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Saga - OT Death, Life and Other Goals (OC S/A/W Challenge | Anjie Mencuri,other OCs) - November 13th: COMPLETE

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Ewok Poet, Dec 1, 2016.

  1. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Title: Death, Life and Other Goals
    Author: Ewok Poet
    Genre: Character study, philosophy
    Characters: Anjie Mencuri, Ahyolu, Nebula Fawkes, Taggo Gallagho, Maggo Gallagho, mentions of Blobbo the Hutt, Code:Blue, Dani Glisse, Taì, Aarla and Jenik Shykrill Glisse, Code: Red, Antonio Nokaarbe... All OCs.
    Timeframe: 1 ABY
    Rating: PG-13 (one nude scene in non-sexual content, one simulation of sex with beings than don't really exist, excessive references to Anjie’s spice addiction at the time - not glorified, of course!)
    Length: 3 chapters + an epilogue
    Summary: A young man on the brink of death receives some unexpected guidance.

    Beta: The absolute champion of fanfic that is Findswoman & some feedback on an early draft from Raissa Baiard

    A/N: This is my response to Bring Back the OC Revolution -- Summer/Autumn/Winter challenge, whereby I am responding to great prompts provided by previous round's winners, Findswoman and whiskers. This is HEAVY stuff and I plan to update it next near the challenge deadline and then 2-3 more times in January 2017.

    Slightly inspired by the Uriah Heep song, “Lady in Black”.

    The character Anjie Mencuri is an OC and he appears in quite a few stories I've written in 2016/17.

    The Chancellor & I (age 3-4)
    Letters Never Sent (age 4-7)
    Radiophonic Heart (age 18)
    Not Just Talking Body (age 20)
    Before the Fall (age 20-22, narrates it at about 30)
    THIS STORY (age 25-26)
    After the Climb (age 28-29)
    LONG THING COMING UP IN 2017 2018 OR WHENEVER (age 29-40)
    [hl='black']The Brightest of the Stars[/hl] (age 39-40)
    [hl='black']A Rough Trade[/hl] (age 48)
     
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  2. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
  3. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    01 Death

    Warning: [hl=black]character death[/hl]

    Anjie Mencuri, an ex-musician and a mere shadow of the man formerly known as Sprout to the masses, was certain – Blobbo the Hutt had left him there to die. As if watching his friend die was not enough. As if.

    The next day, the body of young Nebula Fawkes was left in the docking area of the balcony of his sister’s home in Coronet City, with a message from Blobbo Fasolia Toupé himself. Hours later, the whole Galaxy was mourning the young romdram star, affectionately known as “The Little Neb”. The fact that he, just like Anjie himself, had been a horrendous spice abuser was irrelevant, secondary to their cries, groans and moans and the fact that everybody was suddenly the biggest fan of one of the most promising talents in holocin. People always needed somebody to identify with. The Emperor and such impressive characters as Wilhuff Tarkin and Darth Vader were seen as deities, and an average Jax Pavan was led to believe that they were not mere mortals. They were not vulnerable. They were not raw. They lacked that little piece of exploitable, projectable self that mere peasants could identify with. And young actors with spice problems and a trouble past were the exact opposite. After all, the whole system was about exploiting the vulnerable and the tendency to do so had long been pervasive in the public hive mind.

    Moreover, to such institutions as the Imperial Board of Culture, yet another death of a spice abuser with a promising future was fodder for the next cautionary story, the next enrolment project, the next talent scouting for the Imperial Academy on Carida. Don’t end up like Nebula Fawkes – join the Empire. Join the Empire. Join the Empire!

    Nobody knew that Anjie and Nebula had been together on Vagran, immersed in the city of Abatore’s frightening spice scene, doing a lot of rokna blue. And it had been there that the crime lord had them lured to the basement of one of his numerous caf-clubs, while an enthusiastic crowd upstairs was cheering Sacorria on in their match against Chandrila in the Galactic Limmie Cup of 20 AE. He had wanted them to pay their debt, which they had failed to do. Anjie’s royalties were late that month and Neb had not yet been paid for his most recent project, “A Vasar of My Own”. This did not interest Blobbo. The Hutt did not like to wait. He contemplated slow slicing, his favourite method of killing, which he had read about in the ancient scripts of the Kariyela Castle, his new dwelling. But, much to the luck of both the slythmongers and spice addicts around Abatore – and these two categories would often overlap – his obsession with cleanliness would always rule out such sadistic methods. He did not want to get his hands dirty – in the most literal manner.

    So, Blobbo did what he thought would be the most effective way of killing two grain flies – mmm, grain flies – with a single blast and minimal dirtiness. He presented the two young Humans with two “zherry-bombs”: cake-balls of zherry pie dough and filling, spiked with rokna blue. The dose one was lethal; the dose of the other was strong, but nevertheless a standard luncheon for dianoga fodder gone too far. The men were then told to each pick a zherry-bomb.

    This was Blobbo’s style, by all means – one was to be killed right there, in agony, and the other, ridden by guilt, would eventually commit suicide or overdose on rokna and other spices himself.

    And, just like that, the young men picked their poisons, unaware that one of them was more than just a figure of speech. They had been so strung out on rokna that there was absolutely nothing suspicious about having been invited to the lush basement lounge by somebody whom they owed mooie credits. Nothing. Perhaps Blobbo was offering a sluggish tail of peace?

    Minutes later, they climbed the stairs back to the club. Anjie came up to the bartender and insisted that he could play a couple of songs for the guests. All he managed to do was pass out right after he climbed up to the small stage with a quetarra blasting the first chords of his curiously titled song, Mynock Trapped in a Supernova. It was not as if the patrons of the caf-club cared much about him in the first place – they were too busy with the game and the current result of 1:1 at the very start of the second half. He spent some time admiring the rich texture of the wooden floor, convinced that the patterns he observed had faces and were talking to him. A couple of times, he’d point to a particular spot and laugh out loud. Anjie did not care where Nebula had gone - he had wooden creatures to entertain with his wit and art!

    Then there was a goal, a death and a loud cry.

    Neb, who was on his way to the balcony overlooking the sea, suddenly grabbed himself above his elbow, whispered a couple of words and tried to grab the nearest patron. Confused, the patron stepped away and the young actor fell over the table where a bunch of shady beings were in the midst of a game of sabacc. As the essence of his life was on its way out of his emaciated spice addict body, the last thing he managed to do was grab a card from the table – the Queen of Air and Darkness. The beings at the table did not notice him at first - they were cheering on a player scoring a goal for the only remaining team representing their sector.


    Meanwhile, Anjie was trying to make love to one of the patterns on the floor, believing it was a woman. He was unable to move his hands properly; the zherry-pie was potent enough to make him feel like they were not his own, so he could not start taking off his clothes. That was a stroke of luck per sé – the nearby business-being and his escort would certainly not have enjoyed the sight of a young adult Human male weighing under 50 kilos, who had not taken a bath for a couple of weeks, trying to do something he had apparently forgotten all about to begin with. No, Anjie was too busy in his own head to witness the last moment of his friend’s life.

    But for every single end, there had to be a beginning happening at the same time.

    The moment Nebula Fawkes had a heart attack, a child was born in the nearby med centre on the slopes of Chiro Mountain, overlooking Kaz’aan Bay. The mother’s name was Dani. The child’s father, a clean-as-can-be Sacorrian limmie player by the name of Joak Bluestar Shykrill Glisse, also known as Code:Blue, had just scored a goal to celebrate. He could not explain how he had known that his son, later named Jenik, was born at first. Then, giggling the best way he could and uttering the phrase “of course” at least ten times, he explained that the coach had received a comm that the baby had been on the way during the half-term. Shykrill Glisse’s older children, Taì and Aarla, were present in the audience with their grandparents, so perhaps it was they who had let him know about the birth – and he was not willing to admit that his family, his love and his eagerness to celebrate life had a huge impact on the game that eventually ended with 3:2, blasting Sacorria off to the semifinals against Kuat.

    Minutes later, Anjie waved a loving goodbye to the floor pattern and managed to get up, propping himself on his elbows and then reaching for the nearest object – a bar chair. The first thing that he spotted was the viewscreen, showing a slow motion of a goal the red ones had scored against the yellow ones. A man with a beaming smile then ran towards the edge of the limmie court and started patting an imaginary baby on its back. Two other men joined him. He himself was of more slight build, just like Anjie used to be before he decided to retreat from fame into what he considered obscurity, and appeared to be quite shy. But of course it was easy for him to be himself – nobody had any image-related expectations of limmie players. They were not supposed to be synchronised to those…those exaggerated holograms of themselves!

    And of course it was easy for the ever-so-repressive Sacorrians, the de-individualizers of the Core Worlds, to get into the Galactic Limmie Cup, even if they had been bantha poodoo – they had not qualified at all, but a bracket had been left blank when the whole team of Alderaan died together with the rest of their planet. It did not pay to be a rebel in any way, to live a life that was different from what was expected of a good Imperial citizen – it paid to out-empire the Empire. Those Sacorrians had been chipped at birth, for kriff’s sake!

