Saga - PT [DDC 2018] "Even Without a Voice", Ahsoka Tano Diary, Song!verse - New Updates!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Mira_Jade , Jul 2, 2018.

  1. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh there are so many tangled emotions here, especially between Obi-Wan and Anakin and Ahsoka - which I am going to dive right into with the next update. In the end, both parties are right and wrong and there's no clear cut, right answer. It's a tangled web to unweave but I'm determined to do it in this story! Our heroes deserve nothing less. ;)

    And this is a bit too early in canon for the pair we know and love . . . but there is most certainly a connection that I can't wait to share. [face_whistling] ;)

    As always, I thank you so much for reading, my friend, and hope that you continue to enjoy! [face_love][:D]

    Yep - Ahsoka really is on the short end of so many sticks right now. But don't worry, she has people who still love her and its going to be okay in the end. We just have some angst to muddle through in the beginning. :p

    Thank-you for reading, as always! :D [face_love]

    Oh, always! There's never any doubt. And, your reviews are always worth the wait, so I can't thank you enough for the time and insight you put into leaving your thoughts! [face_love][:D]

    In many ways, TCW, like Rebels was written with a younger audience in mind, but it was so very mature in the way it handled Palpatine's growing influence and control over the galaxy. And, this is the Republic that will give birth to an Empire where anti-non-Human sentiment is the norm. Even the anti-Jedi sentiment was building in a way that the public would easily believe them as traitors and at first welcome an Empire who was 'saving' them from the classes of beings who were the 'cause' of all of their woes. It was really subtle, fantastic writing, and it was even more fascinating to watch as someone who knows the end result. So it's equally sad but complex to kinda dive into here. [face_thinking]

    There's such a marked difference in Anakin of Season 5 and 6 of TCW - losing Ahsoka really, truly haunted him. Especially as he made her leaving personal: *I'm* asking you to come back, he changed from the council is asking you back when he tried to return her Padawan beads. He took her leaving so bitterly hard - and it really laid a fertile ground for the Anakin of RoTS that's sadly right around the corner. I honestly didn't identify with Anakin much at all through the PT alone, but TCW gave me all sorts of love and depth and empathy for his character - and you know how much I adore exploring his thoughts and relationships with others now. :p

    Oh, Obi-Wan! :( He can't help but be a dear - he really has the best intentions, even if Ahsoka is far from a good place mentally where she can appreciate that. One of the most heartbreaking things during the plot arc with Ahsoka's trial was watching Obi-Wan's facial expressions. He's so grieved and torn but his hands were tied. There's this moment, right after Ahsoka shares her decision to leave where he tries to follow her and Anakin out, but he's physically held back by Plo Koon to give them their space and it breaks my heart. All this man wanted was to just keep his family together. You know what? I'm just going to share that scene here. It's one of the most moving scenes of the entire series, and the dialogue and lighting and music and facial animation are all just - gah, I absolutely adore this show. If you watch nothing else of TCW, this is the best three minutes and worth the view, hands down:

    That really is one of the most interesting aspects of the First Person POV - here we just have Ahsoka's thoughts and opinions as a lens through which to view the plot. And while she's most certainly entitled to her hurt and her anger, it's just her side of the story we are seeing and its hard for her to think objectively when she's so deeply emotionally invested in the situation. It's actually a hard balance to achieve as a writer - because she's certainly not an angry bitter character, but she's dealing with those feelings to an extreme degree now. I'm trying to walk a fine line before too much is too much. But, at the very least, she's most certainly going to grapple with some definitely grey decisions coming up - just you wait! [face_mischief]

    I love my dear broken boys so stinkin' much - as I'm sure you've heard me go on about at length now. :p I will have this lot stick together through anything, and you can't tell me that Ahsoka and Rex didn't keep in contact through her year away. It's the canon of my heart, and I refuse to shake it until I'm told otherwise. (That was honestly a big bummer for me in Rebels - what do you mean Ahsoka and Rex fell out of contact for so long after surviving Order 66 together??? Common fanon honestly thought he was going to help her in her role starting the Rebellion before Rebels officially said otherwise. Retiring and fishing in the desert? Nah. Not my Rex. It's still OOC and wasted plot potential in my book. But then, maybe I'm biased. ;) :p)

    This is certainly an opportunity for Ahsoka! One I'm not going to say much about here but to say that the Force isn't going to let her not be herself for too long. Being a Jedi, even without the title, is too much ingrained into her bones just for her to back away quietly. But that we already know and love about her. [face_love]

    And this Human/Wookiee duo is almost kinda indeed an 'unlikely meeting' that I at first hesitated to add for just how much of a small world I am making this galaxy far, far away - again. But, in the end, I decided that I didn't care about improbability and decided to just write what I wanted anyway. The names in the next chapter are Legends!canon, rather than Disney, but they most certainly are not OCs - a trip through the Wook will give you a nice background if you want spoilers. If not, sit back and I can't wait to surprise you! [face_love]

    As always, I thank you so much for reading and hope that you enjoy this story as it unfolds. [:D]

    Alrighty, dear readers, there will be more up in just a few minutes! :D
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  2. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    Entry VI

    The Human’s name was Larrad Shrike, and he was planetside on behalf of his brother Garris Shrike, captain of the Trader’s Luck. The Wookiee by his side was a male named Isshaddik, a hired security consultant for the brothers’ crew – in their words, at least. Currently, Larrad and Isshaddik were scouting the docks for extra hands to supplement a job, just as Roneb had implied. After a few minutes’ conversation – and obviously recognizing my face from the ‘Net, Larrad offered me both a wage and a place on the ship, a ship whose final destination was Corellia.


    The chance of getting off planet sounded like too good an opportunity to pass on by. Passage away from Coruscant, all the while working a job that promised a neat stash of credits to last me until I found a steady flow of work? It would have been easy to assume that the Force was pushing me in the right direction. Still, I was leery. What, exactly, were the Shrikes delivering that needed the extra kind of assistance a former Jedi could provide? The black market was thriving with the war spanning across the Mid and Outer Rims, I knew, and my stomach churned for even the idea of protecting a cache of weapons or a supply of illicit substances or worse -

    “ - no, no, no. It’s nothing like that at all!” Larrad actually laughed at my dubious inquiries. He was large for a Human – he stood a head taller than even Anakin, and was twice as broad across the shoulders with a girth to his belly that promised strength rather than excess weight. He spoke from deep within his chest in a voice that rumbled across my montrals. “The cargo is simply . . . sensitive, culturally speaking. Moving the merchandise through the usual channels would cost almost as much as the load is worth, so we’ve been hired to provide alternate logistics. That cultural significance makes it a pretty target for all sorts of unsavory folks on the hyperspace lanes – so it’s only prudent to welcome an extra hand who’s handy with a weapon. Even the official shipping companies are not so foolish as to venture out unprotected these days.”

    And there his eyes glinted to look me up and down. “I’m not able to tell you more than that unless you’re accepting the job, of course.” That he told me that much was a sad testament to how far I’d fallen from the pedestal of peacekeeper as a Jedi Knight. He felt safe in my inability to bring his work any sort of harm. “If you’re interested, meet us back here at 0500. We shuttle out to the Luck with the cargo then.”

    Alternate logistics, I made a face. No matter how prettily Larrad wrapped his words, this was still an illegal job, in its own way. He was asking me to try my hand at smuggling, by its simplest definition – covertly moving cargo around the official shipping companies the Republic had decided to award contracts to in and out of Coruscant, all the while doubly avoiding the high taxes on imports and exports that currently paid for a great deal of the war effort. But, on the other hand, I was also more than aware of the corruption in the approved shipping companies – the subject was one Master Obi-Wan had brought up while debating the scope of the war when we partnered with Master Windu’s battalion (with Master Fisto instigating the verbal sparring, of course). The prices the shipping companies demanded for interplanetary transportation were extraordinarily high, even more so than what inflation alone could excuse. Pirates and other unsavory sorts trolled the hyperspace lanes looking for transport ships to pillage between the active battlegrounds, the companies usually defended their exorbitant tolls - and that wasn’t even counting the Separatist ships who were always eager to make off with Republic goods. They needed to demand hefty fees to ensure their wares were protected, and that protection came at a price. If this crew was honestly transporting something of cultural significance – something that, even with their pretty payday was worth getting off planet at the Shrikes’ prices over the approved alternatives . . . could that be worth turning a blind eye to?

    Master Kenobi and Master Windu had come to an impasse on the subject, I remembered – there was no way that I was going to solve one of the Republic’s most irksome problems in the few minutes I spent talking with Larrad Shrike.

    In the end, I turned away from them and said I’d think about the offer. And that much was true – I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind. As I ascended the levels, my thoughts were spinning without coming to any sort of helpful conclusion. The earlier nudge I’d felt from the Force was gone; its presence had disappeared completely after leading me to Shirke. What a fat lot of good you are, I wanted to sigh for its fickle input. Instead of shining its light on one path or another, the Force had gone oddly static, almost as if it was waiting for me to make a choice. I could feel a sense of expectation pluck against my senses, leaving me tense and on edge for its lingering aura of waiting. Or, maybe I was imaging things completely and didn’t actually have the ability to see where the Force wanted me to go from here. My footing was far from sure, and I doubted myself.

    So, with the Force refusing to be helpful, I tried to reason my way through my dilemma. Technically speaking, this job was illegal – there was no way around that. Smuggling under the noses of the approved logistics companies was against the law . . . but the laws in place were currently protecting the greedy and the corrupt, and hurting citizens who did have honest needs for shipping their wares. And this was a job moving culturally sensitive material . . . could I actually be helping someone by bending the rules, just a little bit? Could those ends justify the means? But, on the other hand, was I being naïve by believing Shrike’s supposed motives in the first place? How was I supposed to trust that the shipment was as innocent as he implied? Should I just forget that any of this had ever happened and go back to looking for honest work? I’d almost convinced myself that I should.

    Yet, look for honest work where? I was slowly exhausting my options on Coruscant, and I couldn’t stay in Dex’s storeroom forever. I’d already stayed so much longer than I wanted to in the first place, and it was beyond time to move on. If I closed my eyes to the technically wrong aspects of this job, I could be on Corellia in three day’s time, and free to start my search over there. Corellia was a neutral system with a strong ship building industry and a much lower cost of living than Coruscant – that’s why it had been on my list of potential worlds to relocate to in the first place. I was reasonably certain I could eek out some sort of living for myself there, and my ability to reach that next step was now just before me and ready for the taking.

    But, was I trying to reason out something that was wrong as right, just to justify what I wanted to do? I was afraid that I was, and I was torn as I finally made my way up from the darkness of Coruscant’s lower levels for the respectability of CoCo town again. I didn’t know what to do, and my indecision frustrated me.

    Maybe it was a testament to how torn I was that I failed to notice the robed patron sitting at the counter, nursing a cup of tea and softly chatting with Dex. I didn’t even look up as I walked through the door, and it wasn’t until I felt that cloaked presence flare out, ever so slightly, that I realized the error in my calculations.

    Apparently, Master Kenobi hadn’t followed when I ran. Instead, he’d remained in the diner to await my return. He stood when I entered, and turned to stare at me. For a moment, he seemed unsure of how to greet me, and I had a flash of insight that said that he wasn’t cloaking his presence to hide from me, per se, so much as he was trying to disguise just how turbulent his own emotions were. His eyes were very bright, and painfully blue as they fixed on me.

    I could pass him by, I knew then, and he wouldn’t follow me – Dex wouldn’t let him follow me, at that, I knew from the deceivingly laid back way the Besalisk was drying off dishes behind the counter. Right on the heels of that thought, Dex lifted a brow above his narrowed eyes to glance at me with a silent question. No matter his friendship with Obi-Wan, he’d see that my wishes were honored if I decided that I wanted to be left alone.

    . . . and I wanted to be left alone, that much I knew without having to think about it. But I’d been on the run from so much, lately, in so many different ways. Since leaving the Jedi Order I’d been silent too many times when I should have spoken my mind instead. Maybe this was one conversation I needed to have.

    Even so, I folded my arms over my chest and tilted up my nose so that my crest of montrals made me look taller than I actually was. I knew that my expression was far from welcoming. “Did you really wait here for me all day?” I asked instead of greeting.

    “Does that truly surprise you, Ahsoka?” Of course he answered my question with a question of his own. But his words drew me up short. Once, his actions wouldn’t have surprised me in the least - I’d expect nothing less, even. Yet, now . . .

    I didn’t bother with a reply. Instead, I pursed my a mouth in a thin line as I brushed past him in order to continue on towards my little sanctuary in the storeroom. As much as I didn’t offer a clear invitation to follow, I didn’t tell Obi-Wan not to come. He fell into step behind me after only a moment’s hesitation. I flashed Dex a small, weak smile as I passed, letting him know that I was okay. Briskly, Dex nodded, and that was that.

    Once the door of the supply room shut – and discreetly placed us out of view from Dex’s patrons, I turned and crossed my arms to bluntly ask, “What do you want?”

    It took Obi-Wan a moment to gather his words. Instead of immediately answering, his gaze fixed on the small space that Dex had helped me make my own. His eyes traced over the insta-mattress with the blankets I hadn't made up that morning, to the empty wire rack that held my paltry few belongings. His stared at the two painted vambraces, and understanding flickered in his gaze when he saw Jesse’s sketchbook. But then he frowned at the full shelves of canned goods and cleaning supplies and extra plasti-paper products that dominated the space. There was a lingering scent of fryer grease and disinfectant in the air from the nightly cleanings – a combination I was going to be hard pressed to forget, but one I no less appreciated for the welcome and understanding it’d offered me when few others had.

    So, I met Obi-Wan’s stare head on, and all but dared him to comment on the little bit of belonging I’d managed to claim for myself. Dex’s kindness was more than I needed for the time being, and I wouldn’t stand for him judging me.

    “What do I want?” Obi-Wan repeated, more to himself than to me. “I want you to come home, Ahsoka - back to the Temple and back to the Jedi Order. Surely you must know that.”

    If the Council wants me back so badly, maybe you shouldn’t have made me leave in the first place, was my first, thoughtless reply – somewhat cruel in its honesty. If my trial had concluded without Barriss' confession, I never would have returned to the Temple or anywhere. You realize what the tribunal wanted to do to me, right? But that, I didn’t bother saying either.

    Instead, I tried to choke down my feelings of hurt betrayal rage and looked on Obi-Wan unmoved.

    “Did the tribunal decide what's going to happen next to Barriss?” I asked instead. I was proud of the way my voice didn’t shake when I said her name. That too was something I was going to have to wrap my mind around and process; I couldn’t, yet.

    “We filed an appeal to keep her in custody at the Temple, rather than any prison the Republic could suggest,” slowly, Obi-Wan found the words to answer me. I could clearly tell that this was not the conversation he wanted to have – but it was information that I deserved to know, and he'd honor that, at least. “Our motion was just recently approved. She has a cell in the lower levels, where she’s being seen to by Master Che’s mind-healers. The war put too much strain on her mind, we suspect. That strain caused her to suffer a psychotic break and allowed the Dark Side in. With time and patience, we yet hope to help her weed those thoughts and tendencies away. She may yet see a recovery from her course.”

    Oh. Well . . . that was good. I supposed.

    I closed my eyes for a moment, and tried to process how I felt. Was I glad they were able to reach out and help Barriss? Honestly, I didn’t know. Would the court have allowed the Council to step in and do the same for me? When you are found guilty, I could still feel Admiral Tarkin’s cool, flinty stare on me whenever I closed my eyes for too long. He had a way of sneering while hardly moving a single muscle in his face that made my skin crawl; he always felt like frozen sulfuric waters to my senses in the Force, all pale yellow and cold and acidic. I hadn't liked the way he looked at me back at the Citadel, and he certainly hadn't improved through acquaintance. I will ask that the court bring the full extent of the law down upon you, including the penalty of death. He’d been so intent on his course - so much so that, somehow, I doubted that he would have been so easily swayed.

    “As of yet, we’ve been unable to get through to Barriss about her motivations. That, only time will see to,” Obi-Wan continued. Then, just barely, his expression gentled. His voice softened, “Yet she is, at the very least, incredibly sorry for the pain she caused you. She wants you to know that.”

    Sure she was. To my surprise, his words failed to touch my heart. The fact of the matter remained that Barriss hadn’t cared enough to not frame me in the first place. Even before that, she hadn’t counted me as a close enough friend to even talk about her reservations when they first began, long before her misgivings gave way to disillusionment and then gave birth to action - actions she then blamed on me.

    My anger was on the rise again; I could feel it burning up from my chest to block my throat with a thick red heat. I closed my eyes and breathed in deep to swallow my darker emotions away. I didn’t want them overwhelming me – not again, especially not now.

    Yet I didn’t control myself quickly enough for Obi-Wan not to glimpse everything I was fighting to hold at bay - of course I didn’t. He took a step forward, and looked like he wanted to reach a hand out to me in comfort before clearly holding himself back. For a moment, I felt a shadow of my own emotions flicker across his face; he never was very good at standing still before someone else’s pain, and I knew that he wanted to fix this for me. But how?

    He couldn’t.

    “I know how the decision to expel you from the Order wounded you, Ahsoka,” he almost rushed to say. “But please, be sensible and try to understand. The Council had no other choice but to - ”

    - wounded? Is that really what he thought I felt? I wasn’t just wounded by their actions - the Council’s decision to cast me aside had gutted me as surely as if they’d reached inside my chest and twisted my heart with their hands instead. Their decision had turned my entire life inside out and upside down, all the while effectively saying that my entire sixteen years of service had meant nothing – just as much as I’d, apparently, amounted to in the Council’s eyes.

