Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Kit', Jun 3, 2020.
@WarmNyota_SweetAyesha is so right: uh-oh indeed! This is going to be a longer journey than expected, and that with all the stresses of sibling arguing and babysitting and lost kiddos who have fallen into the wrong hands! I do hope they are able to get Kei and Taro back safely and that no one will be hurt. Gosh, all I can say is, after all this, that this had better be one absolutely exceptional pet store!
I also have to say, I love the way Nicco is a mini!Del here, both in the way he "fathers" the others ("I will quite happily take all of us home...with no pet store" ) and in the way he faces the Snivvians bravely. And, of course, you know I always enjoy Estra's feisty self! It's wonderful that she too has an interesting shop to look forward to (and also well suited to her interests and talents), but golly, I hope it too is an absolutely exceptional one after all these guys and gals are going through! Great work as always, and I look forward to seeing what's next.
That's definitely one way to put it!
I don't think they're even going to make it to the pet store at this rate...
Nicco just had the moment of hearing your parents words come out of your mouth after telling yourself you'll never be like them.
Estra's the one I'd watch for in a fight to be honest, I haven't written the scene yet - but there is no-way she'd fight fair. Leave your opponent on the ground, and you victorious (running away too - because you ain't silly).
Journey to the Pet Shop – 27 BBY – (10 years and four days) - Part 3
“Is she still asleep?” Kithera asked from where she lay curled on the couch. Del nodded, quietly closing the door behind him.
“It won’t be long though, she’ll be awake soon.” He smiled at her tiredly. “Although part of me feels we both should have used the kids being out of the house, and Quin finally being asleep to get some rest ourselves.”
He felt calmer now that he had before. Maybe it had been the chocolate they shared, or maybe the half bottle of Alderaanian wine that sat on the bench top. Maybe it was because so far no Jedi had stormed in demanding answers and retribution for what he had done all those years ago. Del grimaced to himself. It was definitely the wine. It dulled and slowed his thoughts. It put off, for a while at least, the feelings of guilt and anxiety that had plagued him since they had landed.
“I don’t think either of us could sleep, even if we wanted too,” Kithera said with a slight frown. She uncurled herself and reached out a hand. The hotel issued datapad flew to her fingers.
“Really Rin?” Del asked, raising an eyebrow, “that’s the best use of the Force you can think of?”
She shrugged. Del shook his head. For someone who decried the Jedi’s apparent abuse of their powers on a regular basis, Kit seemed to use them when it suited her. The casual change in the rules often reminded him of Namia and sometimes the two of them were far more alike than they would admit. Then Namia would have admitted, he corrected himself and then stopped. He clenched his jaw. Now was not the time to slide back into introspection and recrimination. Instead he poured two more glasses of wine, watching the dark red liquid swirl around the glass and trying to ignore the tightness of his chest. Satisfied, he turned to see Kithera grinning at him.
“There is no-one around to see my apparent abuse of my powers,” she said with a small shrug.
He realised that she was teasing him as a way of coping. They were both hurting, just for different reasons.
“So I’m no-one?” he asked, making a face and deciding that teasing was easier than sharing secrets.
“You are not making this better my love,” Del said, feigning insult. He staggered across the room, losing himself in the silliness. “I think your words have mortally wounded me.”
“I think being back on Coruscant has changed my gruff pirate into a poncing nobleman,” Kithera shot back.
Kithera scrunched her nose as she grinned at him and started scrolling through the pad.
“What are you up to?”
“Ordering lunch,” Kithera said quietly, a small frown marring her face. She lifted herself up on one elbow. He sat down, putting the glasses of wine on the side table. Kithera grinned up at him as she lay back again so that her head was in his lap. “I am looking forward to treating myself.”
Del shook his head.
Queen’s Amidala’s offer to let them stay in the Royal Naboo apartments had been generous enough, but they could never dream of affording anything from the actual hotel. A trip through the hotel foyer had confirmed that at least.
“We can go out when Quin wakes up,” he said, reaching down to take the datapad off her. His partner was wonderful for many things, but impulse control and thinking of consequences were not part of that. Kithera frowned and snatched it away from his prying fingers. Del sighed.
“We can’t afford anything here, Rin. One meal would be enough to refuel The Lady for a year. How about we wait until Quin wakes up. Then we can leave the hotel and go down some levels. I’m sure some of the eateries I used to visit are still around.”
Sweat was peppering his forehead. Jedi may not be knocking down the door to arrest him, but they’d never be able to leave if they could not pay their debts or fuel The Lady.
“I’m sure they’re not,” Kithera said arching an eyebrow, “or if they are then they’ve poisoned far more people then they should have.”
