Title: “Rotten”, an answer to the Monster Challenge Author: AzureAngel2 Co-editor and muse: @DarthUncle Main beta editor: @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Length: one-shot Rating: PG Note: Please be aware that this story contains scenes of violence, and references to abuse and trauma recovery! Summary: @Kahara has given me number 23 of her challenge, which is the word “Rotten”. It goes with the following description by her. So I came up with a set of stories that contain a large amount of SW characters. Some canon, a few legends and even my own OCs. All of them have to deal with smells in certain situations of their life. Plus the will of the Force weaves them together in weird pairings. Time frame: The story takes place between 51 BBY and 2 ABY. Places of choice: Vodran, Naboo, Coruscant, Lothal, Byss... in so far, to be continued! Futher reader warning: Please excuse my weird English! I am German. English is only my Second language! Disclaimer: SW is owned by George Lucas, Lucas Ltd. and now The Walt Disney Company What a wonderful (TERRIBLE) smell you’ve discovered! This type of monster carries a whiff of something unpleasant. On one hand, there’s not much sneaking around unnoticed for these creatures. But the rotten smells can also be overwhelming and add to the frightful aura of a monster when encountered up close. 1. Harra the Hutt, Vodran, 64 BBY: Knives cut through solid substances, while liquid bubbled in cookery pots and fat sizzled in frying pans. The various ovens seemed to be hotter than Tatooine’s twin suns at noon. The palace kitchen was a hive of activity since it was known that their mistress would host a guest of honour tonight. Someone who had never been to Vodran in the first place. Of late Lady Harra had started to export exotic animals throughout the known galaxy. That came with certain financial risks. Therefore a healthy connection to the InterGalactic Banking clan was of the utmost importance to her. This was why she wanted to offer more than her usual diet which consisted of gorgs, slime pods and Klatooine paddy frogs. While Vraugruckt Helk shouted his commands, preferably all in Gamorrean, he felt like an admiral in the midst of battle. With slow and handicapped soldiers at hand. “Forget about the horned melon! It has to wait. What about the Kodari rice? The Noryath meatbread has to go into the oven. And were is the Cracknel?” All of a sudden Her Ladyship was there, and she asked a question that took her chéf aback. “Can it be done?” she stressed afterwards. The Gamorrean had been a cook for more than twenty years. In that time he had dealt with a lot of protein sources in one way or the other. But the question that had been just posed to him made him speechless. He grunted in total disbelief, his snout half open. A small part of him hoped that his current employer was only joking with him. And his mistress was known to have a wicked sense of humour, that had deadly consequences for others. He glanced up to the unbelievable large bulk that was her body and that blocked the entrance area. Her facial expressions were hard to read, which was always the trouble with the slug-like race she originated from. There were no emotions showing whatsoever. But her voice clearly proved that she still was serious about the issue at hand. “Can you cook it, or not?” the Hutt asked with a booming voice, while her large tail swung around impatiently. Dianoga were native creatures. And therefore easily accessible to a certain extend. There would be resistance though. But he had even larger misgivings. Some folk said that the large omnivorous Cephalopods possessed a primitive tribal culture and were religious. Finally, the Gamorrean answered in accented Huttese. “But I am not sure if Master Damask and his human aid are going to be very fond of such special treat. Perhaps they...” How she managed to squeeze through the door frame without breaking it was beyond his comprehension. While she crawled towards him ever so slowly, he was frozen in sheer terror. The only action he could preform was to gaze into her huge orange eyes. There was no escape, unless he was prepared to run into the cold store and lock himself in. When Lady Harra lowered her massive skull towards him, her breath was so foul that it almost swept the chéf off his feet. “There is always the possibility of roasted pork.” 2. Mandré Antigone Vané Dorje, Naboo, 51 BBY: Fresh rain had a sweet, evocative smell. Her half-brother, Sheev, had once explained to her that a mixture of plant oils, bacterial spores and ozone were responsible for this phenomena. He even had introduced a pretty word to her. It described the scent of the air right after the actual rain shower: ’petrichor’. Mandré, barely out of her teens, smiled, while her