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Saga - OT All Our Yesterdays / Drama, Post-Rebels/ First Sentence Challenge

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Raissa Baiard, Mar 26, 2018.

  1. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Title: All Our Yesterdays
    Author: Raissa Baiard
    Timeframe: Saga OT, 0 BBY
    Characters: Dev Morgan (semi-OC), Nanda Vertti (OC). Jaq Bonduna (OC), Akaela Ranulf(OC)
    Genre: Drama
    Synopsis: A young man with no memory of his past struggles to discover who he is even as he builds a new life on a strange world.
    Notes: This was written for the First Sentence Challenge. The sentence I received was “Who am I?" from Nadja by André Breton

    Thanks to @Ewok Poet and @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha for beta reading and being terrible influences on me. :p @};-
    —————

    Who am I?

    Most of the time, when beings ask themselves that, they’re being philosophical: What do they stand for? What kind of beings do they want to be? Where do they fit in in the Galaxy?

    Good questions to ask yourself, I guess, but for me, it's a little more basic.

    Who am I?

    I don’t know.

    I don’t know my real name. I don’t know where I come from. Whether I have a family. If there’s someone out there missing me, looking for me. I don’t know anything about my life before the crash.

    How long did I exist in the gray twilight of a nightmare before I finally came to? How long did I struggle to catch the fragments of my life? Sounds and images swirled around me through the fog. Voices—some frantic, some gloating, warning me, taunting me. Faces I knew but didn’t. Strange creatures I had no name for. Flashes of light...crackling blue lightning, long blue-white streaks blurring into nothingness. The wail of warning sirens, the pounding of running feet. The thud of impact, slamming me against my restraint harness. I reached after the memories but they faded like dying stars as soon as I touched them.

    Whatever came before, my life now begins with the moment I woke up tangled in the strands of emergency crash webbing. I sat bolt upright, struggling against the webbing, feeling like I’d been pulled out of a deep sleep. My heart was racing as I reached for…something...at my side. I frowned when my hand closed on empty air. Something should have been there, and I wasn’t sure which was worse— not knowing what it was or the fact that it wasn’t there.

    Breathe a voice within me counseled. Slow down and take stock of your situation. Whoever that calm, reassuring voice belonged to—a memory? My own experience?—it was good advice. I pushed the crash webbing away and looked around. I was in sitting in the pilot’s seat of a tiny, two-person escape pod; the seat next to mine was empty. Several warning lights on the instrument panel were flashing urgently to inform me that the homing beacon had been disabled. A quick check showed me it hadn’t just been disconnected, the wires had been cut. Someone didn’t want me to be found; though I couldn’t have said why, I had a feeling it was me.

    The pod had the usual pack of emergency supplies—ration bars and bottled water, a low-powered civilian blaster, medkit, glowrod, and folding shelter. I slung it over my shoulder and strapped on the breath mask before opening the hatch to peer out.

    Honey-golden sunlight filtered through the lush forest canopy overhead, and the sound of birds and other small creatures filled the tranquil air. It turned out that the pod was half submerged in a pond, covered in muck and weeds. It must have been a rough landing, because the little craft had plowed a furrow in the soft ground ten meters long before it had come to rest in the water. Things seemed to be safe enough now, though; a flock of water birds paddled unconcernedly below me.

    “Hey! You all right there?”

    The sound of a woman’s voice startled me from my precarious seat atop the escape pod. I slid backwards, arms flailing wildly and plunged into the pond, startling the waterfowl into noisy flight. I came up dripping, with a mouthful of green-tasting pond water and algae sliding down my face. My breath mask had fallen off. My pack was drenched. My clothes were soaked. Not an auspicious way to start a new life on...wherever this was. I waded my way through the muck to shore, muttering the only word I could think of to express the sheer depth of my annoyance: “Karabast!”

    The woman was waiting for me at the edge of the pond. She was Human or near-Human, perhaps fifty, with graying hair pulled back into a loose knot at the base of her neck. She was dressed in a green and brown dappled camouflage jacket and dark green pants; it was no wonder I hadn’t spotted her before. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you!” She extended a hand to me to help me out the pond. “What happened?”

    “I fell in the pond!” I wiped some of the pond slime off my face, trying not to scowl. The woman obviously meant well.

    “Yes, I saw that…” She blinked at me and gestured to the escape pod where it was mired. “I meant, what happened to the ship you were on?”

    “I…” Now it was my turn to blink. Ship. Yes. The fact that I’d been in an escape pod meant I must have been on a ship that...crashed? Was fired upon? By...pirates? Imperials? Bounty hunters? Hit by an asteroid? Disabled by saboteurs? My mind could suggest plenty of things that might have happened, but when I tried to remember what really had happened, there was nothing. I could have told the woman anything, because as far as I knew they were all equally likely. “I don’t know.”

    “You don’t know?” Her eyebrows rose, her mouth pursing in a look of matronly concern. For a moment, I thought she was going to lay a hand on my forehead to see if I was feverish, a gesture that recalled...shadows, only shadows. And the weight of everything I’d lost hit me like a proton torpedo.

    “Look, I don’t know what I’m doing here! I don’t even know where here is. I don’t . know… I don’t know anything! I crashed in the pond...before that, it’s just this big...fuzzy, gray blur! I don’t…” The words trailed off when I realized I was shouting at her. The anger ebbed away and left me feeling empty. “I don’t know. I’m...sorry…”

    “Hmmm.” The woman looked more concerned than angry; if she’d been an avian, I think she would have tucked me under her wing. Instead, she laid a hand on my soggy shoulder and steered me away from the water. “I’ve heard of that happening when people hit their heads sometimes. Let’s get you back to Station 3Z3 and get you checked out by the med droid. This is the planet Giaca, by the way, and I’m Nanda Vertti, biologist.”

    And I was...no one. My name had been lost to the gray nothingness, too. No. No, I wasn’t no one. I wasn’t nameless; it was still there, somewhere. I just had to find it, to reach for it.

    I don’t know how to explain what happened next. Something shifted inside me, just a little, and it was like a door I hadn’t known was there opened a crack. I could hear voices faintly on the other side, a jumble of memories, tumbling words and somewhere in them, someone was calling my name. If only I could make it out… if only… if only I could focus...

    “Focus!” One voice came clearly through all the murmurs. A man’s voice, far away. Someone I knew. Someone I loved. Someone who’d loved me… I reached after him, but his voice slipped away from me, lost among the whispers.

    Another voice rose to the top, my own voice this time: “I’m Governor Tarkin’s nephew, and he’s not going to be happy when he finds out how you treated me!”

    “I’m Jabba the Hutt.”

    “My name is Lando Calrissian; I’m a smuggler.”

    “I’m Dev Morgan and I’m here now to show you heroes what a real Imperial cadet looks like!”

    Somehow, that last seemed to be the least unlikely of the bunch. “You can call me Dev. Dev Morgan.”

    “Call you Dev?” Nanda frowned, seeming to pick up on the significance of my words. “Is that your name?”

    “No.” I smiled bitterly, shouldering my waterlogged pack to follow her. “But it’ll do for now.”
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2018
    gizkaspice, Gamiel, Vek Talis and 6 others like this.
  2. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    I was waiting to comment on this masterpizza before I go to bed, so thanks for putting it up. ;)

    It's clear from the very start who the unnamed protagonist is, yet the way his torment was described makes a clear distance between the obvious to us and completely unknown, forgotten, banished to him. And wherever he wound about right now, he is a new person, a blank space. Will this knowledge make him better, worse or have him stay more or less the same?

    Nanda is intriguing from the very start. She's a motherly figure, like those women in fairy-tales that orphans run into and are subsequently adopted, often not knowing that they're royalty or outright *not wanting* to be royalty and have a part in whatever master plan. I always liked this trope, archetype, whatever. And she seems to want to take care of our young pal.

    What's also intriguing is that he can remember the fake names he went by and exact sentences that he uttered when posing as those beings, but not his own. He just picks the one that was, in fact, a made up character, an avatar of sorts. And he chooses to become that character. Scary, yet deep stuff.

    And whoa, he forgot the Force! Trippy! Headasplode! [face_hypnotized]
     
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    =D= =D= What a gorgeous title to go with a lovely setting and a warm maternal type in Nanda: she knows what needs doing but she does it with caring concern. @};- How discombobulating to not know ANYTHING about your past, not even your name! [face_worried] You described the images and sensory experiences very vividly. It definitely had a dream like quality.

