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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. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Yes, definitely a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Car'das! :)

    So neat to meet this old friend of Thrawn's, and like all good friends they manage to be both foils and a perfect match at the same time. What a gift he has of maintaining such a cheerful demeanor in the face of darkness and adversity; the flame sculpture was a fitting gift (and it was sweet of Thrawn to be OK with that, but by no means unexpected, given what a gent he is). I'm intrigued by Ayesha's reaction to Car'das's account of the Dark Jedi... as was said above, is this evidence of yet more deep-buried skeletons in Ayesha's past? And indeed...

    ...what if that Dark Jedi by chance happens to be one and the same with the young Jedi who rescued her from slavery...? [face_thinking]

    ... oh heck, anything you come up with on this score I'll be happy with! :p
    Ewok Poet, Gemma, Kahara and 3 others like this.
  2. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    With deepest apologies to readers: this story is on hiatus as of right now because I'm completely hysterical with the Greek elections [face_blush] But don't worry, I should be back within 48 hours :)
  3. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    “Do you want to talk about it?” he murmured. There was no need to specify, he hadn’t taken his eyes off her since her reaction to Car’das’s tale about the Dark Jedi.

    There was a long silence. “I can’t, Qubshi be-khadeeb,” she finally breathed. “I just can’t.”

    She was shivering. Thrawn rubbed her chest with the flat of his hand to steady her heartbeat. “Calm yourself, Ayoo’sha, calm yourself. Barring that, I may have to resort to drastic measures to calm you down.” It made her smile, and she snuggled against him. “Why did you give the firestone to Jorj?” he asked after a while.

    “I’m sorry,” she said. “I should have asked you. It was your present to me and I shouldn’t have given it away like that. I hope you’re not too upset.”

    “I am not upset at all, Ayoo’sha. Jorj is one of the few people I have the privilege to call friends. I am happy I could contribute to a gift that pleased him so much. I was merely being curious as to why you made that choice.”

    There was another silence. “There’s darkness all around him,” she sighed. “He’s in the dark and he needs a light.”

    This reminds me what Prof. Abraham van Helsing said to Mina Murray in the movie "Bram Stoker´s Dracula" (1992): "There is darkness and there is light. You are one of these lights."

    Our heroine certainly makes the life of others brighter and, as already said, more sparkly. I hope the Emperor will not put her out.
  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Chyntuck, that's totally fine—take what time you need. We'll be here whenever you're ready. @};-
  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    Agreeing with AzureAngel2 - Ayesha is all light and courage. [face_love] The Emperor better not put her out. [face_nail_biting] This fic has can't wait to read-itis all over it. [face_laugh] Woohoo! But I can wait as Findswoman says. @};- [face_batting]
    Gemma, Chyntuck, AzureAngel2 and 3 others like this.
  6. Kahara

    Kahara Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    [face_laugh] Aww, now I'm picturing Thrawn and Ayesha having a Wookiee-style wedding on Kashyyyk and sad that it probably won't happen with all the portents of doom. It just makes such an image. :)

    So sweet; I can see how that would be a great comfort to Ayesha who had so little childhood back when she should have had it. People and a place where she will always be safe and loved. Actually, I recently listened to an old favorite, A Wrinkle in Time, and reading about Ayesha and her Wookiee family reminds me favorably of Meg and her beloved Aunt Beast.

    I love how open Thrawn is about his love for Ayesha and how much she means to him. [face_love] It's entirely different from any other portrayal that I've ever seen, and you make it work! There is something about the way he expresses it that makes it entirely Thrawn.

    Ayesha's analysis of Esva was fascinating, and Thrawn's reaction was pure gold. They could make such a formidable team.

    Someone call my name? :p Just had to chip in on this. It's usually just the Book of Wook. :p My attention span for real books is terrible these days, unless they're audiobooks. Wish they had more audio of the older novels at my library. [face_laugh] If I'd recently read half the Star Wars novels I've bought, I'd know a lot more. The library had a sale rack full of old Star Wars novels for 10 cents one time -- you bet I swooped down on that one like a TIE fighter on some sluggish old boat of a Mon Cal cruiser.;)

    Catching up with Car'das was very interesting. I like the strong friendship between him and Thrawn. I've only read part of Outbound Flight, so I don't know Car'das that well. But this seems like a nice aging of his character there, with the addition of whatever happened to him with the Dark Jedi. Ayesha's reaction to his story was scary -- whatever happened to her as well must have been terrible. I'm now wondering if the culprit was Palpatine or someone else. I really liked her spur of the moment decision to share the gift with Car'das. It shows her kindness of spirit -- empathizing with someone who shared a similar tragedy. Appropriate that it's a representation of light. :)


    Noticed the inclusion of Viridian-Maiden's neuro-lamp. :) It's great to see this story using the fanon that writers are busily generating over in the Fanon thread! That place is like a Tribbble factory. [face_laugh] It's glorious.
  7. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    May 6, 2003
    Wow! :)
    I read that one on the train to Munich last weekend, and I bet everyone around me wondered about the weird woman that was grinning like mad... [face_blush]:D
    Could't reply earlier, the internet connection was crappy as always... :rolleyes:

    Yes, you captured Car'das perfectly.
    I really love how you blend canon and your own story together - it just fits so nicely!
    And wow, how many skeletons does Ayesha have in her closet? This just gets better and better...

    and hey, don't worry about making us wait - I guess you've got more than enough reason to celebrate the election results?
    I had my fingers crossed, too, but that's OT here... ;)
  8. K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku

    K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Apr 18, 2000
    Ok, so I binge read to catch up and all I can say is WOW! =D= I love how this story has developed. And it stuck with me - I dreamt about Thrawn and Ayesha afterward. I'm looking forward to the next installment - after you have recovered from the elections and all. ;)
  9. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    :eek: Thanks all for reading and reviewing, and I know that I owe you all decent answers to such kind and thoughtful replies, but I'm still in post-elections panic mode. So please bear with me, I'm posting now and I'll reply later [face_blush]

    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 super-duper thanks to Nyota's Heart for beta-reading this on the spot!