    “You are thinking with your feelings,” Obi-Wan chided – apparently, I’d spoken that last thought aloud. Great. So much for keeping a tight rein over my temper. “Clear your mind, Padawan, and you will know that not to be true.”

    And just like that, my indignation flared out again. “Sentiment?” I sputtered. “Is that really what you think this is? If you ask me, the Jedi Order could use a little more sentiment when making their decisions - then this never would have happened in the first place.” With that, I finally snapped. The calm, thoughtful veneer I’d first wanted to portray was gone, just like that. “I know that the evidence painted me as guilty – it looked bad, it really did. I understand why my trial was necessary in the eyes of the Republic. But for you not to believe me, for the Force not to guide the Council to stand by me, just like I’d so long stood by . . .” but that was a thought I couldn't finish. Not aloud. What about me hadn’t been worth protecting? I still couldn’t understand. What had the Council seen that, maybe, I couldn’t see about myself? They were the Jedi Council – how could twelve beings so immersed in the Force decide that it was the right decision to treat me that way? Was that really all I was worth to them? I was a pair of useful lightsabers in the war, and nothing else.

    My crossed arms fell from my chest to wrap around my midsection, feeling no small amounts of miserable as my thoughts spiraled downwards and doubt filled my heart. But I kept myself standing up tall and glared at Obi-Wan with a low, dangerous look. I could feel the tips of my teeth flash.

    “Ahsoka,” Obi-Wan’s voice was low and pained. “You have to know how much we wanted to support you. But to avoid the appearance of favoritism and bias, we had no choice but to - ”

    “ - there’s always a choice,” I couldn’t keep from interrupting. I knew that my tone was pitched with incredulity, but I couldn't seem to calm myself. “Just because doing the right thing is sometimes the more difficult course, that doesn’t mean we should shy away from that path.” Once, Obi-Wan himself had taught me that. Those were his words; his philosophy. “This had nothing to do with right and wrong. This was all about politics and public perception – two things that the Jedi Order is supposed to have no part of.”

    That, at least, was a sentence that rang with truth – with a hundred little misgivings finally merging together and speaking as one in my voice. How had we allowed ourselves to stray so far from our mandate as Jedi Knights? Empathy and compassion and the desire to preserve life and the rights each sentient in the galaxy had to that selfsame life – that was what being a Jedi was about. Stooping to the level of the Senate and playing their self-serving games of quid pro quo had no part in our duties. We were apart of the Republic, and served its needs, true, but we were still separate, too. There was no way the likes of Tarkin should have been able to make the Council do anything that they knew in their hearts was wrong.

    Anakin still had nightmares about his first time appearing before the Council, I thought then – from when he was only nine years old and far from home and missing his mother and being told that he was too scared and angry and unwanted for the seeds of the Dark Side that he was so bluntly told resided inside of him. Hopelessly so. As a child. Whenever he struggled with a decision, I could still feel hear taste those memories bubble up in his consciousness through our training bond. They were too strong for him to wholly shield from me. The words of the Council still shamed him and drove him to being the best Jedi possible; they fueled him like hydrogen burning at the core of a sun. Anakin wasn’t speaking for my benefit when he told me that he understood my pain, that he himself considered leaving the Jedi Order all the time. He’d spent his life thus far trying to fit where he didn’t quite belong – not completely, not exactly. I knew how any self-perceived deviations in his course tore him up inside, and how he feared the perception of failure in the Council’s eyes. That may have been enough to drive Anakin to be one of the most powerful Jedi of our generation – in a way that I had never completely understood until now. But, for me, was that enough?

    If I was completely honest with myself, I didn’t think it was . . . it couldn’t be. I was within my rights to want more. And I did want more; everything within me was demanding a fair comeuppance, and I couldn’t ignore that voice when it was speaking out so loudly from my heart in protest.

    In the end, not a single one of my thoughts was hidden from Obi-Wan; I let him see it all. I watched as he flinched, and yet took no satisfaction in his expression. “Do you think that I do not know every fault-line in the Order I serve?” Obi-Wan challenged lowly. His every word thrummed with a tightly held tension. “Do you think that I do not know every defect and flaw, and yet stay because I yearn to fix them?”

    “No,” I growled at that, “you don’t get to be the wounded party here. It doesn't matter that you know where those fault-lines are when you stand aside and ignore them - you can only turn a blind eye for so long before enough is enough . . . and it’s finally enough for me.”

    “Yet I am fighting for a chance of change – for real and lasting change. In time, as I’m able,” Obi-Wan did not at all agree. “I will solve nothing by throwing up my hands and running when the tides turn in a direction I do not care to withstand. None of the galaxy’s ills will be solved by turning aside for personal heartache. You have never been one to back down from a challenge before, and I do not understand why you are now. This is foolishness, Ahsoka, and someday you will regret it.”

    “So my choice to leave is just a tantrum to you?” I couldn't believe the lecture I was receiving. “You think that I am acting childishly by being unable to see the bigger picture and just ignore - ”

    “ - Ahsoka, that was not my intention,” Obi-Wan huffed out through his nose in frustration. “You are twisting my meaning.”

    “But it’s what you said,” I could not let his words go. “Maybe you can stand being apart of an Order that allows . . .” but I faltered, unable to wholly pick my words from the dozen suggestions that rushed to be spoken at once. An Order that wanted to turn away a child for fear of one possible future, I thought of Anakin again, nine and alone and so incredibly wounded for the fact that the heroes he’d long since revered could dismiss him so easily as tainted after everything he’d done and given up to reach them. An Order that shackles men and demands that they lay down their lives for the greater good without giving them a choice in the matter, I thought of the clone army we even now led across a hundred battlefields further out in the galactic rim, all for a war that I couldn’t understand the meaning of the longer and longer it waged. An Order that refuses to protect its own – all for the sake of playing the game of politics, instead of standing up for what’s right. Master Yoda had said it himself: the Dark Side clouded everything as of late, so much so that even we ourselves couldn’t see just how far from our course we’d strayed.

    I swallowed, and could only complete my words by saying, “Maybe you can stand beside the Order, when its on the path its on, but I cannot. Not right now; not with how things currently stand.”

    For a long moment, Obi-Wan simply stared at me. His mouth was pursed in a hard, thin line. His eyes were not wholly without sympathy, but I could see where exasperation pinched his expression. He honestly thought me to be foolish and short-sighted with my decision. He truly believed that I was unable put aside my own pain to play the longer game of reformation and setting things to balance, as perhaps a proper Jedi trusting in the Force should. He thought I was making a mistake.

    . . . well, maybe I was. But that was the course I was choosing, and I had every right to make that choice.

    “Ahsoka, is this truly what you want?” Finally, that was all there was left for Obi-Wan to say.

    “What I want?” I echoed hollowly. “No, of course not. All I’ve ever wanted was to be a Jedi; to follow the will of the Force, and serve the Republic to the best of my ability. But you told me I couldn’t do that; you said I wasn’t a Jedi anymore; you didn’t believe in me when I needed you in return. I don’t want to belong to something that doesn’t belong to me as well. I can’t do it; I won’t.”

    In the end, it was as simple at that.

    “You have an excess of pride, young one,” Obi-Wan only sighed to say. “And I fear that will do you more harm than good, in the end.”

    His words stung, but not as much as they would have before this all happened. Instead, I just acknowledged the pain of their bite and moved on. “Pride?” I couldn’t help but snort. “My pride is all that I’ve got left to count on right now. I’ll be okay – don’t you worry about that.”

    “Alright then,” Obi-Wan held my gaze for a long, terse moment, before sighing in resignation. “So be it.” With a last look at my meager surroundings, he turned to show himself out. He only paused to glance one last time over his shoulder. “I only hope you know what you are doing, Ahsoka. May the Force be with you.”

    And with a final, soft flutter of brown robes he was gone. I was left alone again. For a long moment I stood in my place, trying to get my racing thoughts and turbulent emotions to calm. I grappled to find my center. For longer than I’d ever care to admit aloud, it was hard for me to breathe. Yet, stubbornly, I held my ground; my posture did not bow.

    I hope you know what you are doing, Ahsoka, his parting thoughts rang in my head. I felt a shiver run up and down my spine.

    “You and me both, Master Obi-Wan,” I finally muttered to the empty air. “You and me both.”

    I had a shuttle to catch at 0500, after all. And, maybe somewhat foolishly, I couldn’t wait to be on it.

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Scene with Shrike: Wow! That is one quandary! Ahsoka does need a way offworld and Corellia is the best place for a variety of reasons, all of which she listed. She does not want to be part of something illegal, but if she got a job with a legit company, as she points out, would that be free of questionable practices? [face_thinking]

    The scene with Obi-Wan: In true inimitable, unfailing Mira-style, you have some oomphy inner thoughts and candid expressions on both sides! A lot of hurt feelings and valid points, and Ahsoka is definitely on the right on more than one point. Tarkin is some kind of yucky ally on any day of the week! :p

    To go along to get along for political reasons, it's a short step to compromising everything.

    Kenobi may be able to keep a clear vision of the changes he wants to make from within; sometimes that works and sometimes, so many times, it doesn't. :(


    Ah! So Ahsoka's decision is made after all; things seem to be crystallizing insofar as she knows staying is no longer an option.


    Fascinated, on a side note, how her perception of the right path is jumbled and muddled. Earlier, she had such a strong tug relating to the Shrikes' job, but then it vanished. Hopefully, with time, and literal & emotional distance, things will get clearer.
  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Tol Fanfic Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Moderator

    Feb 27, 2014
    There’s so much going on in this chapter—so much to think about, both for Ahsoka and for us. We really get to see her brainhweels and heartwheels turning in a big way. First, there's the decision she has to come to about Shrike and his "alternate logistics" offer (and I'm still very curious about this, and I won't look up Shrike and Isshaddik because I would definitely like to be surprised! :D ). Ahsoka is not one to make snap decisions; everything she does and chooses to do is carefully considered (which we also see in that wonderful clip you linked above), and even though her decision about this job is perhaps not on the magnitude of her decision to leave the Jedi Order, she thinks it through and considers all the stakes: yes, it might be "illegal," it might qualify as "smuggling," but given the cultural importance of the cargo it also could be a means of doing some real good, especially to someone or some group who has been treated unfairly by the current system. I understand Ahsoka's frustration at feeling that the Force is leaving her "high and dry" at this moment of decision, given that it's always been there and prompted her before now—but I can't help but think that the Force might be doing so on purpose this time. [face_thinking] And perhaps it hasn't really abandoned her, per se, but rather is choosing to work through her in a different way. (Which again, fits so well with the very unique path that Ahsoka takes—won't be any less unique within this AU, I'll bet. ;) )

    Of course, Ahsoka's in a bit of a "rock and a hard place" situation here—or maybe "out of the frying pan and into the fire" is more like it, because the very next thing she has to do is confront Obi-Wan after all! :oops: And again, this young lady is not one to back down or to avoid having conversation that need to be had, even when she very understandably feels like she'd like to. Even though Dex isn't part of that conversation, I love the way he manages to be supportive presence all the same, and I love that Ahsoka can pick up on that fact (it shows she's not as ungrateful a friend and ally as some would claim). Ah, Obi-Wan... you know, I felt for both him and Ahsoka during this conversation. He's trying so hard, in that Obi-Wan way, to be gentle and diplomatic about the whole thing, but it's so too little too late in a way that hurts so good to read. Both he and Ahsoka make good points, in their ways, but they're ultimately coming at the issue from positions that are too different, positions they can't budge from for good reasons of their own. And you get at the heart of what it boils down to here:

    They both know of the "faultlines" and flaws within the Order, but ultimately their approaches to dealing with them are simply too incompatible. In a way, I hope they both know what they are doing as they proceed in their respective directions! :p Though one good thing that's come out of all this is that Ahsoka is clearer about her next steps—her mind really is made up to accept Shrike's offer and meet him at the docking bay at 0500. Now, was that the Force's prompting, or her own, or some of both? ;) I very much look forward to seeing where that will lead, and how this very new line of work will go for our heroine!
  5. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    I have to thank you both so much for reading, and taking the time to leave your thoughts! [:D] Some replies, and then we'll continue onwards with Ahsoka's journey. [face_love]


    And, you know, the heroes of the Star Wars world are often turning a blind eye to smugglers and such middling 'outlaws', so I thought I'd carry on that tradition here. :p [face_whistling]

    Eugh! Tarkin was suuuuuuuch a creep in the Citadel arc of TCW, who held a fascination/contempt for Ahsoka that pushed my buttons in all the wrong way o_O - and, honestly, seeing how his villainy unfolds in my Song-verse is going to prove to be a whole heap of fun if I ever manage to write that far. ;) [face_mischief] [face_thinking]

    Bingo! And, knowing the fate of the Jedi Order and the Republic as a whole just makes this all the more difficult to read/write. Even if I plan to circumvent that fate, here, of course. ;)

    And that is definitely something we're going to dive into more, just you wait! Part of the reason she left the Jedi Order is that her trust in herself - and in her connection to the Force, was shaken at the core. Ahsoka just needs to get her confidence back, and she'll see that the Force never truly left her at all. It's all about points of view. [face_love]

    Thank you so much for reading, my friend! That was such a wonderful, insightful review, and I enjoyed every word of it. [:D]

    Such a surprise that I am so happy to write. I'm glad that you're intrigued thus far! :D

    Spot-on with all counts! One of the things I enjoyed most about TCW was seeing Ahsoka mature in leaps and bounds into someone who would take the time to step back and think, instead of leaping blindly in. She's certainly not the youngling who was saddled on Anakin at Christophsis anymore! And there's no right or wrong answer that's easily seen here. But her faith in the Force and herself has been shaken, and so she's going to need a journey of self to recover both. The Force has never left her - it's just waiting for her to see that too, which we will get into so much more as the story progresses. [face_love]

    Because Obi-Wan would! [face_sigh] I really felt for them both writing that scene - they each mean so well, but Obi-Wan defines himself by his sense of duty, almost to the extreme, and sometime that blinds him to what the people closest to him are going through, in an emotional sense. Or, he sees their emotions, but expects them to share his sense of duty in how they react to those emotions? It's something you can more see with his interactions with Anakin, and even Luke. Which is a fascinating part of his character, both for good and bad, seeing as how he's usually so empathetic with others! [face_thinking]

    Dex is DEX! I have just enjoyed every scene with him so much, and I'm thrilled you have too. [face_love]

    Sadly, the Jedi Order is a sinking ship in many ways. Obi-Wan's just choosing to use a bucket to get the water out and Ahsoka's running for the life rafts. It doesn't mean it was a bad ship to begin with. (Aaaaaand my metaphor is running away from me, but still. :p) These are two people who care so much about each other and the Order as a whole, but right now their opinions are impossible to cross and reach any sort of common ground. And it's painful! :(

    Which we will get into riiiiiight about now. [face_mischief]

    Thank-you so much for reading, once again, and taking the time to leave such a wonderful review! I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. :)

    Alrighty, more will be up in just a few minutes! :D

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  6. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004

    Entry VII
    The next morning, my chrono went off at 0330, and my body immediately protested the idea of getting up after tossing and turning the night before. Apparently, I’d come to enjoy setting my own hours since leaving the Jedi Order. War had no perception of night and day, but now that my habits of early shifts and nights without sleep were behind me, not a single one of my limbs wanted to move. Sadly, I didn't stay that way for long. Two years spent on the front-lines had apparently left their mark: I was awake before I even reached over to switch off the alarm, and that was that.

    After I got out of bed, I was quick to ready myself for the day. Following my usual morning routine, I placed my few belongings and the gifts from my men in my satchel, and folded my blankets in a neat stack for Dex. Then I donned my cloak and laced up my boots. Perhaps more somberly, I hooked Fives’ vibroblade to my belt. This was my first time going out armed since my initial arrest. But, with where I was going next, something told me I should keep a weapon in easy reach – I missed my lightsabers all the more so just then! With that last touch, I was ready to go.

    The smell of caf was strong when I stepped out into the service hall running alongside the kitchen – and it wasn’t just caf I smelled, my nose was happy to inform me. There was caf and scrambled gartro eggs and a slab of rare nerf steak: my breakfast of choice, especially when Dex was manning the grill. My heart twisted for the thoughtfulness of his gesture. I was going to miss his kindness, that was for certain.

    Dex greeted me the same as he did any other morning, and started chattering about the latest gossip in CoCo Town as he served my plate. There was a Fayet Island eatery that had opened the next city-block over that was trying to lure Dex’s customers with ‘all you could eat’ deals that currently had Dex in a grumbling mood. (Ya can’t turn out good food in quantities like that – my regulars know where to go, and that’s the bottom line.) The Squib merchant down the lane (If that l’il scamp’s an ‘antiquities’ dealer then I’m a four star chef at the Sheralitz!) had recently acquired an antique surveying compass from the trade stations above Ojom, and Dex had his eye on the piece for nostalgia's sake. But the Squib knew the worth of her stuff, and she was locked in a bidding battle with Dex. (Like she really has a Kauti prince in’trested in the same piece – I’d eat my own apron if it was true!) More scandalously, the Wrodian weaver’s daughter had just eloped with the Huji rug importer over in the Row of Silks textile district, and that had caused quite the fuss amongst the locals. Even if -

    “Huh . . . how does that work?” I had to pause between a bite of steak and eggs to ask. I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the idea, and I made a face for trying.