    It's always fascinating how the memories return, in bits and pieces, and certainly not all at once. But usually that requires familiar people and surroundings. In the absence of those, what will stimulate the recall? [face_thinking]
     
  4. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    You created a mix of pity and interest for your unknown character immediately. One wants to travel along and help searching all the answers to the nagging questions. Well done!
     
  5. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Sounds like Force Lightning.

    That would be your lightsaber you're looking for, dude. And of course it bugs you that it's not there. That weapon is your life.

    That good advice sounds like something Obi-Wan would say.

    Yup, that voice in his head is definitely Obi-Wan.

    Adding all these hints together, I conclude that our protagonist is definitely a Jedi, and very likely Anakin Skywalker.
     
  6. NobodyIX

    NobodyIX Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Feb 19, 2018
    That was beautiful Raissa, wonderful descriptions, I felt I was right there in the escape hatch. I really like what you did with the challenge. Little memories flit in and out that he can't quite catch.
    Love this, very well written!
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
  7. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    I suppose that depends on how much of who we are you think is the accumulation of our memories. Is there part of his personality that's innate and unchangeable or it is all up for grabs now that he doesn't remember his past?

    She is a mother hen type, and she couldn't have shown up at a better time for "Dev", just when he needs someone to take him under her wing. I suppose in a way she could be kind of his "good fairy," like those who take care of Sleeping Beauty.

    I hadn't thought of that, that "Dev Morgan" is the only one of the bunch who isn't real, but it is kind of ironic that he chooses the one name of them all that is, like him, a blank space waiting to be filled.

    Star Wars needs more moms! And Dev can certainly use one right now, because now matter that he's an adult, he's in a very vulnerable, childlike position right now, not knowing where he is or how he got there. It is kind of like waking up from a bad dream for him...only he's still in a bad dream when he's awake.

    Some things just seem to recur across the GFFA--like Maz's comment about seeing the same eyes in different people.

    Thank you so much! I hope you'll enjoy the journey.
    Could be!

    You may have something here ;)

    You're on to something here, too. There are some more hints to Dev's identity in the coming chapter...

    Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wasn't quite sure what to do with my sentence at first, but this was an idea i just had to run with.
     
  8. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks to @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha and @Findswoman for beta-reading @};-

    Chapter 2

    Nanda took charge of me, fussing like a mother bird with her chick over my wet clothes and the algae that was still stuck in my hair. I told myself it only made sense to go with her as she steered me through the undergrowth and onto the back of a battered Nightfalcon speeder bike. She knew the planet and its hazards, after all, and knew where I could get help. It wasn’t that if I let Nanda make the decisions I didn’t have to think about the fact that I was alone on a planet I’d never heard of with nothing to my admittedly fake name but the clothes I was wearing and a pack of soggy supplies. It had absolutely nothing to do with the way I felt lost and adrift, like a quadduckling out of its nest. And it certainly wasn’t that I was pathetically grateful that someone in the Galaxy seemed to care about me, even if it was a woman I’d met five minutes before. I hung on behind Nanda as the trees whizzed by and tried to pretend that was true.

    The forest tapered down from trees whose spreading branches soared above us to thin, spindly saplings among the brush and then down to a plain dotted with clumps of tall, feathery grass and spike-leafed shrubs. Towering above it were several concentric rings of black basalt columns. Each hexagonal column was at least ten meters across—some as wide as a hundred—and anywhere from a few meters off the floor of the plain to a height that rivaled the tallest tree in the nearby forest. And built on the columns was a settlement of weathered prefab structures connected by a crazy web of ramps and bridges. A makeshift spaceport, nothing more than a duracrete landing pad and a cluster of hangars, sat hunched on the settlement’s west side, where the columns were shortest.

    Nanda slowed her bike and maneuvered into a low building by the spaceport, a covered garage that was not even half full of vehicles, mostly old speeder bikes like Nanda’s, but a couple of all-terrain ground cars and an armored assault vehicle hulked in the far corner. She pulled to a stop next to one of the multi-wheeled Landmasters and dismounted. As I followed her, I noticed a faded logo stenciled on the bike’s chassis, a plump bird with wide eyes and a long, curving tail, and, like a bird, a flash of recognition fluttered through my mind and then was gone. I stumbled and hurried to catch up with Nanda, who hadn’t seen my lapse.

    “This is Station 3Z3, the largest settlement on Giaca, not that that’s saying much,” she explained as we made our way out of the garage. “The Shorak built it about fifty years ago, though they’ve been trying to colonize this planet since before the Jedi Civil War. They gave up on it for a long time, though, because the hyperspace routes are so tangled. You must be a heck of a pilot to have gotten an escape pod through the maze.”

    It was not quite a question...probably a good thing since I didn’t have an answer. Maybe I was an ace pilot...maybe I’d just been lucky. “The Shorak?”

    She paused at the base of the ramp leading up to the station and gave me an apologetic smile. “Sorry, I’ve been living out here long enough that I forget most people aren’t familiar with this corner of the Galaxy. I guess we’re not considered the Unknown Regions for nothing. The Shorak are near-Humans from the planet Shor.” Nanda started up to the first hexagonal platform, a basalt column that was wider than it was tall. “You’ll probably see a few of them today. You can’t really tell them from the Humans at first glance, except they like to dye their hair, usually jewel tones. Pretty, but if you ask them why they do it, they’ll just look at you like ‘why don’t you?’”

    Why did that sound familiar? I contemplated it as I trailed behind Nanda.

    The station was arranged along a spiralling path. For the most part, the columns rose gradually but there were places where one would suddenly jut higher than than those around it and gaps where columns had been broken. I saw now why Nanda had left her speeder bike in the garage--the maze of ramps that connected the levels weren’t sturdy enough to handle vehicles and at their widest point were only wide enough for three or four beings, provided they didn’t have a concept of personal space. Nanda took a zigzagging path through the settlement, over swaying bridges and steep ramps, past weirdly stair-stepping buildings that occupied multiple columns.

    A few levels up was a bazaar; the columns were lined with stalls selling droid parts and power converters, clothing and gear, and of course, food--fruits, vegetables, fresh meat and fish in an overwhelming array of colors...and smells. Vendors called out their wares in multiple languages, only some of which I recognized, and most of which I couldn’t understand in all the cacophony of voices. It was a scene that felt so familiar and yet so alien at the same time that I stopped in my tracks while shoppers of half a dozen different species jostled past me

    “This is Halfway Up, the station’s marketplace,” Nanda announced, nudging me out of my reverie before a muscular woman with shimmering deep blue hair collided with me. “A terribly inspired name, I know, but most of our shops and services are here, including the med droid. It’s not too far now...Dev? Are you all right?”

    I was staring at the woman...but not really at her. In my mind, I could see another face, another woman--a girl?--maybe a little older than me, however old that was. The girl’s sleek, short hair was deep blue...light blue...lavender...dark purple. It seemed to shift as if she was passing from shadow to light and back again. Her eyes met mine…I’m counting on you came a whisper across the Galaxy...and the blue-haired woman in the market scowled at me and made a gesture that was probably considered obscene no matter where in the Galaxy you were. Heat rose to my face, and I turned away as quickly as I could, jumping when Nanda laid a hand on my shoulder, “This way, Dev.”

    “Yeah.” My voice strangled on the word. “Right.” Once again, I let Nanda steer me because it was easier. Who was she, the girl with multi-colored hair? She was someone I cared for a lot, I could sense that much, but was she my friend? My sister? My girlfriend? And what had I meant when I told her I was counting on her? I reached after the memory with everything I had in me, but it had vanished as quickly as it appeared..

    “Here we are.” Nanda ushered me through the door of a plastoid prefab into a tiny anteroom where a slightly dingy gray medical droid hovered behind a tall counter. The GH series had been manufactured since before the Clone Wars, and this one looked like it had been around since then.

    The droid waved the uppermost of its three arms in greeting. “Good day, Mistress Nanda Vertti, and…” He cocked his wedge shaped head and his blue-green optical receptors flickered as he scanned my face, ”... unknown Human male! How may I be of assistance?”