    Chapter 30: The box

    Thrawn left early the next morning to finish packing and run a few errands, and Ayesha spent the day pottering around in her workshop, suddenly very nervous about not having a memento to give him for his trip. She finally settled for carving a flame on a Japor snippet. She tied it around the neck of a bottle of cortyg brandy and slipped it in his luggage while he was taking a shower after returning to her apartment in the evening. She smiled when she saw her Fijisi wood self-portrait carefully wrapped in the space bag.

    Thrawn took her to a Bellassan restaurant for dinner and explained at length how he expected the next few months to unfold as they sipped on mulled wine. “My communications with you will be extremely limited,” he said. “I require absolute secrecy on my whereabouts in the known Galaxy in order to achieve my goals, and once I reach the Unknown Regions I will be outside the range of the HoloNet.” She nodded her understanding with a sad little smile. He laid his arm on the back of her chair to stroke the nape of her neck. “I too wish that this did not have to be the case, Ayoo’sha. However, I cannot tell you how pleased I am at the idea that I will be missed.” Her mock angry grimace made him chuckle. “My liaison officer, Major Meizh Vermel, will be shuttling back and forth to Coruscant to report to High Command every ten standard weeks or so. He is a honourable man and I trust him to carry my missives for you. If you have no objection, I will give him your address so that he can deliver them in person.”

    She gave him a puzzled look. “Why would I object to that?”

    Thrawn’s fingers were grazing the nape of her neck again. “You are already tolerating my presence in your home nearly every day, Ayoo’sha,” he said evenly. “You might not want any further intrusions upon your privacy.”

    She shook her head in disbelief. “You really have the strangest ideas, you know. Nothing from you remotely qualifies as an intrusion, you should know that by now.” He cocked one of those unexplainable eyebrows, causing her perplexity to grow, but she shrugged it off. “Anyway, I’ll be expecting your first letter when I return from Kashyyyk then. I’m leaving in three weeks and I’ll stay the whole month.”

    She went on to explain about the Adulthood Trials that her younger brother Rumpy was about to take and the elaborate ceremony that would follow if he were to succeed – “not that I have any doubt he’s capable, but surviving in the Shadowlands is challenging at best” – then added that Kal, Mira and Tam were to join her in Rwookrrorro for a brief holiday. “I’m really looking forward to that. Tammy is going to love it, he’s never seen a Wookiee up close and he’ll probably think of them as oversized stuffed toys. He’ll drive us bonkers though, we’re going to have to literally keep him on a leash to prevent him from falling overboard.”

    Thrawn then asked about her artistic projects for the coming months. “Not much,” she said. “Tashi and I will complete the monuments for the Coruscant Public Transportation Authority before I leave. Then after I return, the street youngling charity I volunteer for asked me to decorate a new shelter they’re establishing. They offered to pay me but I declined, I don’t need the money. I’ll compete for a few commissioned pieces next year instead. And we need to work on that collective exhibition we were discussing the other day. Kal says we can have it ready after New Year Fete, in four or five months, but I think it’ll take longer than that.”

    Thrawn settled the bill. “That is a truly fascinating project. As I told Kal already, I am anticipating to be back shortly after New Year Fete, and I am looking very much forward to attending the inauguration.” He stood up and offered his arm in a regal gesture. “Let us go back to your home, Ayoo’sha,” he murmured as he guided her to the restaurant’s landing platform. “I have only until dawn to deliver my last reminders to you and I do intend to make good use of every minute available to us.”

    She gave him her familiar mischievous smile. “Mere reminders of what I’ll miss while you’re away won’t cut it tonight, you know,” she whispered as he helped her into the speeder. “I also expect a taste of things to come after you return.” The flash in his eyes made her laugh and she spent the trip back to her apartment tickling his ear.

    She grabbed a handful of fabric from his jacket as soon as the transparisteel door closed behind them, but he seized her hands to hold her back. “Be patient, Ayoo’sha,” he said, leaning closer so that she could feel his breath on her neck. “You presented me with a very specific demand, now allow me to comply as best I can.”

    * * *​

    A strange mix of loneliness and satiety washed over Ayesha when she woke up at sunrise to find that Thrawn was gone. She went to the kitchen to make herself a cup of caf, and, to shake off the sorrow that was threatening to overcome her, she went straight to the workshop to figure out something to do.

    A large box was sitting on the table, topped by an envelope tucked under a paperweight. The heavy block was made of a substance that looked like molten ice, similar to the material encasing the snow crystal threads in the necklace and earrings that Thrawn had given her. In its centre was a disk of the same light blue as Thrawn’s skin, with a white sphere in the middle connected by narrow, winding curves to three smaller, blue-rimmed spheres overlapping with the thin black line delimitating the disk. A lone burgundy circle was carved in relief to the right of the central sphere, and there was a set of symbols in a language she couldn’t read along the bottom edge the block. The object exuded a sense of formality and pride, perhaps even arrogance, and somehow it made her think that it had cost Thrawn to leave it behind. She took the envelope and opened it.

    Ayoo’sha’nek Ayesha, read the note in stern, square letters,​

    You will forgive me for the lack of elegance of this letter. I chose a handwritten format, knowing your preference for the tangible over the electronic; however, unlike you, I do not possess the ability to, as you once put it, take still matter and make it express life.

    You brought to my attention recently the fact that I have not shared much about myself and you were right. Beyond the limitations placed upon me by years of austere Chiss upbringing, the bitter truth is that I spent the past eight months in selfish delight at your shining presence in my life. I sought only to take and not to give. Please consider this letter as a first gesture to request your forgiveness.

