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Saga - OT Cinders (Represent the Underrepresented Mod!Challenge | OC Anjie Mencuri | Spice-induced psychosis)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Ewok Poet, Jul 31, 2018.

  1. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Title: Cinders
    Author: Ewok Poet
    Genre: Drama
    Characters: Anjie Mencuri, Aldo Mencuri, Sooja Brie Mencuri, Agne Mencuri, Toora Mencuri - all OCs. Mentions of Queen Soruna.
    Timeframe: 4 ABY, right after the Battle of Endor, during Operation: Cinder
    Rating: PG-13 (disturbing description of psychosis)
    Length: One-shot
    Summary:

    A/N: This is one of my responses to the Representing the Underrepresented Mod!Challenge. People say that we should write what we know, which is the approach I utilised for both of my mod!challenge stories. I never experienced psychosis myself, but I run a mental health community and I have read some pretty, pretty disturbing things.

    ...

    Queen Soruna had ordered evacuation of both Theed and Keren a couple of hours prior.

    The threat level was ten and the danger was, as yet, of an unspecified kind. However, there had long been rumours that Palpatine, Darth Sidious, depends on who spoke of him – and some still spoke of him kindly – wanted to obliterate his homeworld and, eventually, countless of others that supported him, in case he perishes.

    And he perished on the second Death Star. The remaining loyal Imperials were not there to ask any questions. Their master was set to revenge his homeworld from behind his grave in the vacuum above the Forest Moon of Endor. And they had to go for it.

    Days later, Naboo, the once indestructible fortress world the Emperor himself hailed from was and where he hoarded art that was pleasing to him, yet anti-Empire and a reminder of the Old Republic in a way, was nearing its very last hours. Every single moment, the

    All sensors were jammed. The planet-wide blackout got all of the Naboo to panic, Humans, Gungans and refugees alike.

    Mellcrawler II with the yet-to-be-famed Nien Nunb was said to be coming to help the Naboo. But this was clearly going to be a race against time.

    …​

    Aldo Mencuri rushed his semi-conscious oldest son, Anjie to the orbital bombardment basement, followed by his parents Agne and Sooja and, shortly after, his second wife Toora and the three younglings, the youngest a baby joined them. He never thought that they would have been needing this, but his father knew a thing or two about tables turning at the end of wars.

    They sat down at the wooden table, while the still-psychotic half-Hapan was laid on the edge of the old conversation circle.

    “Buildings…collapsing…floods…” the voice echoed from the primitive radiophonic device. Aldo recognised the announcer as quite an iconic HoloNet personality of the days gone by, Pollo Dorks. That Gungan used to speak in all caps, or so the spacer legends said, but this time, he was almost whispering, terrified.

    “This is our end.” Toora said. “Even if we make it alive, there is a good chance that the torrential lightnings will consume all the gas we need to live. And we have no breath masks, this is atmosphere level one! We’re doomed.”

    Her mother-in-law was optimistic “Physicist, pfft. Of course that you always think the worst. In my days…”

    “Ah, I don’t care.” The woman cut the senior short. She had heard enough of the handmaidens in the past. This was neither the time nor place for klikking and klakking like a Force-damned buggy. Where did that expression come from, anyway?

    Meanwhile, Aldo was trying to stop his eldest son from whatever he had been doing. His and Toora’s younglings were too scared of Anjie to help. He was almost emaciated, but when he had his…what they were, seizures, attacks or something else…there was no way of calming him, as if he had suddenly gained the strength of a Sith Lord.

    And only he knew his pain, the price he was paying for the years of spice and alcohol abuse. There had not been a thing that didn’t get into his mouth, nostrils or veins. He loved them all and they cost him his sanity, as well as much of his arm flesh. And his cybernetic grafts made him even stronger when something would trigger his episodes.

    But yes, only he knew his pain.

    “Anjie…” the voice echoed in his head. Tosh Correl, his not-really-an-idiol, whom he had to worship more than he wanted, because people from IdleChord had said so.

    “Anjie…” there was another. Neb. The one whose death he blamed himself for. His best friend. No, that was not true. His spice-buddy.