    Unknown Human male. I could have laughed if it wasn’t so pathetic—if that wasn’t a perfect summary of my existence now, I didn’t know what was. “It’s Dev. Dev Morgan.” Better to be someone—anyone—than to stay unknown, even to myself.

    The droid tipped his head back the other way and spread all three hands in a placating gesture. “I apologize, Master Dev Morgan. I am GH-7LZ, though most residents of Station 3Z3 prefer to call me “Giles”, for reasons I do not quite understand. How may I assist you?”

    “I…yeah…” Give me back my memories. My real name. Something. Tell me where to find them. Give me a clue…anything. I’ll take whatever I can get. “My escape pod crashed in the forest and...I can’t remember anything that happened before that.”

    “Memory loss…” Giles’s receptors flickered again, slowly at first, then whirring faster, a clicking hum coming from somewhere in his torso as a processor kicked into overdrive. “Yes, a very alarming and potentially serious condition. Please come with me, Master Dev Morgan.” The droid bobbed towards a sliding door at the back of the room and crooked one metal finger at me. “There are several tests I must perform in order to ascertain the cause and treatment of your condition.”

    Giles led me into the exam room and instructed me to sit on the exam table and take off my jacket--and I swear that his receptors blinked in dismay at its disheveled condition when I laid it aside on the table. The med droid hovered next to me, taking my vitals with multi-armed efficiency, taking my pulse and blood pressure while drawing blood with a quick jab. He floated in a slow circle around me while the bioscanners behind his blue-green eyes swept over me, and he made what were probably supposed to be reassuring “mmm-hmm” sounds the entire time. Finally, the droid attached several dozen small sensors to my head with a goopy paste, a process that would have seriously disarranged my hair if it hadn’t already gotten messed up when I’d fallen into the pond.

    After another round of hmm-ing, accompanied by more whirring and clicking deep within his processor, the droid’s eyes flashed once and lit a brighter blue. “The good news, Master Dev Morgan,” he told me, as he began picking the sensors out of my hair, “is that there is no physiological damage to your brain—no concussion, no indication of illness or infection, no irregularities in your brainwaves.” Giles bobbed backwards, spreading his lower two arms. “I must conclude that the cause of your memory loss is due to some psychological trauma, perhaps associated with circumstances of your arrival on Giaca.”

    That seemed reassuring. Kind of. No brain damage was always good. Psychological trauma, though...that sounded a little less encouraging. “So what can you do about that?”

    Giles’s arms drooped and he gave a staticky electronic sigh, his receptors dimming. “Unfortunately, there is no treatment for such dissociative amnesia.” The mournful pose only lasted for a moment before he perked back up. “Not to worry, Master Dev Morgan, in most cases the affected memories will return on their own, with time”

    “With time? How much time?” How long was I going to have to wait before I knew what had happened to me? Who I really was? Anything about myself? “Isn’t there something I can do to make them come back?”

    “Some beings have had success with cognitive therapy, though I regret that I am not programmed to offer such treatment.” Giles drooped again, laying a hand on my shoulder. “I do sympathize with you, though. I am never quite the same after my scheduled memory wipes, though the Chiewab Amalgamated representative assures me that I function better afterwards.”

    Nanda was still in the waiting area, sitting in a rigid plastiform chair reading a dog-eared flimsi-mag, when I came out with Giles trailing behind me. She looked up from the magazine, her eyebrows raising in an unspoken question.

    “I’m fine…” I told her, the edge of a bitter laugh creeping into my voice. Fine. Right. “Well, except for this gaping hole where my life used to be, and there’s nothing anyone can do to fix that.”

    She stood up and crossed the tiny room to me, putting an arm around my shoulders. “I’m sorry, Dev.”

    “Hey, no problem. He says my memories will come back. With time…” And I had plenty of time, all the time in the universe, stuck here on a planet where even if someone was looking for me, they’d never find me because someone had disabled my homing beacon. What I didn’t have was credits. Or food. Or anywhere to go.

    Nanda’s expression slipped into the mother avian look she’d had when she pulled me out of the pond, and I got the feeling that to her, I really was a lost quadduckling...one that desperately needed looking after. “Come with me. I have a friend who might be able to help you until they do—Jaq Bonduna. He owns the cantina here in town, and he knows everything that’s going on…”

    I pulled away from her. “Look, thanks, but you don’t have to do this.” I’d gotten this far somehow—piloted an escape pod through impossible hyperspace lanes and come down in one piece. I wasn’t helpless; I had to have some kind of skills. I couldn’t have forgotten everything. “I can take care of myself.”

    “Do you have any better ideas?” She crooked one eyebrow at me, and her lips pursed. Clearly, I was now a wayward and willful little lost quadduckling.

    “Well...no, but—”

    That was all the admission Nanda needed. She took me by the arm and steered me out of the medcenter. “Then come with me. Even if Jaq can’t help you, we can at least get you a hot meal, and that’s always a good start.”


    Notes:

    Giaca

    Station 3Z3

    The Shorak

    GH-7 med droid
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
    Kahara, Gamiel, Vek Talis and 4 others like this.
  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I love the richness of detail. Giles is sympathetic to Dev's situation. It is heartening that there is nothing physical as a barrier to recalling things. And the flash of memory which spontaneously surfaced is really a good promising sign. I think that was ... Sabine. :D :D

    Dev continues to feel disconnected naturally but Nanda is persistently helpful, which is exactly what he needs.
     
  10. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    The girl’s sleek, short hair was deep blue...light blue...lavender...dark purple. It seemed to shift as if she was passing from shadow to light and back again.

    And I was first thinking Deliah Blue, but then I realised I was properly looking at the wrong time line and then I had the same idea as Ny.

    By the way, it is very possible, that I will be on the boards very irregular. But that has nothing to do with you or the quality of your stories.
     
  11. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Love Dev's vivid descriptions of pretty much everything. It almost makes me wonder if somebody got him rid of his memory selectively, on purpose, since he remembers quite a few things and he's coming up with these comparisons and metaphors like there's no tomorrow. A smart little cookie, he is. Let's see when exactly is he going to be smart enough to figure himself out...

    Another thing that I can notice disappearing, from a certain point of view, is the no-attachment thing. Dev so desperately wants to be attached, it's almost as if he contracted fear of abandonment travelling the Galaxy and ending up in this mysterious place. No, boy, you don't want to be plagued by that. Trust me, I'm an expert. :p

    The place Nanda brought him to looks very similar to Salfur's Trading Post, as far as its simplicity goes. And yeah, I *know* that this ain't no Endor, but it sure is a backwater planet, that Giaca. [face_tee_hee] Can't wait to see more of your gorgeous worldbuilding there, I know that you had lots on your mind. [face_shhh]

    The bazaar and the girl's hair colour are definitely clues for Dev. But it looks like there is more to this particular girl than just a distant reminder of the one he used to know. I'll keep my eye on her.

    The planet's name would ring a bell to me, but there are no such languages in the GFFA.

    You don't want to be Shiny, Giles. Shut up and enjoy your name. :p

    And the whole realisation that Dev is, in a way, a representative of the "Empty Shell" trope, for now, makes me sympathise with him. Not that I didn't already. Poor young man. I hope that he will find his way soon. And that Nanda, Giles and the unknown girl (She's not a teenage Holdo, is she? LOL...) will be the clues he needs. Sure, there's that thing on his belt, but yeah, why make it simple when it can be complicated?

    P.S.

    I would pay somebody to write a fic like this featuring Deliah Blue, I must admit. I would...pay in fics. :p
     
  12. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thank you! Giaca is proving to be a fun sandbox to play in. The scenery was inspired by my recent vacation to Hawaii (to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary!). Giles is a bit quirky, but at least he's got a good bedside manner-- the GFFA is well populated by snarky, cranky droids, it's time to have a sympathetic one. And that girl...does sound quite a lot like Sabine, doesn't she? ;) Dev does need someone patient and kind to help him along until he gets settled; he's lucky to have Nanda.
    I still need to read the Legacy comics, so, no, not Deliah Blue. But you and Ny are on the right track... Hope everything is going well with you, and look forward to seeing you whenever you can. :)

    You may be onto something that someone (or something) has altered Dev's memory rather selectively. Now, who or what that might be, and why...?

    Hmm...well, it is a human need to be part of a group or family. Though I'm not a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut, I do appreciate his observation that the first thing any two people meeting will do is try to establish a common connection with each other. Than again,
    it could also be issues from his past resurfacing...