    I enclosed in this box some literature about Chiss art. As you will see, it is abundantly illustrated. I also attached a database of the Cheunh language, should your ever inquisitive mind wish to peruse the explanations. Finally, you will find here the few pieces of art that I managed to collect throughout my life. These are small gifts compared to the grace with which you have already honoured me, but I do hope that they will keep you company and that, when I return, I will not be entirely forgotten.

    May the coming months bring you peace, prosperity, creativity and, most importantly, safety and good health.

    There were two lines of foreign script after the Basic text, the second one similar to the symbols on the paperweight.

    Ayesha read Thrawn’s letter twice with increasing puzzlement. She finally shook her head and smiled, and set about unpacking the box.
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  10. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    Now if that is not one squeelicious letter, then what is? [face_dancing] [face_dancing] It's the reserved cryptic types that make the sweetest, scrumptiousest lovers! Yuppers! :) :)
  11. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Ooh, what an intriguing parting gift. Even just the unique design of the paperweight hints at mysteries that await and secrets to be revealed. Can't wait to see what's inside (and to learn what all the Cheunh script says). :D Here's hoping that these two stay safe and sound while apart from each other.

    EDIT: Chyntuck, it just occurred to me that this chapter fits perfectly with that box picture prompt in this week's writer's block challenge. ;)
    Ewok Poet, Gemma, AzureAngel2 and 3 others like this.
  12. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    May 6, 2003
    Oh, how sweet... :)

    Now I'm really curious what's in the package!
    And I hope Ayesha's time of being without Thrawn won't be too long... [face_worried]
  13. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    What I love is how these two are opposites yet share the same type of soul. They are keen observers and interpreters of the world around them. She is a whirlwind and he s a storm surge, but they are both forces of nature.

    The paperweight is beautiful, and heartens back to the beautiful jewelry he gave her after her exhibit. Now, the package: he's giving her a piece of himself.

    You know I can never read Thrawn again without hearing Ayesha's voice in the background, right? She is canon as far as I'm
  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    You know I can never read Thrawn again without hearing Ayesha's voice in the background, right? She is canon as far as I'm concerned.

    Oh join the club! [face_dancing] [face_dancing]
  15. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    Despite rain water coming in through a crack in the bathroom window and running towards our washing machine, I will go to bed now very smiley & happy.

    Thrawn really wrote a love letter & makes presents...

    There is a crack in his austere Chiss façade indeed now! [face_love]
    Gemma, Chyntuck and Nyota's Heart like this.
  16. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Good morning all! Thank you for reading and reviewing and thanks for your patience :)

    I'll put replies in a separate post this week, as I have some catching-up to do.


    Chapter 29
    That's a perfectly accurate description. Those of you who haven't read Outbound Flight and Survivor's Quest should get to it. It's a duology and they're both great books!
    Who would've thunk that? [face_tee_hee]

    Thank you [face_blush]
    Ha! Once again you're inside my head. This is one tidbit of the story where I thought of going AU and making it Vader, but I finally decided to stick to canon. Spoiler tag for those who haven't read VOTF.
    The ship piloted by Car'das with the mad Dark Jedi on board ended up crashing on Dagobah, where a funny little green creature was waiting for them :p Yoda fought and beat the Dark Jedi, and then nursed Car'das back to health.

    [face_love] You just quoted one of my favourite movies!

    Thanks for that! I added it to my reading list. It's been a long time since I last bought books, so Amazon, you've been warned, here I come!
    Thanks! I'm going for the principle that, behind every great man, there's a great woman, so you'll see them team up again :)

    Thank you [face_blush] Ayesha doesn't have many skeletons -- it's just one big skeleton, and it's coming soon.
    You could say that :p I've been partying every night this week, and I think I'm going to sleep all day on Saturday to compensate!

    Awwwww! I saw that you were all over the thread last weekend, but you actually dreamed about them? Now I'm super-flattered. Thank you [:D] (and welcome back to the boards, it's been a long time!)

    Chapter 30

    I'm telling you. Totally Ayoo'shified ;)

    The design of the paperweight is based on the coat of arms of the Chiss Ascendancy, with the addition of the burgundy planet for the home colony of House Mitth:


    I saw the box prompt and it made me smile, but this chapter was mostly written before mav posted that, so I kept myself out of it. But the previous chapter (the gift to Car'das) was a "deleted scene" that I re-wrote for the OC Revolution winter challenge. I then realised that it's not eligible, since Thrawn and Car'das are both canon characters and play an important role in that scene, but I thought I'd post it anyway :)

    That was the idea :) -- in a sense he's giving Ayesha a part of himself now like she did when he left last time with the Fijisi wood self-portrait.
    Oh stop, you two. Even the tips of my ears are bright purple now [face_blush] [face_blush] [face_blush]

    *hands broom and dustpan to Azure for all practical purposes, including, but not limited to, water in the bathroom and melting reader puddle on the floor* [face_laugh] Thanks!

    Thanks again to all. Next chapter coming up in a few minutes.
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  17. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    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 the best beta-reader of all times, a.k.a Nyota's Heart.


    Chapter 31: Major Vermel

    Ayesha had returned from Kashyyyk four days earlier and was sitting in her workshop, humming to herself as she tried to sort out her projects, when the doorbell rang. Her heart skipped a beat when she caught a glimpse of a Navy uniform on the landing pad, and she had to work hard to hide her disappointment when she saw that it wasn’t Thrawn.

    “Miss Eskari?” She nodded. “Major Meizh Vermel, at your service, Miss,” he said sharply, snapping his heels. “Senior Captain Thrawn requested that I deliver this to you.” He pulled a narrow black cylinder from his satchel and handed it to her. This time she didn’t try to hide the radiant smile that appeared on her face. Major Vermel smiled back. “Is there something you would like me to take back?”

