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Before the Saga Epiphany--OC's

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by leiamoody, Jun 11, 2015.

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  1. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
    Title: Epiphany
    Author: leiamoody
    Timeframe: 480.3 BBY/Flashbacks to 500 BBY
    Canoncity: AU
    Characters: OC’s (Chevor Mikayzd, Zia Amopharis)
    Summary: A padawan on the verge of his Trials of Knighthood receives some advice from a waitress.
    Notes: Originally written for Poetry Inspiration Challenge at TFN in 2015, (Inspiration poem was "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes). Winner of Best All-Around Story (Before the Saga) and Best Character [Zia Amopharis] (Before the Saga) in TFN 2016 Fan Fic Awards.

    (This fic is sponsored by Torgo's Pizza).
    480.3 BBY, Coruscant

    A padawan on the verge of his Trials of Knighthood sat at a comparatively isolated table in a restaurant called Yoma's on the southern edge of Calocour Heights. It was unusual for anyone from the elusive order of Force monks to come inside the little eatery owned by an Etti widow. It was also unusual for any member of the Jedi to order nerf tenderloin accompanied by grilled Ojomian onions drizzled with rualka sauce on a bed of pink lettuce. It was not a meal for a simple appetite, particularly at three o' clock in the morning. The padawan, Chevor Mikayzd, had received enough credits from his master to pay for the meal and perhaps a little dessert to round out his brief excursion into the daily world of Coruscant.

    Chevor hardly touched the steak, only focusing his distracted attention upon the vegetables and three deep cups of the darkest black caf (swallowed without cream or sweetener). It was a rare treat for any padawan to be allowed the opportunity to move alone outside the Jedi Temple, even for a being four days away from undergoing the necessary trials designed to promote him to the rank of Knight. But this certain apprentice needed to escape from the restrictive atmosphere of the only place he'd ever called home. Doubt had plagued Chevor for the last several weeks, clouding his judgment not only in lightsaber training sessions but also in his daily communion with the Force. Doubt quickly evolved into fear, which further made it impossible to focus upon the required mental preparation.

    “Is anything wrong with your meal, dear?”

    Chevor looked up from his partially eaten late night culinary distraction into the patient dark eyes of the waitress who had been responsible for keeping watch over him the last two hours. It wasn’t unusual to see a flesh-and-blood restaurant worker on Coruscant, but it was rather peculiar to see one working so late in the evening. Most of the overnight work was left to droids, because they didn’t require stimulants to perform their duties. But here was an older human woman with dark brown hair and brown eyes smiling at him. It was odd for a stranger to call him “dear”. This kind of familiarity might have irritated anyone else in Yoma’s. But Chevor felt strangely comforted by her demeanor. Right in the middle of his crisis of everything, he couldn’t find any space to release those doubts. It was near difficult to confess anything to Master Nical, because he was currently on the hunt for another world that lay beyond life. Of course none of the other masters were available to address the dark worries that swirled in his consciousness and plagued his unconscious yet revealed themselves in his dreams. Visions of a black demon with a carved mask hiding its face and rivers flowing with fiery blood played out during those rare times when he could achieve sleep. Perhaps they were simple manifestations of the unspoken terrors that could befall any Force sensitive individual who strayed from the guidance of the Light. No matter the source of the dark visions, they were yet another concern that added to his lingering doubts.

    The waitress frowned. “The food’s not so terrible around here.”

    Chevor flashed a quick smile. “Everything is fine.”

    Her eyes narrowed in obvious suspicion. “I can tell when someone’s lying.”

    Chevor tried a quick manipulation of his interior emotions to mimic the face of someone untroubled by anything more than insomnia. “I’m all right.” Then he conjured up a fake-but-trying-to-be-real smile. The feeling wasn’t anywhere in his psyche, and he realized the waitress could never be fooled by this masquerade.

    She wasn’t convinced. The waitress turned away from his table. “I’m going off duty for a little bit. Keep a watch on the front door in case anyone shows up.”

    A cook droid opened up the plastic screen that separated the dining room from the kitchen. “Nobody ever shows up around here this time of night, Zia. Except for that kid.”