“Rin, we can’t,” Del said again, exasperated. He reached out to softy stroke a piece of errant hair off her face, as he pushed his feelings to one side.
“We can,” she replied, giving a small sigh. “We aren’t destitute Del. There are ways around everything.”
“We aren’t stealing from the hotel,” Del reminded her, “that was the deal with the kids and it goes for us too. I’m not going to spit on the gift we’ve been given.”
Kithera sat up and glared at him.
“We don’t have to do that either,” she said. “Qwish was very clear about the fact that the Hotel is covering our meals while we stay. It’s part of their charity organisation or something. Basically as long as we don’t go overboard, we can choose what we like. Personally, I think it’s so we don’t bring down the tone of their restaurant but I’m not going to chide them for it.”
Del stared at his partner and shook his head.
“When were you going to let me in on that little secret?” he asked her, taking a sip of the wine. Kithera’s grin widened.
“I was going to wait until you got hungry. I was tempted to send you out and see what dingy little eateries you could find.”
“So what made you give in early?” Del asked.
“I remembered all the dingy little eateries you’d taken me to before on our trips across the galaxy,” Kithera said, her mouth twitching, “and I figured I didn’t want to get food poisoning.”
“Ha!” Del said reaching out again and managing to snag the datapad. “I’ll have you know that all the eateries I’ve taken you too were fine establishments.”
Kithera choked on her glass of wine. She leant forward, red faced and struggling for breath. Del thumped her on the back.
“I didn’t realise my idea of fine dining was so shocking,” he said grinning at her and pushing away the thoughts that lurked on the edges.
“Yoda’s gruel springs to mind.” Kithera grinned, “I’m sure we could find some if you really miss it.”
It was an innocent comment. Del knew that. But for some reason it was as if the conjured image of the little green Jedi Master had unleashed a dam.
His stomach lurched.
The fear that he’d pushed away rushed back like an unkinked hose. His chest was tight and his vision narrowed until all he could see was the wine in the cup, vibrating as his hands shook.
He couldn’t breathe. The tightness in his chest made it impossible to draw breath, or to think or to speak. He tried to breath but only felt as if he was drowning.
Part of his mind was screaming that no one person should have that much control. That the mention of the small, green troll should not produce this kind of reaction.
It didn’t matter.
All he could focus on was the rush of fear that in handing Quin to Kirsh, in seeing Leona, that in even being back in the city would be enough for them to find him and make him pay for what he had done. For what he had become.
He was vaguely aware of two hands cradling each side of his face. He could see Rin’s mouth moving but it sounded like she was talking under water. His eyes focused on the curve of her lips as she talked, the tiny freckles that dotted her cheeks, but her words just washed over him in a wave of nonsensical sound.
Her fingertips brushed across his cheeks which were inexplicably wet. They brushed again and even though he knew he’d been long ago cut from the Force, for a few seconds he imagined that he could feel a tingling warmth spread from those hands and down his arms, relaxing his grip on the glass. It tilted and then her hand was on his, steading it. He found he could hear her talking as if very far away, even as the other voices in head clamoured for attention.
“I…okay...think,” she was saying softly.”...talk...you....fine...listen...you will be...just need to…”
She smiled again and there was another flush of tingling warmth down his arms.
Then, as if his half drowned body had been hauled ashore, the world swam back into focus. He gulped for breath, feeling his heart slow its hammering in his chest. Kithera was still talking, her voice coming through stronger now, and even though there were still gaps, it was no longer a wall of sound or silence. “Look…me” she said softly and smiled with tears in her eyes. “I’ve got you...love”
You're amazing at the melding of moods/tones. First we get the banter and the relaxed ambience, then the wow, he totally zoned out! Whew, shocking what an innocent comment can unleash.
Great updates! Looks like things have gotten a bit rough for everyone since landing on Coruscant. Between the wayward kids' trouble and the difficulties with anxiety and bad memories that Del and Kit are experiencing in the hotel, it's a bit ironic that Quin seems to be the only one who's feeling peaceful at the moment. I hope they're all able to find ways out of their internal and external predicaments soon.
This is a concept I've wondered about for a while and have always wanted to explore. Why would the main temple location for a group who can sense other beings be located on one of the most populated planets in the galaxy? OOU-wise, I get it, but IU it doesn't make much practical sense. The best I can come up with is that it's a training thing-- if someone can learn to tune out everyone living on Coruscant, then they're essentially guaranteed to be able to do it everywhere else in the galaxy.
Great job! Looking forward to more!
