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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. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    This was once more breathtaking: the sceneries, the characters, the revelations being made...

    Your Vader is a thoughtful man, reflective and not short tempered at all. I like that very much.

    But... in this story I like your Thrawn most of all. He and Ayesha belong together. [face_love]
    Kahara, Chyntuck and Nyota's Heart like this.
  2. Rau_Fang

    Rau_Fang Jedi Master star 2

    Mar 28, 2005
    There is so much that I could comment on - this story is so good! still I just wanted to write in my appreciation of your excellent portrayal of fancy and pernicious Imperial Court affairs and parties.

    Also your Admiral Thrawn is just amazing - srsly. bravo on all accounts.

    sent from holopad
    Kahara and Chyntuck like this.
  3. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and commenting!
    The romance expert has spoken [face_love] [:D]
    He is :) (and divapilot 's Kirk comparison was a real find!) When I started writing Matt he was just going to be a minor character, but he's been growing on me -- it's funny how characters, especially OCs, have a life of their own, isn't it? -- and now I have grand plans for him later in part I and most importantly in part II. He might even get his own fic at some point, at the very least a one-shot for the OC Revolution thread.
    Thanks! From lurker to fellow lurker, I really appreciate that you took the time to comment here and I'm glad you're enjoying this story [:D]

    PS: Can I order a holopad on Amazon?
    I think that at this point in GFFA time (shortly after Yavin, when the identity of the pilot who destroyed the Death Star is still presumably unknown) slavery is pretty much the only thing that could make Vader experience a true sense of kinship with someone (there's more to it of course, but that's something we'll all find out about later :p) One thing I liked in EU literature, for all its inconsistencies, is that Vader is often depicted as taking issue with slavery, especially in material that was published after TPM was released, which makes perfect sense given the background Lucas chose to give him. There was a moment when I told myself that I was loading Ayesha's past with too much stuff, but then again I wanted her to have this bond with Vader. And then, I had a look at the stories asylum-seekers have been telling me over the years, and I realised that, whatever I put in her backstory, it won't even come close to the real stories of real people who grew up in war zones.

    ... Which brings me to the massive information dump of chapter 15 :)

    Tags: AzureAngel2 Findswoman Gemma Mando-Man Raissa Baiard
    Please let me know if you would like to be added or removed from the tag list.

    And, well, by now you all know what I'm thanking Nyota's Heart for ;)


    Chapter 15: The colour of sunshine

    The buzz of the comm unit pulled Ayesha out of the kitchen. She ran to the small desk in the corner of the dining area and keyed it on. A quarter-size holo of Matt Ruud materialized in front of her. He was grinning widely. “Looks like I’m dragging you out of bed,” he said.

    She yawned. “Not quite. I had my first cup of caf already. How are you doing?”

    “I’m good. I was just calling to check on you. I didn’t see you leave last night after that fine display of talent on the dance floor.”

    She snorted. “No wonder you didn’t see me, you were chatting with that gorgeous woman from the Emperor’s inner circle. The dancer with the red-gold hair. She had you completely enthralled.”

    He smiled teasingly. “Jealous?”

    “Curious,” she countered. “I like to keep track of Palace gossip.”

    He laughed. “I thought I counted for more than a random bit of gossip, but it seems I shouldn’t get my hopes up.”

    Her face softened. “You know you should,” she said, then added, “I had a very nice time dancing with you last night. Thank you.”

    He grinned. “That’s good to know. I’ll let you finish waking up then.”

    She switched off the comm and went to return to the kitchen when she saw that Thrawn had emerged from the hallway at the other end of the room and was looking at her. He had slipped on his dress uniform trousers and his undershirt and was carrying his jacket on his arm. She skipped between the draped statues to come and stand in front of him. “Happy New Year.”

    His eyes were phosphorescent as they swept over her. She was wearing a very thin, floor-length nightdress that draped gracefully over her frame, enhancing the swell of her hips under her waist. The wide neckline was falling slightly off one shoulder and the bulge of her breasts stretched the soft fabric, revealing the darker circle of her nipples. Even tousled and unkempt, she exuded sensuality from every pore of her being. Thrawn hesitated. “I should be going,” he said finally.

    She pouted her lips. “Do you have to? You can’t be working today, it’s New Year Fete.” He hesitated again. She tugged his hand. “Come on, I baked spice buns for breakfast.”

    She had barely taken a step towards the kitchen when he flung his arms around her shoulders and brought his mouth crashing on hers. His tongue pressed against her lips, demanding to be let in, and his hands ran up and down her body hungrily. She was blushing when they parted but there was a sparkle of mischief in her eyes. “That’s better,” she said with a satisfied grin. “Come on now, I’m starving.”

    She pulled a stool from under the kitchen table for him and he sat with his back to the wall, watching her as she pottered around. She pulled a tray of spice buns from the oven and laid out various jars on the table. “This one is wasaka berry jam and that one is chyntuck chutney. Wookiee food,” she added in answer to his raised eyebrow. “The rest you should know.” She poured them both a mug of caf and a glass of wroshyr sap syrup and sat down.

    She ate ravenously while Thrawn stared at her, his mug seemingly forgotten in his hand. His expression was unreadable and he glanced away several times when she looked up at him. “Is there something wrong?” she asked after a while. He shook his head. She studied his face for a moment. “Then why are you acting so awkward?”

    There was a long silence. “I believe I might have made a mistake coming here,” he said finally.

    She blinked at him. “Is this the part where you tell me about the wife and three children you never mentioned before?”

    His eyes blazed. “No,” he snapped. “Of course not.”

    “Then why are you talking about this being a mistake?”