fingers carefully stroked over the tight skin of her belly. Her sense of smell was unusually strong these days. It seemed that her advanced pregnancy made her more aware of her surroundings than ever before. Since her baby’s sire was a Jedi knight, it was only logical that she would start to perceive the universe in much more meaningful ways. But she had not told Sheev anything about her musings. She did not even know the man’s name. But she remembered how handsome he had been with his long, brown mane, his striking blue eyes and his impressive height. When he had addressed her, he had spoken with an accented voice, rich and musical alike. There had been a little lit, but that had made him even more irresistible. As the waters of the Solleu River floated by steadily, Mandré allowed herself to lie back down in the wet grass, using her cloak as a blanket. There were still traces of a rainbow in the sky. She followed the lines with an eager index finger for a while. Six months ago, she had meet the stranger at the Festival of Glad Arrival, which always hosted a number of colourful pageants and musical performances on the meadows of the Lake Country. The staff of Convergence, the rural retreat of House Palpatine, had been given free for the occasion. And an extra pay. Mandré had drank her first alcohol ever. Blossom wine. It had made her dance frolicsome, free from her private sorrows. Until she had basically danced right into the Jedi’s arms. Now and then the young kitchen maid wondered what would become of her baby. Her father, Old Cosinga, would not welcome it at all. Perhaps he would even try to kill it off. A familiar scent made her sneeze. “Bless you!” said her half-brother immediately, who towered above her. “Still allergic against my perfume?” She squinted against the sun. Sheev looked like his usual self. His clothing immaculate and his red mane tamed by a hair band. But something was amiss. His injuries would be as invisible as possible. Their father was taking no risks there. Carefully, she breathed in. “What happened to your tights?” she asked straight forward. “Why would you ask that?” he gave back darkly, his good mood gone immediately. The underlying scent of charred flesh was too strong for his ea de cologne to mask it. She rose from the grass. “He used the poker on you, did he not?” He shrugged, stiff and formal. “Rather me than you and the baby, wouldn’t you say?” “But you are not are not a holiday roast, Sheev,” she sighed. He shrieked back from her hands when she wanted to cup his face. “One fine day, I will repay his kind parenting. For the two of us.” Her eyes grew wide in fear as she watched his fingers produce eerie sparks of blue fire. “I will fry him into a crisp,” he swore full of contempt. “Or worse.” 3. Cosinga Nero Ignatius Palpatine, Naboo, 56 BBY: The servants scattered throughout the house like a large pack of rats. Frantically they turned to cores that were not needed. And that no one had asked them doing. They held their heads low, averted their gazes. When they inhaled, they drew but quick, shallow breaths. When they talked to one another, they only did so in hushed, frightened voices. Always scanning their surroundings for a possible intruder. Since his return from the wine cellar their master, Cosinga Palpatine, stank abnormally. But not of alcohol as usual. He was completely sober. With a creepy smile he had retired in the fireplace room, starring into the flames. For reasons known to himself only, the elderly aristocrat had rummaged through one the garbage containers earlier on. By doing so, he must have cut himself for there was some blood on his robes. He did not bother to change though. But that was not the only thing that bothered the staff of the Lake Country villa. In addition, the heir of House Palpatine had returned prematurely from a trip off-world. With no regards for his mother’s price winning moon roses, Master Sheev’s ship had came straight down in one of the flower beds. He had met his father in the backyard, exchanging a few words with him. Not soon after, the young man had been seen digging among the kitchen scraps like a mad person. He also talked to himself while he did. At a point he tore off of his expensive coat and wrapped something inside it. The seasoned gardener, Harrison, swore that he had seen a human hand sticking out of the coat. Not just any hand. It had the size of a toddler´s. Since the untimely death of Mandré, one of their own, Cosinga Palpatine had become more aggressive than ever before. And Master Sheev had turned into open rebellion against him. To serve House Palpatine had turned into a living nightmare over the last decades. There were too many foul and unexplainable activities going on. 4. Sheev Aurelius Cosinga Palpatine, Coruscant, 66 