Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Raissa Baiard, Jul 8, 2019.
I vote for Fonzy!
Y'all hear me? Ro is now The Fonz.
This is fun!
I just love all the details in this chapter: the description of the not-very-spaceful apartment, the run-down neighborhood of Scenic Downtown Dreshdae it's in, all of Humoo's bizarre odds 'n' ends (yes, I recognize that caf machine AI core! ), the rather sad comestibles in the conservator—and on the completely other side of the coin, the Dark aura pervading the dig site and the two important new figures of Belloq and Yuthura. Wow, Belloq is a real charmer, isn't he, with his snippy, speciesist remarks! And what to make of this Yuthura, who is already pretty different from her KOTOR namesake? She seems like one of those characters who can be both benevolent and malevolent at different times, kind of like Syndrome's assistant in the first Incredibles movie (who was a femme fatale type too). I do think Ro would ultimately stay true to Noemi, but part of me also sees where Wren's concern is coming from and hopes to goodness Ro won't do anything rash!
Incidentally, speaking of Wren, she really shines in this chapter, in a way. She completely and totally saves Ro's bacon when he slips up during his conversation with Belloq. (Which I don't completely blame him for, seeing as the "cousins" weren't originally part of his plan... it's just lucky that the least humanoid of the group, Humoo, was already part of the dig and thus didn't need anyone to spin a yarn about his connections to the very-hybrid-looking Ro!) And of course this is one of those times when it really pays to have a Mando on your side—she very clearly gets the point across that neither she nor her fellow aliit members are to be messed with:
Perfect Mando retort is perfect! And Yuthura saves everyone's bacon when she steps in to recommend Wren work her demolitions magic on those boulder at site 37—a perfect match for her indeed, and one that can only (read: had better) only increase the respect her new bosses have for her.
But most of all... ILDEPHONSUS JANOS! That is the absolute perfect choice of cover name for Ro, and yes, the poor fictional fellow's fictional parents clearly had it in for him. The exchange about the name over breakfast was absolutely hilarious—of course Kaz would just about choke on his food from snerking, and of course Humoo would admire the Squibbish prolixixixixity of such a name! And THE PUN:
I still would love to see Ro actually go boating sometime, either in a future story or later in this one. That said, I kind of liked Fonsy, too (Fonzi is my boss's cat's name). But yes, perfectly egregious pseudonym is absolutely perfect!
Oh, with all that's been set up here from Yuthura to Belloq to Ildephonsus to everything in between, it is going to be so much fun to see what transpires next for this motley team! Do keep it coming! (I know you will.)
Thanks! It struck me that while Ildephonsus was the perfect name for Ro’s Indiana Jones alter ego, it was a bit of a mouthful and maybe hard to remember for people who know him as Ronen. Unfortunately for him, Ildephonsus doesn’t really nickname well. Pretty sad when Fonsy is the best of the options
Yup, Wren’s not about to let some schutta like Belloq insult her comrades. She got a double-dose of fearlessness and outspokenness, being both a Mando and a teen, so even if Belloq is the boss, she’ll let him know what’s what.
isn’t he he just lovely, though? I can’t remember exactly where I came across the idea that at least some Twi’leks disapprove of interspecies relationships and look down on hybrids, but sadly, it makes a lot of sense, given some of the attitudes that still crop up in RL. Yuthura doesn’t seem to share her boss’s prejudices, and she does seem to have a certain interest in Ronen, doesn’t she? Wren’s got an inkling of it, even if Ronen himself doesn’t, and she’s not going to stand by and let her cousin do anything he shouldn’t. You can bet on that!
Does this mean he has to get a black leather jacket, grease his hair back, and start saying “Heyyyyyyyyy”?
Thank you! Glad you’re enjoying it (And welcome! it’s always great to have new writers on the forum. I love your avatar!)
Thank you! It was fun to be able to set the scene a little bit. Dreshdae is sort of a combination of places like Mos Eisley and the sort of grungy, rundown towns you see in old Westerns, where everyone is a little shady and rough around the edges, and they all look askance at the hero in his white hat when he rides into town. Since Humoo is a youngish bachelor, I figured he probably wasn’t great either on keeping his collection in order or keeping the fridge stocked with healthy food. (I knew you’d recognize the AI core—now you need to let everyone else in on the joke ) Belloq certainly is a charmer—at least he believes he is, and vastly superior to everyone, especially a lowly, low-class hybrid like he believes Ro to be. I like your comparison of Yuthura to Mirage from The Incredibles, though I won’t say too much about her just yet.
Yes, having a Mando on your team can definitely be helpful. Poor Ro is flustered by Belloq’s snotty condescension, which brings back all those old feelings of self-doubt he thought he’d put behind him. Luckily for him, Wren is there to put Belloq in his place; honor and ability are more important than species, and family is more than just blood relationships. Her extended family exemplifies these ideals, and Humoo and Kaz are now her vode, too. And technically Wren is correct—at one point Mandalorians were considered adult at age thirteen. Even if this is no longer the case, she’s probably had as much experience with explosives as some adults!
Well, since the Syndulla-Jarrus family doesn’t have any pets for Ronen’s alter ego to be named after (unless one counts Chopper, which is a good way to get zapped with an electroshock attachment), I had to come up with something else. Ildephonsus is perfect (and perfectly egregious) because of the family connection. (I shouldn’t wonder if Wren has an equally over-the-top middle name. Demetria, maybe? Or perhaps she inherited Polyhymnia from her mother?) And, yes, Ronen definitely needs to be involved in a boating chase at some point so that someone can exclaim: “Row, Ro! Row your boat!”
Thanks, and thanks as always for your support and encouragement on this story. More is coming right up.
Thank you to @Findswoman for beta-reading
7. Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, laundry Jedi
First of all, sorry about all the background noise in this recording. I’m in our building’s laundering unit so that I won’t keep anyone awake whispering again and also because, well, someone has to do the laundry.
It’s Benduday, one week since Wren, Kaz and I arrived on Korriban. I decided that we should have weekly team meetings on our day off so we can discuss how our mission is going and share anything we’ve discovered during the week. No one really had much to say tonight, which isn’t surprising, I guess. We’ve mostly spent this week getting used to our new jobs and we’re all pretty tired—except for Humoo, who never seems to run out of energy, probably because he drinks a multi-liter bottle of FizzyGlug TurboCharge a day. (And for someone his size, it’s like, why hasn’t he exploded from all that caffeine and carbonation yet?)
Humoo’s been showing me the ropes at the dig. We’re at site 13, excavating some Sith lord’s tomb—no one seems to know which one it is. Which is pretty odd when you consider there’s a whole lot of barren wasteland on Korriban that Chimaera could be mining, if they really are just interested in whatever minerals can be extracted from the red, rocky terrain. Why would they even bother with the contents of these old tombs unless they’re planning to demolish them—or unless they’re looking for something inside them? I have a bad feeling I know which hypothesis is most likely...
The whole archaeology thing turns out not to be nearly as exciting as it is in all those old holo-films where the hero discovers an ancient temple. There haven’t been any evil spirits or booby traps or anything like that, just several thousand years of dirt and debris. There’s a lot of tedious shoveling, sorting, and sifting involved, and we still haven’t made it past the tomb’s antechamber.
Every now and then, Humoo’s ear tufts start twitching, and he’ll rub some chunk of stone or bit of rubbish against his fur. According to him, a Squib’s entire pelt is some sort of hypersensitive olfactory organ, so he’s actually smelling these things when he does it. Yeah, I didn’t quite understand it either when he tried to explain it to me, but I guess it works, because Humoo has a real knack for finding bits of carved frieze that’s broken off the walls, shards of broken vases, even some old rusty trowels and chisels which are apparently left over from the last time someone attempted to excavate this place. I have my own ways of identifying objects, of course, which are a little less touchy-feely. Stone has a different Force-signature than metal or pottery, and things that were handled by the Sith, even thousands of years ago, have this cold, greasy, Dark residue on them.
Humoo and I have had the most success of any of the workers at finding various bits of Sith-y junk. We’re already getting a reputation for being lucky, Good for us, I guess?
Wren is developing quite a reputation, too, mostly as someone you don’t want to mess with even if she is “a slip of a girl”. Those boulders on site 37 that Yuthura Jolanta suggested as a test? Yeah, they never stood a chance. Wren reduced them to their component molecules with a couple well-placed frag mines. Her Mandalorian efficiency impressed Yuthura and even that stuck-up bantha-brain Belloq. She does demolitions now, and though I think she enjoys the challenge of doing controlled blasts, she doesn’t like the fact that she has to work at some of the other dig sites while I’m still at site 13. Because how’s she supposed to protect me if she’s halfway across the valley? I tried to convince her that we always have our commlinks, and I do have a few tricks up my sleeve if there’s trouble—hello? Jedi sentinel, remember?—but she’s sure that I’ll be dead and stuffed in a sarcophagus somewhere before she can come to my rescue. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Wren.
And Kaz… well, it turns out that Chimaera, in their benevolence, provides lunch for all the workers. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Yeah, don’t get too excited, because it’s always some kind of mystery stew and rock-hard rolls. A guy named Struggs, who had an accident no one wants to talk about, was the cook—or at least the one who heated up the multi-liter buckets of stew and drove it all out to the work sites in an ancient hover truck. That’s Kaz’s new job, though he wasn’t very happy about it at first. “You’re exploring ancient ruins, Wren’s blowing things up...but, me? I serve glop,” he complained, sighing gustily. “I’m the most useless person on this team”
I felt kind of bad for him. I mean, the kid had gotten himself into a lot of trouble hoping to do something Big and Important, only to find that he’d traded an easy job fetching caf for senators for one dishing subpar stew to a bunch of workers who looked, smelled and behaved worse than your average senator (though I’m sure there are exceptions). On the other hand, none of us is really doing anything glamorous here on Korriban. Our jobs are just a cover, a reason to be here so we can find out what was going on. And we’re all in this together.
“Everyone’s part is important,” I told Kaz, and OMF, I sounded just like Dad. “Just keep you ears open. Be friendly to the workers when you’re dishing out lunch. See what they’ll tell you about Chimaera and Belloq once you get them talking. Being in food service is actually great cover for a spy.” At least that was what Aunt Mara said about being a waitress in her family’s cantina—people talked in front of her like she wasn’t even there and she overheard all sorts of interesting things that way. And in that respect, Kaz could be in the best position of any of us to find out what’s going on around here. Who’d ever suspect the earnest, slightly awkward kid who’d spilled stew on them three days in a row of being a New Republic spy?
“Spy? Me?” Kaz’s eyebrows shot up; he’d clearly never considered things from this angle before.
“Well, yeah. This is a spy mission, after all, so that kind of makes you a spy.” Okay, I know people think of the Jedi as above that sort of stuff since we’re the good guys and all that, but if a spy is someone who finds information through secret observation, then, yeah, a spy is pretty much what I am. I’d like to think it doesn’t make me any less of a good guy. I only want to make sure Chimaera isn’t doing something that’s going to endanger the New Republic. And if it turns out they don’t have any sort of ulterior motive here on Korriban, then great.
