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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. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    May 6, 2003
    Thrawn held her that night as if his life depended on it. He entwined himself tightly around her as soon as they slipped under the covers and watched as she fell asleep in his arms. He was still staring at her when she woke up in the morning and, once she was showered and dressed, he helped her in the speeder and flew her to Darth Vader’s private residence. He kissed her deeply under the mildly shocked gaze of the security guards, his tongue savouring her mouth as if it were some rare delicacy, and left without saying a word.

    Oh my... Thrawn, keep her from doing this!!
    You're the genius, so find a way!

    Hmmm... so might there be someone a tiny little bit Force-sensitive?[face_whistling]
    Ayesha feeling the atmosphere of the lakeside estate - I didn't catch this the first time reading the chapter - and is her people not known for certain Force-abilities?

    Can't wait how her meeting with Vader will play out now.

    I've been re-reading Outbound Flight during the holidays for the, what, 100th time, btw (skipping the Anakin / Obi and Lorana / C'baoth parts, hehe), and I really think your Thrawn isn't that far from the original!
    So, yes, I'd sooo love some more Thrawn backstory! :D

    I had Outbound Flight with me when I was sitting in the train, coming back from a work-related trip to Hamburg a few months ago (the big hardcover edition), hiding behind it so the two girls who were sitting there with me wouldn't bother me (they were quite loud, and their mom was already quite annoyed with them), and I was trying to read.
    Not five minutes after I had opened the book, they were like, oooh, Star Wars! Who's the blue guy on the cover? Is he a bad guy?
    So I told them about Thrawn. [face_devil] You can't start early enough...
    Their mom was glad they were busy for a while, until they were like, Mommy, we want a Star Wars novel for Christmas... :p
  2. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Sorry to be so tardy in commenting—I've just been clobbered by DRL recently. [face_blush]

    Wow, what a toll these plans and this project have taken on Ayesha—something's really, really up if the bump of tummy fat goes away. ;) What a caring group of friends she has; I know they're doing their best to take care of her, but ultimately this is of course something she'll have to being to closure herself. She certainly has that "a cat may look at a king" gumption going for her in her plan to talk to Vader. And why shouldn't she, given the nobility with which he's treated her so far? That small remaining spark of good has shown itself in all his interactions with her so far, and I am most intrigued indeed to think of our heroine playing some small role in Vader's long, slow journey to redemption. [face_thinking]

    As funny as this sounds I am intrigued too that the meeting will be at "Darth Vader's private residence," and I sense some more delicious Chyntuckian artistic details in our immediate future... [face_batting]

    Thrawn's caution is of course understandable (his protective tendencies coming through in a big way), but I know he'll have her back whatever happens.
  3. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    That's very, very high praise coming from you [face_blush] Thank you! [:D]

    He's going through a complicated time himself -- feeling another pilot's Force-sensitivity during the Battle of Yavin, wondering who that is and beginning to have doubts about what he's doing there... Plus, he doesn't know yet what she wants from him.

    And there will be a lot of that in this fic. *ominous laugh*
    And this is where Thrawn finds out that all the strategic genius in the Galaxy cannot solve people's emotional issues ;)
    I'm going to confirm straight away that Ayesha is not Force-sensitive, but that doesn't mean there isn't something special about her. Remember what the Emperor told her in chapter 8: “It is a great pity such an extraordinary creature as you would have no sensitivity to the Force. It is highly unusual for someone who is not Force-sensitive to shine in the Force in such a way.”
    You skipped both Anakin/Obi and Lorana/C'baoth? Well, that leaves... okay then :p And I took good note. There will be more Thrawn backstory, but a bit later on :)

    [face_laugh] No, you definitely can't start early enough. For Christmas I printed out Raissa Baiard's Equestria Girls Star Wars characters for my 4-year-old niece. She loved them!

    And you should be resting instead of getting all nervous about posting reviews, while I should be (and am) twice as grateful when you post [face_love]
    Not so much in the coming chapter, but there will be lots of art in the following one. But Vader's private residence could be interesting, now that you mentioned it. I need to think of that, maybe for a one-shot in the future? [face_thinking]

    On to chapter 22.

    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 überthanks to Nyota's Heart for beta-reading!


    Chapter 22: The duel

    A stormtrooper led Ayesha to Darth Vader’s meditation chamber. She watched in awe as the jaws of the hyperbaric pod opened and a mechanical arm lowered the black helmet on a scarred head before the Dark Lord swivelled around on his chair to look at her. She bowed deeply until he uttered a single word. “Speak.”

    “My Lord,” she said timidly, “let me first thank you once again for...” Darth Vader flapped his hand in a way that meant ‘get over with it already’. For some unexplainable reason, it gave her courage. “My Lord, you told me that the man who freed me from slavery on Zygerria was the Jedi Anakin Skywalker,” she said in a clear voice, looking straight at the mask. “As you know, I am an artist, and I would like to create a sculpture for him, but my memories of the lightsaber duel I witnessed are... confused, and I have failed so far to produce anything satisfactory. I would have no words to express my gratitude if you could allow me to observe while you train, so that I can create a piece that is worthy.”

    There was an ominous pause. “Anakin Skywalker is dead,” Darth Vader said in his deep, rasping voice.

    She held his gaze as best she could and answered firmly, “I understand that, My Lord, and I see that I did not express my thoughts properly. I would like to create a sculpture about Anakin Skywalker, but it would not be for him. I need to create it for myself.”

    Only the sound of Darth Vader’s mechanical breathing could be heard for several minutes, and Ayesha’s face was twisting in despair at the thought that her request was being rejected, when the Dark Lord finally stood up. “Come with me.”

    She trotted behind him in a deserted corridor to a large room that was empty save for a line of spindly droids of a sort she had never seen before. “Sit,” he commanded. She sank to the floor against the wall and watched as Darth Vader activated two of the droids. “Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress, protocol 2-1-6,” he barked. He moved to the centre of the room and unhooked his lightsaber from his belt.

    The two droids transformed into the old man and the bald woman who had been haunting her memories and the three-way duel began. Without taking the time to think, Ayesha pulled her sketch pad out of her satchel, her pencil flying on the flimsi as Count Dooku was swept aside by a casual wave of Vader’s hand while Asajj Ventress sprang at him, her two lightsabers spinning in the air like the blades of a propeller. Vader parried until Dooku joined the fight again, and he was soon battling both at once. The contrast between them was jarring. The old man was all speed, agility and finesse, while the woman was leaping like a coiled predator, and Darth Vader was breezing through it all, bashing them brutally with that odd combination of grace and clumsiness that fascinated her. He fought with a strength that was raw and rough, more so than what she could recall of Skywalker’s powerful moves, but a sense of overwhelming elation was washing over her and she filled page after page with the mysterious abstract doodles that so intrigued Thrawn. A smile floated across her face when she imagined his reaction.

