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Saga - OT Outsiders | Drama/adventure | Eli Vanto, Vah’nya, Thrawn, Ezra, Ar’alani, OC | Epic, 5 ABY & beyond

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Chyntuck, Jul 1, 2021.

  1. Mira_Jade

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

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    First off, I have to give my apologies for falling behind on this, even as I applaud you for all the awesome events you've posted since the last time I checked in. Wow, but this is quite the tale, and I am enjoying every word. =D=

    So, picking up where I left off . . .

    [face_laugh] This was absolutely adorable. Everything about this scene with Eli and Vah'nya was adorable, and I loved it. [face_love]

    What a gorgeous look at the way these two are bound together through Vah'nya sight - or should I say the way her sight takes root and draws strength from the bond that already exists between them - even when Vah'nya is very clearly grappling with no few small emotions. In more ways than one!

    YAAAAAS! Get your man, Vah'nya. [face_love] [face_love]

    And, speaking of . . . [face_mischief]

    Oh Ezra. This was just heartbreaking. No matter the needs must of war, life is life, and those he has taken understandably weight on Ezra immensely. =((

    Goosebumps! I enjoyed every bit of Ezra and Thrawn being reluctant but committed allies of circumstance -

    - in their words. Or Thrawn's words, at least. :p

    Ar'alani! Never stop being you. [face_laugh] [face_mischief]

    This was a beautiful distinction, and so very Thrawn-esque in its expression! Really, in the end, that's all that needs to be said for Ar'alani's objections beyond the obvious that Eli and Vah'nya have already spelled out.


    I stopped my reading there for today, but I will be back to leave feedback for the next two chapters - and subsequent events you may post - soon! Thanks so much for sharing this truly top-notch collection with us, once again. :D =D=
     
  2. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you for the reviews and thanks to everyone who stopped by to read!
    Thanks! I wanted to show the other side of Eli in this chapter. When this story starts, he's still a bit unsure about his place among the Chiss, but when it comes to work he's a serious professional.
    Thank you and welcome to this story [:D] Eli and Vah'nya are my new OTP, I hope I can contaminate you with it :D
    Thanks! As I said above, Eli is on familiar terrain now that he's dealing with Imperials, and he can show them politely yet efficiently who's boss – and he understands things about Thrawn that the other Imperials never understood because he's the only Human who actually knows Thrawn and understands his motivations. He also knows that Thrawn makes "allies of circumstance", especially in circumstances such as these, whereas the Imperials in general tend to be more rigid – and they would be pissed off at working together with a Jedi, wouldn't they? Also, as you'll see in a later "memories" chapter, Ezra didn't make it easy for anyone to work with him, but let's see first how this reluctant alliance came to be.

    Thanks so much for the extensive review! I realise that I'm posting a bit faster than I should on this story, but I want to include all my Olympics bits before the end of August, and I firmly intend to take two internet-free weeks when I go on holiday, so I'm having to rush things a bit.
    Hehe! I really enjoyed writing this bit, as you can probably imagine. Vah'nya is on her home turf here, and being a disproportionately old sky-walker she's had plenty of time to reflect on her status and the place she wants for herself, so of course she'd be the one proposing to Eli who is still plagued with doubts. Plus, I've always wanted to write a marriage proposal where the woman takes the initiative :D
    And of course, Thrawn being Thrawn, he'd know how to take advantage of it!
    And now you know why I love writing Ar'alani. Quite frankly this must be her most Ar'alani-esque moment in what I have written so far.
    :) The Thrawn from this continuity is different from Legends-Thrawn in that he's clueless about politics, so he doesn't measure the extra degree of difficulty that Eli and Vah'nya's marriage places on the fleet's situation. It's all well and fine that he measures Eli's value as an individual and as a military commander, and this is something Ar'alani knows too, but he won't be the one dealing with the fallout... or maybe he will? Just read on!
    Thank you!

    Thanks again to reviewers, readers and lurkers! On to the next chapter. "Memories II" is coming right up.
     
  3. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    This chapter was written as an entry for my Thrawn & Ezra Pentathlon in the 2021 Fanfic Olympics. It includes the Prime Time Coverage (500+ words of action, adventure, or excitement with your chosen character, friendship, family or couple as the star) and the Fantastical Fencing (a story of at least a 100 words involving your character, family, friendship or couple in which something fantastical happens.)

    Memories II

    [Pentathlon - Prime Time Coverage]

    Really, Ezra Bridger wondered as he hung on for dear life when the umpteenth explosion rocked the assault shuttle, really, someone had to explain to him how he’d let Thrawn talk him into this. A week ago, he’d been trying to kill the grand admiral and destroy his fleet. Now he was running a mission for him.

    And on this mission, he had the assistance of a company of stormtroopers who most likely wanted him dead.

    He chanced a glance at the man sitting in the pilot seat at his side – Major Carvia, he thought it was. The stormtrooper commander was manoeuvering the craft adroitly across the battlefield. His face was hidden under his helmet but the sense that emanated from him was ominous. “Are you going to kill me?” he asked.

    “I’d love to,” Carvia said coldly. “But the admiral told me not to, so I won’t. And I won’t let the Grysks do it for me either, if I can help it.”

    “You need not worry about any of the Chimaera’s crew, Jedi Bridger,” Thrawn’s voice came over Ezra’s earpiece. “None of us will turn on you. Our common enemy is the Grysks, and a formidable enemy they are. Stop fretting and focus on the task at hand.”