“Spy,” Kaz repeated, like he was turning this idea over in his mind. He broke into a big grin. “Yeah! That’s cool—almost as cool as demolitions, right?”
Something about his expression and the hopeful lift of his voice pinged something in me—I don’t know if it was the Force or just simple recognition—and suddenly I remembered the way he’d kept sneaking glances at Wren when we were at lunch on Garel. As Noemi likes to say, “oh, good skies….”
“You’re not worried about what Wren thinks of your job, are you?”
“What?! Heh, heh…” Kaz chuckled nervously and looked away as he stammered, “No! No, of course not! No! That would be … No…”
Yeah, that was very convincing Master Xiono. Force, sometimes I hate it when I’m right. As if things between the members of our team haven’t already gotten strained at times with all of us crammed into this tiny apartment and Humoo trying to buy Wren’s WESTARs with bits of junk (he’s up to a dozen spoons, three Nuclear Fizzion caps, a second hand tikit grain steamer and slightly worn poster for the holo-film “Rodian Kisses”). Now I have to worry that Kaz is crushing on my cousin, who could totally kick his shebs all the way to Coruscant. And, honestly, I’m a little surprised she hasn’t already, after what happened when he was helping her set up to blast a couple of big chunks of rock that were blocking the entrance to another tomb. Wren asked Kaz to hand her a frag grenade (“No, a frag grenade…a frag grenade. No, the other frag grenade…”) He was ultra-casually tossing it from hand like a ball when he tripped on a loose bit of rock. The grenade went flying in a high arc, collided with the statue of some creepy, ancient Sith-lord and blew its face off. Fortunately, no one was hurt—I ducked behind a pillar (Jedi reflexes, yo) and Wren tackled Kaz before the grenade hit and fragments flew everywhere—but she wasn’t too happy with him. (Neither was Belloq. I, on the other hand, thought old Sithy looked much better that way.)
What am I supposed to do if things with the two of them go Rimward in a major way and half my team isn’t speaking to each other? Oh Force, what am supposed to do if things don’t go Rimward? I’m not sure which would be more awkward to deal with, actually.
I wish Noemi was here. She’s so much better at this kind of stuff than I am. Not just relationship stuff—although, yeah, that, too—but making plans, getting people to work together and getting stuff done. I feel like I’m just making this up as I go along, and I’m kind of lost without her here. This is the first Benduday in I don’t know how long that we haven’t spent together. If I was back home, we would have gone to Flossie’s for dinner and maybe gone for a drive across the plains or a walk in her family’s orchard or…
You know what, this isn’t really helping. Once the sonic washer finishes this cycle, I’m going to go make some mediocre instant Hoth chocolate and play dejarik against myself until I fall asleep because otherwise I’m just going to sit here watching the clothes spin and thinking about Noemi.
So good night to whoever’s listening… and good night, Noemi. I love you.
Each person seems to find their useful niche and LOL Kaz is crushing on Wren. Ro is right to be worried; if things go REALLY well or icky, either way is awkward
Such a mix of feelings, of highs and lows, in this entry. <3 It’s great to see everyone in the team (the team!) settling in so well to life at the dig: Ro and Humoo making a name for themselves with their archaeological skills, Wren with her demolition skills, and even Kaz at the wheel of the meal truck! Indeed, as Ro points out (and he definitely does sound Ike his dear daddykins when he does ), that is an extremely important thing. Kaz—though I do feel for him here, especially since he said he wanted a shot at doing something important—really is better placed than any of them to find out all the juicy tidbits of intelligence, and I am guessing he shall indeed do that down the line. (And this is a cool nod to his spy work in Resistance, too!)
(One thing that occurred to me about Ro’s skill at finding artifacts based on their Force signature: I hope that won’t end up exciting suspicion either. They don’t know he’s using the Force and Jedi skills, but at some point will they wonder just how it is that this otherwise ordinary fellow is finding all this stuff so easily? Just a thought, and I guess we’ll see down the line. )
But even though the team has generally settled in well, things haven’t been without awkwardness and strain—which is very true to how things so often go, especially in a cramped living space! There’s Humoo’s continued haggling attempts (at what point will he get the message?), there’s the frag grenade goof-up, there’s Kaz’s not-very-well-concealed interest in Wren—and earnest, conscientious Ro is in the position of having to keep everyone in line (or feels that he is). He’s right, though: things are going to be awkward whether Wren does or doesn’t return Kaz’s interest!
And of course all leads to thoughts of his dear, absent Noemi. For some reason I find very compelling the image of him siting there alone in that dim, dusty laundry room, watching the washer spin and thinking wistful thoughts of the lady he loves, remembering all their pleasant times together, wondering what she would do in a situation like this—I bet she’d do a great job, but he really isn’t doing so bad himself! I wish I could give him a hug, but since I can’t, I hope that the hot chocolate (Chiss Miss? ) and solitaire dejarik will help accomplish something similar. Though too, I can’t help but wonder if maybe the Force isn’t trying to tell Ro something with these kinds of thoughts... guess we shall have to see...!
But yes, for now, our hero should go take care of himself so he’ll be ready for what awaits him tomorrow. The morning is wiser than the evening, as they say in Russian fairy tales!
They're settling in and finding their new normal for this mission, figuring out where they fit in and how they relate to each other---which may be tougher in some cases than others Whatever happens between Kaz and Wren, you know Ronen will be able to handle it with his usual sympathy and understanding (though not without a dash of awkwardness and mortification).
They really are becoming a team, aren't they, with each of them finding their own place at the dig, even if in Kaz's case it's not a place he particularly wants. But Ro, in true Kanan-esque form, sees that his role is just as important as any of the others', even if it is less high profile and flashy. Kaz's innate friendliness puts him in a good position to pick up the gossip around the dig. And at least it involves less sneaking than his similar role on Resistance where his cover story could be summed up as:
"You're a mechanic."
"But I don't know anything about fixing ships."
"You'll learn." (Thanks, Poe.)
Oh yeah, with their markedly different personalities, sharing such close quarters is bound to cause a few tiffs. Humoo...I'm not sure when or even if he'll finally admit defeat; I think it's probably as much of a game or challenge to him to see if he can get the WESTARs as it is any serious attempt to buy them. At least Kaz's awkward, earnest crushing is less obtrusive at this point (though it did lead to the whole grenade incident). And Ro, being the leader,feels responsible for everyone. But a leader can't control everything that happens--which is something that Kanan had to learn, too.
It's hard for Ronen to be away from her--and away from all the comfortable, familiar settings of home. In such an adverse setting, how could he not wish that he had the support of the woman he loves? He really isn't doing bad as the leader of this motley little crew, though, squabbles and minor explosive mishaps notwithstanding. So for now he can only enjoy what small pleasures he can find--even if it's only a hot mug of Chiss Miss (which I love; this needs to be a thing!) And whether the Force is hinting at something...we shall soon see....
Thanks as always to @Findswoman for beta-reading
8. Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, who can’t even right now…
Hey, it’s me again, updating this journal...oh, wow, Ronen that was brilliant. Of course it’s me, and of course I’m updating my journal...who else would it be? So, um, sorry about that, it’s just that I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing right now. Because the Force finally dropped the other boot. The last member of our team showed up today. And, well...it’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.
And Spots, too, of course, not like Noemi would go anywhere without her...but yeah, Noemi’s here.
I’m glad she’s here, but… We kind of argued about her coming here. A lot. And…
...And I’m getting ahead of myself, as usual. Emotion, yet peace.
I had a funny feeling all day long. Not a bad feeling, really, just a weird one like the someone or something was trying to get my attention—“Psst! Hey, Ronen! Hey! Hey! Hey!” and so on to infinity—and there was a kind of out-of-tune droning in the Force, like an insect flying around my head, buzzing in my ear. But I couldn’t find out what it was or where it was coming from and still stay invisible. I would have had to let go of the shield around my Force presence that made me seem like Just Another Being. While I’m not sure just how sensitive all those Jedi-hunting creatures here on Korriban really are (the old records are sketchy at best), it wasn’t a risk I was willing to take just for a funny feeling. Not only do I have an aversion to being eaten by ravenous tuk’atas, there were a whole lot of beings there at the excavation site who probably would have gotten chomped along with me. So I spent the day sorting through more Sith garbage feeling blind and frustrated and useless. I couldn’t wait for our shift to end so I could get home (and how weird was it that I’d already started to think our crowded apartment in Dreshdae as “home”), let go of my shields and figure out what was going on.
It’s a bit of a hike from the dig site to Dreshdae, which is a good thing, in a way. It seems like the settlement is far enough from the Valley of the Dark Lords that I can let go of my shields without attracting hssiss or terentateks or whatever other nasty things are lurking out there. Making myself invisible in the Force eight hours a day, four days a week is exhausting enough. If I had to keep my shields in place all the time, even while I was asleep, I think I’d burn out or go crazy or both.
Today the walk seemed interminable, though. Wren was walking with Kaz, partly to escape Humoo’s insistent attempts to bargain for her blasters, and partly because she’d discovered an appreciative and enthusiastic audience for stories of Clan Ordo’s exploits in him. He’d won back some of the points he’d lost with her by wasting one of her grenades by asking her, “So, your dad was in the Rebellion, too?”—which opened the door for Wren to tell him all about Uncle Maximus. And there’s nothing a Mando likes better than telling stories about their clan’s glorious deeds. If I was cynical or if Kaz was a different kind of guy, I’d suspect that his enthusiasm for old war stories was just a way to score points with Wren, but Kaz has to be the least calculating guy I’ve ever met. While I’m sure it didn’t hurt that it was a good way to spend some time with her, he really does have an interest in the history of the Rebellion—he probably knows more details about Mom’s battles than I do—so I’m pretty sure that the exclamations of “whoa!”, “no way!”, and “that’s awesome!” that punctuated their conversation were sincere.
Meanwhile. Humoo was regaling me with the tale of his “secondish-cousin twice re-movered” Mleeanna and how she had cleverly bargained with an Ishi Tib collector on Saleucami for what turned out to be an “honest-to-goodness Sith sarcoffin-gus” which his Great-Auntie Gleebs sold to Darth Vader himself, you bet! Yeah, I bet, all right…. The idea of the Dark Lord of the Sith strolling into some maiden-aunt Squib’s antique store to browse was pretty ridiculous, but by this time the buzzing in the Force had gotten so loud and discordant that all I could do was smile and nod at Cousin Mleeanna and Auntie Gleebs’s big score.
When we finally reached our building, I sensed a presence.
A really familiar presence.
There was a woman standing at the end of the hallway in front of our door—a woman whose wavy hair was the color of the sunset on Lothal. A woman wearing a sky blue tunic that set off her eyes and a sash with a pattern of the jogan blossoms I knew her hair would smell like.
And also a Loth-cat.
Oddly enough, that was what convinced me that I wasn’t going crazy, because I figured even if I had snapped under the pressure of this assignment and started seeing things, I wouldn’t have hallucinated Spots. “Noemi?!”