    He sighed. “Because you were in considerable distress yesterday after that conversation with Lord Vader. Because your chat today with Captain Ruud shows me that you came home with the wrong man. Because I claimed to protect you from the vultures but given the opportunity I behaved like one of them. You do not need a man who is old enough to be your father, alien and radically different. I took advantage of you last night and for that I apologize.”

    She stared at him for a moment. “You really have no idea, do you?” she asked.

    Puzzlement was plainly written on his face when he looked at her.

    She got up and came to stand between his knees, cupped his head in her hands and kissed him fiercely.

    He went to speak when she pulled back but she shut him up with a finger on his lips.

    She looked at him straight in the eyes. “Forget about being ridiculously gentlemanly and listen to me now,” she said firmly. “I’m not a damsel in distress and I can make my choices. And my choice is you. I’ve wanted you virtually from the moment you carried that bucket of clay for me in the Palace and now I don’t need to hide anymore because freedom is around the corner. So don’t tell me about being older or alien or different, or about Matt Ruud or any other such nonsense. This is what I want. You didn’t take advantage of me, you’re not a vulture, and if you are... well, I’ll take what is given.”

    Before he could think of an answer, she kissed him again. He surrendered to her pull and began kissing her back, his hands wandering up her hips. Their caresses became frantic, one thing brought another and some time later they were lying in bed again, drenched in sweat and panting in unison as spent passion and lust washed over them.

    He entwined himself around her and brushed his lips on her hair. “Ayoo’sha,” he breathed. “Ayoo’sha Ayesha.”

    She snuggled her face in his neck. “What does it mean?”

    “Ayoo’sha? It is one of the colours of sunshine in Cheunh. Specifically, the reflection of sunshine on a fresh snowfield.”

    He felt her smile. “I imagine you have many words for snow in your language.”

    He chuckled. “We do. Cheunh is a very rich language when it comes to anything related to the cold. We need to describe our environment, after all.”

    “Can you say it again?”

    He leaned closer and murmured, “Ayoo’sha.” His breath was warm on her ear.

    “It sounds nice,” she whispered. “I like the music of it.”

    “So do I. It is also an apt description of you.” He pulled back and lifted her face with his fingertips. “It was the first word that popped into my mind when you told me your name. You shine so brightly that it is difficult to see anything else when you are in the room, even when you are covered in mud.”

    She rolled on her back to hide her blush at the strange compliment and settled comfortably against his shoulder. “I want to know more about your homeworld. Tell me about it.”

    A single blue finger trailed from the hollow of her neck to her little bump of tummy fat. “I will if you tell me more about you.”

    She swatted his hand away. “Not fair. I asked first.”

    He caught her hand in his and kissed her palm. His lips lingered on a wrinkled scar on her wrist. “I answered one of your questions, Ayoo’sha. It is only justice that you answer one of mine.”

    She stretched in his embrace. “Okay, fair enough, I guess. What do you want to know?”

    His fingertips were grazing her belly again. “Tell me what happened after the Jedi brought you to Coruscant.”

    She stretched again and sighed. “Nothing. I was on my own for a while.”

    He lifted his head slightly to glance at her. “At the age of seven?”

    “There was no one to look after me,” she countered with a slight shrug. “The Jedi didn’t know what to do with a nameless orphan. I had to fend for myself, so I went to the Underlevels.”

    This time he pushed himself up on his elbow to look at her. “You were on your own in the Underlevels of Coruscant as a child?”

    She shrugged again. “There were lots of other street younglings down there. It felt like the right place to go. I didn’t want to be alone.” He was eyeing her curiously with his raised eyebrow. “What?”

    He lay back on the pillow. “I visited the Underlevels many years ago, when I joined the Empire. The least I can say is that it is a difficult place to be.”

    “It is,” she replied with a sigh. “But it’s also a space of freedom.”

    His head jerked up again. “I have said this before and it seems I will say it many times again. You have a unique way of looking at things.” He gazed at her for a moment. “What happened next?”

    She glanced up at him. “You’re really curious, you know?”

    “Tell me,” he insisted. “I want to know how the little escapee from Zygerria became this extraordinary woman I am holding.”

    She blushed a little. “I stayed in the Underlevels for a few months and somehow eked out a living, until I was found by a woman named Khaleen Hentz. She was my Uncle Quin’s lover.”

    “Is that the uncle who introduced you to the little diner where we had breakfast?”

    She smiled. “Yes, Quinlan Vos. He took me there on the first day I met him, I was so hungry.”

    There was a pause. “Is he your mother’s brother?” Thrawn asked.

    She shook her head. “He’s not really my uncle, we’re just from the same clan on Kiffu, but I needed someone to call family at the time. He’s the one who named me, after some distant common ancestor. He was a Jedi too, you know,” she added with a hint of pride in her voice.

    “What was a Jedi doing having a lover in the Underlevels?”

    “I’m not sure. He was on some sort of secret mission for the Jedi Council. I never really found out.” She shrugged. “Anyway, Khaleen took me in when she saw my Qukuuf.” She pointed at the yellow line on her cheekbone. “Uncle Quin has a similar one so she assumed there was some connection there. After a while they left me with Old Dex until my grandfather came to take me to Kiffu. Old Dex was the owner of the diner.”

    There was another pause. “So you went to Kiffu after all,” Thrawn prompted. “I thought you never lived there.”

    “I did. I stayed there for three years.”

    There was a catch in her voice that made him look at her again. “What is it?” He pressed when she didn't answer. “Did something happen to you on Kiffu?”

    “There... there was a conflict between the clans,” she breathed finally, struggling to steady her voice. “They fought about whom to side with in the Clone Wars. It was not a good place to be.” Her eyes had taken a glassy, unfocused texture, there was a haunted expression on her face and her heart was beating hard under Thrawn’s fingers.

