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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
    I am woefully behind on this fic, but I promise to set aside some time to delve back in because I've missed these characters!
     
  2. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing [:D]
    [face_laugh] Actually, you have read exactly the same book. Which is why you know what's wrong with what he's telling Ayesha...

    There was going to be a moment when Thrawn's ploys would come to bite him in the behind ;) He believed Ayesha would continue to swallow forever the half-truths he was feeding her, but he didn't realise that she understood a lot more about his scheming nature during her stay on the Admonitor, and she's paying a lot more attention now.


    There's a lot Thrawn could do or have done to protect Ayesha's mental state, and not playing around with the Force is at the top of that list -- and the fact that Ayesha is finding out about what he's up to by eavesdropping on conversations is certainly not helpful. Thrawn's concern was that, if he raised the issue of manipulating for Force and Force users with Ayesha, it would cause her a lot of distress, which was likely a correct assumption -- but he assumed that she would never find out that he was doing it nevertheless. He didn't notice apparently that the title of this fic is Ἀνάγκη and that what is bound to happen will happen [face_devil]

    To answer your question, yes, we're back to Monday-Thursday, but there are only two chapters and the epilogue to go -- so the last post will be on Thursday next week. It feels weird [face_worried]
    Thanks! I've been so much under siege by DRL lately that I completely empathise, and part III of this story is such a behemoth that you'll definitely need a lot of time if you choose to catch up [face_blush] I just wanted you to see the mention of Eurydice, because that was just a well-deserved compliment ^:)^

    Thanks again to everyone who dropped by! Next chapter up straight away.
     
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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 WarmNyota_SweetAyesha for beta-reading [:D]

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

    Chapter 48: Respite

    Thrawn had feared that Doctor Mikla’s warning about Ayesha’s failing ability to cope with her episodes and blanks would increase the pressure on her mind to the breaking point. He was surprised to find that it actually had the opposite effect. He had rarely seen her so calm, so composed and so serene since the day they’d met for the first time in a corridor of the Imperial Palace, and it soon became clear to him that she was focusing all her energy on disciplining the stray thoughts and images that flashed randomly through her head. She spent several hours every day deep in meditation, and more than once he found her sitting cross-legged on the bed in the middle of the night, her eyes closed and her breath deep and soothing as her lips formed silent words for their unborn child. He did his best to remain perfectly still so as not to disrupt her concentration, but it was as if she could sense that he was awake. She turned to him and smiled.

    “Our baby is in a talkative mood tonight,” she whispered. “Or maybe he’s just displaying his talent as a percussionist. Either way, I’ve been telling him that he should sleep at night. There will be plenty of time for music when he’s born.”

    Thrawn sat up and drummed his fingertips on the taut skin of her belly. He was answered by a few soft raps on the inside. “She has quite a sense of tempo, Ayoo’sha. We should start looking for an orchestra for her as soon as possible.”

    Ayesha laughed. “You’re really sure that it’s a girl, aren’t you?”

    “Oh, I am quite certain. Of course, I cannot exclude the possibility that she has been teasing me, and I will be equally happy if it turns out to be a boy. However” – his eyes twinkled with amusement in the dark room – “the one thing that is incontestably true is that this child is taking after her mother. She always wants to have the last word.” He poked her belly again, eliciting a mild punch in reply. “Do you see what I mean?”

    Ayesha now consistently avoided any discussion of Thrawn’s work and she always changed the subject when he brought it up. The only time she allowed herself a comment was on the day when Thrawn announced that Master C’baoth would soon be leaving the fleet to retire to a world called Jomark. “This is a good thing,” she said with an approving nod. “Then you’ll be able to restore the Force to the ship. The baby will like it. I don’t think he should be growing up in a Force void.” Thrawn opened his mouth to object, but she silenced him with a finger on his lips. “You’re playing with life itself, Thrawn. I’m not going to discuss your military options, but when it comes to our child, I want to have a say. And I’m saying that this is unnatural.”

    He went to speak again. “Not now,” she said sternly. “We’ll have this discussion when the time comes. Just think of it until then, okay?”

    Thrawn hesitated to press the matter – his concern for Ayesha’s well-being was the only topic that trumped the importance he gave to his child – but her jaw was set in the stubborn face he knew all too well, and he dreaded the consequences that such a conversation could have if it were to turn into one of their well-rehearsed arguments. He finally decided to set it aside for now, and he merely pulled her close and pressed his lips to her forehead before asking her about her new artistic ventures.

    When she was not meditating or otherwise looking after herself, Ayesha spent her days on the couch or in her study. She had inaugurated a new sketchpad and she quickly produced an entire sabacc card game for her child where the face cards were portraits of her family and friends. She insisted that Thrawn describe his parents and brother, and she drew them too to complete the deck. “Our daughter will develop quite a sense of humour when she is old enough to understand that her mother is the Idiot card,” Thrawn commented.

    Ayesha winked. “No. Our son will learn that the only failsafe winning strategy is to have his Ata’ on his side.”

    Thrawn stared at her for a moment, as if seeking to decipher a hidden meaning in her words, but she winked playfully again. “Fair enough, Ayoo’sha. Fair enough.”

    * * *​

    Thrawn’s campaign had now begun in earnest, and while all there was to see for the untrained eye were a series of hit-and-run attacks on worlds affiliated with the New Republic, the time he spent on the Chimaera’s bridge was a clear indication that his plans were in motion and that an apex was soon to come. The only thing that punctuated Ayesha’s weeks was Major Mikla’s regular visits. The doctor came around every other day to check on her and the baby. He always spoke in his quiet, reassuring voice after he was done examining her, but she could tell by the slight frown that creased his brow that something preoccupied him. “You shouldn’t worry so much about something you can’t control,” she told him once as he unpacked the handheld scanner from his kit. “I’m not going to lose my marbles now. I want to be the mother of my child, and that means I have to be around after he’s born.”

    Mikla gave her a small smile. “It still bothers me that I can’t do anything to help you, but this isn’t my main concern right now. I can still not detect your baby’s genital organs, and we’re reaching the limit of the timeframe that the Admiral cited as being the norm for sentients of his kind.”

    “You’re worried that there could be a malformation,” she said matter-of-factly as she lay on the bed.