“Ro!” She lit up when she saw me, like actually glowed in the Force when she smiled. My shields fell with a crash and I ran to her. Or maybe we ran to each other, because suddenly she was in my arms, my lips were against hers and that annoying buzz in the Force had turned into a familiar hum, the most perfect music in the Galaxy.
“Don’t mind us.”
Noemi broke off our kiss with a start at the sound of the familiar, snippy teenaged voice and stared over my shoulder. “Wren?! What are you doing here? What is she doing here?” Noemi asked, frowning in consternation. I doubt she’d expected to have an audience for our reunion, especially one that included a random Spectre cousin, not when this was supposed to be my Big Solo Mission.
“It’s kind of a long story,” I sighed, wishing we didn’t have four pairs of curious eyes watching us. After a week apart, I didn’t want to let go of Noemi; part of me still couldn’t believe she was really here—like if I let go, it was all going to turn out some vision that the Dark Side had sent to drive me mad—even though she felt so warm and solid and right in my arms. I wished I could send the others somewhere so Noemi and I could talk. But there aren’t any actual restaurants on Korriban, just dive bars like the Drunk Side and I couldn’t really send a couple of teens there. I promised myself I’d find some way for Noemi and I to have some time to ourselves later. “Why don’t we go inside and I’ll introduce you to everyone,” I said as I picked up her travel case
“This is where you live?” Noemi glanced around the apartment in something like dismay, while Spots darted inside, sniffing excitedly. “All of you?”
I guess I’ve gotten used to it by now, because it didn’t look all that bad to me. Humoo had lined up all his jewel-spoons on a rack in the kitchen instead of leaving them in a pile on the counter, Kaz had done the dishes after breakfast, and Wren hadn’t left any of her weapons lying around for once. I motioned for Noemi to have a seat in one of the mismatched chairs around the dining/dejarik table while everyone else took places at the table or in the conversation circle. “So, this is Humookanookoopwaha Flhaskhalhoosa, the Council’s contact here on Korriban. And this is Kazuda Xiono; he’s Senator Hamato Xiono’s son. And, well, you know Wren. Guys, this is Jedi Noemi Bridger, my girlfriend, and, um, Spots, her Loth-cat.”
Humoo jumped up from the futon wearing a grin that would have made a Loth-cat proud, winked like he was trying to get a piece of rock-grit out of his left eye and elbowed me heartily in the kneecap (which is about as high as he can reach on me). “Oh ho, a lady-type friend! Ildephonsus Ro Janos-Syndulla-Jarrus, you sly-ish canid, you!” he exclaimed, waggling his ear tufts suggestively. He turned to Noemi, seized her hand and shook it with all the Squibbish enthusiasm he could muster. “Enchantified to meet you, you bet!”
Meanwhile, Spots had climbed into Kaz’s lap and claimed him as her New Best Friend. He stopped rubbing her ears long enough to wave and offer Noemi a (compared to Humoo) laid-back “Hey!”
Now that introductions were out of the way, the million questions I had decided they all needed to come tumbling out at once. “What are you doing here? How did you get to Korriban? Does the council know you’re here? Your parents?”
“I’m here for you, of course!” Noemi looked slightly annoyed as she finally extricated herself from Humoo’s ebullient hand-shaking and viselike grip. “And, yes, the Council knows I’m here and so do Mom and Dad. I don’t think everyone on the Council was sure that it’s the Force’s will for me to be here and not just my own, but…”
“Wait... you had a vision that you should come here?” Because, yeah, I could imagine that not everyone on the Council would be thrilled with the prospect of Noemi following me otherwise—like I said, we don’t have the non-attachment doctrine anymore, but we’re still not supposed to put ourselves in positions where our emotions could affect our duties as Jedi. I could imagine my dad objecting to Noemi being here; he’s kind of big on following All the Jedi Rules (which is funny, given how many of them he broke before helping to establish the new order).
“Ronen! The Force brought us together; of course it wants me to support you on your mission! I don’t need a vision to tell me that.” She still seemed a little peeved, and I probably should have paid more attention to that, but at that point I was too overwhelmed by the fact that she was here to consider that she might be annoyed with me. “Anyway, Dad loaned me the Purrgil, so getting here was no problem.”
The Purrgil is Uncle Ezra’s ship; it’s a two-person Pathfinder-class scout ship that was built before the Rebellion. It’s nothing fancy—Uncle Ezra jokes that a real purrgil flies better—but it’s more of a ship than 99 percent of Korriban’s residents have and it had to have attracted some attention at the spaceport. “You brought the Purrgil here? Didn’t you read the dossier your mom put together for my cover identity? I’m supposed to be poor, so poor I had to hop a freighter to get here. How am I supposed to explain that my girlfriend showed up in her own ship?”
Noemi’s eyes narrowed. “Why are you being like this? I thought you’d be happy to see me, but you’re just giving me the third degree! You think I’m going to ruin your mission, is that it?”
The room got uncomfortably quiet for a moment while the others traded glances. The guys seemed to think it was safer to pretend they hadn’t heard anything. Humoo pulled the pouch out of his sash, emptied it on the dejark table and started sorting his bottle caps by color and size. Kaz seemed to be trying to count all of Spots’s spots while he rubbed her ears; Spots herself studiously licked one of her forepaws. Wren, on the other hand, gave a huge sigh and looked away, shaking her head like she so Couldn’t Believe We Were Doing This. Not that I was thrilled about it, either.
“Maybe we should go talk in the other room.” Since I was the lucky team leader who got to crash in the conversation circle at night, I ushered Noemi into Wren’s room, which had the benefit of not housing two-thirds of Humoo’s collection. In fact, if not for the convor-eyed helmet and blaster pistols lined up on the bureau, you wouldn’t have known anyone lived there. I leaned against the dresser, trying not to disturb the geometric precision of Wren’s weapons array. “Look, I’m not saying you’re going to ruin anything, it’s just that I’ve already gotten into trouble because I didn’t have any explanation for Wren and Kaz being here.”
Noemi sank onto the bottom bunk. “About that—you didn’t want me to come but you bring Wren and whoever this other kid is?”
“I never said I didn’t want you to come!” Hadn’t we already had this discussion back on Lothal? Why was she bringing it up again now? “I said it was dangerous, which is why Wren is here. Because I can’t very well use my lightsaber and I can’t shoot my way out of a flimsi sack. She appointed herself my body-guard.” I wished I didn’t need a bodyguard; I wished I was a Jedi Action Hero like in the holos who could shoot, lob grenades and fight bare-fisted, all while tossing off snappy one liners and keeping my hair looking perfect, but I wasn’t. I was never going to be. “And Kaz…. Kaz was not my idea. He stowed away on his dad’s freighter because he wanted to be part of something important and it turns out his dad’s a schutta who can’t be bothered to help his own son, so he’s part of this now.”
“Oh, I see.” Noemi leaned back, arms crossed over her chest, and gave me a long, appraising look. Her eyes, normally the color of a clear summer sky, had gone the flat, cold blue of Hoth’s glaciers. “You don’t think I can protect myself even though I’m a Jedi, but you trust a sixteen-year-old Mando with a penchant for blowing stuff up to protect you. Sounds fair.”
Was she not even listening to me? It wasn’t that I wanted to rely on Wren—or Humoo or Kaz—but it turned out I needed them. “Look, you haven’t been out there! The Valley of the Dark Lords? Guess what? It’s Dark—like so Dark I think the only reason I’m still kind of sane is that I keep myself so tightly shielded, and it’s exhausting!” I couldn’t imagine what it would do to Noemi to be out there without those kind of shields, and I knew I couldn’t handle them for both of us.
“That’s why I’m here!” she shot back, sparks crackling in her eyes and Force-presence. “I came here to help you, because I knew you’d need me!”
Yes, I needed her. I loved Noemi; I needed her for so many reasons, but… did that mean I always had to have her help? I wasn’t a youngling any more. Didn’t she believe I could do this? Didn’t she trust me to be all right on my own? “You said you were okay with me coming here without you. You said you understood. Don’t you believe I can handle a mission by myself?”
Noemi sucked in a sharp breath like she’d been slapped. “I have always believed in you, even when you didn’t believe in yourself,” she said in a low, wounded voice. “Maybe I should just go now so I won’t be in your way.” There was so much hurt in her eyes, and all I could think was, how did we get to this? It hadn’t even been half a standard hour since we’d kissed while the music of the Force hummed around us. How had things gone from perfect to all wrong so fast?
Sometimes, when you’re being a bantha-brain, the Force will intervene and give you a gentle nudge to get you back on track. Sometimes, though, it just whacks you upside the head.
“Would you two shut up and kiss already!?!” the voice of a decidedly exasperated teenage Mando came from the conversation circle.
“WREN!” Noemi and I shouted simultaneously. However we felt about each other at that moment, it seemed we were united in our annoyance with interrupting Spectre cousins.
“What?! The walls are really thin and you aren’t even trying to be quiet! You guys know you still love each other, so stop shrieking like a couple of jai’galaar. I thought Jedi were supposed to be good at that whole peaceful negotiation thing.”
Nothing deflates a Jedi’s ego faster than being schooled by a teenage Mando in the need for peaceful negotiation. Like, if a Mando thinks you need to tone it down, you’ve pretty much tossed all that stuff in the Code about peace and harmony right out the airlock.
The chagrin I felt was mirrored on Noemi’s face. “Ouch.”
“Yeah.” I held my hands out to her, drew her up off the bunk and into my arms. “I’m sorry, Noemi. I don’t want you to leave; I want you to stay more than anything. I do need you.” I pulled her a little closer and confessed, “I feel like I’m running on half-power not being able to use the Force. Things keep getting more complicated, and I still don’t have any idea what’s going on.”
Noemi leaned her head against my shoulder. “Ro… I’m sorry, too. This is your mission; I should have been working with you. Instead, I was so worried about finding a way around the Council that I just took things into my own hands. I didn’t mean to make things harder on you.” She tilted her head to look up at me. “So—should we take Wren’s advice now?”
“Yeah, but don’t tell her, or we’ll never hear the end of it.” I smiled and leaned towards Noemi; the Force hummed gently when our lips met, peace and harmony restored. When we drew apart, I found that we had an audience again.
Wren was standing in the doorway, looking like the Loth-cat that ate the convor. “I heard that!” She leaned against the doorframe, smirking. “I guess this means I have a roommate now, huh?”
“What?!” Roommate? She didn’t mean Noemi was moving in, did she? Here? In this apartment? With me...er, with us? I glanced at Noemi, who didn’t seem particularly surprised by Wren’s question. “Wait....you’re staying here?”
Noemi laughed. “Well, where did you think I’d go?”
“I don’t know…. But here?” Honestly, I hadn’t even thought about it until right that moment, but now that I did… there was something strange and a bit unsettling—though not necessarily unattractive—about the thought of Noemi being here when I woke up in the morning and when I went to bed at night, about her being here all the time, as close as the other room. And, oh karabast, I had to stop before I followed that train of thought too far. I could already feel my lekku growing warm and turning a lovely shade of orange. “Is that… I mean, it seems kind of… since we’re… What’s our family going to think?”