    “Love,” Dex chose to nod sagely in reply, “always finds a way.”

    For that we both laughed – full belly laughs, and I finished my meal with a happy, contented glow. I didn’t know when I’d be able to eat food this good again, so I savored every bite. But it turned out I didn’t have to part with his cooking just yet: Dex put two to-go containers on the counter with a disposable mug of caf, and told me they were a parting gift. “Make sure you don’t live on those rations bars alone,” his nose crinkled to say. He’d made his opinion on the GAR’s idea of sustenance known more than once before. “Find the ship’s cook and make a friend – that’s a sure way to keep a pulse on the goings on, ya hear? You need to take care of yourself out there.”

    For that, he looked at me significantly, and I took his warning as seriously as it was intended. I knew that it was a dangerous galaxy for anyone traveling alone, with or without the war going on. I’d be on my guard – I’d have to be, especially now . . . this was the first time in my life that I didn't have someone immediately watching my back. I was on my own - officially now. The thought was sobering as it weighed on my mind.

    But, at the very least, my hands didn’t shake as I added the self-heating containers to my pack. I got down off my stool to leave, and met Dex’s eyes with a level, confident look – or so I hoped.

    Then, ready or not, it was time to go. Dex had one last piece of advice for me as he walked out from behind the counter: “It’s easy for folks to make rash decisions outta anger and grief – keep a level head about ya, lass, no matter where your path takes you. Then, make sure you tell ol’ Dexter when you’ve settled, will ya? I’ll be worrying until then.”

    I assured him that I would, and I couldn’t help but let him hug me one last time. I felt centered for the affection in the embrace, even as my heartbeat thundered with a queasy combination of anticipation and apprehension both. Here goes nothing, I thought – quite literally.

    “And remember: your shadows are always behind ya when you're walkin’ towards the light,” Dex reminded me as I turned and headed for the door. “Remember that, and you’ll be okay.” I glanced over my shoulder in time to see him wink, one last time. Bolstered by that last expression of friendly wisdom, I smiled and waved. Then, I slipped through the door and stepped outside.

    The sky was still dark as I started for the docks. Only a few souls were about, heading out for work – or just now coming home from the night before. Not even a sign of the dawn was visible as I made my way down the levels, and then it wouldn't have been possible to tell anyway.

    The Shrikes’ crew was far from the only one assembling when I arrived. This was a prime time for the shuttles to make their runs to the waiting freighters in orbit, before the space-lanes were crowded with the bulk of Coruscant’s commuting citizens. There were twice as many sentient bodies and droids milling about as there were the day before, each one moving with purpose as quickly as they could. It was easy to get lost in the bustle of wares and dockhands, but I managed to find my way without getting too turned around.

    Isshaddik the Wookiee saw me first, standing a head above the crowd as he was. He gave a welcoming howl, audible above the din, and I waved as I made my way closer.

    “So you decided to come?” was Larrad Shrike’s dry greeting when I was close enough to hear, but the crinkling about his eyes told me he was pleased. “Come on then – let me show you what we're about here.”

    I hesitated for only a nanosecond before falling in line a step behind him. That's it, I’m committed now. My hands tightened on the strap of my pack, but I managed not to look back as I followed Shrike aboard.

    Just within the shuttle - a relatively small express class transport dubbed the Lucky Lady, two Human workers were setting a series of crates into place in the main cargo hold - the only cargo hold, I noticed. The interior of the shuttle had been gutted for practicality’s sake. There were only jumpseats lining the perimeter of the bay, currently out of the way and folded up against the wall, and that was it besides the single open door that led to the cockpit. The shuttle had only one purpose, it seemed, and it didn't waste any time on pretense. Further aboard, overseeing the movement of the crates was a non-Human who wasn’t much taller than me. He was hairless and scaled with dark, glossy plates of keratin, with taloned feet peeking free of his trousers, and -

    - instinctively, I felt a moment’s fear lick into my throat. Trandoshan! - danger! - needtofightrunhide - now! my senses screamed, and the force of my memories had my hand reflexively falling down to my vibroblade before I caught myself. This being was not one of the hunters who’d kidnapped me and dumped me on that awful moon to pursue for sport. I was being unfair to think anything otherwise. I just had to breathe, and get a hold of myself.

    The reptilian being’s nose twitched – he must have scented my fear, and I could have kicked myself for how easily I’d given my reservations away. But he turned so I could see him fully then, and my shame was compounded when I realized that he wasn’t even Trandoshan in the first place. He was Saurin, the five fingers and opposable thumbs on his hands proclaimed. A kindred species of the Trandoshans, true, sharing a common ancestor, yet more . . . civilized with their presence in the galaxy.

    Unlike their Trandoshan cousins, the Saurin were friends of the Republic. They’d long since developed their homeworld of Durkteel for agriculture - solely for exporting to their neighbors, as they were still a carnivorous species themselves. They were on friendly terms with both their fellow Wookiees and Bimms in the Kashyyyk Region, and they were currently being persecuted for that friendship. The rich value of their planet – with its agricultural resources and tactically viable location – was being contested by both the Separatists and the Hutts whose space butted right up to the system. To aid in their efforts, the Separatists had just enlisted the help of the Trandoshans, who were more than eager to wage war on their neighbors, and it was a bloody, violent mess in that previously peaceful sector of the galaxy. Master Luminara’s battalion was fighting dual fronts on both Durkteel and Kashyyyk, and the casualty counts were disturbingly high. The Council was even debating sending in Master Yoda's battalion as back-up to the 41st, so seriously entrenched were the forces on both sides – or so it’d been the last time Barriss updated me on their progress. I still felt a pang thinking of my friend, however, so I quickly let that thought go. I couldn’t afford to be distracted just then.

    What then, I puzzled to wonder, was a Saurin doing with a Corellian smuggling crew? He must have had something to do with the culturally sensitive items we were transporting. A dozen questions immediately jumped to mind, but I held them back. There would be time for that later. To start, introductions were in order.

    Which I’d get to in just a moment, because -

    “Oh, Isshaddik, you’re back!” the Saurin exclaimed. With that, the relatively diminutive reptilian darted forward to tug on the Wookiee’s paw. Each species was carefully mindful of their respective claws. “This is a mess, an absolute mess, my friend – you must see!” he bemoaned in an exasperated, rasping tenor. But, no matter how dry, the vibrations of his voice rippled across my montrals like a melody. “These . . . these scalawags have no idea how to move anything more complicated than a case of frozen ready-meals. Their uncivilized disregard is not to be borne! I thought you’d imposed on your crew just how sensitive and valuable this is to the entirety of our sector, not just to my - ”

    While Larrad and the dockhands clearly bristled at the unveiled insult, Isshaddik gave a low rumble to sooth the clearly distraught Saurin. My admittedly rusty grasp on Shyriiwook heard him say: [You are giving them impossible] - unbearable? - [standards to live by. The ] - something I couldn’t translate - [will be safe. Do not fret, honored friend. All is well.]

    “If you say so,” the Saurin was unhappy to relent. But he’d stopped hounding the crew, at the very least.

    With that fragile impasse reached, Larrad stepped forward to take his own turn soothing their client – or so I assumed. “We are the best in the business when it comes to transporting items of . . . sensitivity,” he said. Though his words were kind, in of themselves, his jaw was tight. “There’s no need to worry; everything will arrive safe and sound, just as promised in our contract.”

    The Saurin, however, was far from placated. His scaled mouth drew back to show his teeth in a jagged line of distaste. “I trust that the credits my people are paying to see this job through will ensure that everything arrives as expected,” he sniffed. “But please forgive me if I don’t for a moment believe that you have any interest in the sensitivity of this shipment, or understand what it means for my kind. So I will personally be ensuring that you see your promise through, every step of the way.”

    Isshaddik gave a wordless rumble in response to that, one that sounded long-suffering even to my montrals. Larrad sighed outright through his teeth, “You’ll find it unwise to go around insulting those who have your best interest at heart,” he warned lowly. Somehow he managed a smile as sharp as the Saurin's. “It’s bad for business.”

    “Perhaps,” was the Saurin’s dry response. “And yet, I thought you were a man who wouldn’t protest if we saw each other clearly.”

    Larrad stared at the Saurin for a long, long moment. I could feel the tension on the air grow, like a swirl of ozone promising lightning in a storm, and I tensed. Yet, finally, the Human threw his head back and laughed outright. “I like you, scales,” he clapped the Saurin on the shoulder to say – and the Saurin visibly tensed, though either for the moniker or the clearly unwanted contact, I couldn’t tell. “So be thankful – my crew of scalawags is the only thing standing between your cargo and the real deadly sorts on the 'space lanes who’d happily take your prize off your hands. So trust us to do what we’re good at, at the very least.”

    “Very well,” the Saurin decided to let the matter be – for the moment, at least. But then, he next turned his bright scarlet gaze towards me. “Is that why you've enlisted the aid of this . . . child?” he asked.

    I bristled at his words, and wanted to speak for myself. But, just as quickly, Larrad did so for me. “This child is a former Jedi Knight,” Larrad revealed without missing a beat. Jedi apprentice, I thought, but didn’t correct him aloud. “If push comes to shove, you’ll be glad to have the likes of Ahsoka Tano on your side.”

    “Padawan Tano, herself? Ah . . . yes, the posterboy of the Republic’s little prodigy!” the Saurin understood. He stared at me as if seeing me for the first time, and I watched as recognition flared in his eyes. “I’ve heard bits and pieces of your predicament from the ‘Net - no matter how little of that skeeth is believable, of course. By the Scorekeeper, I am sorry that your course has landed you with the likes of this lot.” With that, he darted another unrepentant glance at Larrad. “Yet I am thankful to know that there is someone with honor aboard this ship; I can trust one more soul, at least, to do what’s right when needs must.”

    For the unexpected compliment in his words, I found myself smiling. Not everyone had looked on my trial and judged me as guilty then, I was inordinately pleased to know. The Saurin held out his hand, and formally introduced himself, “My name is Srink Oud Tor, and it’s a pleasure to meet you, Lady Tano.”

    I reached out to shake his hand, but was surprised when he instead gently cradled my fingers within his claws and leaned over to kiss the back of my hand as if he was a gentlemen in an old-fashioned holovid. Curious, I privately reevaluated him: the Saurin – Srink, had dark purple scales, shot through with green and black. The few quills that swept back from the crests of his skull were mostly green, but almost iridescent in color underneath the harsh industrial lighting. He was dressed in some sort of casual-formal wear – a charcoal grey suit with a glossy green necktie. Darker patches of material covered his knees and elbows, as if he were a professor getting ready to lecture at some affluent university. His taloned hands were protected by black fingerless gloves, and both the claws on his hands and bare feet were polished to a high gleam. I couldn’t get a read on whether or not he was an academic or a purveyor of the arts or even both, but I was certainly curious now that my initial – and admittedly misguided – apprehension was gone.

    “The pleasure’s all mine, Srink,” I couldn't help but grin as he released my hand. Larrad rolled his eyes and huffed out loud.

    “Alright,” he bristled. “Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, it’s time to get down to business. We shuttle out to the Luck in ten. Everyone, strap in and make ready.”

    And, just as quickly, that was that. Each member of the crew seemed to have something to go about and do before departure, so I went over to one of the jumpseats to settle in while the last of the crates were secured and the pre-flight checks were finished. By the time the pilot announced over the intercom that Coruscant’s ATC cleared them for liftoff, the last of the dockhands were either stepping off the shuttle or strapping in. Even the worrying Srink was satisfied enough to belt himself in next to Isshaddik, just a few seats down from me.

    So, I took the moment I had to sit back and breathe, deeply in and out as I waited. Here, left alone with my thoughts, it was all too easy to let my nerves get the best of me – but I couldn't let that happen, not when I knew that I needed to be at the top of my game instead. My first few hours spent with this crew would be crucial, and I needed to make a good first impression – a strong first impression. Everything depended on that.

    Yet, as I was trying to fall into some semblance of meditation for the brief shuttle ride, I looked down the loading ramp to see where Shrike was talking to a young Human male I didn't recognize. The boy was a page – a senatorial page, I recognized by the patch on his uniform. Puzzled, I narrowed my eyes and stared as something small traded hands between the two. A credit chip, I wondered? Or a datacard? But I couldn’t be sure from my vantage point. Either way, I didn’t feel good about whatever it was that I just saw, and the ever static hum of the Force against my senses turned pointed then. It whispered in warning. Here, I felt, was something to be on guard against . . . and look out for.

    Whatever it was I just saw had the potential to change everything, some instinct whispered, especially with that nudge from the Force – and, speaking of: look who finally decided to show up today? I felt my sense of purpose sharpening all the more so with the knowledge. If this job was anything more than transporting an item of cultural significance for Srink – who I instinctively found myself liking – and the Saurin people, as it was supposed to be, then . . .

    Well, the brothers Shrike were going to regret hiring a Jedi to join their crew, former or otherwise. I’d make sure of it.

    That thought was the only one I allowed to fill my mind as Shrike too finally boarded the shuttle, and the ramp was lifted. He disappeared into the flight deck, and just a few moments later we took off from the ground, up and out of the tunnels that connected the lower docks with the surface world.

    The sun was only just rising by the time we joined the air-lanes high above even the tallest spires of the city-planet, on our way to the atmosphere beyond. The dawn was breaking, and I felt my resolve settle within me, stronger than I’d yet to feel since leaving the Order behind. This, I knew, I was ready to face, no matter what came next.

    The Squib dealer of antiquities is none other than dear Findswoman's OC Gleebaloola Fhlaskhalhoosa, as recently featured in her vignette "Somewhere Out There" - another aspiring entrepreneur in CoCo Town. She graciously granted me permission to include her as part of Dex's gossip! [face_love][:D]

    Ojom is the homeworld of the Besalisks in the Deep Core, and it is orbited by trading stations like Dex mentioned.

    Wrodian & Huji textiles are a thing, though the invented 'two houses divided' rivalry between them is just my own personal fanon. :p

    Ahsoka Speaking Shyriiwook: Is canon, according to the same episodes of "Wookiee Hunt"/"Padawan Lost" of TCW where Ahsoka had her run-in with the Trandoshan hunters. Don't ask me, it's Star Wars. Apparently everyone speaks Shyriiwook when the plot needs it. ;)

    Dexter's Parting Wisdom
    : I visited Rochester, New York the other day for work, and their public library - such a beautiful building! - had the inscription: "The shadows will be behind you if you walk towards the light," beside the pillars that framed the entrance. It was such a surprisingly profound cheer-me-up, and it's stuck with me since then. [face_love]

    Then, for anyone who is curious: the Saurin are indeed a kindred species to the Trandoshan, who were friendly to both the Republic and their neighbors in the Kashyyyk Region. A rather diminutive example of the Saurin species can be found in the cantina scene of A New Hope. Srink Oud Tor is my OC, though, and he's since become infinitely endearing to write. I can't wait to show you guys more! [face_love]

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    LOL Love Dex's chatter and the stick to your ribs meal and the to-go boxes, but this:
    "The shadows will be behind you if you walk towards the light," is gorgeous! =D= Intriguing hidden nuances to the mission indeed, and I know very well Ahsoka will keep her senses on full alert. [face_thinking] Shrike definitely has several things going on at the same time. [face_worried]
    AzureAngel2 and Findswoman like this.
  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Tol Fanfic Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Moderator

    Feb 27, 2014
    No turning back for Ahsoka now, indeed! She's made up her mind to take on this new assignment, whatever it may bring, and I'm delighted to see she's not going into it without a proper Dex sendoff. [face_love] First, a scrumptious Dex breakfast to feed the wame (to use an evocative Scottish word); there's nothing like a good steak and eggs, and his "doggie bagging" some more food for her was just the icing on the cake, because it is very true that one cannot live on ration bars alone. (MRE—Meal, Ready to Eat—is called the "three lies" for a reason!) Then, some cordial Dex conversation to strengthen the soul, from local gossip (there's dear old Gleebaloola—squee! I can just imagine her and Dex haggling it out! [face_laugh] ) to words of wisdom for the road ahead (that motto from the Rochester Public Library is absolutely gorgeous, and now I wish I had been able to see the place when I was in Rochester last November for work). Both the wisdom and the sustenance will serve our young heroine well, and I shouldn't be surprised if she sees Dex again someday, because I am certain he'll be "watching her from afar" in the best way he can. @};-

    The plot is certainly thickening in manifold ways around this Very Sensitive Mission! [face_thinking] I really like Srink, with his Highly Educated way of talking and his dapper clothing—always fun to see a nerdy, academic sort in a GFFA setting, and it's an especially good sign that he's not convinced by all the hype surrounding Ahsoka and the Temple bombing. It's very interesting to note the difference in the way Isshaddik and Larrad interact with him about this mission of theirs: Isshaddik is clearly sympathetic about it, at least more or less, while Larrad is much colder about the whole thing, even to the point of being threatening; I don't blame Srink for not quite trusting him (and that Srink says so outright shows that his genteel, bookish exterior hides some true courage). And then this senatorial page shows up and has a furtive few words with Larrad, during which Larrad hands him something? Yes, things are definitely thickening up, and one doesn't need a Force prompting to be able to tell that much more is going on here than meets the eye. (Though in Ahsoka's case that prompting gives her some much-needed extra resolve at an uncertain time.) Can't wait to see how this mission will unfold, and what Ahsoka's role will be in it all! :cool:
  9. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    I wanted to take a moment to thank you both for leaving such wonderful, thought out reviews! I can't thank you enough. [:D]

    I'm glad that you liked the quote! And Dex! He just gives so much to love, and it was refreshing giving Ahsoka that warm sendoff before moving onto this potential nest of thorns, so to speak. [face_thinking]


    MRE certainly is a joke, that's for certain! And all the more so to Dex - he's going to make sure she's taken care of, as much as he can. [face_love]

    You gave me such a unique OC to play with in the first place, so it's I who has to thank you for that!! There's such a vibrant life to CoCo Town, it seems, and it was fun to delve into that a little bit here.