    “Then he might be starting a trend,” Zia sat across from Chevor. “Don’t mind Zeebee. He’s been attached to the restaurant for the past sixty years. His circuits are probably getting rusty.”

    Now Chevor felt inclined to laugh. “That’s bound to happen.”

    “So you’ve got a lot of trouble bubbling there around your head.” She reached across and tapped his forehead. “Right in there you’ve got a lot of bad stuff keeping you awake.”

    Chevor shrugged. “I guess that’s obvious since I’m here instead of where I should be.”

    “You mean up there in the Temple District?”

    His expression remained frozen in a half-smile. “Up somewhere around there.” The intrusion of a cursory Force inspection alerted Chevor this stranger wasn’t an ordinary waitress. He felt a sudden realignment of midichlorians as Zia made a clumsy attempt to scan his emotions. Either she was a Force sensitive undiscovered by the Jedi, or else…

    “I used to live up there back when I was a lot younger.” Zia smiled. “Of course not everyone becomes a Knight. That was never my destiny.”

    Chevor looked into the cold blackness of the remaining caf. There were padawans who never passed the Trials. For every ten initiates who passed the five levels of physical and mental endurance there were four who failed. Their choices were limited to undergoing the Trials until they passed, joining a lesser organization such as the Exploration Corps, or leaving the Jedi Order and falling into the struggles of daily life. Going out into the galaxy alone was more terrifying than any temptation from the Dark Side. Stories were passed around like a forbidden artifact among the older padawans about those unfortunate souls, dubbed “The Lost Souls”, included a bounty hunter employed by Azra the Hutt and a serial killer. Most of the stories were ridiculous, but they provided a cautionary lesson in the importance of passing the Trials sooner instead of later.

    “If you don’t feel like talking then I’ll leave you alone.” Zia made no effort to rise up from her place in the booth.

    “I’m just nervous—”

    “You look about twenty. That means you’re just on the cusp of the most common age for undergoing the ordeals.”

    “I know it’s meant to push your body and spirit, but I don’t really think the Trials are meant to be harmful.”

    Zia leaned back against the padded black leather seat. “Sometimes I wondered if the masters were trying to cut the population of readily available knights to save money. I forced myself…” she choked on a laugh “…pun fully intended to go through each level and fail.”

    “How many times do you did try?”

    “Three times. That makes me sound desperate, but the pressure was so intense I felt it was necessary.”

    Chevor frowned. “I’ve never felt any pressure from the masters, especially my own. Master Nical has been very accommodating. The only being who has pressured me…is me.”

    “But there shouldn’t be any pressure. The Code emphasizes peace and harmony as part of the ideal state for any Jedi. How is that possible for a padawan who feels they must achieve their knighthood on the first attempt?”

    “It does feel like I must accomplish this now or the rest of my life is doomed.”

    “Or you’ll turn into me.”

    “That’s not what I meant.”

    Zia shook her head. “It’s true. Once you’re gone from the only place you ever called home, there’s nowhere you can ever feel safe.”

    “How many years has it been since you left?”

    Her response was a sad half-smile. “Long enough that I had a child that would be about your age now.”

    “How did you fail?”

    “The first time it was the Trial of Spirit. Second time it was the Trial of Skill because I was so nervous about failing again. The last time I finally made it to the Trial of Insight. I almost believed it was going to work.”

    “So what happened?”

    “Master Okari decided my final test would be the most absurd one ever created. Have you heard of the ‘Sand and Stone’ test?”


    “The padawan is supposed to find a single grain of sand among a room filled with stones. It was some weird ritual used back during the Pius Dea Era. My dear old master decided to get rid of me by pulling out that ancient ordeal.”

    “The Jedi seek victory in the Force’s name. They wouldn’t have sought your failure.”

    Zia scowled. “Think about how stagnant matters in the galaxy have become since the Battle of Ruusan. There are skirmishes here and there but those don’t generally require the Jedi’s intervention. So that beloved order has become isolated from the real world. So they feel it’s necessary to come up with convoluted methods to challenge their students.”

    “Even if that happens to be true, how does that affect my upcoming tests?”

    “Think about who you might become if you do pass those ordeals.”