I guess the prospect of sharing an apartment didn’t suggest the same kind of awkward and interesting situations to Noemi that it did to me, because she laughed again, tousling my untidy hair like a youngling’s. “Ronen! How is this any different than when our parents all lived together on the Ghost?”
“Yeah, it’s not like anything’s going to happen with all of us here,” Wren said, her smirk growing even smirkier. “Unless you two are planning to sneak off to the laundry room…”
“Wren!” My lekku were bright orange and twitching like flobberworms at this point.
“Well, are you?”
For Wren or anyone else who happens to be listening to this, no, I am not planning to sneak off to the laundry room with Noemi, thank you. Not that it is any of your business.
So now there are five of us—six counting Spots—on the team and packed into this apartment. Thankfully, the Force doesn’t seem to have anymore boots to drop on me, at least in that respect. And I am glad to have Noemi here, really, but I worry. I know she’s a Jedi too, and it isn’t up to me to keep her safe all the time. I know I can’t… and that’s what bothers me. It’s not that I don’t think she’s strong—she’s got some really awesome talents, she’s smart and she kicks shebs at k’tarra—it’s just that when you love someone as much as I love Noemi, you want to protect them. You’ll do anything to make sure they’re safe. How do I reconcile that need to protect her—and Wren, Kaz and Humoo, for that matter—with my mission? What if it comes to a choice between them and my job? Because I’m pretty sure I know which one I’d pick, but I’m not sure that’s the right answer for a Jedi. How did my dad do this when he was leading the Spectres? I really wish I could talk to him right now.
But I guess for now I just have to trust the Force, and trust my team that we’ll all get through this together.
Emotion, yet peace…
Humoo’s Great-Auntie Gleebs is, of course, is @Findswoman’s Gleebaloola. The story of Mleeanna, the Sith sarcophagus and Darth Vader is absolutely true and can be found in “Sai-perimetry at Gleebaloola’s, You Bet!”
SQUEE! and more SQUEE! I can so understand how the delight turns into mortification. Ro's dilemma is excellently summed up in the last paragraph. He's responsible for the mission itself and keeping his fellow team mates safe, for even though they have awesome skills etc., there are some seriously ominous predators on Korriban Eagerly! awaiting more!
I thought you might be pleased to see who the latest arrival on Korriban is! You knew Noemi would never let her Ronen go it alone. I think she hada few romantic notions of working with him side-by-side and being the one who keeps him strong, so it's a bit of a comedown for her to find he's already got a team forming here. And once again, Ronen is a lot like his dad, feeling responsible for the entire team, torn between his need to keep them safe and the knowledge that he won't always be able to, and wondering how to square that need to protect them with his duty as a Jedi. But as with the Spectres, the other members of the team aren't without their own strengths.
More is coming right up!
Thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading
9. Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, who really hopes that the Force does coincidences, at least occasionally
Hey, welcome to another exciting Benduday on Korriban.
Noemi and I have had a lot of discussions in the past couple days about what she could do on the mission (and they really were discussions this time, not arguments). She wanted to come the dig with me and Humoo and wasn’t very happy that I didn’t think she should hire on as a worker. It had nothing to do with the fact that she’s a woman and working at the excavation is hard, dusty, repetitive work. I knew she could handle that; you don’t get to be a Jedi if you’re not willing to put your share of hard work into training, and Noemi has never been the kind of girl who was scared of a little dirt. But I was not willing to put her in a position where we got to find out just how true those old stories of Jedi-hunting predators really are. She argued that I was being overprotective, but finally conceded I might have a point when Spots refused to leave the apartment building because there were Things Out There. When Noemi pressed her further, Spots would only say that they were Wrong Things and we should all go back home before they found us.
After that, Noemi reluctantly agreed that she would stay in Dreshdae “as much as possible.'' And then she set up a slicer’s station in the laundering unit downstairs to break into Chimaera’s main computer. Yeah, it turns out my girlfriend’s an amateur slicer—who knew? Noemi was certainly surprised that I didn’t. “You really didn’t know that? Don’t you remember how the year I started NLUPS, ‘Pat the Loth-Cat’ was on the required reading list for every class?”
“You did that?” Of course I remembered. It was a big mystery at the time which only deepened when not only could the administrators not figure out who’d done it, but during the second term that year, we were all required to read “Blue Milk and Tea” And the next year it was “The Mopey Little Mooka” and “Pittins in Mittens”. Even though he denied it, I always figured it was Caleb, because, well...Caleb. “Why?”
The corner of Noemi’s mouth quirked up into a mischievous smile. “To see if I could!” She laughed. “Don’t look so shocked, Ro! Mom’s been slicing since she was a kid; she sliced the Death Star’s central computer. Of course she taught us a few things.” Her smile slid from impish to downright devious. “Caleb and I learned a lot of nontraditional skills from Mom and Dad. I can pick pockets, too, but Caleb’s better at it than I am.”
Okay, so what else don’t I know about my own girlfriend? And is it wrong that I’m kind of impressed by her nontraditional skills and hope she can teach me some of them?
Anyway, with all these discussions and everything that’s happened in the last couple of days, you can imagine that today’s team meeting was a lot more interesting than last week’s—and not just because it was Wren’s turn to cook dinner.
It’s not that Wren can’t cook, it’s just that what she cooks is tiingilar, this Mandalorian casserole that’s spicy enough to peel the skin off the roof of your mouth. I seriously think Mandos serve it to us aruetiise—non-Mandos—as a test. Like, if you live through an entire serving of it, you’re worthy of their time or something. Aunt Sabine always makes a huge batch of it for Life Day, so I’m not necessarily used to it, but at least I knew what I was getting into. Poor Humoo, on the other hand, didn’t know what hit him; he chugged down enough FizzyGlug to fill a tanker, and I swear there was still smoke coming out of his tufty ears afterwards. Meanwhile, Kaz was somehow on his third serving. “How can you eat it like that?” I demanded.
Kaz shrugged. “I don’t know,” he said with his mouth so full of tiingilar that it sounded more like “eye-uhn-oh”. Seeing that no one except for him and Wren were going for seconds (or finishing firsts), he dished himself a little more. “It’s not that spicy, really. Not as spicy as the geki kara soup or dan dan noodles on Hosnian Prime.”
Wren looked torn between being impressed at the amount of tiingilar he’d managed to pack away—pretty substantial, especially for an aruetii—and offended that he thought it wasn’t spicy enough. “That’s because this isn’t real Mando tiingilar. This is the recipe Mom makes for relatives. Next time, I’ll make it like she makes at home…”
“NO!” Noemi and I exclaimed. Aunt Sabine’s Life Day recipe has more than enough hetikles for me, thanks, and if that makes me a mooka-pup in Wren’s eyes, I can live with that. At least I’ll still have my nasal passages intact. And I was definitely being a prudent team leader and not a mooka-pup by changing the subject before Wren could offer that opinion. “So, Noemi, how’s the slicing coming along?”
“I haven’t had any luck getting into Chimaera’s system.” Noemi frowned and poked at the remains of her tiingilar. “I didn’t think it would be this tough, but they’ve got lots of security in place, layers of it. More than you would expect for a mining company who isn’t doing any actual mining yet. They’re hiding something, that’s for sure. So until I can find the weak spot in their security, I’ve been doing a little research. There doesn’t seem to be any flimsi trail for Chimaera, but Belloq—now that guy’s got a trail a kilometer long!
“First of all, our good Professor Belloq really isn’t much of one. He just barely managed to earn his degree, and he’s never taught a class or written a single scholarly article. He has, however, gotten into some major poodoo with local authorities and customs agents in twelve systems, but somehow he always gets off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Which may be related to the fact that a lot of the artifacts he’s credited with discovering are now in the private collections of crime lords or ex-Imperials.”
“Oh, he’s a chakaar.” The disgust in Wren’s voice was palpable. “It means grave-robber,” she explained to Kaz and Humoo’s blank looks, “and that’s pretty much what they do. Mom’s run into a couple of them working for the Galactic Restoration Council—treasure hunters who stole important art and relics from non-Humans for slimy Imps like that ori’jagycThrawn.”
Humoo’s ear tufts twitched indignantly. “Oh ho, yes indeedy! I know just the kind of unscruputable character-type you mean! They disgrace the proud name of scavenger; no Squib would ever stoop to such under-appendaged behaviorness. We always give fair value in our trades!”
Wren’s expression went through several rapid contortions and she made a small coughing noise, which was apparently her choking back her opinion of the fairness of Squib bargaining, before continuing, “Those sleemos thought they were hot stuff, real brave adventurers, at least until Mom got through with them.” She grinned the kind of predatory smile most people hope they never see on a Mandalorian’s face. “Never mess with a Mando, especially one who can quote Intergalactic treaty law. Too bad she didn’t got ahold of Belloq.”
“Well, someone must have put the fear of the Force into him, because he vanished a couple of years ago” Noemi replied. “He popped up again about six months back, saying he’d been doing ‘cultural research’ in the Unknown Regions, and caused a big stir with a couple of stone carvings he claimed were ancient Rakatan. The next thing you know, he’s working for Chimaera as their consultant on the Korriban project.”
Kaz hastily swallowed a large mouthful of tiingilar. “Oh, hey, speaking of the Unknown Regions… I just realized I never got to tell you what Chimaera reminded me of. It was the name of Grand Admiral Thrawn’s command ship. The one that, uh, disappeared at the Second Battle of Lothal.”
I may not be a history buff like Kaz, but I know a lot about that particular battle. Mom was in command; she won a huge victory against the Empire there, even though she only had a handful of actual troops. The Rebel Alliance couldn’t spare any more, but the Spectres made up for it by calling in favors from everyone they’d ever worked with—including some favors that only Uncle Ezra could have pulled off. “It didn’t disappear,” Noemi informed him. “It was pulled into the Unknown Regions by purrgils.”
Kaz’s fork clattered to the table. “That’s true?!”
“Yeah, my dad’s the one who summoned them. He’s a beastwarden like I am,” Noemi explained. Spots leapt up onto her shoulder as if to underscore her words, and Noemi offered the cat a piece of tiingilar. She sniffed it for a second, sneezed and jumped back down with a particularly derisive flick of her tail. “Dad did the purrgils a favor once, so they came when he called.”
Kaz gaped, his mouth working but no actual sound coming out. I couldn’t really blame him. The stuff about the purrgils tends to get glossed over in the history books. There were plenty of witnesses on both sides of the battle, but for some reason the historians can’t seem to agree whether it really happened or was all a wild story or mass delusion. I guess it does sound pretty crazy, and there are still a lot of people who don’t believe in crazy Jedi stuff. It’s easier and less headsploding to say Thrawn’s ship “disappeared under mysterious circumstances” than to contemplate that a Jedi could ask giant space whales to help him out in battle (but, hey, it worked, and as a method of taking out your opponent, it’s a lot less lethal than blowing up his ship). And since I haven’t really been able to use the Force other than to keep myself invisible, the only Jedi stuff Kaz has really seen is Noemi talking to Spots—which, let’s face it, is somewhat less impressive than Uncle Ezra and the purrgils.