Wonderful exchange between Kit and Del—so full both of humor and emotion as they make sense of the new environment they’re in, weighing practical concerns like fueling the Lady against the generosity of their hosts, and even reminiscing a bit about past times (and past eateries). But we also see how this new, unaccustomed place is bringing out more and more of Del’s memories of Namia (I knew I saw her name come up! )—and then how he is triggered to the nth degree by that simple passing mention of Yoda! I’m guessing there is a story behind that! (I too am a little concerned about whether the Order will catch up to these two and their family while they’re here, and if so, how that moment of reckoning will go, especially with Quin about to undergo surgery. Also, @Thumper09 makes a great point about what an unexpected place this huge ecumenopolis really is for something like the Jedi Temple.) Keep it coming, and keep up the great work—this story is going to some wonderful places, both literally and figuratively!
Thanks. I figure Del is dealing with untreated PTSD that was mostly managed through outright avoidance on his part. Now he's back on Coruscant and Kirsh is around, he can no longer avoid all the triggers.
It might be a while before that happens. This whole arc thing keeps getting bigger and bigger
It would kind of be a cool thing to explore actually. The idea that the Jedi Temple has been there so long that the city grew around it and the Jedi just refused to move out. Perhaps that desensitization to people meant that they also didn't hear/see/feel Palpatine's manipulation because they were just used to filtering out so much noise in the Force from the general citizenry.
It should be pretty obvious who Del is by now, and yeah Namia and their whole group of five is going to come up quite a bit over the next couple of scenes. Lots of people from Del's past are going to come out of the woodwork all at once (because that's how timelines work in the fiction).
Thank you Feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside
Journey to the Pet Shop – 27 BBY – (10 years and four days) - Part 4
Tara lifted her face to feel the warmth of the bright Coruscant sunlight pattern across her skin as it streamed between the buildings. Even though she couldn’t see the buildings anymore, she could imagine them soaring above her, their iridescent metal shimmering in the afternoon sunlight. She smiled as the warmth flickered and then disappeared as they crossed into the shadow of another building.
“Why are we walking back to the Temple, again?” Mace asked.
Tara turned her head to smile at him and patted his arm, where her hand rested. She didn’t need him to guide her anymore. She was perfectly capable of making it around by herself now. Years of practice with the Force had almost entirely compensated for her losing her vision, but the fact that he still always offered made her smile.
“Because walking home on a spring afternoon, in the company of one of your closest friends is one of life’s great pleasures,” she said quietly and then added to needle him. “At least one of life’s great pleasures allowed by the Council. Unless, now, Master Council Member, you will take that away too?”
She didn’t need to see his face to know that he was scowling at her. She laughed and patted his arm again.
“The walkways are full of people, the air full of exhaust and it’s rather too warm already for spring,” Mace grumbled. It was only a half-hearted complaint and Tara smiled.
“The people are a good reminder to listen to the Force, the exhaust to monitor our breathing and the heat,” she shrugged, “that the air-conditioning in the Temple is making us soft.” She laughed as she said it, knowing that Mace always found it difficult to argue with her when she used his own code against him. There was a harrumph from Mace and Tara leant against his arm, feeling his muscles relax slightly.
“Besides,” she said quietly, “I sometimes think you can learn more about the goings-on of a city by walking. Listening to the Living Force, is a great meditation. You can hear things you’d never thought you would.”
They came to a crossroads and Tara stepped to the left. She felt Mace stiffen again.
“You’re steering me somewhere,” he said accusingly, although she noticed that he hadn’t stopped or veered back on course.
“I found this amazing little eatery two levels down,” she said grinning. He was scowling again, she could feel it. “It beats refectory food,” she said quietly, “or standing in your kitchen eating alone.”
There was a whisper of sound, a rushed exhalation of annoyance, and Tara wondered if she’d gone a step too far.
“It’s my treat,” she said smiling and hoping it would be enough.
“A Jedi should not have the money to make purchases,” Mace reminded her, “we are supposed to eschew all material things.”
Tara sighed. Sometimes she loved her friend, sometimes his emphatic adherence to Temple dogma was infuriating.
“What if I said that they owed me a favour and that no money would change hands.”
“Jedi are not supposed to work for favours.”
“People don’t work like that,” Tara said blithely, “plus I get some of the best intel about the city from there.”
He grunted again but continued to walk beside her. Tara settled back into a slow, ambling walk briefly relishing her victory over Mace’s convictions.
“This had better be worth it,” Mace said after a few minutes of silence.
“Best fringi spice cake in the inner rim?” Tara suggested.
“Have you got empirical evidence for such a claim?” Mace asked and Tara grinned.
“As an archivist and Jedi anthropologist, I make it my mission to record the cuisines of different systems,” she said trying to make her voice sound as officious as possible, “so yes, I can categorically say that it is the fringi spice cake in the inner rim.”