    And yes! Rochester's library is such a gem worth seeing. I have a fondness for the city as a whole, though - it's a lovely up and coming city that's sometimes overshadowed but its New York brethren, but I just adore it. It's an overnight I always enjoy when it's on my schedule. [face_love]

    Srink! [face_love] I've loved writing him so far - the boards are quite the haven for OCs as of late, which is wonderful to see, so I'm glad that this story is giving me an opportunity to branch out from the familiar faces and try an OC or two of my own.

    There's definitely a plot thickening, isn't there? [face_mischief] Ahsoka is going to find out that even though she may be done with the Jedi, the Force is not quite done with her, and I can't wait to share the rest of the story. I hope you continue to enjoy her path as it unfolds! [face_love][:D]

    Alrighty, then, more will be up in just a few! :D

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
  10. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    Entry VIII
    As far as the avian flew, it should have been a relatively short, easy process to dock with the Shrikes’ freighter in orbit. Instead, we spent a long and tedious hour making our way through the gridlocked airways before we could even break atmo. Coruscant’s ATC wasn't known for being expeditious on its best days, but I’d never had to experience the woes of civilian traffic firsthand before this trip. Both the Jedi and the GAR had clearance to bypass the space-lanes entirely, which I sorely found myself missing just then. This was . . . quite a different experience, to put it mildly.

    Yet no one else aboard the shuttle seemed to notice just how long our little hop was taking, or, if they did, it was simply common enough not to warrant mentioning. Everyone stayed strapped in, and there wasn’t much chit-chat to pass the time.

    So, I simply turned my attention inward, and tried my best to order my thoughts. Eventually, after what seemed an inordinately long wait, we were cleared by ATC to take our turn firing away from the atmosphere. Once in space, we joined a lane of shuttles and other small craft slinging around Coruscant’s mass for the far side of the planet, but at least we were moving. Then, finally, waiting with dozens of other freighters at one of the orbiting service-stations, was the Trader’s Luck.

    At first, I could only stare when I looked out the viewport to see a GAR ship – a Liberator-class troop transport. I knew those ships; they were cousins of the Pelta-class frigates, and shared a similar design with their long, somewhat flat body and bulky aft section where the engines and flight deck were. All the paint that marked her as part of the Republic Navy was gone, though. Since the beginning of the year, most of the Phase I ships had been resold back to Kuat Drive Yards to make way for the new and improved models that we currently used. While our capitol ships were built entirely to order, the sudden reveal of the clone army had forced Kuat to amp up their production without any forewarning. As a result, many of the frigates and corvettes and transport ships we used were from preexisting stock. As KYD managed to catch up with the sheer bulk of the Republic’s needs, the old was slowly being replaced with the new.

    Those Phase I ships must have been refurbished and auctioned off, this time to private buyers. I twisted back around in my jumpseat and didn’t bother watching our approach after that. This ship may have had been familiar, in its own way – I’d been to more than one welcome party where shines were initiated from Kamino, after all – but I knew that I wouldn’t find the familiar, sympathetic faces of my comrades within. Not here. Instead, I held my shoulders tight and tried to focus on my breathing. This wasn't a good time to be swept away by memories, not if I could help it.

    By the time we docked and the ramp lowered, I’d found my center again. As I unbuckled my crash-webbing and stowed my jumpseat, my hands were steady. I kept my face impassive as we stepped outside, knowing that I wouldn’t be greeted by the familiar sight of soldiers in white. Instead, at first glance, the Shrikes’ crew was mostly Human – Corellian, if I wanted to get specific. There were a few Duros and a Devaronian I spotted – and even a random Selonian, which surprised me, but that was it. At least, from what I could see.

    I stood still for a moment, and my hold on my pack tightened.

    “How’s this, Tano? Just like you remember?” Larrad’s voice sounded over my shoulder. He was still standing on the landing ramp and waiting for me to move. His arms were crossed, with a brow raised in question, but his query was more curious than unkind.

    “Not quite,” I answered wryly. Like the shuttle, a good portion of the interior of the ship had been gutted to make way for massive, adjacent cargo bays. Shielded ray walls separated one hold from the next – I could spy five from my vantage point. There were four levels of catwalks around the hangar we’d landed in that led off to the rest of the ship. Reflexively, I let my eyes pick out the potential ins and outs, and decided to do some reconnaissance of my own later. I definitely wanted to get a feel for the lay of the ship as soon as possible. “It’s roomier . . . I like what you’ve done with the place.”

    Larrad only shrugged. “There’s more space for transportation now – it may not be the prettiest, but it serves.”

    And she served them well, I bet. These transport ships didn’t sell cheap – they were good, still relatively young craft with solid KYD tech in their bones. That alone should have been anathema to a Corellian, I puzzled to think. When I said that last thought aloud, Larrad grinned to return that he was Corellian enough to appreciate any finely built ship. He didn’t take Kuat winning the military contract with the Republic personally at all - especially with Corellia's claiming neutrality in the wake of the war. What’s more than that, he revealed, the price of the ship had been right – his brother had won the Luck from a mining governor on Tralus in a game of sabacc – so they’d gained much for very little. I let my raised brow answer that, but, in the end, I didn’t know why I was surprised.

    “We can support a crew of just under two-hundred; we’re operating with about forty onboard now,” Larrad continued when I asked. “The ship's specs say we’re capable of transporting 600 – an entire battalion of soldiers. But that was before our renovations. And those numbers were slanted with them transporting the bucket-heads in pods – twelve to a column, can you believe it? Like they were frozen slabs of nerf instead. We’ve been refitted to keep two to a room here – cozy but not too cozy.”

    He didn’t have to explain the schematics to me – I knew full well how the Kaminoans handled logistics. (After a bad encounter with the Seppies in the catacombs of Hechtoo, Kix had grudgingly revealed that he suspected that Jango Fett was claustrophobic, since all of the vod’e took issue with small, confined spaces to some degree or another. No one liked those pods, to sat the least. If the Kaminoans weren’t aware of that defect in their product initially, they must have surely figured it out eventually - but, of course, nothing changed.) My grip on my bag tightened, and I felt my jaw clench.

    “Don’t worry – you won’t have a roommate,” Larrad misread my expression entirely. “We’re not running at full capacity yet. But, in the future, who knows?”

    “It’s a future that looks brighter, now that this last piece is in place.”

    I turned when a new voice spoke – a voice that instantly drew the attention of everyone in the bay, and held it. Even Srink paused from where he was fretting over the unloading of the shuttle. This, I gathered, was Captain Shrike then.

    From the first, I could easily see the familial resemblance between Larrad and Garris in the broad set of their shoulders and their thick, dark hair. But where Larrad had a solid, imposing build, Garris had more of a traditional athleticism about him. He wasn’t quite as tall as his brother, but his presence managed to fill the space around him, even so. He was dressed in dark green pants with a thick black wool top that covered him from wrists to chin. His matte-black chest-plate was edged in raw grey, and matched the bracers on his forearms and boots; all were scraped and dented from clear, hard use. When he smiled, I could see the glint of a gold tooth. His eyes were a pale, watery shade of blue.

    “Nicely done,” Garris walked up to clap a hand on Larrad’s shoulder. “That’s the last of it, then?”

    “Yes - all’s accounted for.”

    “Good,” Garris approved. “Very good.”

    I wondered if he meant Srink’s wares, or the extra business I suspected they were conducting on the side. My eyes narrowed, even as Garris turned to me. “And you managed to recruit for us, too,” his grin was only slightly too charming. I didn’t trust it in the slightest. “Welcome, Miss Tano, to the Luck and to our crew. I’m Captain Shrike, and it’s my pleasure to include you in our enterprise.”

    He held out his hand, and I politely shook it as offered. Garris Shrike was technically my employer for this run, and I wouldn’t disrespect his position until he gave me a reason to. Introductions quickly followed and were concluded after that, without any needless chatter – there was still much to be done before the Luck was cleared by ATC for hyperspace, and the captain didn’t have time for socializing. For the time being, I was welcome to find my quarters and get settled. At 1100, there was a security meeting that I was invited to attend to better explain my duties and initiate me and the other new hands. Until then, my time was my own.

    Captain Shrike offered me a guide, but this was familiar enough territory for me; I could find my own way. The only thing that I asked was if the ship had an armory up and going. I received a cautious affirmative, and when I understood the considering look my interest had earned I bluntly told them that they didn’t have anything aboard that I could want. Blasters were sloppy and uncivilized (sorry, Rex!), and I was more than happy making due with my vibroblade until I figured out a better substitute for my ‘sabers. But I did want to get my vambraces resized, and I didn’t mind sharing my motives. That was enough information to sooth Shrike’s suspicions, and he told me to seek out a woman named Demír. She’d be able to help me.

    With those pleasantries concluded, the Shrikes moved on, and I was left on my own. I spent only a moment more watching Srink flutter about – apparently the load in the shuttle was only a part of the Saurin’s shipment, and I was definitely intrigued by just what was in all those crates – and then I turned to find my cabin.

    The layout of the ship was still relatively standard, and I found my bearings easily enough – no matter that it felt weird to be staying anywhere other than the suites that were onboard for the commanding officers. As Jedi, we usually tried to leave the barracks alone as a place for the vod’e – no matter that I knew that I’d participated in the day to day routines of my men more so than most. They were used to me, and I to them. In a way that I'd never fully allowed myself to understand at the Temple - even during my lessons with Master Ti, my species was communally minded enough to give even the clones a run for their money. I hadn’t realized just how much I needed a large unit to thrive until I found my stride with the 501st. That thought, of course, only brought a pang of its own – I was now the furthest from being a part of a community, and I didn’t see my circumstances changing anytime soon.

    The room I was assigned was small - cozy, I tried to look at it positively - even for someone of my size. The little space sounded so empty when I gave a whistling sigh and felt nothing echo back at my montrals; there wasn’t one kindred heartbeat within range; there wasn’t even Anakin’s familiar breathing sounding in the next room, like there was at the Temple. Here, I was well and truly on my own.

    . . . but I had a bed and a paying job and a way off of Coruscant; I was grateful for that. At the very least, I thanked the Force for the gift I had of privacy. My situation could have been worse – much worse. I just needed to look at this objectively.

    But no matter how objective I was striving to be, the truth was that I was all too happy to leave my room behind to explore the rest of the Luck. I’d only have a day or so to claim that I’d lost my way if I was found somewhere I shouldn’t be, and I was determined to make the best of that time.

    Once I started, it didn’t take long for me to acclimate to the lay of the ship – everything was just familiar enough for me to memorize without too much effort. I first located the bridge and captain’s quarters and mess hall, and then familiarized myself with the cargo hold and hangars. On my tour, I identified weaknesses and potential points of entry with the ease of long familiarity. It felt good to feel like I was putting my talents to work doing something useful again . . . even if that something useful was with a smuggling crew. The Force truly did work in mysterious ways.

    Fives was going to get a kick out of this when I reported in, I could already well imagine. Yet, on the heels of that same thought, I didn’t even try to guess Rex’s response – I knew exactly what his opinion would be, and that was honestly why I had yet to contact him since accepting the job . . . I didn’t exactly know what, or how, to tell him. Rex respected me, I knew that he held me in high regard, and I didn’t want to damage that in any way. Maybe that was selfish and cowardly of me, but there it was. I’d update him after I found out more about what, exactly, I was doing here.

    I felt a twisting in my chest, and reminded myself - again - that I was doing something good with this job. Potentially, at least. And, the moment that I wasn’t . . . well, then I’d deal with that when I came to it. It was that simple.

    As I wandered, I was vaguely aware of a shadow flickering behind me. Were the Shrikes that paranoid, that they were wasting the manpower to follow me? But the Force was strangely ambient as it swirled just beyond my reach, humming as if lulled, and I never actually saw anyone when I tried to glance over my shoulder. More so than through the Force, I felt a fluttering about my montrals that gave me more tangible evidence of a tail, but nothing gave my pursuer away more so than that.

    Eventually, my path took me to the armory, and I met Demír – a tall, stocky Human woman with cool, dark brown skin and a wide, expressive mouth. Her skull was shaved to proudly display a long, wicked looking scar she had going from her right brow near to the nape of her neck, and she wore studs decorating each of her ears from tip to lobe. When I arrived, she was hammering out a red hot plasteel plate underneath the flame of a welding torch. Her bare arms were massive, and flexed with clear cords of muscle as she worked.

    It only took a few minutes of conversation for me to trust her with my project. I showed her the vambraces, and she measured my arms and said she’d get right to work on resizing them for me. She could even do so in a way that’d leave me room for adjustment as I grew, which I was happy to hear. When she offered me a fresh coat of paint – she could even tint the white completely to make the armor less obviously GAR issued – I couldn’t say no quickly enough. The one vambrace . . . it was Echo’s paint; there was no other physical sign that he’d ever lived and died for the Republic but for those few strokes of blue. I understood exactly what Fives was giving me when he shared his batcher’s armor, and I’d never dishonor his memory like that. And, from Rex . . .

    . . . well, that was special too. I didn’t want to forget what a single one of those tallies meant; they were my victories as well, and I wanted to remember them.

    In the end, Demír understood. Something about her eyes even softened for my declining her offer. No matter her clear strength, her callused hands were gentle when she took the two pieces of armor from me. When she promised me her best work, I believed her.

    Then, it was time for me to go. It was almost 1100, and I didn’t want to be late for my first meeting with the security team. Already going contrary to Dex’s advice, I munched on a ration’s bar as I walked, still looking around as I went – and noticing, all the while, that my shadow was back. They’d waited for me outside the armory, and were following me again.

    Unseen by my pursuer, I rolled my eyes and kept to my course without glancing behind. They could follow me all they wanted; I wasn’t going to give them anything to find. Eventually, they’d grow bored of me – well, hopefully, at least.

    When I came to the designated meeting spot in the aft hangar bay – where there were a dozen armed men and women already gathered and chatting, I looked around to take stock of my coworkers. The pair of Duros were back – the Devaronian, too. Isshaddik was already there, as well, looking down at an improvised tactical table and summoning a map of the hyperspace lanes between Coruscant and Corellia. The meeting was about to begin, then.

    I went to take an improvised seat on one of the cargo bins, when I felt the Force prickle against my senses – not a warning, not quite, but still a definite summons, demanding my attention. My eyes snapped to attention, just as a lone figure emerged from the hall adjacent to the one I’d followed in. Her familiar aura snagged at my senses, causing me to stare in disbelief – she wasn’t even trying to hide herself in the Force, here where she had no reason to. I knew that she was just as surprised to see me by the faint widening of her eyes and the way her mouth gaped before closing in a line of clear distaste. The shadowed grey tattoos on her already chalky skin only highlighted her grimace, and she rolled her eyes in a clear show of annoyance.

    “Why, if it isn’t Skywalker’s little pet horn-head. What,” the Dathomiri woman cast her gaze up as if she'd find her answer in the ether, “have I done to deserve this - again?”

    My hands fell to my sides, but I didn't have a weapon to grasp besides my vibroblade – a move that wasn’t lost on her, of course. “Ventress,” I couldn’t help the challenge in my voice as I growled, “What are you doing here?”

    The Trader's Luck: Was written as a decommissioned GAR troop-transport ship in the EU, and I tried to recon that with Canon here as to why those ships would be retired so early - seeing as how the timeline was initially more spread out in the Legend's authors minds, it seemed. [face_thinking]

    Coruscant's Air Traffic Control: Was fondly inspired by the usual routine of spending an hour in line taxiing to take off at La Guardia - which is somehow even worse than JFK or EWR! It's just business as usual for those airports, due to the sheer volume of traffic they receive. I can only imagine the mess Coruscant's ATC has to deal with on a daily basis! 8-}

    Clones and Claustrophobia: It's Legends canon that Jango Fett passed on that little quirk to his clones, which makes so many things about their pods bother me in TCW. He passed on that, and a sweet tooth - though he'd probably admit to neither, even on the pain of death. :p

    And I think that's it this time around - lots of nitty gritty and simply setting up for the rest of this plot arc. I hope you guys enjoyed, as always. [:D]

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Fascinating! We get a crew that's paranoid of Tano even as she's watchful. The armorer seems a decent sort, although the captain, to her intuition, seems a bit too charming for his own good. :p Then we get Ventress! Wow! There definitely is more to this mission than anyone thought, beyond the mysterious cargo! :oops:

    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
    Mira_Jade and Findswoman like this.
  12. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Tol Fanfic Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Moderator

    Feb 27, 2014
    Well, Ahsoka's in this for reals now. I wonder if there's more than meets the eye to the fact that the Trader's Luck is a repurposed GAR cruiser, and Ahsoka herself seems to suspect that that may be the case; in a way it's a lucky (!) thing for her that her new assignment turns out to be on familiar territory of sorts, though the differences are definitely notable (very interesting detail there about Jango's claustrophobic tendencies being passed on). I definitely second her misgivings about Captain Garris Shrike's slightly smarmy manner, as well as her curiosity about the true nature and size of Srink's shipment. I like Demír, though; it's a good sign that she's respectful of Ahsoka's vambraces and the markings on them, and I'm glad Ahsoka has found a potentially sympathetic presence in her. (OC or EC, incidentally?)