    Anjie spat on the floor and flipped the ibbot at the viewscreen. He was able to walk again and he wanted a drink. Or, perhaps, another zherry-bomb. He rushed to find the bartender, but nobody was at the bar.

    The crowd was gathered around the sabacc table. On the green surface of the table top lay his friend and partner in crime, Nebula Fawkes – unconscious, with his eyes and mouth wide open. Paler than pale, he resembled a fallen statue, one of those that Anjie had seen in his youth, watching the Empire change the monuments around the Coronet City. It did not take him long to realise that Nebula was dead.

    “Neb! Neb! No!”

    A brief spark of wit reminded him of how, once upon a time, his former friend Antonio Nokaarbe told him of zherry-bombs and how they were the specialty of certain crime lords. He hated Antonio, his gregariousness and eagerness to be in the spotlight, with his numerous mistresses and credits galore, and the way he seemed to have control of it all – but that was one of the things that he should have remembered. The thing that could have saved Nebula and sent him to death instead.

    He had considered Neb the more innocent of the two of them – the son of true Grannos, inconveniently named and raised on a remote Outer Rim planet away from the hyperspace age, the young man had no idea of the evils of Coronet City and the whole business of performance arts. He was hungry after having been deprived of nearly everything – he had a lust for life, embracing every single thing in waves: fame, women, spice. He did not go to a traditional school, he did not play with other younglings in the streets of the Orange Sector like Anjie did. Neb had just been thrown into the face of the world that other shooting stars everywhere from CoCo to Lacace had been groomed for since day one – the world they considered a natural part of their lives.

    Neb should not have been the one to go. It should have been him, Anjie. And that’s what he literally screamed to Blobbo, after he stumbled down the stairs and ended up right before the Hutt, again. He asked for another zherry-bomb. He asked to be blasted in the face, claiming that, at the end of the day, he had no face to speak of. And his determination was stronger than his will to be present next to the body of his dead friend, to stop the other caf-club patrons from robbing him of his remaining belongings and the few credits they had remaining.

    Blobbo refused. This useless piece of dianoga fodder seemed more persistent than other spice addicts in debt that he had disposed of in the past. He needed to make sure that he would die, as his relationship with guilt seemed sketchy at best and throwing him back into Abatore’s spice scene would have served as a call for other scum not to pay their debt. And murdering him would have, in fact, amounted to killing him out of mercy – something no Hutt had ever been keen on. He had to think of something else.

    And he did.

    The next day, his twin Toydarian servants, Taggo and Maggo Gallagho, climbed into their Saygo speeder – a true piece of junkyard poodoo nobody would have considered worthy of a Hutt clan – and set off to the very top of Chiro, with Anjie Mencuri in the trunk and the stench of his skin and hair away from their trunks. The mountain, although not very tall by galactic standards, was tall enough to have been covered in snow throughout most of the year; and a man strung out on spice, equipped only by a backpack full of zherry-bombs and the very last object his friend held in his hands – a single sabacc card, the Queen of Air and Darkness – was death waiting to take place. Whatever would have happened was fine by Blobbo. The options were plenty: starvation, freezing, a wild animal attack, a suicide or throwing oneself off the cliff towards the cold and restless waters outside of the bay.

    And Anjie Mencuri, a mere shadow of a living being, knew that much. He was left there without anything to consume that did not contain a lethal dose of rokna blue, to be mauled by beasts, frozen to death or driven to destroy himself. In whatever way, regardless of the way he would have been stripped of his last breath and his material self, he would have ultimately been killed by his own thoughts.




    Footnotes
    This incident is referred to in The Black Star, in the scene where the female bounty hunter introducing herself as Dryxa Farr enters Blobbo's residence. The version Taggo and Maggo Gallagho share with her is far more bloody than what really happened – they are looking to intimidate her.

    Romdram is a genre invented by leiamoody and Lacace, a planet mentioned in passing, is her entertainment planet.

    Slow slicing was a death sentence in China until 1905. It means exactly what it says, so you should probably not google it. In fact, please don’t!

    Holocin - short for holocinema. Fanon.

    Dianoga fodder - junkies. Fanon.

    To flip an ibbot - to "flip the bird", to give the finger. Fanon.

    Average Jax Pavan - average John Doe/Smith. Fanon.

    Zherry-bomb - named after the Runaways' signature song, "Cherry Bomb". Fanon.

    "Vasar of My Own", the film - Fanon.

    Vasar is a planet in the Corellian Sector.

    Galactic Limmie Cup - Fanon.

    "Mynock Trapped in a Supernova", the song - Fanon.

    The limmie game taking place in this chapter was inspired by the one between Brazil and the Netherlands at the 1994 World Cup, so did the background event of Code:Blue's son being born and his little baby burp dance. The character was originally conceived with the Brazilian football legend Bebeto as his face-claim and some of his traits – hyperactive behaviour, affinity to animals and being a pretty laughable politician later in life are more or less of a homage. And Bebeto is known for this.

    The idea of Sacorria getting in because Alderaan no longer existed was, on the other hand, based on how Denmark got into the 1992 European Cup. They did not qualify, but Yugoslavia had been expelled from the event in accordance with the sanctions placed by the United Nations. Denmark went on to win the title.

    Mount Chiro, Kaz'aan Bay and the Citadel of Kariyela are landmarks placed around the canon city of Abatore, Vagran. The only time Abatore was mentioned was in Edge of the Empire: Suns of Fortune, the RPG sourcebook for the Corellian Sector, and there was nothing about it other than the fact that it, well, exists. So, I invented it all.
     
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  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    We've seen Anjie at all sorts of stages of his life and career, from wide-eyed, bubbly youth to quietly quirky middle-aged hermit, but we have never seen him quite in this state before. And between the ravages of his spice addiction and his grief over the heinous death of his good friend Neb (and oh boy, what a horrendous way to die, and may a thousand grain flies infest whatever Blobbo's most sensitive parts are...), this is by no means his finest hour—how could it be? But these darker, more traumatic times are part of his life's story too, and it all goes toward a more complete picture of this fascinating character.

    Anjie's definitely immensely strung out here, and even though it's causing him to do some absurdly dumb things like canoodle with patterns on the floor (which would be almost funny in any other situation—emphasis on almost!), it by no means fully deprives him of either his natural sensitivities or his good heart. The moment he sees Neb's body he is well aware that that could have been him, and his grief is 100% sincere—and one of several ways we see that is in the fact that the only direct dialogue in the chapter is his cry of grief at the realization of what's happened. (I know I'd expresed concern back at the early beta stages about the relatively low proportion of dialogue in the chapter, but it turned out to be quite effective for that very reason.) I have no doubt either that everything he screamed to Blobbo was 100% sincere too, and that if given the choice he gladly would have gone instead of his friend—as mixed-up as he sometimes is, he is in possession of a very noble heart.

    Naturally I wonder how Neb would have reacted to Anjie's death if their situations had been reversed. Part of the tragedy here is that we don't see enough of him to really know what his personality is like and to gauge how he would react—we only really know of him via Anjie's impressions of him. (I wonder if we'll see the character in future stories.) In any case, I'm certain there's some kind of symbolism to the sabacc card Neb grabs in his final moments, the Queen of Air and Darkness, though I don't know what yet. (You mention "Lady in Black" by Uriah Heep in your headings as an inspiration, and perhaps the Queen on the card is one avatar of that character, in some way.)

    That said, we JCF readers of course know that Blobbo's assumption that Anjie "would eventually commit suicide or overdose on rokna and other spices himself," thus meeting a slower, more painful death than Neb, doesn't come through. So nyah, take that, you squeaky-clean blob of grease, you. :p

    Of course this grim episode is only intensified by the joyous, celebratory, and slightly goofy event that it exactly coincides with—the birth of Jenik Shykrill Glisse (and of course those last names are familiar!), his dad's historic goal, and another birth too—that of the infamous "baby burp" dance that we know well from The Black Star (and all the grimness aside, it is definitely cool to have that actual moment now recorded in story form—we'd only really heard about it secondhand before). Fittingly, the parties are completely oblivious of each other at this stage, though I wonder if at some point in the future Jenik or his dad will meet Anjie and learn about those other things that happened that day, and what effect (if any) that might have on him. Given the interconnectedness of pretty much everything in your universe of stories, there seems to be a good chance of that or something similar happening!

    And what of Anjie, exiled and cold and hungry and hopeless at the end? Well, once again, we do know he'll make it through somehow, and that ultimately not even "his own thoughts" will manage to kill him, though they sure do come close. But he will no doubt have mooie trials and obstacles ahead of him before he even comes close... and we'll see some of those, I'm guessing, in the chapters ahead. :cool:

    Thanks so much for this cool, complex addition to both your universe and Anjie's life story! =D=
     
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  5. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Amazing, once again. You have created such a vibrant, passionate character in Anjie. We begin here with him realizing that he has been abandoned, left to die, presumably alone with nothing but the grief and guilt of witnessing his friend’s death for company.