    The others were to come along.

    Many, many of them.

    The voices multiplied faster than a Gungan could say “boopjak”. And he could no longer keep them for himself. He spoke and the tone and colour of his voice ranged from quiet to loud, from deep to falsetto.

    “Yes, I considered that.”

    “No, I would never do such a thing!”

    “Please, turn off the light, my eye hurts.”

    “Robas become poodoo toka nuts and they need to die.”

    “I am the Universe and I order you to submit to me.”

    “Stab your Inquisitors with a lightsaber through his or her eye.”

    Aldo swallowed a lump. He had to do something. The things his son

    “Anjie, is it them again? The voices?”

    “There are 400 of them, father and they’re all in my head. It’s a choir. A glorious choir, but threatening…”

    “Tell them to go away.”

    Anjie’s legs moved, as if he had been running. Then he started flapping his arms.

    “Did they leave?” Aldo asked, with traces of hear in his voice.

    “No, I left! There I am, on the orbital bombardment shelter ceiling, father! Travelling to the moons of Iego, to meet the Angels.”

    “No, Anjie…you are right here, with me.”

    “They’re called Datharim.” Toora threw in, with a pout. “No such thing as an Angel.”

    Just as Aldo was about to tell his wife not to be so cruel, there was a powerful groundquake somewhere nearby. Or a lightning. Or something else. Everybody fell down, the father managing to catch his son before he could even get hurt.

    Toora screamed. “The planet is crumbling! The Gods, help us. Help!”

    “Ha!” Sooja clapped her hands, as she got up from cold the duracrete floor of the shelter. “There is no such thing as non-believers in copek-holes. You are about as smart as a clodhopper!”

    “Shut up, you drooling blarth-mouth of a Dathomir witch, will you!”

    “I kriffin’ won’t, I can assure you.”

    “I always knew you preferred that Hapan…prostitute, Gwynda, who didn’t even have a last name of her own, but get off my starship, you old batha cow, will you? Do me a kriffin’ favour.”

    Sooja got up and hurled an empty bioplast container at her daughter-in-law. Agne then slapped her upside her face, albeit not with full force. That never happened before. Was the shelter and the fear of immediate doom bringing out the best of them. One of the younglings spat at the other, too.

    “Ha-ha, grandma said blarth. I am now drooling on you!”

    “Eat Gungan mud and die, you poor maternal unit kriffer!”

    “Go become a protocol droid for the ANGRY MACE syndrome, you…canine.”

    Aldo had no way of stopping these six angry beings. This was a disaster waiting to happen and he found himself wishing for all of them to be obliterated and for their death to be quick and painless.

    “Stop, stop now!”

    Nobody listened.

    “Hey, what’s going on here?” a timid voice came from the other end of the shelter.

    Anjie got up and spoke in his normal voice.

    “I can see, daddy. I can see. I can finally see.”

    “W…what are you talking about, Anjie?”

    “We will be all right. Queen Soruna got in a spaceship with some woman who just got pregnant and a couple of others, one of them will die in a couple of years and leave a plucky dark-haired boy with his father. He-he, he is going to be arrogant and a manly man, unlike…I don’t know, me. Or grandma.”

    Sooja was about to ask where the latter had come from, but Agne put a hand on her mouth. Anjie took a deep breath, wheezing from too many cigars, then coughed, spat out and continued.

    “An ugly ship came and helped, too.”

    “Ugly ship?” One of two girls was trying hard not to laugh. “UGLY SHIP?”

    “Yes, ugly ship. You don’t have to believe me. But I just know.”

    “He did this before, Aldo.” Agne crossed his arms. “He did this back when Gwynda and you were too busy with work. I kept some of his drawings. They are disturbing. But it was childhood imagination…or so I thought. Perhaps somebody should have a look at him again.”

    Toora made a dismissive gesture. “No. These are the leftovers of his spice withdrawal and they’re triggered by outside events, since his thinking patterns are still disrupted by psychotic elements of his damaged grey matter.”

    “Do you have to talk about our grandson that way?” Sooja was clearly irritated.

