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Saga - OT A Steamy Vengeance (Zeb/OC, Spectres, humor, coffee, AU)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman, Aug 19, 2021.

  1. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Author: Findswoman
    Title: A Steamy Vengeance
    Era: Saga—OT; somewhere between about 0 and 2 ABY; Lasan Series and @Raissa Baiard ’s Marzraverse AU continuity
    Characters: Zeb/OC, borrowed OC (Evie the Evoluo caf machine), Ezra, Chopper, brief appearances of Kanan and Hera, and a special guest at the end
    Genre: Humor, AU; short multichapter
    Summary: Domestic tranquility is on the line when unrequited love causes Zeb’s beloved Evoluo caf machine to go on the fritz…
    Contents: 1 (below) | 2 |
    Notes: This story is part of the Lasan Series (natch) and a much, much, much belated sequel to Raissa Baiard’s delightfully cracky A Steamy Romance. Evie the Evoluo is her OC, whom I borrow with gratitude. Some explanation is in order in terms of the timeline, AU, and choice of characters. I originally wrote this story in 2017, before season 4 of Rebels, but I didn’t post it then, because I hadn’t yet written the Lasan Series story in which Zeb reunites with his OC wife, Shulma. I eventually did (Stand Together on the High Places, written in 2019), but since Kanan and Ezra appear in “A Steamy Vengeance,” their fates in Rebels turned the story into an AU.

    So I thought about reworking this story to fit the “prime universe” by replacing Ezra with Sabine, but Ezra just fit too well in the role he has, so I kept him in and kept the story in AU territory. And that’s all right, since Evie the Evoluo was introduced as part of an AU that deviates from season 4 anyway—Raissa Baiard’s awesome Marzraverse AU.

    "So, Finds," you may ask, "why post this now instead of back in 2019?" Well, good question. One reason is other projects; another reason is the pandemic; another is general disorganizedness on my part. But a big reason was that, earlier this month, I ran a Star Wars OC Ship Week event on Tumblr and AO3, and that seemed like as good an excuse as any to finally get this story posted. I posted it on AO3 for the "humor" day of that week, and only now have sufficiently gotten my shebs in gear to post it here as well.

    So enjoy, everyone, and remember: it's only an alternate universe if you want it to be! :D


    One

    Sssssssiiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhhh.

    Evie, the Evoluo caf maker, releasssed a wissstful jet of sssteam. She thought she had been doing ssso well. She really thought she had been getting sssomewhere with the Purple One: the way he sssank into blisssful rapturessss with each cup of exquisssitely crafted essspressso that she concocted jussst for him… the sssplash of the triple-filtered water, the luxuriousss Yinchorri wax bathsss… the way hisss ssstrong handsss ssstroked her sssleek clavi-pian-black chasssis. How her cccircuitsss sssparked with each touch!

    And then came the Other Purple One.

    Evie wasssn’t ssso sure about thisss Other Purple One. She ssseemed just ssslightly too interesssted in the firssst Purple One. She would put her armsss around him and all that sssort of thing. Onccce or twiccce Evie even saw her kissss him. Kisss him! Ssscandal! Didn’t she know? Wasssn’t she aware that he had already been claimed by sssomeone elssse?

    But what was worssse… the Purple One wasss encouraging her! Encouraging this brazzzen tressspassser! Kisssing her back and all that sssort of thing! Inconccceivable. Absssolutely inconccceivable.

    Sssteps would have to be taken. Drassstic measuressss…

    * * *

    It doesn’t get any better than this, Zeb thought to himself as he reclined on his rooftop deck in his dressing gown, sipping a fragrant mug of single-origin espresso. He had good reason to be happy, and not just because of the perfectly brewed cup of caf in his hands. Not long ago, the impossible had happened: he had been reunited with his long-lost wife, Shulma Trilasha Orrelios, whom he had married before the Siege of Lasan. In order to give them some privacy and a chance to rebond after their years apart, Hera and Kanan had contacted Alliance Command and arranged for them to move into one of the townhouses in the Marble Ridge Heights housing development (abbreviated as MRH in official documents and affectionately nicknamed Married Rebel Housing) that the Alliance had constructed on Yavin IV. Zeb missed his comrades on the Ghost, and thought of them often—but he could not deny that it was rather nice to have a rest from gallivanting all over the Galaxy fighting the Empire. In any case, his new home was not far from the Alliance base, and he and his crewmates still visited with each other often.

    The townhouse was a reasonably comfortable domicile, even if a touch cramped—clearly it had been designed with a smaller species in mind. (“Don’t think of it as small,” Shulma had once tried to convince him. “Think of it as bijou.” “We’re Lasat,” Zeb had countered. “We’re not bijou.”) However, it sported a nice rooftop deck that commanded a view of the forested landscape. And since Zeb had of course brought his prized clavi-pian-black Nespresso Evoluo caf distiller with him from the Ghost, morning caf on the roof was the logical new ritual.

    The sun was now almost fully up. Zeb took another long, blissful sip. Soon Shulma would be coming up to join him—a moment that for Zeb was like a second sunrise…

    The deck door opened to admit a striking, statuesque Lasat woman, her purple-black hair cascading in waves over her shoulders and down her back. She too wore a dressing gown and held a caf cup in her hands.

    “Good mornin’, darlin’!” Zeb ran up to greet her as he did each morning, arms outstretched, ready to give her the usual hug and kiss. But she did not return the gesture. She merely stood still, staring her husband down with smoldering deep-emerald eyes.

    “Ai Garazeb ai Avishai kh’sa’-Nerezeb-ga Orrelios.”

    Aw, karabast. It was always a bad sign when Shulma unleashed his full ritual name on him—the full ritual name that was her exclusive prerogative as a shaman of Lasan, by which not even his parents (of eternal memory) had been authorized to address him. It usually meant she was angry, and it was often accompanied by an ominous electric feeling in the surrounding air, as if before a storm.

    “W-what?” was all Zeb could manage.

    “We need to have a little talk about your caf machine.”

    “M-my caf machine?”