On the other hand, crazy Jedi stuff is a way of life for me. So while Kaz was busy wrapping his head around this new view of history, my brain was going off in an equally mind-bending direction. “Wait… so if Belloq was out in the Unknown Regions...and Thrawn was out there somewhere…? You don’t think…?”
“I...I shouldn’t have mentioned anything. It was silly to think Grand Admiral Thrawn’s ship could have anything to do with a mining company.” Kaz shook his head, looking as abashed as he had when his father shushed him in the sulyet restaurant on Garel. I wondered how often Senator Xiono must have shut him down for him to believe he wasn’t worth listening to. “It’s probably just a weird coincidence.”
Noemi and I exchanged glances, and I knew what she was going to say before she told Kaz, “The Force doesn’t do coincidences. At least that’s what my grandfather always says.”
You know, just once I would like the Force to do coincidences. I would love for the fact that the name of this mysterious and possibly sinister mining company is the same as Thrawn’s ship to be nothing more than a fluke. But I have a bad feeling that it isn’t.
Of all the amoral, egotistical, maniacal Imps that could possibly be involved in this mess, why did it have to be him? So many of the Imps and even some of the historians have hailed him as some sort of genius, but what he really was was a manipulative creep with that whole “analyze your enemy’s art to defeat them” thing. He pulled that sick poodoo on my mom after he stole her kalikori from Grandpa Cham’s house on Ryloth. Yeah, he invaded Mom’s childhood home, stole a sacred family heirloom, and tried to use it to break her. You could say I have some strong feelings about Thrawn and his methods. He’d be pretty old by this point and I’d love to believe he’s gone, but he’s the kind who would live to be a twisted old man, surviving on nothing more than spite and art criticism.
Then again, a lot of high-ranking Imperials fled to the Unknown Regions after the Battle of Jakku. Some of his admirers were probably among them. I can always hope that one of them is the mastermind behind Chimaera and whatever it is they’re doing here on Korriban, right?
A Jedi always has hope. Even if the Force very seldom does coincidences.
Hetikles: “nose burn”, spiciness, a prized quality in Mandalorian cooking.
Ori’jagyc: literally, “big man”, but said sarcastically. A bully or swaggering big-mouth - someone who picks on someone smaller.
Ronen’s account of the Second Battle of Lothal comprises most of the events of the Rebels finale made to fit the Marzra-verse timeline.
That Noemi is a slicer like Mara is way, way too cool!
LOL on the ultra-spicy dish, and that Kaz can eat it without steam coming out of his ears.
I noticed the 'coincidence' about the name Chimaera. I am totally a Thrawn fan both in Legends and Disney variations but I can so absolutely get that Ronen views him with cold, hard feelings.
Time to catch up with these two wonderful and very eventful entries!
8: THERE SHE IS! NOEMI'S HERE! CAPS LOCK! I had an inkling she might eventually show up, precisely because she loves Ro with all her heart and would never want him to face danger alone. And precisely because Ro loves her and wouldn't want her to have to face the kind of danger he's facing, the whole situation has him totally bewitched, bothered, and bewildered (in a cute way, really!). Of course, it's just as understandably bewildering to her to see that Ro has this whole host of other people with him, including a particularly scrappy Spectre cousin, and I kind of don't blame her for being a bit miffed: "you insisted on not bringing me, but you do bring these other two?" Well, I don't blame either of them for their argument, really, given the fraught situation. I have to say, you do a very good job with these arguments, and their resolutions too!
It's kind of fun that Wren ended up being the catalyst for their calming down and making up, and it fits somehow with the way she was the one who broke up their kiss on the street—she's a character who likes to steal a scene, I guess, but in a good way! (If only she and Shai could meet, because they have that in common! ) And but of course Noemi's going to stay—where else would she go on this Force-forsaken rockball, exactly? (And once again Wren steals the show with her good-natured ribbing about the laundry unit. )
So now they are all together as a team—a big, unruly, unexpected team, but one full of talent and verve and good camaraderie, one that I know will do the best it can in the face of dangers and pitfalls to come. And I think Ronen needn't worry so much, either—if push came to shove, I think he would make the right decisions by all the members of his team. <3
9: Slowly but surely our team is making its way toward its new normal, even though it certainly hasn't been easy, especially in that tiny, messy apartment! True to her natural resourcefulness and perspicacity, Noemi has found a good niche for herself as the resident slicer, following in her parents' tradition of nontraditional skills. And wow, already she's learned some very interesting and potentially important information about Belloq and co., confirming the sense Ro has had all along that they're up to not good and probably a front for something else—something much more sinister and worrisome (on top of everything else Ro's got to worry about right now). It's interesting that it's Kaz who supplies that important missing link about Thrawn, solely from his knowledge of military history—and bittersweet how he immediately backpedals with "I shouldn't have said anything." (All those years of being shut down by his dad, no doubt. ) True to Grandfather Doran's old dictum, I fear the Force is by no means doing a coincidence on this one. Though I totally sympathize with Ro's apprehension, especially given Thrawn's history with his mother and Ryloth.
This entry has a really fun lighter side, too. Pretty impressive that the goofy, klutzy Kaz can put away so much tiingilar! And it's cute how Wren's little comment about "not real Mando tiiingilar" gives her feelings away, at least a bit: I think she really is pretty impressed with Kaz, and I think that maybe Kaz might actually do all right even with the real stuff. It was fun to hear a little bit about Noemi's childhood escapades with slicing, too; I think I recognize each reference to Earth children's stories! Just goes to show that she's not without that mischievous, Ezra-esque trickster streak, something I bet will serve her well here on Korriban. (And I totally can picture Caleb being an ace at pickpocketing!)
Now that the gang's all here and ready to take on any and all chakaars and ori'jagycs that the galaxy might throw at them, I especially can't wait to see more! Keep up the great work with this cool ensemble cast!
Like Noemi says, of course her mom passed on some of those slicing skills! The Blayne-Bridger family’s less traditional talents have always been useful for intelligence work. Kaz is modeled on some of my high school/college guy friends who could and would chow down on anything, no matter how spicy it was, with seemingly no affect. Definitely not a talent I had
I guess I like Thrawn as much as one can like a villain. I think he’s a very interesting character and an effective villain, perhaps more amoral than evil, but still a villain. It’s only recently struck my how creepy and manipulative his art analysis really is, especially what he did to Hera in S4 when he interrupts Pryce’s torture session to bring in Hera’s kalikori, remind her of her brother who died in childhood and basically tell her that he’ll take care of her family heirloom after she dies (with the implication that it’ll be soon). It’s psychological torture. So yes, the Syndulla-Jarrus family has a low opinion of Thrawn
Aw, you knew I couldn’t leave Noemi out! She and Ro are a team! They both have good points here; I can’t blame Noemi for being a little miffed to find that Ro already has a support crew in the making, but he’s being honest when he says that wasn’t his plan (especially in Kaz’s case). She’s hurt that he didn’t turn to her first and he’s hurt that she apparently doesn’t feel he can handle things without her. It’s all sort of a romantic Catch-22, that they want to protect and help each other, but the ways they go about it put them at odds.
Wren is so much fun sometimes. She calls it likes she sees it, in true Mando form. She’s a smart cookie, despite all the drama, and she has a knack for saying the things that need to be said in her own inimitable way—a lot like Shai in that respect! (I have quite a collection of scene-stealing youngest sibs: Annina, Shai, Wren...even Ro himself!)
They are on their way to becoming a real team, just as the Spectres were before them. Ro will do his absolute best for his team (as well as his mission) and they, in turn, will do the same for him.
Oh yeah, it’s got to be fun for them all in close quarters, with relationship issues simmering in the background and Humoo’s collection taking up precious space and Spots becoming a reluctant indoor cat. Noemi finds a way to contribute to the team without venturing into the Valley of the Dark Lords and risking encountering any Jedi-hunting predators. She’s got some of her mom’s mad slicing skillz and digs up some dirt on Belloq—of which there is plenty! And the Force, which totally doesn’t do coincidences, nudges that little connection back into Kaz’s mind at just the right time; no doubt if his dad had been there, or if Kaz had managed to get a word in edgewise at the sulyet restaurant, he would have told Kaz he was being ridiculous. But Ro and Noemi can appreciate that the Force works in mysterious ways, and through the least likely people.
Kaz is quite a chow hound on Resistance (maybe not so much as his friend Neeku, who likes food...food, food, food...) and like most guys at that age, if it doesn’t move, he’ll eat it. And Wren...yes, she’s a little impressed that he can handle at least the aruetii version of tiingilar and come back for more and she’d probably like to see how he does with the “real” stuff. (I’m with you, I think Kaz could give it a good shot. And then won’t Wren be impressed! ) Noemi may be a lot like Mara, but she’s got some Ezra-like qualities too, and not just the beastwarden talent. I think Mara probably sighed a little over her daughter’s antics but let it go because it was ultimately harmless. (And for anyone keeping score the books referenced are : Pat the Bunny, Green Eggs and Ham, The Pokey Little Puppy and Fox in Socks). And of course now I need to write a story in which Caleb employs some of his non-traditional skills—possibly while accompanied by a certain white Loth-rat...
Thank you so much, and thanks for all your help keeping this bunch going. More is coming forthwith...
Thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading
10. Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, who doesn’t understand women. At all. Ever.
Before Noemi and I started dating, I felt like I was never going to understand girls—what they wanted and why they acted the way they did. After three years of being together, though, I thought I’d figured most of it out, and if I didn’t understand women in general, at least I understood Noemi. Now I’m pretty sure all women are inscrutable creatures and I doubt I’m ever going to understand any of them—not the ones I’m sort-of-kind-of related to, not even my own girlfriend.
It all started because I decided to take Noemi out.
As great as it is to have Noemi here with me, it’s also kind of awkward in a way, because, well, we’re used to being able to spend a certain amount of time together alone to talk or, you know,... kiss… But that’s not really possible here with all of us crammed into the same apartment. I’m sure that our various family members will be happy to know that Noemi and I are very well chaperoned. We can’t exactly have any private moments and it seems like if we kiss more than twice Humoo will waggle his ear tufts at me, Kaz will get all blushy, or Wren will roll her eyes with a giant “I can’t believe this” sigh. So I finally decided that, even if we were only going to the Drunk Side next door, Noemi and were going on a date somewhere we could actually talk. I wanted to tell her about everything that had been going on up to now— Belloq’s slimy speciesist comments and how they made me feel like a freak again, my doubts about being the leader of this strange little team, and Kaz’s crush on Wren that I had no idea how to handle.