    The fighting became more aggressive, the attacks and counter-attacks more intense, Darth Vader was unleashing his fury, and Ayesha suddenly clutched her head in unspeakable pain as images of the duel on Zygerria started leaking into her, superimposing on the elegant dance she was observing. Her mind showed her Anakin Skywalker seizing Ventress by the wrist and telling her to surrender, but her eyes saw Darth Vader chopping off her hand viciously to grab one of her blades. She moaned in agony as dark anger and untold suffering that weren’t hers invaded her thoughts, and clung to her last memory of peace and serenity, the beautiful yet sad holosculpture on Naboo made by the unnamed artist who had loved the queen. The Dark Lord gave a start when the image popped into her head, Count Dooku’s blade caught him on the shoulder, and he exploded with uncontrollable rage.

    He swung at his opponents with the savagery of a krayt dragon, literally hacking them to pieces as his mind flooded hers. Ayesha saw a woman with sad eyes in front of a hovel. She saw a man in a farmer’s poncho fighting a red-and-black creature from the depths of Chaos. She saw a glowing blade flying through an encampment in a desert, a kiss in an arena of insectoid aliens, a bride by the lake. She saw Count Dooku’s head falling off his body, a gloved hand on a bulging belly, the japor snippet around Padmé’s neck. She saw a bald Jedi caught in a storm of lightning, children slaughtered in stately halls and aliens slaughtered in a dark room. She saw Padmé again, heavily pregnant, clutching her neck as she crumpled to the ground in a landscape of smoke and lava, and she saw a duel on a sea of fire. She saw the Emperor’s yellow eyes and heard his laughter, and she experienced a surge of hatred that could only come from a being who would delight in watching him die a slow, painful death.

    The last pieces of the droids clattered to the floor and Darth Vader was towering above her. She didn’t look up, her head buried in her knees as her whole body shivered. She heard him breathe for a few minutes, and then he was gone with a swish of his cloak.

    When Thrawn came to Ayesha’s apartment in the evening and rang the doorbell, the transparisteel panel was wide open but no one came to greet him. He peered inside and saw light in the workshop, and when he rang the bell again to no avail, he stepped in cautiously.

    The table in the workshop was a battlefield strewn with dozens of carving tools and pages and pages of torn and crumpled drawings. Crushed stone grated under his feet as he walked in and saw Ayesha. She was sitting on her stool, stark naked, her torn clothes on the floor, hugging her knees to her chest and chewing her wrist, her glassy eyes staring at crumbled remnants on her potter’s wheel. Thrawn circled the room to come and face her. She did not appear to see him, nor did she answer when he spoke her name. There were several deep cuts on her fingers, and blood was streaming down her chin as she bit her wrist far too hard. Only when he took her hand to remove it from her mouth did she finally react. Her blank eyes focused on his face and she whispered, “Qubshi? Qubshi be-khadeeb?”

    Thrawn unfolded her knees and brought her feet to the ground, handling her as if she were made of thin crystal. “I am here, Ayoo’sha,” he said soothingly. “I am here. What happened?”

    She shook her head. “He didn’t do it on purpose.”

    There was a flash of anger in his gaze. “What happened, Ayoo’sha? Did Lord Vader hurt you?”

    Her eyes darted in all directions. “No, Anakin. He loved her but he killed her. He didn’t do it on purpose, he gave her the japor snippet.” She went on mumbling incoherently, then added, “He was in my head but he didn’t mean to. He just wanted to show me, he didn’t do it on purpose.”
  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    Speechless =D= That's me. Fascinating... I think Ayesha is like empathically or some other way receptive to the emotions and images of Force sensitives. [face_thinking] She can "pick up" their broadcasts but without knowing or having the needed shielding for self-protection.
    Ewok Poet, Gemma, AzureAngel2 and 3 others like this.
  5. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    Ayesha has gone deeper than she intended and she isn't prepared for the intensity of the experience. Thrawn is going to have to lead her from the edge, but at what cost to himself?
    Gemma, AzureAngel2, Kahara and 3 others like this.
  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Yowza indeed. :eek: Intense chapter, one of the most intense so far. Ayesha has just received a glimpse inside Vader's mind, and for what being in this galaxy would that not be the shock of a lifetime? I almost wondered if Vader transferred those visions from his past to her intentionally—as an exceptionally skilled Force-user himself, certainly he must be able to pick up on her unique presence in the Force just as the Emperor did. I feel for him just as much as for her in this chapter. Indeed, I've absolutely loved your characterization of Vader—who, I might add, is my favorite major SW villain—in each of his appearances in this story so far. @};-

    When it comes right down to it, Ayesha and Vader seem to be on similar paths, seeking closure of a similar kind. She's struggling to come to terms with her past as a nameless, objectified slave; Vader is struggling to come to terms with his own past and its strange mixture of heroism and evil. Ayesha turns to her artistic talents to seek closure; perhaps Vader doesn't know where to turn yet, but for both of them, the search for closure brings destruction and desolation of one kind or another in its wake. Has our heroine found an unexpected kindred spirit in this deeply conflicted Sith Lord...?

  7. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Wow..... Poor Ayesha, experiencing Darth Vader redux in all its intensity is definitely enough to scar a sensitive and creative soul. Does Vader realize that she's seen his memories? And what will happen to her if he does?

    I also wanted to say how much I enjoyed Thrawn and Ayesha's trip to Naboo. It has to be one of my favorite planets in the GFFA, the one that I would most like to visit. I could picture it in all it's beauty as I read. What a lovely setting for both artistic and romantic inspiration. :)

    [face_blush] [face_blush] [face_blush] Thank you! I'm honored that you thought they were that good and thrilled that your niece liked them! It's gratifying that you enjoy my little doodles
  8. Kahara

    Kahara Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Fantastic new chapters. :D I particularly liked this exchange. Ayesha has a way of walking the minefield that is Vader without really looking at the fact that he's a minefield. In this case, she got caught up in an explosion with both of them seeing those unexpected memories. Loved Thrawn's reactions to this potentially dangerous art project; I think he's discovered the perils of loving an artist (or anyone perhaps; people always have hidden facets.) The last lines from Ayesha about Anakin and Padme are chilling. Just... not a good sign.
  9. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    First post in 2015 :) Happy New Year and thank you for reading!
    I don't want to get too spoilerific here 8-} but there's definitely an element of that!