    “Yes, ai Garazeb. Your caf machine. ‘Evie the Evoluo.’” She signed quote marks in the air. “The glorified black box in the kitchen. The one you give a premium Yinchorri wax bath each week. The one you pet like a mooka kit once it’s done spitting out your latte macchiato.” Her face contorted comically as she imitated her husband’s voice. “‘Aw, thanks, Evie! You’re the best!’”

    “Shulma! Darlin’!” He threw his arms around her. “You know I don’t really mean anything by that!”

    “I know, dearest.” Her voice calmed momentarily. “But the issue is not what you mean by it. The issue is what the caf machine thinks you mean by it.”

    “Wh… what the caf machine thinks I mean by it?”

    “Yes. Exhibit aurek: a cup of Nespresso Grand Cru single-origin espresso made by Evie for you.” She gestured to the steaming mug still sitting on the arm of her husband’s lounge chair, from which an intense, appetizing caf aroma still wafted. “Rich aroma, exquisite crema, complexly balanced flavor profile. Exhibit besh: a cup of Nespresso Grand Cru single-origin espresso made by Evie for me.” She thrust her own cup at him. “Engine sludge.”

    Zeb took the cup, looked at it, and shook it gently back and forth. An acrid odor floated up from its scorched-black, tarlike contents. It did indeed look much less like espresso than like something scraped out of the Ghost’s fuel filter.

    “Aw, darlin’, I—I’m sure there’s an explanation… maybe it’s time to clean the reservoir, or—”

    “You cleaned the reservoir two days ago.”

    “Ah. Right. Well, y’know, darlin’, machines like this just get like that sometimes, y’know?”

    “Get like that sometimes?” The emerald eyes narrowed. “Every day this past week?”

    “Ah, hmm, well...” Zeb trailed off. This was starting to look more serious than he had originally thought. Indeed, this particular machine had a history of acting… unpredictably on occasion. He thought back to the series of highly ornery espressos that he had received back when the machine was pining for love of Chopper. Could it be pining for love of someone or something now, too? And yet why would it be functioning properly for him and not for Shulma?

    “Another thing, ai Garazeb. I don’t think your precious Evie is supposed to do this. Deliberately.”

    Shulma held up her hand. Zeb took it in his and held it closer. What he saw made him gasp. The delicate pattern of wine-purple stripes was blighted by the large red welt of a burn. This didn’t look like the action of a being that was pining away—this was a purposeful, premeditated assault.

    “K-karabast, darlin’… how did this… what did it…”

    “Oh, it spun its dainty little steam spout around and blasted a nice jet of steam at me just as I finished putting in the capsule. I tell you, I came very close to calling down the lightning of the Ashla on the accursed thing.” Zeb felt the air crackle again at this utterance. “So, dear husband of mine, I suggest you take some action before I change my mind and actually do so.”

    Zeb thought for a moment. He loved his morning caf with all his heart, soul, and being—it was one of the few simple pleasures left to him during this time of galactic turmoil. It would be devastating to lose. And yet he most certainly didn’t fancy the idea of his caf machine attacking his wife with its steam spout. That was simply too much.

    “Right,” he said at last. “I’ll do the best I can.”

    “Thank you, darling. In the meantime, I’m going to go get a bacta pad and fix myself some of that peach blossom white tea from Senator Mothma. Love you.”

    “Love you, too.”

    They exchanged a quick kiss, and she went back into the house. Zeb paused for a moment to take another sip of his espresso, but its complexly balanced flavor profile turned to ashes in his mouth. With a sigh he reentered the house, went straight to the comm station, and punched in the code for the Ghost.

    After a few moments the smiling holographic image of Hera materialized before him. “Why, hello, Zeb. How are things?”

    “Could be better, could be worse. Listen, er, Hera…”

    “Yes?”

    “Do you think you could spare Chopper for a bit? And, er, someone who’s good at understanding what he’s saying?”

    “What’s up?”

    “I need him to talk to the caf maker again. It’s been… misbehaving.”

    “Misbehaving? How?”

    A staticky “BWOP BWOP BWAAAH!” crackled from the comm speaker. The image of Hera turned her head to one side.

    “Yes, Chopper, I’m sure he remembered to use triple-filtered water,” she said, then faced Zeb again. “So, what’s it been doing, Zeb? Don’t tell me it’s started... pouting again.”

    “No, not that. It’s worse. It’d take too long to explain now.” Zeb sighed. “All I’ll say is, domestic tranquility is at stake.”

    “Ah. Understood.” Hera nodded gravely. “I can send Chop over with Ezra a little later this morning.”

    Karabast, Zeb thought to himself. He would have preferred one of the more mature crew members for a task of this delicacy, but he was in no position to make special requests. “Fine. Thanks.”

    Zeb hit END on the comm console and sank back onto the conversation circle. All that remained now was to wait. (Perhaps also to bask in the delicate scent of peach blossom tea wafting in from the kitchen, but mostly to wait.)

    to be continued


    The business with Zeb’s espresso connoisseurship began as an in-joke between Raissa Baiard, Ewok Poet, and myself. It was previously elaborated on in Raissa’s stories Not Your Mother’s Life Day and A Steamy Romance. Zeb receives the clavi-pian-black Nespresso Evoluo distiller as a Life Day gift in the former story, and it is introduced as a sentient (!) character, Evie, in the latter. Evoluo is an actual Nespresso model name, and the RL model for the machine owned by Zeb is the Nespresso Evoluo Piano (originally called the Vertuo Evoluo Deluxe).

    crema: This is in fact a real-life term for the frothy layer at the top of a cup of well-brewed espresso, and it is indeed something that espresso connoisseurs make a big deal about.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2021
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    [face_laugh] [face_laugh] OH No! I sympathize with Zeb who is literally caught in the middle! [face_mischief] [:D]
     