    I can see definite similarities between Giaca and Endor--the lush forests, the isolation, the simple dwellings. Both have that wild, untamed atmosphere. Giaca is very much a frontier world, maybe not the best place to be lost, at least if you want to be found.

    The Shorak, with their colorful hair, ring a few bells for him. And thanks for explaining the meaning of "Giaca" to me since I don't speak Italian (jacket! [face_laugh]) It wan't intentional, since I picked the planet from a list of existing Unknown Region planets, but in a way it is appropriate. ;)

    But he does enjoy his name! He enjoys his full designation and indeed thinks everyone should be called by theirs, Mistress Ewok Poet!

    No, Holdo does not appear in this story (but now I want to do one about her a stylish lavender haired teen...) And that thing on Dev's belt...isn't there anymore... The clues will keep coming, slowly but surely and in the meantime, Dev's finding some new friends to help him along that path.
     
  13. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks to @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha, @Ewok Poet and @Findswoman for beta reading and suggestions. Lots of great betas make a great story [face_love]

    Chapter 3
    The cantina wasn’t far from the medcenter, just up one ramp and over two columns. It was made up of two of the usual brownish-gray plastoid prefabs joined by a covered bridge where one one of basalt columns had worn down between them. A garish sign proclaimed it was the “Heads and Tails” in flashing curved above the image of a buxom, scantily-clad green-skinned Twi’lek who smiled vapidly as she toasted the viewer with a foamy glass of ale. Something about it set my teeth on edge.

    Inside, the walls were decorated with holos and flat images of exotic planets interspersed with a hodgepodge of strange objects. There was the skull of some large, reptilian beast next to what looked like a starship’s navicomputer, and a seven-stringed musical instrument hung near a carved wooden shield almost as tall as I was. The furniture was similarly eclectic, with stiff plastiform chairs like the ones in the medcenter, the captain’s chair from a ship, and a folding metal chair with a canvas seat all clustered around the same table. A group of Shorak men sat in the corner playing cards, while a couple of tired looking spacers slumped at the bar, a plank of polished wood that seemed to have been hewn from the trunk of a single tree.

    Nanda nudged me onto one of the bar stools. Something stirred on a shelf above us—a purple and green striped tooka, half hidden behind a taxidermied creature that seemed to be a cross between a nuna and a sad-looking kneeb. The tooka gave an excited chirrup as he smiled down at me, and leapt from shelf to shelf, rattling knickknacks and bottles, until he landed on the bar. It butted its head against my shoulder and rubbed against me affectionately. I scratched him behind the ears: somehow it made me feel a little better. Cats...I seemed to remember liking cats, or maybe it was just the force of this one’s personality that made me want to pet him. The tooka grinned and purred. I knew it; you love me.

    My hand halted above the tooka’s head. Tookas weren’t supposed to talk to people, were they? I didn’t think so. So how had I heard that? Maybe heard wasn’t quite the right word; maybe sensed or understood would be closer, but still… I glanced over at Nanda, who seemed not to have noticed anything unusual.

    The noise of the tooka’s passage caught the attention of the bartender, an orange-skinned Twi’lek. He looked like he’d handled his share of bar fights—and his crooked nose suggested he’d been in a few, too—but his face lit up when he saw Nanda. “Nan! Your usual?” His glance slid over to me, and his smile tipped sideways into a wry grin at my bedraggled clothing and tousled, goopy, algae-streaked hair. “Oh, no… Don’t tell me you rescued another idiot smuggler from brintak territory. Looks like this one tried to go swimming with the rock otters, too. Next time, you might want to try taking off the nerf-hide jacket first.”

    Nanda sighed and clicked her tongue, shaking her head with a look of fond exasperation. “Be nice, Jaq. Does he really look like a smuggler to you? This is Dev Morgan; his escape pod landed in a pond out near Maruuk’s. I don’t suppose you know anything about a ship crashing or any accidents? Poor kid hit his head in the landing and doesn’t remember what happened.”

    “Hmm.” Jaq turned to wrangle with the hulking drink dispenser behind the bar, a haphazard arrangement of pipes and levers that hissed out a column of steam as he worked. He set a mug of creamy, pale liquid in front of Nanda and another in front of me. From the sweet, spicy aroma, her usual was some sort of herbal tea with boiled milk. Jaq followed the tea with a plate of shredded meat, a flatbread, and a bowl of some odd gray paste, which was presumably also food but looked as if it could be used to patch starship hulls. He reclined against the bar, propping himself on his elbows. “No, sorry. The ShoraCo supply ship’s due in tomorrow; I can ask if they’ve heard anything.”

    Nanda tore a piece off her bread and scooped up some of the paste and meat. “So…you still have that spare room in the back?”

    “Oh, no! No, no, no...” Jaq took a step back from the bar, throwing up his hands. His lekku twitched, the tip of his left lek waving back and forth in rhythm with each “no”. “I’m not taking in any more of your strays! This is a bar, not some kind of...home for wayward boys.” Even the smirk he’d given me earlier was gone, replaced by a scowl.

    “Come on, Jaq,” Nanda reached out to him, spreading her hands imploringly. “Where else is he going to go? You want him to sleep in the woods?” She held up one finger and wagged it at Jaq before he could answer. “Don’t answer that; just remember you owe me for the time I cleared that colony of bats out of your store room. Look, even Pouncer likes the boy, and that tooka hates everyone...even you.”

    The tooka had been patting my hand insistently with a paw ever since Jaq had set the plate in front of me. He looked up from eyeing my food. Because he doesn’t feed me. You love me...so feed me.

    Oddly, the fact that the tooka was the only one who was speaking to me—and only because he wanted my dinner—was what finally did it. I decided I was done with letting other people make the decisions for me. Maybe Nanda meant well, but I wasn’t a lost quadduckling or a boy; I ought to have some say about what happened to me. I tossed Pouncer a chunk of the meat and scowled back at Jaq. “Hi, can you maybe not talk about me? I’m right here—I lost my memory, not my hearing...or my mind.” At least I didn’t think so…but then again, the tooka was talking to me, so maybe I had.

    Nanda looked a bit startled at my outburst, but Jaq laughed. “Ha! Well, you’ve got some spirit, kid, I’ll give you that muchHe looked from Nanda to Pouncer to me and back, and sighed. “Oh, all right… He can stay.” Jaq glanced back to me and amended, “You can stay. But you're going to pay rent. Which means we need to find you a job. What can you do?”

    Good question. I might have been a great pilot...or just an incredibly lucky one. So far my other skills seemed to consist of falling into ponds and listening to tookas, neither of which seemed very useful. I shrugged, “Whatever needs doing, I guess.”

    That finally earned a real smile from Jaq. “Hmm. Got a good attitude, anyway. I can probably pull a few strings at the spaceport. They’re always short handed.”

    I had nothing left to judge by, but somehow this just didn’t seem like the way that people usually treated someone who’d been fished out of a quadduck pond in the middle of nowhere. “Why are you doing this for me? You don’t even know me.” I don’t even know me.

    Nanda smiled and laid a hand on mine. “Because that’s what decent people do—help each other when they’re in need. This may be a frontier settlement in the back of beyond, but that’s no reason to forget what makes us civilized.” She looked up at Jaq as she said this, and I got the feeling this was a discussion they’d had before.

    He smiled down at her with genuine affection in his eyes. It softened his uneven features and made him seem less like he’d been around the Galaxy and back--twice. “When you’ve been around here a little longer, you’ll learn that Nan’s practically an institution here on Giaca,” he advised me. “A lot of us owe her for a lot of things. Heck, I owe her for more than just the bats. She’s a good judge of character for someone who spends most of her time with birds, so if she thinks you’re worth taking a chance on, then I guess I should.” Jaq’s warm smile flattened back into a wry expression as he leaned forward and tapped my shoulder firmly with one finger. “So don’t make me regret it. Finish up your dinner and I’ll show you where your room is.”

    __

    Jaq had a small apartment attached to the back of the cantina, and his spare room was hardly bigger than a good-sized closet. There was just enough room for a cot, a foot locker and a folding chair. The walls were bare gray plastoid, the floor bare wooden planks, and the bedding and the curtains on the tiny window were an industrial shade of off-white. All in all, the decor said “I keep this room for unwelcome guests”, but—I reminded myself—it wasn’t as if I had a lot of other options, unless I really wanted to sleep in the woods or maybe the parking garage next to Nanda’s speeder bike. “’Fresher’s the second door on the left,” Jaq told me, as he left me to contemplate my new accomodations. “I imagine you’ll want to get cleaned up.”