    And Ahsoka needs all the sympathetic presences she can get, especially given who shows up next—none other than Miss Ventress herself! :eek: Now I am very curious indeed as to what her role in all this is: could she too be here for similar reasons to Ahsoka, related to protecting "culturally sensitive" cargo? At least the debriefing is about to start, so Ahsoka has some time before having to confront Asajj in a more protracted way. Wow, if these two end up having to work together, that will make for one of the most compelling "frenemies" situations I've come across since Zeb and Kallus on Bahryn! Very much looking forward to seeing where this will lead... [face_thinking]
  13. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    I know it's not Sunday yet, but I have a surprise update for you guys! Because I'm excited to get on past the exposition part of this plot arc into everything I have planned next. I know, I'm an impatient author and there's just so much to get through before January comes around. ;) :p

    It is definitely a different environment for Ahsoka and she's right to be warry! But, even in the most unexpected of places, there's an opportunity to make friends. Or enemies, of course. [face_mischief] [face_whistling]

    As always, I thank you so much for reading, my friend! [:D]

    I love how much thought you put into the story while you are reading, as always! [face_love][:D] I have so much going on in this plot arc that I don't at all mind saying that that was just a way to combine Legends lore with the Nu!Canon. The Trader's Luck was always an ex-GAR ship - so it was a coincidence I enjoyed making use of, and it is certainly lucky for Ahsoka. :p She can use all of the help she can get right now! 8-}

    Eugh - Shrike is definitely a piece of work, and this is him early in his canon. He just gets worse as time goes on. o_O:rolleyes:

    And Demír is an OC! The SW 'verse can always use more ladies, especially diverse ladies, and so introducing her as a potential ally for Ahsoka brought me all sorts of joy. We will definitely be seeing more of her. :)

    It is indeed like Zeb and Kallus on Bahryn!! Just like that!! [face_love] Believe it or not, Ahsoka and Ventress are actually "frenemies" at this point in canon. For some backstory, if you're curious: in TCW, when Ahsoka was first framed, she tried going on the run to prove her innocence - something that Barriss eventually ruined, of course. Ventress, at that point, had long been cast aside by Count Dooku (by the Rule of Two, Sidious ordered Dooku to kill her, since she was growing too powerful to stay a mere Sith Assassin - Dooku tried, and failed, and that devastated Ventress), and she'd already tried several times to seek revenge. She'd already found and lost her family of Nightsisters on Dathomir - once again thanks to Dooku, and was making her living as a bounty hunter the last we saw of her. She hunted down Ahsoka for the price on her head, but Ahsoka was able to talk her out of turning her in. Instead, in exchange for helping her clear her name, she offered to speak on Ventress' behalf for a pardon. Ventress agreed, and they did manage to work well together for a short time! I was endlessly fascinated by the potential in their relationship - and I do really adore Ventress' eventual redemption plot as a whole. Dark Disciple was such a fun, guilty pleasure to read - so it's interesting to see Ventres while she's coming up to her crossroads of destiny, so to speak. She's not there yet - but she's on her way. [face_thinking]

    And, as for where this will lead, well, I have more coming in just a few minutes! :D

    As always, I thank you both so much for reading, and I hope that you continue to enjoy Ahsoka's tale as it unfolds! [face_love][:D]

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018
  14. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    Entry IX
    “Ventress,” I couldn’t help the challenge in my voice as I growled, “what are you doing here?”

    Her reply was as quick as it was pointed – she took three long strides forward, even while I held my ground and refused to flinch. But she did nothing more than raise her hand to cover my mouth as she fixed me with a low, furious stare.

    “Hold your tongue, girl, if you want to keep it – I’m not known by that name here.”

    Ignoring her threat – and fighting my first, maybe admittedly childish urge to shout her name then – I narrowed my eyes and nodded my head to show that I’d keep quiet. At the very least, I had questions – so many questions, and I wanted answers. The Force was ambient and lolling as it flowed just beyond my fingertips, offering me no clear indication of Ventress’ intentions – instead, I almost felt as if it was laughing at me, and for that I did role my eyes. What a ridiculous, frustratingly vague mystical entity the Force was being as of late; I was well and truly done with it.

    But the Force’s lack of any clear warning wasn’t wholly unsurprising, either. After all, the last time we’d parted ways there’d been a relative ceasefire between us. A part of me had even wanted her path to find some semblance of peace and healing, and I’d hesitantly thought that she’d felt the same about me. Yet, on the other hand, I knew that Ventress wouldn’t hesitate to resort to violence if she thought it’d better suit her needs. She’d turn on me in a heartbeat, without pity or remorse. So, I couldn’t be too careful.

    I took a step back, shaking her hand away from my mouth in annoyance, and she let me go. I then planted my feet, crossed my arms, and waited for her explanation with a brow raised in challenge. If I didn’t like her answers, I could always sing like the proverbial kanry bird then – I hadn’t wholly dismissed that option. In reply, Ventress only huffed and nodded her head towards the dimly lit service hall I’d come from. After a moment’s consideration, I followed her. Once we were far enough away from the hangar, her eyes flicked down the corridor to ensure that we were alone. Perhaps somewhat redundantly, the Force flared out from her in a murky wave to warn any potential interruptions away and danger. That was overkill in my book, but hey - whatever she needed to set her mind at ease. We still had a few minutes before the meeting began, and apparently she wanted to use that time to talk. That was fine by me.

    “This crew knows me by the name of Allyn Narec,” Ventress said without preamble. “I’d . . . appreciate it if you would call me by the same.” No matter how politely phrased, I heard the emphasis she put on her words – this was not a request.

    My frown stretched, even as my eyes flashed. I never did react well to threats – especially coming from ex-Sith Assassins. “So, you’re here working security? For this lot?” I couldn’t help but deadpan, jabbing my thumb back in the direction of the hangar. “Isn’t that a bit of a step back for a would-be conquering overlord of the galaxy?”

    “I don’t know,” Ventress drawled without batting an eye, “isn’t working security for a crew like this beneath the dignity of a Jedi Padawan – former or not?”

    . . . well, she may have had me there. In hindsight, I'd walked right into that.

    “I was low on options,” my words were clipped. “I’m just doing what I have to do to get by.”

    “Aren’t we all, child?” Ventress rolled her shoulders to return. “Aren’t we all.” The look she turned on me then was long, and considering. “I’d stayed too long on Coruscant,” she came to a decision and revealed. “Contracts there were drying up. I hope to make my way to Corellia and then perhaps to Nar Shaddaa for work. There are many promising opportunities waiting for those who know how to seize them, and I intend to do so.”

    Almost unreasonably, her words caused a dull sort of throbbing in my chest. The idea of someone like Asajj Ventress taking jobs for credits from the Hutts didn’t sit well with me. She was more than that, even at her worst. Was this – the life of a bounty hunter? – really all she’d amounted to after everything she’d poured into achieving her goals? Not that I’d wanted her to achieve her goals, of course – that was beside the point. It just . . . it didn’t sit right with me.

    . . . yet, maybe she could say the same about me? That was a thought I didn’t care for in the slightest, and I brushed it aside. I didn't want anyone's pity.

    While I didn’t think she was lying – I couldn’t see anything on her face or feel any indication from the Force, for what that was worth with someone like her – I also felt that there was something she wasn’t entirely saying. Of course there was. I didn’t even bother humoring the idea that I could pry her true motives from her before she was good and ready to share – or, before it was too late to do anything about whatever scheme she’d so clearly concocted. And wasn’t that a thought? I shook it away with a sigh, even while admitting that I’d need to be on my toes all the more so during my time with the Shrikes’ crew. Things were even more complicated now.

    “That’s . . .” I tried to find a way to express what I thought of her plan, but came up empty. This was quickly becoming a conversation Master Obi-Wan could've better had than me. But he wasn’t here; I was, and my tongue was stupidly tied.

    “Necessary?” Ventress finished for me with a rueful snort. At the very least, I saw a sort of twisted understanding in her gaze – and that empathy I felt I could trust, to some extent. She had been thrown aside by her own Master and left for dead – quite literally. If there was anyone Ventress hated more than the Jedi now, it was Count Dooku. The parallels between our paths, discordant as they were, had already prompted her to help my once; maybe they would again. “We can’t always have what we want from life.”

    “Necessary,” the word tasted bitter to echo. “Yeah, that about covers it.”

    A long moment passed, uncomfortable on both ends as we each struggled for words. And then, finally, Ventress sighed and said outright, “Look, I’m not here to get in your way. As long as you stay out of mine we need not bother each other terribly much. Agreed?”

    “. . . sure,” I found myself nodding, almost in spite of myself. “I guess.”

    There were so many reservations I had about working with anyone who so blatantly employed the Dark Side, and the Force only knew the full extent of the atrocities that she was wanted as a war criminal for (even then, remembering Wolffe's ruined face, fearing for his depreciated value in the eyes of Master Plo, and Rex solemnly coming to Master Anakin to learn more about mental shields hit me like a charging rancor) . . . but, I'd meant it when I’d offered to speak on her behalf to the Senate committee. I knew that Master Obi-Wan too had long held out hope for more from Asajj Ventress – for whatever that was worth. Master Obi-Wan somehow managed to collect a following of starry-eyed villains that neither I or Master Anakin could understand – he attracted them like a young sun drawing planets to its orbit from the chaos of a nebula. So, there was that.

    “Good,” Ventress nodded her head sharply, taking my further silence as agreement. “Then we understand each other.”

    She waved her hand, and the oppressive shadow she’d laid in the Force then retreated. I felt as if I could breathe again without even realizing that I first felt suffocated. With that settled between us, we both turned back towards the hangar. While the silence was awkward as we walked, it wasn’t heavy - not necessarily.

    “For what it's worth, I am glad that your Master was able to clear your name,” Ventress muttered, just before we stepped into the bay. “I watched your trial on the ‘Net; the whole thing was tasteless and vulgar.” She sounded as if every word was torn from her mouth, and her nose scrunched as if she smelled something unpleasant. But there was a wistful note in her voice that I felt myself listening to, and understanding. “Skywalker honored you, as was only right. No one deserves to suffer that sort of betrayal.”

    What a strange, strange galaxy it was if even Asajj Ventress could understand what, to some extent I felt, baffled even the Jedi Council. I shook my head, not caring for my bemusement in the slightest.

    “And I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to speak to the judicial committee for you,” I whispered, equally soft. “I would have, if I could.” But my voice didn’t mean anything now; there was no one who’d care to listen to me.

    “I know,” Ventress flashed me an odd sort of half smile – awkward from disuse, I could only imagine – before the expression fell to settle in her usual severe glower. “I still don’t understand why, of course . . . but I know.”

    And with that completely surreal encounter out of the way, we both approached Isshaddik’s team just in time for the meeting to begin. I picked a spot sitting cross-legged atop one of the cargo bins, while Ventress walked over to the far side of the group and picked up a sulking pose, leaning back against one of the larger crates. That same aura of danger and away was back, and no one was brave enough to even stand next to her.

    Isshaddik spoke with the use of a translator, but I tried my best to ignore the droid and listen to him, instead. My grasp of Shyriiwook was admittedly incomplete and somewhat rusty, but it was enough to get by. He started by introducing the new security recruits – Ventress, the two Duros, and myself – and then went into the specifics of our job.

    Apparently, Srink’s cargo was something they’d gradually been assembling over the last month. The items had been smuggled out of the Kashyyyk sector in bits and pieces since the escalation of the war, and were being transported to a collector on the neutral planet of Corellia for safe-keeping until the hostilities ended. The load we brought from Coruscant was nearly the last piece of the puzzle. Nearly.

    Suddenly, my role made more sense as Isshaddik brought up a star-chart, and pointed out the planet of Quellor, not far from Corellia in the Colonies. The planet was a trading center, just off of two of the major corridors into the Mid Rim and beyond – one of which was a backdoor route into the Kashyyyk sector. On Quellor, the last bit of Srink’s shipment was waiting to be retrieved, and then the entirety of the merchandise would be moved to Corellia for safekeeping.

    Ah, I understood then, even as Isshaddik began to outline the details of our individual assignments. So that’s where things were going to get . . . tricky, to say the least.

    I should have been expecting something like this, honestly. This job would’ve been all too simple if we just had to move between Coruscant and Corellia. The two planets were relatively close by as far as the galactic scale was concerned, and connected by the Gamor Run; it would’ve been just a few hours worth of hyperspace travel to make that jump. There’s no way the Shrikes would have invested in extra security if that alone had been the case.

    Yet, even so close to the Core, this portion of space was one that the war had touched – I’d just been on the frontlines at Cato Neimoidia, right before the 501st was recalled to Coruscant for the Temple bombing. Cato Neimoidia . . . which was just a system away from Quellor, and uncomfortably close to Corellia and Coruscant by extension. This was one of the few places the Separatists had been able to breach beyond the Mid Rim in the galaxy, and one of the reasons we were fighting so hard to keep their influence from spreading any further inward. Where the war had touched, there were always pirates and other opportunists who were looking for plunder. And, with the Luck not being able to keep to the hyperspace lanes such as the Gamor Run – where the Republic vigorously patrolled and guarded its own – due to the . . . questionable legitimacy of their venture, they were rolling the dice of heading right into Separatist or pirate controlled space with each mirco jump they made to stay under the radar. This would be slow flying through a part of the galaxy incredibly dense with stars and other celestial phenomena, and we would have to be lucky every time we emerged from hyperspace to make our next jump. Suddenly, the Shrikes' extra precaution made sense. The possibility of being boarded by an unfriendly third party was a very real risk; this was no pleasure cruise on Chandrilla we were undertaking.

    Alrighty then, I thought, glancing out the corner of my eye to observe Ventress’ reaction – not that she gave much away, of course – this had just turned very serious.

    Due to the sporadic pattern we were taking to reach Quellor and retrieve the final load of Srink’s cargo, what should have been a relatively short journey would take the better part of two days. We wouldn’t make planetfall until the following evening, ship’s time. Until then, there was nothing to do but sit tight, and keep a weary eye out.

    During that time, Isshaddik handed out shifts guarding the merchandise – and I drew the short straw of a midnight slot. That wasn’t too surprising – I had no seniority with the crew, as I’d only just arrived. I could handle the irregular hours. What was more surprising to me was that I was even assigned a shift to begin with – why would the Shrikes assign a tail with one hand, and then trust me with their cargo with the other? It didn’t make any sense. Something, I knew, wasn’t adding up.

    I tried to put my mind to the puzzle, before giving up with a mental shrug. I’d simply understand when there was something to understand; there was no use breaking my brain until then.

    When all the last details were finally sorted out, Isshaddik dismissed us. I darted a quick look at Ventress, but she didn’t even spare me a glance before turning to leave the opposite way she’d came. She didn’t stick around to speak to anyone else, and no one tried to stop her. A moment later, however, I was much the same. I wasn’t here to make friends, and, judging by the . . . colorful group the Shrikes’ employed, this wasn’t a lot I wanted to get too friendly with, anyway. That was just welcoming trouble.

    I still had a long day to pass before my graveyard shift, and I’d already had an early morning to start. I briefly considered trying to close my eyes for a bit, but I was too restless for that. I knew how long I could go without sleep from experience during the war – so far, I’d be fine. If I was completely honest with myself, the last thing I wanted to do was go back to my quiet, empty little room. Irrationally, I felt like the silence would eat me alive if I let it.

    Instead, I picked my way through the corridors to where I knew there was a salle for the commanding officers – a place the Jedi typically overhauled into a room for meditation and practicing lightsaber forms. I wasn’t sure if the Shrikes’ renovations would have gotten that far, and I was curious. My low-level codes were enough to open the room – which meant that entry must have been available to anyone. Within, having not changed terribly much, was the bare bones of a functional gym – a fitness center of sorts for anyone who wanted to make use of it. Thankfully, the salle was deserted. The noon hour would've seen most of the crew in the mess hall, or going about duties of their own. Taking a page out of Ventress’ book, and only feeling slightly guilty for doing so, I swept my hand and asked the Force to . . . discourage anyone from joining me. With the Light, the suggestion was just that, but there was no way I was dipping into anything else with the Force . . . no matter how much easier that would have been to fix the tenuous sort of touch and go relationship we had as of late. I hadn’t strayed that far from the Jedi and their ways.

    When I was certain that I was alone, I was all too happy to take off my boots and pad across the mats with my bare feet. I spent some time on a few warm-up stretches, and then moved through the opening katas of the Krayt Dragon form. Even without my lightsabers it felt good to use my muscles in a way that I hadn’t since before my trial – at Dex’s, the idea of keeping up with my training had just hurt, and I’d shied away from doing so. But the looming possibility of a firefight was looking to be something that would come sooner, rather than later. I couldn’t afford to be caught off guard; so, however I may have personally felt about the matter would just have to wait.

    Finally, when my body felt loose and limber, I took out my vibroblade and experimentally held it in my reverse Shien grip. Fives was right – the weapon was much heavier than a lightsaber, and it was static in my hand. The humming of the vibroblade didn’t have that familiar push and pull element that was granted by the heart of a kyber crystal. A lightsaber was an extension of your being, it was a part of you; this was just a tool; it would be whatever I chose to make of it.