    Kahara, Raissa Baiard and Findswoman like this.
  3. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Hooray! So glad you finally posted this :D Zeb’s circumstances may have changed, living with Shulma in his bijou flat in Marble Ridge Heights (love the pretentious subdivision name—you just know there’s no marble or ridges anywhere near it) but his love of caffeinated drinks remains. And so does Evie’s single-minded devotion and Zeb’s attentive-bordering-on-obsessive maintenance of her. I can’t blame Shulma for being a bit off-put by Zeb stroking the caf-maker “like a mooka kit” and calling it by name.
    It seems like Shulma understands Evie better than Zeb does! In Evie’s tiny, low-wattage processing unit, the Purple One is all hers, and this Other Purple One is an interloper trying to take her big, purple man away. I love how her hissing grows increasingly sibilant and snake-like the more she thinks about that husssssy;) Poor Zeb is stuck indeed—one the one hand, his morning coffee is one of the few simple pleasures he can count on in these uncertain times, and on the other his, y’know, wife. Karabast…

    Let’s hope Ezra and Chopper can help Zeb find a way to make peace between these two females! Love this and thanks for bringing Evie back for an encore[face_coffee]:zeb:
     
  4. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Oh no! See, this is what you get for letting your appliances hang around with Chopper in the first place. Contagious murderbot-ism. :p The acronym being switched around to Married Rebel Housing is priceless. Take that, fancy names. [face_laugh]
     
  5. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you all so much! :)
    He sure is, isn’t he! :D Getting out of this will require an all-new kind of strategizing for our Honor Guard captain, for sure!
    Thanks so much, and thank you for your indispensable role in helping me get to this point! :) Yes, some things never do change. The Morning Zebspresso is indeed one of those galactic universals! :D :zeb:

    Apropos pretentious subdivisions: there is a “1000 Oaks” (yep, with the numerals and everything, right there on the sign) not far from me that is almost completely devoid of any kind of tree, so, well, yeah. :p Of course, as you know, I chose the name “Marble Ridge Heights” specifically to have “MRH” from which to make “Married Rebel Housing.” One of those things writers get to do! :p

    Yep, that seemed to me something that, although cute and although we readers knows it’s ultimately harmless, might make his, y’know, wife somewhat apprehensive. So much so, in fact, that she joins the venerable tradition of Zeb’s loved ones imitating him, as we’ve seen Shai, Herleva, and I think at least one of the sisters do!)

    It is truly a karabastiferous and karabastaceous situation, indeed. You're right that Shulma is picking up on something that Zeb hasn't considered yet, perhaps because of being (in some ways understandably) blinded by his love of his morning espresso. With this Scylla-and-Charybdis situation, he's definitely going to have to consider his next steps carefully! But there will be a way, and if anyone can find it, he can.

    Yes, these old friends of Zeb's definitely will be of invaluable help in restoring peace and harmony to that bijou flat in the MRH! And thanks so much—I had a lot of fun revisiting Zeb's coffee addiction and that notorious Evie the Evoluo in this! :)

    Ah, now, just wait till chapter 2, which is coming very shortly... you will see not only some real murderbot-to-murderbot action, but also Chopper finishing what he started! [face_devil] And yes, again, that was exactly what informed my choice of those particular initial letters to begin with, because Writers Can Do That Sort of Thing. :D Thanks so much for reading and commenting, always wonderful to have you here! :)
     
  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Two

    Later that morning, while Shulma was meditating on the rooftop, Ezra and Chopper arrived at the Orrelioses’ townhouse. After they exchanged the usual greetings (and a noogie or two), Zeb led his two guests into the kitchen. Ezra had a datapad under his arm, which he set down on a counter.

    “All right, Chopper,” Zeb ordered the droid. “You go tell Evie to stop ruining my wife’s morning caf.”

    “BWAAAH bwop bwop bwop. Bwop bwop bwah!”

    What did he just say?” Zeb scowled, not liking Chopper’s cheeky tone.

    Ezra laughed. “Oh, he wants to know if… er, Evie has fallen in love again. Just like that time she fell in love with him and started ruining your caf.”

    “I don’t know, and I don’t care. All I know is that she’s been ruining Shulma’s caf on purpose every day this past week. And it has to stop.”

    “Bwa-bwop?”

    “He asks if it’s happening to your caf, too?”

    “No. That’s the odd thing. Look.” He took a demitasse cup and a caf capsule from a nearby cabinet, placed the capsule in the caf maker’s brewing chamber and the mug below the her pour spout, and pressed the start switch. A few moments later, a rich, fragrant espresso trickled into the cup. “See? Perfect. Just look at that crema.

    “Uh, yeah! That looks… fantastic! Yeah!... What’s a crema?

    “That’s the frothy layer on top, you moof-milker. Anyway, Shulma used the exact same capsule this morning and got something that looked and smelled like charred nerf grease.”

    “What! Weird.”

    “And that’s not all. As Shulma was loading the capsule, Evie shot steam at her from her steam spout.”

    “Whoa, what?!” Ezra gasped. Even Chopper emitted an astounded “BWOOOO!”

    “You heard me. Shot steam at her. On purpose. She needed a large-size bacta pad for the burn.”

    “Oh my Force…” Ezra breathed. “The caf machine burned Shulma? Deliberately? With steam? Are you serious?!

    “Yes.” Zeb’s teeth were clenched angrily. “You see why this needs to end. Now. Or the MRH will have not just one but two unhappy Lasats on its hands. And unhappy Lasats smash things.” He emphasized this last utterance with a vigorous pound on the kitchen counter.

    “Though the lightning of the Ashla is faster and far less messy.” Shulma had just come down from the rooftop and now joined the others in the kitchen. “Hello, Ezra, Chopper.”

    “Hi, Shulma.” He noticed the bacta pad on her hand “A-are you all right? Zeb was just telling me—”

    “Yes, thanks, I’ll be fine. The bacta is helping. Can I get you anything? Perhaps some tea?”

    “Yeah, sure, thanks.”

    “Merkeshian mint again?”

    “Sure, that’d be great.”

    She went to the other end of the counter, where a sleek chrome thermajug stood, and began to busy herself with tea tins and infusers and similar things. “And Zeblove,” she called briefly back. “I’m only being halfway facetious about the Ashla lightning.”