    Ha! This is Thrawn we're talking about. Be sure he'll ultimately make good use of the information ;)

    Thanks [face_blush] I'm a big fan of Vader too (as you probably guessed). He's my favourite SW movie villain and arguably one of the most brilliant movie villains of all time. And even though I have my reservations about the PT, I find that the background Lucas imagined for him is very interesting and makes for a complex character, which is something I really like

    I've been to Lake Como in Italy once (the RL setting for Naboo) and it's really just as beautiful as in the film. Here's a holiday plan for you as soon as the Youngling is up for it :cool:

    I couldn't have put it better myself! One reason I wrote all this story arc was to highlight the contrast between Ayesha's and Thrawn's approach to crucial situations. Their minds just don't work the same way.

    Thank you again for the reviews. On to chapter 23...

    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 as always to Nyota's Heart for beta-reading. (Yikes! I just realised that I ran out of edited material, I need to send you more! [face_worried])


    Chapter 23: Japor ivory wood

    The next morning, Thrawn woke up and, after changing the bacta strips on Ayesha’s fingers and wrist and checking that the powerful sedative he had given her would keep her asleep, he went straight to the High Command Headquarters and placed a request for immediate shore leave for personal reasons. The ensign manning the desk looked at him curiously and, when Thrawn offered no further explanation, he asked him to wait until the Supreme Commander of the Imperial Navy could see him. Thrawn stood patiently in the office, straight-backed with his hands clasped behind him, and soon enough he found himself in the presence of Darth Vader.

    “You are requesting leave for personal reasons,” the Dark Lord said. “This is unusual. Explain.”

    “I have private matters to attend to, My Lord,” Thrawn answered stiffly.

    Darth Vader let out something that sounded like a snort. “I did not ask you for an excuse, Captain,” he said ominously when Thrawn failed to elaborate. “I ordered you to give me an explanation.”

    There was a brief silence as Thrawn seemed to ponder his options. “Miss Eskari is unwell, My Lord,” he said finally. His face was as impassive as the Sith Lord’s mask, but a hint of provocation seeped into his voice.

    There was another, long silence filled with Darth Vader’s mechanical breathing. “Her mind is fragile,” he said. “It has been broken before and it will be broken again, perhaps irreparably.” He tapped a few keys on a datapad and handed it to Thrawn, whose eyes were now swirling with molten lava. “You may leave.”

    “What did you do to her?” Thrawn rasped as he reached the door. “... My Lord,” he added as an afterthought.

    The Dark Lord gave a start, visibly surprised and angered at the same time by this breach of decorum from an officer whose cool, calculating temper and impeccable manners were legendary in the Imperial Navy. “I gave her what she wanted, Captain,” he thundered. “As I told you in the past, unlike my master I do not hurt or kill for pleasure.” His mask’s bulging eyes seemed to bore into Thrawn’s. “Your request is granted. Leave before I change my mind.”

    For three days Ayesha cowered in the back of the apartment. She left her room only once, to send a comm message and cancel her fixed-day get-togethers on Centaxday and Taungsday, and the expression of sheer terror on her face when she glanced at the closed doors of her workshop was such that Thrawn took to bringing her meals in bed. She was fully aware of her surroundings now, although she did not speak much, but when Thrawn tried to ask what had happened, her eyes became unfocused and she rambled about Anakin and Padmé and the japor snippet. She breathed a sigh of relief every morning when she found him at her side, and on Taungsday, when he returned from the kitchen with her breakfast to find her awake and trembling, she told him with panic in her voice, “I thought you were gone.”

    Tashi and Onion came to clear the mess in her workshop and place the carefully catalogued tools back on their shelf. Thrawn went to throw away the file of torn, crumpled sketches, but the Dug caught his hand. “She’ll need this, Capt’, whatever it is,” he growled, and then added in an uncertain grumble, “she’ll find her way, she always does.” Ayesha didn’t get out of bed to see them before they left.

    Later that evening, Mira came over and brought along Tam. The little boy curled up next to Ayesha under the covers while Mira sat on the edge of the bed. Ayesha finally fell asleep for the first time in days without a sedative, and Tam gave Thrawn a furious kick as they walked back to the landing pad. Mira apologized profusely on behalf of her son, then added with a hint of pride, “Tammy knows that you’ll help her, Captain, he’s just upset that you haven’t done so yet. But I’m sure that you’ll figure it out sooner rather than later. Barring that, I might unleash my grandmother on you.” Thrawn’s lips twitched and she gave a short laugh, but there was undisguised concern on her face as she revved up her speeder and took off in the skylanes.

    Thrawn spent the night in the storage area of Ayesha’s workshop, his eyes glittering with concentration as he sought to pry answers from the wide variety of sculpts and flats, and by Zhellday morning he had apparently made up his mind. He brought her a breakfast worthy of a rancor and, once she had eaten to his satisfaction, he helped her bathe and slip on her Berchestian artisan trousers and one of her tank tops. He then placed a hand on her shoulder and marched her to the workshop. There was a large chunk of japor ivory wood wedged in the durasteel collar on the potter’s wheel and her favourite carving tools were laid out on the edge of the table, but the file of sketches and the holograph of Anakin and Padmé were nowhere to be seen. He forced her down on her stool, pulled his own closer and sat behind her with his knees on either side of her body and his hands warm on her hips. “There, Ayoo’sha,” he said. “Go ahead and do it, I will be here with you.”

    Ayesha stared at her wheel for several hours with her hands folded in her lap. Her shoulders finally sagged in defeat and she went to stand up, but Thrawn pinned her to her seat, reached for her bandaged wrist and lifted her arm gently. “Touch the wood, Ayoo’sha,” he murmured. “Touch the wood.”

    She brushed the raw material uncertainly with her palm, then licked her thumb and ran it around the edge, and started following the translucent veins of the ivory wood with her fingertips. “I need to draw a sketch,” she finally whispered.

    Thrawn placed the stylus from Bimmisaari in her hand. “No more sketches. You know what needs to be done, now do it.” She couldn’t see the tension on his face, but she heard him exhale a sigh of relief when she finally carved a hesitant notch in the wood. A second notch followed the first, then a third, then another. She turned to the table to examine the display of tools thoughtfully, and after a while she chose a different stylus and a curved knife and set back to work.

    She moved cautiously, stopping every now and then to caress the wood, but something was slowly taking shape under her fingers, and when twilight came, the rough cylinder had become an upended, truncated cone with helix-shaped grooves. Thrawn remained perfectly still behind her all the while, and only when daylight faded did he remove the tool she was twirling in her hand. “This is enough for today,” he said, patting her hip. “Come now, you must eat.”

    Her eyes were still on the potter’s wheel. “I don’t want to eat,” she said absent-mindedly. “I want to make love with you.”

    His lips twitched into a smile as he wrapped his arms around her waist. “That, too, Ayoo’sha,” he murmured in her neck. “But you need to eat and so do I. I am famished and I am sure you are as well.”