    “Thanks.” A shower or sonic sounded great right about now. My clothes had mostly dried, but they’d dried onto me, sticking uncomfortably in places, and they still had the greenish smell of pond water. I sighed when I took off my leather jacket; the orange nerf-hide was definitely the worse for wear after being dunked in the pond. I’d have to ask Jaq and Nanda if they had any ideas for getting it clean. Meanwhile, I folded it carefully and put it in the footlocker at the end of the bed for safekeeping.

    The ’fresher was just as tiny as my room, with hardly enough room to turn around in between the ’fresher, the sonic shower and the commercial-grade durasteel sink. The walls here were gray plastoid, too, with just a plain rectangular mirror hanging over the sink. It seemed that Jaq preferred to keep all his decorations in the cantina.

    The mirror reminded me that with all my memories hidden beneath the blanket of gray fog in my mind, I wasn’t entirely sure what I looked like. I took a deep breath and studied my reflection. A young man with olive skin, a straight nose, and dark blue eyes with thick brows stared back at me. A pair of neat, parallel scars, old enough to be well healed, slashed his left cheek. Overall, not a bad face, I thought, even if the medical paste and specks of pond weed in my untidy dark hair made me look like a poorly designed scarecrow.

    When I returned to my room, a small bundle of clothing sat on my bed. Pouncer was curled up on top of them; he gave me a sleepy, possessive smile when I came in that turned into a grumble when I pushed him off them. There was a note on top of the pile: “Thought you could use these—Nanda”. Below were several pairs of tesh tunics and shorts, a khaki shirt, a vest, and a pair of pants. I was grateful that I didn’t have to wear the same grubby clothing all night, and resolved to repay Nanda for her kindness as soon as possible.

    I pulled on a tunic and shorts, put the rest in my locker—and earned another grumble from Pouncer who informed me they were nicer than the bed Jaq gave him...didn’t I love him enough to share?—and crawled into bed. Whereupon Pouncer decided that my pillow also looked nice and curled up behind my head to “share” it.

    The bed wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as it looked, though it really wouldn’t have mattered if it had been. Despite the sagging mattress, the stiff sheets and the tooka hogging my pillow, I fell asleep as Pouncer groomed my hair.

    ———

    That night was the first night I heard the voices in my dreams.

    I was alone in an endless starscape, millions of points of lights in the infinite darkness, when I heard the whispers again, like I had at the pond when the door inside my head had opened just wide enough to let the voices through. They swirled around me faint and indistinct at first, like they were coming through a commlink on the wrong frequency. I chased after them, grasping at the threads of memory, but this time I caught something. The light of a distant star flared...

    “Karabast, it’s too quiet without the kid here,” came a deep, gravelly male voice.

    A sigh. A young woman’s voice. “I know; it’s just not right. Do you think he’s okay, wherever he is?”

    “We have to keep our hopes alive. I know it’s hard right now, but I have to believe that he’s all right.” Another female voice, a little older, rich with compassion...and sadness. “The Force is with him...and with us. I have to believe we’ll see him again.”

    And as suddenly as it had blazed, the star‘s light dimmed. The cosmic wind swirled and the voices were lost again among the whispers. I’m here, I called after them. I’m waiting! Come find me! But it was useless; my voice was lost to the winds, just like theirs.

    I woke up with a tear-soaked pillow and an anxious tooka peering into my face. I still didn’t know who those voices belonged to—my friends? My family?—but there were people out there who missed me.

    Who loved me.

    Somehow, I had to find them.

    _____
     
    Kahara, Sith-I-5, Gamiel and 3 others like this.
  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Jaq is a prickly one but I have a feeling underneath he's as warm hearted as Nanda. A Tooka that "speaks." ;) And that wonderful dream -- those VOICES... You almost want to reach out and touch them, say I'm here. @};-

    =D=
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018
  15. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Okay, my first guess about who he is was wrong. But I don't think I was wrong about him being a Jedi. Because I'm now about 90% sure that he's Ezra Bridger.
     
  16. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Finally catching up after suffering from a much-too-long-protracted spot of “beta who saw it all” syndrome—sorry about that. @};- What an intriguing tale you’ve set up here, with such an intriguing premise—you’re really taking your prompt sentence up to eleven with this, the way you’ve made that simple question “who am I?” not just the first sentence but the central question of the whole story.

    There are some very important clues along the way, though—little details about what “Dev Morgan,” this “unknown Human male,” sees, says, hears, and dreams—that invite us readers to file them away in our minds for later. I just love the way the clues start very subtle and sort of unfold, gradually and rose-like, to being more and more revealing. It’s as though we readers are experiencing the process of memory recovery right there along with Dev. (For us it may go more quickly, however... I won’t list all the exact clues that I’m basing this on, but I have a pretty good idea of who this Dev person might actually be... [face_thinking])

    Wonderful and vibrant new characters here, who in their way are familiar too: the caring Nanda, the harboiled barkeep Jaq, and (one of my favorites) Giles, the slightly owlish but sympathetic med droid—a fun and refreshing combination to see in a droid of that type. (As I mentioned in the beta, that’s a great name for him, as St. Giles is a patron for many different physical and mental conditions, as well as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.) And of course there are little aspects of each of them that are (rightly) familiar to Dev somehow... Amazing descriptions, too, of the setting—all the details about the basalt columns, the settlement, the pub, Dev’s room, the clothes Nanda leaves him, the voices he hears, all of it. You have done a fantastic job bringing what started out as an obscure RPG-guide outpost to life. (And of course, if you come up with any fanon along the way, you know where I would love to see it! :D )

    Great stuff here—a real tour de force in the works! =D= Can’t wait to keep following Dev as he continues to grapple with the question of the first sentence. I am sure the answer is not “I’m nobody.” :cool:
     
  17. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Yeah, "prickly" is a good way to describe Jaq. I don't think Nanda would be his good friend if he didn't have something worthwhile underneath the prickly exterior...and he does agree to take Dev in pretty quickly. There's definitely a clue in the "talking" tooka... and several in the voices. Dev's doing his best to reach out to them.
    All I can say is....[face_batting][face_whistling]
    Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying it :) I can't say too much about what inspired me to write this story, :p...suffice it to say SW lends itself to some intriguing circumstances under which a character might lose his memories and sense of self, and I couldn't resist running with one.
    Well. I didn’t want to give away the whole game at the beginning of the story! It’s going to be a gradual process for him, rather than a sudden epiphany, so I tried to sprinkle some clues in along the way, though I’d say at this point the reader recognizes more of these clues than Dev himself does. And since I know you’re good at picking up on those subtle details, I’m sure you do have a good idea of his real identity.

    Again, thank you, I’m enjoying populating this frontier outpost. They’re familiar to Dev with good reason...and those familiar aspects are clues, too! Giles is one of my favorites, too. There are so many snarky, cranky droids in the SW universe, I wanted to bring in a medical droid with a good (if a bit quirky) bedside manner. Looking at most of the med droids, they don’t seem like anyone (anything?) i’d want to be treating me, but Giles...he may be all metal, but he’s got a caring...er, processing unit. I’ve got some fanon ideas for the flora and fauna of Giaca that I’ll be sure to add to the Index when I get a little more of it together. Everything there is new to Dev—heck, everything is new to Dev, even his own image in the mirror! And no...he’s definitely not “nobody”, however lost and insignificant he feels right now.
     
  18. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thank you to @Findswoman and @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha for beta reading@};-

    Chapter 4

    Dev Morgan led a really boring life.

    Whatever I had done before coming to Giaca, it had to have been better than my life now. Since I was unable to claim any marketable skills, the only job I was could get at the spaceport was as a stevedore, loading and unloading cargo, and that was only because Jaq was there to harangue the manager, insisting that I was “a smart kid with a good attitude.”