    Then we move into this wider angle shot, so to speak, where you write:
    Wow. You say so much here. We (the mere peasants) want our heroes broken and flawed. We want them raw. And when they fall as they inevitably do, the more tragic and heartbreaking their end is, the more we love them. Anjie understands this and he knows he walks a dangerous edge. It could have, quite literally as we find out, been him who wound up dumped like so much garbage in the driveway of his sister’s house. Anjie knows that he is this flawed person whose flaws, broken edges and open wounds are what makes him appealing to the masses. Nobody sees the pain that he endures except through this distant and distorted, romanticized lens.

    Even the government exploits Neb and Anjie, propping up Neb’s corpse as a recruitment incentive.


    Blobbo’s scrupulosity about not getting dirty is so creepy. He wants them dead, he wants their money (which they will have, they just haven’t gotten it yet from those who in turn owe them), and he devises such a cruel way to extract his punishment for not having his wants fulfilled immediately. One dies a horrible death now, suffering in agony, while the other kills himself over the grief he caused. But here’s the irony – both guys are so strung out at the moment that they don’t even understand what is happening to them. So they go about blithely munching up their zherry bombs, blissfully unaware of the tragedy that is about to befall them, and only Blobbo knows. By the time the guys figure it out, it’s too late. If this is a punishment, neither man seems to get it, so is it punishment or just sadism on Blobbo’s part?


    And that, dear children, is how we write a transition sentence. (Sits back and admires the awesome wordcrafting.)

    And here is where it gets surreal. Neb is in the process of dying, Anjie has come to believe that the imaginary people in the wooden floor are actually real and he decides to make love to them, and on the screen, Code:Blue celebrates the birth of his son. Death, procreation, and birth converge in this one moment. Code:Blue, obviously, is unaware of this. Anjie is still too strung out to see his friend’s distress. Neb can’t stop the free-fall into death into which he has plunged. The most elemental forces in the universe are at this one point and nobody can notice it.

    Oh. My. Stars. The only reason why the Sacorrians were in the playoffs to begin with was because the superior team from Alderaan were all murdered with the destruction of the planet, and serves them right for being rebellious.

    Which ties back to the beginning. We admire those who bleed but only from the wounds we want them to bleed from. When their pain plays against our plans and desires, then that’s what you get. The galaxy mourns the loss of a handsome romcom star who collapses from a murderous overdose but rolls their eyes at the inconvenience of an entire planet being reduced to ash. There’s so much truth here that it hurts.

    Then Anjie realizes what has happened to Neb, and immediately the rage and guilt takes over. He should have remembered that Antonio told him about the zherry bombs once. Should he have remembered? This man who just a moment before thought the floor patterns were actually a beautiful woman? It was impossible for him to even think clearly, never mind remember a comment made once in passing. But now the memory looms large and condemning. The comment about the other bar patrons already beginning to strip Neb’s body of any valuables just adds to the hurt.

    And now we circle completely back to the opening scene – Anjie, broken hearted and alone, left to die, clutching only the Queen of Air and Darkness in his hand as he wonders what he will do next. He has food, but not enough to survive; roka blue, but not enough to kill him. He has the silent, empty cold, but his heart and his mind can’t stop the clamorous roaring. This is an evil beyond evil.

    But I second Findswoman here – we know he survives this. We know he gets out of this and eventually overcomes the addiction. So in a way, it’s Anjie who gets his revenge by the sheer fact he doesn’t do what Blobbo wants him to do, to die broken and alone. Anjie defeats Blobbo in the end, but it’s a Phyrrhic victory. This event is probably the worst stripe ever whipped across his soul.
     
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  6. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Ewok Poet Oh, goody! A new story I can hopefully catch at ground foor and keep up with.

    Very interesting characters, with a sort of Trainspotting desperate-but-lovable nature to them. I hope your empathy for those that would do this to their own bodies is not through some personal experience! Blobbo seems a very vindictive villain in the way he chooses his murder-method-of-pleasure, considering he's willing to spend credits on more of the stuff that they owe him for! As always the vivid details bring the scenes to life.

    Keep it up!

    K

    [face_rofl] at, - mmm, grain flies -
     
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  7. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Wow. =D= This is dark, heavy, gritty stuff, but so compelling. I am still catching up on Anjie's life story; the last time I saw him, he was three years old on Naboo. I wanted to hug that little boy, because it seemed like he had no one who really cared for him. Now, seeing how far he's come--and not in a good way--my heart breaks for him even more.

    Blobbo...as Han Solo told another famous Hutt: "you're a wonderful human being." In some ways, I think he's even nastier than Jabba. At least Jabba was honest about his blood thirsty inclinations. Blobbo imagines his way is better, cleaner, more efficient, but he's dealing out horrible death with a side of psychological torture. And it is nothing if not effective. To him, Neb and Anjie are nothing but a problem to be dealt with, flies to be swatted, even if one proves to be a persistent little fly.
    This is chilling. Don't worry, Blobbo, no one could accuse you of being merciful in the way you dealt with Anjie, unless one feels that being given a choice of a fast or slow death is somehow merciful.

    The way that the entertainment industry treats its stars (and its parallels to the real world) add another layer of grimness to the story.
    So real and so sad...Neb isn't a person, he's a commodity. If he isn't alive to sell romdrams, he can be used in his death to scare kids straight, to make them conform. And, in a way, that's all that the spice addicts are too: a commodity-- bringing credits to Blobbo when they're, cautionary tales to other addicts when he kills them. No one seems to grant them any shred of dignity.

    And then, even as Neb dies in despair, there is the mirror image of birth and joy. It's a "circle of life" kind of parallel, and yet... it's presented in any sentimental way. The birth doesn't "make up" for Neb's horrible death in some kind of cosmic balance. It just exists at the same time-- joy and tragedy worlds apart.

    I know that Anjie will survive and that eventually he finds some peace, but, oh, he's got such a long way to go from this point in his life.

    Once again, bravo, another fanatastic read. @};-
     
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  8. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Sorry for leaving the comments almost four months later - this is heavy in so many ways and it took some courage to actually come back and re-read it. :-B




    That is the missing link on the chain, connecting the rainbow of that bubbly youth to the green quirks of that middle-aged man: the spice abuser.

    A cloaca?

    Just kidding, I...I don't think I want to know, now or ever. :p

    [​IMG]

    The "fully" part is significant, because it ALMOST does, until the very last moment.

    And he is shy, as we know from Radiophonic Heart and beating himself up after that flashing incident in Not Just Talking Body, so he would not have done that if he had been sober. It's the spice. :(

    You just described the aspect of the chapter that could confuse people most, so I'll just nod and say yes, that's how it went during the beta.

    And those screams were done offscreen on purpose, so those couple of words would be the only dialogue in this chapter.

    Noble heart, yes. [hl='black']That's what us INFPs are like...[/hl] :p

    Let that remain a rhetoric question - all of it. Nebula Fawkes will definitely be mentioned in the loooooooooooooong story I'm planning, but I am not sure about actual appearances.

    Then again, I said that about Elesandre Vorr, too. We'll see, I guess?

    Nah, the Lady in Black appears later on and she is both positive and negative, depends on your POV. I see the Lady in Black as a positive character, hence comparing you to her once. She is wise and, in a way, non-violent. :)

    But that card's name is simply, death. It's like Russian roulette - he picked the loaded chamber, aka the loaded zherry-bomb.

    :D :D Nyah-nyah, indeed!

    Now you have the whole story. :)

    As for them meeting...not sure. Maybe. It's not like Anjie will *want* to remember this fondly. o_O


    In the words of the happy dad - of course!

    You are more than welcome!

    [face_blush][face_blush][face_blush]

    Nothing to add. Perfect. ^:)^

    Nothing to add here, either. This comment is even better than the one on After the Climb.

    That is there solely to point the last thing out. Darn, you're SMART.

    I can assure you that it was accidental. [face_blush] I'm not that good to do it consciously.

    That bit was inspired by a strange quote about a "baby being born right now".

    See below for the comment to Raissa Baiard, since she said nearly the samething, but added one more point nobody else thought of.

    Yes, that's what Sacorrians themselves probably think, too; unless they had been told that THEY DESERVED TO BE ON THE TOURNAMENT.

    Precisely. IT MATTERS MORE BECAUSE CELEBRITY.

    Shakira's song Timor has it right:



    "If we forget about them, don't worry / If they forget about us, then hurry / How about the people who don't matter anymore?"

    Nothing to add here. =D=

    It's a dead shady place. :( Worse than the Mos Eisley Spaceport Cantina.

    He will get precisely what he should get - the Queen of Air and Darkness...who is not evil.

    Wait, how do you know about the stripes motif? :eek: :eek: :eek: I...never showed you any of the stuff where it appears.

    I am glad that it's so. :)

    Dark boy, dark boy, dirty numb angel boy, in a doorway boy, she was a lipstick, boy...

    ...come to think, your comparison makes sense. With the "making love to the patterns" scene even more so. :eek:

    That was meant to be one single funny thing in the entire chapter. Glad you noticed. :)

    Yup, we shift from place to place, he and I. Turbulent, dynamic, structure-free.