    She woke him at sunrise the next morning and pulled him to the workshop. They took their respective seats and she started carving the piece again. She was working much faster now, impatiently even, and Thrawn watched with a pang of worry when she turned to the shelf to take a long, nasty-looking blade and set the wheel spinning. She hollowed out the cone, leaving only a thin layer of wood, and sat back on her stool. She remained still for a moment, then picked up her stylus and carving knife and said, “It was him, you know. Lord Vader. He was Anakin Skywalker. He loved Padmé and they got married, but then he killed her even though he wanted to protect her.” Thrawn was so startled that he almost lost his balance but she didn’t seem to notice. She worked some more on the outer wall of the carving, then stood up to look inside, stopped dead in her tracks and added, “He’s in terrible pain and there’s no one to share it. The Emperor did it to him. He’s a good man but he doesn’t know how.” And without another word, she set about peeling shavings off the inside of her sculpt.

    Her small hands were now flying on the surface of the wood. All hesitation was gone as she deftly carved and shaved and sanded and polished, juggling with dozens of tools to adjust the smallest details. She finally sent the wheel in a slow spin and leaned back against Thrawn’s chest to look at her work. The rough chunk of ivory wood had become a flimsi-thin, luminous vortex. The oblique rays of the afternoon sun played through it with the eerie glow of the holosculpture on Naboo, revealing the translucent shadow of a domineering but graceful figure dancing with a blade on the inner wall.

    “Do you think he’ll like it?” she asked.

    Thrawn’s eyebrow travelled up. “Who?”

    “Lord Vader. I think he should have it.”

    Thrawn was left speechless, but she didn’t wait for his answer. She swivelled her stool on its axis, swung her legs around him and pulled herself up to straddle his lap. Her kiss was not open for negotiation, her tongue tasted his lips, and soon she felt his hands crawling under her shirt. Her face broke into the familiar mischievous smile. “Good,” she breathed in his ear. “You know what needs to be done, now do it.”
  10. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh this had too many grand and glorious and triumphant feels! [face_love] [:D] Ayesha and Thrawn may approach things differently but they are learning and growing and balancing for one another. :) [face_sigh] A friend who is a lover who can do all that is a true blessing. [face_dancing]
  11. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    A happy new year to everybody. The last two updates left me breathless while I read through them with wide open eyes. I hope that after all the recent pain & suffering Ayesha´s art work will be appreciated by Vader. They share more character traits then I thought.

    I am also glad that Thrawn is there to protect her from herself, her demons. Otherwise she would get lost in her art, her own thoughts forever more...
    Gemma, Chyntuck, Kahara and 1 other person like this.
  12. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    A wonderful look into the heart of an artist. Ayesha is fortunate to have the disciplined, logical Thrawn as a counter balance to her turbulent soul.
  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    SQUEEEE! While Ayesha's emotional openness & vibrancy lets him break loose and just be. [face_love]
  14. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for the reviews :) I'm a bit behind on editing the next chapters so the next post might come a couple days late. Although I'm sure that once I get my act together, Nyota's Heart will beta-read it in no time [:D]
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  15. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 25, 2013
    WOW --- the visit to Vader's was scary --- I was afraid he had given her too much information. Was very very happy that Thrawn stepped up to the plate and took time off to help out his lady. You intrigue me more and more with each chapter.
    AzureAngel2 and Chyntuck like this.
  16. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Success! I re-wrote the next chapter the way I wanted it and I'm ready to post on time :)

    So before you proceed, a word of warning: this chapter was re-written to become 3000+ words of shameless, gooey mush -- because my beta-reader Nyota's Heart (whom I can't thank enough for her help and support) likes mush, and I wanted to have a gift of sorts for her in the new year [face_love] Okay, it's not really a surprise for Ny, because she beta-read it of course :rolleyes: but the intention is there [:D]

    If you're not into mush, you don't have to read the whole thing. Plot-wise, all the important bits of info are before the * * * separator.

    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.


    Chapter 24: Jealousy

    Thrawn went back to work and Ayesha quickly made a full recovery, becoming once again her whimsical, cheerful self. She slept like a baby at night and ate ravenously, as if to make up for time lost. Thrawn took to teasing her about her appetite. “I greatly enjoy watching you tuck away such quantities of food, Ayoo’sha. I am finally seeing the Wookiee in you.” There was one night when, after hours of frolicking in bed, she fetched from the kitchen a bowl of blue yoghurt and wasaka berry jam and settled back against the pillows to eat. She caught a glitter of irony in his gaze and asked him if he thought she was becoming fat. His hand trailed from her shoulder over her chest and came to rest on the soft curve of her hip. “Not at all, at least not yet,” he said with a playful twinkle of his eyes. “Which is not to say that I would mind if there were more Ayesha for me to hold, provided however that you remain a single person. Heaven knows how I would cope if there were two of you.” She gave him a mock angry look and stretched to put the empty bowl on the nightstand. He was now tickling her little bump of tummy fat with his fingertips and continued speaking. “Now, if you have recovered the energy you need, perhaps we could resume our previous activity.” His hand had already moved further down and she didn’t even have time to laugh.

    There was another night when she pulled him to her, cradling his head against her shoulder, and told him in detail what she had seen when Darth Vader’s memories had flooded her mind. He hadn’t tried to question her about what had happened in his palace – there was a newfound serenity about her since she’d sent Vader her Japor woodcarving some three weeks prior – but he listened with great interest and asked her cautiously to clarify a point here and there. He then made her promise that she would never speak of it with anyone else. “Please listen to me this time, Ayoo’sha,” he pressed. “There are many people who would kill to know what you know about Lord Vader.”

    “I promise. I actually listen to you, you know. This was just something I needed to do, and I think you understand that now.” He nodded and she held him tighter to plant a fierce kiss on his forehead. “Thank you for not walking out on me,” she whispered.

    His head jerked up and he stared at her with utter bewilderment. “How could I possibly walk out on you, and most importantly, why?”

    She shrugged. “I don’t know. Most people run away when I’m in that state.”

    There was genuine anguish in her voice. Thrawn sought to defuse the situation. “I see that I still have to work hard to convince you that I am not most people,” he said pleasantly.

    She gave him a small smile and pulled him back to her shoulder. “I know you’re not, but thanks anyway.”

    Her heart was pounding against her chest and Thrawn spoke again. “This sort of... seizure already happened to you in the past.” It was a statement, not a question.

    She sighed. “Yes. There was a time when it happened a lot. I hope I can tell you about it someday.” He brushed his lips on the wrinkled scar on her wrist and remained silent. They didn’t make love that night, but neither of them got any sleep.