    The spaceport manager was a Shorak with deep purple hair, and like a lot of them, he was stockier than your average Human. A muscle stood out on his thick neck as he looked me up and down. “It’s not like I’ve got a lot of other options,” he sighed at last. “Come on, you might as well get started. They’re already working the on ShoraCo ship.” He led me out onto the tarmac to where a pair of bulky workers—a tawny-furred Cathar whose thick gold mane was pulled back into a queue and a Shorak who made the spaceport manager look as delicate as a dancer—were unloading crates from a hammer-headed XS-800 light freighter. “I brought you two a new friend,” the manager announced and unceremoniously left me there, only looking back to advise my new co-workers. “Try not to scare this one off.”

    I held out my hand to the Cathar, who, despite being nearly two meters tall and having a pair of tusks protruding from his lower jaw, looked like the friendlier of the two. “Hey, Dev Morgan. Nice to meet you.”

    His grip was enough to crush rocks and the tips of claws that protruded ever so slightly from his fingertips poked my hand. “Name’s Kiume; this is Gerwazy Stagon.”

    “Just Gero.” The lunk-jawed Shorak’s hair was a faded, swampy green with several inches of muddy brown roots showing, and his massive biceps were tattooed with rings of symbols— jagged lines and spirals. He stopped wrestling with his precariously loaded grav-sled and scowled at me as if I was something the tooka had coughed up and left on his doorstep. “This scrawny kid is the kind of help they get us?” he snorted. “He’s gonna snap in two if he tries to keep up with me. And I ain’t doin’ his share of the work, too.”

    “Hey, I’ve moved my share of cargo.” I didn’t know why I said that, but it felt right, somehow. “And I know it’s not about working harder, it’s about working smarter. For example…” I reached over and disengaged a switch on the grav-sled’s handle. “If you take the emergency brake off, it moves a lot easier, even if you do have it stacked with twice as many crates as it’ll hold.” Gero shot me a look that could have dropped a bantha at fifty paces and whipped the sled around, causing several crates to topple off and nearly running me over as he stomped off to unload it.

    Kiume laughed, a snarling chuckle that sounded like he was going to rip into the bloody haunch of some unfortunate creature. “Nanda said to keep an eye on you, but I don’t think you need any help.”

    “You know Nanda?” Why did it not surprise me that she’d already put in a word for me? My mother, wherever she was, would be very glad to know that someone had taken over for her.

    “Everyone knows Nanda.” The Cathar bared his tusks and the rest of his very impressive array of teeth in a smile. He tossed a crate onto a nearby grav-sled like it was a child’s building block. “Even Gero behaves himself around her.”

    It took me a bit more effort, but I maneuvered another crate onto the sled. “So why are we doing this, anyway? I mean, isn’t heavy lifting like this something they usually let droids handle?”

    “Shows how much you know, Master Work-Smarter,” Gero called over, sneering, as he lolled against his grav-sled’s handle. “You just wait until we load these kriffers back up tomorrow, then you’ll see.”

    And I did, because when I arrived at the spaceport the next morning, the tarmac looked like a zoo. Crates and cages of birds and beasts lined the loading areas, everything from tiny jewel-colored birds smaller than humming peepers to huge snarling cats with spiraling horns in the middle of their foreheads. “What’s all this?” I asked Kiume.

    “Giaca’s main export—exotic wildlife. Crates of topatoes and power converters can take a bit of rough handling, but these…?” He gave me a toothy grin. “Watch yourself; most of ’em are venomous. Had to use the antidotes on Gero six times in the last year.”

    “And you?”

    Another feline grin. “Once.”

    “I’ll be careful,” I promised. I didn’t need to worry, though; over the next few weeks I discovered it wasn’t just tookas that liked me. It turned out I had an affinity to all animals, to one degree or another. Even if I couldn’t tell what a creature was thinking as clearly as I could Pouncer—who had taken up permanent residence in my room and claimed my pillow as his own—I could almost always sense its emotions. Most of the animals were nervous and frightened, and really, who could blame them, being caged and carted around? And more amazingly, it seemed like the animals could understand me, too. I talked to them while loading them onto their ships, soft, soothing nonsense, and it calmed down even the most agitated creatures.

    “Easy, easy...take it easy. It’s okay. Just stay calm…” Kiume had been struggling to get a pair of kabomani, three-toed ruminants with twitching snouts, aboard the livestock transport for nearly an hour, but as soon as I took their leads from him, they stopped bleating and balking and followed me docilely up the ramp, the female nuzzling my hand.

    “How’d you do that?” he asked, when it took me a scant five minutes to get them loaded in their stalls.

    “I guess I’m just good with animals,” I said, shrugging. I didn’t want to tell him that I had sensed their fear halfway across the tarmac or to explain how I knew that he smelled like the sabercats that hunted them and that’s why they’d been so panicked. I was enough of an outsider on Giaca as it was. “They just… seem to like me.”

    “That’s the only way you’re ever going to find a female who likes you, Morgan,” Gero sneered. He never just spoke; he always snorted or jeered or scoffed. We hadn’t hit it off that first day, and we continued not to hit it off. He constantly found not-so-subtle ways to remind me that I wasn’t built like a bulked-up bantha the way he was, and though that might have given him an edge unloading crates and canisters of supplies from ShoraCo, when it came to getting the exotic creatures loaded, I was three times as fast as him. He was a cargo-lading legend in his own mind and no one was allowed to be better at anything than him, especially a scrawny little peedunky from who knew where.

    Once I’d finished my shift at the spaceport, I would head back to the “Heads and Tails” for dinner and put in a couple hours cleaning tables before bed. “You don’t have to do this,” Nanda admonished me one night. “You’re already paying Jaq rent.”

    “Yeah, but what else am I going to do?” The first couple nights I’d gone back to Jaq’s tiny apartment, but there hadn’t been anything for me to do except fend off Pouncer’s insistent requests for me to feed him. “Not like I have a social life. You and Jaq are always here, anyway. Kiume would rather be left alone, and Gero…”

    “Is a square-headed idiot who thinks he’s Giaca’s gift to females,” Jaq put in as he set Nanda’s tea in front of her.

    She tsk-ed at him and frowned over her mug at me. “Still, you shouldn’t work yourself so hard. You ought to get out, now and then. I’d be happy to introduce you to some of the local—”

    “Thanks, Nanda, that’s okay.” I had a job and a place to stay, but Nanda was still my mother avian. She never missed an opportunity to check up on me when she dropped by the cantina in talk with Jaq, though she never quite came out and asked if I’d remembered anything about myself yet. I was grateful for that. I had nothing to tell her, at least nothing that wouldn’t make me look crazy.

    I heard the same three voices in my dreams nearly every night. From the snippets of conversation I overheard, I’d gathered that they were fighting someone, but even that knowledge didn’t help much. News of the outside Galaxy was slow to reach the Unknown Regions and particularly the remote Giaca. I felt like was getting to know them as I listened in on those little bits of their lives. The gravelly-voiced male grumbled about everything, but he had a softer side towards the other two. The young woman was confident and creative, always ready for action, The older woman was the one who kept them all together and kept them on track, but she wept quietly at night.

    And sometimes...sometimes it seemed like they were talking to me:

    “The top bunk’s still yours, kid. I’m keepin’ it for when you get back.”

    “You said you could always count on me...well, I counted on you, too!”

    “He’d be so proud of you. He was proud of you, you know, of how much you’d grown. I’m proud of you, too…”

    It went on like this for months.

    For six months I loaded cargo by day, cleaned tables in the evening, and listened to the whispers at night. For six months I read the cargo manifests hoping that I’d find a planet on one of them that would spark some recognition. For six months I chased after the voices in my dreams, trying to catch just one tiny glimpse of the people behind them. But no memories emerged, no visions appeared, and nothing changed. My humdrum existence as Dev Morgan dragged on, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that there had to be more to my life—more to me—than just this.

    And then the wolves came…

    And Akaela.
     