    But it was the only tool I had, so I'd make it work. A vibroblade wouldn’t be terribly useful against short range blaster fire, but it could deflect long range bolts - at a price, of course. Each reflected bolt would feel like catching a torpedo, even with the Force augmenting my strength. Thankfully, the blade was longer than standard – in typical Fives fashion, of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised – it was more of a vibrosword, but it was still shorter than even my shoto. It had half the length of my full ‘saber, at that. Patiently, I went through my forms to adjust to the tremors in the hilt and the reach of the weapon; I wanted to be as familiar with it as possible before I truly used it in a life or death situation.

    The more I moved, the more I was able to lose myself in the familiarity of the motions. If I closed my eyes, I could even pretend that it was Anakin going through the same forms just beside me, standing fluid and complementary of my style, like two halves of one whole. I could hear his voice telling me to keep my elbows up, my feet apart, and to not lose yourself in flashy moves, for goodness sake, Ahsoka, we’re just warming up and you’re already making me sound like Master Obi-Wan! before -

    - my eyes snapped open and I skidded to a halt on the mats when I felt someone in the room with me. I was not alone.

    I glanced around, still holding my weapon at the ready in a reverse cross in front of my chest. I narrowed my eyes to search the shadows of the salle, but there was no one that I could see. While I clearly felt the presence of another, and my montrals hummed to inform me of an intruder, the presence didn’t feel malevolent when I reached out with the Force. Instead, I felt a note of something almost childlike emanating from my shadow. There was giddiness and wonder and even awe thrumming through the Force. In response, the Force swirled and preened like a Kuati peacock. It liked having an appreciative audience, especially when so much of the galaxy was off kilter and thrown from its balance as of late. This, the Force felt, was equilibrium.

    Well, that was all well and good, I thought sourly. I had impressed my tail – so what? Big deal. I still didn’t at all care for whoever was skulking behind me – again. The coward could at least come out and face me, now that they were made.

    “I know you’re there,” I finally challenged outright, speaking boldly to the empty air. All of my earlier plans about ignoring them until I in turn was ignored were gone just that quickly. I felt my annoyance flare, even as I tried to keep my temper in check. “Why don’t you come out and show yourself? This is getting ridiculous.”

    But silence was my only answer. Silence, all but for -

    - the barest scuffling noise echoed against my montrals, giving my quarry away. My eyes darted up. Ah, there!

    I waved my hand to throw a service panel in the ceiling back, and then jumped up to reach the ventilation ducts. The shafts were too narrow for me to enter any more than anchoring myself by my forearms and tilting my head in for a brief view – between my growing crest and shoulders and hips, there were some things from my childhood I just couldn’t do anymore, and this was one of them. But, when I stared into the dark, there was no one I could see. Not anymore, at least – and I was relatively certain that there had been someone there, just a moment ago.

    My annoyance bled from me in favor of puzzlement. Either the Shrikes had employed a species that was small enough to fit through the ducts – which was a possibility, or, a child had been following me this entire time.

    I dropped lightly to the mats, and waved the panel back into place. I stood still for a long moment, considering the possibilities. Then, only when I was reasonably certain that I was alone, I picked up my vibroblade and returned to my forms.

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018
    Kahara, AkyeRae and Findswoman like this.
  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Intriguing conversation with clear lines drawn with "Alyn" [face_thinking] Now that more details come out about the cargo and the circuitous routes needed to put it all together and get it where it needs to go safely, it still feels like (A) It could draw a lot of unwanted attention or (B) Things won't go as smoothly as hoped. :oops:

    And who, exactly, is this tail Ahsoka has gotten? A small, tenacious one. :p
    Mira_Jade and Findswoman like this.
  16. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Tol Fanfic Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Moderator

    Feb 27, 2014
    Well, well—definitely a very fraught meeting between these two "frenemies" (and thanks so much for explaining the background between the two characters, which was very helpful to me). I guess my guess about Ventress taking on a similar job to Ahsoka;s was more or less right, and now I am wondering what kind of cargo needs not one but two Force-sensitives (of opposite alignments, at that) to guard. [face_thinking] Though I take it as generally a good sign that even Asajj recognizes what a travesty Ahsoka's trial and false accusation were; of course the fact that both these women have to hire themselves out for credits in this bounty-hunter-like way speaks volumes about the state of the times too. I'll be curious to see how much they actually will be able to avoid each other on this mission (and I'm guessing it may not be much).

    Very intriguing to learn more about Srink's shipment—looks like it's many things being brought together from many places, rather than just one big thing, which kind of changes the game a bit. [face_thinking] And of course having to go by all those "back roads" to Quellor adds a distinct element of risk and danger that I'm guessing neither Ahsoka nor Asajj counted on. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't quite an accident that Ahsoka was assigned the midnight shift. And then, on top of it all, there's this very intriguing little being following Ahsoka's every move, and with a very interesting and unexpected Force presence too:

    So perhaps this little shadow is not completely malevolent, at least—could Ahsoka make an eventual ally here, too? Something I'll pore on as you keep this very intriguing tale coming! :cool:
  17. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    I still can't thank you both enough for sticking with me and leaving your thoughts! It means the world to me. [:D]

    Ahsoka is definitely in the deep end with this crew, that's for sure! To quote a certain bad feeling about this and all . . . :p

    And as for her small, tenacious tail, well, we just have one more update to go before their identity is revealed! Honestly, I didn't intend to spend this many entries on build-up - it all just happened. Silly, wordy muse . . . :oops:


    Exactly! Ventress has her own motives - but in the end, she's living hand to fist as a bounty hunter right now, so this is just a lucky coincidence. [face_mischief] But while the Shrikes knew they were getting a bargain deal with Ahsoka being an ex-Jedi, Ventress' identity is under wraps here. They have no idea what they're getting into, likewise. [face_whistling]

    I thought that it was fascinating how Ventress and Ahsoka served as narrative foils for each other in TCW. It was darn good writing on-screen and I'm all too happy to carry it on here. And, if I have my way, Ventress is going to go a lot farther than she did in canon. Even at her most Dark, she was always a fascinating character for me, and I more than approve of her eventual redemption arc. So! Let the healing begin. [face_love]

    And the funny thing is that I never intended it to be such a mystery! All of this build-up was supposed to be done in a chapter or two and instead my word-count spiraled out of control. There's so much exposition I am trying to wrap up right quick before you guys tire of me. I didn't have these pacing issues in my outline. But, isn't that how it always goes? :p :oops:

    But, at the very least, there are some answers in the next update! And I can't wait to share. :D

    All I can say is that the galaxy is a very, very small place, and the Force, as always, works in mysterious ways. ;) [face_mischief]

    As always, I thank you so very much for reading, and for taking the time to leave such lovely, thoughtful reviews! [:D]

    Alrighty then, ladies, more will be up in just a few minutes! :D

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  18. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004

    Entry X

    I practiced until my muscles were nicely sore and I felt reasonably confident with my new weapon. I then took a sonic shower to freshen up, and, with nothing else to do but wait, returned to my cabin. I sat on the edge of the bed, not feeling particularly tired but knowing that I needed to stock up on some sleep for my midnight shift. Before I closed my eyes, though, I reluctantly took out my wrist-comm to leave Rex a message. I had yet to send him an update since I accepted the Shrikes’ offer, and I still hadn’t told him about Master Obi-Wan’s visit, either. Both needed to be mentioned, and now was as good a time as any.

    “So,” I cringed, even without being able to see his expression in reply – my imagination had a wealth of experience to draw on, after all, “before you do anything else: take a deep breath, and don’t freak out. Because I finally found a job, only . . . you’re not going to like it.”

    I finished recording my message and then flopped back against the mattress with a sigh. That was more grueling than anything else I’d done the last few days. Even though my new bed was on the hard and practical side, it was no worse than many of the places I'd slept during the war. Thankfully, I ended up being tired enough to doze in some semblance of sleep for a little bit. When a banging noise startled me from outside, my eyes flew open and I snapped to full awareness. I waited, admittedly still on edge with my new shipmates, but the sound didn’t come back and I couldn’t sense anyone in the hall outside my door. It didn’t matter, though. I was awake, and awake I would say.

    And, I already had a reply from Rex, just that quick. That didn’t bode well at all.

    I sat up and swung my legs over the side of the bed. Holding my breath, I accepted the message, and waited.

    First off,” after a burst of static Rex got right to the point without greeting or preamble – he was efficient when need be, my captain, “I am most definitely not freaking out. So don’t think I am.”

    Sure he wasn’t. Punctuating that thought, I heard someone else speaking away from the mic’s range, and Rex’s reply borrowed a few words in Mando’a that were definitely less than kind. I winced, in spite of myself. He normally wasn’t that short with the men.

    But I had his full attention again just a few seconds later. “Now, since that’s been established: what, in all the hells there are and then some, do you think you’re doing?! It’s risky enough to take on work with this . . . this trading clan.” The dubious inflection dripping from those last two words made his opinion of my new employers and fellow workers more than clear. “But it sounds like there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye. That would be bad enough on its own, but now there’s also Ventress to consider! What is she really up to? What’s her angle? That . . . that harpy may have helped you once, but I wouldn’t trust her more than that for anything. It's just . . . there are too many unstable elements in place, and they’re all ready to combust in your face. I don’t like this for you, verd’ika – I don’t like it at all. You shouldn't be out there on your own, jumping all over the back-ways of the Core without proper recon or support. We can’t . . . nobody’s there to watch your six, and I’m too far away to - ”

    But, just as quickly as his words first gained speed, he abruptly cut his speech off mid-sentence. He was silent for a long moment as he gathered himself. I felt my heart twist in my chest, knowing exactly where his frustration – where his fear, really, was stemming from. I wished there was something – anything – I could do to make it better, but there wasn’t, short of returning to the Jedi. This was something I'd just have to figure out on my own, no matter how much that may have sat ill with Rex.

    In the end, Rex knew that as well as I did.

    “My apologies, sir,” Rex recovered himself. He swallowed, and the tone of his voice clearly tightened; it lost its familiarity. “I didn’t mean to forget my place. You know what you’re doing and you’re going to be okay, no matter what Ventress or the Shirkes may throw at you. I just hope that this drop goes smoothly, at least - I’ll admit that I’ll breathe easier once you’re safe and settled on Corellia.”

    I didn’t like that, either. My eyes narrowed at the blinking light on my wrist-comm as if I could glower straight through at Rex instead. I wasn’t a Jedi or his commanding officer anymore – he could talk to me. I thought he knew that. And it wasn’t as if Master Anakin had ever encouraged a strict adherence to protocol in the first place – Rex was a sentient being, not a droid; he could speak his mind.

    I sighed in time with Rex on the message, just before he finished by saying, “The moment you feel that you’re in over your head, don't hesitate to let us know. There has to be some way that someone can help. . . somehow. I . . . I’m sorry to hear about General Kenobi’s visit, too. I know he’s only trying to do what he thinks is best, but it's still hard. Cody’s said that he’s been like a penned rancor since your arrest, and thanks you, by the way, for putting his general in such a bind. Kenobi’s really stuck between a black hole and a supernova with the Council and Skywalker and you. He’s not been handling it well.”

    For just a moment, I couldn’t help a crooked grin. Of course Cody wouldn’t be able to understand my choice, and he was grumbling like a sentry nexu before its pride. For as much as Master Obi-Wan took on his shoulders, I knew that Cody tried his best to ease his burdens when and where he could. I obviously hadn’t helped in that regard. Of course, my amusement didn’t – it couldn’t – last too long when I remembered just why Obi-Wan was troubled on my behalf, and even exasperated with me, personally. My smile faded as quickly as it came.

    Even as I lost my grin, Rex’s voice sobered to continue, “Now, that said, I don’t understand what’s not to understand about why you left. You had every cause for grievance, and though you were proven innocent, it still wasn’t justice in the end; it was empty. You should be able to trust your aliit absolutely, and that trust was betrayed. I hope that General Kenobi can see that in time, and make peace with your choice . . . and that goes for General Skywalker too.”

    There wasn’t much more that could be said following that. For a long moment there was only silence from the recording, and I let myself bow my head. My every limb felt heavy and ungainly, and I was just so tired; exhausted in a way I couldn’t physically explain or express.

    But, blind to my reaction, Rex went on to conclude, “Alright, then – as for us, we’ve met up with the 327th again. We’re currently running drills on some hunk of rock called Eeppo II while waiting for word from high command. Apparently, General Skywalker earned some official attention for the . . . zeal he applied to our last assignment. He has General Secura minding him for now, until he can prove that he’s at peace with everything that’s happened.” For that Rex gave a rueful snort – which I could agree with completely. Master Secura could be with the 501st for quite some time if that was the case.

    “And that’s a wrap for me, now – if I leave Fives unsupervised any longer, Bly just may decommission the poor barve himself. You know our ARC has a broken sense of danger when it comes to running his mouth, and Bly doesn’t have my sterling excess of patience. It must’ve all leaked out in his pod.”

    I huffed for his words, amused – the reaction he was trying to leave me with, I knew. But, at the same time, I couldn’t help the note of guilt and foreboding I felt, dropping down to settle in the pit of my stomach like a rock. Anakin still wasn’t handling my leaving well, then, was he? But I shook my head, knowing better than to be surprised. Of course my Master wasn’t handling this well – I knew he wasn’t.

    Even still, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t through the training bond that connected us. There was a wall on Anakin's end, pitch black and covered with thorns and impossible to breach. Every so often, I caught glimpses of a storm brewing, just beyond my power to wholly observe. It was an inky, dark feeling that I didn’t care for in the silence left in his wake. For all that I hated the emptiness in my mind where Anakin used to be, I didn’t like thinking about what my Master may have allowed to fill my own absence even more.

    . . . but I couldn’t do anything about that anymore. As it was, I already had a full plate of my own to deal with, and my current course needed my undivided attention. I could only hope that time, and the healing it provided would help Anakin . . . would help me - and all of us, really.

    Right, then – I have to get back to the company, verd’ika. But let us know the minute you have something to report. I’ll be thinking about you until then. Rex, out.”

    The flashing blue light winked away, and I flopped back against my mattress again with an exaggerated sigh. My thoughts were swirling and my pulse was racing like a galloping ronto. In answer, I did nothing more than stare at the ceiling for a long, long time.

    Eventually, the ship’s night came, and with it my shift in the cargo bay. Most everyone but for the essential crew was asleep, and I after I switched places with the two Duros I took the time to walk the length and width of Srink’s shipment. I still had no idea what was in all of those crates – and there were hundreds of them in the bay. They were all different dimensions; some long and skinny, some tall and bulky, and there was no rhyme or reason to their assortment that I could figure. What was more than that, I felt like the crates were . . . humming? I didn’t have the words to properly describe what I felt. A thrumming in the Force whispered against my preternatural senses, as if I was trying to hear something just beyond my range. Even my montrals itched with some distant impression of sound – a tangible sense, then, so much so that I had to resist the childish urge to reach up and press my hands against my horns to help muffle the vibrations.

    Whatever Srink’s cargo was, I didn’t think it was malevolent – it felt old and earthy and noisy, instead, all at once, if that made any sense – but, malevolent or not, it was definitely wrecking havoc on my senses.

    Finally, after I mapped out the bay and reconned the cargo as well as I was able, I took a perch on the first level of catwalks and took out my dinner from Dex. I gave a happy trill to see that one container held a serving of his spicy gargon gumbo and a hunk of black koch bean bread for dipping – thoughtfully grain free, just for me. The other held a full rack of Pau’an nos ribs – one of Dex’s specialties, even if Master Obi-Wan and Anakin kindly disagreed with me. Only Rex had been brave enough to try a bite, before recoiling and saying that he’d try it again cooked – which had both Dex and I sniffing in feigned offense. Humans, honestly! In classical Pau’an fashion, the meat was raw except for where it had been simmering in a hot oli-onion and Pau’an dark ale sauce. Just as carnivorous a species as my own, the Pau’ans had an ale even I could stomach, brewed from their roasted harh-nuts and zuk-berries, and it was just as delicious when used as a marinade. My stomach gave a happy rumble, and I wasted no time in diving in.

    In the end, it was my meal that attracted company, rather than anything else.

    “Oh my! I have not smelled traditional nos ribs in many, many years. What a delicacy!”

    I looked up to see Srink himself approaching me on silent, clawed feet. At first, seeing nothing more than the glitter of scales and the flash of white fangs in the dark, my heart skipped a beat and my hand instinctively shifted towards my weapon before I remembered myself. Srink, I could claim with near certainty, meant not a soul in the galaxy harm, and it was unfair of me to keep reacting that way when I knew better.

    The scar on my left leg from where Garnac’s talons had sank into my thigh smarted then. Unwittingly, I remembered little Kalifa – not even a Padawan yet and fallen to the Trandoshan hunters – and I had to suck in a deep breath. I was far, far away from that awful moon, and Garnac would never hunt another sentient being for sport again. I’d seen to that myself.

    Srink stopped a respectable distance away from me, and I watched as he discreetly scented the air. His nose was as sensitive as my montrals were, and I knew that my reaction wasn’t lost on him. Thankfully, he was dignified enough not to mention my lapse in manners aloud, for which I was grateful.

    So, half in apology and half truly not minding his company in the slightest, I patted the grating next to me and offered, “Would you like some? My friend was overly generous seeing me off, and there’s plenty to share.”

    Srink delicately sniffed the air again, but this time for a much better reason. “Normally, I would consider it bad manners,” he rolled a long ‘s’ on the word, “to take you up on your offer, yet . . .”

    “But nos ribs are not to be missed, right?” my own sharp teeth flashed at him in a grin, and that sealed it for Srink.