    “I want to become whoever the Force wishes me to become.” Chevor pushed the remains of his partially consumed meal aside, then leaned his elbows on the table. “The learning process is not supposed to be easy. Each test will bring forth different aspects of my personality that should work together in harmony.”

    “You swallowed their drivel so perfectly you’ll become a walking textbook.”

    Chevor frowned. “I understand your life has been difficult since you left the Temple, but—”

    “Of course it’s been difficult. I’ve spent the past two decades finding odd jobs anywhere just to keep pulling together enough credits for survival.” Zia looked down at her hands. “Working on a liner, cleaning buildings, manual labor, and then I eventually discovered my true calling in the culinary industry.”

    “Maybe there’s something available within the Temple.”

    “Like I’m going back there in search of charity.”

    “It would be a steady income.”

    “I lost my dignity back in that testing chamber. I never bothered to find that grain of sand among the stones.”

    “You lost confidence in yourself—”

    “And the Jedi, and the Force. I realized everything was pointless, and there was no reason for me to go down the path toward knighthood. It was never going to happen. So I gave up.”

    “Nobody but yourself told you to quit.”

    “I’m not saying you should wind up like me. Despite my problems with the keepers of the midichlorians, I would never tell a padawan to abandon the Order.”

    Chevor smiled. “You’re suggesting I stay and complete the ordeals?”

    “You’re stronger than I ever was.”

    “How can you tell?”

    “Because it takes nerve to step outside without your master and come to a restaurant by yourself.”

    “He wanted me to get out of the dormitories instead of staying inside and driving myself crazy.”

    “But you came out in the middle of the night.”

    “I’ve been out from the Temple more than once.” Besides the missions where he accompanied Master Nical, Chevor had wandered around the streets of Coruscant during the sunlit hours, mostly visiting the Retrolux holocinema and poking around various antique shops. He rarely ventured into the after hours world; he’d only been to one club down in Usucru shortly after his eighteenth birthday. But he was back in the dorms by curfew…now, two years later, was his first excursion into the heart of the shining ecumenopolis after midnight. It was another distinctive situation among many unique occurrences throughout his life. If his birth parents hadn’t given him to the Jedi…he couldn’t imagine the other paths that might have lain before him.

    “Does Yoda still teach that ‘do or do not’ crap?”

    Chevor laughed. Only someone who had been trained under the old master would recognize that axiom. “Yes, he’s repeated that particular saying to me on many occasions.”

    “Do you believe it?”

    “That someone should go forth and undertake whatever is required of them instead of wondering if they should take action?” He realized the question was a direct challenge not only from Zia, but also an indirect confrontation with his inner self. He’d spent one year postponing his Trials of Knighthood. Within that year Chevor had undergone several experiences that could give him

    strength within each level. But his whole life had been preparation for those five examinations of soul, mind, and body. He could either face the challenge or turn his back and leave the familiar world he’d grown up in for an unfamiliar universe. Safety wasn’t guaranteed in either version of his future, but doubt would plague the second version if he slipped into the anonymous world. At least he would know the ultimate goal once he passed his “ordeals”. It was a long road from here until the end of his life, with many twists and turns, but somehow Chevor knew that was his true destination.

    Zia nodded. “I thought so.” She reached across the table and patted his arm. “You’ll be a great Jedi one day.”

    “Maybe I already am?”

    Zia laughed. “Think it now, prove it later.” She pushed herself out from the booth. “I should clear that plate away for you and bring some dessert.”

    Chevor shook his head. “That’s okay.”

    “Well, maybe I need the dessert. This conversation isn’t over.”
  2. Annia Piet

    Annia Piet Jedi Knight star 2

    Feb 7, 2015
    The Before section is usually well out of my interest areas, but this was great and really evocative of the era. Very nice interpretation of the poem too! Although it does re-I force my perception that the old Jedi Order were kinda jerks...
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  3. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    Chevor is a great character, and I love seeing him again. He has a wonderful balance of pragmatism and idealism, wanting to do the right thing but aware that life takes strange turns sometimes. As always, your writing is crisp and eloquent.