    Kahara, Gamiel, Vek Talis and 2 others like this.
  19. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Love this update.
    Kiume seems a friendly helpful sort but Gero :eek:
    This is an apt description of Jaq's:
    “Is a square-headed idiot who thinks he’s Giaca’s gift to females."
    Gero is a legend in his own mind it appears. :rolleyes:

    Then the "voices" -- I wanna hug every single one of them!!! [face_love]
    And say: "Here he is!" [face_laugh] [face_mischief]

    But ... [face_dancing] Akaela will change everything ;) -- that is truly a lovely name. :) =D=
     
  20. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Another wonderful chapter, and some wonderful new characters, too! I'm really liking the Giaca ocedarium you've established here. Kiume and Gero are very interesting counterparts; they both belong to the "big lug" character type, but they seem to represent the better and the worse aspects of that character type, if that makes sense. With Gero's constant scoffing and sneering and disparaging remarks, I do see what the manager means about "scaring off" previous help; it says a lot for our man Dev's spirit and resilience that he's not only not scared off but also able to speak right up to Gero about "working smarter." (And yes, even a total klutz like myself for whom three dimensions is two too many can tell that things just won't move unless the brake is taken off. :p )

    This chapter also introduces us to another important clue about who Dev may have been: his affinity for animals. For all Gero's scoffing, Dev really does turn out to be the right man for this particular job; empathy goes a much longer way than sheer musculature when you're dealing with frightened animals who have been displaced from their habitats (kind of in the same boat as Dev, really). Meanwhile, six months draw on—that is a long time to go with no inkling of recognition or memory forthcoming, whether from the cargo manifests or from the voices in his head. As to the voices, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha said it best:

    Absolutely feeling the same way. [face_love]

    But it seems that some kind of turning point may be right around the corner for our hero with the appearance of these wolves—and this mysterious Akaela! Can't wait to see what's next...
     
  21. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thank you! :) Yes, Kiume’s a laid-back, unflappable kind of feline. He’s big enough that he’s not intimidated by Gero’s bluster. “A legend in his own mind” is another good description of Gero :D He thinks he’s all that and more, when he’s really a few loads short of a full cargo hold. Not everyone on Giaca’s impressed with him, though.
    Thank you! Glad you’re enjoying all these new friends :D. Interesting observation about Kiume and Gero! They really are kind of the inverse of each other. Kiume’s more secure in himself, in a way. He’s big, he’s strong—it’s no big deal. He just does his work and is who he is. Gero on the other hand is darn sure you’re going to notice that he’s big and strong and younwill be impressed—but then again, that bulk seems to be all he’s got going for him. He certainly doesn’t have a winning personality! Dev’s neither impressed nor scared, but if you’ve figured out who Dev is
    you know that he’s not easily intimidated by big, surly lugs. Indeed, he’s not easily intimidated, period!

    It is a clue—and a very important piece of who Dev was (and is). He is a lot like these creatures, and that empathy along with his natural talent with animals lets him connect with them on a level that the others just can’t match. Loading cargo may not be the most glamorous job in the Galaxy, but Dev is doing a good work by making things easier for the animals.

    Perhaps when he regains more of his sense of self, Dev will be able to find a way to do that.

    Something Important is coming up! And Someone Important, too!
     
  22. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks to @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha and @Findswoman for beta reading@};-

    Chapter 5

    That Taungsday started off like any other day at the spaceport. Kiume and I were working on unloading the latest shipment from Shor. Giaca didn’t have much in the way of agriculture and next to nothing as far as industry, so a good part of our food and all of our technology had to be imported. Most of it came through ShoraCo, the state-run company the government of Shor had set up to colonize the planet. The days when the ShoraCo ships came in were our busiest. There was enough work unloading the XS-800 freighter to keep all three of us busy, but Gero had assigned himself to the smallest ship, a SCT scout craft, instead. Kiume never protested the way Gero divided the labor between us, and while this easygoing attitude annoyed me at first—why should Kiume and I always get the worst of the grunt work while Gero finished early and smirked at us from where he sat drinking in the shade?—but pretty soon I figured out there was a good reason behind it. The less actual work Gero did, the fewer messes there were for Kiume and I to clean up.

    Compared to loading Giacan wildlife for export, unloading was easy. It was back-breaking, sweaty labor, but it didn’t require a lot of thought. Once I got into a rhythm, I would go into autopilot, which was both good and bad, because it left my mind free to wander and try to tease clues out of the latest snatches of conversation that I’d heard in my dreams. That day, however, I couldn’t concentrate on anything—neither the voices from the night before nor the crates that were stacked in front of me. There was a feeling of misery in the air, like there sometimes was on the days we loaded the ships, only this was stronger, more personal, more aware than the caged creatures’ general miasma of fear. And there was a sound just on the edge of hearing, a mournful, keening howl that made me want to sit down and weep for all I’d lost.

    “You all right, Dev?” Kiume asked after I’d fumbled my third crate.

    “I think I need to take a break.” I rubbed my temples; the pressure of the unremitting misery was starting to give me a headache. “I’m going to go get a drink. Be right back.” Kiume nodded as he continued to stack boxes on his grav-sled.

    I’d hoped the pressure would ease after I got out of the confines of the crowded cargo hold, but if anything, it grew worse outside. The mournful cry was louder now; I tried to ignore it as I walked across the tarmac to the spaceport office. There was a canister of painkillers in the staff break room.

    And then I realized the howling wasn’t just in my mind.

    There were wolves on the tarmac, three of them—somehow I knew they were all female—each easily as tall as a Human. Their thick fur ranged from pale buff at their throats to dark, rusty brown tipped with black along their backs. They all wore harnesses, and they’d been tethered to the handle of a grav-sled, apparently for lack of anywhere better to put them. Looking at them, I knew that if they’d really wanted to, they could have taken off, pulling it behind them like a child’s snow-sled. It was only their own sense of propriety that was keeping these three in place. One fidgeted, pawing at the ground, a second licked and nibbled her toes repeatedly, while the third strained at her lead, her copper-colored eyes bright with worry.

    It was the fourth wolf, a young male, that was howling. He was somewhat younger than the three females, a dark, cloudy gray to their warm brown, and he was the source of the misery that pervaded the air. Gero was leading him down the scout craft’s ramp, or at least trying to. The wolf balked, whining softly; his head was lowered, his ears and tail drooping. He took a few steps backwards, and he was large and strong enough that he pulled Gero back with him. “Stupid kriffing dog!” Gero yelled. “Get down here, you blasted, borking fleabag, before I stun you and drag you down unconscious!” He yanked sharply at the young male’s halter, and the wolf yelped in pain and fear.

    I was halfway across the tarmac when the gray wolf’s head snapped up and his eyes—eyes like green fire—met mine.

    His family was gone—memories of blood, fire and pain accompanied that thought. He had a new pack now, and they were all right, but they weren’t his family. He didn’t belong. He was far away from his home, and he didn’t understand why. He was alone, afraid and everything was wrong.

    We were echoes of each other.

    I sprinted the rest of the way to the ramp. “Gero, let go,” I said, laying a hand on his shoulder as he continued to tug at the wolf’s harness. “You’re scaring him.”

    He shrugged it off with a growl. “Mind your own business. This is my job.”

    How can I explain what happened then…? That door in my mind opened again, but it wasn’t the voices that came through this time. It was a kind of Presence, a Power, and it poured out into my voice. “Stop.” And Gero did, his eyes glazing over. I didn’t stop to wonder what I’d just done, but took the wolf’s lead from his suddenly slack hand. “Come on,” I told the wolf, in the soothing voice I had used with the kabomani, the sabercats, and all the other frightened creatures that came through the spaceport. “It’s okay. I won’t hurt you.” I held out my hand to him; the cub gave a soft, interrogatory whine and stepped towards me…

    I’ve heard that some religions claim there are as many as nine hells—well, they all broke loose at that moment.

    Gero recovered from his momentary trance and seized me by the collar of my vest. He hauled me backwards, tossing me down onto the ramp. “Don’t ever talk to me like that again, you scrawny-shebs punk!” he snarled and yanked the wolf’s lead out of my hand as he aimed a kick at me. I dodged, rolling off the ship’s ramp and onto the tarmac with a thud.

    No! Anger overcame the wolf cub’s fear, and he bared his teeth in a fearsome snarl, lunging against his lead to snap at Gero. He staggered backwards, throwing up his hands to protect himself from the young male’s furious snapping, tripped and fell onto the ramp. The wolf seized one of Gero’s feet and began worrying it. Luckily, his thick work boots kept the cub’s teeth from sinking into his ankle, but Gero was not going to take any chances. He reached for the ugly snub blaster he always wore at his side.

    “No!” I scrambled up and sprang at Gero, jerking his arm aside just as he fired. The shot went wild, splattering against the scout craft’s hull with a crack, and the wolves went wild, too. The three on the tarmac, who had been mostly quiet until now, began to howl, a high, wild keening that made my hair stand on end. The lead female, the one who’d been straining at her lead, lunged and the others followed her. The grav-sled tipped over and scraped against the durocrete as they pulled it after them.