    “Calm yourself, Ayoo’sha,” he murmured, pressing gentle lips to her forehead. “You do not need to talk about these things if they upset you so much.” He rubbed her chest with the flat of his hand as if to steady her heartbeat, bringing her out of the trance-like state that was threatening to overcome her, and rested his head against hers. “Tell me instead how you went to Kashyyyk.”

    She took a deep breath. “My grandfather’s health was failing and he couldn’t take care of me anymore. Kiffu wasn’t safe for me so he took me to Kashyyyk after the end of the Clone Wars.”

    “Why Kashyyyk? From what I know of the history of that period, it was not a safe place to be either.”

    “Uncle Quin was one of the generals leading the Army of the Republic during the battle against the Separatists there. Ada’ Yakooboo had a life-debt to him, so my grandfather thought he would protect me.”

    “And your adoptive father transferred this life-debt to you?” Thrawn asked.

    “No,” she said with powerful emotion in her voice. “Ada’ Yakooboo took me as his daughter.”

    There was a long silence. Thrawn propped himself up on his elbow, his head resting in his hand, his glowing eyes fixed on hers. “You love your Wookiee family very much,” he finally said.

    She nodded. “I do. I owe them everything. I wouldn’t be a person without them.”

    Thrawn gazed at her silently. “What about your uncle?”

    “He disappeared during the Great Jedi Purge. They say he died.”

    He leaned to kiss her forehead again. She looked up at him and reached to caress his face. A ray of sunshine filtering through the blinds was shimmering in his blue-black hair. “So that’s my story,” she said with a small smile. “Now we should get up. It’s a shame to stay indoors on such a nice day.”

    His lips brushed hers as his fingers inched teasingly up her ribs. He felt her shiver under his touch. “Are you sure that you want to get up?” he murmured in her neck.

    She grinned. “Okay,” she said. “Maybe not.”

    * * *​

    He finally left early the next morning to return to the Palace. She escorted him to the landing pad and returned his kiss. “I need you to disappear from my life for the next six days, I really have to work,” she said. “But I’ll be expecting you for the exhibition. I want to spend my first night out of indentured servitude with you,” she added with a smile.

    He smiled back. “What about the night after that?”

    “We’ll make it up as we go along,” she replied airily. He pulled her to him again for another deep, languid kiss. His hands were creeping up her waist. She gave a throaty laugh. “Keep that up and there won’t be an exhibition to talk about. Now go.” She pushed him to his speeder. “Oh, one more thing.” There was that sparkle of mischief in her eyes. “You may want to bring a change of clothes. Unless you really want the entire Palace to wonder why you’re going around in your dress uniform so early in the morning.”


    A/N: The backstory of Quinlan Vos and Khaleen Hentz can be found in the Star Wars: Republic comic series.
  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    I absolutely was riveted by Ayesha's back story. And Thrawn's ... early objections - I adored how she put those to rest. [face_dancing] And what he says about her lighting up a room. And the meaning of the endearment - the color of sunshine - very lyrical.
  5. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    Thrawn, doin' the walk of shame....:p

    Excellent chapter. Ayesha is quite the passionate lady, and she has sparked a passion in Thrawn.
  6. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 25, 2013
    Excellent! Loved that they have gotten together --- sweet romance and loving - yess! I like how she said that she wanted to spend her first night of freedom with him. (And I loved the ball).
  7. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    May 6, 2003
    I like this one, I like this one... :)

    Okay, you got me. I'll stay. :D
  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Mmmmm. Nice way for this very interesting pair to kick off the new year, with a little romantic lazytime. [face_batting] Interesting to see Thrawn's passionate side, and especially to see his reactions to that side of himself, including his surprise and his (ultimately needless) worry about being a "vulture" himself. Ayesha's backstory continues to expand in very cool ways: now we know of her connection to Uncle Quin Vos and how she came to be adopted by her Wookiee family.

    Is "Ayoo’sha" a Chyntuck original, by the way? :cool:
    AzureAngel2 and Chyntuck like this.
  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    Yes, is it? [face_love] [face_love] That entire definition is too gorgeous for words!
    AzureAngel2 and Chyntuck like this.
  10. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    What a past! What an exciting present, containing a breakfast with Thrawn... [face_love] I wonder what her future will be with all the real vultures around.

    I also liked a certain red haired dancer being around in the background of your story.
    Chyntuck and Nyota's Heart like this.
  11. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    May 6, 2003
    *patiently waiting for more* :)
    Chyntuck likes this.
  12. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you :) I thought he should have doubts at some point -- he is some 25 years older than her after all.

    [face_laugh] The mental image was just too tempting to resist!

    Thanks [face_blush]

    Thank you and welcome to this story [:D] Just so you know when to wait, I post updates every Monday and Thursday, and so far Darth Real Life hasn't interfered with my schedule :p

    The answer to that is "more or less". The definition is entirely mine, but the word Ayoo'sha is based on the way endearing diminutive names are formed in Arabic (e.g. Maya > Mayoosh, 'Ola > 'Oloosh, etc.).

    Haha! Yes, initially she was even going to play a very, very minor role in the plot, but it was all becoming too complicated and overladen so I took most of it out. She'll be back though ;)

    On to chapter 16. Those of you who read A tree-dweller in Imperial City are going to run into an old acquaintance.

    Tags: AzureAngel2 Findswoman Gemma Mando-Man Raissa Baiard
    Please let me know if you would like to be added or removed from the tag list.