    “It’s science, grandma Handmaiden. Science. The only truth there has ever been. No hookey religions involved. I can assure you that Darth Vader had psychosis, too. And the Jedi Knights.”

    “That was not what you claimed when the ground shoke a couple of minutes ago.” The old woman tried hard not to giggle. Not what you claimed at all.” She then proceeded to kick her husband. “And you, you’re never going to hit me again, droid-brain. I have been trained to restrain you.”

    Agne was baffled. He had no recollection of hitting anybody.

    “And don’t tell me to shut up, ever. I’ll show you your place, man.” She crossed her arms and then walked over to Anjie, who was now sitting upright. “Are you all right, Angel?”

    Tooja wanted to say that nobody should be using nicknames that were reminiscent of alleged beings and spacer tales, that would’ve clearly fed Anjie’s psychosis. Or schizophrenia. Or schizo-unbalance disorder. Whatever! Sooja was clearly somewhat demented. Poor woman.


    Three days later, Anjie sat at the bank of Lake Varum, at the very edge of Keren. A couple of craters dotted around the city’s suburbs did not seem to be catching his attention. He was determined to, according to his grandmother’s advice, reset his life – whatever his non-believer father may have thought of such a “hookey” tradition. The fact that he was right about everything that happened only further motivated him to do it.

    Wearing his father’s old coat and trousers two sizes too large, he lit a pyre.

    “I might never fully adjust. But I want to live, regardless of how ugly the world is.”

    He threw a Sabbac card on the pyre.

    “Neb, this is for you. I will never forget you.”

    The card burned down last, oddly enough. But Nebula Fawkes did not burn with it. And Anjie was aware of that, despite how fragile his mind had been.

    Oh, and Soruna, Soluna, whatever…was a nice name. He liked it!
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
    GregMcP, Kahara, AzureAngel2 and 2 others like this.
  2. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Call his episodes seizures or attacks, they are connected to both his mind-altering spice addiction and to his sensitivity. The stress of the attack, the imminent destruction of their world, their unspoken knowledge that the shelter is a desperate farce, these disagreeing people - all that stress into one room. And Anjie may not be aware of precisely what is going on but he can surely sense the fear and agitation. He has a finger in the river of the Force, and it clarifies things for him at the most surprising times, so the emotions here and on the planet as a whole must have exacerbated his condition.

    Anjie, who is about as blind as a cave-bat, sees the universe so differently from us all. He sees into things, beyond things.
    I'm not sure who he is talking about but he is clearly having a vision here, and it is not just of what happened already, but what is happening right now and what will happen in the years to come.
    And here is the proof that Anjie's vision was true. The planet did not get destroyed. They survived. (I like the idea of the Naboo tradition of reseting one's life...;))

    The last part, where he thinks about Neb again - that is so sad.
    I'm sure that card was the Queen of Air and Darkness, the sabbac card that Neb clutched as he died in the barroom in your brilliant Death, Life and Other Goals . In a way, this is a rebirth for Anjie. He has burned the connection to his former friend, and to the life the two of them possessed, spice-crazed chaos. His being right about the vision has led him to decide to reset his life, and to reset his life he must bury (or in this case, burn) the past. He will never forget Neb, and he will never forget the man that Anjie once was himself - how can he? They are a part of him. But he will move forward and find a new path- his own path.

    Really nice addition to the Anjie universe!
     
  3. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Hum, after reading that I should take some time in the weekend to peak a bit more into that Anjie universe of yours.

    But first of all I need to re-read the entire story. Just to understand all the various levels it has. The head of an addict can be a dangerous and confusing place, right?!?
     