    Ayesha resumed her work with Tashi. They scouted locations in town and she prepared the preliminary drawings for the Coruscant Public Transportation Authority. Tashi then set about building miniature models for the three monuments. “This is such a fantastic learning experience for me,” Ayesha told Thrawn as they watched the Sullustan assemble bits of scrap metal, screws and bolts in a mock-up of one of their sculptures. “Tashi and I have such different styles. I could never come up with something like that. It’s structured and unstructured at the same time.” They scoured the junkyards for hours on end to find the discarded durasteel sheets and beams and the cogs, wires and dry power couplings they would need, and a few times, Thrawn found the door to the landing pad closed and had to wait outside until Ayesha returned from the day’s errands.

    She was still going out with friends on Centaxday and Taungsday every week, and more often than not, she looked a little tired but was positively glowing when Thrawn arrived on Zhellday. He asked her once if he would get to meet that particular group of her friends. “Tsk,” she said, “there’s a party girl in me that you don’t need to know about.”

    She also often saw Matt Ruud. He was stationed in an orbital defence platform above Coruscant but dropped by for caf in the afternoons when he was on planet, and Thrawn would find him sitting on his stool in the workshop when he came back from the Palace. Matt was as kind as ever, and he was still mildly flirtatious with her, but he always snapped to attention when Thrawn arrived and left quickly afterwards, citing appointments with friends.

    “Matt’s finally been given a new commission,” Ayesha told Thrawn one evening as she put away her tools. “Apparently it’s a big thing, he’ll have his own Star Destroyer and task force and all.”

    “So I have heard. It is quite a prestigious assignment, and highly unusual for someone so young.”

    There was something indefinable in his tone that made Ayesha look at him, but she couldn’t decipher it and let it slide. “Matt’s roughly my age,” she said instead. “Are you implying that you wouldn’t trust me with a Star Destroyer?” The way Thrawn struggled not to splutter cortyg brandy all over himself was all the answer she needed to know, and she rolled her eyes indignantly. “Anyway, I’ll be spending the afternoon with him on Zhellday before he leaves, but it would be nice if you could finish early in the Palace. It’s my birthday and I’d like to take you out to dinner. And just so you know, you shouldn’t get me a present. Wookiees believe that birthday presents are bad luck.”

    He gave her a warm smile and came behind her to wrap his arms around her waist. “How old is my beautiful Ayoo’sha becoming?”

    “Twenty-nine. Apparently not old enough to serve the Empire yet.”

    “An important milestone, however, in that it is only one year short of thirty,” he murmured in an amused voice. She gave another indignant sigh but his hand was already crawling up her chest. “Perhaps important enough that we should start celebrating as early as today.”

    * * *​

    Matt carefully lowered his speeder on the small landing platform next to Thrawn’s. “I told you I could do it,” he said with a boyish grin as she unstrapped herself from her seat. “I’m an Ace pilot and I’ll be piloting my Star Destroyer myself.”

    “Are you sure it’s a real Star Destroyer they’re giving you?” Ayesha asked doubtfully. “The way you talk about it, I expect it to be like Tammy’s.”

    He laughed and pulled her in a warm hug. “You take good care of yourself while I’m gone, little woman. I’ll see you around.” She climbed out and he lifted the speeder off the ground. “Don’t forget to put me on the waiting list if you ever get tired of the blue boss,” he called with a wink, and he manoeuvred into the skylane.

    Thrawn was standing near the closed door, very stiff in his uniform, with his hands clasped behind his back. Ayesha bounced over and gave him a perfunctory kiss, then dug in her satchel for her key card. “I hope you haven’t been waiting too long. I said early but I never expected you’d manage this early.”

    His eyes swept over her as they walked into the apartment. She was wearing a very short black skirt that barely covered her upper thighs and a matching top that was really just a shirtfront held in place by a single narrow strap around her neck and two slightly wider ones behind her back. She caught him staring and asked, “What?”

    “Is this how you went out?” he said in his cool voice.

    “Yes, we were sunbathing in the Imperial Gardens. The weather was so nice I couldn’t resist,” she answered happily. She slipped off her sandals, then looked back at him and saw that he was still staring at her. There was fire in his eyes. “What?” she asked again.

    He inhaled deeply and sat on the conversation circle sofa. “Ayoo’sha, are you sure that it is appropriate for you to be walking around Coruscant – or any other planet for that matter – in this outfit?”

    She gave him a puzzled look. “I was sunbathing, what did you expect, Jedi robes? Besides, I was wearing this top when we took Tammy to the zoo and I didn’t hear you complain then, you kept tickling me here.” She pointed at the small of her back.

    “You were also wearing trousers when we went to the zoo,” Thrawn said, visibly struggling to maintain his composure. “And you were with me.”

    The credit finally dropped. She came and stood in front of him, crooked a finger under his chin and drew his face upwards. “Let me take note of this colour in your eyes,” she said a little smugly. “This is the colour of jealousy.”

    “It is not,” he snapped. “However I cannot say that I am fond of the idea of you spending an afternoon half-naked in the company of Captain Ruud. Even less so when he wants to be on your, how did he call it, waiting list?” There was fury in his voice.

    She gazed at him, stunned. “Matt was joking, Thrawn,” she finally said as reasonably as she could. “He flirts with me the way he flirts with every other woman on Coruscant. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it.”

    “Oh, but I think I do, Ayoo’sha. I am quite certain that, given half a chance, Captain Ruud would take you away from me.”

    She shot him a vicious look. “Okay, now I’m angry, so I’m going to make myself clear,” she hissed. “One: Captain Ruud cannot take me away from you, for the very simple reason that you don’t own me. You don’t get to talk about me as if I were a piece of property that can be passed around. Two: don’t tell me that you’re not a jealous man because you just made it abundantly clear. You are. Now that I know it, I’ll deal with it.” She took a deep breath and her tone softened. “Three: it’s my birthday and we’re supposed to spend a nice evening out together, so for the love of the Giant Weaver of the Shadowlands, will you please knock it off?” The giant weaver had the anticipated effect on Thrawn’s eyebrows, and she smiled as she cupped his face in her hands to kiss him. “You’re being silly,” she whispered in his ear. “There’s no one like you in my life and you know it. Now let’s get ready. I made a reservation in Old Zeltros and it’s a perfect place for a date.”

    She let Thrawn use the ‘fresher first, then took a shower, styled her hair, which had grown longer since the Ball, and emerged from the bedroom half an hour later in a tight-fitting, knee-length dress with wide shoulder straps and a plunging neckline. The pale yellow fabric matched her Qukuuf and enhanced her suntan. “Do you like it?” she asked Thrawn.

    He gave her a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “You are lovely.”

    She pouted her lips in mock disappointment. “Lovely? Is that all?” She turned around. The back of the dress was indented in a deep V shape that reached all the way down to her tailbone, and was held together with a white, criss-crossing ribbon tied in a bow between her shoulder blades. “What about now, do you like it?” she asked teasingly. The flash of phosphorescence in his eyes when she spun to face him made her laugh. She tugged his hand and led him to the speeder. “Let’s go. I want to dance tonight.”