Predictably, the others objected to us going out without them. Wren launched into her So Not Fair spiel: traditionally Mandalorians were considered adults at age thirteen and anyway, she and Kaz could just order some meiloorun juice or a couple of blurrgfires, and… I cut her off before she could really get her engines revved. “Look, I’m supposed to be the responsible adult Jedi here, and there is no way I’m taking a couple of sixteen-year-olds to a dive bar. Even if your mom didn’t care, mine would probably kill me.”
Then it was Humoo’s turn to complain. “But Ildephonsus-Ro, I am fourteen standardified years old! Which is quite a respectfully maturated age for a Squib!”
Well, that was true. Different species age at different rates, so despite being the youngest of us, Humoo is actually an adult. I’m not sure I would go as far as to call him “respectfully maturated”, but, hey, there are times when I’m not sure I am either. “Yes, you’re very mature, Humoo.” I fought the urge to pat him on the head like the sad mooka pup he looked like. “Which is why I need you to stay with the kids. Don’t look at me like that,” I said, as Kaz and Wren shot me aggrieved looks, because they were totally not children anymore, in their not-so-humble opinions. “Sixteen is not considered adult for Humans or near-Humans, no matter what traditions Mandos used to have.”
“No! Look, this is a date and you guys are not invited!”
And, having spelled it out for them in words of one syllable, the matter was finally settled.
The Drunk Side would not have been my first choice for a night out with Noemi. It’s not exactly high on romantic atmosphere. Or class. Or even, you know, light. It’s dimly lit, which is to say, nearly dark with only some faint, flickering glow lamps on the tables, but that may actually be a good thing, because I’m not sure it’s exactly high on cleanliness, either.
As we entered, I recognized a couple of dig workers at the bar, hunched over large tankards of something that foamed suspiciously. The burly Nikto elbowed his Human companion, who did a double-take when he saw me—or more likely, when he saw Noemi with me. I gave them a half-hearted wave, telling myself that their surprise was because you didn’t see many—okay, any—women like Noemi here on Korriban and not because they didn’t believe that a freak like me could possibly be with a beautiful woman like her.
“This place is… charming,” Noemi said as she took in the cantina’s utter lack of both ambiance and ambient lighting. “I’m probably going to regret this, but I’m going to head to the ‘fresher while you get a table.” She gave me a quick kiss as she headed towards the back of the cantina. The guys from the dig were still staring; I smiled at them, feeling both awkward and a tiny bit smug. Yeah, that’s my girlfriend.
I found a table whose glowlamp seemed marginally brighter and less flickery than the others, sat down and picked up the menu card. Contrary to what some people think, there’s no rule against Jedi drinking alcohol so long as we don’t drink to excess. I don’t drink very often, but a Lothalian currant wine or jogan fruit liqueur is nice every now and then. Not that I was going to find either of those here, though; as I looked down the list—bloody rancors, jet juice, slug slingers, Gamorrean ale—I wondered if I wasn’t better off sticking with a blurrgfire myself, if they even served something that tame here.
As I perused the menu, the door swished open, letting in a shaft of the blood-red Korriban sunset. A prickle of foreboding ran up my lekku, a feeling like I was being watched. My head snapped up and I dropped the card back onto the table. Yuthura Jolanta stood in the doorway silhouetted in the red light, and she was looking directly at me. When she saw me looking back at her, a slow smile curved her lips and she made her way to my table, her lekku and hips swaying. “Ildephonsus,” she purred, sliding into the chair next to mine, “how wonderful to see you here.”
“Yeah, it’s, um, nice to see you, too…” Okay, before you get on me and tell me that I should have told her straight off to go away, I was raised to be polite and diplomatic and all that. Yuthura had always been nice to me. Besides helping Kaz and Wren get jobs, she’d always stop to say hello when she and Belloq did their rounds at the excavation. Most of the time she’d chat a bit about how things were going, what Humoo and I had found, the weather—perfectly ordinary stuff like that. She even deflected a couple of Belloq’s barbed comments about good-for-nothing hybrids. I never saw any reason for Wren’s continued dark mutterings that Yuthura was up to something. She seemed to be one of the few allies we had here on Korriban. So while I fully intended to tell Yuthura that I was waiting for my girlfriend, thanks, I didn’t feel the need to go all Uncle Zeb and tell her to take a hike.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you away from the dig site before,” Yuthura said, tilting her head. Her eyes traveled over my features as if she was seeing me in a new light, and her attention made me shift uneasily in my seat. She smiled again, leaning closer to me and whispered conspiratorially, “Of course, I couldn’t blame you for wanting to avoid Belloq. I wonder if it’s ever occurred to him that there’s a reason Twi’lek women prefer Human men to men like him.”
“Uh, yeah…” A brilliant response, I know, but let’s face it, I’ve never been exactly a sparkling conversationalist when it comes to women. Jacen or Caleb could have come up with some clever, snarky comment about Belloq, something that would have made her laugh, but with Yuthura sitting this close to me, I just turned into an awkward, stammering mess.
“Have you ever wondered about that?” Her eyes searched mine; I’d never noticed before what an arresting shade of deep magenta they were. “Why so many Twi’leks choose Human men?”
I hadn’t; I didn’t want to consider it, given that my mom was one of those Twi’lek women and my dad was one of the Human men. If there was anything beyond the usual “he has a great personality and a nice smile” type stuff, I really, really did not want to think about it. So I blushed and stammered some more. “Not… no, not… not really…”
Yuthura continued to study my face. “It’s the hair, I think,” she said at last, reaching up to brush a strand out of my eyes and twined it around her fingers. “It’s fascinating. So soft…”
I don’t know how I failed to notice Noemi approaching, except that my brain was frozen in absolute shock as Yuthura wound her fingers through my terminally untidy hair. Like I said, I’ve never understood women. Every woman besides Noemi has always found me perfectly resistible (which is okay, really, because she’s the only one who matters) and never in a million years would I have expected that any woman would come on to me in a cantina like this. I felt like a gallaze caught in speeder lights as she played with my hair, and like a gallaze caught in speeder lights who’s just heard the snick of a hunter’s rifle when I heard Noemi’s voice: “Really. What an interesting theory.”
Oh, karabast… I pulled away from Yuthura as quickly as I could, knowing how this probably looked. “Noemi!” My voice was high and squeaky, with a nervous laugh in it. “Um, Noemi, this is Yuthura, Yuthura, this is…”
“Ro’s girlfriend.” Noemi’s voice was as flat and cold as the Northern Plains in the dead of winter. Her mouth was set in a hard line, her eyes were ice blue, and her emotional shields were high. Oh, karabast, karabast, karabast… This was not going to be pretty.
Yuthura looked from me to Noemi and back again. “Ah, I see,” she murmured, slowly lowering her hand from my face.
“Oh, no, don’t bother,” Noemi told her with poisonous sweetness. “I was just leaving.”
And she turned on her heel and marched out of the cantina, not even looking back when I stood and called out to her, “Noemi!”
The guys from the dig were watching me as if they wished they had some bang-corn to go with the show, and I could just imagine how much of the gossip in the lunch line tomorrow was going to be about me. That Ildephonsus—who knew? My lekku writhed in hot shame. I scrambled out of my chair to go after Noemi, but Yuthura laid a hand on my forearm. “Perhaps it would be better to give her some time to calm down first,” she suggested. “I apologize, Ildephonsus. I wasn’t aware you were taken. It does not surprise me, though; so many of the good men are.” She sighed, eyes downcast demurely, but the tip of her left lek twitched like an irritated Loth-cat’s tail.
“Um, thanks?” I guess that was sort of a compliment, right? Kind of? Not that it mattered because the only woman whose opinion of me I cared about had already stormed off, and was probably planning a dire fate for me even as we spoke. “I mean, I’m sorry. I really have to go. I need to talk to Noemi, before… yeah.”
Even though the Drunk Side was next door to our building and I ran as fast as I could, I was already too late when I got there. Wren was waiting in the hallway, leaning against our door frame with her arms crossed over her chest plate. She raised an eyebrow at me. “That was the shortest date ever. What did you do to Noemi?”
“Me?! I didn’t do anything!” Why does everyone always assume it’s the guy’s fault when something goes wrong? Because it isn’t always, and this time it definitely wasn’t.
She looked unconvinced. “Well, clearly you did, because she came storming in like a rabid anooba, threw me out of our room and now I can hear that swooshy lightsaber noise coming from in there.”
“Oh…” If Noemi was already doing rage katas to release her emotions, I was really in the mooka house. “This isn’t my fault! I was just sitting there, minding my own business when Yuthura came over.” I filled Wren in on Yuthura’s strange questions about Twi’lek women and Human men, her sudden fascination with hair and how Noemi had arrived just in time to see Yuthura testing her ideas about hair by playing with mine.
Wren smacked a hand to her forehead and made an inarticulate noise of disgust. “I hate to say it—okay, no I really don’t, because I told you that schutta was trouble, but you wouldn’t listen.”
See, what did I tell you? Always the guy’s fault, even when it’s obviously not. “How was I supposed to know she’d do something like this?”
“Um, because she’s been flirting with you since the day we got here?”
For someone who claimed she wasn’t creative, Wren had a wild imagination. I didn’t think she was prone to that sort of romantic nonsense, but she is a teenage girl after all, so I guess she sees flirting even when there is none. “No she hasn’t, Wren. Just because Yuthura’s been nice to me...”
The look Wren leveled at me said she thought I was spectacularly dense, especially for a Jedi. “And how many of the other guys at the dig is she ‘nice’ to? None of them. She tells them all to go stuff themselves in a canopic jar, but with you she’s all ‘oh, helloooo Ildephonsusssss’,” she said, drawing Yuthura’s Rylothean accent out into something between a purr and a hiss while fluttering her eyelashes and screwing her features into an absurdly simpering kissy face.
I wanted to go all Mature Adult Being and lecture Wren for being both immature and unkind to someone who’d never been anything but helpful to us. But while Wren’s theatrics were ridiculous, she wasn’t exactly wrong. For whatever reason, there are a lot more men than women employed at the dig, and some of them can be pretty rough around the edges—and rough in the middle and rough pretty much all the way through. Some of them had no problems making comments and suggestions to Yuthura that were definitely not the sort you should make to your boss’s assistant. Or anyone, under any circumstances, ever. And Yuthura’s responses to them could blister paint off a starship’s hull. So I’d never really given much thought to the fact that she talked to me and not them. Of course she’d rather talk to someone who had some manners than someone whose conversation had been taken word for word from a men’s ’fresher stall in Hutt space.
“That doesn’t even make any sense!” There was no way Yuthura could be interested in me. I mean, what did I have going for me—or rather what did Ildephonsus Janos have going for him? He had no prospects, no skills, was stuck in a dead-end job on a dead-end world, and, oh yeah, he looked like me. “Why would someone like Yuthura flirt with a low level grunt—especially when he’s a hybrid freak?”
“Seriously?” Now Wren’s expression suggested that she doubted not only my perspicacity but my intelligence, too. “You think you’re a freak? Have you actually looked at yourself lately?”