    “I worry mostly that I don’t know what I’m doing. I have limited experience with cross-species reproduction, and I know virtually nothing of the Admiral’s origins. I wouldn’t become an expert overnight, obviously, but I do wish that I had some more information to go by.” He activated the scanner. “But I shouldn’t let this spoil the pleasure of my visits to you. Do you know how happy it makes me to come and check on a new life in the making? Even Skana beeps more cheerfully now.” He waved the small device comically in the air.

    Ayesha laughed. “You call it Skana?”

    “All handheld scanners are called Skana. At least, that’s what my daughter used to say when she was a toddler. I’ve grown to find that they have different personalities. This here is Skana the Twenty-Third. His younger sibling Skana the Twenty-Fourth is looking after my grandchildren.” He pulled her tank top to reveal her belly. “Now if you will please take a few deep breaths, Skana will tell us what there is to know.”

    It was a few visits later that the doctor let out a victory whoop when the scanner’s lights flashed and a series of beeps and chirrups erupted from its circuitry. His face broke into a wide grin. “Do you want to know?” Ayesha nodded eagerly. “It’s a girl. Congratulations, Miss Eskari. The Admiral and you are officially expecting a daughter.”

    She gave him her most radiant smile. “Thrawn will like that. He always said it was a girl, I wonder how he knew.”

    The doctor laughed as he packed up his kit. “There was one chance in two that he’d be correct. If you had a bet going, he won.”

    “We didn’t. But it’s a bet I’d be happy to lose.”

    As soon as the doctor was gone, Ayesha reached for her sketchpad and opened it to the page she had reserved for the two Star cards. Thrawn was on the bridge once more – the Chimaera was raiding a world named Nkllon, she knew as much – but she wanted to share her joy, and she thought that this could be a clever way to announce to him that his wish for a baby girl had been fulfilled. She quickly outlined a portrait of her daughter in the middle of one of the pentagrams and a portrait of Thrawn in the other, and once she was happy with the result she went to her study and extracted her colouring kit from the drawer. She took her time to find the right shade for the skin tone – it was no difficulty to replicate Thrawn’s light blue, but she did want to achieve the hue of silvery grey that she expected her own olive tan to give to her child. She then cut out the cards and trimmed the edges carefully, added them to the deck and pressed her ear to the door of the meditation chamber.

    All she could hear was the light hum of electronics – either Thrawn was still out and about, or he was alone. She palmed the door’s panel and peered inside, and once she was sure that the room was deserted she stepped towards the command chair. She would hang most of the cards from the inner ring of the circular repeater display and reserve the two Stars and the Idiot for the monitor that connected the Grand Admiral to the rest of the ship. Then she would hide in the shadows in the back of the room and observe his expression as he took them in.

    The small screen on the armrest was switched off. She activated it and upped the volume to see where Thrawn was and figure out how long she had to prepare her little surprise. She found him immediately on the bridge, sitting in a chair identical to the one she was occupying. Crewmen and technicians were standing up and leaving their posts, indicating that whatever operation they had been conducting was over, and Captain Pellaeon was addressing Thrawn, who nodded approvingly and swivelled his chair to speak to a man she could not see. She was about to begin her installation when the holocam panned out a little, and the sight of his interlocutor caused her blood to freeze in her veins.

    It was an elderly man with a long white beard and brown homespun robes similar to those Quinlan Vos used to wear in the days of the Old Republic, but it was the taut expression of his face and the half-demented gleam of his eyes that made her skin crawl. Thrawn had mentioned that Master C’baoth’s long, lonely years on Wayland had left him unbalanced, but the man she saw was not merely unhinged. He was outright insane.

    “Skywalker is on Nkllon?” Thrawn asked.

    In the very centre of the battle,” C’baoth replied.

    And you said nothing to me?” She knew this quiet, dangerous inflection of Thrawn’s voice. He was obviously most displeased with the Jedi master.

    The elderly man, who had been smiling smugly, suddenly reverted to an ominous expression. “I told you before, Grand Admiral Thrawn: you will leave Skywalker alone. I will deal with him – in my own time, in my own way. All I require of you is the fulfilment of your promise to take me to Jomark.

    There was something so sinister in his tone that she shivered again. Whatever this man had in store for Anakin’s son wasn’t good, she was certain of it. Was C’baoth somehow befuddling Thrawn’s mind despite the ysalamiri she could see scattered around the bridge? Had he found a way to bypass the Force void and reach into Thrawn’s thoughts? She had to warn Thrawn, this was not safe – not for him, not for her, not for their baby girl...

    The small monitor now showed C’baoth who was rising to his feet. “I will rest now, Grand Admiral Thrawn. Alert me if you need my assistance.”

    Certainly.”

    But this was Thrawn’s voice, the sardonic voice he used when sparring verbally with an ally who could just as well be an opponent. She remembered it well from the endless negotiations with the Stromma aboard the Admonitor. The memory brought a smile to her lips – Thrawn had been so ironic as to be infuriating, yet polite enough not to give the alien leaders the opening they sought for a full-fledged argument... C’baoth wasn’t manipulating him, he was the one being manipulated.

    I want a course projection, Captain,” she heard Thrawn say as she relaxed in her seat. “The most direct line from Nkllon to Jomark, at the best speed a hyperdrive-equipped X-wing could take it.

    Yes, Admiral.” Pellaeon disappeared briefly from the screen, then returned. “You think he’s right about Skywalker going there?

    The Jedi had ways of influencing people, Captain, even over considerable distances. It is possible that even out here he was close enough to Skywalker to plant a suggestion or compulsion. Whether those techniques will work on another Jedi – we will see.

    Well, even if Skywalker leaves Nkllon immediately, there won’t be any problem getting C’baoth to Jomark ahead of him.

    I knew that much already, Captain,” Thrawn said. “What I need is a bit more challenging. We are going to drop C’baoth off on Jomark, then backtrack to a point on Skywalker’s projected course. A point at least twenty light-years away, I think.

    Even on the tiny monitor, she could see Pellaeon frown. “I don’t understand, sir.”

    It is quite simple, Captain. I mean to disabuse our great and glorious Jedi Master of his growing belief that he is indispensable to us.

    Ayesha didn’t get where the conversation was heading, but Captain Pellaeon apparently did. “So we wait along Skywalker’s projected approach to Jomark and ambush him?