    Old Zeltros was a popular restaurant with cosy sitting booths on three sides of the dance floor and a bar along the fourth. The layout was hedonistic and comfortable, as was typically expected of a Zeltron place, the edges of the partition panels were carved into statues of male and female Zeltrons and there was a holofrieze narrating the history of the planet running around the room above the booths. “I take it that your friends Lamtee and Dacco had a hand in designing this place,” Thrawn said as they reached their table. “I can see their fingerprints all over the decor.”

    “Yup,” Ayesha answered as he sat at her side. “That’s why the holofrieze is flat. Before they redecorated here, it was three-dimensional, and I can tell you it was a bit overwhelming to have dinner literally under the moment of the First Battle of Zeltros when the invaders were overpowered by Zeltron pheromones.”

    Thrawn’s lips twitched. “I also notice that the colour range is remarkably subdued,” he added as his eyes took in the room again.

    “That’s because Lamtee and Dacco have good taste. The usual palette in a Zeltron restaurant is jarring enough to cut even my Wookiee appetite.”

    Thrawn’s face finally broke into a real smile and she breathed a silent sigh of relief. The waiter brought them spiced wine, they placed their order and Ayesha was batting her eyelashes at Thrawn – “in Old Zeltros do like the Zeltrons,” she said, making him chuckle – when a large party of young men in Navy uniforms led by Matt Ruud made their entrance and went for the bar. Matt and a lieutenant who knew Thrawn came by their table to say hello. Thrawn gave them a curt nod. Matt then turned to Ayesha and said with his easy manner, “You look absolutely beautiful, sweetheart. You’ll let me take you out when I come back, won’t you?” She smiled embarrassedly and he left to join his friends.

    Thrawn’s face was entirely expressionless and he hardly said another word during the evening. Ayesha chattered away throughout dinner to fill the uncomfortable silence, but no amount of cheerfulness on her behalf could break through the barriers he seemed to have erected around him. She finally put down her napkin and said, “I didn’t know he’d be here tonight, you know. If I knew, I’d have picked a different place.”

    Thrawn said nothing and kept his eyes on his goblet of spiced wine. She sighed in exasperation. “Thrawn, you can’t seriously be thinking that I’m cheating on you with Matt, of all people.”

    He turned his head to face her. “Are you?” he asked bluntly. “That man calls you sweetheart, talks about your waiting list and always leaves in a hurry when I find him in your workshop, so tell me, are you?”

    She stared at him in disbelief. “I don’t even know how to answer that,” she whispered. “I thought it’s only Zaarin who calls me a cheap slut, but it seems I was mistaken.” Pain and hurt were swirling in her eyes. She let her gaze wander around the room. The restaurant was crowded now and people were dancing. She sighed and waved at the waiter. “Let’s ask for the bill,” she mumbled. “This really isn’t what I had in mind for tonight.”

    She stared blankly at the table until Thrawn put his hand over hers. “I am sorry, Ayoo’sha,” he said, now speaking in his even voice. “I had no right to talk to you the way I did, nor to imply the things I did.” She looked up at him timidly. “There is something about you that makes men behave like idiots and it worries me. And before you give me that ironic smile of yours, yes, this would include me. I am not proud of myself.”

    She gave him a sad smile. “I’ve had enough bad experiences with Imperial men to know what you’re talking about, Thrawn, but Matt isn’t like that. And in any case, even if you don’t trust him, you should trust me. I’m a better person than you think and I love you more than you know.”

    She didn’t see his eyebrows shoot up in astonishment at her last statement because the bill came. She settled it with her credit chip – “don’t even think of it,” she told Thrawn when he went to protest, “on Kashyyyk it’s whoever have their birthday who treat others to dinner, and if you try to change that, I may go all Wookiee on you,” – and they flew back to her apartment in silence.

    They had barely walked through the door when Thrawn sprang at her and pulled her in a bone-crushing embrace. His kiss was demanding and possessive and his hungry hands tugged at the fabric of her dress to bring the skirt up to her hips. Before she knew it, he had lifted her off the ground with his mouth buried in her neck, nibbling on her skin. She let go of a throaty laugh. “Slow down, Qubshi be-khadeeb, slow down. I had this dress made so that you could take it off me, give me at least the time to enjoy.”

    The phosphorescence of his eyes was so bright that it seemed to illuminate the dark room. “Who said anything about taking your dress off at this stage, Ayoo’sha? If you let me have my way, there will be plenty of time for that later.” His tongue invaded her mouth again and, without breaking the kiss, he carried her to the bedroom.

    When he finally rolled off her and she managed to catch her breath, she sat up in the bed and smoothed her dress. “You have no idea how much trouble you’re in,” she said with a perfectly straight face.

    He gave her a worried look. “Did I hurt you?”

    “No,” she replied airily. “But if this is what happens when you’re jealous, I’m going to make you jealous a lot more often.” His arched eyebrow made her laugh, and she pulled him to his feet. “Get up. I remember saying something about dancing tonight, and seeing as we’re still dressed, this is as good a time as ever.”

    She vanished to the ‘fresher while he sorted himself out, and went to slip her panties back on before leaving the bedroom. He caught her wrist. “I do not think that will be necessary, Ayoo’sha. This dress of yours looks complicated enough as it is.”

    She laughed again, led him by the hand to the kitchen counter, poured two glasses of cortyg brandy and keyed the music player on. They drank and chatted and danced. He told her about festivals on Csilla and she told him about celebrations on Kashyyyk. His fingertips were grazing the small of her back, between the criss-crossing strap and the bottom of the V where the dress caught up with itself, and, as they moved to a languid tune from Alderaan, he slowly began to loosen the knot between her shoulders and to untangle the ribbon. He took his time, caressing every inch of her skin as his hands moved down her back again, as if brushing dust off one of her statues, and she whimpered at the softness of his touch. The dance ended, the dress finally crumpled to the floor, and she was standing in front of him, stark naked. He suddenly cupped her face in his hands. His eyes were glowing intensely as they locked onto hers.

    “I have been given an Angel from the moons of Iego,” he whispered. “I do not know what you see in me, and I believe I never will, but I am grateful.” Before she could think of an answer, he pulled her into a kiss and took her back to bed.
  17. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    Meltilicious and sizzle-nummy! =D= =D= Beautifully portrayed emotions on each side. They are still learning and growing into couple-ness [face_love] I do not think any other relationship would have the same investment for Thrawn, much less Ayesha. [face_thinking] Chiss do not strike me as casual romancers :p so if he felt she was two-timing, naturally that would sit hard with him as it understandably would anyone committed to the person not just the idea of a relationship. [face_thinking]
    Kahara, Gemma, AzureAngel2 and 2 others like this.
  18. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    I like your work as it is.