BBY: Of course a man in his position did not need to cook for himself. Leave alone, cut and fry his own meat. But using his highly functional kitchen island inside his senatorial apartment was one of the few pleasures that he had left in life. The dark side of the Force was a too demanding mistress otherwise. He had sacrificed too much to her glory already. Sheev Palpatine bend down to the frying pan, fishing for one of the dianoga meat strips. As a good amateur chéf, he always tasted his food before serving it. “Argh!” he cursed for his breakfast dish was ruined. The meat was overcooked, which in return had activated the blood parasites in the fatty tissue. Thus the flavour was destroyed. “Can we just have porridge?” asked a small voice from the seating area. He spun around, furious. “I am allowed to see you just one weekend per month, Nagina,” he snapped. “This is why I want to give you something more proper and substantial for breakfast.” The young girl, just about nine years of age, looked conflicted. “I did not mean to yell at you,” he added in a much softer tone of voice. “But I want your visits here on Coruscant to be as pleasant as possible.” Nervously, she juddered on the bistro chair. “Sheev, it’s just...” It pained him that she had trained herself not to call him ´uncle´ any more. As far as the public knew his entire family went missing since a trip with their space yacht. “Yes?” he probed when the child ceased talking altogether. “I do not like eating meat at present.” “Very well...” he smirked, when he suddenly noticed that he had forgotten about the frying pan. He muttered a curse under his breath. There were nine natural ways to get rid of cooking smells. All of them were easy and, even better, they worked. Half a life time ago, he had had the most unlikely teacher for such domestic matters. Normally, he did not easily form a tender bond with others, but Mandré had been an exception. And so was her orphaned child. “Please bring me some bread and the vinegar, sunshine! Perhaps we can conjure away the dreadful malodour!” Eagerly, Nagina rose to help him, but the moment she opened the kitchen cupboard he heard her say, “But you won’t get rid so easily of the Force phantoms in here! Especially Darth Sion stinks.” He dropped the frying pan on the floor. 5. Nagina Cassandra Mandré Samye, Lothal, 19 BBY: Her eyes hurt with tears that she did not allow herself to shed. Not about such a small, unimportant thing. “Stop it!” the middle-aged kindergarten teacher scolded herself, because nobody else was there to scold. The source of her grievances was gone since hours. But the evidence of his stay still lingered on in her home. Like a pestilential miasma. No matter how hard she tried to let fresh air in. Her nasal wings fluttered. There is was again, stronger than ever. Green moss, clover, grass and pine needles. The fragrance that she connected to Orson and to him only. A shaky hand wandered towards her throat, that was irritated beyond means. It was as if Orson had used toxic gas instead of aftershave. Just to make a point. She went to the toilet and threw up violently. The boy that she had helped to babysit on Chandrila had not only become an agent of evil . It was worse. He had become her jailer. In her uncle’s name. Nagina had been able to come to terms with her exile on Lothal, to be tucked away in the middle of nowhere like a rare Kyper crystal. But to drag a person into this crying game, whom she once had loved and cared for, this was too much to bear. It was a foul move. 6. Orson Callan Krennic, Scarif, 14 BBY: Honestly, he was not prepared for the stench that filled the chamber when he opened the clone tank. It hit him like a fist in the midst of his solar plexus. “Argh!” gurgled Orson Krennic. Normally, only septic and sewer gases had a foul odour like this. Growing up as the son of fruit farmers he was familiar with such things. The construction work of ’Project Star dust' also came with olfactory cognitions he never had wanted to make in the first place. Wookies normally smelled weird. But when they were imprisoned and ill it was hardly bearably to be anyway near them. He moved his face closer to the tank. All the wild stories that Ina had told him about space zombies and odd Sith rituals with dark magic came to mind. “Perhaps old Palps farted inside before sealing this thing off?” he grinned. “Just in case I would dare to open his precious cookie jar?” The colour of the liquid also did not appeal to him overly much. But then he laughed his worries away and quoted from an ancient theatre play. “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Cool it with a baboon's blood, Then the charm is firm and good.” A baboon, and he had looked that one up, was a primitive ape creature. Very much like