    Her smile widened. “There is, but I need about ten minutes to assemble it. Is it okay if I keep you waiting?” The Major nodded and she took a step towards the workshop before noticing that he was still standing outside the open door. “Please, come in. You’re not going to wait on the landing pad.”

    Vermel bowed. “I’m under strict instructions from the Captain not to disturb you any more than necessary, Miss.”

    She burst into laughter. “The Captain has a definition of the word ‘to disturb’ that most of us mere mortals would disagree with, I think.” Her cheerfulness was infectious and she could see Vermel struggling to maintain his composure. She waved him in. “Please come in, Major. I’m going to feel terribly bad if you just stand there, and besides, I need to interrogate you about the Unknown Regions.”

    She led him to the workshop, pulled Thrawn’s stool from under the table and poured him a cup of caf before getting to work. She took a thick file from a shelf and extracted a cross-shaped sheet of wroshyr wood with paper-thin, flexible creases along the segments of the cross. She folded it into a flat, rectangular box, making sure that the carvings on the lid – one identical to her Wookiee lineage shield, the other to Thrawn’s paperweight – were on the outside, then spread a wide array of drawings and sketches on the table and set about choosing those she would send to Thrawn. Vermel was watching her with fascination.

    “Tell me about your mission,” she said, and then grimaced. “Well, as much as you’re allowed to tell me. Is the campaign going well?”

    “The campaign is going very well, Miss. I’m certain the Captain tells you all about it in his letter, and I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but I can tell you that his strategies are flawless. Our battles so far have been resounding victories.”

    Ayesha looked up. “He’s alright then?”

    Vermel smiled. “He’s very much alright, Miss. Although I must say that, when he invited us for drinks in his quarters on our off-time, I caught him a few times staring at a certain Fijisi wood carving you may know.” She blushed. “I’ve stared at it quite a few times myself,” he added. “I don’t have to be an art connoisseur to understand that it’s a remarkable piece and” – he gestured towards the jumble of sculpts and flats in the back of the workshop – “I see it’s far from being the only remarkable piece you created.”

    She blushed again, with pleasure this time. “Have a look, if you want. I’m almost done here.”

    Vermel stepped away from the table to look at her works and she made her final selection of drawings for Thrawn. There were three from Kashyyyk – Yakooboo climbing on a tree with Tam strapped to his back, Rumpy working on a carving and Chemayyano swinging from a vine – and three of Tashi building the monuments for the Coruscant Public Transportation Authority, with passersby stopping to watch. She added an ethereal drawing of a faceless Twi’lek in a graceful dance position, and a mischievous smile crossed her face as she chose three of her abstract sketches that, she had no doubt, would leave Thrawn baffled. She then hesitated for a long time in front of a series representing hands and arms, and finally settled for a muscular shoulder underlined by a protuberant vein, a very simple drawing that spoke of warmth and longing. She scribbled a note – “Qubshi be-khadeeb, something for you to remember me by,” – copied underneath the line of Cheunh symbols from Thrawn’s letter that, after hours of painstaking research through the vocabulary database, she understood to be a greeting, and sealed the whole lot in the wroshyr wood box as Vermel came back towards the table.

    “Here you go,” she said. “I hope it isn’t too bulky.” Vermel slipped it in his satchel. “Thank you for playing mailman for us,” she added timidly. “It means a lot.”

    The Major smiled. “I’m glad to do this small favour to the Captain, Miss, I owe him much more than that. And your smile alone is worth travelling across the Galaxy for. I will be looking forward to seeing you again on my next trip, in ten to twelve weeks.” She walked him to the landing pad. “The Captain insisted that I tell you to please be safe,” he added as he climbed in his speeder.

    She shook her head. “Only Thrawn could think of giving that sort of advice to others when he’s out there fighting a war,” she grumbled. Vermel laughed and revved up the engine to leave.

    As soon as he was gone, she locked the door and went straight to the bedroom. She sat on Thrawn’s side of the bed and opened the black tube Vermel had brought. A roll of delicate papyrus slid out and she settled comfortably against the pillows to read it.

    Ayoo’sha’nek Ayesha,

    I am writing this letter as we chase Nuso Esva into the Unknown Regions. It is here in interstellar space that I truly understand how aptly the word Ayoo’sha describes you. The mere thought of you illuminates the deep black surrounding me with the exact hue of sunlight on a fresh snowfield. It is a source of inspiration in more ways than one.

    The task force Admonitor, led by Captain Parck, confronted Nuso Esva’s forces several times in the Unknown Regions before I joined them at our agreed rendezvous point in the Poln System, on the edge of the known Galaxy, for what, I believe, was a decisive battle in that it set the tone for this campaign. I deeply regret that I cannot share all the details with you; however, you should know that your reading of the art he collects was entirely accurate. He hatched an elaborate plot to kill me, or at the very least to destroy my reputation and career, and, when he saw that his efforts had been thwarted, he gambled clumsily and went, as you said, all in. He brought twenty-eight of his capital ships against two Star Destroyers, one of which was crippled, and a single, decrepit Dreadnaught. He had not counted on Lord Vader’s and Death Squadron’s timely intervention, which resulted in his Eastern Fleet being ripped apart.

    The most important aspect of our victory of this battle, however, is one that I owe solely to you. I was able to taunt him into boasting about his subjugation of the Stromma and Quesoth, two species of the Unknown Regions that he manipulated into believing that they are his allies, and a judiciously placed communications relay allowed them to hear his disparaging opinion from the dewback’s mouth. This so-called alliance is now crumbling, and we will be stopping for diplomatic talks on Oristrom before we proceed to the Troukree homeworld, which is still under his domination.