    “I have been given an Angel from the moons of Iego,” he whispered. “I do not know what you see in me, and I believe I never will, but I am grateful.” Before she could think of an answer, he pulled her into a kiss and took her back to bed.

    Sequences like this make me melt from the sofa to the floor.
    Kahara, Gemma, Chyntuck and 2 others like this.
  19. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Ooh, two very sparkling chapters. :D

    23: In this chapter we see Thrawn really being a true friend to Ayesha as well as a stupendous lover. The time he takes to help her see her Vader project through to the end, despite the internal and external dangers with which it is fraught, shows he really cares for the whole woman, the whole artist. That, in combination with Ayesha's vast reserves of inner strength and artistry, can't help but bring an ultimate return to closure and calm. For some reason I'm intrigued by the shape of the sculpture, the truncated cone with the helical grooves; I'm guessing that should remind me of something from one of the prequel movies, but nothing's coming to mind at present. [face_blush]

    24: Oh, that Matt! I'm starting to wonder about these flirtatious remarks of his; I'm wondering if he's really meaning them as nonchalantly as Ayesha takes them. I'm glad that a dinner date that started out a little awkward (albeit at such a super-cool restaurant—wish I could go) ended up as a thoroughly enchanting evening of looooooove. Just... wow... luscious writing all the way through, with just the perfect dose of tantalizing detail. (Panties! Eee! :D )

    I do have to say, I'm curious about why she's so secretive about the "party girl" side of her that comes out when she's with the Centaxday-and-Taungsday crowd. Yet another secret being kept... *thinks thoughts not only of Bluebeard but also of Melusine* [face_blush]

    Are the Wookiee birthday customs Chyntuck Originals, or established?

    And AzureAngel2, I'm right there with you on that final quote from Thrawn. I wish more men on this planet had wooing skills like that! :p

    Gorgeous, astounding work as always! =D=
    Ewok Poet, Kahara, Gemma and 3 others like this.
  20. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    *pulls out broom and dust pan and collects reader puddles from the floor* :p
    This is a very personal reference that no one was really expected to guess [face_blush] There's a moment in the Mustafar duel when Obi-Wan and Anakin jump on a metal column and start scrambling upwards while still dueling, and the column rotates slightly as it slides down the lava, as if there were a vortex underneath (from 3'56'' in this video). It always struck me as the moment when Anakin thoroughly loses his mind -- I mean, how can you be so single-minded in your hatred to continue hunting your opponent in such circumstances? So when I tried to imagine the sculpture for this chapter, my idea was that when Anakin is in the vortex (i.e. the cone) his mind (i.e. the inside) has to be taken out. This probably doesn't make much sense, but don't tell anyone.

    Totally Chyntuck originals and added to my Fanon post about Wookies, but the custom of treating others to lunch/dinner/sweets for your birthday is what we do in Greece (we still accept presents, of course, we're not that stupid.)
    Your answer starts below :)

    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 Nyota's Heart, well, you know... thanks [:D]


    Chapter 25: Taungsday

    The Star Destroyer Admonitor was in orbit above Coruscant and Thrawn was increasingly busy with his work. He was preparing a military campaign against an alien warlord in the Unknown Regions, and was constantly shuttling between the Palace, his ship and Ayesha’s apartment. Their time together became limited. She knew better than to complain, but she bounced to the door a little faster when he turned up, she held him a little tighter when they hugged and the longing on her face was plain to see every time he left. She insisted that he come over at any time he was available, even if it had to be in the middle of the night. She opened the door for him, tousled and sleepy, and she pulled him to bed without saying a word, or lingered in the shower with him if his shuttle landed in the small hours of the morning.

    She also took to attending official events with him. As a senior Navy officer, Thrawn could not avoid them as easily as she did, and he told her several times that she didn’t have to accompany him since they annoyed her so much. She went and ordered a batch of formal outfits from Nazmat Koch’s tailor and, when Thrawn expressed his surprise, she said with a wicked grin, “I need to look pretty for you if I’m coming along, Thrawn. Your reputation as an aesthete is at stake.” She stayed at his side in receptions, as charming as ever, holding his arm as he stood straight-backed and formal in his uniform, and she took a perverse pleasure in dragging him along when one or another of the men she had dubbed vultures sought to whisk her away.

    Thrawn introduced her to Voss Parck, who was the Captain of the Admonitor and also happened to be the man who had found Thrawn on the jungle planet where he had been exiled. Captain Parck took an immediate liking to her and told her his version of his first encounter with Thrawn, which had her struggling hard not to roar with laughter in the middle of a very stiff function. “I hope to see you again when we return from this mission, Miss Eskari,” Parck said as they exchanged goodbyes on the Palace landing platform. “I will tell you many more stories about the Senior Captain that I am willing to wager he hasn’t told you himself. He is an exceptional man and officer and I am honoured to be serving under him.”

    She gave him her most radiant smile. “I know that he’s exceptional, Captain, but it’s nice to hear it from you. And I’m happy to know that he’ll have such a good man and a good friend at his side when you both go off into the black. Thank you.” She ignored the bemused expression on both men’s faces and steered Thrawn away to his speeder.

    She also saw Captain Piett at the event announcing the formation of Death Squadron. He had been transferred to Darth Vader’s new flagship, the Executor, but this prestigious command seemed to have made him even more humble. He greeted her with a courteous bow and a kind smile and, when Thrawn was pulled aside by one of the Emperor’s advisors for a private conversation, he offered his arm and kept her company until Thrawn came back. There were a few other times when she found herself alone in one of these functions, and she saw Grand Admiral Zaarin darting towards her, but every time Darth Vader somehow materialized to keep Zaarin at bay. She hadn’t seen him since her visit to his palace and was not entirely comfortable the first time he appeared, but he simply nodded and stood towering above her, his mechanical breathing echoing in her ears until Thrawn came to fetch her and leave.

    “You certainly have a way with people, Ayoo’sha,” Thrawn told her once as they climbed in his speeder. “I never thought it possible to utter these words, but it seems that Lord Vader has a soft spot for you.”

    She smiled, then sighed. “I wish I could say the same about the Emperor. I always feel his eyes on me the moment I step into the room and I’m sure he means me some sort of harm.”

    Thrawn had given up arguing with her about the Emperor – she hated him with a passion since she had shared Vader’s memories – but at these words, he took his attention off the skylane for a moment to look at her. “Why do you think His Majesty would want to harm you?”

    She shrugged. “I don’t know. He enjoys hurting people. Just like that, for kicks.” She looked distinctly uneasy and remained silent and brooding until they reached her apartment

    Thrawn pulled her in a fierce hug as soon as they stepped on her landing pad. “No one will harm you, Ayoo’sha, not as long as I live. This I promise you.” She rested her head on his shoulder pensively until he lifted her face with his fingertips. “You know that you do not have to come to these functions, if being in His Majesty’s presence is causing you such distress.”