    The Grysk flagship was straight ahead, her hangar bay gaping open like a maw. Three TIE Defenders slipped past the troop transport, releasing a barrage of missiles before arcing away. The viewport filled with the flash of an explosion. “Enemy flagship magnetic gate down,” a female voice said over the comm. “Shuttle Ansion, you are clear to land.”

    “Showtime,” Ezra muttered under his breath.

    “Do not stray from the parameters of your mission, Jedi Bridger,” Thrawn said. “Your sole purpose is to rescue the children. This fleet will buy you time, but we must leave this area as soon as we can.”

    The teenager looked at his hands. He was gripping the weapon that Thrawn had given him like a lifeline. “My understanding is that your lightsaber pike, while old, is fully functional,” Thrawn said, as if he were able to read his thoughts. “If so, it will repel both lightning blasts and pellets. Be alert. There will be doomsday devices planted around the ship. The children you will rescue will help you anticipate them before they can be brought to bear on you.”

    Carvia crash-landed the Ansion in the Grysk hangar and leapt out of his seat. He grabbed his E-11, dropped a blaster pistol in Ezra’s lap and waved for him to unstrap. “Move, move, move! We’re sitting mynocks here!”

    The stormtroopers were already scattering around the shuttle when Ezra and the major came running out. “Platoons aurek and besh, hold this position. Anything comes your way, blow it to smithereens. Everyone else, follow the Jedi. We get the hostages, we come back and we’re out.”

    A flash of lightning flared across the hangar bay, dropping the trooper to his left. Dozens of broad-shouldered aliens with deep-set eyes, angled brow ridges and a tapered skull poured through the blast doors. They all appeared to be armed to the teeth. Ezra ignited the lightsaber pike and charged.

    “Jedi Bridger, do what you do,” Thrawn’s voice came once more over the earpiece. “This is, as they say, your show.”


    * * *

    [Pentathlon - Fantastical Fencing]

    A naval battle is not unlike a game of shah-tezh. The pieces are laid on the demesne and the players seek to manipulate, outwit and outmanoeuvre each other with a goal of eliminating their opponent. This can be achieved in two manners: either by removing all of their pieces, or by cutting off the head.

    This particular game is different in several ways. Neither player was aware that it was due to begin. The board is set disproportionately in favour of one opponent, but the other has an unexpected piece infiltrating the enemy’s den. The Grysk armada is tearing relentlessly into the fleet with its lightning weapons, yet it is about to lose the assets on whom its future depends.

    The assault shuttle exits the enemy flagship and drives hard for the Chimaera. It jolts and jerks wildly to slip between the blasts.

    Major Carvia, report.

    Mission successful, sir,” Carvia says over the loudspeaker. “The hostages are on board. We –

    An explosion throws the shuttle off track.

    Give me the controls,” the Jedi snaps. “Man the guns. I’ll get us out of this.

    There is a millisecond of silence at the end of the line. “Trust Ezra Bridger’s instincts, Major. Jedi reflexes are known to be better than most.

    The shuttle’s flight pattern transitions to slick, fast, exhilarating movement as its guns come to life. Carvia fulfills his role competently, but this is the Jedi’s moment to shine. He must have sunk into the trance of the ozyly-esehembo, viewing the enemy’s moves before they can occur.

    The Grysks are now aware of what they are losing. They reposition their pieces on the board. Their perception, however, remains unchanged since our last encounter: the nearest pawn will be identified as the most grievous threat, even as the Imperator is within reach. A sacrifice must be made.

    Adamant, move forward, half a click.”

    The Arquitens-class cruiser’s commander knows that there will be no returning from this gambit. Yet he moves his ship forward between the purrgils that bounce around aimlessly, threatening to throw him off his projected course. The Adamant becomes the point of focus for the Grysks’ fire and soon dissolves into incandescent dust.

    “The assault shuttle has landed, sir,” Hangar Master Xoxtin says over the intercom. “We are now recovering the last of the Adamant’s escape pods.

    And no more gravity cylinders that I can see,” Commander Hammerly calls from her station. “Six have been captured, the rest have been destroyed. We are clear to jump.

    We can’t,” Lieutenant Agral says grimly. “Our hyperdrive is offline.

    The Seventh Fleet faces annihilation if we remain here. The solution at hand is hardly safer, but it will have to suffice. “Jedi Bridger, you are expected on the command deck.

    He’s on his way, sir,” Carvia says over the intercom. “He boarded a turbolift minutes ago.

    A few more agonising moments, and the Jedi is here. “Your pet purrgils brought us in, Jedi Bridger. If we are to survive, they must guide us out.

    Are you crazy, sir?” Hammerly shouts. “With respect,” she adds as an afterthought. “Those beasts might kill us all.

    They might, Commander. They just might. If we stay here, however, the Grysks certainly will.

    The Jedi is already focusing, his hand reaching towards the purrgils. He waves it in the air, as if summoning cosmic forces, and the creatures coalesce into a circle around the fleet. Within seconds, their tentacles wrap around the bow of the Chimaera, and the black sky outside melts into a flash of light.

    ---------------------

    Endnotes


    Lightsaber pike – since Thrawn has a Jedi Temple Guard helmet in his office in Rebels, I assumed he would also have one of those.
    Thrawn: Treason establishes that the Grysks use lightning and pellet weapons and that they plant doomsday devices aboard their ships to self-destruct rather than be captured.
    Shah-tezh is a game similar to chess. The board is called the demesne and the Imperator is the equivalent to the king.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2021
  4. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Love the irony of this realization. :)

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend. :pGood strategy, but I hope Ezra watches his back.