    Precisely. At which point we decide whether to capture him for C’baoth – or simply kill him.

    Pellaeon’s next sentence was lost to Ayesha as she stifled a gasp. She stared at the monitor in horror as Thrawn continued speaking. “Skywalker has proved himself to be highly dangerous, and by all accounts has already withstood at least one attempt to turn him. C’baoth should have more success bending Skywalker’s sister and her twins to his will.

    She slammed her hand on the keypad so violently that the little device emitted a spark as the screen went blank. This could not be. This was impossible.

    Yet she had heard it from the dewback’s mouth, and all the pieces fell in place as the memories of the last conversation she had overheard came flooding back. C’baoth had sold his service and loyalty – if he had any loyalties at all – in exchange for Jedi, and the only known Jedi in the Galaxy were Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa Solo.

    And Thrawn had agreed deliver to him not only Anakin’s children, but also his unborn grandchildren – the twins that Leia Organa Solo was carrying, that had been conceived on the same day as her daughter, the daughter that Thrawn had sworn to love and protect...

    She looked haggardly around the room, hoping against hope that she would wake up and find that it was a dream, a hallucination, an insight into something that could have been but didn’t happen – but her eyes fell the ysalamiri hanging from their nutrient frames on the walls, and she knew that the Force was not there to give her a vision. What she had seen was the truth in its rawest, most brutal form. Thrawn, the man she loved, the father of her child, was going to steal another woman’s children and hand them to a madman who would seek to shape them in his image and turn them to the Dark Side of the Force.

    She could not allow that to happen. Not to Thrawn, not to their daughter.

    She stood up abruptly, grabbed her deck of cards and returned to her quarters. She knew that Thrawn wouldn’t be persuaded to change his plans. But there was one thing that would force him to abandon them altogether, and she would do it.

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

    Note: The second half of this chapter takes place concurrently with chapter 13 of HttE, from which the dialogue in italics is borrowed.
     
  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb blending into events of HTTE :cool: I adore and applaud Ayesha's priorities and clarity.
     
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  5. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Goodness gracious, Thrawn, you're negotiating with a known baddie like Joruus C'baoth about ambushing Luke Skywalker? Of course I know that's from HTTE, but when that's combined with the way he keeps putting off Ayesha's concerns about "playing with life itself," it takes on an even darker cast. As someone who's had the experience of finding out my baby's sex ahead of time, that for me was a point at which he sort of became for me a real, flesh-and-blood person rather than an abstract being—a boy instead of "just a plain ol' baby," as one American children's rhyme goes. Ayesha seems to be feeling the same way now that she's found out she's having a daughter, and that makes both Thrawn's plan and her knowledge of it all the direr. But she seems to have a plan in mind, and that's a good thing. After all the hush-hush planning and scheming her lifemate has been engaging in, it will be interesting to see how her plan pans out—Thrawn may be in for one of those "he that diggeth a pit shall fall therein" situations. [face_thinking]

    On the lighter side, I liked the concept of the sabacc cards with pictures of family members—that is a very Ayesha gift, and I imagine there may eventually be some carved wooden toys in the mix, too. :)
     
  6. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    “Our baby is in a talkative mood tonight,” she whispered. “Or maybe he’s just displaying his talent as a percussionist. Either way, I’ve been telling him that he should sleep at night. There will be plenty of time for music when he’s born.”

    Thrawn sat up and drummed his fingertips on the taut skin of her belly. He was answered by a few soft raps on the inside. “She has quite a sense of tempo, Ayoo’sha. We should start looking for an orchestra for her as soon as possible.”

    Ayesha laughed. “You’re really sure that it’s a girl, aren’t you?”

    “Oh, I am quite certain. Of course, I cannot exclude the possibility that she has been teasing me, and I will be equally happy if it turns out to be a boy. However” – his eyes twinkled with amusement in the dark room – “the one thing that is incontestably true is that this child is taking after her mother. She always wants to have the last word.” He poked her belly again, eliciting a mild punch in reply. “Do you see what I mean?”

    Thrawn can be so sweet and teasing with her in private and is such a cold, manipulative son of a Hutt when in Grand Admiral modus.

    Ayesha will NOT accept babies and pregnant woman being delivered to mad Jedi clones.
     
  7. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you for reading and reviewing! Very quick replies today because I have a plane to catch :)
    Thanks :) There are a couple of things that matter so much to Ayesha that she won't overlook them, even for Thrawn... It seems that he found one of them.
    Thrawn has managed to create a situation where he'll lose everything, or nearly everything. Ayesha knows that her plan will work, but at what cost?
    Umm... yes and no ;) At least, no wooden toys in this story, but there will be a mini-sequel!

    "Son of a Hutt" is something I need to remember... and it's a pretty good description of Thrawn in Grand Admiral mode, even if the genetics are difficult to imagine :p



    Thanks again to everyone who stopped by to read! Next chapter up straight away.
     
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  8. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    So here we go for the last chapter of this story, full of Greek pathos. There will be an epilogue after that, and then, yes, it's over [face_worried]

    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 WarmNyota_SweetAyesha for beta-reading [:D]

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

    Chapter 49: The light in the dark

    When Thrawn returned to their quarters late in the evening – his debriefing with Pellaeon and the Chimaera’s senior officers had lasted far longer than expected – he found Ayesha sitting on the sofa in the lounge, staring at the small table. She was wearing her nightdress and the droplets that shone on her shoulders were evidence that she had already showered. She didn’t look up when he walked in. “You should towel your hair better when you bathe, Ayoo’sha,” he said. “Best to avoid developing a cold while –”

    She interrupted him. “It will be a little girl, you know.” Her eyes were still focused on the table.

    His stern face broke into a warm smile. “A girl?”

    She nodded. “Yes, a little girl. A very small little girl, very tiny. I will be holding her like this.” She mimed cradling an infant in her arms. “She will be very pretty,” she added after a few seconds.

    He came to sit at her side to hide his emotion and laid his palm on her belly. “Yes, very pretty,” he murmured in her ear. “Like her mother.”

    “Yes,” she repeated absent-mindedly. “Like her mother.” Thrawn arched an eyebrow but she didn’t notice. “And she’ll only be the first, you know. She won’t be alone. There will be many others after her.”

    His smile widened as he processed her reply. “As many as you want, Ayoo’sha. There will be as many as you want.”