    “My time with you is precious, Thrawn, I can’t throw it away like that. Now do you intend to stay here while I think of another man, as ugly as he is, or will you deliver a reminder of one of the many reasons I’ll miss you when you're gone?” There was that sparkle of mischief in her eyes and Thrawn obliged.

    * * *​

    It was early on a Taungsday evening and Ayesha hadn’t seen Thrawn in more than two weeks when he appeared on her doorstep. She leapt up the steps to greet him with a squeal of delight and a teasing kiss, and whispered in his ear, “It’s a shame you’re arriving now because I’m going out tonight, but we have time for a quickie.” And she tugged his sleeve towards the hallway leading to the bedroom.

    To her great surprise, he pulled back from her. “I believe that we should have a drink instead and talk.” He led her by the hand to the kitchen counter where the cortyg brandy was waiting, poured two glasses and sat on one of the bar stools.

    She looked at him questioningly while he scrutinized her face. “What?” she finally asked.

    He took a deep breath. “I arrived on planet very early this morning, at four hundred hours to be precise. You were not here.”

    She gave a casual shrug. “It’s my Centaxday pals. We played sabacc all night. It was quite a party.”

    “I was also on planet on Zhellday last week, again in the small hours of the morning,” he continued. “You were not at home either.”

    This time her shrug was embarrassed. “Yeah. That crowd are a bit wild.”

    Thrawn’s eyes locked onto hers. “One day earlier, exactly one week ago, I managed to drop by ahead of a morning meeting. It was approximately six hundred hours. You certainly had gone out early.” She blushed intensely and bit her lip. There was a pregnant pause. “Is there something I should know, Ayoo’sha?” he asked softly.

    She averted her gaze from his. He crooked a finger under her chin to bring her face back, but there was no anger in the gesture. “Haven’t we already had this conversation?” she mumbled.

    “No,” he said firmly. “No, we have not. I am not implying anything of the sort, although you could hardly blame me for wondering about it when it is quite clear that this group of anonymous friends with whom you spend two nights a week are not the party animals that you make them to be.” He caressed her cheek with his thumb. “You said I should trust you and you were right. You have my complete, my absolute trust. However, I have the distinct impression that there is something you have been hiding from me.” He paused, then added, “Given the great lengths to which you went to hide it, it is something important.”

    She looked at him miserably. “Ayoo’sha...” he started.

    She interrupted him. “Yes,” she breathed. “Yes, it’s true, there’s something I didn’t tell you. It matters a great deal to me and I’m asking you, please, please, to leave it alone.” There was a flash of anger in his eyes. “Thrawn, please. Some things are best left untouched, and this is one of them.”

    There was a long silence. “Do I not also have your trust, Ayoo’sha?”

    “Of course you do,” she blurted. “It’s just that...” She finally looked up. His usually impassive face was like an open book. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m so, so sorry. This is something that you cannot, you should not know. It would put you in a very difficult position.”

    “Perhaps you should leave that to my judgment,” he said coldly.

    She sighed. “Thrawn, there are all sorts of things that you don’t tell me about your work, and I never question you. How is this different?”

    “It is entirely different. I am a Navy officer and you are an artist. You are not handling classified information.”

    She sighed again. “It may not be classified, but people’s lives do depend on it. But then, there won’t be any peace to be had until I tell you, right?” He was perfectly still as he stared at her. She hesitated. “If I take you with me tonight, will you promise three things?” He nodded. “Not any promise,” she added. “I want the most powerful oath you believe in.”

    He nodded again, slowly. “I will give you a life-oath if that is your wish.”

    She took a deep breath. “Promise me that you’ll never tell anyone, anywhere, about what you see tonight. Not ever.”

    He stood up, pulled her right hand to him with her palm facing upwards and laid his own palm over hers. “You have my word, now and forever, until the end of my days,” he said solemnly.

    “Promise me that, whatever happens, you’ll follow my lead. You’ll do as I say and you won’t try to discuss or negotiate.”

    “You have my word.”

    “Promise me that, after we come back, you’ll never try to interfere or dissuade me from continuing what I’m doing.” Thrawn hesitated. “Promise me,” she insisted.

    The struggle was palpable in his voice as he spoke. “You have my word.”

    She whispered something in Old Kiffar, lifted his hand to her mouth and kissed it, then led him to the walk-in closet in her bedroom. “You need to change, you can’t come in your uniform,” she said as she began stripping off her clothes. “Something dark. That hoodie you wear when you go running would do nicely.”

    A few minutes later, they were both wearing plain jumpsuits and hooded jackets. She pulled a dagger-sized ryyk blade from the back of a drawer and slipped it inside her half-boot, then extracted two balaclavas, stuffed one in her pocket and handed the other to Thrawn. “Take this, I’ll tell you when to put it on. Oh, and take your blaster too.” She dug out a satchel that was buried behind her formal dresses and slung it across her chest. “Let's go.”

    “Where are we going?” Thrawn asked as they stepped into the turbolift.

    “To the Underlevels.”
  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    RE: The symbolism of the cone/vortex =D= Like a downward spiral [face_thinking]


    Love how the trust deepens between them [face_dancing] Knowing Ayesha's backstory and her strength of character, my theory is that she's helping the downtrodden and disenfranchised but has to do so very covertly and unofficially. @};-
    Kahara, Gemma, AzureAngel2 and 2 others like this.
  22. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    And my guess is, downtrodden and disenfranchised that have a highly stylized red bird as their crest...! [face_thinking] If so, the plot is thickening seriously and the story is taking on new dimensions. Both encouraging and bracing to see the trust between them reaching this point... almost no matter what it leads to.

    I too love the symbolism of the cone—very cool take on an otherwise easy-to-miss movie detail.

    Was glad to see this today—thanks so much. @};-
  23. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    Well, this has all the hallmarks of a disaster about to happen. [face_hypnotized]
    Whatever Ayesha is up to, it can't correspond well to Thrawn's lifestyle and duties as an Imperial officer. Anywhere that requires a balaclava and you aren't skiing isn't encouraging.

    Unless by balaclava you actually meant baklava, in which case count me in.
  24. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    Down to the Underlevels? THAT is never a good thing on Corruscant. Almost never!

    Anyway, I enjoy the certain sparkle between our lovers still.

    But I cannot help disliking most VIPS within the Empire. Just Thrawny & Vader are the best! [face_love]
  25. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 25, 2013
    WOW --- loved the mushy stuff in Ch 24 --- I'm always up for any kind of love and romance. Now the new intrigue in Ch25 -- has me wondering. Look forward to finding out what it is.

    Love the development of Thrawn being jealous and her affirming to him that he has no worries.