    I knew that he was moving slowly and obviously for my benefit – keeping his talons clearly in view as he sat on the catwalk next to me, and I felt shame flush over my lekku all over again. But he didn’t mention my less than positive reaction aloud, and I’d find the words to apologize when there wasn’t good food to be had between us. I moved my meal closer for Srink to share, and he gratefully tore into the meat with his teeth.

    “That,” he concluded happily a few minutes later, “is one of the best nos ribs I’ve had outside of Utapau itself.”

    “It’s from this little place in CoCo Town called Dex’s,” I was proud to share. “The cook there caters to all species, so there’s something for everyone.”

    “I’ll keep that in mind,” Srink was pleased to know. “If I ever return to the capitol again, I will have to pay my compliments. And, when your friend’s fare has run out, we have a ship’s cook of our own who is just as mindful of non-Human dietary needs. Find Dewlanna, and she will take care of you.”

    Dex himself had said to find the ship’s cook and make a friend if I could, so I nodded, thankful for the advice. That’s just what I would do in the morning.

    We ate in easy silence until all the food was gone, and then we used the remaining bean bread to soak up what was left of the sauce. Following, I couldn’t help but remark, “I’m surprised you’re still awake. It’s late, and our day started early.”

    Srink rolled his shoulders in answer. “I imagine I will not sleep until all of this is over. I cannot; not in good conscience.”

    And, well, that seemed as good an opportunity as any to satisfy my own curiosity. Srink didn’t have to answer me if he didn’t want to, and that would be that.

    “If you don’t mind my prying,” I started, “what exactly does your shipment contain? I know it's important to your people, and it means a great deal to you personally, but I’m stumped beyond that.”

    In the end, I needn’t have worried. Srink was all too happy to share.

    “It would be my pleasure to tell you!” Srink was obviously pleased that I asked. The quills atop his ridged skull fanned out in a colorful flare, and he bared his teeth. But instead of immediately elaborating, however, he reached into the inner pocket of his vest and withdrew a . . . musical instrument, of a sort? There were what seemed to be pipes of ascending length, all bound together by a beautifully tooled piece of leather. None of the pipes were longer than my hand, and, when Srink passed the instrument to me I could see delicate carvings on each wood piece, mostly in motifs of vines and flowers. “Do you know what this is, Lady Tano?” he asked.

    My brow furrowed, and I gave the obvious answer, “An instrument?” I guessed, somewhat dumbly. “A flute.”

    Srink made a hissing sound that I thought was laughter. “Very perceptive,” he confirmed, even so. “Are you not a native of Shili?” he teased. “Your people have produced some of the best woodwindists the galaxy has ever seen.”

    I knew that the chevrons on my lekku darkened even further for that – a reaction Srink was not blind to see. “I left Shili before I was really old enough to remember much about my home,” I answered. I had the vaguest memories of my birth-clan – the striped red turu-grass of the scrublands, and the impression of the forest valleys beyond. I remembered the sound of my father’s voice and the feel of my mother’s arms; they’d been so proud that I was selected by the Jedi; it was a mark of honor for the entire tribe – that much I could well remember. I . . . I wondered what they’d think of my choices now.

    Srink cocked his head. “You may have grown far from where you were hatched, but you honor your culture even so, no?” he gestured towards my crest, and I lifted a hand to touch the akul-tooth headdress I still wore. I knew what he meant to say, and a crooked grin tugged on my mouth in reply – just the act of hunting the animal had been a coming of age ceremony, lead by Master Ti as my hunt-mother, but I’d done more than that: I’d been able to properly defend myself and slay the beast without aid – a feat for even a full grown Togrutan hunter, and I’d proudly displayed proof of my victory since then.

    “Just because we leave our worldly families behind for our community at the Temple doesn’t mean that we completely forget where we come from,” I confirmed. “I observe what I can of my culture, such as the Masters approve.”

    Or . . . at least I had. It was still difficult, speaking of my life with the Jedi in the past tense. Srink, I thought, heard that as clear as day. Yet again, he politely did not comment on his observations aloud.

    “This, then,” he delicately let my words pass, “is something I do to preserve my own culture. Tell me, what do you see on the flute?”

    My nose scrunched and I narrowed my eyes to better study the instrument. At first, I didn’t know what it was he wanted me to see, and I was ready to concede defeat. But I kept on coming back to the beautifully etched vines and flowers. The work was so finely wrought; the grooves were so carefully placed by a clearly sharp tool, like a -

    “These are claw marks,” I was nearly certain I’d figured it out. Sure enough, I looked up to see that Srink’s scaled mouth was stretching in his version of a grin. “But,” I tilted my head to say, “I don’t think they’re Saurin. The sizes are off.” The carvings on the flute were made by a more slender point than a Saurin’s talons.

    “Very perceptive,” Srink approved. “The wood here you see is ykamarri – from before the Rakatan terraforming birthed the wroshyr forests better known on Kashyyyk now. When my people first developed the power of space-flight, in the time before the ancient times, we used that power to branch out in our own star system, first and foremost. The desire to conquer, versus the desire to explore, is what first separated my people from our Trandoshan cousins, and that was mainly over our meeting our closest neighbor – the Wookiees.”

    Now this was a part of their history I’d not heard before. I couldn’t help but lean forward then, curious and eager for the rest of his tale.

    “Obviously, we had no easy way to communicate at first. We are still such different species! Yet, what both of our people could well relate to was a love of music. The most beautiful instruments were made from ykamarri wood – few as they’ve remained over the millennia, of course. But, eventually, our early artists together came up with a way of combining our traditions to create something that was more.”

    Srink reached into his opposite pocket to bring out his datapad, and with a swipe of his claw he brought up a hologram of a staggeringly immense instrument. This . . . this feat of engineering was a collection of wood and metal pipes in staggered shapes and assortments that I couldn’t immediately understand. It was all connected by a massive base, and racks upon racks of finely carved keyboards. It was beautiful, I instinctively felt, even in miniature. I could only imagine what it would be like when fully assembled.

    “This is the Cteibuciiir,” he rolled the unfamiliar word so easily – a combination of both the ancient Wookiee and Saurin languages, I would guess. “It’s the largest concert woodwind of its kind in the galaxy – there are thirty manuals, well over a thousand ranks, five hundred registers, and seventy-thousand pipes, all carved from ykamarri wood thousands of years ago, and carefully preserved over the ages. It takes a trio of skilled musicians to play it all at once, and the sound . . . oh, the sound,” for that, Srink’s eyes fluttered closed to relive some old, cherished memory, “ . . . Lady Tano, it’s like nothing I can rightly explain with words.”

    That certainly filled in the blanks of why it was so important to remove the Cteibuciiir from the Kashyyyk sector with war encroaching on their door. So much of both Kashyyyk and Durkteel was burning, even as we spoke. This instrument was something priceless, and to imagine it so thoughtlessly destroyed by the Separatists or the Hutts or even worse . . . it was unimaginable.

    “For the time being, our dear lady will have to rest in pieces, just like this,” Srink’s voice was mournful to whisper. “But, someday, perhaps, when the war is done . . .”

    “You’ll be able to hear it played again,” I finished. “I . . . I think I’d like to hear it too when that time comes.”

    “Yes, yes – you and anyone with an appreciation for her song,” Srink sighed to put his datapad away. “She’ll be heard again someday, as she most glories to be; that is my fondest wish.”

    For a long moment, silence stretched between us, even as I imagined I could hear some far off, distant notes whispering in the air. I wondered then, if that was what I felt from the Force? A memory? The trees of Kashyyyk were no normal trees, the Masters had long taught; they held a sentience all their own. In the time before time, the Wookiees' legends even said that they walked on their roots. For something this ancient, I could only imagine what it had seen in its time – and what it even now had to share. It was a vague knowing, perhaps, that I would never be able to properly explain aloud.

    Gently, I handed Srink his ykamarri flute back. “If you’d like,” I invited, "I’d be honored if you played something for us now.”

    “Yes,” Srink said softly, taking the flute back from me with careful, delicate talons. “A lullaby, of a sort, to guide the Cteibuciiir through her rest . . . yes - that is just the thing. You’re too right. Now, what shall I play?”

    But, even though he sat right beside me, I knew that Srink was very far away in spirit as he lifted the flute to his mouth and blew out his first notes. The sound from the ancient wood was sweet and rich as it vibrated against my montrals in pitches of liquid gold and rich velvet. Srink’s song was slow and mournful, but soothing – a lullaby, as he said, in its every verse.

    I didn’t stop him as he flowed easily from that piece into the next, and instead sat very still beside him as he filled the night with his song.

    Cteibuciiir: This is pure fanon! But, we need more musical lore in Star Wars, so here I am providing. The name is gathered from sorta meshing together the name Ctesibius - the ancient Greek musician who first came up with the hydraulic organ, the predecessor of the pipe organs we better know - with the Shyriiwook word 'ciiir', meaning great, ancient, wise. Inspiration came from the Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ in New Jersey - the largest instrument in the world, which is less than half the size of the beast I came up with here. I have no idea if what I described is even remotely possible to play, but hey, it's science fiction, so lets go with it. :p

    Ykamarri: Combines the Shyriiwook words for walker/dancer and mighty. My fanon imagines that the earliest trees on Kashyyyk were sort of like Tolkien's Ents, possessing mobility and sentience until they rooted to birth the forests. So, when the Rakatan Empire terraformed Kashyyyk in antiquity to form the wroshyr forests we better know and love, that was the basis for those forests. That would be quite a wood for crafts, with such a soul to its resonance! Or, at least, that's what I've imagined for this story. But, when war strikes, preserving the arts has always been a challenge throughout history, so I tried to honor a part of that here.

    Nos Ribs and Spicy Gargon Gumbo: Are both on the menu at Dex's - though he'll charge you extra to cook the ribs, of course. [face_mischief]

    Ahsoka and Trandoshans: In the Padawan Lost/Wookiee Hunt episode arc of TCW, Ahsoka was kidnapped and dropped on one of Trandosha's moons for a group of Trandoshan hunters to pursue for sport. They're the Hunger Games episodes of the series, basically. While there, she met three Jedi younglings who were stranded and surviving on their own for quite some time. With the help of Chewbacca - who was one of the Wookiees also dumped on the moon for the hunt - she was able to take out the leader of the Trandoshan hunters. Only two of the younglings survived, however. Kalifa, who was the 'mom' of the group, didn't make it. Yeah - those were a few episodes that definitely bumped TCW up from being a kid's show. [face_plain]

    Mando'a Words:
    Aliit: a deeper word for family, encompassing both blood relatives and those of the heart.
    Verd'ika: little soldier.

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  19. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Tol Fanfic Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Moderator

    Feb 27, 2014
    WOW! :eek: :eek: :eek: It's an organ! Srink's cargo is an organ! Again, :eek: :eek: :eek: !

    So you may or may not know that organ is my own primary musical instrument in RL, which is why this makes me inordinately gleeful and excited. And yes, I can confirm that every organ is "alive" in their own way—no wonder Ahsoka can hear the Cteibuciiir's component parts humming in the Force just as if it were alive itself—and that they are all as different from each other in their sound and in their construction as living beings. And your very cool fanon about the ykamarri and its sentient qualities really drives that home—that's such a perfect fit for Kashyyyk, where the trees (and wood in general) are supreme in a way we RL Humans can only guess at.

    The Cteibuciiir sounds like a true "queen of instruments": I have no doubt it is capable of both the softest, most ethereal sounds imaginable and the loudest, most booming, most magnificent fortissimos—and I'm going to guess it has more than one open 64' rank, perhaps even a 128'. :D So yes, I completely understand Srink's concern that it be transported with the greatest of care and with great "cultural sensitivity," and I know it will be in good hands with Ahsoka helping watch over it. (And perhaps Ventress too, though we'll see... [face_thinking] )

    Incidentally, the disassembly and transporting of the Cteibuciiir reminds me of something similar that was done to some organs in Germany during World War II: one of North Germany's finest 17th-century instruments (which itself still incorporated pipework from the 16th century) was disassembled and stored shortly before WWII, and thus made it safely through the war, unlike so many of the country's other historical organs. (It still needed a certain amount of restoration and reconstruction, but it is pretty much still the same instrument it was.) So that was yet another thing that made me grin a big grin here! I know there will be expert restorers and builders on the other end who will restore the Cteibuciiir to its former glory, and hopefully in a wonderful, resonant space that's worthy of it. <3 In the meantime, there's Srink's own beautiful lullaby to fill the lonely sentry hours and serenade the queen of instruments. (Going to guess there was some resonance from some of the Cteibuciiir pipes, too—a beautiful effect in that big cargo bay!)

    And now, knowing all this, Rex's highly concerned and worried message at the beginning of the entry makes me smile all the more. Part of me wants say to him, "relax! It's just an organ!" :D But of course he is concerned and protective of his dear ad'ika and verd'ika and always will be. [face_love] I know I've said it before, but I love that Ahsoka will be able to count on his encouragement and understanding wherever she may go. And I love too how he can always interject a note of humor, in the way he brings in the antics and goings-on of all the other vode. (Now Cody, though... I hope he won't be too much of a thorn in anyone's side about this whole issue, whether Obi-Wan's or his brothers'.)

    A few other things I'm taking note of: Anakin's continued inaccessibility, too (which we know the cause of, of course, though it may play out differently in this particular AU), and Dewlanna as cook! [face_dancing] She'll make sure this crew is as well fed as Dex ever did, I'm sure, though it was sweet that Ahsoka had that little "taste of home" with her. Plus extra fantastic that those nos ribs were the catalyst for her whole conversation with Srink—and the reveal of this truly amazing cargo!

    Keep up the mighty fine work—can't wait to see what's next for both Ahsoka and the Cteibuciiir! @};-
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  20. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    EXQUISITE! Beautiful lore about the Wookiee and Saurin cultures and where they intersect. The miniature instrument Srink plays as well as the large, intricate one, I can well imagine produces lovely, lovely music!! I can believe it helps soothe Ahsoka's troubled soul at least for a while. :D


    Rex's message: full of outrage for Ahsoka's quandary and the unsatisfaction of her work situation. He also understands empathetically that Obi-Wan is caught in the middle.


    Dewlanna! I eagerly await any interactions Ahsoka has with her. A more mothering, nurturing type she could not hope to find. :)
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
    Mira_Jade and Findswoman like this.
  21. AkyeRae

    AkyeRae Jedi Master star 1

    Apr 17, 2003
    I just love this! This whole universe, in fact. You have such a way with emotion and imagery. I can feel the music and history of the Cteibuciir! It’s beautiful! And the details of the food that make it all so real.

    And I love the interaction between Rex and Ahsoka. A great scene. So much caring and respect between them as they work out this new aspect of their relationship. And yes, Rex should go rescue poor Bly from Fives. And Bly should get a nice comforting hug from Aayla to keep him sane. And Fives!!! Not Fives! Or Tup! Not any of the vode!

    Very well done!! And thank you for sharing it with us!!
  22. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    I continue to enjoy this. And the mention of Dewlanna leads me to a sneaking suspicion that the yet to be seen child who is shadowing Ahsoka May possibly be a young Han Solo.
  23. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    I DID KNOW THAT AND IT WAS SO HARD KEEPING THIS UPDATE A SURPRISE!! I remember that from the 'getting to know you' thread, way back when. You even recommended some classical music to me that I still appreciate! [:D][:D] When brainstorming, I just knew that I needed something of an artistic/cultural value, and it had to be big - plus it had to fit another requirement that I am not going to spoil yet. [face_mischief] And, as an added bonus, I knew that I had a reader that would appreciate it - so everything came tied together with a happy little bow in the end. I am so glad that this resonated with you!! :D [face_dancing][:D]

    I love seeing live music whenever possible, and a local theater near me actually has an original Barton theater organ that's been preserved and maintained. Even that relatively 'small' organ has such a range and resonance that I love to see in concert whenever I can. So I can only imagine any a larger concert organ like this going in its full glory! There's such life in each and every instrument out there, but these "queens of instruments" really are something else, it's true. I enjoyed whipping up a fanon to play on that more than words can say. :D

    Poor Ventress doesn't even know half of what she's getting into here. :p But then, neither does Ahsoka. [face_whistling]

    Ooooh! Thank you so much for linking that to me! How fitting! I knew about the pains taken to liberate pieces of art from Nazi-occupied Europe, and that was a good deal of my inspiration - so it only stands to reason that such cultural gems as instruments went through the same thing. [face_thinking]

    I just adore the imagery that you suggested there [face_love] - and, you know what, that just prompted a plot bunny for someone else who might have heard the Cteibuciiir's song, as well as who will hear her in the future! One of these days, I'm going to have to type up a few companion vignettes to this story. [face_thinking]

    Rex is such a dear, what can I say?! They could literally be transporting a shipment of cotton candy and poor Rex would worry. His Jedi is better than aiding a criminal crew, no matter what extenuating circumstances there are - especially with the unsavory sorts plaguing the hyperspace lanes with the state the galaxy is in. :p But, in the end, Rex is Rex, and he's going to support her through anything and everything! It's really been a treat, writing their relationship going from 'captain and commander' into this friendship that's growing instead. I just adore their interaction in any form, and I'm glad to be able to give them a voice here. [face_love]

    And the vod'e are just the vod'e to me. I will never get over writing their antics. [face_love]

    Naw, the poor grumpy bear is just overly protective of his Jedi, the same as Rex is, and sometimes he wishes that Anakin and Ahsoka would cut General Kenobi a break and stop putting so many grey hairs in his beard, seriously. But, that doesn't mean that he wouldn't drop everything to help them, too. What's Obi-Wan's is his to protect, also, by extension. [face_love]

    Oh, we are going to dovetail right into the events of "An Old Song, Re-Sung" in this fic, so you better believe that I'm going to have things play out differently! But still, it's a long, rough road to reach that point. :(

    There's a few things that unite the entire human race, no matter our respective backgrounds, and that's good food and good music! I loved bringing a similar such thought to the SW 'verse, and, speaking of Dewlanna picking up just where Dex left off . . . [face_whistling] :D [face_dancing]

    And, once again, thank you so much for the lovely, thoughtful words! I can't tell you how much I appreciate them. [:D]

    Thank-you! You can never have enough alien worldbuilding - and music! I figured that there was a gap to fill, and so, here I am. :p :D

    I just love writing Rex and Ahsoka's relationship, as you well know! So, writing this story is such a treat. And poor Obi-Wan didn't get shone in the best lighting when he made his appearance, so I had to help him out a little bit here. Rex is good at being the reasonable one for his Jedi - he's had lots of practice! :p

    Which is coming up right now!! I'm so excited to share this next update with you, my friend, that I can't even stand it! Thank-you so much for reading, again. I can't tell you how much I appreciate and value your support, as always. [:D]

    Aww, thank-you! I've so appreciated all the likes and comments you've left lately! It's always nice to hear positive feedback, and I'm thrilled to hear that you're enjoying even the smaller aspects of this universe. I am having such a blast building it up as I go, and it's exciting to share!