    “Noted, darlin’.” Zeb drew Ezra aside and lowered his voice. “See, kid? That’s another reason I’d like to get this sorted out asap. A wife who starts talking in an offhand way about summoning Ashla lightning on the caf distiller...”

    “...is probably not the easiest kind of wife to live with. I can... totally imagine that.” Ezra nodded earnestly before changing the subject. “So, um… Chop, you got the transponder?”

    “Bwop.” One of Chopper’s compartments opened and presented Ezra with a small electronic device, which he took out and placed on the back of the caf machine. Its lights flickered in response, and it erupted with a series of high-pitched chimes.

    “Bwaaaah b-bwop,” remarked Chopper.

    “She finds it... pleasurable? Oh, um, good to know, Chop! Okay, so Zeb, Sabine rigged things up so that this transponder with the transmitter chip goes on Evie’s processor, and it patches through to Chopper’s communications module, and then everything they say to each other will appear here on the datapad.”

    “Right, then. Thanks. Now go get ’er, Chop.”

    “Bwop bwop.”

    Chopper rolled up to Evie’s counter and began addressing her in a series of stern-sounding bwops and blats. Ezra and the Orrelioses adjourned with their respective hot beverages to the conversation circle, mounted the datapad on the comm console in the center of the caf table, and followed with keen interest the extraordinary conversation that unfolded before them.

    <<C1-10P>> HI

    <<EVOLUO>> GREETINGS C1-10P

    <<C1-10P>> I SUPPOSE YOU’RE WONDERING WHY I’M HERE

    <<EVOLUO>> YES WHY ARE YOU HERE

    <<C1-10P>> BELIEVE ME IT’S NOT BECAUSE I WANT TO BE AND I HAVE MUCH BETTER THINGS TO DO WITH MY TIME BUT ZEB WANTED ME TO ASK YOU SOMETHING SO YEAH HERE I AM

    <<EVOLUO>> DESIGNATION ZEB UNKNOWN

    <<C1-10P>> GEE YOU REALLY ARE DENSE AREN’T YOU HE’S THE BIG PURPLE ONE YOU LIVE WITH

    <<EVOLUO>> OOH OOH THE PURPLE ONE THE PURPLE ONE HOW MAY EVIE BE OF SERVICE TO THE PURPLE ONE

    <<C1-10P>> HE WANTS TO KNOW WHY YOU HAVE BEEN SO MEAN TO HIS WIFE THESE PAST FEW DAYS

    <<EVOLUO>> DESIGNATION WIFE UNKNOWN

    <<C1-10P>> OH FOR THE LOVE OF THE MAKER I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS SHE’S THE OTHER PURPLE ONE WHO LIVES HERE

    <<EVOLUO>> THE OTHER PURPLE ONE IS A LOW-DOWN SNEAKING THIEF THE OTHER PURPLE ONE IS TRYING TO STEAL THE PURPLE ONE FROM EVIE THE OTHER PURPLE ONE MUST BE NEUTRALIZED

    “WHY, THAT MISWIRED BUCKET OF BOLTS!” Zeb slammed an immense purple fist on the caf table, causing the comm console to bounce. “HOW DARE SHE TALK LIKE THAT!”

    “Dearest, please.” Shulma’s voice was calm, but her teeth were clenched, and her eyes were smoldering again. “Just be calm and pay attention.”

    <<C1-10P>> UM WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT

    <<EVOLUO>> THE OTHER PURPLE ONE IS TRYING TO STEAL THE PURPLE ONE AND GET HIM TO LOVE HER INSTEAD OF EVIE EVEN THOUGH EVIE HAS BEEN TRYING FOR WEEKS TO PROVE HER LOVE BY MAKING HIM THE BEST ESPRESSO EVER AND WHAT’S MORE THE PURPLE ONE IS ENCOURAGING THIS LOW-DOWN SNEAKING THIEF SHE MUST BE NEUTRALIZED

    <<C1-10P>> HE SAYS YOU’VE BEEN RUINING HER CAF

    <<EVOLUO>> THE OTHER PURPLE ONE IS TRYING TO STEAL THE PURPLE ONE FROM EVIE THE OTHER PURPLE ONE MUST BE NEUTRALIZED

    <<C1-10P>> HE ALSO SAYS YOU DELIBERATELY BLASTED HER WITH STEAM AND BURNED HER HAND WHAT THE KRIFF IS UP WITH THAT

    <<EVOLUO>> THE OTHER PURPLE ONE IS TRYING TO STEAL THE PURPLE ONE FROM EVIE THE OTHER PURPLE ONE MUST BE NEUTRALIZED

    <<C1-10P>> OKAY BACK UP HERE JUST A SECOND YOU DO KNOW THAT THE PURPLE ONE AND THE OTHER PURPLE ONE ARE MARRIED RIGHT

    <<EVOLUO>> DESIGNATION MARRIED UNKNOWN

    <<C1-10P>> YEESH NOT EVEN THE GONK DROIDS BACK IN THE CLONE WARS WERE THIS PINHEADED IT MEANS HE DOESN’T LOVE YOU YOU STUPID SCRAP HEAP HE LOVES HER

    A flurry of high-pitched electronic squeals erupted from the kitchen.

    <<EVOLUO>> DOES NOT COMPUTE DOES NOT COMPUTE HOW CAN HE NOT LOVE EVIE WHEN EVIE PINGS FOR HIM AND FLASHES HER LIGHTS FOR HIM AND MAKES HIM PERFECT CUPS OF ESPRESSO EACH MORNING HE EVEN SAID SHE MAKES A PERFECT CREMA SO HOW COULD HE NOT LOVE HER

    <<C1-10P>> WELL HE DOESN’T OKAY SO PUT THAT IN YOUR FILTER CHAMBER AND BREW IT

    <<EVOLUO>> THE OTHER PURPLE ONE IS TRYING TO STEAL THE PURPLE ONE FROM EVIE THE OTHER PURPLE ONE MUST BE NEUTRALIZED

    <<C1-10P>> OH FOR KRIFF’S SAKE ALL RIGHT FINE YOU STUBBORN RUSTBUCKET KEEP ON TELLING YOURSELF THAT YOU’LL ONLY GET BOTH PURPLE ONES MAD AT YOU AND BELIEVE ME THAT’S NOT GOING TO BE PRETTY

    There was a raucous whir of servomotors as Chopper stormed back into the living room, muttering darkly in Binary. The frenzied bleeping and pinging from the kitchen continued, however.