    And for the umpteenth time, thank you to Nyota's Heart for beta-reading ^:)^


    Chapter 16: Desire

    Thrawn climbed out of his speeder and handed the ignition chip to a valet droid who flew it away to make space for the next vehicle. He made his way to the open transparisteel door and peered inside. Some two dozen guests had already arrived and were ambling around the now-unveiled statues and flats. Ayesha was standing nervously in the place where the Twi’lek Dancer was normally to be found, wearing a knee-length, sleeveless orange tunic made of stiff, embroidered brocade and wide-legged silkweed blue trousers that matched the long, thin scarf falling down her back. Thrawn walked to her and greeted her with a formal bow, then handed her a small travel bag.

    “The items you requested, Miss Eskari,” he said with a twinkle of his eyes.

    She gave him a curious look and peeked inside the bag. Her whole body relaxed and her face broke into a mischievous smile when she caught a glimpse of the sleeve of an undershirt and the collar of a Navy uniform. “Thank you very much, Captain,” she replied, matching his formal tone. She hailed the protocol droid who was serving drinks and tasked him with putting the bag away, then turned her attention back to the landing pad.

    The next guest was reaching the door, a stern-looking woman dressed in somewhat old-fashioned robes. The stiffness of her gait and the bright white of her hair betrayed her years but her eagle eyes were sparkling with life as she took in the room. Ayesha ran to her and held both of her hands, bowing deeply to kiss them. “Master Nazmat,” she said. “I’m so happy you could come.”

    The old lady pulled her up and caressed her cheek, her stern face softening into a smile. “Not as much as I am, my dear child. Not nearly as much as I am.” Her eyes swept the room again and came to rest on Thrawn before returning to Ayesha with a knowing look. “Aren’t you going to introduce me to the gentleman who is devouring you with his stare?”

    Ayesha blushed like a schoolgirl and helped the elderly lady down the steps to lead her to Thrawn. She was walking with great difficulty but steadied herself as she came to stand in front of him and held out a gloved hand regally. Thrawn bowed to kiss it and Ayesha introduced him to Nazmat Koch. “Master Nazmat was my mentor in the Academy of Fine Arts. She taught me everything I know.”

    Thrawn nodded deferentially as Nazmat Koch snapped off her elbow-length gloves. “Being taught by Nazmat Koch certainly is a privilege,” he said in his cultured voice. “I greatly admire your work, particularly your urban landscapes. You must be very proud of your student.”

    “I am not proud, I am humbled, Captain,” Nazmat Koch said sharply. “And it is entirely inaccurate to call Ayesha my student. I learned more from her than she will ever learn from me. I have been teaching young people since the days of the Old Republic but I had never seen such talent until she came along.”

    Ayesha blushed again, with pleasure this time, and went to mumble something when the old woman staggered on her feet and caught her arm. “Master Nazmat,” she said with concern in her voice, “are you alright? Should I bring you a chair?”

    Nazmat Koch swatted her with her gloves. “Hush, young lady. There is a handsome man listening to us and I have a reputation to keep.”

    Thrawn’s lips twitched and Ayesha laughed as she glanced at the landing pad again. The Emperor’s shuttle had arrived and was disgorging the usual entourage of courtiers, advisors and Grand Admirals. Darth Vader’s massive silhouette emerged, followed by the Emperor’s black cloak. She turned back to her Master apologetically.

    “Off you go, child,” Nazmat Koch said. “I am certain Captain Thrawn will be kind enough to show me around.”

    Ayesha trotted back to the foot of the steps and dropped into a deep curtsey in front of the Emperor. She gave another curtsey to Darth Vader and greeted politely the rest of her guests, then put her hands behind her back and escorted the little troupe around the room. She answered their questions with practised ease and accepted compliments graciously, taking care to place herself one step behind the Emperor and Darth Vader as they edged their way towards the flats on the wall of the dining area.

    “She did learn at least one thing from me,” Nazmat Koch said proudly as her eyes followed Ayesha across the room. “Manners,” she added in response to Thrawn's cocked eyebrow. “For all the good her Wookiee education did to her, it had not prepared her for polite society.” The protocol droid came to them with two snifters of cortyg brandy on a tray. “Of course,” she added, taking one of the glasses and inhaling the liquor’s fumes deeply, “there are some advantages to a Wookiee upbringing, such as an exquisite taste in alcoholic beverages. I cannot understand for the life of me why anyone would choose such a watery drink as sparkling wine when fine brandy is at hand. Can you, Captain?”

    Thrawn was struggling hard now to stifle a laugh. He saw the Emperor’s entourage coming back towards them, freeing the room for other visitors, and offered his arm to Nazmat Koch. “Shall we?”

    They weaved their way around the various sculptures in the middle of the room. Ayesha had chosen sparkling, milky chalcedony to create several pieces that suggested the elongated, twisted shape of a woman’s body under a thin, misty veil. The flats on the wall were made of a heavier Hapan basalt, this one dark grey in colour, their polished surface revealing only the ghosts of square jaws and avid hands in the elaborate lighting pattern illuminating them.

    The flats acquired volume as Thrawn and Nazmat Koch came around the room and edged through the hallway. The ghostly faces became ominous and the palms pressed hungrily out of the surfaces. The exhibition ended in a private lounge in the back of the apartment. A single, life-size statue occupied the middle of the room. The white, misty shape of a naked body was lying on a horizontal slab that may have been a bed or a sacrificial altar. The woman’s abnormally long limbs were contorted, her hair streaming down to the floor, her back arching as if in lust or intense pain. On the back wall, dominating the statue from above, the shadow of a face could be made out on a shiny grey flat, with sharp fingers in relief clawing their way through the veil.

    Thrawn’s eyes were the colour of molten lava when he led Nazmat Koch to the balcony running along the back of the apartment and helped her into a chair. The old lady gazed at the cityscape for a long moment.