    Edit: after reading what Ewok Poet had to say so thoughtfully about her encounter with Chevor's being her finally finding her "grain of sand," it reminded me that I had been wondering if this chance encounter with Zia was really so chance - what if she herself was Chevor's Trial of Insight or Trial of Spirit?
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  4. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    Two stories from you as a treat after a particularly exhausting day? My kind of a self-reward. :)

    This story is like a happier version of Chekhov's "Misery", where Chevor is lucky enough that he eventually finds a person to talk to, as opposed to an equine. Loneliness in an enormous city-planet like Coruscant is something most of us mere mortals from a stupid future Galaxy would never be able to grasp, and loneliness in the case of a person who had to lead a life of isolation and introspection is even worse. A true nightmare among the billions of lights. A nightmare visible from space.

    And when one has traces of atychiphobia like this young man does, hearing how it goes from one who tried so many times and failed can be like a coin toss: he will either fail inevitably or forget his self-doubt and ace it. Given his attitude at the end of the story, I hope it's the later. Zia is not a cautionary example here, she is Yoda's "crap" statement, personified, and, before she shares her whole story, she may as well not be aware of it.

    I am curious about Chevor's vision: given the timeframe, I would assume he is seeing one certain Chosen One? Intriguing and goosebumps-worthy.

    I cannot imagine that Zeebee's circuits are getting rusty, but I can imagine them to be very greasy. Sixty years is a lot!

    So, ultimately, I see Zia and Zeebee like two separate parts of Chevor's own consciousness. To put it simply, she is the angel and he is the devil on Chevor's shoulder. At the same time, Zia and Chevor on their own are a great combination of "earthly" and "heavenly". With this comment of Zia's, it's evident:

    Zia scowled. “Think about how stagnant matters in the galaxy have become since the Battle of Ruusan. There are skirmishes here and there but those don’t generally require the Jedi’s intervention. So that beloved order has become isolated from the real world. So they feel it’s necessary to come up with convoluted methods to challenge their students.”

    There needs to be an union of special and un-special for things to work properly and, in the times of peace, everybody is blinded by greed beyond belief, so they don't see what's wrong with the world around them. Zia's statement is as much of a foreshadowing as Chevor's dream.

    Also, she just passed her test. Finding a worried padawan who needs her on Coruscant pretty much equals finding the said grain of sand.

    Disclaimer: This comment was written by a person who's undergoing CBT for atychiphobia. Please, don't rank it or rate it. O_O
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  5. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
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  6. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
  7. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    Holy mandalore varactyl with constipation...your replies to replies are almost as cool as the stories themselves. :) I'm your Kathy Bates.

    The encounter with Zia isn't exactly random. A lot of encounters in the GFFA aren't random (of all the pilots in all the galaxy, Obi-Wan and Luke had to run into Han and Chewbacca?).

    This is so obvious, yet it takes a writer and a person with a certain dose of spirituality, to elaborate on it and figure it out.

    And while I didn't think what divapilot thought I thought (some sentence..), that would've been a fun way to look at it, too.

    More Zia and Chevor, please.

    P.S. Zia is a great cool aunt type...pun perfectly intended. :D
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  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Great work with this Langston Hughes gem. =D= And now I know that when you asked all those interesting questions in the Writer's Desk about what happens to padawans who fail their trials, you had in mind this singular woman who is "still goin'," "still climbin'." I like her, and I especially like the contrast between his "walking textbook" rhetoric and her recollections. But then at the end he, too, starts to realize that he's going to have twists and turns and tacks and splinters in his path too (which of course we know because of what eventually happens to the Old Jedi Order), and that his path and Zia's really have a lot in common in the final analysis. (I wonder how the rest of the chat went!)

    The whole concept of the Sand and Stone trial is just so totally cool. It sounds kind of like the Jedi equivalent of those crazy math/science/engineering problems they are reputed give at Google job interviews. I get the feeling from your description that it's considered rather archaic and outré even in the rarefied Jedi world, and I can totally sympathize with ZIa's feelings about having been made to do such an absurd thing to earn her knighthood. And yet I can totally see that sort of trial being a thing in other Force traditions—Gand Findsmen, anyone? [face_thinking]

    One of the most interesting aspects of this story to me the nuanced way you portray Zia's perspective on the Jedi Order as decadent, parochial, and overly insular—while still encouraging Chevor to go on with his trials. It shows that there's more to her feelings that simple bitterness. And of course, that perspective is interesting one that one doesn't see at all in the movies or very often in fanfic. Love that line about Yoda and his "'do or do not' crap"—cool that not everyone out there considers everything coming from Yoda's mouth gospel (and I have to say it's not my own fave of Yoda's quotes personally either). It all, of course, leads to the larger question of what larger role the parochiality of the Old Jedi Order may have played in its downfall.