    Speaking of the Troukree, I must tell you that one of their leaders, who answers to the name of Vaantaar, considers himself in your debt forever. In this case again, your insights on this species’s reluctance to ask for what they perceive as undeserved favours were invaluable. It turns out that the Troukree are very eager to be trained in combat in order to better defend themselves, and I have been able to recruit a team of five remarkable men for this purpose. Their story, which is worthy of Lyechusas’s trilogy on the life of Xim the Despot, is unfortunately a secret that is not mine to tell. However, should you ever meet them, I have no doubt that you will be able to charm them into narrating it for you.

    As you can see, Ayoo’sha’nek, it is your light that is guiding my path, even in this sombre endeavour of fighting a war. My personal time on such a mission is exceedingly limited to allow me to recall at length the most pleasant memories of the gift of your presence, but it seems that you found an unexpected way to be always in my thoughts. I have no words to thank you for the grace with which you shine upon my life.

    This papyrus is Vaantaar’s gift to you. It is made from the bark of a rare tree that grows exclusively on the Troukree homeworld, and is normally used only for ceremonial documents. As you no doubt noticed from the few holograms I have in my study, the Troukree are talented artisans, and their skill in the art of calligraphy has no rival. You will forgive me for defacing this valuable object with my crude handwriting. I could simply not think of a more appropriate material for a letter to you.

    I must now return to the bridge in order to entrust this missive to Major Vermel before he departs to the Core. I will be waiting with great impatience for his return to hear that you are happy and luminous, and, most importantly, healthy and safe.

    The bottom of the papyrus was embossed with the same symbol as Thrawn’s paperweight under two lines of Cheunh script, of which Ayesha could decipher only the second. It read, ‘Syndic Mitth’raw’nuruodo of the Eighth Ruling Family’.

    * * *​

    Ayesha couldn’t contain her delight when Major Vermel appeared again on her doorstep on a clear evening a month and a half later, but her face darkened when she saw him close by. He seemed overwhelmed with sorrow as he pulled a holopad from his satchel and handed it to her. “Is everything alright?” she asked anxiously.

    Vermel gave her a tired smile. “The Senior Captain is fine, Miss. His campaign is making progress as expected. You needn’t worry so much, he’s the most brilliant mind in the Imperial Navy.”

    She ushered him in. “Can I get you something? I need a few minutes to prepare my little package. I have caf, Forvish ale and cortyg brandy.”

    “That’s very kind of you, Miss, but I really don’t want to abuse your hospitality.”

    “Someone’s got to tell Thrawn to stop forcing his crazy ideas on people,” she muttered. “Tell me what you want, or I’ll take a leaf from Lord Vader’s book and shove the whole bottle of brandy down your throat.” Vermel’s sad smile widened ever so slightly and he settled for Forvish ale. She went to fetch him a generous tankard and without another word set about shuffling through the pages of the little sketchbook she would be sending to Thrawn.

    Her drawings this time were mostly about him – sketches of his hands and eyes, portraits of his face, images of his chest and back detailing every muscle, all bathed in the eerie light of memory. Even the incomprehensible doodles that he could normally not decipher screamed in their own way how much she missed him. There were a few other drawings interspersed in the sketchbook – Tam’s smile, children playing in a passageway of Coruscant, one of Onion’s recent works, a montage of the various pieces of art Thrawn had left behind. She referred to the vocabulary lists he had given her and wrote cautiously a few captions in Cheunh, then flipped to the last pages, which represented a variety of exotic animals matching the large collection of colourful statuettes that were spread on the workshop table. She added a few strokes of her pencil here and there to enhance their childlike cheerfulness, polished once more the carvings of her and Thrawn’s personal insignia on the thin wooden cover, and wrapped the sketchbook in a silk ribbon. She looked up to hand it to Vermel and found him gazing absent-mindedly at the menagerie of painted animals, his tankard of ale seemingly forgotten in his hand.

    “Do you like them?” she asked.

    Vermel gave a start when she spoke. His mind was visibly elsewhere. “They’re adorable, Miss. Did you make them?”

    “I did. I volunteer for a charity that helps street younglings and they asked me to decorate this new shelter they’re setting up. I thought the kids should have toys to play with. What’s your homeworld?”

    Vermel gave her a curious look. “I’ve been living on Coruscant for many years now, Miss. But I was born and raised on one of the Outsider Citadels on Cerea, if that was your question.”

    She dug a little through the jumble of creatures and extracted two white, long-necked avians with blue tufts on their head and tail and a yellow beak and legs. “Then you recognize these. You should take both, the aryx always live in pairs.” Vermel hesitated. “Take them,” she insisted, pushing them into his hands. “I can see that you want them, and I’m really happy to have something I can give you.”

    Vermel’s face finally broke into a smile that reached his eyes. “Thank you, Miss. This is a gift I will cherish.” He slipped her sketchbook and the two wooden avians in his satchel and got up to leave. “It’s likely that the Captain will be coming back at the same time as me, a few weeks after New Year Fete, so chances are I won’t be disturbing you again until our next mission. It’s been a true pleasure meeting you.”

    “You never disturbed me, Major, quite the opposite, you brought me joy. Thank you for everything,” she answered warmly as he climbed in his speeder.

    He looked at her from behind the wheel. “The Captain insisted again that I tell you to be safe.”

    Ayesha flapped her hand. “Thrawn worries too much about nothing. Please tell him that I said the same.”

    Vermel chuckled and took off in the evening sky. She locked the door, closed her workshop and settled in bed with the holopad. Thrawn had sent her an audio holoshow of various works of art from the Unknown Regions, most of which appeared to be from the Troukree homeworld. She listened to his voice commenting on the various pieces in Cheunh. She sensed that he was saying much more than what little she could understand, but she didn’t get up to fetch the language database. She played instead the recording over and over, until the music of his voice lulled her to sleep.