  4. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    There could not have been a worse time for Anjie to have a psychotic episode, could there? In the midst of the loyal Imperials wreaking revenge on Naboo for their master’s death at Endor (you might want to add a note about Operation Cinder; I initially thought Palpatine was somehow causing the ecological disaster from beyond the grave until I looked up Naboo’s history on the Wook), he has a psychotic break. Caused by withdrawal from spice? His Force-sensitivity reacting to the atrocities happening around him? A little of both? The timing is especially unfortunate because his family, who don’t really know what to make of Anjie at the best of times, are too busy hurling insults at each other to be of much use. In a way it’s understandable that the fear and anger the Mencuri family is experiencing at this moment leads them to their own little “dark side”, but in another, wow, you’d think you’d be a little kinder to your family members, even the ones you didn’t particularly like, if you thought these might be your last moments alive! It’s interesting that it’s Aldo, who hasn’t exactly been a model father, who’s the most sympathetic to Anjie, while Sooja, who’s usually the one who stands up for Anjie, is too busy sniping at her daughter-in-law and kicking her husband for imagined offenses. It’s like the bombardment has turned the world upside down and inside out—and the chaos on the outside mirrors the turmoil in Anjie’s mind. I kind of don't blame his already edgy family for being a bit freaked out when Anjie
    repeating the words he hears from the voices, some familiar, some nonsensical, or for being a bit nonplussed by Anjie's vision of the queen.
    (I'm guessing that this
    refers to Poe Dameron and the "ugly ship" might be the Millennium Falcon?)

    And of course I recognize the callbacks to your other works in the scene where Anjie "resets his life" according to his grandmother's tradition--the sabacc card from "Life, Death and Other Goals" that he found on Neb's body and
    . Yup, enough to name a child Soluna :D Resetting his life here does work in a way, or at least it marks a turning point for Anjie, allowing him to let go of the past and start taking steps towards a new future.
     
  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellently intense! The mad jumble of the literal events echoing the chaos of all those voices! :eek: =D=

    Admirable courage Anjie has to reset his life, because he could also decide to stay stuck or even let things get worse... [face_thinking]
    @};-
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018
  6. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    I didn’t know that the assault on Naboo was canon! Thanks, @Raissa Baiard for clarifying. And now that I went on the Wook I get his vision: he’s definitely talking about Shara Bey and Leia and their crew, and the “dark-haired boy” left with his father is Poe.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018
  7. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Interesting tale.

    Good job at keeping the voices separate, and the father made a valiant attempt to keep his eldest grounded and supported.

    Until the timid voice called out from elsewhere in the shelter, I was beginning to think I was mistaken, and this was their personal shelter.

    Interesting idea having cyber grafts replacing skin taken by the addictions.

    Well done, putting this together.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018
  8. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    I apologise to everybody for missing footnotes and introduction. This will be added to both stories - I didn't mean to confuse anybody here, especially not in this kind of a challenge! I just get distr...OH, SHINY!
     
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  9. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    The return of Anjie! [face_dancing] And this story packs an especial punch, given the time of his life during which it occurs—I originally started this comment off with “Hooray, new Anjie story!,” but definitely not hooray for the state he's in, and all the more so given what is happening to his family’s homeworld at this disastrous time. This is the first time I, at least, have seen him at the height of his addiction—one of the darkest parts of his life, and all the more so during Operation Cinder. I don't know enough about drug addiction and drug-related psychosis to be able to comment on that side of things in detail, but whatever’s going on inside his mind seems to be the internal equivalent of what’s going on outside, in various ways: just as his world has been turned upside down by this orbital bombardment (and it takes a lot to get the exuberant Pollo Dorks talking in whispers!), his own mind is close to exploding from the pain and the din of all the “voices” he hears. (All 400 of them—it’s interesting that he states the exact number, and I wonder if it’s symbolic somehow.) The experience is almost an out-of-body one for him, as he sees himself traveling upward from the shelter toward the moons of Iego to meet the angels; could the drugs that have broken and ravaged his body be providing him with a vision of transcending his body? That’s sure what it looks like.

    It’s wonderful to see Aldo's better side, and his levelheaded side, come through here as he stays beside his son and talks calmly to him, even as the tragic situation they’re in seems to be bringing out the worst in the rest of his family: Sooja and Toora are too busy sniping alternately at Anjie and at each other, then Agne and the youngsters (previously too scared to even notice their big stepbrother) join in and all Seven Hells break loose. Aldo is also the one who listens and takes it to heart when Anjie comes to himself and foretells (I guess it is?) the events and people who will bring Naboo back to safety (while the others are still all snarking and sniping—unsurprisingly for them, I guess). As Raissa noted, it looks like Aldo ended up being one of the principal catalysts in Anjie’s decision to reset his life; he saved his son’s life, really.