    And your food descriptions, as usual, are just absolutely tastable—you've got a real knack there. =P~
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  9. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
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  10. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Nifty take on the whole Jedi trials thing; I like that it seems to say that the real trial is not held in the Temple and the Jedi Masters responsible do not necessarily know that. The Force seems to have its own way of making the cards land where they will in this story. And I think I've guessed what you were hinting at about Zia -- especially given the title of the challenge poem. ;) Really liked the unlikely (or is it?) connection she made with Chevor at this turning point in his life.

    [face_laugh] Gotta love the Yoda axioms.
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  11. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
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  12. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
    500 BBY, Doun Yeepine

    “Take your specs off, now,” Tortose told Pierrot, “take 'em off, if you want to look as though you work here.”

    “But I won’t be able to see what I’m cookin’. How am I supposed to make dinner for five thousand idiots if I can’t see what’s goin’ in the pots?” Pierrot was a farsighted Snivvian and replacement for the latest missing galley attendant on the Rose of Shara. In the past month ten other kitchen lackeys had jumped ship because of Tortose’s lording over his underlings. Zia would have led the exodus away from the Shara’s head chef months ago, but the little creature tumbling in her stomach prevented that escape.

    Zia leaned up against the metal counter near the dishwashers. Maybe after the kidlet was born and she dropped him off at the Jedi Temple she could find a job on some other ship. Of course there was nothing for her back on Coruscant…she left a decade ago at sixteen, in disgrace after failing her Trials of Knighthood.

    Zia Amopharis gave away the only past she could remember in exchange for some unknown future that would never feel comfortable or familiar unlike those years spent in the Light Side’s embrace. But she couldn’t allow herself to be exiled into the lower ranks of the Jedi Order. It was easier to keep her eyes forward by walking away from the Temple.

    A kick from the kidlet reminded Zia she was currently stuck on a fourth rate passenger liner docked on a middle-of-nowhere transit hub called Doun Yeepine. The intended ten-hour layover was the last delay before the vessel headed back to Coruscant. Once the ship docked, Zia was going to the budget delivery wing at Republic Central Medcenter to get this delivery over with. The kidlet seemed to realize he was getting closer to the intended destination because those kicks and twirls were coming along more often. If her current plan for him actually occurred, the little dancer/reincarnated Teräs Käsi master would be able to put those nascent athletic skills to good use when he became a Jedi Knight.

    “Hey, Amo, you wanna get over here and help us get ready for dinner?” Pierrot’s whiny voice interrupted Zia’s consideration of more important matters than feeding bored tourists supposedly-fresh-but-truly-frozen nerf cutlets and overcooked Naboo tubers.

    She pushed herself away from the counter with a grunt. “Yeah, whatever. Don’t lose your fancy glasses in the soups.”

    Pierrot snorted. “Least I can afford something fancy. You can’t even afford good shoes.”

    “That does because our illustrious kitchen god doesn’t understand living beings need a living wage.”

    “I can get a couple of droids if you don’t like working here. You are replaceable.” Tortose’s chronically red face nearly matched the color of the floor tiles. “I was doing you a favor. I could’ve tossed you out without any credits right after you showed up with that--“ he pointed with one quarter of an index finger at her stomach and the obvious bump.

    Anger descended from Zia’s brain and flooded her bloodstream. She didn’t need to be reminded about the inflated gratitude Tortose felt was owed to him by those unfortunate enough to be under his control. She was trapped in another horrible job because opportunities were few and far between for a pregnant woman who deliberately ended her relationship with the Force years ago. But that didn’t mean it was required for Zia to be treated like some perpetual midnight dweller from the underworld. Even a failed padawan should be allowed to have some hope for a better existence in the galaxy.

