instead of returning to her room she headed straight for the Grand Admiral’s private office. The trooper on duty outside was visibly surprised to see her, but she argued that she only needed a few minutes of his time, and after a quick conversation on his comlink he opened the door and let her in.

    The office was exactly as she had seen it during her last visit, and she swallowed somewhat uncomfortably at the memory, but Thrawn stood up and gestured for her to sit with utmost courtesy. He circled the desk and settled on the chair facing hers. “Thank you for coming, Miss Eskari. I was expecting your visit at some point.” She gave him a puzzled look. “I assume that you wish to discuss the issue of your arrest warrant?”

    At this Ayesha was visibly taken aback. “Oh, no, not really,” she blurted. “I only wanted to ask you a quick question, if that’s okay.” He arched an eyebrow. “I’d just like to know what Rukh eats.”

    The eyebrow travelled higher. “Ration bars, as far as I know. May I ask why?”

    She shook her head. “I meant what his species eat when they’re on a regular diet. I went to the library to find out about them, but they aren’t even listed in the databases.”

    Thrawn stared at her intently for a few moments. “Indeed, they are not. Again, may I ask why you require this information?”

    “I just wanted to do something nice for him,” she said, blushing slightly. “Rumpy told me how Rukh saved his life and... well, I understand that he can’t accept the life-debt, but I thought that he could accept a proper meal.”

    Thrawn remained impassive as he stood up and returned to the seat behind his desk. He activated the terminal, inserted a datacard in the slot and, moments later, handed her a printout. “This is a list of the comestible plants and animals on the Noghri homeworld. I doubt that we stock them on this ship, but the kitchen staff should be able to provide you with adequate substitutes.” His face softened a little. “Rukh will be grateful for your attention, Miss Eskari. The near-entirety of his home planet was poisoned in an ecological disaster towards the end of the Clone Wars, and his species mostly survive on ration bars while decontamination is under way. You should know that he will perceive a very simple meal as a feast. I advise you not to do too much, lest he should think of himself as being in your debt. I would need to find myself another bodyguard if that were to be the case.”

    Ayesha smiled and took the flimsi sheet. “Thank you.”

    “There is one more thing you should know about the Noghri,” Thrawn said as she stood up. “Their homeworld was discovered by Lord Vader after its destruction, and he was the one who provided them with assistance. In serving the Empire, they are serving him. I have informed Rukh of your... mental bond to Lord Vader. He – and his entire race, once he transmits this information to them – consider themselves honour-bound to protect you.”

    She blushed again. “Is there anyone aboard this ship who doesn’t know about this Vader business?” she mumbled.

    “Extremely few people are actually aware of it, Miss Eskari. Doctor Cottle only informed Captain Parck and Captain Niriz, who in turn informed me. Beyond that, the only people in the know are those you have informed yourself. We consider this to be an entirely private matter, and the only reason I brought it up is that I thought it appropriate to notify Rukh due to his kind’s special relationship to Lord Vader.”

    She looked at him perplexedly. “So you don’t want to ask me questions about Anakin – about Lord Vader?”

    Thrawn let out an inaudible sigh. “None at all, Miss Eskari. I only want to apologise for unwittingly putting you through this ordeal.”

    Ayesha was opening her mouth to speak when the battle stations alarms rang across the Admonitor and the comm on Thrawn’s desk beeped. “A small fleet has come out of hyperspace in sector thirty-eight, Sir,” Niriz’s voice said. “A preliminary count gives us five Firekiln-class heavy cruisers, twenty-one escort ships, and six Whisperlike-class fighters. They should be in firing range within minutes. It’s an ambush.”

    “Bring up the shields to maximum,” Thrawn replied curtly. “Launch the clawcraft. I will join you on the bridge immediately.” He turned to Ayesha. “My apologies for the interruption, Miss Eskari. I trust that you obtained the information you were seeking?”

    “It’s Nuso Esva, isn’t it?” she asked. He arched an eyebrow again. “Captain Niriz said Firekilns. That’s Nuso Esva. Major Lasall told me.”

    The Grand Admiral stared at her for a moment. “Indeed,” he said finally. “Would you care to accompany me?”

    Rukh was already waiting for them as they exited the turbolift, his fighting sickle resting on his shoulder as if a deadly blade was the most natural thing to carry on a Star Destroyer’s bridge. The crew of the Admonitor were going about their work with their usual efficiency, but Ayesha could almost smell the tension in the air. Thrawn headed straight to his command chair. “Report.”

    “More ships jumped in, Sir,” Niriz replied. “We are now at seven Firekilns, twenty-eight escort ships, and ten fighters. They’re keeping their distance, it seems that they want to regroup before they engage us.”

    Ayesha saw the clawcraft squadron zoom around the Admonitor, while the Grey Wolf sped forward and positioned herself at the other Star Destroyer’s side to overlap shields. She glanced at the main monitor, where a tactical display showed the alien fleet as red dots of varying sizes. Her eyebrows knit in concentration as she sought to block out the hubbub of the bridge. “Launch the TIE wing,” Niriz was ordering. “They are to circumvent the enemy and –”

    And suddenly it dawned on her. “They’re not here to ambush us,” she said breathlessly. “They’re fleeing something and they’re licking their wounds. Look at their formation. It’s the spiral pattern that’s associated with gestation and motherhood in their art.”