    She gave him a puzzled look. “Me? But I don’t want. I don’t want at all.”

    He pulled back a little to gaze at her, visibly perplexed by her answer. “Do you not want to have this child anymore?”

    Her eyes shifted abruptly to her belly. “Oh, no. It won’t be her. You won’t let him.”

    “Ayoo’sha, what are you talking about?”

    “You won’t let him,” she repeated. She looked at him expectantly. “Will you? He’ll want to take her, you know.”

    “Who, Ayoo’sha? Who are you talking about?”

    She seemed completely startled by the question. “Paraseel Malki, of course,” she said as if it were obvious. “He’s hungry. He wants to take them all.”

    Thrawn looked at her carefully, concern written all over his face. “Ayoo’sha, Paraseel Malki is dead. Your Jedi uncle went after him when we were still living on Coruscant. Did you forget?”

    She shook her head. “No, no, he’s here. I saw him today from your command room. He has a white beard now but I recognized him. He was talking to you on the bridge.”

    He took a deep breath, visibly struggling to maintain his composure but also hesitating in which direction to take the conversation. “The man you saw today is not Paraseel Malki,” he said finally. “It is Jedi Master C’baoth. I explained to you that –”

    She shook her head again. “It’s him. I know it. The man who wants to take the children.”

    She remained silent for a while, as if her mind had wandered off. “We should call Doctor Mikla,” Thrawn whispered. “You do not seem to be feeling very well.”

    “The doctor? No, I saw him already. He said everything’s okay, he said it’s a little girl.” She sank into silence once more. “But him, he’s not okay,” she spluttered. “He’s a very bad man, very bad. He wants to take all the little children and then he’ll make me hold them while he steals their minds.”

    Thrawn cupped her face in his hands. There was something off about her eyes, as if their sparkle was dying out. “Ayoo’sha, please, listen to me. You are not making sense. You need to focus. Paraseel Malki is dead, he died seven years ago. You are here, on the Chimaera, with me.”

    She stared at him blankly and suddenly gave a start, as if noticing his presence for the first time. “What happened?” she asked. “Where am I?”

    His thumbs were now clawing into her cheeks. “Focus,” he repeated. “Do you know who I am?”

    She frowned in concentration. “You’re... you’re Qubshi be-khadeeb,” she answered hesitantly. “Yes,” she added after a moment. “You’re Qubshi be-khadeeb. You’re my light in the dark.” She paused and started speaking again, very fast, as if in a hurry. “That’s what it means, you know. Qubshi be-khadeeb. It means ‘my light in the dark’ in Old Kiffar. But you shouldn’t tell anyone, it’s a secret, it’s a big secret. They’ll come after you if they know. They’re very dangerous. And then I won’t have a light.”

    “All right, Ayoo’sha, all right. I will keep the secret, I promise. Do you know where we are?” Her gaze wandered around the room. “Where are we?” he pressed.

    She stared at the black sky outside the viewport. “It’s the night. We’re in the tower. I should hide now before he comes. It’s very painful, you know. I don’t want to do it, but he always makes me.”

    Thrawn went to speak but she escaped his grip and ran to the bedroom. He followed her to see her pull her nightdress over her head. “It’s easier this way,” she explained, now standing naked in the middle of the room. “Without my clothes I can hide in the little corner and he won’t find me. You won’t tell him, will you? You shouldn’t tell him. He might take the baby.” She caressed her belly. “We can call her Thriyé, you know. Like my mother. That way she can be Mitth’riy’eskari. It’s a beautiful name and it’s easy. It’s easy.” She looked around the room with renewed anguish. “But now I have to hide. He’s coming.”

    Thrawn was beginning to panic. “Ayoo’sha, please. You do not need to hide. No one is coming. There is no tower. We are on the Chimaera. You are safe.”

    Her eyes were darting in all directions. “The little corner,” she mumbled, “where’s the little corner? He’ll find me, I don’t want him to find me. He’ll do it to me again.” She stopped dead in her tracks and turned back to Thrawn. “I wrote it for you,” she whispered, pointing behind him. “I wrote it down for you. All of it. Everything he does.”

    His gaze followed her pointed finger until he noticed a thick envelope on the bedside table. He tore it open and extracted a batch of flimsi sheets covered in Ayesha’s handwriting.

    I was never told the name of the first child that Paraseel Malki brought to me, so I called her Thriyé, like my mother. She was a tiny baby, no more than a few days old, and he told me that I should look after her. He brought everything I needed to feed, clean and clothe her and he left us alone for a few weeks.

    Thriyé was very upset in the beginning and she cried a lot. She missed her mother and she wanted me to hold her all the time. I gave up putting her in her crib at night and took her with me on the sleeping mat instead. I didn’t mind, it was winter on Kiffu and the tower was cold. Thriyé smelled nice and we kept each other warm, and I liked how she clutched my nightshirt while we slept – not that we slept much, she was too small for that, but I was less lonely and I began to love her. I think she loved me too.

    Then one day, Paraseel Malki came back and Thriyé started crying. He didn’t say anything, but she cried and cried and cried, and I was holding her and rocking her and telling her that she would be okay, that I was there for her. And then Paraseel Malki showed me what he was doing to her.

    It was as if sharp, clawed fingers were tearing into her mind to pick out her happy memories – the light, the colours, the feelings of warmth – and directed them to a black, gaping mouth that swallowed them whole, leaving for her only the fear of being ripped out of her mother’s womb, of her mother’s arms, of being alone and neglected and abandoned with a Force-forsaken child who could do nothing to protect her. I saw her soul become a cesspit of terror and dread, and when nothing was left of her but the dark, I felt Paraseel Malki suck out the last of her fear – and he showed me how much he enjoyed it, how it made him stronger.

    He showed it all to me, in my head.

    The next day, he brought another little girl whose name he didn’t say. I called her Thriyé again, and we started over.