There was silence as Mace thought about this. Tara’s mouth twisted wondering if Mace was going to push the issue anymore. They reached the lift and joined the crowd waiting for it.
“How many fringi spice cakes have you tried?”
“Too many to count,” Tara said trying not to laugh.
“And how many of those came from the inner rim?” The bemusement in Mace’s voice was palpable.
Mace snorted with laughter. The Force whispered that people were staring at them.
“It’s still the best. I haven’t found anywhere else that makes it on this planet, so, by default it has to be the best.”
She could feel Mace shake his head in bemusement.
“Always finding the way around the rules,” Mace said.
“I learnt from the best.”
“Not from me.” There was the undeniable sound of injured pride.
“Oh no, not from you.” Tara shot back as they entered the lift. “Never from you. This is a skill I’ve been practicing since I was a padawan, and you were already a stickler for the rules even then.”
“As we all should be,” Mace murmured. “Rules are an important part of being a Jedi. Without rules there would be chaos.”
“I know, Master Jedi, ” Tara said teasingly as they exited the lift and turned down a little side alley, away from the main traffic of the pedestrian thoroughfares. “But of all four of us, you my dearest friend, were, and still are, the only one who follows them.”
“And who taught you to break the rules?”
They paused as a Irya crossed in front of them. Tara turned slightly and headed down another alleyway.
“The same person who taught me what fringi cake was,” Tara said laughing and then regretted it as she heard the soft sigh of grief through the Force. The same quiet nose that always emanated from her friend when they were brought up. She sometimes didn’t even think he was aware of it. She patted his arm again.
“Today is not for looking back,” she said quietly, trying to force a smile back on her face and hoping it would be enough, “today is to looking forward. Specifically, looking forward to cake.”
They kept walking and Tara let her feet lead the way as Mace went back to discussing the Senate’s reluctance in some particular matter he’d been dealing with. It wasn’t until they reached another crossroads that he pulled her to a stop.
“Are you sure we’re going in the right direction?” he asked.
Tara frowned as she realised that they should have arrived at the cake shop by now. She’d been following the Force, but it had pulled her in the wrong direction. Her frown deepened as she heard the faint susurrus of terror and pain on the edges.
“I take it we’ve taken the wrong turn,” Mace said, misinterpreting her frown. “I’m sure we can easily find our way back.”
“Can you hear that?” Tara asked, ignoring him and grasping his arm. Her fingers dug hard into his robes as she tried to focus on where the sound was coming from.
There. The noise, louder now with a tone of desperation and then a clear bell of-
“Danger.” Mace voice was a command. “Close but…” he trailed away. “There is someone trained in the Force.”
“Not well,” Tara mused as she picked up her pace to match him. They were almost running now. Down thin, alleys almost too narrow pass, where buildings had been built over the walkways until they’d blocked out the sun. Then out onto another larger path. The noise was louder now, a burble of people in pain and distress and that same clear bell-like note again.
“Do they let initiates out?” Tara asked breathlessly. “That’s what it feels like. Like an initiate.”
“No,” Mace’s words were curt as he turned down one last alleyway. Tara, close on his heels, almost stumbled as the alley became a wide open space. She could hear voices shouting, a child crying and the clank of metal on metal. There was a thripp noise as something passed by and then a clang as it bounced off one of the walls behind her. Tara concentrated, letting the noise of the Force create a fuzzy image of what lay before her. She’d had to learn to do it when she’d lost her sight. Not really seeing, more the aura of the people in front of her. Often just a soft-edged white outline a darker background. She’d learnt to see the colours of relationships, feelings, and lies. Sometimes it gave her the edge to find a weakness or a hidden truth during a negotiation. Sometimes it meant that she could tell a person was lying, even when they couldn’t admit it to themselves. That particular skill, however, took a quieter background and more time that this fight would ever allow.
As she concentrated, the outline of several humanoids struggling and fighting came into view. Others joined them, faint and indistinct as they lay on the ground unmoving. She paused, hand on lightsaber, and turned slightly towards Mace.
There was a reason she was an archivist and diplomat now, the Force could tell her where the people were but in a tumultuous environment it spoke less about motivations, sides, and all the other intricacies that her friend could easily see.
“Five humans. Two children, three young adults.” Mace narrated without looking around. “One of those young adults is badly injured. Nine Snivvians. Kouhun gang by their colours. One down. Eight still up.”
Mace paused and there was an ‘oof’ from across the alleyway and another clang of metal against metal. The taller human shape staggered backwards and then collapsed against the wall. Growls of anger were coming through the Force from a shorter figure.
