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! 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 Spoiler: Notes 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.