    Way to take control Ezra! :D

    Excellent, as always Chyn!=D=
     
  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Prime Time Coverage-- super details about Ezra thinking "what have I gotten myself into"? The exchange with Carvia and Thrawn ... very much shows that they recognize their duty and Ezra's usefulness in this battle situation, as he aptly proves throughout especially in Fantastical Fencing, which is marvelous in the analogy to a chess-like game and the quick use of the purrgils; glad they were handy. ;) Otherwise the pesky hyperdrive would've trapped them there.
     
    AzureAngel2 and Chyntuck like this.
  6. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Ezra sure is usefull and with hope that he will stay alive and using purrgils to escape
     
  7. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you for the reviews JediMaster_Jen, WarmNyota_SweetAyesha and earlybird-obi-wan :)
    Thanks! I had to explain at some point how Ezra and Thrawn became "allies of circumstance", didn't I? And of course, that would involve Thrawn arm-twisting Ezra, because that's what he does.
    Well, as you'll see in the next chapter, he didn't ever stop watching his back for the next five years. It must have been exhausting.
    Thanks! I especially enjoyed writing Ezra's interaction with Carvia. I mean, Thrawn knows exactly what Ezra is capable of and he's more flexible to adjust to the needs of the new situation. Carvia just follows Thrawn, but I wanted to have a bit where Ezra grows on him – first he would like to kill him but doesn't, then he doesn't trust him to pilot the assault shuttle but hands over to him, and by the time they're back on the Chimaera he knows to send him back straight to the bridge because he might be needed there. He's a real Imperial and he's a bit rigid, but he gets it.
    Thank you! As you've already seen in previous chapters, Ezra and Thrawn will definitely survive this extra purrgil jump, but in what condition the Chimaera will be after it is an entirely different issue [face_devil]

    Thanks again for the reviews and thanks to the readers and lurkers! Next chapter coming up straight away.
     
  8. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Chapter 5

    The next few weeks went by in a blur. Every morning, Eli and Vah’nya boarded a shuttle that took them to the Chimaera, which was now surrounded by barges whose technicians sought to repair the worst of the damage she had sustained. The information provided by Commander Hammerly showed that the Star Destroyer held in her storage areas most of the materials that were needed to achieve this – Thrawn had cannibalised his fleet for parts as the ships failed one after the other, but had been in no position to effectively use the salvaged equipment for lack of adequate docking facilities. The Chiss techs welded back the Chimaera’s armour, repaired her sensors and restored her guns, tweaking her in the process to retrofit her with Chiss weapons in addition to the Imperial ones she still had. The Star Destroyer’s shield generator, however, was dead and gone, and those that had been recovered from the cruisers couldn’t possibly service a ship so large. It was agreed that a new one would have to be procured in the future; in the meantime, Senior Captain Cinsar came up with a clever way to rig electrostatic barriers onto the hull. It would take a long time to effect the necessary repairs, but all indications were that the Chimaera would ultimately become the addition to the fleet that Ar’alani had been hoping for.

    Eli’s first order of business was to nurse the Imperial crew back to health, and it seemed that, as fast as the Lifeline churned out nopa beans and algae, no amount of those could satiate the famished Humans’ hunger for solid, nutritious food. Having conferred with Mid Commander Laknym, who was in charge of the agro-ship, they decided that an expansion module should be obtained. Admiral Ar’alani shifted her plans for a raid from a mid-sized Ufsa family military depot to a larger one owned by the Irizi, and soon the Lifeline had acquired two more levels, enabling her to increase and diversify her production. The raid further yielded a resupply of plasma spheres and breacher missiles, as well as three escape pods to replace some that had been lost by various ships of the fleet.

    For the first two weeks Thrawn remained aboard the Steadfast where the Chiss medics did their best to rehabilitate his wounded leg while he, for his part, did everything in his power to drive them raving mad. Admiral Ar’alani had to call him to task several times for disrupting the routines of the medical bay, until Eli was able to propose a solution. Vah’nya had downloaded from the flagship’s library every last bit of available data about the art collected by the Chiss Ruling Families, and it was agreed that Thrawn could spend the rest of his recovery in his quarters aboard the Star Destroyer in order to meditate and plan for the future under the strict condition that he would rest and recuperate. A full month later, Eli and Vah’nya still laughed at the memory of Ar’alani’s expression when she had come to negotiate Thrawn’s discharge with the medics. She had addressed him as if he were little more than an unruly toddler, and the young couple had found it highly entertaining to see him cowering under her stern gaze. Once he moved back to his quarters, they got into the habit of dropping by to see him in the evening every now and then before boarding the shuttle that took them back to the Steadfast. More often than not, they found him sitting in the penumbra and staring at a holo display of Chiss works of art. A few weeks into his recovery, an ever-growing pile of sheets of parchment bearing colourful sketches appeared on one end of his desk, but Eli knew better than to ask. They simply sat there for a few minutes and left once they were satisfied that he was not overexerting himself.

    As Eli roamed the hallways of the Chimaera day after day in what seemed like an endless endeavour to bring the ship back to combat status, he became better acquainted with the crew. He ran into a few familiar faces from his own time aboard the ship – Major Carvia was still in charge of the stormtroopers, and the weapons’ officer, Senior Lieutenant Pyrondi, was back on duty soon after her first proper meal. However, it was clear that the Star Destroyer was now staffed by a hotchpotch of personnel borrowed from the various ships that had made up the Seventh Fleet. There were troopers who used to be hangar techs and tractor beam operators who had been janitors. Eli was tempted to organise training drills in order to improve their performance, but Admiral Ar’alani insisted that he wait. It was unclear how many of the Imperials would be willing to serve alongside the Chiss military, and they had agreed to take the temperature before drawing up their plans.