Tara raised an eyebrow as the shapes in the Force shifted again. There was an elated squeal of noise through the Force and she could see one of the younger shapes, a child from Mace’s description, grab hold of the Force around them and push out, causing a Snivian to lose their balance. There was the Force user. Another, slightly taller humanoid shape brought their hands down in a sharp arc. The unbalanced Snivian who went down in an ungainly heap.
There was the clank of metal again from in front of her and to the left and she figured someone had dropped something metal.
“Seven Snivvians still up,” Mace corrected. Her friend took two steps towards the fight, but Tara could feel some hesitancy as if he was trying to figure something out.
//They fight like Jedi//
The thought was almost lost in the noise. Tara frowned. There was a yelp of pain and then she heard Mace’s lightsaber spring to life.
“Let’s put a stop to this, shall we?”
Tara smiled and called her lightsaber to hand.
“Scare off the Snivians and then cake?” She asked teasingly.
“And then cake,” Mace confirmed. He was already heading towards the fight.
Tara smiled to herself and, lightsaber thrumming in her hand, joined the fray.
Awesome encountering Tara again And with Mace. Loved their discussion about dogma and cake Super convenient that they intercepted the gang and will pitch in to help.
Well, well, well, look who's here! Things are going to become very interesting indeed with Tara and Mace joining in; I'm enjoying their banter and mutual "foilness" already, and once again, I love how you and Tara show us yet another way of experiencing the Force, both as auras/outlines and as sounds and noises and breaths. Though at the same time, I have a feeling that Tara and Mace's presence here might be a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, they will be powerful helpers for the young folks of the Family in their current predicament. But on the other, they are clearly picking up on the fact that these are Force-sensitive young folks: "they fight like Jedi." And once they meet them, it will likely become clear that they have connections to some other former denizens of the Jedi Temple. And that, in turn, could bring back just the sort of encounter with the past that we've seen Del fearing in recent chapters. Very intrigued to see how it will all shake out!
I'm glad you liked the discussion. It was my first time writing Mace, and I kind of wanted the adherence to dogma to come through but also the fact that he really does love his fellow Jedi, even if Mr "I grant you a seat the council but not the rank of Master" isn't great at showing it. Plus who doesn't love cake?
Isn't it just super convenient they showed up at the right time? I mean it is Star Wars after all. No point them showing up after everyone is dead...
Thank you. I will admit this one was harder. I wanted to expand the types of experiencing the Force (although I think now I'll just start repeating ones as I can't think of other ways of doing it), but Tara's had to be special because it had to accommodate her blindness while not giving her all the advantages of being 'sighted' (otherwise I'm just writing someone with funky scars and no real differences). I'm glad it worked and that the fact it wasn't just outlines but the noises/voices and breathing that came through too
Yay! I was hoping someone would pick up on that line. Now Tara and Mace will have to work out which one of them goes to see the parents of these young people...either way it's going to be bad for either Kit or Del (or both).
Which is going to happen in the scene after this one...because the next scene is really about the consequences of being a big brother...
Journey to the Pet Shop – 27 BBY – (10 years and four days) - Part 5
That’s all Nicco’s brain could focus on at the moment. Somewhere he could hear Estra shouting and the clang of metal on metal. Somewhere in the distance he could hear one of the twins shrieking in terror. Somewhere he could hear the Snivvians calling to each other and baiting his siblings as they fought.
Nicco tried to move but found his body would no longer obey him. Even though he was still on his feet, the world seemed muted and dull. Grey fuzziness was colouring the edges of his vision. He knew he had to stay up, long enough for his siblings to finish this or to run. If he fell, they’d be scared and then they’d fall too. Da had made him realise that a long time ago. If one member of the family went down, then the whole family would go with them.
If one falls. We all fall. All fall down. Dead.
He’d watched Zallie try and convince the Snivvians to leave, and when that failed, abandon her promise to Rin not to use the Force in public and throw trash and any other object at the Swoop Gang. He’d heard the Snivvian swear as Taro bit him and wiggled free. He’d seen his brother disappear into the crowd of legs. He could remember the cold feel of the metal under his hands as he swung the pipe F’kisi had found. He could remember the crack as the Snivvian’s weapon had hit his collarbone and the numbing pain that had radiated from that spot. He could remember how the Snivvian had fallen when he’d returned the blow. He didn’t remember the crack that had split the side of his head open, but he’d heard Estra scream in defiant anger as it had happened. He’d watched his sisters as they stood in front of him and faced off against the Snivvians, working together to distract the gang while F’kisi pulled him back on his feet. Then he’d watched F’kisi pick up the dropped pipe and swing it viciously at the approaching gang.
He’d watched all this as the blood dripped from his eyelashes and the world spun.