    And that little boy showed some warning signs. Nobody ever took those signs seriously and it came to...this. :(

    Blobbo is a clean sadist, yes. In a way, worse than all other villains. In a way, tremendously stupid, OCD-ish in the correct sense of that word and a total and absolute idiot.



    I had to. I really had to. [face_blush]

    Of course that it does not - the parallel is meant to be sliiiightly cheesy and the trope is meant to be subverted. Glad that worked. [face_skull]

    A way like a trip from Dantooine to Dagobah, almost. Through the Deep Core. Through the planets and stars themselves...but yes. He will find SOME peace. His heart is kind of more restless than average...

    Thank you. @};-
     
  9. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    02 Life

    WARNING: [hl=black]Self-harm[/hl]

    The Anjie Mencuri of five to six years ago would have been surprised at the Anjie Mencuri of that very moment. A couple of hours after he was left on top of Chiro, he thought about how symbolic it had been, to remain alone on the top of the snowy mountain. There had been a historical pre-repulsortrain railway somewhere, the one utilising the air-mattress technology. Perhaps somebody wiser than him, somebody who did not just stumble through own life with only occasional grip on the thing called sense, would have gone out of his way to find it and follow it back to safety. But not him.

    He was certain that death would have been a blessing at this point, but he strived to make it particularly symbolic. None of the options that Blobbo had in store for him was what he considered to be the right sort of an outro to his not-so-successful show. Getting mauled by a wild animal was certainly a possibility since he had been left on the wrong side of the laser barrier, but that was not the statement he wanted his death to make. Drowning and freezing – or, why not both – would have left a beautiful corpse. He did not want to be a beautiful corpse. Back in the days, he thought, his combination of Naboo charmeur and typical Hapan mythical beauty traits was essential in his former wailer-mates’ decision to pick him as their new quetarra player. And he did not want to be that. He did not want to be remembered as handsome, much like he never wanted younglings to hug him on the street and their mothers to tell them that they probably liked him because he was the “harmless one”.

    How hard could it have been to become ugly? How come that he was not feeling the frostbites yet? Why wasn’t he feeling any pain?

    He began to punch himself in the face. Each punch would lower the pain threshold, but also bring a painful memory from the quarter of a century past.

    One! Going through his mind, at first, were impressions of his family – the one that was never meant to be one in the first place. Aldo Mencuri and Gwynda had had a one-night-stand that resulted in pregnancy, the Hapan servant’s family had then disowned her for a period of time and the Naboo had been more than eager to accept their daughter-in-law, as a means of getting their son to settle down and stop chasing women around the planet. There was no fidelity involved at any point during those 4.5 years.

    After the divorce, Anjie moved to Corellia with his mother. They befriended a Drall refugee from Sacorria and lived together. It was like a dream come true for him; finally somebody cared enough to listen to him, create art with him and buy him his first quetarra. But that did not last long. One day, when he was sitting in the bath, his friend literally went out the window and was never seen again. This happened about the same time his mother’s second marriage, to a disciplinarian named Lor Becq. He brought his younglings along and had another one with his mom. Over on Naboo, his father had younglings of his own with another woman. Wherever he would go, Anjie was the oldest child, the one who was supposed to be responsible and stoic. And the older he was, the harder it was to play such a role. He never wanted to be responsible in the first place. He found solace in his music.

    Yet there was no pain.

    Two! And then there was stardom, on the Galactic level, out of seemingly nowhere. He fantasized about being a real Coronet City piece of nerfcake, going to parties, bedding the prettiest girls and trying spice. He didn’t even know why, but it seemed like the logical next step to live a life that his idols had lived before him. That got him the position of quetarra player in Steamy Wasaka Stew, which was a laughable wailer-group fusing pronk and jizz before he joined. In order to fit in with the flamboyant sex god Antonio Nokaarbe, the choleric yet funny Wompy and the friendly and adaptable Dale Pavan, he became one of the boys and accepted the nickname of Sprout. There were women, parties and spice, but there was also music – and he was the one leading the wailer-group towards the heights they had never hoped to climb. The album SexySpiceStarSinners, recorded on a starship named Sionnma, was the next best thing after a fatfish sandwich. They were hitting more planets than the Empire itself was rumoured to be holding. And there were more parties. There was more fun. More time to play the same thing all over again to the audience that did not know the real you. And less time to make music.

    There was no pain.

    Three! And then he had enough of it. He walked out of the spotlight one evening, with an unclear explanation, went back to his flat in Coronet City and spent time feeling numb. His girlfriend at the time, Madelle Griasmaa, was not able to cheer him up. Wompy would visit every now and then, and he informed the young quetarra player of his replacement, a Zabrak man named Sassvar Graba, but he could not get Anjie to be more than an endless loop of confusion between who he really was and what the world wanted him to be. Anjie took up painting and sculpting. He made an album on his own music, with curiously titled songs. But art no longer brought him pleasure and the only thing that could make him happy was rokna blue – one of the deadliest and most potent spices in the Galaxy, originating from the Forest Moon of Endor, some sort of a planet-sized nature park. And Neb was another one who reached out to it, for his own reasons and in his own endless loop of confusion. So they did a lot of rokna and they did it all the time. And that was what led him here, in the first place.

    There was no pain. And there had to be pain.

    Four. He finally managed to knock himself out. Of course it should have been four punches all along! After all, four by four was the typical time signature of the stupid popular music that everybody and their pet tooka were making these days. A doctrine, in his mind, more serious than that of the Galactic Empire themselves!

    Unconsciousness should have brought bliss. But the voices were getting so loud that he could not ignore them anymore.

    “Antonio’s better when you get to know him, honest. He is not picking on you!” That was Wompy. “There’s more to him than just kriffing every girl who comes his way…”

    “You have to pay the prize, Anjie. You have to pay the price for all of it.” That was Cad Skagor, his onetime mentor.

    “My beautiful boy is on the viewscreen, playing to the masses.” That was Grandma Sooja, a former Naboo royal handmaiden.

    “I disciplined him, I played a great part in his upbringing. If he had not been diligent, he would have never gotten to where he was.” That was Lor.

    “Anjie Mencuri seems to have gone insane. Good riddance, then!”

    “Ditto. He was only playing in his own fairy tale, taking the role of his former idol, Tosh Correl. Not all fairy tales have happy endings!”

    “Mencuri? What a wet blanket! His latter performances with SWS were horrible. We did not pay thirty credits to look at his bare back and the back pockets of his denym trousers. What kind of man will not look at his audience and smile? Our credits got you where you are, you kriffslider!”

    “Where are you, Anjie?” His mother’s voice, with that worrying tone, the way he had heard it so many times before he tossed his comm in the sea, had somehow overpowered the voices of his critics and so-called admirers.

    “What is going on, love?” The next one sounded like Madelle, shortly before her parents came to pick her up and take her back to Xyquine II in order to save her from herself and him.

    “How are you doing, pal?” That was Neb’s voice. But Neb was dead.

    “Who are you?” said somebody he did not know of. Maybe he was conscious, after all. This did not make sense.

    He opened his eyes and saw a woman on top of an equine. She wore what looked like a blue and green robe, with a veil covering her face. And she had weapons, or perhaps those were a couple of very large apex tree branches.

    “No, who are you?” He responded to a question with a question, something he otherwise hated more than anything. Or at least anything other than himself.

    She jumped off the equine and looked at the drops of blood dotting the snow.

    “I’m no one.” She put her hands on her hips. That was a typical threatening position, he thought. She must have been the one who was meant to be his doom.

    “You broke your nose.” She stated the obvious. “Do you think that this is going to help you in any way?”

    “No…I don’t want to be pardoned. I just want to die.”

    “Pardoned?” She knelt next to him. “I am not an executioner. I heard you scream and so I came along. I thought you were being mauled by snow bear-gators. But then, when I came to you, you did not make any sound. You make sound only when there is nobody to hear you. You, whoever you may be, are denying everything that has ever been. Usually, we cry out loud only when there is somebody to hear us. You are crying on the inside.” She took a deep breath and shook her head – too many of her sentences were just the same thing, all over again. A consequence of living on her own, beyond the laser fences of civilisation.

    She brought him up and took him to a nearby cave. Minutes later, he was lying in a slow-warming bathing pool made of small rocks. Tired, unable to feel his arms and too exhausted to ask any questions, he accepted everything the way it was. The water was salty and slowly adjusting to his body temperature, which was odd to begin with, but it seemed fitting. He did not remember being stripped, as he would have normally protested against anybody seeing him undressed after years of the SWS’ dressing down act, but being freed from the shackles of his sweat-drenched clothes was welcome, in a way.

    The woman was sitting at the nearby makeshift table, looking at a candle burning on it. He cocked his head. There was no candle. Fire was levitating on top of the table, yet not burning it.

    Once again, he only managed to utter the same question as before. “Who are you?”

    The woman snapped her fingers and the flame went out. She turned to him and looked him up and down. She must have thought that he was this many steps away from being a walking corpse.

    “Anjie Mencuri,” he reluctantly introduced himself at all. “A former being.”