    Suddenly, there was a blur of motion and color as a young woman dashed across the tarmac and up the ship’s ramp to stand over Gero and me, her hands planted on her hips. “What’s going on here?”

    From her hair—a deep firestone red that shaded down into indigo and royal purple—I knew she was a Shorak, but she didn’t have the characteristic Shorak stockiness. She was muscular, but the way the wolves were muscular, the way a hunting cat was muscular. There was something untamed, almost elemental about her—something familiar, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

    And of course, because she was female, Gero took notice. He struggled to stand up, about as gracefully as a foundered bantha, and shoved me back down as he did. “Gero Stagon,” he said with an ingratiating smile. “I was just trying to get this creature off the ship when this laser-brain tried to take over and made it attack me!”

    “That’s not true! He was handling the cub too roughly and he was scared…”

    The girl cocked her head to one side; she wasn’t listening to us. She was listening to the wolf cub. She could hear him, I realized, the same way I could hear Pouncer. She set a hand against his forehead; his ears drooped and he whined, chastened, as she picked up the end of his lead. “Get away from him.”

    Gero snorted and smirked, nudging me in the ribs with a booted toe. “You heard her, Morgan. Go away.”

    She looked up at him as if she felt he was not quite the brightest pup in the litter. “Not him. You.” She poked him in the center of his burly chest with a finger. “Get away from my fenwolves, I’ll take it from here.” Gero gaped at her, spluttering for a minute, then glared at me like it was my fault this woman was able to resist what he viewed as his considerable charm and physical magnetism. I tried not to smirk as he stormed off, but he still attempted to stomp on my fingers with his thick-soled boots as he went.

    The girl regarded me curiously for a minute, and I noticed that her eyes were as copper as the female wolves’ eyes. Behind her, the cub whined quietly and nudged her shoulder with his nose, and, once again, I got the feeling she could understand him. “Thank you,” she said, as she led him down the ramp past me.

    “Hey, no problem.” I scrambled to my feet. If she could hear wolves, could she explain how I could understand animals like I did? If I knew why I had that ability, would it tell me something useful about myself? Where I came from, maybe? Was there a society where this was common? Even if she couldn’t give me any clues...well, it might be nice to have someone to talk to who wouldn’t think I was crazy. “Wait...what’s your name?”

    “Huh?” She looked up from untangling the females’ harnesses from the capsized grav-sled. “Oh...Akaela. Akaela Ranulf, pack-master. These are Lyka, Conri, Faola, and the cub. He doesn’t have a name yet.”

    “Uh, hi. I’m Dev Morgan.” I felt like I was introducing myself to the wolves as much as Akaela. The one she’d called Faola cocked her head to the side, while Lyka’s mouth opened in a lupine grin, her tongue lolling out. The cub wagged his tail. “I work at the “Heads and Tails” cantina, too. Maybe I’ll see you there some time.”

    “Maybe.” She finished unwrapping the leads and straightened them out. “I don’t really drink much.”

    “Oh…” It seemed to be more a statement of fact than a brush-off, still, I felt unreasonably disappointed. “We have...uh, tea and caf, too.” I winced at the hopeful lift to my voice. Karabast, she was going to think I was coming onto her like that creep Gero!

    She cocked her head again, mirroring the expression of an inquisitive wolf. Her lips curved into a smile, but before she could reply, the tarnished protocol droid that was in charge of customs at the spaceport trundled across the tarmac, waving its arms frantically. “Mistress! Mistress! You have not completed your immigration forms yet! I’m afraid I must insist that you…”

    Akaela sighed as the droid continued to intone the dire importance of her returning to the office to complete her flimsi-work at once. She started off towards the droid, all of the fenwolves trotting behind her. “I have to go now, but…” She looked over her shoulder and smiled, “Tea’s good. Maybe I will see you sometime.”

    I have to confess that I spent that evening watching over my shoulder while I cleaned tables, hoping that Akaela would show up, but she didn’t. I went to bed feeling discouraged and strangely restless; Pouncer grumbled that my tossing and turning was keeping him awake.

    That night I dreamt of wolves.

    They were different from Akaela’s fenwolves—larger, white and gray instead of brown, with strange patches of scaling on their brows and noses and down their legs. They ran across the moonlit plains of a planet so familiar that I knew it was my home. I was riding one of these strange-familiar beasts—the white wolf—and I wasn’t alone. The others, the ones whose voices I heard every night, were riding their own wolves behind me. As we ran through the night, the white wolf lifted his head to look across the grassland.

    Silhouetted in the moonlight was the largest wolf of all. He lifted his muzzle and howled to the silver moons above, a note that was so perfect—it was the music of the moonlight and the grassland and the wolves and everything—that I was awestruck. When the last echo died away, the wolf turned and I knew...he was watching over me, over all of us who were riding through that silver night. And he would… always.

    Notes:
    Fenwolves
    If you’d like to see what Akaela looks like:
    [​IMG]
     
  23. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Darling, darling Dev. [face_love] ;) He is definitely what the wolves of Giaca needed. And Akaela isn't a fool; even if she couldn't get the straight skinny from the wolves, she'd know Gero was a piece of work, full of himself and a bully along with it. :mad:

    And then Dev has a dream of wolves from his home-place. :cool:
    =D=
     
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  24. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    WOW—so not only can Dev understand the thoughts of animals he works with unloading and loading, but now he has encountered one who is, in some way like him—a young male who has been orphaned, cut loose from family and friends, alone and afraid and misplaced and not knowing why. That seems pretty momentous. (And the green eyes seem somewhat significant too.) And it of course makes Gero’s mistreatment of the poor beast hit him all the harder, though true to his plucky nature Dev takes the matter right into his on hands. And double WOW—did Dev just do...

    ...a sort of half-voluntary Affect Mind on Gero? That’s of course momentous too, in terms of establishing who he actually is...

    ...go him! =D= And go the wolves too, for holding their own against Gero until that truly amazing mistress of their shows up and REALLY tells him where he gets off—what a magnificent moment. With her elemental quality and her own beast-whispering abilities, she gives me a vibe similar to the one I got from San in Princess Mononoke, who was also accustomed to living with wolves, listening to them, and understanding them—even to the point of taking on some of their mannerisms a bit. (And here once again is where the drawing is an especially wonderful touch; bravissima once again on your multiple talents there. =D= ) But Akaela seems a lot less misanthropic than San, too; she clearly is grateful to Dev for his help and seems generally friendly toward those who respect her and her lupine charges. I’ll be interested to see if these two meet for tea. :)

    And these very different wolves from Dev’s dream...

    ...that’s a clue to his identity if I ever saw one. :eek: The fact that Dev is on a white beast seems like a clue, too, and that one really big guy with the beautiful howl... I’ll just say that I wager that he, too, has green eyes. :cool: [face_love]

    What a magnificent and poignant image that we and Dev are left with, and one that no doubt portends important things to come! Keep the WOWs coming, m’dear friend! =D=
     
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  25. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Okay, read chapters 1 and 2, and I have no clue who this dude is.

    No idea how @Ewok Poet figured it out.

    I'm not sure if his selective memory is deliberate or not.
    Indicating that he knows the standard holdout for an escape pod, could be accidental.

    The "Karabast" expletive threw me out, as I suddenly did not know if this was SW or Doctor Who, as the word featured heavily in a DW episode where a mind-sucking alien guarded the most secure bank in the universe.

    I liked Dev's acknowledgment that Virrta(?)'s camo gear being the reason he never spotted her before.

    I loved the incredible amount of detail that went into the settlement, particularly the Halfway Up bazaar. Outstanding work.

    Very good detail with his elusive memories.

    This colony settlement is much more multicultural than I am used to seeing in fic, so well done, I suppose. Are some of the vendors, locals?

    Just now, it occurs to me that someone explained the "Giles" reference to the med-droid, but that knowledge disappeared in a memory wipe. Perhaps no-one can be bothered to explain it yet again.

    Excellent tale.

    If it was not already written, it feels perfect for the 'under-represented' mod challenge.

    Well done. :xwing:

    Edit: Forget my own head if it wasn't screwed on. Meant to say, this place Shor; sounds a great place for shor leave. :p
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2018