    A morning finally came when Captain Pellaeon, who had been on the brink of death when the Star Destroyer arrived in the Haven, was able to take up his role as the Chimaera’s first officer once more. Commander Hammerly spoke very highly of him – she told Eli that he had been ceding half of his rations to members of the crew who looked particularly famished, thus leading to his own near-demise – but warned that he was an Imperial through and through. She escorted Eli to the captain’s office, keyed the door open to allow him in, gave a crisp salute and left.

    Eli found himself facing an older, rigid-looking, moustachioed man. “Captain Pellaeon. A pleasure to meet you at last.”

    The older man nodded sternly. “Commander Vanto.”

    Eli forced a smile. Things were off to a bad start. It was painfully obvious what his counterpart was doing, and he didn’t like it one bit. “I’m afraid I don’t answer to that name and rank anymore, Captain.”

    Pellaeon glanced at a datapad on his desk. “Our records indicate that you served as a commander on this very ship six years ago.”

    “Your records no doubt also indicate that I went missing from this ship six years ago, which makes it a safe bet that I am no longer a commander in the Imperial Navy,” Eli replied quietly. He squared his shoulders and held his head a notch higher in a stance that held just enough authority to indicate that he was Pellaeon’s equal. “You may address me as Mid Captain Eli’van’to. Captain Ivant for short.”

    The Imperial eyed him carefully, as if unsure how to proceed. Eli decided not to give him a choice. “I am the Chiss Expansionary Defence Fleet’s liaison to the Chimaera, Captain. If you wish to have any liaison at all, I propose that we do away with the verbal jousting and focus on the issues of concern.”

    This was obviously not the tone Pellaeon had expected from the younger man. “And if I choose to appoint a different liaison?” he asked haughtily.

    Eli allowed himself a smile. “I expect that Admiral Ar’alani would have something to say about it, but by all means feel free to ask her yourself.” He gestured towards the comm device on the Imperial’s desk and took a step towards the door. “I’ll wait outside. Or are we done with the bluster?”

    Pellaeon lowered himself on his chair. He clearly realised that he had lost this round, but he still didn’t invite Eli to sit. “Very well, Captain Ivant. Could you bring me up to speed?”

    The young man allowed himself another smile and stood a little taller. He placed a datacard on the desk. “Here is the report that I prepared together with Commander Hammerly. Our tech crews made good progress while you were in recovery. The Chimaera is mostly operational by now. Our major pending issues are some sections of the hull that require padding up as well as the need for an adequate shield generator. The main bridge is currently being retrofitted with hybrid Chiss-Imperial technology to enable better communication and coordination with the rest of the fleet. It took our engineers some time to figure out the plugins, so that aspect of the repairs is a little behind.”

    “That’s a lot of effort for something we won’t be needing once we’re back in Imperial space.”

    Eli braced himself. He hadn’t expected to break this particular bit of news to his counterpart so soon, but the conversation appeared to have taken a wrong turn and he might as well get along with it. “The Chimaera will not be returning to Imperial space.”

    “What?”

    “The Chimaera will not be returning to Imperial space,” Eli repeated. “This is not up for discussion,” he continued when he saw that Pellaeon was about to protest. “The Chiss Expansionary Defence Fleet is keeping this ship.”

    Pellaeon’s face twisted into a scornful frown. “You’re no more than a pirate gang if you do such a thing.”

    Eli shrugged. “I won’t even try to argue your point. We repaired the Chimaera. We’re keeping her.” He paused and added, “However, we won’t insist on keeping her crew.”

    His tone was so cold that a shiver ran down Pellaeon’s spine. “What are you implying, Mid Captain? Are you going to kill us all unless we comply?”

    A flash of lightning crossed the young man’s eyes. “The CEDF may be pirates, Captain Pellaeon, but we are not murderers quite yet. You will organise a consultation with the crew of the Chimaera. Those who wish to do so are welcome to return to Lesser Space. I have no doubt that some will elect to stay and fight with us – those who understand that a terrible threat is looming in these parts, and that it must be confronted before it sweeps over the Galaxy at large.”

    Pellaeon chewed his lip for a moment. “What of our prisoner?” Eli arched an eyebrow. “The Jedi,” Pellaeon spat. “He might have defeated us at first, but he is now a prisoner of the Empire.”

    Eli scoffed. “A prisoner who, as I understand it, kept you alive by navigating your ship out of trouble for five years. You hardly have authority over his fate.”

    “The Jedi are enemies of the Empire,” Pellaeon pressed.

    “That may be so. Jedi Bridger, however, is in no way an enemy of the Chiss Ascendancy. We will treat him as a neutral party – like yourself, I may add. Our preference is that he remains here to teach the sky-walkers, but he is free to leave if he so decides.”

    The Imperial’s eyes flashed with anger. “You’re not just a pirate,” he snapped. “You’re a traitor.”

    Eli allowed for an ominous silence as he straightened his stance a little more. He was now towering above the Imperial, who must have been regretting his decision to sit at his desk. “I am an officer of the Chiss Expansionary Defence Fleet,” he said calmly. “This is where my loyalties lie. I am here to speak in the name of my fleet and my people. Our position is that neither the Empire nor the Jedi are our enemies. I would advise you to not give us reason to believe otherwise – not now, not ever.” Pellaeon went to speak, but the young man preempted him. “Let us both return to our duties, Captain. You insulted me enough for a single conversation. I will accept your apology when you are ready to make it. In the meantime, since you are in such a hurry to take your leave from this fleet, get started on that consultation with your crew.”