    She nodded. “Ahyolu. A current being, just like you. Quit thinking that you are dead. You are not. Heaven, hell, or whatever afterlife you believe in, probably does not feature my home. Or my pony.”

    An equine creature. A female on top of it. Where did he hear that before? Oh, kriff!

    “How am I not dead when you are the mythical Goddess of Chiro?”

    Ahyolu shook her head. After all, if he was as intellectual, as she was hoping he would be, he was going to ask her that sooner or later. If there had been more people who were eager to trace her after they had spotted her, they would have asked the same, instead of turning her into a legend that she never wanted to be in the first place.

    “There you go, I am not. What everybody seems to believe in does not have to exist. Then again, does anything truly exist? Do you?”

    “You…you just assured me that I was alive! I don’t understand…”

    “Rhetorical question, Brother Mencuri. Rhetorical question.”

    Brother? Well, she was a Granno, all right!

    “Rhetorical question, albeit a valid one.” Ahyolu crossed her arms and sat at the edge of the pool, her back turned to Anjie. “The ‘you’ can be the man who’s sitting here in my bath, or it can be the man who was brought here by those two bumbling trunk-heads. I think they are two different beings. Just like me and the Ahyolu of the past.”

    Anjie did not respond at first. He was trying to make the water still so he could see his face. It took him some concentration, a trait that he was not capable of without rokna blue these days, but eventually, a face formed right there, on his lap. A face with a broken, slightly crooked nose and a couple of large bruises. He was not shocked at all. He sort of liked it. It reminded him of Vayad Bantheus and one of his numerous stage personas.

    “Okay.” He began. “The ‘me’ is the man who is sitting here, in your bath. The other one, I killed him. But I killed my friend Neb, too. I should…I should have been able to predict which zherry-bomb was the lethal one and take it myself.”

    “We’re making progress, Brother Mencuri.” Ahyolu turned around. She was holding a glass of water and a small spoon with something white stuck to it. “Do you like ohvanille?”

    What was that? Ohvanille was a yellowish condiment for desserts, not a white thing glued to a spoon on a glass! This was not a Vagranite custom, whatever it had been.

    “No.”

    “Thought so. It’s too plain for you, isn’t it?” She did not wait for him to confirm or deny what she said. Instead she dipped the spoon into the glass of water and shook the glass. The transparent liquid was now whitish and dim, just like the clouds below the cliff outside.

    To his surprise, Anjie noticed that the water in the pool was getting misty, too. He wanted to get out, but he was still not able to feel his arms. The more his hostess spun the spoon in the glass, the more the vortex of his thoughts would spin, too.

    And, for once, he decided not to resist it.


     
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  10. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Oh, Anjie, Anjie... we see him here at about the lowest point we've ever seen him (or close to it, because I know he's a man of many ups and downs), and for that reason I have to say that this wasn't an easy chapter for me to read or to beta. He feels responsible for his friend's death, rightly or wrongly; I of course don't think he's responsible at all, but it's completely consistent with his deep grief and his almost relentlessly introspective state of mind.

    From there to thoughts of suicide would not be not a big jump for most beings in this kind of state of grief, but this isn't just any being—this is Anjie, who has strong feelings about the interconnectedness between himself and the events around him. (Interconnectednes... sounds familiar, eh? Well, this is an EP story, after all! ;) ) He doesn't want just any death: he wants a very a very specific sort of death, a symbolic one that isn't beautiful. What to make of that? Well, several things. It's a reflection, perhaps, of how he feels his life has become without his friend: bleak, ugly, pointless. At the same time, I can certainly understand his being sick of all those years having to stand up on stage and perform the whole "charmeur" stereotype. But also I'm guessing that he partly wants his death to match Neb's in a certain way: how could someone like him not perceive Neb's death with the card in his hand as symbolic? (I'm not sure what it is symbolic of yet, but I'll keep pondering.) Any number of things could be part of it.

    I won't lie—the sequence of the four punches was hard for me to read, not only because of the self-harm but also because of the barrage of unpleasant, depressing reminiscences from his past that keep flooding his mind, followed by the bombardment by all those voices, also from his past, some recognizable and some not, and some that could be pretty much anyone. Definitely a case of "relentless introspection" once again. I'm trying to ponder the connections between those earlier life events with Anje's current situation—the Anjie of then with the Anjie of now. In a way, they don't have anything to do with Anjie's current situation (and my rational side here is all scolding like, "Anjie, my boy, why dwell on all that? You're only making yourself miserable!" :p ) But in a way they have everything to do with Anjie's current situation. Again, it's hard to say how—I feel I should kind of leave that for Anjie to sort out himself. :p

    And then, who should show up but... well, who is she really? I mean, she's the person everyone thought was the Goddess of Chiro, and her name is Ahyolu (any connection to the mythological Iole?), and she's an equestrienne, and she talks in very cryptic terms, but who really is she? I loved the Goddess of Chiro chapter in Letters Never Sent, so of course it's very cool to learn who that figure really is—she may not really be a goddess, but she is someone, and to me the fact that she's a mere mortal in no wise means that the legend and concept of the Goddess holds no truth.

    Here's why. In LNS the Goddess of Chiro was someone to whom people could go if they had problems—four of them, to be precise, one for her to crush under each of her hooves; in that story Lil visited her at four minutes after midnight. Anjie's four punches seems to tie very poignantly into that motif, and we do see him beginning to tell Ahyolu what's on his mind, and the beginning of her attempt to help. Because I'm sure that's at least part of her aim; even with all her cryptic talk about what does and doesn't exist (and the rather cool inversion of "I'm no one" quote), she paves the way for that by convincing Anjie that he really is still a current being.

    Now, I have no idea what she's doing with the ohvanille and why it's making the bath cloud up and his thoughts spin around. I doubt it's anything that will hurt, and it's encouraging that Anjie is accepting of it and relaxing a bit—but I still would like to know what the Sam Hill is going on. So better share that next chapter soon, so we can all find out! :D
     
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  11. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    It's been fascinating to see Anjie's character develop throughout your stories, and this is one of those that I think have given me the most insight into what makes him tick. Nothing is easy for him, is it? And some of that is self-inflicted and draws him in directions that lead to grief -- his loneliness and sense of being ignored in his family contributing to self-esteem problems, his attempts at compliance with the expectations of his musical career including so much self-destructive behavior, the desperation for escape that seems to follow him everywhere and feed into his addiction. :(

    But in some weird way, I'm starting to wonder if this flaw of his is also his strength. He can't achieve true apathy even if he wants to; the inner conviction that art can't be easy and he's doing it wrong if it's easy (or at least that's the feel that I get from him) means that he can never really be the paper-thin creature that the Imperial pop music factory wants from him. This latest attempt at losing everything in a haze of rokna blue just leads to a sharp jolt of realization when Neb dies. Since I've got Letters Never Sent on the brain, I keep wondering how much of all this parallels or was influenced by his childhood guardian, Lil. There definitely seems to be a kinship in how those two view the world. It's interesting to me, since I've never been the ART IS PAIN type -- art tends to happen for me when things are at their best rather than their worst. And it's never been a mindset that appealed to me. Yet, I'm getting the sense that for Lil and now for Anjie, that baggage actually protected them from the corruption of their surroundings in some odd way. Still does a number on them, though. It's all very complicated and fascinating, and I'm not sure what to conclude. [face_thinking]

    Since I love urban fantasy and similar things where people meet with the strange or legendary in unexpected places (whether it's actually magic or not), I really like that you have him meeting the goddess of Chiro. Or someone that people think is her, and have apparently done for a very long time. Nifty!

    2-5: Edited, as I messed up a character name. :p
     
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  12. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Whew, time to respond to these two long comments when I'm hyperfocused on it. I am glad that this is a thought-provoking story to you. :)

    The truth is grey here, I think. He could have picked the zherry-bomb that killed Neb, but at the same time, the chances were 1 in 2.

    It's Ne at its wildest...

    Anjie's greatest goal is crashing the mirror where he can see what others see, not what he truly is. And everything he did here contributes to that. He is choosing pretty disturbing ways to do it and yes, he wants to die a negation of what everybody thought of him when he was the "charmeur" and the "young, fresh-faced one".

    He is too unwell to listen to you, me, or anybody. As for the rest, the previous comment reply explains it, the one before this quote.

    Nope. Ahyolu is a Turkish word that stood for about only one thing ever and I could not have resisted using it, as the Bulgarian and ancient Roman ones were too close to the original. And then I made the -u into a feminine gender suffix in the Yeni language. And, of course, Ahyolu Yeni would be...you know. :D It's a convor egg, right here.

    You will see who she is in the last chapter. :)

    She has the Force. She can do things and, perhaps, the myth amuses here to a certain extent!

    YOU FOUND IT. This was the idea. He does not do it consciously, he has no idea that his first mentor did it consciously, and that he too was self-harming, but in a different way and not on Chiro.

    "Places are gone when there's nobody to see them. / I am no one and no one is me."