    Finally, what a wonderfully poignant end scene, with Anjie lighting the pyre in that devastated Naboo landscape and burning the past away—and throwing that one card onto it in memory of one of his best friends. (Not just his spice buddy, not just!) And of course neither Neb nor Anjie will ever fully burn away, no matter how ugly the surrounding world may be. And I caught his mental note about the name Soruna/Soluna—filing that away, for sure! ;) Remember that “Ahsoka Lives” shirt? Well, I say, “Anjie Lives." And he does now more than ever. :cool: Thanks so much for sharing with us this pivotal point in the life of this vibrant and ever-intriguing character! =D=
     
  10. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    EP - Another excellent work, as always, this time from a part of Anjie's life I don't recall seeing before (that's just me, though).

    It's good to see Aldo trying to be a better father, here, and the end scene with Anjie remembering Neb ... ^:)^
     
  11. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Wearing his father’s old coat and trousers two sizes too large, he lit a pyre.

    “I might never fully adjust. But I want to live, regardless of how ugly the world is.”

    He threw a Sabbac card on the pyre.

    This is a wonderful statement about life in common. You always hide pearls of philosophy in your fics, @Ewok Poet. And the parole to go on, no matter what the odds are. Thank you for sharing this!
     
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  12. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    WOW, this is not what I was expecting! :eek: I didn't realize Naboo had this history in the new canon and it was really surreal to open with the planet under such a serious attack. The whole intro is really well done and makes the situation outside feel truly apocalyptic, which then reflects the collective breakdown of the Mencuri family in the orbital bombardment basement... which undoubtedly all feeds into Anjie's terrifying experience of spice-induced psychosis.

    This was truly unnerving and it was easy to see why Anjie's whole family seems so out of control -- they have too many reasons to expect that this might really be the end for their world.

    The barrage of conflicting voices is really effective here, and it sounds pretty realistic for someone having really negative and intrusive auditory hallucinations. The way that they all rush in together after the first two -- both of which Anjie has some guilt about for different reasons -- is quite intimidating and it's no wonder that he becomes overwhelmed. That Anjie is then out of the proverbial frying pan and into the fire with his increasingly detached experiences is clearly terrifying for Aldo; it's both surprising and not to see how protective he is of his son here, given his dismissive attitude most of the time.

    Whoa. I seriously did not expect these sorts of antics from Anjie's normally straitlaced Naboo family, but the way it all falls apart here feels very believable. It's interesting that the moment of greatest chaos for the rest of the Mencuris -- the one where it feels like things are on the verge of turning into a familial bar fight -- precedes Anjie's moment of insight and calm. In some way, it seems like his latent abilities have come to his rescue even as they also tormented him earlier with eye-stabbing of Inquisitors and the whole shebang. But I like that that moment feels like it had to be reached for like the surface of a raging ocean, that it didn't come easily.

    I really like the complexity of Anjie's experience here. It feels very multi-layered to have it so clear that his condition is not 100 percent mystical -- which sometimes is a trope or stereotype around the mentally ill and can in a way make light of the real challenges of coping with such experiences. He really does seem to be having a form of psychosis given the way that it manifests and the weird, negative messages that come with it. It's not an easy thing to go through and it really is frightening to those around him. (Especially given the already stressful situation they're all in!) But he also really does know things about what is going on outside and is aware of when and why the threat outside has passed.

    It's a really sobering thought that Anjie will probably always have the possibility of episodes like this, even though it probably doesn't help at all that his spice addiction is so recent. I don't doubt that it still affects him later on to have been through that, even though he seems to have mostly recovered. But it's also hopeful to see that he's finding something positive in the aftermath and choosing to interpret his visions in a way that can help him move forward. That really shows the resilience that is as much a part of his character as the vulnerabilities and self-consciousness.

    Wonderful ending! @};-
     
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