“I know what I look like, thanks.” I was all too aware of it, sometimes. It hadn’t been easy growing up, not looking like either my Twi’lek or Human side, or looking like both smashed together, depending on how you looked at it. Things had gotten easier in the last couple years, once I’d accepted that not everyone was judging me on my looks and I’d discovered that there was someone besides my mother who thought I was okay-looking. But there were still days when I wished I looked like anyone else but me.
“You don’t if you think you’re some hideous freak.” Wren looked at me appraisingly. “Do you think your dad is good looking?”
“What kind of question is that?!” Because that’s not something I spend my time thinking about, thanks.
“Generally speaking, not in some kind of creepy way, you moof-milker!” Wren cried with another OMF-you-are-such-an-idiot noise of exasperation. “Look, I’m not trying to be weird here, but if you pulled your hair back and grew a beard, you’d look just like the old holos of Uncle Kanan—well, with lekku anyway. And he was kind of a dish when he was younger. Which is not to say I’m attracted to him —or you,” she added hastily as I worked through the implications that if Dad was a dish when he was younger, and I looked like him, then by extension I was a dish, too… “That would be seriously wrong, and you are so not my type!”
I don’t know exactly why I said what I did next, except that the way I look is still kind of a sore spot with me. I guess you can’t spend as long as I did believing you’re a freak and not have a hard time accepting that anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t just sugar-coating things for you. “Oh yeah? So what is your type? Adorably goofy senator’s sons?”
I never would have thought it would be possible to make a Mandalorian blush, but Wren flushed, spots of red blooming high on her cheeks. She looked like I’d just slapped her. “Kaz isn’t just a goof!” she shot back. “He knows a lot about military history and he works just as hard as any of us! But thanks for reminding me that a guy like him would never look twice at me!”
“Wait...what?!” Wren had a thing for Kaz? Okay, I was not expecting that. I mean, Kaz is a good kid and all, but I would have expected to Wren to go for someone with more...weapons. Someone more kick-shebs and less clumsy, more fearless and less earnest. Someone more Mando and less… Kaz.
“Oh, come on, Ro!” Wren glared at me, but there was genuine hurt in her eyes. Her hands were bunched into fists at her sides, though her posture had lost its usual cocky “tough Mando” slouch and become more of a slump. “We all know Bellona is the pretty one. The talented one. The one who’s just like Mom. I’m just… me.”
Whoa, was not expecting any of that, either. Who knew that underneath all the drama and Mando bluster Wren had the usual adolescent insecurities? I knew what it was like to feel like the second-best younger child. Jacen had always seemed impossibly awesome when I was a kid—handsome like Dad, a great pilot like Mom—and Ayelet had been the creative, talented one, while I’d just been...me. Awkward, weird, freakish me. I kind of wanted to hug Wren and tell it was going to be okay, that she didn’t have to be just like Bellona to be cool, because she was already pretty great the way she was. I wanted to tell her not to worry, because Kaz had definitely looked twice--and a lot more than twice--at her. But I knew she wouldn’t believe any of it and I’d probably get punched for the hug. Instead, I ventured cautiously, “So because you don’t look like Bellona you can’t be pretty? Have you actually looked at yourself lately?”
Her features hardened. “Oh, very nice, Master Jedi—I try to help you out and you just make fun of me! Thanks a lot!” She slapped the door’s access panel so hard the noise echoed through the hallway, then stomped back into the apartment before I could even form the word “but…” I think if she could have, she would have slammed the door behind her.
Now I have two women angry with me for reasons I don’t really understand: Noemi because Yuthura came onto me and Wren because I dared to suggest she might be pretty. I don’t get any of it; I really don’t. So I’m hanging out here in the laundering unit while they cool off and I try to figure out women.
I could be here a while.
Like maybe the rest of my life.
Notes: the drinks served at the Drunk Side are all from the menu of Oga’s Cantina at Disney World/Disneyland’s Galaxy's Edge. Blurrgfire has also been featured on Resistance; Kaz and Neeku order them at Aunt Z’s. Though it sounds like it packs a punch, it’s non-alcoholic (lemonade, pomegranate juice, and habanero-lime).
Before Noemi and I started dating, I felt like I was never going to understand girls—what they wanted and why they acted the way they did. After three years of being together, though, I thought I’d figured most of it out, and if I didn’t understand women in general, at least I understood Noemi. Now I’m pretty sure all women are inscrutable creatures and I doubt I’m ever going to understand any of them—not the ones I’m sort-of-kind-of related to, not even my own girlfriend.
This is a very understandable expectation Being best friends first and now more than friends ... you'd think his level of getting Noemi's drift would be better than average
I enjoyed reading about the seedy details of the cantina, could very clearly visualize it.
The entire encounter (awkwardness defined!) between Ronen and Yuthura .was only heightened by the arrival of Noemi from the 'fresher. From her point of view, Ronen wasn't doing anything to discourage Yuthura, and might even have even if accidentally led her on.
To cap it off, we have the marvelously "what did I say now" conversation between Ro and Wren. When he echoed her words back, I thought she'd laugh and say point taken because her point was he wasn't freaky and didn't have to be like anybody to be liked or flirted with. But to Ronen's confusion, she didn't take it that way.
Brilliant insightfulness into the confounding and contradictory adolescent mind-set!!
Oh, oh, oh, Ro. D'oh.
Mega d'oh concerning the Yuthura, incident especially. I guess Ro was ultimately just so gallaze-in-the-headlights gobsmacked by her, er, gesture that he didn't know how to respond at all. I take him at his word about interpreting her behavior toward him as simply "being nice" (understandable, given that he's such a good soul himself). But I think too that Wren was onto something with her warnings: yes, Yuthura is partly reacting to the fact that he's one of the few people at the dig who treats anyone decently, but she's pretty clearly interested interested in him, too, and in a way that suggests she's at least partly aware of his natrual naiveté and wants to take advantage of it. Yuthura herself even drops a few hints that this rejection (!) is likely to rankle and lead to hard feelings: I caught that annoyed lekku twitch, and there's just a hint of PA in her little remark about all the good men being taken.
(I also noticed that Noemi introduces herself as “Ro’s girlfriend,” not “Ildephonsus’s girlfriend”... just a tiny detail, but also one that I fear could lead to trouble later, if Yuthura catches it—and we don’t yet know if she did... )
The conversation with Wren is wonderful. Part of it’s the cousin bonding, part of it’s the fun foil dynamic between these two very different Spectre scions, and it is more than a bit priceless to see Wren getting the chance to school Ro a bit for his naïveté about Yuthura. Especially, though, it shows that these two really do share a lot of the same worries and insecurities. Yes, Ro, even tough, shrill Mando teens are not immune to insecurities about looks, who likes them, etc.! Wren is understandably not yet in much of a mood to accept Ronen’s hugs and sympathy, but I bet she’ll get there. And even if he finds her response a bit inscrutable at present, I can tell it means a lot to him to know that she’s in the same boat as he is. As always, everyone’s reactions and emotions make sense and are right-on in character—you really have a mighty fine knack for these emotional situations and conversations between young people, and I mean that as a compliment!
Looking forward to seeing how all this will resolve (because I know it will—these young peoples’ hearts are too good for it not to ). Don’t keep us waiting too long!
I think Ronen does have a better than average understanding of Noemi, but no one can perfectly know what someone else is thinking or feeling. To Ronen, he didn’t do anything, he didn’t want Yuthura to come onto him—so why is Noemi upset with him? Whereas to Noemi, as you point out, at the very least, he wasn’t doing anything to discourage her from it.
Thanks! There is a Drunk Side cantina on Korriban in KOTOR, though it (and Dreshdae in general) was less of a hole in the wall than depicted here, where the low light may actually be a good thing.
I kind of felt bad for Ro while I was writing this, because all he wants to do is spend a little time with Noemi and suddenly this woman who he only thought of as a nice acquaintance is coming onto him in a very touchy-feely way. I don’t blame him for being absolutely frozen, but I also don’t blame Noemi for being more than a little peeved by the situation.
Aww, thanks! Ro’s had a few more years to grow out of the worst of the adolescent angst, and though he’s still got some issues about his appearance, he’s generally less sensitive about it than he was at Wren’s age. Wren’s still in the throes of her teen angst and comparing herself to her Glamour-Mando older sister. And sometimes when you’re at that place, it’s hard to believe that anyone who tells you you’re not the loser you think you are isn’t just trying to feed you a line. But in the end, I think it’s a good thing for both of them that they did talk.
D’oh and mega d’oh, indeed. Ro is pretty innocent when it comes to this sort of dynamic. He was never flirtatious and he’s been in a serious relationship with Noemi since he was seventeen. And as you say, he’s a good soul who takes people at face value. He’s the opposite of those guys who take women’s ordinarily polite behavior as flirting Wren has had Yuthura’s number from the start. I think you’re onto something with the bolded part. Yuthura is as peeved by Noemi’s timely interruption as Noemi is to find Yuthura with her hands on Ro—you caught the little lekku twitch and her sweetly snide comment about the good ones being taken.
Thanks! It really was a fun exchange to write, because these two are so different and yet so much the same. It was fun to kind of turn the tables on Ronen a bit; he’s been trying to be the Responsible Adult Leader, but his drama queen cousin has a better grasp on human nature in some ways. And he’s surprised to find that Wren has a lot of the same insecurities that he did (and still does) and equally surprised that she has a crush on a certain adorably goofy team member. Wren may present herself as a confident, kick shebs and take names action girl, but she still wants to be attractive and desirable and is afraid that she isn’t, especially in comparison to Bellona. And as much as Ro wants to console Wren, he’s right that she’s not in the mood to accept it—he just doesn’t realize how much.
Resolution coming up...
Thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading
11. 18/07/3305 LY cont’d.
(Deleted entry recovered by C1-10P)
Ronen? Are you down here?
Noemi! Hey, look, about what happened at the Drunk Side...
What did you say to Wren?
She barged in on me doing katas and told me if I didn’t do something with my clueless moof-milker of a boyfriend, she was going to have to shoot you. So what did you say to her?
Why is everything my fault tonight? You want to know what I said to her? I told her she was pretty.
Huh? That’s what made her go all Mando? And just why were you telling Wren she’s pretty, hmm, Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus?
Oh, come on! I know it looked bad with Yuthura, but you can’t seriously think I’d put the moves on Wren! [sigh] It’s a long story, but the upshot is she’s got a crush on Kaz and thinks he’ll never notice her because she isn’t as pretty as Bellona.
Yeah… And the irony of it is—he’s got a crush on her, too. I wonder what it’s going to take for those two to realize they like each other.
It took us being sealed in the Jedi Temple and thinking we were going to die there.
Hey, there you go! We could shut them in one of the tombs together…
They might thank us.
If they weren’t eaten by tuk’ata!
Oh, we’d save them before that happened.
You’re terrible, Ro.
I’m not that bad, am I? Am I? Noemi, I…. I’m sorry about tonight. I know what it must have looked like with Yuthura, but I promise you I had no idea she’d ever do anything like that, and I guess I just sort of—froze. Wren thinks she’s been flirting with me ever since we got here, but I just thought she was being friendly—like actually friendly, not friendly friendly.