    “Well, that was vintage Ayesha,” she said finally in her sharp tone. “That girl always had a way of attracting the wrong sort of attention from the wrong sort of men.” Thrawn clenched his jaw and remained silent. Nazmat Koch’s voice became pensive and tinged with regret. “I was merely hoping to help her launch the career she so richly deserves when I put her name down for that fellowship. I knew that the Palace would be a difficult environment, but I did not expect this. I see now that I made a rather large error in judgement.” She slipped on her gloves and held out her hand for Thrawn to help her stand up. She stared at him with her beady eyes before taking his proffered arm. “You had better take good care of her, young man,” she said sternly. “I have known Palpatine since before you were born and I would hate to see that old mynock and his swarm ruin her image of the male persuasion forever.”

    Ayesha was in her workshop, standing behind the Emperor as he observed the preliminary sketches of her works that were displayed on the partition panel she’d set up to hide the jumble of sculpts stored in the back of the room, when she saw Thrawn walking Nazmat Koch to the door. “May I ask for your indulgence for a few minutes, Your Majesty,” she said. “Master Nazmat is leaving and I would very much like to say goodbye to her.” She took over from Thrawn at the foot of the steps and helped her Master to the landing pad.

    A platform slid out of the side of the old lady’s speeder and hoisted her in the passenger seat. “I am sorry I put you through such an ordeal, my dear child,” she said. “But given the man you chose for yourself, I can see that it did not break your beautiful spirit.” She nodded at her driver, ignoring Ayesha’s perplexed look, and the speeder took off into the night.

    The Emperor’s entourage was coming out on the landing pad and Ayesha spent another ten minutes bowing and curtseying until they were gone. A few visitors who were still lingering in the gallery, Matt Ruud among them, offered her their compliments before leaving as well, followed by the protocol droids she had hired for the evening. Thrawn was nowhere to be seen. She slipped off her high-heeled shoes with a sigh of relief, activated the housekeeping droid and set out looking for him. She went from one room to another until she finally found him in her bedroom. He had taken off his uniform jacket and was sitting in the dark on the edge of the bed, his elbows on his knees, his bowed head in his hands. “Is there something wrong?” she asked from the doorframe.

    He looked up at her. His eyes were still swirling with liquid fire. “Why did you not tell me, Ayoo’sha? Why did you not tell me how bad it truly was?”

    She gave him a puzzled look. “What didn’t I tell you?”

    He leapt up and strode across the room to her. “This!” he thundered, gesturing towards the sculpts beyond the hallway. His voice was a mingle of anguish and fury. “This. The theme of this exhibition was to be desire, and you came up with this? What happened to you in your three years in the Palace?”

    She shrugged indifferently. “Does it matter? It was just harassment by a group of lecherous old men. I’ve seen worse in my life, you know. Besides, I can take care of myself. I have two Wookiee brothers, remember?” His eyes were blazing at her. She held out her hand and laid it flat on his chest. “Calm down. I’m out of that hellish place. We’re here now.”

    He took a deep breath, visibly struggling to keep his temper in check. “You should have told me,” he said finally. “You have known me for nearly a year. Had I been aware that things were so out of hand, I would have found a way to protect you.”

    She looked at him straight in the eyes. “I don’t need you to protect me, Thrawn. I need you to love me.”

    He pulled her in a bone-crushing embrace and brought his mouth on hers so hard that she could feel his teeth grinding against hers. His hands were frantic on her back, tugging clumsily at her tunic behind her neck, half-strangling her as his trembling fingers failed to find the clasp. “Calm down, Qubshi be-khadeeb, calm down,” she whispered with bewilderment in her voice. “I’m not going to vanish. You don’t need to hurt me to ascertain that I’m here.”

    He took a step back and inhaled another deep breath. “I should leave. I fear that I may cause you harm. I do not want to take out my anger on you.”

    She stared at him for a moment. “Oh, I don’t think so,” she replied, and with surprising strength she pushed him to the bed and threw him flat on his back with a single, quick sweep of her heel behind his legs. She fell over him and threaded her fingers through his, pinning his hands to the mattress. She grinned at the astonished expression that flickered across his face. “As I told you, I can take care of myself reasonably well,” she murmured, her mouth millimetres from his. “Living on Kashyyyk has got to count for something. Besides, I need you to spot the differences between a free woman and a woman in servitude, so now just sit back and enjoy.”
  13. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 25, 2013
    Wow!!! --- That last paragraph really rocked. Way to go!! I like her feisty-ness.
    Chyntuck and Nyota's Heart like this.
  14. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    She's your kind of gal, isn't she? From your comments here and on other threads, it seems that you like women who know what they want :)

    Thanks all for reading. On to tiny chapter 17.

    Tags: AzureAngel2 Findswoman Gemma Mando-Man Raissa Baiard
    Please let me know if you would like to be added or removed from the tag list.

    And thanks to Nyota's Heart for beta-reading!


    Chapter 17: Old Kiffar

    Thrawn found Ayesha in the kitchen the next morning. She had slipped out of bed at some point during the night and had draped the dust sheets over the sculpts, but the blaze of molten lava was returning to his eyes as he glanced over the high counter separating the kitchen from the dining area. She held out a hand to his chin and gently returned his face towards her.

    “What are you up to today?” she asked to make conversation.

    He took the proffered mug of caf. “I will spend most of my time in meetings. They may last until quite late. How about you?”

    “The Museum people are coming to collect this junk and then I want to put the furniture back in place.” She yawned. “And then, I want to get some sleep this afternoon. My friends are coming over for drinks tonight, we’ve planned this for a long time and I want to be in a fit state to enjoy my evening with them. Will you join us? I think you’ll like them." He glanced at her uncertainly. She laughed. “I never thought you to be the shy type.”

    “I am not,” he said a little stiffly.

    She laughed again. “Don’t worry, it’ll be completely informal. Just turn up whenever you’re out of your meetings. You don’t want to leave my bed empty, I might find someone else to fill it,” she added with a teasing smile, and she got up to clear the empty dishes.