Wilhuff Tarkin. With sheer will power the Imperial engineer and architect concentrated on the task right in front of him. To free the clone from the stinky mass she floated in. The true project of his life. So much planing and calculating. An explosion shook the foundations of the citadel tower. Of course, he had secretly let a mad man lose on the island. Saw Freckin’ Gerrera, the butcher from Onderon. There would be fire works any time soon. And not the colourful type that was used on Empire Day. “Okay, here we go!” he muttered, while he sank his hands into the thick fluid underneath him. Once the clone was out of the tank, that had housed her the past four years, it was essential for him to preform first aid. He would be forced to breath for her, until her chest would rise all by itself. “Hopefully you have not forgotten how to breathe!” he mused. Ignoring how sick the stench made him, he dragged the fragile child body out of it’s prison. 7. Sate Pestage, Byss, 18 BBY: Despite his high age the Grand Vizier of the Imperial Shadow cabinet was a slender, elegant man. He was nothing like Mas Ammeda, his official counterpart. First of all, he was human. His crimson robes were faintly reminiscent to those of an Imperial Guard. It was a colours of absolute trust and loyalty. He also wore one of those head dresses that all members of the Shadow council had in common. But there was something about him, that set people off immediately when meeting him. He reeked of evil. His fine perfumes were not able to cover up his rotten core. “Orson, my dear boy,” he greeted the tall Imperial that entered his office. The director of the Imperial Military Department of Advanced Weapons Research gave him a crisp and formal nod. Nothing more and nothing less. He also did not step closer to the desk and held his distance. Both men had too much history together. Especially since the untimely death of Nagina Samye. Even though the accusations were never uttered aloud, it was clear who had given the order to eliminate the kind kindergarten teacher in the first place. “You must wonder why I called you here!” the closest confidant of the Emperor spoke, his voice drenched in false friendliness. “If this is about the recent delays...”, began the leader of ´Project Star Dust´ lamely. The elderly advisor shook his head. “I want to know why a sworn bachelor, enjoying a discreet escort service from time to time, is keen on adopting the child of a street hooker. A girl that cannot possibly be his.” For moments the eyes of his opponent ran danger to pop out of their sockets, but then Director Krennic answered calmly, “Memento mori!” “Remember the dead?” Incredulous, Sate Pestage rolled his vulture like eyes. “My godchild had great importance in your life, true. But the whole adoption business smells to high heaven.” “If you say so, Your Excellence,” the other man said too casual a manner, too unconcerned. “Your work moral is undoubtedly flawless, my dear boy. No matter what setbacks your project has to face. But I start questioning your...” The Grand Vizier ceased talking when the door chimed and a hunched shadow broke into the room unannounced. Like a religious fanatic, Director Krennic bend his knee. “My Emperor!” he exclaimed and starred at the floor in front of him. Unceremoniously, Sheev Palpatine crept closer, leaning on his walking stick. “Only I have the right to summon Orson. He is mine, Sate. And so is the power tool he builds for me.” Sate Pestage started shaking like the rope on a hanging tree. “I am sorry when it seems that I have quite forgotten my place, but...” The Emperor was so close now that both men were able to smell the odour of death and decay. His left hand rose, skeleton fingers creaking and flexing. “I can leave a memo on your skin if you want me to, Sate. With Force lightning.” The silence that fell was horrifying. It stretched into a little eternity. Director Krennic kept his head down. Cold sweat on his brow. He was close to faint. Sheev Palpatine’s voice was like the rustling of old leaves, when he decided to speak again. “If Orson wants to adopt a little girl from the lower levels of Coruscant, he has my blessing. His loyalties will lie with me always. He knows better than to fail me. A man who has family knows what personal loss means” The man in question paled, his skin turning as white as his elegant ISB uniform, but he said nothing in reply. It was the wisest move to make. The Emperor was not finished yet. “But if you need a reminder, Sate, I can think of many unfortunate events that can happen to you. Starting with the withdrawal of your privileges. Mas can take over from you at any times. The Shadow Council might object to an alien life form, but well, they will get used to this little setback.” ... To be continued!