    Zia took a deep breath. Walking away from her only home for the past year wasn’t the smartest idea under the stars. Being pregnant with a couple thousand credits saved made the idea only slightly less ludicrous. But there would never be another chance to escape before the kidlet made his debut.

    “I’ll show myself out.”

    Tortose laughed. “Where are the both of you gonna wander off?”

    A twisting twirl from the kidlet gave Zia the extra boost of confidence she needed to walk away from the Rose of Shara and its deceptive veneer of security. “You have no ability to comprehend how much I’ve survived, and how I’ll keep doing it.”
  13. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    I'm thrilled to be getting more on Zia's background, as I'd been curious ever since the first installment what form her "splintered," "torn-up," "bare" journey might take (those are quotes from the poem on which the first one was based, of course). Thanks for showing us a side of the SW underworld that we don't often see. It of course stands to reason that that sector of the universe is filled with people like Zia just trying to scrape by under difficult (if not near-impossible) circumstances, but they are all too often simply rendered invisible in favor of more thrilling, romantic underworld denizens like smugglers and bounty hunters (I've been guilty of that myself). The fact that Zia is a failed Jedi adds an extra dimension of urgency and pathos, especially given that her baby seems very likely to be Force-sensitive too; the way she seems to be drawing energy and encouragment from his motions suggests that too ([hl=black]and I think I have a guess about who that child might be...[/hl] [face_thinking]).

    I may have said this in my review of the previous installment, but I'll say it again: it's fantastic that you're addressing the issue of failing the Trials. I don't think I've seen that touched on in fanfic before, but in a setup like the Old Jedi Order it's bound to happen at least sometimes. Another "invisible" group of people whom you're helping be visible. :)

    And the whole concept of a Snivvian named Pierrot is just so cool, especially one with eyeglasses. :cool: Hey, there's an idea for a very, very esoteric fan art project of some sort: commedia dell'arte characters imported into the SW universe... :D

    Will there be more? I'm curious to see where Zia will go next—somewhere where she'll be treated better, I hope.
  14. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
  15. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014


    Other than that, Finds pretty much said all I wanted to say, including the bit that's blacked out. If that is indeed true, then I really, really wonder if the secret was eventually revealed and how does that tie in to the other Chevor stories, where he's older. This also gives a whole new twist to the first name Zia.

    Not to mention the whole concept of mere mortals, people with realistic flaws and people who actually fail but don't become number 1 bad guys - I love it.

    Eagerly awaiting for more and sorry for my late-ish replies.
  16. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
  17. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Zia is much younger here, but one can already see some of the hard-won brand of wisdom that she shows in the later meeting with Chevor. It's not a simple thing and she's not necessarily at equilibrium with her past (as we see in her later life), but she has the ability to act decisively in the here and now. =D= The fate of the "failed Jedi" was always something that bothered me from the prequel era, and this is an interesting take on how that might play out for some. Surely not everyone who flunked could easily resign themselves to the (seemingly, at least from what we know) limited options available and Zia's difficult path sounds very plausible.

    (Side note, but I may not always have the brains available to make an intelligent comment -- but I always "like" things sincerely. You've got a unique take on the GFFA that I really enjoy reading. :))
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  18. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    Zia has grit and perserverence without it ever sliding over to the condescending "spunky." She's a tough survivor. It must be incredibly difficult to make it so far and not pass the trials. What do you do when you have spent your whole life acquiring a skill set that sets you above mere mortals, but then it's decided that they don't really want you on their playground after all?

    I really enjoy this story and all the thought-provoking insights it generates. Plus your writing is always lovely. So glad to see it continued!
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  19. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
  20. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Well, I came to the party late and everyone who was here before me has already said everything I wanted to say, and then your answers were so detailed that I'm running out of questions... So other than saying that I'm on board for whatever comes next, I'll also add that only you could come up with the idea of a failed Padawan becoming a cook in a late-night diner on Coruscant. It's really an extraordinary character you created there, complete with the context that's necessary for her to exist -- a Jedi Order that hasn't got much to do, that's resting on its laurels waiting for the next big challenge but somehow expecting it won't come, and one tough, ambitious woman choosing to walk away from them, even if she doesn't know what the outside world has in store for her. At the same time, I really enjoyed how "normal" this outside world is in both instalments of your story -- it's not the scum and villainy of Jabba's Palace, just the normal world of those who struggle to get by.