    A/N: AS said before, the story of Thrawn's battle against Nuso Esva takes place in Choices of One. Major Vermel is a very minor canon character in the Hand of Thrawn Duology.
  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    Like Major Vermel. :cool: Ayesha's spontaneity is seen in how she gifts him with something she knows he will enjoy. loved her and Thrawn's exchange of gifts - so personal and evocative of memories of times together and apart. Am not surprised that the mission is going so well. Thrawn is already a tactical genius but Ayesh'a clues put an extra edge to it.

    AzureAngel2, Gemma, Chyntuck and 2 others like this.
  19. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    May 6, 2003
    Hehe, I snuck out of a meeting today to read your new chapter... couldn't resist. [face_blush]
    "Important phone call", and so... ;)

    This is so cute, I'm melting! I like Major Vermel!!
    But do we have to worry about Thrawn, Vermel being tired and worried like that?
    And, as it was already said, when I think of the Thrawn stories, Ayesha now belongs to them. Definitely.

    But then, hey, I've always imagined an 80 year-old, white-haired Thrawn on some nice planet in the Unknown Regions, way after the Yuuzhan Vong war, content with his work, playing with some super-smart grandchildren... :cool: that fits now even better!
    Gemma, Chyntuck and Findswoman like this.
  20. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    Csillan_girl - i'm feeling that mental image about Thrawn with grandlings ... In a big. Fat. Way. [face_dancing] Woo Hoo!
    AzureAngel2, Findswoman and Chyntuck like this.
  21. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 25, 2013
    Well I am playing catch-up and feel like I have been treated to a wonderful marathon of chapters. I love the idea of her being Thrawn's guiding light in his life - that is so beautiful. The flame minis, the japor snippet she carves a flame into and then the avians she gives Major Vermel -- all touched my heart in a grand way. When I was a little girl - my Dad used to carve me animals out of wood and he made me some pins of Casper, etc.

    And the scene in the restaurant before Thrawn leaves for his mission, his stroking of the back of her neck with promises of more.... oh so yummy. I too will never think of Thrawn again without Ayesha. They have definitely been positive influences on one another. What a beautiful romance.^:)^@};-@};-
  22. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    Maybe there is something universal about little kids and carved animals: Gemma's dad gave her little carved animals, and my dad used to buy little porcelain animals for me whenever he came back from bringing his classes on field trips to the Boston Museum of Science. I can picture Major Vermel bringing the carvings home to his little kids.

    Can't hep thinking that Thrawn is sending her more than commentary on the audio. He wants her to learn Cheunh for a reason, and he is too strategic for it to be merely sentimental.
  23. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing!
    Thanks :) My idea when I wrote the scene where they analyse art together before Thrawn leaves is that Thrawn, because he's a tactical genius, gets to understand from the art what people will do, how they will react. Ayesha on the other hand, because she's not focused on tactics, gets to understand what people are. She was able to guess the Troukree's wishes because she cares about others, whereas Thrawn tends to think of them as pawns -- not in an exploitative way like Nuso Esva of course, but as a tactician and a strategist, what's of concern to him is where they fit in his plan, so he misses things.

    :p And no, nothing to worry about Thrawn for now. But be nice to Vermel, the poor man is going through a hard time :( Thank you!
    Okay. I'm trying hard not to be too spoilerific here. I guess I can say that this isn't an entirely impossible outcome, but some elements of Csillan_girl's sentence have to be removed. Yes? ;)

    Welcome back [:D] and thank you! The wooden animals were a reference to toys I had as a kid. Back in the 1970s, before all the plastic stuff flooded the market, a lot of the toys I had were made of soft wood. I'd rather not think of how much toxic varnish I must have ingested chewing on them, but they were just soooo much nicer than Barbie dolls.

    Hehe. ;)

    Hehehe ;) ;)

    On to chapter 32, with abundant mush and the important next step!

    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 [:D]


    Chapter 32: The study

    On the night before New Year’s Eve, Ayesha was emerging leisurely from the hallway and making for the comm desk in the corner of the dining area when she stopped dead in her tracks. Thrawn’s silhouette was framed in the doorway leading to the landing pad. Her eyes shone with elation as she leapt up the three steps to hug him, burying her face in his neck. She felt him tremble when, after a moment’s hesitation, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders to hold her in a tight embrace, and she pulled back a little to look at him. “Are you alright?” she asked.

    He caressed her face slowly with the tips of his fingers. “I am, Ayoo’sha. Now I am.” And suddenly he was kissing her passionately, in a way so explicit that she barely managed to slam her hand on the door’s activation panel and close it before he tore off her clothes. Without another word he lifted her and carried her to the bedroom. She lost once more track of time and space until a tsunami of light swept her away, so bright that she thought it illuminated the room, and she heard Thrawn’s voice scream her name from somewhere beyond the shining sea that was battering her.

    He held her tightly to his chest when she crashed on him, sweat-soaked and panting, as if he were intending to never let her go. She finally rolled off to his side and huddled in his warmth as he entwined himself around her in a familiar gesture that was both possessive and protective. “Thank you for coming back to me, Qubshi be-khadeeb,” she breathed in an exhausted whisper. “Thank you for coming back.”

    She woke up with a start to find that Thrawn was still holding her. His fingers were brushing the skin of her back and his voice was whispering in Cheunh. She gave him a radiant smile. “So I wasn’t dreaming after all. Did I sleep long?”

    “Fifteen to twenty minutes, Ayoo’sha,” he murmured. “It seems you have been working far too hard while I was away.”

    “And here I was hoping you’d leave your mother avian tendencies in the Unknown Regions,” she said happily. “Did you have dinner?”

    Thrawn smiled. “Not yet. Unless a ration bar I ate on the shuttle on the way to debriefing counts as dinner.”