    The letter went on for pages and pages, describing in excruciating detail the fate of every little girl Ayesha had named Thriyé, of every little boy she had named Namajib, explaining how she had tried to stand between them and the Sith Acolyte to protect them, or to hide with them in a caved-in ventilation shaft so that he couldn’t find them – and as the months went by and she grew in size, she had to remove her clothes in order to fit in her hidey-hole, and she started rubbing her skin with oil from her meals to make slipping inside the tiny opening less painful. There were days when her skin was so raw that she didn’t know if she was crying from the burning ache or from the mental torture Paraseel Malki was inflicting on her, and she didn’t know if she feared most the moment when he would steal a child’s soul or when she and her ward would suffocate together in the crawlspace. And then the episodes began – her mind replayed the scenes she had endured in an endless loop, and Paraseel Malki would come and heal her before grabbing the child he had entrusted to her care, laying it in the crook of her arm and showing her once more what he was capable of. By the time Quinlan Vos came to rescue her two years later, she was a feral child, a raving lunatic who screamed and hissed and spat at anyone who approached her, surrounded by a host of limp, expressionless bodies of children stewing in their own excrement because she couldn’t focus long enough to look after them anymore.

    Thrawn looked up from the last page, where Ayesha’s handwriting had become deformed and childish, and stared at her in horrified disbelief. She was still as a statue, still pointing at the desk. “Why did you do this, Ayoo’sha? You knew what the consequences would be if you released these memories. Why did you do it?”

    “So you’d know, Thrawn,” she answered, suddenly sounding perfectly lucid. “If you’re going to give him the children – Anakin’s grandchildren – you should know what he will do to them.”

    Understanding dawned on him. He threw the flimsies on the bed. “I will not do it. I will not give him the children.” Her eyes were becoming glassy and unfocused again. He grabbed her by the shoulders. “Do you hear me?” he shouted. “I will not give him the children, I will not!” He pulled her hand to him, palm upwards, and placed his own over it. “You have my word. I will not give him the children. Now please come back.” She was staring at him as if he weren’t there. He sank to his knees and buried his face in her belly. “Please come back to me.”

    There was a long silence. “It’s too late, Thrawn,” she finally whispered in an eerie voice. “It’s too late. He's coming for me now.”

    “He cannot come, Ayoo’sha. We are in a Force void, he cannot come.”

    “He can. He never left.” She tapped a finger to her forehead.

    Thrawn burst into sobs. “Please,” he begged. “Please. For our love, for our child, come back.” His tears were rolling on the taut skin of her belly. “Please, Ayoo’sha. I would not be half a man without your love.”

    She ran her fingers through his hair. “I’ll always love you, Qubshi be-khadeeb. Always. Love outlasts everything. Love outlasts pain, love outlasts madness, love even outlasts death.”

    The soft contact suddenly vanished and he felt her whole body shudder violently. She clutched her head in unspeakable pain. “I must go now. He’s here. You promised to Thriyé, to our Thriyé, you promised – ”

    She stopped mid-sentence. Her arms fell limply at her sides and she became perfectly still, as if frozen in time.

    Thrawn remained on his knees for a long while, not daring to look up as he murmured words of love and comfort to the child that was tumbling inside her. He finally took a deep breath and rose to his feet. Her face was entirely blank, as if her personality had been wiped out. He ran a trembling fingertip along her Qukuuf, down her cheek and over her lips. He pressed his mouth to hers in a long, languid kiss, before letting his hand trail down her shoulder and come to rest on her chest. Her heart was beating softly under the warm skin, and her breath was calm and steady, but there was nothing else, no reaction, no emotion to indicate that she was even alive. She was gone.
     
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  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Wow. Stunned by sheer elegance and poignancy and just. =D= =D=

    That was stupendously amazing, even as one half-expected and half-dreaded the eventuality at the same time. Her fortitude to withstand all that all these years speaks to her inner strength.

    Eagerly looking forward to all that I know will occur LOL since I have the promise of a mini-sequel. :*
     
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  10. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Oh, how incredibly sad! I keep thinking of Uumana's fate, a living/dead person who can't connect even to the man who loves her. It's amazing how long that Ayesha was able to withstand the trauma of those events.

    Surely Thrawn can't possibly follow through on helping Joruus C'baoth now! Thrawn is a father now; his daughter completely depends on him. He can't - but Anakin was in the same position, wasn't he, and he killed the children in the temple.

    The last words to him:
    :_|

    She did love him. And she made his life luminous. But everything ends and sometimes the weight of the past smothers the promise of the future.
     
  11. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Wow is right. [face_hypnotized] Intense stuff here—it took a couple of readthroughs for me to fully process things, and I am still not sure I have fully processed everything. Ayesha finally succumbed to the same fate as Uumana did, just as she feared she would—she's a living shell, without motion, without emotion, without personality—but in light of the last few sentences of the preceding chapter, it looks almost like she may have entered that state voluntarily, specifically to drive home to Thrawn the enormity of what he's doing and to get him to abandon his plan of aiding J. C'baoth? And I wonder, has she had the ability all along to enter that state, and was she saving it for the right moment? I am guessing it's not reversible. :(

    And there's an added element of pathos in the fact that there's no way Ayesha will ever know if it was successful or not. Thrawn may abandon his plans, but what if it turns out that C'baoth can go take what he wants anyway? [face_nail_biting]

    I wasn't prepared for just how horrific the details of Malki's torture of Ayesha really were; that bit was not easy to read, I won't lie. He was torturing both her and those poor, innocent younglings at the same time, in the most horrendous ways possible; he was perverting their love and attachment toward each other. And since C'baoth looks to be planning something very similar with the unborn Solo twins, no wonder the news of that affected Ayesha so much—even when she learned about Thrawn's plan for the clone army it didn't affect her on quite the same level (though affect her it did).

    So sad, but pretty darn incredible too. Looking forward to the epilogue, which I suspect might shed some light on my question marks above! (Though I'm glad to see one of my longtime question marks resolved at last, namely the meaning of Ayesha's favorite nickname for her lifemate: "my light in the dark." :) )
     
  12. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading! I'm struggling to catch up with coming home these days, so I'm going to save my replies to your reviews for later (which sucks beyond belief when you're posting the epilogue, but there you go [face_blush]). Thank you to all the wonderful readers, reviewers and lurkers who stuck with this story over more than a year and a half, I'm humbled [:D]

    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 WarmNyota_SweetAyesha for beta-reading [:D]

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

    Epilogue

    “All things move on in an appointed path, and our first day fixed our last. To each his established life goes on, unmovable by any prayer. To many their very fear is bane; for many have come upon their doom while shunning doom.”
    Seneca, Oedipus

    The three Lambda-class shuttles landed with parade-ground precision at the foot of Mount Tantiss as their TIE fighter escort shot overhead. Stormtroopers filed out of the boarding ramps and stood to attention. Rukh came out of the shuttle to the left, followed by Captain Pellaeon, Major Mikla and Grand Admiral Thrawn, who was leading a heavily cloaked figure by the hand.