    I guess my main compliment is how well thought-out this story is. There isn't a word too much, nothing is missing, it's consistent, it's coherent, and it's extremely rich in detail to create a very unique world. I'm officially impressed (although I can't say I'm surprised, I've seen you do it in other stories too).
    Quick, someone come up with more challenges so that we get the next chapter soon! :p

    PS: I love your current sig by the way. Every time I see "Fics currently running at the nearest Outer Rim drive-in" it makes my day.
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  21. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
  22. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
    480.3 BBY, Coruscant

    Chevor returned to Yoma’s a week after his initial encounter with Zia; rather than wandering into the restaurant in the long stretch of hours before dawn, he arrived at the reasonable hour of midnight. Their first conversation lasted for over two hours, and he realized there was far more to discuss with the former padawan-turned-waitress than his progress in the Trials of Knighthood. Something unspoken resonated between them in that first encounter, and left Chevor wondering about a matter he’d pushed deep into his unconscious long ago.

    It was a series of disjointed images that used to keep him awake when the other younglings in the Bear Clan were asleep. While they dreamed of battling monsters and discovering secret tunnels underneath the Jedi Temple, Chevor was haunted by the image of a brunette wearing a small gold knotted rose charm around her neck. After meeting Zia in the restaurant, he felt the image of that knotted rose was somehow connected to her…but he couldn’t figure out the correlation.

    So he was back in the restaurant looking for answers, although he didn’t know the precise nature of the question. The restaurant was a little more populated at the wandering hour, filled with a group of young partygoers seated in a private room in the back and a handful of solitary beings hunched over their plates and cups in other booths scattered throughout the dining area. A robot waitress with claw feet wandered between the other booths while Zia sat in the same place where their first discussion had occurred. A large pot of freshly brewed kahve and a white mug sat in front of her, while a platter of cubed bantha flank surrounded by some green stalked vegetables plus the ubiquitous pink lettuce and a chilled blue smokeglass bottle sat on the other side near the empty side of the booth he slid into.

    There was a comfortable silence for about fifteen minutes, during which Chevor began eating while Zia sat across from him pouring sugar into her kahve then using a spoon to stir liquid and sweetener together.

    The quiet was broken when Zia picked up the mug of kahve and took a quick gulp. “You might not like finding out the history of your birth parents.”

    Chevor nearly swallowed a large piece of bantha flank. So that was what he wanted to ask. Somehow Zia could read his mind and find that question without any obvious effort. “How would I know the identities of the people who gave me to the Jedi?” He took a drink of water that didn’t come from the municipal system but a chilled bottle of R’alla imported from the Corporate Sector. It seemed like a kind gesture born from some overeager desire to please him with the hopes of receiving a large tip. But after Zia sat down with kahve and began her conversation with questions about his parentage, Chevor realized her kindly gesture emanated from something else…perhaps a repressed motherly instinct?

    Zia chewed her bottom lip. “There’s always something hidden while you’re alive.”

    Chevor picked up his napkin and wiped away some meat dripping from his chin. “That’s why I’m curious to know how any padawan could find out the names of their birth parents.”

    “You do know there are profiles on everyone who lives and works in the Temple?”

    “But you don’t know anyone who could access those files.”

    “Not anyone with the necessary clearance.”

    “Didn’t your master used to work in the Archives?”

    “Yes, for many years until he was finally pushed into getting me as his apprentice.”

    “Do you think he could have found some method to access your data?”

    “Aduman isn’t a slicer. Once he began teaching me his access codes would have been changed.”

    Zia laughed. “It’s funny how little you both really know about each other.” She took another swallow of kahve then said, “That’s always been true ever since the first master and padawan were paired together.”

    “What am I supposed to know about Master Nical? And what is he supposed to know about me?”

    “Perhaps he does possesses knowledge of certain illegal activities which gives him random access to protected records. The names of your birth parents, where you were born, your blood type, midichlorian count¾”

    “So he does know something about me.” Chevor bit his upper lip. “More than I know about myself.”