One falls. All fall. All fall down. Dead.
His arm hurt, every movement sending sheets of pain down his arm and his chest. Some part of him imagined he could hear bone grating against bone. His right arm hung uselessly and he could already feel the swelling of his collar bone against his tunic.
Da and Rin were going to be so mad at him.
It was covered in blood. Some of it his; some of it Snivvian. Maybe that would placate them. That he ruined his second best tunic trying to rescue his brothers.
He swallowed and tasted iron. His whole mouth tasted nothing but iron. He spat out the oozing liquid and watched in silence as the dark red stained the concrete.
That would have to be enough, surely? He’d taken out the Snivvian who’d broken his arm. Maybe they’d overlook that he’d almost lost his head too.
The world shifted and he staggered sideways. The grey threatened to swallow him as he righted himself, his good hand feeling the splintery wood of the boxes that had been discarded in a haphazard pile against the wall.. He could not fall. He could explain a tunic, but he wouldn’t be able to explain if he lost one of his siblings.
If I fall, we all fall down. Dead.
He swallowed hard as the pain surged. To the left of him F’kisi took a blow and crumpled into a heap. Estra grabbed the dropped weapon. Nicco watched his sister and the world spun again.
If I fall. All fall.
Estra shouted and he could see the anger and defiance in her face. Her weapon swung in a way that would have made Da and Rin proud. The Snivvian fell.
Behind them there was the hum of a lightsaber and Nicco briefly, deliriously, wondered how Da and Rin had found them. How they’d managed to retrieve their lightsabers from The Lady when it was so far away.
In front of him the Snivvians were backing away. The one holding Kei dropped him. Nicco watched his littlest brother scramble towards Estra, red faced and terrified.
Nicco blinked as Jedi ran past him; purple and green lightsabers lighting up the gloom.
The Snivvians ran.
Beside him he could hear Estra whispering instructions to Zallie and Kei as she helped F’kisi to his feet. No names. No details. Do not put the family in danger.
Nicco wanted to chuckle. The Jedi could not be any more dangerous then what they’d already faced today. The noise that came out of his mouth was a hacking, gurgling cough. Estra was immediately at his side, leaving Zallie to cuddle Kei. The Jedi turned back at the sound just as Nicco’s legs gave out beneath him. He snarled in pain as he hit the ground and the grey crept closer as the world spun again.
He could hear voices talking to his sisters and their muted, reluctant replies. Two brown booted feet were suddenly in front of him. Nicco tried to lift his head but his vision was narrowing as the grey swallowed him.
“Hello.” The face at the end of the long, grey tunnel was warm and friendly. Tendrils of long brown hair, now free from the ponytail swung around her face, and strange, unseeing green eyes. She squatted down next to him and now he could see the jagged scar that ran across her face.
“You did well,” she said and reached out a hand to brush the matted, bloody hair from his face. He felt the bounce of the suggestion and muzzily noted her surprise. She continued as if nothing had happened. “Now it’s time for us to help you. What’s your name?”
He opened his mouth to speak but there was a squeak of metal and Nicco could hear Zallie calling his brother’s name and Taro’s answer. She sounded like she was crying.
Nicco wondered why.
The grey tunnel narrowed. He fell backwards down into a long, dark hole. Nicco stared up at the Jedi’s kind but worried face and gave a crooked, bloody smile. Da and Rin might be angry about his tunic, or about bringing Jedi to their door, but at least he hadn’t lost one of his siblings. They would be proud of that.
Falling faster now but it didn’t matter. So tired and so, so full of pain. He gave one last half-grin at the Jedi.
He felt hands catch him.
Heard his sister’s worried cries as the tunnel entrance disappeared with a tiny flash of light.
The world went dark.
We all fall down.
Breathtakingly vivid writing. I felt every nuance of Nicco's mental and physical struggles. I don't know if this was where the original pet store idea or even the Quin needs surgery plot was headed but it sure is a TWIST! This is more attention, unintended though it is, than Del and Kit would want.
Wow, that was intense! What a unique and unexpected way to show us the outcome of the Family's battle with the Snivvians, but wow, at what a cost, too, with some serious injuries and probably no small amount of emotional trauma on top of things, especially for Kei and Taro. Of course, it's no surprise that Estra, Nicco, and even Zallie all fought valiantly (I doubt Kit and Del would fault Zallie for breaking the rules and using the Force when she did, given the situation), and I do have to say that it was super neat to experience things from Nicco's point of view--he hasn't had the opportunity to be the main viewpoint character much. Even though his mind's understandably rather bleary from all his injuries, I can tell that he has at least an inkling of the implications of what just happened; as I hinted before, even if the two Jedi saved him and his family members, their presence kind of moves things from the frying pan to the fire in other ways! (And at this point, although I realize it may sound a little superficial after all that's happened, I'm wondering if the kids will ever make it to the pet shop! ) Very curious to see where things will lead now--do keep it coming!