    It's her drink, the bath clouding up miiiight be due to the fact that Anjie is still high on his zherry-bomb. She is making him sober up.

    All those things contributed to his addiction, indeed. He was almost always privileged - apart from that "refugee for Naboo" stint that his mother performed in anger, to get away from his father, but with his privileges came struggles, as well.

    The loneliness breaks my heart, and I hope that I depicted it right, given that I'm the only child of my parents. I was kind of ignored too, especially after my grandmother's death in 1993, but it's different when there are other children, I get? Probably even worse.

    He is using spice to numb his pain. But it clearly isn't working and it only creates new problems.

    Is "almost everything" an acceptable response?

    It might not be that long, but it's long enough. You'll see. And Ahyolu definitely isn't a goddess.

    Wow, spell-checker wants me to change her name to Honolulu. o_O

    It's too close to Angie, don't worry. And there have been misspellings such as Anje and Anji before, used to it by now. :) Not to mention how many times I spelled Eliskandro as Eliksandro, because it seemed "logical". [face_blush]
     
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  13. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    So, before I post the last chapter and the epilogue, I would like to thank everybody who voted for the Anjie Mencuri series as the best at the 2017 fanfic awards. I wanted to win that particular award more than any other and I'm really, really thankful. :) Anjie himself doesn't like being awarded for things, but who cares about that? :p

    Hope the ending of the story won't confuse anybody. The rest of Anjie's story before he re-emerges will be either explored elsewhere or through his own retelling when the time comes. Questions and thoughts are welcome. One thing that I need to point out is that Ahyolu is a member of a species that ages very slowly and lives long and therefore, she's mentally younger than Anjie when she saves him. Despite her slight proficiency with the Force, she cannot explain her own decisions, e.g. her possibility to predict things. I hope this shows in the story itself, but I thought I'd post here just in case somebody ends up confused.
     
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  14. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Other Goals

    He must have spent the entire night in the tub. When he was up, there was no more water, but the moment he lifted his hand and batted an eye, Ahyolu appeared in her furry blue-and-green robe with thick black trousers visible underneath and shook her head. She could not determine if he was sober enough to talk yet, but she decided to let him talk, anyway.

    “Can I get some clothes?” he asked. Seconds later, he put both of his hands over his crotch. “What did you do to me?” His eyes were wide open.

    His hostess shrugged. “Relax, your body parts are of no interest to me, or to my species in general. But yes, it’s cold outside and the water might be cold the next time I use the Force to pull it up, before I heat it up, and you could…”

    “…EEEEEK!” Anjie screamed, as water appeared at the base of his spine again.

    “…feel cold.” She threw him a soft synthwool towel, an underwear cube, a pair of fur-lined trousers and a bantha wool sweater.

    Still shivering, he got dressed up and sat down on the edge of the tub, sober enough to observe his rescuer for the first time. She had the face and the skin colour of a slightly paler human, and thick black hair with fringe and a slightly pointy nose, but her eyes were shifting to left and right and there were thin, reddish circles around her black pupils. He was pretty sure that there was a hump of some sort on her back, too. If he had still been in SWS, he would not have taken her up on a kriff offer, but neither would Antonio, he thought.

    He scratched his head. “What the kriff are you?”

    “A kriffin’ Astraal. That would be a species from the Moddell Sector’s Monsua Nebula, which you have never heard of. I have been here for more than twenty years now. This is the safest place in the CorSec, you know?”

    How could she? “You know” was HIS catchprase. Was Ahyolu…picking up on his mannerisms and speech patterns?

    Anjie took a deep breath and continued. “And you, are you the Goddess? Are you a Jedi? Can you tell me more about Astraals?”

    “Whoa, hold on there, you’re asking way too many questions.” Ahyolu seemed slightly dismissive, but she nevertheless smiled and continued. “We’re a hybrid of Ayrou, Humans and an unknown third species…or so we were told. Out homeworld is a protectorate of Maya Kovel, on the other side of the sector, as far as I can remember. Our lifespans are, how to say, generous. We speak our own language, Yeni, as well as Galactic Basic. We have red around our pupils, thick eyelashes, remains of wings on our backs, we’re not good runners and the like, we have clawed feet but no claws on our hands. I will spare you from the explanation of our ’fresher habits.”

    No, he definitely didn’t want to hear that. He gestured to her to continue.

    “Now, about me. I am really young in Astraali terms. Only 55. I am a failed Jedi Padawan of Xia Tonha. A Human like you, a tiny woman and friends with Mace Windu…who was nothing like the character off those ANGRY MACE product packs. But yes, he could open his kriffin’ mouth to that extent. Anyway…I abandoned everybody. I did not tell them about my sense for danger.”

    “Sense for danger? Did you escape Order 66?”

    “I ran away hours before it took place. I am still not sure who did it, but nearly everybody died and Master Windu’s body was ravaged by the corridor ghouls in the Underlevels of Corukriff, which is what I like to call that rotten world of stupid progress…”

    Anjie put his hand on his chest. “Wow, you agree with me!”

    “…many do, Mencuri. And I? I got myself a runabout and came to the place I discovered earlier. I remained cloaked here and I finished my training myself, with the little material I had with me. According to our teachings, which were probably destroyed, I’m a Grey Jedi. According to my views, I do what I want and it feels better that way. The Jedi were too strict, the Sith are psychopaths.”

    She stopped for a couple of minutes and looked at Anjie. The hazelgreen colour of his eyes was now recognisable and his pupils were of normal size, the red vessels slowly healing. If she had found him earlier, he wouldn’t have broken his nose. If he had been smarter, his teeth would not be falling out and his arms would not look as if they were about to fall off. How was she going to cure that? She was a Padawan to a Jedi Guardian, against her will. Was he going to lose his arms from spice abuse and was she the one who was supposed to tell him that there could be such a possibility?

    “Can you, please, continue your story?” Anjie asked. Just then, he sneezed; one of his yellowish teeth flew out of his mouth and hit the wall of the cave. Ahyolu shook her head. “Ooops, there goes another. I’m sorry.” He grinned, which was not a pretty sight to begin with.

    “You have the Force. It has not awakened in your system, but you have it. And it’s the only thing that has kept you alive, despite all the stupidity that I read about from your bathwater last night when you fell asleep. Why are you doing this to yourself?”

    “I never wanted this. I wanted to be a painter. But I got into music when Lidgrain bought me a quetarra and it was my escape from Lor and then I got into women and wanted to have as many of them as possible…turned out I wanted just one, Mady, and she left me…and fame sucked nerf testes! Everybody knew me, but nobody did. Spice was a wonderful way of escaping it. And now I am stuck here, with you. And I broke my nose.” Anjie looked in the water from the edge of the bathtub. His nose was indeed swollen from the punches and he was slowly realising that his entire face did not look the way it did one of the last times he had courage to look at himself. A single star, the last one to be visible from Vagran in the morning along with the planet’s two moons, were rippling on the reflection of his forehead.

    Ahyolu shook her head and shared her story, following almost the same pattern.

    “I never wanted this. I wanted to be an airdancer. But I was taken away from my family when I was twenty-three and told that this would have been the best for me. Being a child, I was excited and I did not understand why the Mother was crying. Initially, at the Jedi Temple, I mutilated myself and destroyed most of my little wings, so I could never airdance if I had gotten a chance to. Everybody told me what to do, but nobody seemed to have a pair of hands, claws or tentacles that was not stained by the blood of countless others. So, yes, I ran away before they all got what was coming for them. And now I am stuck here. Lucky I found you, you are somewhat of a company.”

    “I wanted to stay at home, paint and make music for my own pleasure, not stand almost froz-naked in front of thousands and turn heads as if I were something special. I did not want girls to pick me, I wanted to pick them. I always wanted to play music, I never wanted to be a musician. I never wanted businessbeings around me. And then, at some point, my destiny depended on it.” He stirred his reflection in the water, angrily. “You see, they take all of us. They make these holoimages out of us and those have nothing to do with who we are. The Neb I knew was not the Nebula Fawkes the critics and fans loved. Same for me. Plus, kriff it, I am not Sprout. I don’t know who I am, but I am not Sprout. That’s the name they used to tease me with, hearing it hurts me each time.”

    The next answer Ahyolu gave surprised Anjie, for it was almost the opposite of his own, in a way.

    “I wanted to travel the Galaxy and entertain people, not hold a lightsaber, or call it an ‘elegant weapon’ or sever heads in the Clone Wars. I did not want to be displaced from Astrea, or whatever they call it because they don’t believe us that it has a name they could transcribe. I never wanted to be a warrior, but now my destiny depends on it, because I don’t have enough credits to return to the Outer Rim.” She took another sip of her ohvanille drink and sighed loudly. “You see, they take all of us. They would take me in and make a Jedi-hunter out of me…or have one of them kill me. If this is ever over, I am going back to my family on Astrea. Mother was 246 at the time they took me, I hope she is still alive.”

    “Why don’t you go there?”

    “I told you. I have no credits.”

    “How about your royalties?” Anjie cocked his head.

    “Royalties for WHAT? For having been a Padawan more than two decades ago? Say, in what world do you live in? Kriff that!”