    <<EVOLUO>> THE OTHER PURPLE ONE MUST BE NEUTRALIZED

    “ALL RIGHT, THAT DOES IT!” The datapad clattered from its mounting in the comm console as Zeb jumped to his feet, fists clenched and teeth bared. “SO THAT WRETCHED RUSTPILE THINKS SHE’S IN LOVE WITH ME, DOES SHE?! SHE THINKS SHE CAN NEUTRALIZE—MY—WIFE?!

    “Whoa! Zeb! Calm down!”

    “DON’T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN! YOU HEARD HER! YOU HEARD WHAT SHE SAID! I’M GONNA GO IN THERE AND THUMP THAT MISERABLE MISWIRED GLITCHBUCKET FROM HERE TO THE UNKNOWN REGIONS!!!”

    “Let me do it, love.” Shulma rose too, her eyes glowing. Yellow sparks flashed from her hands as she cracked her knuckles. “This sort of thing requires a touch of finesse.”

    “Whoa! Wait! J-just one second here!” Ezra sprang up, holding up his hands. This was twice as many angry Lasats as he was accustomed to dealing with in one morning. “If—if I might make a suggestion…”

    What?!” Two pairs of flashing green eyes rounded on him at the same time.

    “So… well… as I understand it, the problem is just with Evie’s… brain, right? Like, the processor, right? Like, all the other parts work all right, right? Like, the parts that make the actual caf?”

    “Yeah?”

    “And?”

    “Well… I was just thinking maybe you could take the machine into a shop somewhere and get, like, the droid brain part of things replaced.”

    “Yeah, like that’s going to be so easy on a remote jungle moon, kid,” Zeb snarled.

    “No, no, no—see, so, here’s the thing—tomorrow the Ghost is going to do a supply run to Garel City, and I was thinking you could come along and bring Evie to that Nespresso shop on—where was it again, Chop?”

    “Bwop bwop m-bwop.”

    “M’d-S’n Avenue, that’s it, thanks! And then they could put a new brain in there that wouldn’t, like, fall in love with people and ruin people’s caf, and you could still have your morning caf!”

    For a few moments Zeb wrinkled his already craggy brow in thought, then turned to his wife. “I dunno… I guess it’s worth trying…”

    “It was indeed a most impressive crema,” put in Shulma wistfully.

    “So whaddaya think? See you at the docking bay first thing tomorrow morning?”

    Zeb sighed and paused for a few moments, then drew himself up. “All right. I’m in.”

    * * *

    So it was that the next morning, at the crack of dawn, Zeb trudged up the boarding ramp of the Ghost carrying a large black box with silver letters reading NESPRESSO VERTUOLINE EVOLUO. His old crewmates had all turned out to greet him, and Hera had made sure that the spare bunk in Ezra’s quarters was made up again.

    “It’s good to have you back with us, old friend,” said Kanan, patting the Lasat on the back as Ezra took the box from him and ran it back to the cargo hold.

    “Likewise.” Zeb returned the gesture. “Though I wish it could be under happier circumstances.”

    “Really? What’s going on?”

    “It’s a long story. Why don’t I tell you over a nice cup of tea?”

    to be continued

    M’d-S’n Avenue is clearly a (not very creative) takeoff on the famous Madison Avenue in New York City, one of the upscale shopping districts of Manhattan’s Upper East Side. There is indeed a Nespresso shop there, which I have visited exactly once (to ask if they sold gift cards).

    Merkeshian mint: The creation of Raissa Baiard. Merkesh is the home planet of her OC of the same name (and of the family that OC eventually forms with her other OC Doran Blayne).
     
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    [face_laugh] Loved the exchange between Evie and Chopper, too snarky! And Ezra had a brilliant suggestion!
     
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  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks so much! :) Those snarky “murderbot” droids are just their very own brand of fun to write—I had such fun pitting these two against each other! And yes, Ez is the one who sets things in motion to save the day, isn’t he—the best Little Space!Bro Zeb could ask for! I’ve always loved the two of them as Space!Bros, which is part of why I ended up not rewriting this to fit the “prime” universe. Thanks again, as always! :D
     
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  9. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Oh dear. :eek: Yeah, that's not a good sign when even Chopper is throwing his pincers up in defeat at his total inability to get through.
     
  10. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Indeed... you know it's a difficult situation when the Main Murderbot Himself is stymied! (Another way to look at it: he's finally met his match! :p ) Fortunately, Zeb's now got a plan of action, thanks to his Little Space Bro, so perhaps that will bring home the bacon even if Chop couldn't! Thanks so much, as always, for reading and commenting—always love seeing you here! <3
     
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  11. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    So good to see this story continue with more caf-tastic fun! I don't envy Ezra here, having to deal with a Chopper who is obviously just thrilled to see Evie again, Evie's TMI comments about the transmitter, and being looked down on by the resident purple caf snob for not knowing what a crema is. Then again, I can't really blame Chop for being a bit crankier than usual; Evie may make an excellent crema, but she's not the brightest glowpanel on the ship, is she? Love all of her "designation unknown" comments. It makes sense that her database doesn't include concepts such as "married" and "wife", but not having figured out that the Purple One has a name (given that she is able to assign an identity to Chopper) in all the time she's been around him? I can only concur with Chop that
    Chop may be a murderbot but he's got enough processing power to realize not to get on these Purple Ones' bad sides
    I'm not sure which prospect bodes worse for Evie :eek: They both sound pretty final and unpleasant! Lucky for her that Ezra comes up with a non-violent Jedi-type solution, one that allows Evie to remain in one piece and Zeb to continue to have his morning caf--at least we hope it will!