    “Good. I was about to order takeout. Tomo-spiced ribenes for two?” Thrawn nodded. “Then let me take a quick shower and I’ll comm the diner.”

    He pulled her back and buried his face in her neck, inhaling her deeply. His hand was already crawling up her chest. “No, no, no,” she said throatily, wriggling again to escape his grip. “I was hungry before you came and now I’m starving. The mother avian in you should know that I need food.”

    Thrawn laughed as he watched her don a thin, floor-length robe. She had never seen him so relaxed. “All right, Ayoo’sha’nek, but tonight you will pay the price for this delay. As a matter of fact, you will pay the price over several days, I have been granted shore leave for Fete Week.”

    “Oooh, you are so going to regret ever saying this,” she said with her mischievous smile, and she skipped out of the room, collecting along the way the random pieces of clothing that were littering the corridor.

    Thrawn joined her near the kitchen counter as she poured two glasses of cortyg brandy after ordering their food. He was bare-chested, wearing only the soft, baggy trousers that he favoured when getting out of bed. The Japor snippet she’d carved for him was hanging around his neck. She stood on the tips of her toes to kiss him again. “This is such a nice surprise. From what Major Vermel told me, I wasn’t expecting you for at least another three weeks.”

    “The Admonitor will indeed return in five weeks. Voss Parck stayed behind to supervise repairs and maintenance in Bilbringi. I merely took advantage of a supply convoy that was leaving to the Core in order to arrive today.”

    “I should send a thank-you note to Captain Parck then.”

    “To both Vermel and Parck,” he countered. “It is safe to say that you count the two of them among your admirers. Vermel almost manhandled me to force me in the shuttle, it was most unprofessional of him.”

    She pouted her lips. “You make it sound like you were in no rush to return.”

    There was a twinkle in his eyes as he answered. “How could I not be in a rush, Ayoo’sha? I could not risk letting you go to the New Year Fete Ball alone tomorrow, someone else might sweep you off your feet to the dance floor.” His tongue invaded her mouth before she could think of a suitable reply. “Tell me something,” he asked. “I understand that the Way of the Wookiee bans birthday gifts. Does the same restriction apply to anniversary presents?”

    “Not that I know,” she said with a shrug. “Wookiees don’t even have the concept of anniversaries.”

    “Then I have a present for you.” He led her to the travel bag he had dropped by the entrance and extracted a carefully wrapped box. She opened it to reveal a sculpt made of dark, glassy stone. One side was polished to perfection in the shape of a bulging wave, while the other was multifaceted, as if chunks had been roughly chopped away. The material softened to a gelatinous texture under her fingers, without however losing its shape, and she heard a few faint notes of music.

    She placed the sculpt on the table near the door and took a step back to observe it from a different angle. “This is extraordinary. Where is it from?”

    “It is from Matta Thryne, a remote planet of the Unknown Regions that was colonized by the Gree.”

    She looked at him curiously. “I thought that the Gree regressed to a primitive state and that their technology was mostly forgotten.”

    “And you are absolutely right when it comes to the Gree homeworld in the Outer Rim. On Matta Thryne however, their civilization still prospers.” He ran a finger along the wave, eliciting a few more musical notes. “Do you recognize this curve?”

    She stared at the sculpt for a few moments. “It’s the same as the neck and shoulder of the Fijisi wood carving I made for you. But lying on its side instead of standing.”

    “It is the same as your neck and shoulder,” he corrected, murmuring in her ear. “I saw this exact curve often enough to know, when I found this piece, that it should be yours.”

    She turned around to thank him but he was holding another box. “There’s more?” she blurted. Thrawn handed her the second package silently and watched as she unwrapped it. It was a piece of the same stone as the sculpt, but it was raw, rough and inert, waiting to be carved. She laughed as she lifted it into the light. “Sometimes I think that you know me far too well.” She planted a peck on his cheek. “Come on, let’s have a closer look.”

    He followed her to the workshop and stood behind her as she sat on her stool. She placed the rock on the potter’s wheel and fiddled with the light switches to illuminate it adequately, then licked her thumb and ran it over the edges. “It’s the first time I see this type of stone,” she said, looking thoughtfully at the styluses and knives displayed on the shelf to her left. “I wonder if any of these tools will even work on it. I don’t know how I can achieve the texture and the music.”

    A blue hand appeared in her field of vision, holding out a small, oblong package. She glanced over her shoulder and saw that Thrawn was smiling. “You didn’t!”

    His smile widened. “Of course I did, Ayoo’sha. And you will be able to use it, this is one of the few tools the Gree manipulate with a single tentacle.”

    She unwrapped the tool carefully. It was a metallic cylinder, not unlike a miniature lightsaber, with what appeared to be a high-concentration power chip and several keys labelled with alien glyphs. She tried them one after the other to reveal laser beams in the shape of a blade, a hook, a pointed stylus, a round-tipped stylus and a brush. She touched a corner of the stone with the brush and the jagged edge melted away.

    She spun on her stool to look at Thrawn with the expression of a mooka who has just been offered its favourite treat. “I don’t know how to say thank you for that with words,” she said, and she held him to her with arms and legs as her tongue darted between his lips. The kiss was deepening and becoming more sensual when the doorbell rang. “Too bad,” she said airily, pulling back from him. “Our food just arrived, so you’ll have to wait for the rest of my thanks.”

    They had dinner in the kitchen, chatting and catching up on events of the past four months. She told him how Chemayyano, the Wookiee pup from the Centre, had been taken in by relatives in his hometown of Palsaang, and how Tam had proved to be absolutely fearless in the treetop city of Rwookrrorro. He asked about her progress in Cheunh and chuckled when she said that she couldn’t pronounce the difference between a merchant and a fishing boat. “You should tell Jorj next time you see him,” he said. “He will be happy to know that he is not alone.” He frowned a little when she asked about Car’das. “He is going through a time of great personal turmoil, Ayoo’sha. The crystal flame you gave him brought him a modicum of solace. I believe, or at least I hope, that its light will show him the way.”