    Rex and Ahsoka are one of my favourite teams in the SW 'verse in any form, and it's so, so satisfying to write them growing together in this story!! I'm all for Bly getting a hug from Aayla, too - if the poor boy could keep from blushing and freaking out long enough to enjoy it, that is! The poor smitten dear. :p Have I mentioned that I love turning Order 66 on its ear here, for all of its potential? Because I really do. [face_mischief][face_love]

    But . . . unfortunately, my AU doesn't happen early enough to save Fives and Tup - and we're actually going to get to that coming up in this story. :( But, in the meantime I am going to give them all the good moments I can, and then make sure that they're remembered and honored as they deserve to be. It's the least I can do. [face_plain]

    And I thank YOU so much for your kind words! I can't tell you how much I appreciate them, and I hope that you continue to enjoy this 'verse as it grows. [:D]

    Thank-you so much for stopping in to leave such a nice review! You may be onto something with your guess, which I can confirm in just a few minutes . . . [face_mischief] :D

    Alrighty, then! DRL kept me from updating yesterday, so I will have more going up in just a moment. As always, I thank you all so much for your support, and hope that you continue to enjoy this story as it goes. [:D]

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018
  24. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    Author's Notes: So, I had to split this entry into two updates, as it went way beyond my goal of 2k-3k words for an update - a goal I've already been straying away from and want to head back towards now. Yep. This diary is going to go on past January, at this rate. Hopefully, though, it doesn't become a year long project anyway . . . but, stand by. :p

    As always, I thank you all so much for reading, and hope that you enjoy! [:D]

    Entry XI
    My shift finally ended at 0600. I returned to my cabin as soon as I was relieved by the next member of the security team, and had no trouble dropping into a deep, dreamless sleep. Unfortunately, the daytime goings on of the ship woke me up not too long after - I didn't trust my surroundings nearly enough to sleep the day away. But, to my dismay, when I glanced at my chrono I realized that I had slept past the time breakfast was served in the mess hall. I wasn’t terribly disheartened, however - both Srink and Demír had mentioned that the ship's cook, Dewlanna, kept a pot of caf continuously brewing in the kitchens. So, that seemed like my logical next step.

    After I finished my morning routine, I headed down to the lower levels of the ship. Even before I turned the last corner on my path I caught the scent of something baking, along with the enticing aroma of something meaty simmering, all wafting as a pleasing backdrop to the truly divine scent of caf. I couldn’t help but inhale happily. Yep, I had officially found my new favorite place on the ship.

    The kitchen had two points of entry, one on each long end, and I came in through the entrance that Dewlanna – there could be no one else who fit her description – had her back to. The female Wookiee had a coat of tawny brown and pale gold fur, shot through with telling streaks of silver-white. Like Isshaddik, she was older for a Wookiee, but I couldn't tell exactly how old. Her species was hardy and famously long lived – some of the Wookiee elders on Kashyyyk were almost as old as the Republic itself. Currently, she was kneading a soft lump of dough in a patient, lulling rhythm. Although I was quiet with my approach, she gave a growl over her shoulder to acknowledge my arrival in welcome. There was no sneaking up on her, even if I wanted to.

    [Are you looking for caf?] her clear blue eyes were small, but they twinkled brightly from the fur of her face when she turned towards me. [It’s on the counter over there; mugs are in the cabinet above. You’re more than welcome to some.] She gestured with a shrug of her shoulder.

    “She says that if you want caf, it’s right there,” another voice translated for her. “Help yourself.”

    I’d been so focused on Dewlanna and the idea of a cup of caf that I hadn’t even noticed the third presence in the room. Following her invitation, I came up to the counter Dewlanna was working at to see a Human child with a mop of messy brown hair and narrowed, hazel eyes sitting on a stool at the end of the workstation. The boy couldn’t have been more than eight or so – though my guess certainly had room for error. Sometimes, Human faces had an embarrassing tendency to blur together for me. The child had his lunch spread out next to a datapad and a sheet of flimsy, where he was working out what looked to be multiplication problems with a stylus. His schoolwork, then?

    “Thanks for the offer, I appreciate it,” I said to Dewlanna and then gratefully walked over to the caf maker. While the boy appeared to be engrossed in his studies – really, I should've known better right then and there – I could feel his eyes on me as I turned my back. I took my caf black, with nothing added to dull its potency, and I blew on the steaming rim of my mug as I turned back around. Not expecting my attention so soon, the child snapped his gaze away – but not quickly enough for me not to catch his stare.

    Unseen by the boy, I raised a brow. There was already a sort of . . . familiarity in the Force emanating from him, and I wondered then if he was the tail that had been following me. My senses certainly seemed to think so, and he was definitely small enough to fit in the air vents. But, what was even more telling, the Force itself seemed just as curious about the child as the child so clearly was about me, and that I clearly recalled sensing from the day before.

    [You missed breakfast – those who keep the dark shifts always do,] Dewlanna continued once I was set with my caf. [Can I make you anything to eat?]

    The child went to translate for her, but I beat him to it by shaking my head in answer. “You're already busy, and I don't want to be any trouble,” I thanked her. “The caf is more than enough. But if you wouldn’t mind me getting in your way to make something for myself, I would be grateful.”

    Dewlanna made a pleased warble in the back of her throat when she realized that I spoke to her directly. The child too looked up without bothering to hide his surprise. “No one here speaks Shyriiwook outside of the Shrikes,” he stated bluntly. “How can you?”

    “Well, I can understand a good deal of Shyriiwook; I sound ridiculous when I try to speak it myself.” I could whistle out the growls, if I had to – Wookiees had the range of hearing required to understand my people’s own speech that I, in turn, appreciated. “I had a . . .” but there I stopped, unsure of how to describe my memories of the Jedi crèche. I felt a pang then, remembering Garwlie the Wookiee and the rest of my fellow initiates in the Clawmouse Clan. I hadn’t seen Garwlie since the beginning of the war, and now the Force only knew if I’d ever see her – or any of them, for that matter – again. “I had a childhood friend from Kashyyyk,” I concluded, looking down at my caf. "She was far from home, just like we all were, and so we learned to understand her. As children, it was easy.”

    Dewlanna gave a warm rumble in answer before saying, [I am Dewlannamapia of the Tall-tree Clan.] The name for her clan was something like tall and hard to climb and worthy all at once that I couldn’t quite translate – not properly. Tall-tree failed to do its true meaning justice. [My the Great Hunters smile upon our meeting and bless our path together.]

    I put my hands together to honor her formal greeting, even while still holding onto my mug, and gave a neat bow in reply. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Dewlannamapia,” I inclined my crest a moment longer out of respect to an elder. “My name is Ahsoka Tano, Pad – ” but there I hesitated, and then snapped my teeth together to swallow the end of my sentence entirely. I no longer had the right to claim the title of Padawan or Jedi Apprentice, and without them my own name sounded wrong in its every sense. I felt terribly off balance as my perception of self teetered; I couldn't immediately regain my footing.

    Politely, Dewlanna didn’t mention my floundering - for which I was grateful. Instead, she turned towards the child and made a chiding hum that sounded like mind your manners, even to my montrals. Some things, it seemed, were universal across species.

    Sure enough, the Human boy heaved a much put upon sigh before he said, “My name’s Han.” Just that: Han; he offered no surname or anything else. I wondered, then, if he even had one to share. At a clear look from Dewlanna, he added, “It’s nice to meet you, Miss 'Soka,” in a mumbled rush under his breath. Afterward, his nose scrunched as if he'd just swallowed something sour, but he looked to Dewlanna for approval, even so.

    The Wookiee made a huffing noise that sounded part exasperation and part amusement. In that too, there was something effortlessly maternal. Watching them, I couldn't help but smile.

    I laced my fingers across my mug, enjoying the tangible warmth of the caf even as its sweet energy started to slip through my veins. “You’re a little young for a crew like this, aren’t you, kid?” I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to indulge my curiosity then. “Are your parents here?”

    Rather tellingly, Han glanced towards Dewlanna. “No,” he answered. “I ain’t got no parents.”

    Dewlanna gave a pointed growl, to which Han rolled his eyes. “I don’t have any parents,” nevertheless, he obediently corrected himself. “They’ve been gone so long I don’t remember them. Captain Shrike took me in off the streets, just like he has with all of us. So, here I am.”

    In answer, I somehow managed to keep my expression neutral as I wondered just how many children were aboard the ship. One orphan I could chalk up to altruism, but, more than that . . .

    I felt my mouth press into a thin line, and my hands tightened about my cup.

    “Besides,” Han continued, still somewhat defensively, “you’re not much older than me anyway. I’m old enough to pull my weight. I bring in even more than Dachee does – not that he’ll ever admit it, of course, and he's starting to apprentice with the ship's navigator.”

    I was twice his age, but that was beside the point. Sadly, I thought next, the Shrikes keeping a merry band of little pickpockets and thieves to supplement their income didn’t sound terribly far-fetched. And, this way, Garris Shrike had help he was grooming and inducting for years of service to come; his doing so wasn’t an unheard of practice amongst both criminal gangs and smuggling rings, so much so that I wasn't terribly surprised. For these children, the Shrikes’ offer of a home was a twisted sort of security that protected them from having to survive on their own. It was the best they could do.

    Even so, that didn’t mean that I had to like it.

    Dewlanna, I thought, didn’t much care for the arrangement either. [Finish your vegetables,] she instructed, [or there will be no sweets for you later. If you want to grow tall, that’s what your body needs.]

    Han made another face, but he minded her words and stabbed a grudging forkful of pkar-squash. It helped sooth my stoked ire, knowing that this child had her, at least. I couldn’t stop and right every wrong in the galaxy, and, with this one, I didn’t even know where to begin.

    So, with the natural lull in our conversation, I went to the fridge and took out a few gartro eggs to fry. I was far from a talented chef, but I could keep myself fed if need be; I wouldn’t starve. Distantly, the memory of Fives pretending to choke and fall over gagging if I even went to heat up a regulation insta-meal with the intention of sharing hit me like a shockwave from a droid popper. Though he would never say a word about my skills or lack thereof aloud, Rex too would politely take over if he saw that I intended to cook. But I wasn’t that bad – honest.

    Yet, quite like Dex had before her, Dewlanna only took one look at how I cracked the eggs, and that was enough for her even before I burned anything. She waved her floury paws to shoo me away. [Sit,] her words were not phrased as a request. [Allow me.]

    And, well, it was never wise to argue with a Wookiee – especially when they got that look in their eyes. Gratefully, I conceded.

    I went around the workstation and pulled out the stool besides Han, happy for the opportunity to sit down and nurse my cup of caf. Even as he finished his meal and continued solving his multiplication tables, he kept on darting looks at me from beneath his fringe of bangs. I felt that same swirl of curiosity from the Force continue to flutter, as if it was reflected from Han and then buffeted back at me tenfold. This child was far enough from Force sensitive to nearly be the complete opposite – instead, he seemed to be a depression in the Force, as best I could explain: a churning pool of chance and possibility that most people in the galaxy would call luck. I wished that I had payed more attention during Master Atso’s lectures, then – the very idea was just theoretical enough to be beyond my ability to grasp entirely. I never had much of a mind for philosophy, and I knew that I was a trying student for my teachers beyond those who instructed in the dojo. Having Anakin for a Master hadn’t much helped me grow in that regard, and even Master Obi-Wan had differences with the ancient theories Atso taught. He didn’t believe in chance or destiny; no path was set in stone, and luck was what you made of it. Up until now, I thought to agree with him.

    Yet, the Force did swirl around this boy without touching him outright – that I knew for a fact. It was a . . . unique thing to witness. I couldn't wholly put it into words.

    “So, are you a Jedi?”

    Han's voice broke me from my thoughts, and I all but choked on my next swallow of caf. He watched my reaction with wide eyes, and his cheeks flushed sheepishly before he hurried on to explain, “It’s only that I thought you were a Jedi. I’ve seen you on the ‘Net - right next to the Hero With No Fear! You’re his apprentice, right? I knew I recognized you.”

    My heart was hammering in my chest for his words, robbing my ability to answer. I tried, but I just couldn’t seem to manage saying: I’m not a Jedi. Not anymore. They were such a simple few words to string together, but they were stuck in my throat.

    But my lack of response didn’t slow Han in the slightest. “Anakin Skywalker is one of the best warriors in the galaxy, even Captain Shrike agrees,” he continued to enthuse. “And he’s the best pilot, too! Someday, I'll be even better than him. I don’t need the Force for that – just watch me, I will!”

    Dewlanna sat a full plate of eggs and Corellian sausage down before me, but my appetite had abruptly left me as my stomach twisted sickly instead. I managed to mumble a word of thanks, regardless, not wanting to waste her efforts. In reply, Dewlanna turned her knowing glance from me to Han. [Her past is her own, cub,] she rumbled. [Don’t ask questions that she may not want to answer. It’s not polite.]

    “But why wouldn’t she want to talk about being a Jedi?” Han didn’t understand. Then, softer, he added: “They’re amazing.”

    “Because I’m not a Jedi anymore,” I finally forced myself to say. Each syllable was tight as it fell from my mouth. “I’ve left the Order behind me.”

    “Oh . . . I guess that makes sense. You wouldn’t be here, otherwise,” Han didn’t seem to know how to process that. His small shoulders slumped with a sigh. “Is that why you don’t have a lightsaber? You were using a vibroblade," he reasoned aloud a moment later. "All Jedi have lightsabers.”

    I only managed to nod an affirmative in answer. So, he was my tag-along, then. Yet, even solving that mystery for a certainty only managed to dully resonate in my mind. Listlessly, I pushed my eggs around my plate with my fork.

    “But how do you just stop being a Jedi?” Han still didn’t understand. “It’s something inside of you, isn’t it? I . . . I used to wish that the Jedi would come and find me. I hoped that they’d come and take me away, some place better. But . . . I wasn't what they were looking for, I guess. Captain Shrike found me, instead. I can’t use the Force – but I wish I could. It’d be nice . . . to be the Hero With No Fear. I think I’d like that.”

    Wouldn’t it? I thought sadly. Even Anakin, I felt, would like to be the Hero With No Fear, too.

    [Alright, cub,] Dewlanna growled again, this time more sharply. [That’s enough. Mind your manners and leave her be.]

    Han tilted his head, puzzled by the sternness of her rebuke. I wanted to tell her that I was okay – that he was okay, but my response was cut off by the cutting sound of a klaxon suddenly wailing to fill the air. Hearing the sirens over the speakers, cut by an automated voice ordering the headhunter pilots to their ships, was enough for us all to forget what we had been discussing just a moment ago. My caf and waiting breakfast were suddenly an afterthought. Something, it seemed, had gone wrong.

    I glanced down at my chrono, knowing then that we had just made a break from hyperspace for another micro-jump – I could hear that from the distant rumble of the ship’s engines. That meant -

    “ - pirates,” Han said aloud, even as I identified that particular siren from Isshaddik’s briefing the day before. “Great.”

    Resigned, Dewlanna went to secure her kitchen just as Han gathered his things to leave. Evasive maneuvers wouldn’t treat her pots and pans well – and the same went for his schoolwork, for that matter. She put the dough aside in a container she then stowed, and set a clamp to keep the boiling pot of stew secured to the stove. Making dinner would have to wait now.

    I swallowed the rest of my caf in a single gulp, and turned towards Dewlanna. “Thanks for trying to feed me - I really appreciate it. I hate to run,” I gave her a truly regretful look, “but that’s my cue.”

    [Come back later,] was her equally rueful response, [and we’ll try again.]

    I saluted her once in farewell to show I head her words, and then turned to head for the bridge in a flat out run. I wanted to know exactly who - and what we were up against. It was time to earn my keep.

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018
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  25. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Dewlanna is so warm and maternal, and Han is so enthusiastic about piloting and the Jedi. And his natural conclusions: You don't just stop being one; it's something on the inside -- twists and tears wounds that are nowhere near to healing for Ahsoka.
    Likely, the piratic activity will prove a distraction although not a welcome one. They'd better not even think to go near that wonderful organ! Bummer that Ahsoka couldn't finish her yummy breakfast, nothing beats eggs & sausage. ;)
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018
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