    “I apologize for asking the question once more, Sir,” Mikla murmured, “but are you certain it is appropriate to bring Miss Eskari here?”

    “Miss Eskari will stay with me, Doctor,” Thrawn replied.

    “With all due respect, Sir, Miss Eskari doesn’t even know that you’re around. She would be better off on the Chimaera.”

    Thrawn lost his cool, calculating expression for a fraction of a second as sorrow washed over him. “Miss Eskari is my lifemate, Doctor. I should be there for her even when she does not know it. Especially when she does not know it.” He composed himself. “I will not let her out of my sight until my people come for her. Now let us settle in and begin our work.”

    Mikla paused and glanced at Pellaeon, who was speaking to a very stiff – an unusually stiff – Meizh Vermel. “I understand, Sir, and I apologize again for interfering. May I suggest however that we set up the temporary shelters instead of taking her into the mountain?” Thrawn cocked an eyebrow in question. “There is a darkness to this place that won’t do her any good.”

    Thrawn sighed. “Unfortunately, our work is deep inside the mountain. However, we will be here only for twenty days, perhaps less.” He took a few steps towards the gates. “I do appreciate your concern, Doctor. Thank you.”

    The four weeks went by in a blur. Thrawn spent hours in meetings with the engineers and geneticists in the cloning facility, leaving Ayesha in the care of an Emdee droid. He slipped back to the quarters that had been allocated to them at every opportunity and pulled her to sit on his lap, or laid her on the bed and entwined himself around her. He placed her hand on her belly and covered it with his to feel the baby kick. “Just a few more days, Ayoo’sha,” he murmured. “Just a few more days and this will be over.”

    The time to return to the Chimaera came and the Emdee delivered its morning report as Mikla waited by the door of the Admiral’s quarters. He noticed that an armour-clad stormtrooper was now on guard instead of Rukh, but the droid spoke before he could pursue that line of thought. “Same as usual, Sir,” it said in its melodious voice as Ayesha sat immobile under the advanced brain scanner. “We detect intense mental activity, but still no reaction.”

    “Should I ask our staff here to examine Miss Eskari, Sir?” Mikla suggested. “Some of the top medical minds of the Empire are currently in this facility.”

    “There will be no need, Major,” Thrawn replied coolly. “I received word from my people, their ship has reached the rendezvous point. Miss Eskari is henceforth in the custody of the Chiss Ascendancy. Did Captain Pellaeon load the shuttle?”

    "Yes, Sir, as per your instructions. There are enough supplies to last a lifetime, as well as furniture to the specifications you requested. Your people will only need to assemble it."

    Thrawn gave him a curt nod and led him out of Mount Tantiss. His white uniform sparkled in the sunlight as he walked to the central shuttle. He turned to the stormtrooper who was now guiding Ayesha. “You know what to do,” he said.

    The stormtrooper nodded and gave him a military salute, and, without another look at her, the Grand Admiral turned on his heel and walked up the boarding ramp, followed by Pellaeon, Mikla and their escort. The technicians finished loading some equipment and two of the three shuttles took off in a whine of repulsorlifts under the gaze of the stormtrooper and the Emdee droid, while Ayesha stood between them, staring blankly at the landing platform under her veil.

    * * *​

    The Lambda-class shuttle manoeuvred cautiously above the jungle planet and came to land in the small clearing. The blue-skinned, red-eyed pilot stood up from his seat and kicked away the stormtrooper armour that lay in a pile on the floor to lean over Ayesha, who was sitting immobile in the co-pilot’s chair. He bowed to press his lips to her forehead. “I will not be long, Ayoo’sha,” he murmured. “The droids and I will set up the shelter, and I will come for you.”

    He lowered the boarding ramp and stepped outside, followed by two DUM-series pit droids. All three set about mowing the tall grass and levelling the ground. He was soon drenched in sweat and stopped for a moment to pull his shirt over his head before getting back to work. The Japor snippet hanging from a leather thread around his neck bounced on his hairless chest with every movement.

    By mid-afternoon, they had built a spacious dwelling consisting of two bi-state memory plastic shelters. He ignored the pain pulsating in his shoulder – the wound inflicted by the Far Outsiders on Viezoth had left its mark – and proceeded to dispose the furniture that the droids were offloading. He set up a cosy lounge and dining area and assembled a double bed in the adjacent room, together with a crib, then moved to the second shelter and flung himself at the pile of planks lying on the ground. He worked with a fury until he had built an exact replica of Ayesha’s workshop on Coruscant, complete with table, bookcases, stools and potter’s wheel. He stood back and gazed at the empty storage area. “She will fill it,” he muttered.

    It was dark when Thrawn stepped out of the plastic shelter into the evening mist. He looked up at the sky, as he had done every night from this very spot during his years of exile. He thought of Doctor Simon, who had spent years caring for his disabled wife only to have her snatched again from him by the evil of the Empire. He thought of the Far Outsiders, who were rebuilding their fleet and preparing to sweep across the Galaxy. He thought of his clone, who was out in the stars fighting his war – a man who was aloof and cold-hearted, a man who saw everything in terms of manipulation and strategy, a man who had never known love – and his mind turned to memories of Ayesha. Ayesha covered in grime, smiling at him from the top of a ladder. Ayesha, stunning in an evening gown, flying around him in the Emperor’s ballroom. Ayesha in her baggy trousers and tank top, skipping happily towards him as he waited outside the open door. Ayesha in her workshop, her small hands running over a piece of wood, so resplendent that she seemed to dim the sunlight pouring in through the domed roof. Ayesha greeting him at the Plebeian Exhibition, Ayesha dancing bravely before an assembly of tortoise-like aliens, Ayesha waking him up in the med lab. Ayesha in bed at his side, lithe and beautiful despite her scars, her whole body shivering with anticipation as his hands and lips played on her skin. Ayesha standing naked in their quarters aboard the Chimaera while he knelt at her feet, running her delicate fingers through his hair as he buried his face in her bulging belly, and whispering to him that love outlasts pain, madness and death.