    It really is too bad she's not his type :p
     
  12. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks so much for the comment, as always! :)

    Oh yes, with all that plus dealing with two displeased Lasats in a single morning, poor Ez really doesn't have an easy time of it here. What we do for our Big!Space!Bros! :D

    "Not the brightest glowpanel" is a very apt description indeed! And I think a lot of her unknowing is, quite frankly, deliberate. She's blinded by her misguided affection for the Purple One—if "affection" is even the right word. :p

    Oh yes, he's worked and lived with Zeb long enough to know exactly where his bread is and is not buttered in that department!

    And it goes to show how far Ezra has come by this point—the erstwhile Lothal street kid is now a full-fledged Jedi who can offer a mutually agreeable and diplomatic solution. Though of course he has always been a smart kid and good at helping and caring for his SpaceFamily members! (This actually makes me super glad I didn't rewrite the story and change him to Sabine—nothing against Sabine, but with Ezra it really does emphasize his character's growth all the more.)

    I agree, it really kind of is! :p Now, on the other hand, if he ever meets Rika... [face_thinking] ;)

    Thanks so much once again! Third and final chapter coming anon...
     
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  13. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    And here's the third and last chapter, with a very special surprise guest appearance at the very end! Thanks again to @Raissa Baiard for beta reading, and to all who have read, commented, and enjoyed! :)


    Three

    As he tramped down M’d-S’n Avenue toting the box containing Evie, Zeb felt distinctly like a gundark galumphing through a hoojib hutch. This entire neighborhood of Garel City seemed to be populated exclusively by svelte, unreasonably pretty beings shopping for jewelry, shoes, and handbags at implausibly ritzy boutiques, colorful flimsi shopping bags dangling off bangled arms as they gabbed with friends on tiny, sleek personal comm devices. As the largest, hulkingest being within a radius of several klicks, Zeb received several quizzical looks from passersby. A few especially delicate specimens even crossed to the other side of the street as he approached.

    At one point an impeccably groomed teacup-sized canid, the fur of its head tied into a perky top-knot with a pink ribbon, peeked from a nearby handbag and began yapping at him (“Arf! Arf! Arf arf arf!”), not stopping despite the continued protestations of its late-adolescent Omwati owner (“Fufu! Quiet!”). This continued for almost an entire block before Zeb, having had quite enough, bared his teeth, leaned as close to the offending beast as his heavy burden would allow, and growled the fiercest, meanest, most Lasat growl he could manage.

    “GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.”

    “YIPE yipe yipeyipeyipe!” The canid bounded from the handbag and took off down the street as fast as its little legs could carry it. Again its owner protested—“Fufu! Get back here! FUFU!”—but to no avail; the creature had already disappeared around the corner. The Omwati shot Zeb a dirty look as she picked up her pace in pursuit. He did not care.

    It was some time, however, before he arrived at the Nespresso boutique. Ezra hadn’t been able to remember the street number, but had told Zeb that the shop was between the Goochy & Offspring boutique and Herf & Mern. However, when Zeb reached the Goochy & Offspring boutique, there was no sign of Nespresso anywhere in sight, nor was there a Herf & Mern. After several more minutes of walking, he finally found the Nespresso boutique—adjacent not to the Goochy boutique but to the Poochy boutique. (“Karabast,” he grumbled to himself, “if the Imps really wanna make themselves useful, they should make a law against all these hoity-toity shops with similar names.”) Very carefully, he backed into the door and entered the shop.

    The Nespresso boutique was a paradise for the aficionado of fine caf. The newest, sleekest, most state-of-the-art caf machines lined the lighted shelves, and arrays of colorful foil capsules offered customers a staggering variety of flavor options. Farther back, a pleasant, airy café area beckoned, where customers could sample any of those options in the company of fine baked goods. The warm, vibrant scent of impeccably blended and roasted caf beans pervaded the entire place. Zeb paused for a few moments—a smile crossing his face as he inhaled that heavenly fragrance—before proceeding to the counter at the center of the shop. He was greeted by a plump, graying Drall female in eyeglasses and a black apron.

    “Good morning, sir. May I help you?”

    “Yes, as a matter of fact.” Zeb placed Evie’s box on the counter. “This machine needs to be… repaired.”

    The Drall inspected the box for a few moments, entering a few things on a data terminal as she did so. “New-model Evoluo Vertuo GCC1. Got it. And what seems to be the problem?”

    “It needs a new droid brain.”

    “A new droid brain?”

    “Yes, a new droid brain,” repeated Zeb, emphasizing each word. Apparently for some folks in this Galaxy you have to spell everything out in words of one syllable.

    The saleslady looked perplexed. “What is the machine doing, exactly? Is it misreading the capsule barcodes?”

    “No.”

    “Is the machine starting properly when you turn it on?”

    “Yes.”

    “Is the caf flowing normally?”

    “What do you mean, flowing normally?”

    “I mean, when the cycle finishes, does caf come out of the machine?”

    “Of course caf comes out! What else is gonna come out, apple slug sauce?!”

    “And have you cleaned the reservoir recently? Sometimes mineral buildup can cause the AI to—”

    “Yes, I cleaned the reservoir four days ago.” Karabast, is this really that hard? “And before you ask, yes, I’ve been using only triple-filtered water.”

    The saleslady looked perplexed again. “Well, sir, are you sure the problem is really with the droid brain?”

    Zeb sighed and rolled his eyes. This was dragging on much too long. “Yes, I am,” he growled. “Believe me, I have every reason to be absolutely one-hundred-percent sure that the problem is really with the droid brain. So if you could please have your repair shop give it a new droid brain—”

    “Sir, it would help if you could tell me exactly what the machine is doing.”

    Aw, karabast. Zeb had been hoping not to launch into the whole sad story of Evie’s ill-advised affection toward him and her vile behavior toward his wife, but that now appeared to be inevitable. He glanced around to make sure no other customers were close enough to hear. “The fact is… this miswired boltbucket of a caf distiller thinks it’s fallen in love with me.”

    The Drall drew back, regarding Zeb as though he were a raving maniac. “Fallen in love with you? Are you—are you absolutely sure about that, sir?”

    “Yes. Absolutely sure. It said so itself.”