    Pellaeon rose to his feet. He was visibly furious. “I am not your subordinate, Mid Captain.”

    “You are no more my subordinate than I am yours,” Eli replied with superb indifference. “However, my fleet does not depend on you for survival, nor does my crew require your assistance to return to their homeworlds and families. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have many pressing matters to attend to. Your wounded pride isn’t one of them.”

    He showed himself out and let out a sigh when the door slid shut behind him. Until now, the reaction of the Chimaera’s crew to the presence of someone who was, for all practical purposes, an Imperial deserter among the ranks of the Chiss had been, at worst, one of perplexity that they had quickly overcome. Even committed Imperials such as Carvia had been so relieved to see a friendly face that they had overlooked Eli’s unorthodox trajectory without a second thought. Pellaeon’s open hostility was, no doubt, going to be an issue during the consultation with the crew, and Eli needed to figure out precisely how much of a problem it might turn out to be. He pondered the matter for a moment and realised that his conversation with the Imperial captain had pointed him in the direction of the one unbiased person who could clue him in.

    He’d been so busy over the past several weeks that he hadn’t had time to visit the sky-walkers’ section, and he had been relying on Vah’nya’s reports to keep him up to date. He knew that, together with Ezra Bridger, they had reorganised the children in groups in order to give them a semblance of an education. The Jedi had done his best during the five years when he had cared for them on his own, but, being himself a Human from Lesser Space, he hadn’t been able to teach them anything about Chiss culture or the Cheunh language. Vah’nya had drafted the older sky-walkers whose Sight had mostly faded to act as instructors for the younger ones. This approach had enabled them to make some progress in Cheunh literacy, although it came with its own set of problems, as the teenagers had been removed from Chiss society for so long that their formal knowledge was lacking. Still, it was better than nothing, and the silence that reigned in the repurposed secondary storage deck when Eli arrived was a clear indication that classes were going on.

    He found his wife sitting in the small office that had been established for her off the recreation area. She was poring over an array of questises that made his head spin. “How is your day going?” he asked.

    She looked up. “No disaster so far. Yours?”

    He crossed his arms over his chest, leaned against the office wall and sighed. “Well, I suppose that my first conversation with Captain Pellaeon could have come to blows.”

    Vah’nya arched an eyebrow. “Who won the argument?”

    “I did.”

    She tilted her head to the side and observed him for a moment. “You’ve changed, you know,” she said. “You changed when Mitth’raw’nuruodo returned. It’s almost as if he flipped a switch within you. You’re more confident now. More assertive.”

    Eli blushed a little. “Is that a good or a bad thing?”

    She cracked one of those smiles that made his heart melt. “I like it. Confidence looks good on you, Mid Captain Eli’van’to.”

    He smiled back and took a step towards her when there was a shuffle of feet outside the office. A man appeared in the doorframe. “Vah’nya?… Oh, hello, Mid Captain,” Ezra Bridger said brightly in Cheunh. “It looks like we lost the escape artist again. You didn’t see her by any chance, did you?”

    “Who?”

    “Al’ahae,” Vah’nya sighed. “You know, the little one who took a liking to you. She has a mind of her own; she keeps leaving this section and going out into the ship.”

    “Where is she going?”

    The Jedi raised his hands palms upwards in a gesture of surrender. “Beats me. When we ask her, she says she was with her friend.”

    Eli gave Vah’nya a worried look. “Should we go looking for her?”

    She shook her head in exasperation. “We should. But there are another 486 children we need to look out for.”

    A small blue face appeared by the door, this one belonging to a girl who was probably eight or nine years old. “Speaking of the devil…” Bridger muttered.

    “Máma Vah’nya?” the child asked. “Can you help us with our lesson? Sun’atis says she can’t teach us. She doesn’t remember.”

    Vah’nya’s expression immediately reverted to kindness and warmth. “Of course, sweetie.” She stood up and took the child’s hand. “Show me the way.”

    Ezra Bridger laughed gleefully as he watched them walk away. “Look at that,” he said, switching to Basic. “Vah’nya Vanto, mother of the sky-walkers.”

    Eli had been trying to compose himself into his formal persona, but at this he couldn’t withhold a chuckle. “Mother of the sky-walkers indeed. Though that would be Eli’vah’nya, if we are to be properly Chiss.” The Jedi looked at him curiously. “That’s how names work around here,” he said as if it were obvious. The other man’s expression shifted to perplexity. “Surely the grand admiral explained this to you.”

    Bridger’s face went blank, as if he were closing himself off. “Thrawn didn’t explain much of anything.”

    It was Eli’s turn to give him a puzzled look. “Well, he taught you Cheunh at least.”

    The Jedi shook his head. “Nope. The kids did.”

    There was an awkward silence. “Anyway, I’m sure you didn’t come here to ask about the lovely time I had on this ship for five years,” Bridger said. “Is there something I can do for you?”

    Eli pondered how to proceed. “I was wondering what you could tell me about Captain Pellaeon.”

    The Jedi shrugged. “He’s an Imperial. I don’t talk to them if I can help it.”

    “So was I,” Eli answered calmly. “Yet you’re talking to me right now.”

    “You’re different,” Bridger protested. “You don’t talk like them, you don’t act like them, you’re not trying to boss me around with dumb ideas you pulled out of your backside. Plus, Vah’nya married you. She’s one of the most amazing people I ever met, so you’ve got to be okay.”

    Eli paused. Maybe he should try a different approach. “I’m glad to hear that you and Vah’nya are getting along well.”

    “That’s probably taking it a bit too far. I really like her. I don’t think she likes me quite as much.”