    The maintenance droids were bringing their luggage out of the shuttle. Thrawn walked up the boarding ramp and into the cockpit. She hadn’t moved a millimetre since he left, and she did not answer when he spoke her name. He pulled her gently to her feet and led her to the shelter, where he helped her sit in a comfortable armchair. The Emdee droid came to hover at her side.

    “This is where we will live from now on, Ayoo’sha,” he explained. “This is our home now. There will be no more fleets, wars and Force users. Only you, me and our child.” He opened a heavy travel trunk, extracted the Screaming Woman and the Lovers and placed them on the table. “I brought your Fijisi wood sculpts. I was too ashamed to go back to Nirauan and get more, I feared that Commander LaRone would take you from me – as he should. But I will go if you ask me to.” He dug into the trunk again and pulled out a sculptor’s toolkit. “I also brought you a few tools. There is a wide variety of trees on this planet, and I thought you might want to experiment a little with the wood and carve toys for our daughter when she grows up.”

    He looked at her hopefully, as if expecting a reaction. She didn’t even bat an eyelid. He lifted her hand and kissed it, then laid it back on the armrest, sighed and turned to the trunk to unpack their clothes. He finally found bed sheets and covers and went to the bedroom to make their bed. “Sir,” the Emdee droid called suddenly.

    Thrawn leapt to the door separating the two rooms and looked at Ayesha. Her hand had left the armrest and was lying flat on her belly. The droid’s triangular head wobbled slightly before returning to him. “She has moved.”
     
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  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb and breathtaking close to match every single post. Bravo on finishing despite every wacky curve ball from DRL :p and thank you beyond expression for bringing Ayesha to our attention and Thrawn to deep life in all his complexity. [face_love] [:D]
     
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  14. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    In every relationship you cannot know what your words and actions can cause within your partner. Especially when that partner is a traumatized abuse victim.

    Each time Thrawn wants to make the universe a better place for Ayesha he fails her. Either he is too enthusiastic or his "work" comes in between.

    I hope she can recover this time & will not end up mad like a character in a Greek tragedy.
     
  15. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Wow! This is quite an ending to this saga. Am I right there's a bit of an AU at work here? But in a way this fits too with the canonical Thrawn, since as I recall he too had plans about making various clones of himself to serve various purposes. There's a lot of pathos in the way he so painstakingly crafts an exact replica of their old place, right down to her workshop—a workshop that it looks (at first) like she'll never be able to use in her Uumana-like state. :( He's trying as hard as he can to reclaim the life they once had, the grace and artistry she once had—a very understandable reaction when one has a loved one in this state. Ditto his reminiscences of all the different ways she has appeared throughout the story: as artist, creator, heroine, beloved, and much more.

    But am I right that in this case it might not actually be in vain? That we're given a gleam of hope at the very end that maybe Ayesha has more hope than Uumana did, that there is a small chance that she will eventually be able to fill those shelves with sculpts? That would be incredible beyond belief if so—and I did hear something about a mini-sequel, yes? [face_batting] Just that one little iota of hope just make everything Ayesha's been through so far worthwhile.

    Thanks for sharing this with us over these past two years—it's been an incredible ride following this from the start till now. =D=
     
  16. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Has it been two years??? Thanks to you, I can't see Thrawn in the same way again. :D You've made him so much more than the already well-developed character that we saw in the novels.

    The epilogue was genius. Thrawn's problem with their relationship was always that she needed his undivided attention, and the fleet needed his undivided attention too. If only he could clone...wait a minute!!

    So relieved that Ayesha shows signs of recovery![face_praying] Maybe surrounding her with stimulating things will give her the boost she needs. Simon couldn't devote undivided attention to Uumana; maybe this attention will be what Ayesha needs to come back.

    I'm a bit confused though. Maybe I didn't read it correctly?

    The discarded stormtrooper armor in the next scene tells me that it was Thrawn who was the stormtrooper spoken to. But then why would the Thrawn!Clone tell the Real!Thrawn "you know what to do" as if the clone were directing the original?

    [face_thinking]

    I wonder if it really matters. Wouldn't the clone love her too? But then what does it tell me if the original would rather be the admiral than her lifemate? Maybe he feels he's too important to the fate of the galaxy - and the galaxy > Ayesha?



    Well, I guess I will have to wait for the sequel!
     
  17. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Okie-dokie, yet another thread where I'm more than six months late in thanking y'all for reading and reviewing [face_blush] It could be worse though, as seen in other threads where I was nearly a year late, but I realise that's not an excuse. Sorry about that!

    So. Thanks for reading and reviewing, and thanks to everyone who stuck with Ayesha until the end! Here are a few replies to your very kind comments.

    Chapter 49
    Thank you :)
    Well, you know, it had to happen -- it's Ἀνάγκη, the goddess of fate to whom the gods themselves must submit. And Ἀνάγκη always intervenes in the moment in time where the chain of events needs to be re-adjusted, so that the ultimate outcome (in this case, the victory of the light side over the dark side) becomes a reality.

    Thank you :) The parallel with Anakin was the key point in this chapter for me -- even in the entire story for that matter. In a world that is governed by fate (or in this case, the will of the Force), things will happen regardless of how hard a character tries to avoid them or influence them. In Anakin's case, it involved immersing himself in the dark side, in Thrawn's case it was about making an alliance (or several) with the dark side. For both, it involved an endless string of broken promises, and for both, it took their love for another person (Anakin's love for Luke and indirectly for Padmé, Thrawn's love for Ayesha and their unborn daughter) to bring them back to the light. And of course, given the rather obvious inspiration from Greek tragedy here, it had to come to an unhappy end for them -- but not for the rest of the Galaxy. (This is ignoring the Jacen/Caedus thingy, which I always considered non-canon, just because :p)