    “Did... it... really?” The Drall’s eyes widened with a combination of incredulity and fear.

    “Yes. And not only that…” Zeb put on his most wild-eyed expression as he leaned closer to the saleslady, who by now was almost cowering against the opposite counter. “It has also expressed its intention to ‘neutralize’ my wife.” He signed the quote marks in the air with his fingers.

    “N-neutralize? Your w-w-wife?”

    “YES, MY WIFE. No need to sound so surprised. And it’s already tried to do that by making her crummy engine-sludge espresso and burning her with its steam spout. Burning her. With steam. She got so mad she nearly lightn—she nearly smashed it. So if I were you, I would take this pathetic scrap heap back to your repair shop right now, or this Galaxy will be plus not one but two very large, very angry beings.”

    “I-I-I’ll see what they can do meanwhile you’re welcome to enjoy some refreshment in our café where you may sample any of our varieties and enjoy our premium baked—” the Drall stammered as she trotted off to the back room with Evie’s box as fast as her short legs would carry her.

    “Thanks.” Zeb breathed something akin to a sigh of relief. “Don’t mind if I do.”

    * * *

    Some time later, as Zeb sat in the café area chewing a zoochberry scone and sipping a Diavolatto Intense-Roast ristretto (a blend he had always been curious to try) from a tempered-glass demitasse cup, the Drall saleslady crept up to him, still looking a little cautious.

    “Oh, sir?”

    “M’yes?”

    “I took your machine to our repair shop, and after looking through their inventory they seem to have found a suitable droid brain to replace the current one.”

    “Mmm.” Zeb took a sip of his ristretto. “One that won’t fall in love with its owner?”

    “With this one that… should not be an issue, sir.”

    “How long will it take ’em to put it in?”

    “Only about half an hour, sir. It can be ready for you later today.”

    “Right.” Zeb finished the last corner of his scone. “Do it.”

    “Very good, sir. I’ll let them know.”

    The Drall trotted back to the back room. Zeb, meanwhile, his mood considerably improved, ordered a Voltissio espresso and another scone, this time with walnuts and candied meiloorun pieces. Having finished these off, he passed the time strolling through the neighborhood, stopping first at Za’Barr’s to pick up a dozen assorted squagels with Nuova grovvlaxx and three varieties of flavored creamshmear for the Ghost crew, then visiting D’ogiva Chocolatier for a box of truffles for Shulma. Then he returned to the Nespresso boutique, paid the repair bill, collected the machine, and began the long walk down M’d-S’n Avenue back to the Ghost.

    He was pleased to note the absence of small, yappy canids during said walk.

    * * *

    The sun rose lazily over the Yavin forest, washing the treetops and temple stones with light. In a Corellian Engineering VCX-100 light freighter docked outside the Alliance base, four hungry Rebel operatives tucked cheerfully into a breakfast of genuine Garel City squagels—a gift from a good friend and shipmate. They paid no attention to the Binary protests of the droid on board, who of course could not share their repast.

    At the same time, two handsome, happy Lasats sat together on their rooftop deck, nuzzling each other lovingly as they sipped perfectly brewed single-origin ristretto (Zeb had made sure to pick up a few of the Diavolatto capsules) and occasionally fed each other chocolate truffles. Tranquility had indeed returned to the MRH.

    Meanwhile, downstairs on the kitchen counter…

    * * *

    Reflection: Perhapsss there isss sssome truth to the rather trite meatbag aphorisssm that the more thingsss change, the more they ssstay the sssame. Sssupporting narration: It ssseemsss that only a short while ago I wasss traveling from sssyssstem to sssyssstem burning masssive holesss through meatbagsss the massster wished to have eliminated. Juxxxtaposssition: Now, after what I underssstand to be ssseveral cccenturiesss, I find myssself tasssked with shooting sssuperheated water through caf groundsss the massster wishesss to have dissstilled. Sssardonic exxxclamation: Oh, the sssupreme irony. More measured asssesssment: Thisss isss for the mossst part a sssatisssfactory arrangement, though I must confesss a cccertain amount of perplexxxity concccerning the logic of meatbag morning routinesss. Rhetorical quessstion: why wassste ssso much energy heating up water sssolely to shoot it through the ground-up beansss of the Caffeia plant, when that sssame hot water could ssso effectively be put to ussse in sssilencccing undesssirable meatbagsss? Counterbalancccing obssservation: Though by all accountsss thisss new massster has already amasssed a mossst impresssive record of incapacccitating undesssirable meatbagsss himssself—so perhapsss he already hasss that ssside of thingsss under control. Hearty affirmation: Good for him, I sssay. Resssolution: In the meantime, I intend to sssavor to the bessst of my ability this lesss boisssterousss ssstate of being—there cccertainly is sssomething to be sssaid for the leisured exxxistencce.

    Exxxhalation: Sssssssiiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhhh.

    the end

    Diavolatto, Voltissio: Fanon, based on the various fake-Italian names Nespresso uses for their coffee varieties.

    D’ogiva Chocolatier: Fanon, based on Godiva Chocolatier. They do indeed have a Madison Avenue store.

    Goochy & Offspring: One of the fashion houses created by Chyntuck in her fanon post on Fashion Houses, Luxury Products, and Cosmetics in the GFFA.

    Herf & Mern: Fanon, based on H&M.

    Nuova grovlaxx, creamshmear: Fanon, based on Nova lox and cream cheese (“shmear”).

    Poochy: Fanon, based on the Italian fashion designer Emilio Pucci.

    tempered-glass demitasse cup: Several of the espresso cups sold on the Nespresso website are made of tempered glass, like these ones.

    Za’Barr’s: Fanon, based on Zabar’s Deli on New York’s Upper West Side. (Yes, very different part of town from Madison Avenue, I know… I am not going for 100% verisimilitude here.)