    And now, he was completely sure. This woman was no goddess in any possible way.

    “I don’t know.” He attempted to be ironic. “For impersonating this planet’s deity?”

    “It’s not my fault that they believe it.” Ahyolu gulped down the rest of her ohvanille refreshment. “Much like it’s not your fault that you’re kind of angry at having seen the mirror image.”

    Anjie crossed his arms and pouted. “Neb is dead. You are a fool. I want to leave. I will die.”

    “What if you don’t die?”

    “Impossible. I am supposed to take the laser bullet.” He got up and headed to where Ahyolu had put his belongings. The bag was there, but the only thing in it was a plastoid playing card – the Queen of Air and Darkness. No rokna blue. He came back to his sitting place and grabbed the glass of ohvanille from the Astraal.

    “Did you take my spice?”

    She burst into laughter. “Why would I need that? To destroy myself? This is just plain old ohvanille. I flushed your spice into the sea.” She paused for a moment. “We should have breakfast and then figure out how to save you.”

    With those words, Ahyolu headed to another chamber. Sooner than later, she returned with a large plate of swampgrape leaf tea, flatcakes, bantha cheese and zherry jam.

    “I hope you have enough teeth to eat this, Mencuri.”

    “Call me Anjie.” The words escaped his mouth, to his surprise. He took a bite. The flatcakes were great. This bird-on-the-inside person was a decent cook. But they should have traded places, or something. She wanted to be famous in a different way, he never wanted to be famous and he could have lived like she does, letting her to become him, find Antonio and the boys and become an intragalactic superstar. “Say, what eggs are these?”

    “My own.” Ahyolu stuck out her tongue. Anjie spat. “You’re so funny to believe it. Plain small ibbot eggs, straight from the nest. I wish we could get such delicacies as chicken here, but no. I would have to go to Abatore and nobody can guarantee that there are no Jedi hunters over there. But here, on the other side of one of the typical Vagran barriers…it’s easy to catch birds. Of course, the first couple of weeks made me feel like I was going to die, but I got used to it and managed to create a solution to make food edible. Otherwise, I would have starved.”

    Anjie did not like the part about the “other side of one of the typical Vagran barriers,”, as that meant they were in a place where no sentient’s foot was allowed to set foot. He swallowed a lump, then choked on a piece of a flatcake. Seconds later, he blacked out again.

    “Mencuri…I mean Anjie?” Ahyolu almost dropped her plate, but she managed to levitate it gently to the ground in order not to break it. “What happened?”

    She had to perform the hem-leech-o manoeuvre. Blue in the face, her guest was slowly coming round.

    “Are you trying to poison me?” he managed to breathe through the shivers. He scratched his nose and screamed; the cartilage must have been broken from yesterday’s punches. “Oh, kriff! This hurts too much.”

    “I think you are more fearful than you realise,” Ahyolu concluded. She somehow managed to take the frail musician to the improvised bed – stones topped with layers of animal fur. “And I am going to need to grind up this food for you. You are unable to chew and this is dangerous. I have no means of dealing with your condition, I am not a healer, I never passed my Jedi Trials.”

    This was the first time that Anjie, who now had been sober for more than a day, realised the extent of his spice abuse. “Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me to them, please.”

    “You’re in worse condition than I thought at first. I might have to. I wanted to nurse you back to health and train you, but you’re better off being found and taken somewhere where you can truly be helped. Otherwise, you risk your life. You could die from blood infection, lose your arms or have something attack your entire body through your jaw.”

    “You cannot leave me like this, you bantha cow!” he pleaded through a bridge of sighs again.

    “I can. I thought your way was with me, but I was wrong. I need you alive, not dead. You will remember this and come back, someday, somehow. Unless it’s me who will end up murdered at the blade of Darth Vader or one of his people.”

    Anjie’s heart was beating fast. “Darth Vader? I don’t want to look like him. I would rather die. Please, let me die.”

    Ahyolu was determined. “No. There’s so much waiting for you. If only you knew what I had seen in that pool,” she added, whispering. He didn’t hear it.

    The decision was heavy on her heart, but she had to take him back to the other side of the fence, yet again.




    Footnotes

    More about Ahyolu's species and planet here
     
  15. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    First, congratulations on your win for Best Series! @};- The Anjie stories run the gamut from humor to pathos, and they are certainly deserving of the recognition =D=

    Next, I apologize that I somehow missed the second chapter. Wow, Anjie's life has been harder than anyone should have to deal with. And yet...though perhaps it is only the spice talking...he seems to enjoy wallowing in the misery of his experiences, choosing his death as if one is better than the others, as if he is creating his final masterpiece.

    His family...oh dear goat, no wonder he is so screwed up. He has no one to encourage him, to appreciate him for who he is. They are the opposite of your other sensitive boy, Teebo's, family, who support and love their son unquestioningly. His "friends" bring him into spice and debauchery. His fans love him only so long as he conforms to their image of him. All of these ghosts come back to plague him in what he thinks will be his final moments.

    Then Ahyolu rescues him, perhaps... I am not sure what I think of the supposed goddess of Chiro. I'm not really sure that I like her, to be honest. Yes, she saves Anjie's life while he lays on the side of the mountain, and yes, she has her own tragic backstory, but there is something about her that rubs me the wrong way. Perhaps it is that she, too, seems to wallow in her own supposed tragedy by mutilating her own wings, or that she insists that every Jedi has blood on their appendages, or that ultimately, she is willing to leave Anjie to his fate, dreadful as she knows it will be. She is no benevolent goddess, whatever else she may be.

    Anjie is left once again with a long, hard road ahead of him. And though I know he does find some happiness, I can't help but wonder, does he find someone to encourage and advise him and help him on the right path, at least before he meets [hl="black"]Doria[/hl]. And when the Force awakens in him...how will he handle it since Ahyolu has turned him away without instruction?

    Another challenging and thought-provoking entry in the Anjie series; keep up the good work, and bravo =D=
     
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  16. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    EP - quick note (I seem to be catching up lately ... [face_blush]).

    Interesting stuff. I'm glad Anjie is at least considering his future - and he's Force-sensitive? That certainly puts a new spin on things, especially at this time in the timeline ... [face_worried]:vader:
     
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  17. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    What I love about this chapter is the way Anjie and Ahyolu's commonalities come through, even if just for a moment amid the arguing, the K-bomb exchange, and the general not-benig-quite-on-the-same-wavelength. Both of them had originally wanted to be one thing but ended up having to be another because their lives and livelihoods depended on it. Both of them went through phases of trying to deal with those choices by making yet more choices, and often not very good ones: spice, sex, self-mutilation, running away. When Ahyolu picks up on Anjie's expressions and mannerisms earlier on, starting with the "you know" tic, it almost seems like that's happening for the express purpose of leading up to their parallel stories—and thereby to a potential understanding between the two characters.

    But the understanding never quite fully happens, because then they go back to arguing and not being on the same wavelength. In a way, it's the emotional/psychological version of the "missed connections" motif that pervades several of your stories. It could be that their personalities are just too incompatible: Anjie's such a sensitive soul, while Ahyolu takes this brusque, snappish "honey badger don't care" type of approach, even when she's doing things to help him—like preparing a bath or food for him, or taking him back over the barrier on the off chance that there may be someone out there who can help him. Being a sensitive type myself, I know that how those things are done makes a huge difference, so I don't totally blame Anjie for his "bantha cow" reaction!

    I'm very intrigued about Ahyolu's brand of Force sensitivity She can bring water up the mountain into her cave, she can sense Anjie's Force sensitivity (is she a bit like Maz Kanata that way?), and she seems to be able to predict the future at least in an approximate manner—but not much beyond that, at least not yet. I of course am hugely curious about what it was that she saw in the pool: has she predicted something in Anjie's future, the way she was able to sense danger just before Order 66? I think she definitely is right, though, that it's not time yet for Anjie to explore his Force connection, at least not till a later time when both of them are more mature and more ready (and I appreciate that you clarified Ahyolu's age here, since I know we discussed that at beta). There are some "other goals" Anjie should focus on achieving first: healing from his addiction and managing his grief over Neb. Ahyolu may not be a trained healer, but in a way she has started him on the way to achieving both goals: by reassuring him that he doesn't deserve to die, and by getting rid of his rokna blue. So she's perhaps helped him more than either of them know—and I have no doubt that he'll come back, someday when they're both older and wiser. :)

    Have to just briefly mention the moment when he sees his face reflected in the water and is afraid—it reminds me of a moment in another one of your stories where another character with a changed face first sees his new reflection in a container of water, and I am guessing you meant for it to. ;)

    Finally, once again, congratulations to both you and Anjie for your very well-deserved Best Series win! I love how we have gotten to see this character at his best, his worst, his early years, his later years, his times of joy and his times of sadness... and all the gray areas in between. @};-
     
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  18. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Wow, I wasn't sure what to expect from Ahyolu but her story surprised me anyway. She's an interesting anomaly, being someone who was picked out by the Jedi and even became a Padawan -- something that the younger Jedi were usually very pleased with -- but found that life so difficult that she quite literally did a lot damage to herself. As others have mentioned, her story makes for an interesting parallel with Anjie's; neither of them found what they really wanted in the career paths that were laid out for them.