Just a quick question before I go to sleep but one of our intrepid Jedi are doing to have to take the younger Jedi back to the hotel so...
Mace or Tara?
I think Tara would be a more sympathetic one and discreet as far as what or whether to tell anything to the Council.
I vote for Tara as well. After all, wasn't she one of Namia's besties?
I think I’d have to say Tara, too. I don’t know her super well yet as a character, but she seems like she could have a good rapport with the younger Family members.
Thank you so much. Poor Nicco did really getting hauled through the wringer in that particular scene.
Uh, not there? I would love to say this is all part of a grand plan, but it isn't - very much flying by the seat of my pants...
Thanks. I'm really, really glad that it worked. I did something kind of similar in a CCC USJS scene and I figured that it might work again here.
Yeah, Nicco looks out for family first and self second, even if that frequently comes at a rather heavy cost. One day when I write about him and his partner it's going to be an issue for him to stop trying to save everyone and actually look after himself for once.
Thank you @Findswoman, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha and @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 for your votes. Haven't gotten up to that bit, but now I know where I (we?) are going
Journey to the Pet Shop – 27 BBY – (10 years and four days) - Part 5
Del watched Kithera as she smiled down at Quin who was nursing contentedly. The remains of lunch sat on the small table that he’d had carried into the lounge room. Everything felt settled again. The panic attack had eased almost as quickly as it had appeared although his hands felt clammy and his tunic clung to the last remnants of sweat. His hair stuck up awkwardly where he’d brushed the wet clumps off his face, and he felt tired and washed out. Del suspected his partner was going to go back to the issue that started it all soon enough. Despite Kit’s easy going words, he wasn’t foolish enough to think that their brief discussion afterwards meant that it had been dealt with. Del knew it wasn’t the idea of Yoda that had created that reaction, it was just the catalyst for the tension that had been growing since they’d first bumped into Kirsh. Kithera unlatched Quin, fixed her tunic top and then hoisted the tiny, squirming infant on her shoulder to burp her.
“How are you feeling?” she asked as she swiped the data pad from the table and fiddled with it.
“You can’t be ordering more,” Del said looking pointedly at the data pad and then back at the almost empty plates of food and ignoring her question. It was easier than explaining that although the panic attack had passed, the anxiety was still there like a coiled snake, sitting at the bottom of his stomach.
Kit poked her tongue out at him.
“Feeding Quin makes me hungry,” she said, scrolling down, “plus I want to see what else I could try.”
There was a long pause in which Quin fussed and squawked as she bounced gently up and down on Kit’s shoulder. Eventually Kithera put down the datapad and looked up at Del. She didn’t say anything, just shook her head slightly and went back to patting and bouncing the baby.
“Kit, you need to tell me what’s bothering you.”
She frowned at him and patted Quin until the baby gave a rather satisfied burp.
“I don’t want to upset you though. I know you’re struggling and…” she trailed away and her mouth twisted to the side as it always did when she was debating something.
“I’m worried about the kids,” she declared suddenly. Del frowned, thrown by the sudden change in conversational direction. He shrugged.
“Nicco will look after them,” he said, trying to add more conviction to his words then he actually felt. He looked at his chrono, realising with a sinking feeling how long it had been since younger members of the family had left for the day. “Why do you say that? Can you feel something?”
Kithera shook her head. “Coruscant is too noisy and I’m far too out of practice to block the sound enough to find them. I was just worried, that’s all.”
“Why?” Del frowned, feeling the recently quieted coil of anxiety curl into life once more. “Why worried? They’ve been in far more dangerous places than here.”
There was another drawn out silence as Kithera picked up the data pad, tapped it twice and put it back down gently on the table, before settling Quin in again to feed. Del breathed out, dropping his shoulders and picked up the data pad and looked at what Kit had ordered. Two Hot Chocolates and desserts. Her version of comfort food always contained more sugar than it should do.
“What if we bump into more Jedi than just Leona and Kirsh?” Kithera asked without looking up. The anxiety raised its head, ready to strike. She looked at him, her lips pursed. He closed his eyes and breathed out, and felt the anxiety settle back into the pit of his stomach. He could hear Kithera continue, the rapid flurry of words betraying her own insecurities. “I mean I think that’s highly doubtful. I mean how many times did you bump into people when you were a padawan? What if they do though? What if they ask about Zallie? We haven’t told her who her father is.”