    Eli studied him for a moment. “Is there anyone else you made friends with aboard this ship, Jedi Bridger?”

    “They’re Imperials,” Bridger retorted sharply.

    It must have been a lonely five years, Eli thought. “They’re not just that, though,” he said, giving his voice a softer inflection. “They’re people.”

    The young Jedi’s eyes flashed. “The Empire bombarded my homeworld,” he said coldly. “The Empire took my parents. The Empire killed my master. The Empire hurt, harmed and maimed more of my friends than I care to count. Don’t expect me to like anyone who serves the Empire, Mid Captain. I’m just here because… how did Thrawn put it? We’re allies of circumstance. I’m here for the kids.”

    “And that is something for which I, and every single member of the Chiss Expansionary Defence Fleet, will be forever grateful, Jedi Bridger,” Eli said with absolute sincerity. “I hope you can understand that we are not your enemies, even if we are de facto in an alliance with the Empire – or, I should say, with Grand Admiral Thrawn.”

    The Jedi snorted scornfully. “You couldn’t have picked a better ally.”

    There was another, heavy silence. Eli decided to change track again. “Captain Pellaeon thinks that you are his prisoner.”

    Bridger laughed out loud. “Now that’s daft. That’s moof-milker daft. He and I and everyone else on this boat are prisoners of the Unknown Regions. We’re up the back end of space with nowhere to go. But when there’s somewhere to go, and that’s bound to happen sooner rather than later… now that the kids are taken care of, I’ll be gone before he can say karabast. Force help him if he thinks he can stop me – or anyone else, for that matter.”

    Eli placed his hand on the younger man’s shoulder and looked him in the eye. “It won’t come to that, Jedi Bridger. The CEDF will take you back to your homeworld. You have my word.”

    At this Bridger couldn’t hide his surprise. “You’ll take me home? Just like that?”

    “Just like that. It’s the least we can do when you spent five years caring for our sky-walkers. As I said, the Chiss are not your enemies. You and I could probably even be friends.”

    The young man lowered his eyes and blushed. “Having a friend would be nice,” he mumbled after a moment. “But I think I’d rather go home.”

    “Let’s settle for temporary friends then, Jedi Bridger. It’ll take quite some time to arrange a trip to Lesser Space anyway; the fleet is overstretched as things are. Until we can organise it…”

    Ezra saw in the corner of his eye that Eli was holding out his hand for him to shake. He looked up. “Temporary friends sounds good,” he said, taking Eli’s hand. “Friends of circumstance,” he added with a chuckle. “But stop calling me stupid names like Jedi Bridger. Just call me Ezra instead.”

    Eli squeezed his fingers and let him go. “I wish I could tell you to call me Eli, Ezra. But for the sake of this fleet, I’m asking you to call me Ivant.”

    ----------------------------

    Endnotes


     
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  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    :* [face_love] :* I LOVE ELI IN THIS! He rocks with Pellaeon and with Ezra. He's confident and doesn't back down on the one hand and is compassionate and candid on the other. He's not going to crowd Ezra or try to make overblown promises or claims. [face_thinking] And LOL who doesn't like Vah'nya? ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2021
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  10. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Ezra and Eli being friends thats great to see. And escaping the medics. That's usual for leading persons and even more for healers.
     
  11. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Excellent! Loved Thrawn acting like a bit of a toddler. =D=
     
  12. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    I'm back! Thank you for the reviews and thanks to everyone who stopped by to read.
    Thanks! This chapter was my favourite bit of writing Eli so far. I really enjoyed depicting his transition from the mildly insecure Human among the Chiss to the more confident young man who has been accepted as one of their own by the woman he loves and the mentor he admires. From this point onward, I intend to have him kicking ass!
    Thank you both! This is the second time I write Thrawn in recovery (the other time was in another fic I wrote a long time ago in a Legends galaxy far, far away) and I just can't shake the idea that he's the sort of person who would drive his healers mad. It kind of comes with the territory of being the boss :p

    Okay, vacation's over. Thanks again to reviewers and lurkers! Next chapter coming up straight away.
     
  13. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    The second part of this chapter was written as a response to the 1500 Word Dash prompt for my Thrawn & Ezra SW pentathlon in the 2021 Fanfic Olympics: a 1500 word story about your character, family, friendship or couple with any theme.

    Memories III

    Ezra didn’t understand. It had been two weeks since the fleet’s encounter with the Grysks. Once the purrgils had dropped them in a quiet area of interstellar space and disappeared, he had been mostly left to his own devices in one of the Chimaera’s secondary storage decks, together with the forty-two rescued children.

    Sure, Imperials came and went. A hangar crew turned up as soon as the children had been transferred to this area and built a neat line of bunk beds. The next day, they were back to install some plumbing. Staff from the kitchens came three times a day to bring their meals. A laundry team appeared one morning – at least, as far as he could tell, it was ship’s morning – and took measurements for the girls. They returned a few days later with child-sized jumpsuits, and they brought along a few protocol droids. Thrawn himself walked in at some point as the dormitory was being set up. He spoke to the girls in what Ezra assumed was their native language, nodded at the Jedi, and left.

    Everyone was acting as if his presence on an Imperial Star Destroyer was the most natural thing in the Galaxy. He’d been allowed to move around and explore the ship unimpeded. He’d been given a comlink, even though he didn’t have anyone to call. Heck, they’d even left him the old lightsaber pike.

    And here he was, sitting amidst a group of Force-sensitive Chiss girls who looked like they’d been through hell and back, and whose language he couldn’t understand.