    Thank you :) The idea is indeed that Ayesha entered this catatonic state voluntarily, or at least she took the risk of entering it by writing down her memories. She knew for herself what her memories could cause given all the times she "blanked out" in earlier chapters (not to mention the episodes she had in the past) and she was warned several times by Doctor Cottle and more explicitly by Simon of what would happen to her if she allowed her memories to "escape" from the little corner of her mind where she was suppressing them. So you could say that yes, she had this "ability" all along, but she was fighting back so that it wouldn't happen -- until the time came when she decided that not fighting back was the way to prevent Thrawn from becoming a non-Force-sensitive version of Paraseel Malki.
    I'd add here that Ayesha probably shouldn't even trust Thrawn to abandon his plans at this point, given how many times he lied to her or failed her (although she doesn't know all of it of course, e.g. the Quinlan Vos business). But even I am not evil enough an author to do that ;)
    This, again, was intended not only as a parallel between Ayesha's own experience with the dark side and what could happen to the Solo twins, but also as a parallel to Anakin and the way Palpatine manipulated him. What Palps did was actually to prod at Anakin's insecurities to turn his love from Padmé into the cause of his downfall and his conversion to the dark side. Malki's intention with Ayesha was very similar -- he didn't seek to drain her soul, but to nurture her attachment to the children he kidnapped so as to use it against her. He saw her as dangerous because vergence in the Force etc etc, so he tried to destroy her in a way that I intended to be typically sithly.
    And this is the moment where I can confess that "the light in the dark" was the working title of this story for a very, very long time. I decided against it when I developed the role that Ayesha would play in galactic events, and I found that it gave Thrawn a far too important place in her life, but I kept the pet name and its meaning anyway because I liked the irony of having her think of Thrawn as a source of light when he would lead her to her self-destruction.

    Epilogue

    Thank *you* so much for everything you did for me and for this story since October 2014! You've been an amazing beta-reader, cheerleader and friend, and the sequel will be written especially for you -- which means that you need to come back to the boards asap, because we in general, and I in particular, miss you!

    Thank you :) You've read The Lost Artist, so you already know that Ayesha will partly recover, but I still need to write the gooey mush direct sequel to this story about how she will recover!

    Thanks again! Yes, you could call this ending an AU of sorts since it's said nowhere in Legends that the Thrawn who died in Bilbringi was a clone -- but I think that it would be a stretch, since everything that takes place in HTTE from this point onward still happens "as planned", so to say, and we know from the HoT duology that Thrawn has been cloning himself. My best guess is that this story would still qualify as "Legends-compliant" despite the ending, but that's a YMMV thing :p
    Well, ahem, should I just say [face_whistling]? Okay, actually I won't, since I already stated in The Lost Artist that Ayesha was able to recover, partly at least. The difference between her and Uumana (and the children she was kidnapped with) is that she didn't have her soul drained. She basically just snapped/lost it, but her mind is still there, as it was when she was having those delirious visions around the time of the battle of Endor. So she could come back... maybe... when I write that sequel!
    Thank *you* for taking the time to read and review so regularly over all this time! It's been a true privilege to have your insights and encouragement in this thread.

    Thanks again! And thanks for sticking with this story for so long, for the fantastic reviews and comments, for letting me borrow Bree and Blue for the sequel -- for just everything!
    Hehehe. That's a very Thrawn-esque thing to do, isn't it? Not only to find a practical solution to every problem, but also to find the solution that suits his needs and that Ayesha wouldn't really like if she were aware of it.
    Besides what I said to Finds above about Ayesha not having her soul drained, there's the Thriyé parameter here. Could Ayesha possibly not be there for her daughter? She needs to come back!
    Oh, the Thrawn who piloted the shuttle to the jungle planet is definitely the Thrawn we all know and love -- again, even I am not nasty enough an author to have him send Ayesha off with a clone! Although I did consider it, but no need to shout it from the rooftops. I just wanted Real-Thrawn to take an order from Clone-Thrawn to show that he has handed over his authority to him. He's out of the command business now, his only concern is to look after Ayesha and Thriyé. And, because it's the Thrawn we all know and love and who always finds the solutions Ayesha doesn't like, he has created a clone that doesn't have the "weakness" of loving Ayesha -- which, in my head-fanon, is also the cause for his failure. The clone doesn't know everything Thrawn knew because Ayesha knew it, since he doesn't share Thrawn's intimate memories, so he couldn't see that the Noghri would recognize Leia as Vader's legitimate heir, he wouldn't know as much about Kashyyyk, etc. Basically the clone is what Thrawn would have been if he hadn't met Ayesha -- a person with a more limited emotional scope, but also with a more limited perspective on the galaxy.

    Thanks again to all readers, reviewers and lurkers. It was a great experience posting this here and getting all your feedback every week [:D]


    PS: I'll be posting the e-book version of Part III as soon as I can make time for a last round of proofreading.
     
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  18. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Thank you :) You've read The Lost Artist, so you already know that Ayesha will partly recover, but I still need to write the gooey mush direct sequel to this story about how she will recover!

    Something to look forward then. ^:)^=D=[face_party][face_love]
     
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  19. Kahara

    Kahara Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Before I forget to say so, I did read to the end of this. (Thanks, though, for the spoiler alert you included in The Lost Artist. :) ) I got to the end sometime in 2016 and had So Many Complicated Feelings, and I think I got distracted before I could compile them into an intelligent-sounding comment! :p I should do that.

    Anyway, this was a spectacular epic to read and one that's lived on inside my head in the way of stories that stay with you. As witnessed by the fact that it's still hard for me to pin down and put into words what I feel about the conclusion. ;)

    Somewhat relieved, for one thing. It's not as bad of an end as I'd feared for these characters when the repeating theme of "everything goes to shavit for Ayesha Eskari" seemed to be winding into a tighter and tighter spiral. It's still no happy fairy tale ending, but at least Thrawn doesn't die as in canon. I'd been worried that that would finish her off for good. Of course, the ending they get is somewhat dark in its own way; Ayesha "wins" but only by holding herself as hostage.

    And wow, that decision of hers is probably a whole psychology essay in itself. It's very in character for her, and it makes me question how much is "free will" on her part and how much the result of the more awful phases in her life. She definitely can do ruthless emotional blackmail if the cause seems right to her, and there are few that would be more important than protecting kids from abusive dark side sheevsters. If she were to become truly all better, would Thrawn end up following his obsession with empire building again? I honestly don't know.

    But at the end of the day, there does seem to be hope for them and for Thriyé. They aren't perfect people living in a perfect galaxy, but sometimes things do get better -- not all the way, but some. [hl=black]I was glad to see that Thriyé seemed to have had a not entirely terrible life and that Ayesha recovered (at least some of the time) by the time of The Lost Artist.[/hl] @};-
     
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