    He then asked about her work in the Centre and her face became sad when she explained that Simon had tried a new treatment protocol for Uumana to no avail. She went on to tell him with deep emotion about a group of Togruta women who had recently escaped from Prince Xizor’s palace. “They were in a terrible state. Xizor was using them as sex slaves, but the worst part was how he controlled them with his pheromones. It’s as if he raped their minds.” She paused, then continued in an usually hard tone, “The people who broke them out killed four of Xizor’s palace guards. Four Falleen. I wish they’d gotten Xizor himself. The Galaxy would be a better place without him.”

    Thrawn had uncharacteristically wrinkled his nose at the mention of the Falleen prince, and he held out a hand to caress her face at her last words. “I do not like hearing you speak in this tone, Ayoo’sha’nek,” he said with sorrow in his voice. “Do not allow the darkness you buried deep inside to overcome you.” She shrugged a little apologetically. “Please tread very carefully around Xizor,” he added. “That man is fouler and more evil than you will ever know.”

    “I am being careful, Qubshi,” she said as she started clearing the dishes. “I promised you already.”

    “And I promised not to interfere, but you said nothing about expressing my concern,” Thrawn countered with a twitch of his lips. “I therefore intend to take full advantage of the opening you left for me.” He came behind her as she pottered around the sink and wrapped his arms around her waist. “You should leave this to the housekeeping droid. There is the unfinished business that we started in your workshop earlier, and I believe that you also have a debt to settle.”

    Her eyes were sparkling with mischief as she turned around. “I was planning to leave the dishes to the droid, but you’ll still have to wait a bit longer for the rest.” One eyebrow travelled up on his forehead. “I also have a present for you,” she continued. The second eyebrow shot up to join the first. “What? You think you’re the only one who remembered our anniversary? Come on, I want to show you.”

    She led him to the private lounge in the back of the apartment. The spicy scent of Fijisi wood wafted in the hallway when the door slid open, and she ushered him in. Thrawn took a step inside and froze.

    The cushy sofa and the low table were gone. The wall to the right was covered in bookcases that rose all the way to the ceiling, with smaller, waist-high ones running against the back wall and to the left of the door, and louvered blinds sliding in front of the transparisteel panel opening to the balcony. A desk and a high-backed armchair occupied the corner facing the door, together with another two chairs for visitors. Above it on the wall, Nazmat Koch’s painting of the Coruscant cityscape was the only trace of the room’s original decoration. Pieces from Thrawn’s personal collection and his heavy paperweight were displayed on the otherwise empty shelves. Everything was made of elaborately carved Fijisi wood, except a khraashyr bearing Thrawn’s personal insignia that was hanging from the wall across the desk. A closer examination of the table revealed a keypad and datacard slot embedded in its surface, which were obviously connected to the tiny holoprojectors in the floor and ceiling, and a bulging lid that was engraved again with Thrawn’s insignia and could be popped open to access a private holocomm device.

    Thrawn’s fingers brushed the bookcase as he took another step in, his gaze sweeping the room for every detail. His eyes were glowing intensely when he turned back to Ayesha, but his expression was unreadable. “You made this,” he said in a voice so husky that it sounded like a bark. She nodded happily. “For me,” he added. It was almost a question. She nodded again, a little uncomfortably this time. There was a long pause. “Why?” he finally asked.

    She looked away, suddenly feeling very shy. “I... I thought you’d like it,” she stuttered.

    He came to stand in front of her and lifted her face with a finger under her chin. “Why?” He seemed to be at a complete loss.

    “It was something you said when we went to your quarters,” she mumbled awkwardly. “You said, ‘A home is a place where one loves and is loved, and fortunately for the both of us, that is not within the confines of this Palace.’ I thought you’d like to move in with me, you know, not just come here in the evening and stuff.” She swallowed. “But it’s okay if you don’t want to,” she added in a small voice.

    Thrawn continued staring at her in silence for a long moment, his crooked forefinger forgotten under her chin. Tears welled up in her eyes and she went to walk away, but he held her back. He said something that she didn’t understand in Cheunh, then added in Basic, “Only the stars will ever know how a man like me came to deserve such grace.” He was trembling as he drew her to his chest, and he held her there for what felt like hours without saying a word.
  24. Csillan_girl

    Csillan_girl Jedi Master star 5

    May 6, 2003
    It's up, it's up! Wheee! [face_party]
    Hehe, I've got a reason to look forward to Mondays now!

    Good to see they are finally together again, as we all know, being Thrawnless is a serious condition! ;)

    What Divapilot said, I also thought Thrawn wants Ayesha to learn Cheunh for a reason... and he mentioned the Hand of Judgment in his letter, oooh... :D
    And Xizor, aaagh, you mentioned Xizor! OMG, now I'm scared. No. Nonono. *hides under the blanket* [face_nail_biting]

    That last sentence had me melting again.
    “Only the stars will ever know how a man like me came to deserve such grace.”
    This, and Thrawn realizing he will finally have the home he has been without for so long. He deserves this, for all he's been through. :)

    And about my last post: we all know the guy dying at Bilbringi was a clone, right?
    I know this since reading The Last Command in 1998. :p
  25. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Aug 31, 2004
    Xizor is a creepola who needs to be neutralized. [face_worried] Ayesha does not need that particular trauma/drama. [face_nail_biting]

    SQUGGLES on the Thrawn/Ayesha reunion! Oh delightful. Her softly tentative request, so hopeful, and the way she renovated her place to become "theirs." His reply/reaction, full of wonderment and gratefulness.

    The feels are melty-gooey with this one. [face_love]
    AzureAngel2, Gemma and Chyntuck like this.