    In truth, it was rather obvious that the crew didn’t worry that he’d flee or make mischief because there was simply nowhere for him to go. He could just as well look after the kids, who all appeared to need looking after rather badly. As a matter of fact, they seemed to be outright terrified.

    He wasn’t too sure how to approach them, and for the first few days he just sat in a corner and meditated for hours at a time, projecting as much calm and serenity as he could across the room. It didn’t appear to do much, but it wasn’t useless either – he could sense that, more often than not, the constant hubbub died down while he was in his trance, and the youngest children in particular were somewhat soothed by the time he stood up. He observed the girls caring for each other as they made their beds and went to the ‘fresher, and he noticed that some of them had been beaten or flogged. He placed a request for bacta salve when the kitchen staff came over to bring lunch. A mouse droid brought it to him later that afternoon and he took a tentative step towards a twelve-year-old who had emerged as the leader.

    The girl looked at him in the eyes – all the children were suddenly looking at him in the eyes, and he found himself staring into a wall of solid, glowing red – and rattled off something in her mother tongue. He tapped his fingers to his chest and said, “I’m Ezra.” She stared at him wordlessly. “Ezra,” he repeated. He pointed at her. “What’s your name?”

    The girl remained silent. He sighed, held out the tube of salve and mimicked spreading it on his skin. “This is bacta,” he explained, speaking very slowly as if it would help her understand. He gestured towards a younger child who bore scars on her back indicating that she had been whipped with some sort of energy lash. “It will heal her.”

    The girl took the tube and spun on her heel. He sighed again and sat cross-legged on the floor, assuming that the unspoken communion of meditation was still the better option. He had barely closed his eyes when he heard, “Sun’atis”.

    He lifted his eyelids to see that she was standing in front of him again and pointing at herself. He grinned. “Nice meeting you, Sun’atis. Now let’s see how we can communicate.”

    Things improved a little in the following days. The children taught him a few words in Cheunh, and he taught them a few words in Basic. They got into a routine of waking up in the morning, cleaning the dormitory together and sitting down for a group meditation. A bunch of datapads and stationeries somehow materialised outside their door during the night, and a few days later they were brought a crate of grav-balls. Their days acquired a structure, and, while the girls were still rather reluctant around him and he could sense that they didn’t really trust him, they were slowly building a rapport of sorts.

    That was when he received the call.

    He had entirely forgotten about the comlink he’d been given, and it took him a while to realise that the buzz he was hearing was intended for him. He picked the small device from the corner where he had abandoned it and flicked it on.

    “Jedi Bridger, this is Ensign Washeeya,” a male voice said. “Grand Admiral Thrawn would like to see you in his quarters. Do you know your way, or should I come for you?”

    Well it was about damn time, he thought. “I spotted his office, thanks,” he answered. “I’ll be there in ten.”

    The protocol droids that had been assigned to the dormitory had been mostly useless so far, as they weren’t programmed for Cheunh, but they could manage looking after the children in his absence. He gave them instructions, patted Sun’atis’s shoulder to signify that she was in charge, and made his way to the turbolifts.

    [Pentathlon - 1500 Word Dash]

    The door to the grand admiral’s office was open when he arrived there. Thrawn was inside, standing amidst a hologram display of works of art. “Jedi Bridger,” he said. “Please come in.”

    He gestured towards a chair in front of his desk. Ezra ignored him and remained standing. The only reaction he could detect was the merest hint of a shrug, and the admiral spoke again.

    “It seems that your pod of purrgils has taken us coreward from the edge of the Galaxy. We lost our last Dreadnought-class cruiser in the jump and the Star Destroyer Groundlion appears to be beyond repair. Her tech team is currently breaking her up for parts and her crew will be transferred to our remaining ships. Another team is working on bringing our hyperdrive back online. We remain on high alert, of course, in the event that the Grysks should locate us before we can jump again.”

    This didn’t make sense, Ezra thought. None of it made sense. Thrawn was talking to him as if they were… partners or allies. “Why are you telling me this?” he asked. “You’re giving me all the information I need to sabotage your fleet.”

    “Not even you are so much of a rebel buffoon that you would sabotage this fleet, Jedi Bridger,” Thrawn said disdainfully. “If you truly wish for a quick death, now would be a good time to say it. I will be happy to oblige.”

    The man’s insufferable smugness made Ezra’s blood boil. “Would you care to explain what the blazes is going on here?” he asked impatiently. “What are those Grysks you are fighting? And who are the kids?”

    Thrawn eyed him pensively, as if pondering how much to reveal. “The Grysks are a warrior species from these parts. Few among the people of the Chaos have ever seen them. To many they are half-myth. They exert a form of mind control over the peoples they conquer and twist them to their will. The Chiss Ascendancy has been monitoring them for decades. They have subjugated several nations of the Unknown Regions and they had already infiltrated the known Galaxy during the Clone Wars. To the best of my knowledge, their goal is total conquest. It has been argued that they are nomadic, but the art of their client species” – he motioned towards the holo display around them – “indicates otherwise. Our first purrgil-assisted jump seems to have revealed the precise location of their Hegemony.”

    “So they kidnapped children of your kind to blackmail your people into submission?”

    The grand admiral paused. “These are no mere children, Jedi Bridger. They are sky-walkers of the Chiss Ascendancy.”

    “Come again?”

    “They are navigators – children with the gift of foresight, who are able to lead a ship through hyperspace while avoiding the solar storms, the rogue magnetospheres, the black holes and the myriad other anomalies that cause the pathways though these regions to shift constantly. In the absence of individuals with such skills, a nation of the Chaos is confined to its own system and incapable of travel or trade. The ozyly-esehembo are my people’s most valuable assets.”