    He leaned back against the wall behind him and watched her potter around the sink. “What does Qubshi be-khadeeb mean?” he asked after a while.

    She spun around. “Where did you hear that?”

    “You called me that last night.” She gave him a puzzled look. “When I was trying to, shall we say, strangle you,” he added with a hint of embarrassment. “What does it mean?”

    “It’s Old Kiffar.” The blue-black eyebrow crawled up on his forehead. “The language of the Kiffu Guardians. It’s my mother tongue.”

    The eyebrow travelled further up. “What does it mean?” he repeated.

    “I can’t tell you that, Thrawn. Old Kiffar is a secret language. Only the Guardians may speak it.” The second eyebrow joined the first; he was clearly thinking that she was pulling his leg. She came to stand in front of him, cupped his face in her hands and looked at him very seriously. “I’m not joking. Old Kiffar really is a secret language and I will never translate any of it for you. There are rules.”

    There was a pause. “I never thought you one to follow rules,” he prompted.

    She returned to the sink with a sigh. “In this case, I know far too well the consequences of defying them.”

    He stared at her for a long moment. “Are you a Guardian?”

    She rounded on him with what might have been fury if it weren't for the haunted expression on her face. “No,” she said angrily. “My mother was one and I don’t want to talk about it. Now will you please drop the subject?”

    He held her gaze curiously for a few seconds before answering, “All right. I will drop it for now.”

    “No,” she snapped. “You will drop it forever.” Her eyes had taken that glassy texture and her hands were trembling violently as she tried to collect the mugs from the kitchen table.

    He pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her waist, burying his face in her belly. “Fine, Ayoo’sha, fine, I will drop it forever. Now please calm yourself. I did not mean to upset you. I was merely curious and it got the better of me.” He held her snugly, murmuring soothingly in Cheunh as if trying to appease a frightened animal, the warmth of his breath filtering through the thin fabric of her nightdress until he felt the tension drain away from her. Concern was written all over his usually cool face when he finally looked up. “I must go. Will you be alright?”

    She nodded and walked him to the landing pad. He took her shoulders in his hands to hold her at arm’s length and gazed at her again. “I am so sorry, Ayoo’sha. It seems I always find a way to cause you some sort of distress despite my best intentions. Please forgive me.”

    She waved a shaky hand. “You’re already forgiven. But,” she added, the sparkle of mischief returning to her eyes, “you should definitely come back tonight, just to make sure I didn’t change my mind.”

    He observed her a moment longer, his head slightly tilted to one side as if he were seeking to decipher some unfathomable mystery, and then he was gone.
  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    Fascinating undercurrent there to what I know Thrawn meant as honest curiosity. [face_thinking] I love how they are continually learning one another. It is a glorious and intriguing process, and authors are fools who skip that sort of thing or rush it. =D= I love reading of the journey as much, if not more than, the destination. :D (That's why L/M stories have my continued interest.) [face_love]
    Gemma, AzureAngel2 and Chyntuck like this.
  16. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Ack, I've fallen behind again! So sorry... [face_blush] Both are beautiful chapters in which the intimacy between this officer and this artist continue to bloom, and I love how they're constantly learning new things about each other.

    16: Hooray, Nazmat Koch! I quite liked her when you first introduced her in the one-shot story, and yes, I can definitely see Judi Dench in the part. :cool: Very, very intense and gut-wrenching interpretation of the "desire" theme in this exhibition, in true Ayesha fashion... that woman's not half-hearted about anything. I wonder who else besides Koch and Thrawn, who are both of course very naturally attuned to Ayesha's feelings anyway, picked up on the real thoughts and feelings behind it. And then there's Thrawn's protective, possessive approach to this whole romance thing—a quality that can be a real double-edged sword, and can go all sorts of places in the hand of a character like Thrawn... [face_thinking]

    17: Like Thrawn, I wondered about "Qubshi be-khadeeb"—which, at least to someone in the RL universe, looks like it's inspired by Arabic? I am guessing that the secret language of the Kiffar Guardians is a Chyntuck Original, since I can't find anything on it on the Wook. And of course any time Ayesha says she doesn't want to talk about something in her past, that makes me all the more curious, especially where nifty cultural details are involved... ;)

    Keep up the mighty fine work. @};- And I'll do better about commenting on time next time!
    Ewok Poet, Gemma, Kahara and 3 others like this.
  17. Mando-Man

    Mando-Man Jedi Master star 2

    Dec 1, 2008
    Sorry I've been away for a while, the Holiday Season and family coming to town has kept me pretty busy.

    I don't think I will ever be able to view Thrawn as a villain after reading this, you've taken one of the EUs most ultimate villains and turned him into a likeable goodguy. =D= well done!
    Kahara, Chyntuck, AzureAngel2 and 2 others like this.
  18. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Yes, I was going to mention how incredibly likable your Thrawn is! And that I hadn't realized before just how much older he is than Ayesha... ooh, there's just something about a "nice older man" romance... [face_love] (This is where I mention that the Findshusband is ten years my senior.)
    Ewok Poet, Gemma, Chyntuck and 2 others like this.
  19. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    * is happy for Findswoman