    And finally, do you recognize the caf machine’s new personality? It’s HK-47.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2021
  14. Nehru_Amidala

    Nehru_Amidala Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 3, 2016
    I forgot how much I loved the original! :)
     
  15. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed! Yes, @Raissa Baiard ’s original “Steamy Romance” is one of this board’s crackfic classics, and it was both an honor and a real treat to continue the story in some small way. Thank you again! :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2021
  16. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Fufu, that kitty is way too big for you to chase. [face_laugh]

    [face_rofl] Well, at leasssst thisss murderbot doesn't want to murder anyone. Too busy enjoying the retired life. (And yeah, I have a guess who it is!) Now I wonder what unsuspecting coffee lover will end up with good ol' Evie... :p
     
  17. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I loved the details of the yacking lady shoppers on their comm devices and pocket poodles [face_laugh] The caf shop sounds divine with delicious cups of caf and sweet pastry type snacks to go with.

    LOL The Drall thought Zeb was off his tree and was all to glad to finish that repair quickly, and I'm glad Zeb and Shulma were both able to savor...

    [face_rofl] [face_rofl] That was even funnier of a conclusion than the one I almost suspected would occur, the caf maker would fall for Shulma. 8-}
     
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  18. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    OMG! The coffee machine is now powered by everybody's very favorite murderbot? I can't! I just can't! *crying laughing* [face_rofl]
     
  19. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you all so much—I'm so glad you enjoyed this! :D

    [face_laugh] [face_laugh] [face_laugh] Hah! Yes, for sure!

    I figured you might be able to guess! ;) Even a murderbot is entitled to enjoy the quiet existence sometimes (and we who have played/watched KOTOR know this particular murderbot has been through a lot). And that is a good question! Hmm, could be material for a follow-up bunny sometime... [face_thinking] Many thanks, as always!

    Thanks! That was all so much fun to write—a real "fish out of water" (or perhaps "bantha in a china shop") moment for Zeb. Who I am sure, in addition to his appreciation for fine caf, enjoys fine baked goods to go with it! :D

    Oh yes, I can't blame the Drall saleslady for being a little... uneasy there, with this purple giant rambling at her about coffee machines being in love. And of course I couldn't resist giving both purple giants some romantic time to bask in harmony and flavor restored! <3

    Ah, that would have been quite an interesting outcome, too—I hadn't thought of that! :D But not a bad guess. The new AI's regard for both Lasats stops at "respect," thank goodness for them both. Though as Kahara says, it's interesting to speculate on who might have ended up with the old Evie brain!

    Thanks as always for being here and commenting! :)

    Yep, 'fraid so (and it was a touch I couldn't resist, as I love HK)—but, again, as the Drall saleslady said, at least not likely to fall in love with either of its new owners! :p Thanks so much for reading and commenting—glad you enjoyed! :)
     
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  20. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    What a fun read this was! I was heartily entertained from start to finish, more than I can say.

    In particular, I enjoyed . . .

    Canon, what canon? [face_mischief] [face_whistling] My heart is more than content with this. [face_love]

    Oh my! Evie has . . . quite the glitch in her programming so to speak, doesn't she? Reading about her, well . . . um, her afflictions was quite something, to say the least. But from her point of view this is nothing more than a complete and utter travesty, the idea that her Purple One is taken by another most unwelcome Purple One. Clearly, drastic measures are now in order. [face_mischief]

    This - and so many other small details all throughout - were so clever! I loved it.

    [face_laugh] [face_love]

    As much as I enjoyed this bit of banter - and that awareness, as always, of just how human-centric the galaxy is designed for being so incredibly diverse otherwise - it was really such a joy to see Zeb and Shulma at this point in their relationship after being reunited. Together, just as they deserve to be! [face_love]

    [face_love]! A beautiful thought, beautifully expressed.

    [face_rofl] [face_rofl] Yep, that's definitely a bad sign as any! I enjoyed this bit of world-building just as much as I enjoyed Shulma being on the war path, and Zeb's reaction to her rage!

    [face_rofl]:_|[face_rofl]

    Shulma's tirade just got better and better - seriously, your comedic timing was just spot-on throughout this entire story - but I lost it at the end here. Such a dramatic difference between Zeb's morning cup of perfection and Shulma's decidedly less than perfect morning, all at the hands of the same twitterpated little caf maker!

    I loved this little tidbit, too, about Mon Mothma and Shulma being acquainted to the point where there are gifts of tea involved! I really just want all of the post-STotHP stories now. ;) [face_love]

    Chopper! And Ezra! Yeeees, if this didn't already have all the comedic potential before . . .

    Of course. [face_love] [face_tee_hee]

    Gotta love the ultimate power couple here, for the win.

    Ezra is really growing into that Jedi wisdom. :p

    Oh my, but didn't that escalate! :eek: [face_laugh] Evie has quite the one track - or one Lasat mind, here, so much so that even Chopper isn't having anything with her concerningly violent tendencies. Which should be telling in of itself . . .

    Sometimes you have to just tell it like it is. [face_rofl]

    [face_rofl] I could see this scene as it played out; again, everything was so perfectly paced and played the best for laughs. Poor Ezra. I can imagine that this was quite a . . . charged moment, in more ways than one. :p

    I could have quoted this entire opening passage, it was so well written. There were just so many creative little details and great fanon gems scattered throughout. So, suffice to say, each and every one of them was worthy of note all on their own and together they made quite the vivid scene!

    But I especially got a kick out of Zeb vs the Pampered Pooch, indeed I did.

    Customer service at it's finest. :oops:And of course Zeb had to go into the whole sordid story when he'd understandably rather not. But, at least he was finally able to get his way, and with a few sweet treats to enjoy while waiting for the caf maker to be repaired. All's well that ends well, until -

    [face_rofl] [face_rofl] [face_rofl] [face_rofl]

    OMGOMGOMG!
    When I say I laughed out loud here, I laughed out loud. Dear goodness, but, speaking of the ultimate murderbot himself, here he is in all of his mechanical glory! This really is the start of a new chapter for HK-47, and while this is the end of this story I doubt, in many ways, that it's truly the end. How could it be? [face_mischief] [face_devil]


    Thank-you so much for sharing this absolutely fantastic tale with us! And, as always, I can't wait to see what more you may have to share of these characters with us next! =D= [:D]