    Though I tend to agree with Ahyolu's assessment that Anjie wasn't ready to learn to use the Force here, it seems equally true that she's not ready to be a teacher. Or at least not to someone as currently fragile as Anjie. One can see that she's (deliberately?) withdrawing in a way that seems like an abandonment. I get the feeling that she doesn't really trust anyone and maybe never has. (If she did, then why not tell anyone about her premonitions?) This seems to be goodbye for now between them, but I'm curious whether and when they do meet again. [face_thinking]

    Congrats on your Best Series win for Anjie's stories! [face_party]
     
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  19. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Reply space (and yes, I SHOULD get onto this! I do it waaaaay too often!)

    Replies to comments added on November 27th, 2017. :)




    Thank you. Pretty sure this is a case of the latter...right?

    Got to be the spice talking and trauma from losing Neb. :(

    Teebo's family is amazing. These two guys have so much in common, yet their life paths couldn't have been any different. There's no guarantee that Teebo wouldn't have turned out like Anjie if he had lived in such a messed-up environment.

    As for "friends" and "fans"...nothing to add. And note the quotation marks. :p

    T
    I'm pleased with your reaction. I didn't want her to be likeable for a long, long time to come.

    The answers are:

    1. No.

    2. It will be a mess.

    *takes a bow*
    Yup. He's got it in him, but at this point, it's not clear how much and if it's useful, at all. He did some vaguely prophetic things in Letters Never Sent and Chancellor & I...but he was a child back then.
    Yup, that's how they mirror each other - Ahyolu copying Anjie's mannerisms was a fine intro for that, if I dare say so. :D

    And K-bombs...but, of course, she's a brat. :p

    There's a little of Anjie in Ahyolu and a little of Ahyolu in Anjie. They cannot have a healthy discourse without realising that first...which they, err, don't do here.

    Yes and yes. She never completed her training back on Coruscant, plus she's a bit too hot-blooded to be a full, stereotypical Jedi.

    It might take a looooooooooooooooooooooooong time until that is revealed.

    They indeed have a long, long way to go.

    In the meantime, it appeared in yet another story. :p I'm overdoing this, aren't I? [face_thinking]

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! It was a great honour! [face_party]
    Glad that you used this word - it actually describes both Ahyolu and Anjie, perfectly.

    The damage she did is, however, nothing in comparison to what Anjie has done and what he's yet to do. She eventually learned to love herself...perhaps a bit too much, even. [face_thinking]

    They will be ready someday...or they won't.

    And neither of them trusts anyone at this point, which makes them tragic character...Anjie moreso than Ahyolu, but yeah.

    Thank you! Paaaartay! [face_party]
     
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  20. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Aftermath

    “Do you think we’ll find the body today?”

    Taggo and Maggo Gallagho had been wandering around Chiro all day, for the third day in a row. They did not find the dianoga fodder where he was supposed to have died and there were no traces in the snow towards the edge of the nearby cliff – only traces of hooves. Wherever Anjie Mencuri had gone to, he could not be dead. Had he tricked them by pretending he was in a condition far worse that it seemed?

    “If we don’t, the Boss will…well, I don’t know, perhaps he would drug us up and leave us for dead, too,” Maggo sighed. “Either that, or the rancor.”

    “The rancor is a vegetarian.” His brother reminded him. “Eats only bio-goods.”

    “Yeah, I know, but either way…he would have thrown us to him even if that hadn’t been true.”

    “Would not! He needs us.”

    “Would too, you slime-trunk paranoid wermo!”

    “Would not!”

    “Wouldtoo!”

    They were silent for five minutes, looking at the narrow strip indicating the location of the laser and the ultrasound safety barrier.

    “But what if the hooves…I mean, what if the Goddess exists?” Taggo was puzzled.

    “You are so crazy sometimes, pateesa. Not only for believing in the Goddess, but for being all lovey-dovey over that Code:Red guy, while it’s really Code:Blue who is the hero of the most recent game.” Maggo attempted the “baby burp” dance.

    “Code:Red is the best limmie player of our times! He practically got Sacorria to the Galactic Cup semifinals by himself!”

    “No, it’s Code:Blue. He is a far more creative player! Plus, he plays for the Magnets and we live near Abatore!” He pointed to the large city visible from where they were standing. “He needs to be appreciated.”

    “He’s a crybaby! A drama man! He makes no sense!”

    “He scored one of the best goals at the championship against the Imperial Center, and then an even better one against Chandrila!”

    “Did not. You like that goal only because of the stupid ‘baby burp dance’. I mean, the Senators did it, the pilots did it, it was already in the new episode of The Way We Live Our Life…it’s nothing but a fad.”

    “Did too!”

    “Did not!”

    “Did too!”

    The twins stopped for a moment and Maggo had an idea. “Why do we care about this more than what supposedly happened on Yavin IV?”

    “Because it’s real.” Taggo dismissed his brother’s concerns. “Your trunk is so full of snot sometimes! We feel connected to these beings!”

    “Fanboy!”

    “But it’s you who likes Haylo Cipesz!”

    “Why you snotty...hey, wait, here he is.”

    The Toydarians looked down. Anjie Mencuri was sitting in the snow underneath a tree, clearly alive, but in bad condition. His hands were slightly blue, though he didn’t appear to have been out for too long. He was saying something that they could understand – or at least it wasn’t a language they had been familiar with, Basic or Huttese.

    And then his words started making sense. “Are you going to kill me?”

    “No. We have no use for your body.” One of the Toydarians whipped him with his trunk and attempted to knock him down. “And you happen to be alive, somehow. The Master predicted this would happen. And he’s made a deal. You are going to Naboo, Sprout.”

    His home planet? Could it be? Anjie got so confused that he didn’t even get to react to that ugly nickname.

    “Did my father...I mean, Attorney Aldo Mencuri send Blobbo credits?”

    “Aldo who? No, you’re going to the Imperial prison. They might have a use for you.”

    “But he did!” said the greenish Toydarian.

    “Shut up!”

    “So, you’re lying to me? Or you tricked my father and made a different deal?” Anjie clenched his teeth, causing another one to fall. “You miserable, miserable…Ahyolu is going to get you. There she is, on her equine animal!”

    “I am not sure just what kind of spice you found here.” The purple Toydarian looked around, sniffing the grass. “But whatever you see right now does not exist. Not at all. Let’s go.”
    ***​

    As the two Toydarians were trying to place Anjie in the trunk of their speeder, arguing as they went and hitting him with their trunks as often as they could, Ahyolu sneaked by the bush for one last time, leaving her mount on the other side of the laser fence. Despite being barely conscious, the young man managed to turn his head her way.

    “Why didn’t you save me?” he uttered in a whisper-like voice.

    “In order to be saved, you first need to save yourself, and you need to want to be saved. See you in the future…if there is one…” she said and looked at his eyes again, which prompted her to shake her head and add. “…for you. There always is one for me.

    THE END
     
  21. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Well ... Naboo is a comparatively more-enlightened society, even if they have to pay lip service to Palpatine ... maybe Anjie will get the help he needs? [face_thinking]
     
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  22. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    This is one of those situations where I thought I had publicly commented on a chapter but actually didn’t yet—so please forgive me for my tardiness. [face_blush]

    In a way, it’s hard to know what to make of this ending… in a very good way. The juxtaposition of the Gallagho bros.’ bungling bickering—especially with its diversion onto the topics of Certain Limmie Players—certainly makes for a striking juxtaposition to the existential struggles and weighty topics that loomed so large in the previous chapters. And of course the mention of Code:Blue—whose youngest son was born at the beginning of this story at the exact same time as Neb’s death—brings things full-circle, in a way; I am pretty certain you meant that to be intentional.

    Like Onderon1, I too am intrigued by what might happen to Anjie on Naboo. OK, well, I have a few ideas, given the happenings and settings of some of your newer stories… ;) but I bet there is a good bit that will happen to him between the end of this story and, say, the beginning of TBCTS,—and given the productive streak you’ve been on, I’ll be curious to see whether any stories will come along that cover some of that period. (Or maybe there are some in your oeuvre that already do! ;) )

    Now this ending… well, by now we can perhaps characterize Ahyolu’s response to Anjie’s (totally justified) question as, well, typical cryptic Ahyolu. :p But I could totally believe that she might know something. [face_thinking] Plus, even if her tone is a bit aloof and cryptic, she’s generally on the right track about needing to save oneself in order to be saved; that kind of reminds me of the highest degree of Moses Maimonides’s eight degrees of charity, which (in a nutshell) states that helping others help themselves is the best way to help them. Whatsoever may happen to Anjie next, we know he has a future—and one beyond even the wildest of his spice-induced dreams! (That said, I do kind of wonder if Ahyolu will reappear in his life at any point.)

    Thanks so much for this very thought-provoking wrap-up to this very thought-provoking character study! =D=
     
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