    Now back to Thrawn: I love his thoughtfulness that is mixed with a great gentleness when it is up to her. And a certain mischievous playfulness.
    Gemma, Kahara, Chyntuck and 2 others like this.
  20. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    Very interesting chapters. I like how mysterious she is, so layered and yet at the same time so willing to expose her innermost thoughts and feelings.
    Gemma, Kahara, AzureAngel2 and 3 others like this.
  21. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Well, it's already Monday on this side of the Atlantic, so I'll post straight away, because sunrise will bring a very busy day to kick off a very busy week.
    Thank you [face_blush]
    You know my hobbies now, don't you? :p Yes, the structure of "Qubshi be-khadeeb" is inspired by Arabic, but it isn't made up of real words (as far as I know). And yes, I made up the Old Kiffar thing. In an earlier version of this story, Ayesha's mother was going to be a Mistryl Shadow Guard, but at some point the whole genealogy became way too complicated, so I thought I should simplify my life and made her a Kiffu Guardian. There's very little about the Guardians in canon/Legends, so I had a lot of leeway to expand ;)
    Holidays with the family are the best [face_love] I hope you're having a nice time!
    TBH I thought that Thrawn was very likable even as a full-fledged villain in TTT. Part of that probably has to do with the pervert in me who always roots for the villain, but I have a soft spot for Thrawn. The idea of a character that takes his time to think, reflect and meditate while looking at works of art has a particular charm for me.
    Awww [face_love] O:) You'll have to advise me on this then. Remember, I'm the gal who's still hanging out with her childhood sweetheart ;)
    Well, it has to be an unusual situation for him. I can't imagine there are so many people in the Imperial Navy who would be that nice to him :D
    Thanks [:D]

    On to chapter 18, with more old acquaintances for those who read Tree-dweller...

    Tags: AzureAngel2 Findswoman Gemma Mando-Man Raissa Baiard
    Please let me know if you would like to be added or removed from the tag list.

    And the usual you-know-what for the wonderful Nyota's Heart [face_love]


    Chapter 18: Tam

    When Thrawn came back late in the evening and waited outside the open transparisteel door after ringing the bell, the apartment had mostly returned to its original state. The art gallery was gone and the Alderaanian conversation circle, the dining table and the Twi’lek Dancer were back in their place. The lights were on but the room was deserted. Ayesha came bouncing barefoot down the hallway, wearing one of her no-nonsense tank top and baggy trouser outfits. She leapt up the three steps leading to the door and planted a long kiss on his mouth, her tongue darting teasingly between his lips. She smiled at his cocked eyebrow. “That was just to let you know that I didn’t change my mind since this morning,” she said. “Come in, we’re sitting in the back, it’s more comfortable. The conversation circle is nice to look at but it's a bit stuffy.”

    There was a piercing wail in the hallway and they turned around to see a toddler lying flat on his face on the floor. She went and lifted the child in her arms. “This is Tam,” she told Thrawn. “He’s my best friend’s son and I’m his namegiver, so you want to be nice to him.” She looked back at the little boy, who had stopped crying and was staring at Thrawn with big, round eyes. “Tammy, this is Thrawn. I love him very much and I hope you will love him too.” Thrawn’s eyebrows shot up in surprise at this last sentence but she didn't pay attention. She tugged his hand instead and led him to the private lounge.

    The small room was furnished with a simple but cushy U-shaped sofa and a low table. A single painting – one of Nazmat Koch’s Coruscant cityscapes – hung from the wall where the ominous grey stone flat had been the previous evening. Ayesha introduced Thrawn to Tashi, a pretty female Sullustan sporting a bright red mohawk, and a Dug called Mabalsa – “but everyone calls him Onion, so you may want to go along with it” – who was lounging on a cushion on the floor near a jar of pickled gorgs. Lamtee and Dacco, two handsome male Zeltrons with shiny pink skin, were holding hands on the left side of the sofa, while Tam’s parents, Kal and Mira, were sitting in the back. Kal was a short man with an unruly beard and a shaggy mane. Mira was a petite woman with a kind face, but she had the regal demeanour and eagle eyes of Nazmat Koch. “Mira is Master Nazmat’s granddaughter,” Ayesha said as she finished the round of introductions. She put Tam on the floor next to the Dug. The boy staggered to his feet and started playing with the equine alien’s facial tendrils.

    Thrawn lowered himself on the sofa to Mira’s left. “I had the honour of meeting your grandmother yesterday,” he said, his voice very cultured and formal.

    Tashi’s dewflaps retracted as she grinned from ear to ear. “And you survived to tell the tale?”

    Thrawn’s lips twitched and Kal gave him a wry look. “It’s okay, Capt’, you can say out loud what we all think. Everyone knows that my grandmother-in-law is a bit of a character.”

    “Indeed,” Thrawn said with a twinkle of his eyes. “I must say that no one had called me ‘young man’ in quite a long time. Nor had I ever heard anyone describe the Imperial Court as a swarm of mynocks.”

    They all burst out laughing and with that, the ice was broken. Ayesha served another round of drinks and snacks and sat next to Thrawn with her legs tucked under her, and the conversation resumed.

    They had all met as students in the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, except Mira, who was an engineer, and the Dug, who was a self-taught artist. He engaged in a heated dialogue with Tashi about the use of recycled materials. She preferred to roam the junkyards to find discarded pieces of machinery, whereas he liked to collect random bits of waste from the Coruscant Underlevels, and he was soon bashing her verbally in mangled Basic with typical Dug bluntness. She was smiling as he ploughed on; this was clearly an argument they’d had many times. Thrawn tried to place a question, addressing him as Mabalsa. The whole room exploded with laughter when the Dug lifted himself to his full height on his hands and put his feet on his hips to challenge Thrawn to a podrace if he didn’t call him Onion.

    Tam was tugging at Ayesha’s trousers – Onion’s tendrils being now out of his reach – and she followed him out of the room. Mira turned to Thrawn. “It’s nice to meet you at last,” she said. “We heard a lot about the mysterious Navy Captain who can identify a modified Demahl at first sight. Not that I know what a modified Demahl is, but Kal was impressed.”

    Dacco’s eyes widened. “You know the Demahl? No wonder Ayesha likes you, I thought she’s the only sentient who can pull that sort of information from the top of her head.”