    “You need answers, just like your master. Just like me twenty years ago on Doun Yeepine.” Zia finished the remainder of kahve in her mug. “I needed to stop listening to my own resentment, because that was the only true emotion pushing me from day to year.”

    Chevor smiled. “You had to listen to the Force again.”

    Zia nodded. “It was ten years since I last got in touch with the voice of the cosmos.”

    “What does losing your connection feel like?” Chevor placed his knife and fork on the quarter slice of bantha flank and accompanying vegetables that remained on his plate.

    “How about I tell you what it feels like getting back in touch with the Force?” Zia leaned back into the leatherette upholstery of the booth seat. “It was like switching on a flood lamp in the middle of a cave.”

    Chevor imagined a younger Zia standing in the midst of a dark cavern, then being surrounded by a sudden flowering of intense golden light. A Jedi’s existence was bound within their link to the Force. Every corpuscle and nerve vibrated with unspoken voices between the recipient and its source. Making the decision to cut oneself away from the guidance of the Light was drastic, yet it was Zia’s only salvation once she left the Jedi Order. “How did you get the connection back?”

    “It literally came out from the shadows.”

    “Something happened to you?”

    Zia shrugged. “It was a random encounter that could’ve turned violent if the old tingles didn’t kick back in.” She looked over at Zeebee, who had watched them from his post behind the grill. “Cook me up some wheatcakes.” Then she looked at Chevor. “This is going to be another little story within a big story.”
  23. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
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  24. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Glad to see not only the story continuing, but also the conversation between Chevor and Zia, and to see it entering some even deeper and more fraught territory.

    One of my favorite moments was Chevor's double take at Zia's no-doubt-Force-related ability to anticipate his questions, and not just for the food details (gosh, swallowing a whole big piece of bantha sounds painful!). It reminded me of the double-takes Dr. Watson sometimes had when Sherlock Holmes anticipated things he was about to say or do. But it's got added impact in this case: Watson knows Holmes's deductive abilities are pretty much a constant, but I could see where Chevor might get the mistaken impression that Zia wouldn't have enough Force ability left to do that kind of thing anymore, whether from lack of practice or the "loss of connection" or anything else. But in this conversation they ultimately gain a connection to each other, because they realize they're both looking for answers.

    Loved too her point about how little Chevor and his teacher really know each other. That comes through in the films, too, and there's definitely almost a feeling in the Jedi Order of this period that teachers and students aren't supposed to know much about each other.

    Also, maybe this is because I'm a sap, but it's very heartening somehow to see that it's not the Force itself that Zia has lost touch with—just the current Jedi Order's way of following it. I like how she generally seems much less jaded in this chapter than in the very first (not to say that wasn't very effectively written), and I'm looking forward to her story of how that floodlamp came on in that cave for her. At the same time, it's refreshing to see Chevor less callow now, not mindlessly toeing the Jedi line so much (though, again, you did a great job with that in chapter 1). So they're meeting each other halfway, in a way.

    Please do tag me on updates, and I don't mind if they're few and far between. It may sometimes take me a bit to comment because of real life and all, but that doesn't mean I'm not enjoying the read. :)
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  25. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    For a failed padawan, Zia doesn't seem to be doing too bad with the Force -- apparently she was waiting for him even though she didn't know he was coming, did I get that right? And she was also able to pick up on his thoughts.

    A lot of irony in the layers of meaning in this chapter -- Chevor's master isn't necessarily the only one who knows something about him that he doesn't, is he? But then, I'm not clear yet if she's aware of it herself.

    Are you going to continue with this format of one chapter in the present, one in the past? I'm really enjoying it so far. There's something very theatrical to it -- like scenes from a two-character play to introduce a person's backstory.

    I forgot to mention in my previous review that in French, Pierrot doesn't necessarily refer to the character from commedia dell'arte but is just a common diminutive of Peter (Pierre), especially in a working-class environment. It was a great interpretation you gave there with the Snivvian and one I didn't expect at all!
    I'm watching the thread anyway, so don't worry about me -- I'll be reading and reviewing as soon as DRL allows every time you post [:D]
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