Really. Why would I? I never thought anyone besides you would think of a hybrid freak like me that way.
Ro, you really are clueless sometimes. Sweet, but clueless. You’re not a freak; you never have been.
And...well, I never thought anyone else would think of me that way because I never think of anyone but you that way. I love you, Noemi. You’re the only woman I’ll ever want.
I love you, too, Ro. More than anything. I hate to say it, but when I saw that schutta with her hands all over you—well, it was a good thing I didn’t have my lightsaber, because there was emotion, lots of it, and not much peace. All I could think was that someone like her, with those long lekku…
Noemi! Um, lekku are okay, but… um, I’m really more into Human women. Okay, just the one, with her gorgeous sunset red hair and beautiful sky blue eyes...
Ronen… You know, the laundry room isn’t much of a spot for a date, but we probably have a little time before one of them comes to see if I’ve killed you.
Mmmm… Uh, Noemi… You realize this is still recording, right?
Oh, well then... [click]
Yummy clearing things up.
Hmm, I guess that worked out okay, didn't it?
Funny how suggestive one little word like "click" can be, isn't it?
Oh, this is fun and different! And I love that Chopper had a role in recovering this footage and sharing it with the, er, Wider Galaxy—he would, wouldn't he! Wonderful reconciliation here; I believe them both and love that they believe and trust each other so much that their reconciliation was a quick one, even after a moment like the one in the Drunk Side. Now, I do have to echo Noemi about Ronen having that clueless tendency sometimes but again, I know it ultimately comes out of his good nature. I do sympathize with what Noemi says about Yuthura and those looong lekku; in a situation like that it can be so easy for the self-doubt to start flowing (as in, "wow, how could he ever consider me beautiful again now that he's had a woman like her come on to him?). But Ronen is very good about immediately calming that doubt (good man!), and I know he's perfectly sincere about it, too. <3 And finally, it's so gratifying to see these two finally get a little real private time for a kiss or two—and, from what I see here, that kiss is in the starting stages even before we hear the click! Thanks so much for this fun entry; I always look forward to seeing what's in store for these darlings next!
Thanks It fun to try something a little different with this entry and see how much could be conveyed just with dialogue.
Well, you didn’t think they’d staymad at each other? Probably helps that Noemi’s a Jedi too, so she can tell that Ronen’s being sincere
Thanks, glad you enjoyed the change of pace. Dialogue tends to come first for me, and it was fun to have a reason to leave it just as dialogue this time.And yeah, Chopper... you just know he’s holding this bit of conversation over Ronen’s head BWAHAHAHA Ronen can be a bit clueless (a tendency I share with him) and it’s partly because he is good hearted and sees the best in people and partly because he doesn’t believe he’s good-looking or particularly desirable. He knows Noemi believes he is, but doesn’t see that others do, even when it’s pretty much smacking him on the face. Self-doubt dies really hard. And, yes, I think Noemi’s feeling a touch of it after seeing Yuthura come onto him; I think she remembers that Ro had an interest in a certain snobby Twi’lek with loooooong lekku back in the day (dear Zofi... ) and it makes her wonder a bit. But that was a fleeting attraction and Ro can honestly tell her she’s the only one for him. And that “mmmmm” from Ronen was as close as I could come to representing the sound of a kiss so, yes more kisses are forthcoming after the that “click”
And more is coming right now!
Thanks to @Findswoman for beta reading
12. Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, who has pretty much the worst bad feeling ever about this
I’ve had a bad feeling about this mission ever since I received it.
You’ve got to admit, there’s been plenty about it to inspire bad feelings: running Force-blind and comm-silent on a haunted Sith tomb-world, picking up more and more team members with varying levels of experience, my speciesist, grave-robbing jerk of a boss, a possible connection with one of the most infamous Imperial officers ever, and that whole thing with Yuthura… Well, it looks like maybe those bad feelings were justified after all. This mission has veered out of the realm of boring, pointless digging and into some strange and possibly Dark territory.
The last two weeks have been interspersed with various kinds of weirdness. First, the “I still don’t understand women and especially not that one” kind of weirdness. Yuthura—I was worried about what she was going to say after what happened at the Drunk Side last Zhellday night. She strikes me as the kind who could really hold a grudge, for some reason, and I half expected I’d find myself shunted off to some crummy assignment at the dig, though I’m not sure what could be crummier than the tedious manual labor I’m doing right now—cleaning the porta-’freshers, maybe? But instead she seemed more interested than ever in the bits of broken Sith pottery that Humoo and I find and exactly where and how we discover them.
And oddly enough, she keeps asking me questions about Noemi.
Noemi and I finally made up a backstory for her after the incident with Yuthura. She’s now unofficially Noemi Jade—the daughter of a well-off cantina owner whose parents didn’t approve of her relationship with a guy of dubious parentage and no prospects. She “borrowed” the family’s ship to go after him—er, me—when I left for Korriban to try to earn enough money so that we could get married. And it’s got enough bits of truth and half-truth in it that I didn’t fumble too much when I answered Yuthura’s questions. But her interest in Noemi makes me kind of uneasy, so I try to keep our conversation to a minimum. And of course Wren’s still keeping a sharp Mando eye on her, too.
Then there’s the “wait, how did that happen” kind of weirdness. Wren got a wild hoojib to teach Kaz how to use a blaster, and she’s been giving him marksmanship lessons on lunch breaks and sometimes after work. She even had Humoo scavenge him his own blaster, a nice little Blurrg holdout blaster like the one Mom used to use. Yeah, if you think there’s more to it than that, I’m right there with you. I was kind of skeptical there was going to be much actual shooting, the way they were both mentally begging me NOT TO SAY NO (no, I can’t read minds, but they were thinking at me and being really loud about it ). But I’ve popped in on them a couple times (Responsible Adult Jedi and all that), and they really have been practicing marksmanship. Sure, there’s a lot of “accidental” hand brushing, and Wren stands closer to Kaz than is probably necessary when she’s showing him how to aim, but I can’t begrudge them that. I mean, Noemi used to sit pretty close to me when we were riding double on my speeder, even before we were dating. And besides some awkward glances and smiles at each other, they haven’t gotten too moony around the apartment, so I guess I can’t complain.
And finally, there’s the really creepy and getting kind of Dark type weirdness. We’ve been hearing this eerie cackling-howling noise every night for the last week. It started off in the distance but it’s gotten louder and louder each night, until the past couple nights I swear it’s been right outside our building.
The sound made my blood run cold, like every warning bell in me was going off at the same time. I haven’t felt that way since Noemi, Ben and I were trapped in the Jedi Temple a couple years ago, and in some ways this was even eerier and a lot Darker feeling. I assembled my lightsaber just in case, and Noemi had hers clipped to her belt instead of in her satchel. She had her hands full, though, because Spots was having an absolute fit—yowling back at whatever was out there, all her fur standing on end and her tail puffed up like a cacta bush. Noemi said she told her that the “wrong things” she’d smelled before were right outside now. She spent the rest of the night talking Spots down, while the rest of us tried to sleep with that horrible noise going on.
Wren was all for going out and shooting whatever it was, but I wasn’t about to let her face that thing alone in the dark, Mando sharpshooter or not. She’s probably still mad at me, but she’s alive, so that’s okay.
Once we got to work, I tried to concentrate on the tedious, fiddly aspects of my job, because we’re getting really close to the clearing out the antechamber of the tomb and I can feel it—literally. The closer we get the more I can sense something cold and Dark inside. It makes keeping my shields in place even harder. Somehow focusing on the mundane aspects of digging helps me stay centered. Who knew? (Okay, yes, Dad, I know...you’ve been telling us to focus like forever.)
After lunch, Kaz ran up to me a little breathless and all keyed up. I knew something big had to be going on, because whatever it was was making him late for his marksmanship lesson with Wren. “Ron—Ildephonsus!” he gasped. “I need to talk to you!”
I pulled him behind the nearest monolithic statue before he could seriously blow our cover. “What’s up?”
“Vriko and Sarm—you know that big Nikto at Site 3 and that skinny guy who always hangs around with him?—they were talking to a couple other guys in the chow line today. They said that when they were coming home from the Drunk Side they saw these huge, hideous creatures …” Kaz trailed off here, anxiety twisting through his Force presence, and I had a bad feeling that it wasn’t just because he didn’t expect me to believe him.
“What kind of creatures?”
He chewed his bottom lip uneasily for a moment before answering. “Vriko said they looked like horned dogs and they had these long claws and glowing red eyes. And it sounded... well, I thought they sounded a lot like those tuk’ata things you’ve been warning us about.”
OMF, bad feeling doesn’t begin to cover it… tuk’ata here in Dreshdae. I wanted to tell Kaz that a couple of intoxicated laborers staggering home from the cantina weren’t the most credible witnesses, that they’d probably seen some stray canids or something and their drunken imaginations ran wild. But the blood-curdling howling outside our apartment had made me feel as queasy as I had the first time I’d set foot in the Valley of the Dark Lords. And Sithspawn definitely qualified as “wrong things”. “And what else?” I asked, because that bad feeling was insisting that there was more than “just” tuk’ata hanging around my apartment at night.
I think Kaz had been hoping I’d tell him it was ridiculous almost as much as I wished I could say it. When I didn’t, he swallowed hard and continued, “And then Otzi said that those things sounded like the guy who drove the lunch speeder before me said attacked him. But Willric told him Struggs was a...a karking drunk, and everyone knew he’d been injured in a rockslide, just like Yuthura said. And when he saw that I was listening to them, Willric laughed and said I’d better watch out because monster dogs loved the taste of stew! You don’t think… you don’t think they coming after me since I’m driving the speeder now? Like, maybe they went after Struggs because he smelled like stew? And why would Yuthura say he’d been hurt in a rockslide if he’d been attacked?”
Kaz looked really young for a moment, or maybe the way he was looking to me for reassurance just made me feel really old. The monsters I’d been warning everyone about (and that they’d probably been shrugging off as me being paranoid) were suddenly becoming real, and Kaz expected that I’d have all the answers. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure I did.
There was one thing I could tell him for sure: “I don’t think if the tuk’ata attacked Struggs it had anything to do with stew.” No, I had a pretty good idea why they were outside our building; it wasn’t Kaz they were after. They were Jedi hunters; they were looking for me and Noemi. “But that’s a really good question about Yuthura. Feel like doing some investigating with me tomorrow?”
“What? Oh, yeah. Sure, yeah!” Kaz’s mood turned from apprehension to mooka-pup enthusiasm like it was spinning on a deci-credit. He dropped his voice to a stage whisper, glancing around with a theatrical suspicion. “I mean that’s what spies do, right? Investigate.”
“Right.” No one could fault Kaz’s spirit, anyway. I only hoped I wasn’t leading us both into trouble. “Tomorrow’s Benduday and we’re going to go talk to Master Struggs. I think he may have a few interesting things to tell us.”
Cuteness with Kaz and Wren. But those howling prowling predators