    Thrawn spun back towards her. He keyed a few commands on the pad on the arm of his chair, and a series of sculpts replaced the tactical display. His eyes glittered. “And of course you are correct, Miss Eskari,” he said with the faintest of smiles. “TIE wing, clawcraft, encircle and entrap. Captain Niriz, activate the tractor beams. This is our opportunity to take prisoners, perhaps even Nuso Esva himself.”

    “Too late,” she whispered, her gaze lost in the vastness of space. “They’re deploying in their radiating pattern now. They’re going to jump.”

    The Admonitor’s TIE fighters appeared on the display, where red dots were expanding like a blooming flower, and the entire enemy fleet suddenly vanished. “They’re gone, Sir,” Niriz said. “That was a total of eight Firekilns, thirty-one escorts, and twelve fighters. Quite a small force for Nuso Esva, if I may say so.”

    Thrawn nodded. “Quite. It seems that his encounters with the Vagaari have weakened him considerably, if he does not wish to engage us. Do we have a hyperspace vector?”

    “Feeding it to your console now, Sir,” an ensign piped up from the crew pit.

    The Grand Admiral glanced at the data on the monitor. “Excellent. Navigation, set a new course for us to follow him. Hopefully the Vagaari will be following him as well.” He turned to Ayesha. “That was a remarkably fast analysis, Miss Eskari. When you have a moment, I would like to hear your findings about the holos the Admonitor collected in the past few months. However” – he stood up to escort her to the turbolift – “I believe that you and Rukh had other plans for this morning, and I would hate to disrupt your schedule. Thank you for your assistance, you have been most helpful.”
     
  22. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    [face_dancing] [face_dancing] Does a victory/happy happy wriggle dance! Oh exquisite! Ayesha's psychological profiling through art ;) came in literally on the spot handy [face_love] And she and Thrawn definitely feel on a more comfy footing work-wise, not walking on eggshells, like if I whisper something will shatter. [face_thinking] Rukh putting on the show with Rumpy all kinds of cool! Noghri have always struck me as incredibly fierce, fascinating culturally, and loyal. :cool:
     
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  23. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Hooray for Rukh! =D= Great to see him again, and to know that Ayesha's got him on her side (even if it's ultimately because of her Vader connection). He seems like he could end up being a very strong, loyal ally. He can't be a wimp if he can hold his own against Rumpy's ryyk blades. And the Wookiee martial-arts technique names ("The rroshm bluff... The asyyyriak lunge... The needlebug sting... The netcaster throw...") are just the cherry on the sundae. :D

    I just looove Ayesha's idea to have a proper Noghri-style meal prepared as a thank-you to Rukh. For one thing, it's such a quintessentially Chyntuck idea. :D For another, it'll send him over the moon (!) with happiness, and he deserves it for all he's done. For another, it shows very much that her good heart is still there, even with all she's been through. Looking forward to seeing what will come of that.

    This has got to be one of Ayesha's finest art-interpretation moments yet, because here we're seeing her talents in that area really and truly in action—right in the midst of what very nearly was an out-and-out battle. I'm very intrigued by the clawcrafts' behavior: what were they fleeing from, and why? Where will the Admonitor follow them to? What will happen there? Find out soon on the next exciting installment of, etc., etc.! :D
     
  24. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Oh the irony....it's so artistically done. :)

    I will ask, because it's been a while since I've read Heir to the Empire, didn't Thrawn know the true circumstances of the poisoning of Honoghr? I'm having trouble reconciling this Thrawn (and Zahn's early Thrawn) who are anti-slavery, and a Thrawn who would keep the Noghri in servitude because it suits his purpose...and lie to Ayesha about them.

    I, too, loved Ayesha's heart-to-heart with her little brother. Rumpy is wise. (We younger siblings don't get enough credit in that regard :D) I thought it was beautiful when he asked "Who do you want to be?" For once, Ayesha gets to make that choice for herself;
     
  25. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Oh the irony....it's so artistically done. :)

    I will ask, because it's been a while since I've read Heir to the Empire, didn't Thrawn know the true circumstances of the poisoning of Honoghr? I'm having trouble reconciling this Thrawn (and Zahn's early Thrawn) who are anti-slavery, and a Thrawn who would keep the Noghri in servitude because it suits his purpose...and lie to Ayesha about them.

    I, too, loved Ayesha's heart-to-heart with her little brother. Rumpy is wise. (We younger siblings don't get enough credit in that regard :D) I thought it was beautiful when he asked "Who do you want to be?" For once, Ayesha gets to make that choice for herself; there's no Zaarin, Palpy', Vader or assorted madmen to force her to be what they want or need... I hope.
     
    AzureAngel2, Chyntuck and Findswoman like this.