    “Ayesha was very eager to learn when she came to the Academy,” Kal explained in response to Thrawn’s arched eyebrow. “She was hoarding information like an Askajian hoards water.”

    Lamtee nodded. “She was incredible. You remember when those poodoo-heads in your year had a betting pool on who would sleep with her first? She bored them to death with talk about Paonidd extrassa art and they just ran away.”

    They all laughed, except Thrawn whose eyes flashed brightly. Tashi noticed it – she was doing obviously better than the others at reading Thrawn’s subtle body language – and reverted to safer ground. “She was a different person at the time. She was very shy and she wasn’t so comfortable in the company of humans. I didn’t complain, I was the most obvious non-human in the Academy, so it was nice for me to have someone to talk to.”

    Lamtee nodded again. “Yeah, but I’m really glad she opened up. Her Wookiee family are great but Kashyyyk is far too small a world for someone like her.”

    “It does her a load of good though,” Dacco interjected. “She’s always glowing when she comes back from her holidays. And I never saw anyone work wood the way she does.” Thrawn nodded knowingly. “You got to see her woodcarvings, Capt’?”

    “I have,” Thrawn said. “I actually keep one on my desk and it is an exceptional piece.”

    There was a hint of something in his otherwise cool voice that caused Dacco to eye him curiously but he kept his thoughts to himself. He explained that he had been trying to learn more about wood carving from Ayesha – “but I failed abysmally,” he added with a chuckle – then went on to say that he and Lamtee were working together on integrating two-dimensional features in Zeltron art, which traditionally consisted only of volumes, when Tam and Ayesha walked back in the room.

    Tam waddled to Onion and held out the melon-sized object he was carrying, a piece of soft whitish wood freshly carved in the shape of a shaak. Ayesha had reproduced the rotund animal down to the last detail of its fragile legs and pointed snout. The Dug extracted a few markers from an inner pocket of his jacket and started colouring the toy. He added a few final touches to the head and turned it around to show it to the group. The shaak now had long eyelashes and luscious red lips. It was uproariously funny and the room exploded with laughter again.

    Thrawn plucked a wood shaving out of Ayesha’s hair as she sat next to him. Without a sound, Tam came and placed the shaak between them, then started climbing on the sofa. “You’re in trouble, Capt’,” Kal said. “Tammy adores Ayesha and he wants you to know that you have competition for her affections.” To his father’s and everyone else’s great surprise, the little boy settled on Thrawn’s lap, took back his new toy and started warbling at it.

    Mira leaned forward to observe the content expression on her son’s face. “Well, that’s a first, Captain. Tammy isn’t exactly shy but he doesn’t usually take a liking to new faces this fast. You’re jumping over the Koch family hurdles with remarkable ease.”

    Ayesha grinned. “You should have seen Master Nazmat. She put on that big display of charm for Thrawn yesterday. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was hitting on him.”

    The conversation turned to Nazmat Koch’s somewhat eccentric personality. They had all been her students and respected her deeply. Even Onion let go of his aggressive persona to recall how she had taken him under her wing after visiting one of his exhibitions in a gallery just above the Underlevels. “Yes, the Underlevels, if you can imagine that, Capt’,” Tashi interrupted. “Master Nazmat Koch visiting an alien art gallery in the Underlevels. I was there, I saw it with my own two eyes, and I can tell you that she was as classy as ever.”

    The discussion was dying down and Tam was now sucking his thumb, half-asleep on Thrawn’s lap, when Mira stood up and gave the signal to leave. They exchanged goodbyes on the landing pad, Tam lingering a little in Ayesha’s arms, and flew away. Thrawn and Ayesha returned into the apartment. “That is quite a fascinating group of friends you have,” he said as she closed the door and activated the housekeeping droid.

    “You liked them?” she asked with a hint of concern. “I was afraid you’d be bored.” Both eyebrows shot up at once. She shrugged. “Don’t get me wrong,” she said by manner of an explanation, “I had a great time and it was really good fun, but there wasn’t much intelligent conversation for you tonight.”

    He shook his head in disbelief and cupped her face in his hands. The shaak carving had left a thin layer of sawdust on her neck and shoulders. “I am very curious to find out about your criteria for intelligent conversation, Ayoo’sha, but there are more pressing matters at hand. Right now you need a shower and I believe that it is something I can help you with.”
  22. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Fun to become reacquainted with Ayesha's circle of friends and schoolmates—a very colorful group. Wonderful to see little Tammy hitting it off so well with Thrawn despite his initial wariness. :D I love Tashi's chatty, happy-go-lucky manner, which as I recall from "A Tree-Dweller..." was a nice foil to Ayesha's more serious and reserved manner. Also loving Thrawn's natural gentility at work in interacting with a motley cast of characters that belong to such a different world (the contretemps with Onion was hilarious).
    Ewok Poet, Chyntuck and Nyota's Heart like this.
  23. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    I have wondered at your choice of icon for your username, and now I see Onion as one of your characters, and I can't help seeing a pattern emerge...

    Very interesting party! Thrawn was able to assimilate into such a diverse group, thanks to his intelligence, patience, mutual interest in art, and most of all, his respect for Ayesha.
    Chyntuck and Nyota's Heart like this.
  24. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    May 6, 2003
    Hehe, nice!

    I like your Thrawn more and more with every chapter... :)
    Chyntuck and Nyota's Heart like this.
  25. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    That is a fascinating circle of friends. ;) And I like how Thrawn blends in and is accepted :) especially by Tam. Kids ... if they have a meh or bleh reaction [face_laugh] you know something's off. :D

    Loved the last line about helping her with a shower. My favorite kind of invitation between couples. [face_mischief]
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