    Ezra’s temper flared. “They are not assets, Thrawn. They’re people. Children.”

    The Chiss stared at him for a moment. “So they are.” He allowed for a silence. “It is an unfortunate trait of my kind that the Sight – what you call sensitivity to the Force – is present only in children. These particular skills usually fade by the time the sky-walkers reach the age of fourteen. Their existence was the Ascendancy’s best-kept secret. It would seem, however, that knowledge of them was disclosed to the Grysks.”

    Ezra took a few seconds to think. “So they’re taking your ozyly-embese… your sky-walkers to deprive your people of their ability to travel.”

    “Indeed. While, at the same time, building their own capacity to journey across the Chaos and enslave more species as they expand. I assume that a child’s mind would be more malleable and easier to subject to their will.” He paused again and observed the Jedi. “It seems that, under your care, our sky-walkers might find their way to healing. Thank you.”

    Ezra thought back to the vacuum of authority he had been living in for the past two weeks. He remembered the datapads and the stationeries that had turned up seemingly of their own accord. “You’ve been watching us,” he said accusingly. “You have holocams down there.”

    Thrawn shrugged. “Of course I do, Jedi Bridger. As I said, the ozyly-esehembo are of great value to my people. This ship has little to offer them, but it does matter to me that they are provided with the best care there is. Under the current circumstances, this is something that only you can supply.” He paused again and seemed to focus his eyes on the teenager, their glow becoming even more intense. “Furthermore, this fleet will require the sky-walkers’ navigation skills to find its way across the Chaos. These are skills that you must help them develop if we are to survive.”

    Ezra raised a sarcastic eyebrow. “Do you seriously expect me to help you go back to the Empire?”

    “I have no wish to return to the Empire,” Thrawn replied with supreme indifference. “My last conversation with the Emperor left me with the distinct impression that he intends to subjugate my people once he has dealt with your Rebellion.”

    Ezra raised his chin defiantly. “He’ll find that we’re not so easy to deal with.”

    “I am counting on it.”

    The young Jedi was stunned. He scrutinised that impassive blue face for an explanation, and, when none came forth, he reached out with the Force to get a sense of the admiral’s mind. He couldn’t detect anything but complete sincerity. “I don’t believe you,” he said nonetheless. “You serve the Empire. You bombarded Lothal for them.”

    “The Empire was a means to an end, Jedi Bridger,” Thrawn retorted waspishly. “The population of Lothal was a means to an end. None of it would have ever mattered to me if it weren’t to serve my people. None of it matters to me now.”

    He was truly a despicable sentient being, Ezra thought. “You’re proud of yourself, aren’t you? Killing innocent people to serve your own purposes.”

    “I take neither pride nor shame in my actions. They are what they are. I am what I am. I was merely stating a fact. You and your irksome little rebel group were an obstacle in my way. I sought to remove you. Now, however… under these new circumstances, our interests converge.”

    So this was what he was getting at. “How so?”

    “I wish to remain alive to return the ozyly-esehembo to my people. You wish to remain alive to return to your friends.”

    Ezra snorted. “In case you didn’t notice, I was willing to die for my friends.”

    Thrawn smiled. He was obviously confident that he was winning this round. “Please, Jedi Bridger. You may have outsmarted me many a time, but do not think me a fool. Yes, you were willing to die for your friends. But you wish to go back to them and see if your gambit succeeded.”

    The teenager shook his head stubbornly. “I won’t help you.”

    “You already have. You rescued the sky-walkers for me. You have been caring for them tirelessly ever since.”

    Ezra felt that he was being cornered, and he didn’t like it one bit. “I didn’t do it for you, Thrawn,” he snapped. “I did it for them.”

    The grand admiral waved his hand in a way that meant, ‘semantics’. “Jedi Bridger, we are deep in the Chaos here, so deep that this is uncharted territory even for the Chiss. Our ships are failing one after the other and we are hunted down by a terrible, relentless enemy. You cannot survive on your own without this fleet; the fleet cannot find its way back without the navigation skills of the children you rescued; and the children cannot develop their skills without you. We now depend on each other for survival. Believe me when I tell you that I do not like this situation anymore than you do.” He paused once more to look at the young man thoughtfully. “I am offering you a truce. Return to your wards, consider it and come back to me with your answer.”

    Ezra chewed his lip for a moment. “And if I refuse?”

    “Then it is likely that we will all die. I would rather scuttle this entire fleet and kill the children myself than let them fall in the hands of the Grysks.”

    They stared at each other for a few heartbeats. “Why should I trust you?” Ezra asked.

    “I am giving you my word.”

    “The word of an Imperial admiral isn’t worth anything to me.”

    Thrawn raised himself to his full height. “I am not giving you my word as an Imperial, Jedi Bridger. I am giving you my word as a warrior of the Chiss Ascendancy.”

    ---------------------------------------

    Endnotes

    The conversation that Thrawn refers to as indicating that Palpatine intended to subjugate the Chiss takes place at the end of Thrawn: Treason.
     
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  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent and forthright. Thrawn sets out his true loyalties and Ezra has not lost his ability to cut to the main point.
     
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  15. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Great part. Now they have to help with the girls and stay alive
     
  16. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    An interesting alliance has been forged here. Thanks for writing about it and, by doing so, solving some of the mysteries around the whereabouts of Thrawn & Ezra after the purgils swept them away.
     
  17. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2002
    I'm enjoying the relationship between Thrawn and Ezra. Their fragile alliance is compelling. :)