“We won’t have to,” Del assured her, “Zallie isn’t going to bump into anyone. There is no point giving time or energy to something that won’t happen. You can keep Zallie’s parentage safe from her for a little longer. Although-”
This time it was his turn to pause. Some distant part of him was pointing out the irony of telling her not to worry about potential futures when that was what was currently consuming him.
“Although you’re going to have to tell her sooner or later. It’s not a secret you can keep for ever.”
“I don’t have to tell her anything,” Kithera pouted. Del sighed, this was an old argument they’d had since Zallie had been four. Del didn’t know why he was continuing it now, but he had the feeling that now they were back on Coruscant it was soon going to become important.
“She has a right to know who her father was.”
“Nicco and Essie don’t know their mother,” Kit said and then looked as if she instantly regretted it. Del raised an eyebrow.
“Nicco and Essie know exactly who their mother is. She abandoned us. You gave Qui-Gon no choice.”
He watched her flinch and then set her jaw.
“I don’t want to have this conversation,” she said after a moment. Del sighed.
“We’re going to have to have it sooner rather than later,” Del said. He watched as his partner drummed her fingers on the couch edge. Quin stopped feeding to give a plaintive mew of annoyance at the raised voices. Del breathed out and rubbed his fingers over the scars on his knuckles. “But you’re right. Maybe not now.”
Kithera was still pouting, her jaw set in a hard line. Del breathed in slowly and then decided to plow on. If they were going to have the hard discussions today, then they were going to have to have all of them.
“You’re also going to have to make a decision about the Temple.”
Kithera frowned at him.
“You talked to Kirsh,” she said reproachfully.
“I talked to Kirsh,” he confirmed, “I might not agree with everything he says, but on this I think you should be a little bit more open Rin. She’s growing stronger in her powers, I wouldn’t want to see what could happen if she fell into the wrong hands.”
She frowned at him.
“She won’t though,” she said, and he could see her clench her jaw. “She has us. We are enough. If I tell her about Qui-Gon then she’ll want to join the Temple. She’ll be so enamoured with the thought of him, that she won’t care about what the life of being a Jedi actually means.”
“She has a right to make her own decisions.” Del said.
“She’s ten. She’s too young to make any decisions.”
“It’s her life Rin. You didn’t like the Temple making decisions for you, now you’re making decisions for her.”
“I’m her parent. That’s different.”
Kithera pulled her tunic back down and lifted Quin onto her shoulder as the baby complained of the sudden loss of food.
“Qui-Gon was her parent too,” he winced as he said it. She shot him a look that could have melted durasteel.
“He was her parent. Operative word here Del is was. He’s dead. See what happens when you’re a Jedi? You die early. Master Indoa, Namia, Qui - all dead before their time. Do you want that for Zallie? Do you want Zallie to die young too?”
"Not dead. One with the Force. They're still around." The words, the old creed was out of his mouth before he'd had a chance to think about it. She glared at him.
"He's still not here though, is he. He might be one with the Force, but he isn't here. He wasn't part of Zallie's life. Not ever and certainly not now he's one with the Force." The emphasis on the last words made Del wince. He might have been forced from the Order long ago, but part of him still clung to the tenants and beliefs he'd grown up with.
"You decided that he would not be a part of Zallie's life," he reminded her gently. Qui-Gon might have been her lover but he'd also been his friend and he didn't want Rin to change the narrative that Qui-Gon had abandoned her, when she'd been the one to leave the Temple.
She stopped patting long enough to throw her free hand into the air in a gesture of exasperation.
"What other choice did I have? There were never any other choices."
She was on her feet now, pacing back and forth. She was patting the baby’s back as if it had somehow offended her. Not hard but constant, firm taps that were making Quin squirm and mew. Del frowned.
“Rin you’re patting Quin too hard.”
She ignored him, her voice rising into a strangled shout. She turned on him, red faced and angry.
“She’s my daughter. I made that decision for her. For us. I made it ten years ago because I knew it was the right thing to do.”
Quin gave a little cry and Del frowned as he climbed slowly to his feet. Kithera was pacing the floor in front of him, patting Quin’s back furiously as the baby squirmed.
“I am not going to lose my daughter to the Jedi,” she snarled. “I sacrificed enough to them, I won’t give her up too.”
Quin was now rigid and red faced as Kithera continued to pat. Del took two steps towards Kit, holding up his hands as if that could placate her.
“Shush, Rin, shush. You aren’t going to lose Zallie, Kitkit. Trust me.”
The old pet name broke the spell. She stopped patting and stared at him, her face fading from red to white and tears making glassy lines down her face. Quin chose that moment to burp and then throw up, trails of milk and saliva making its way down her mother’s shirt. Kithera dropped her shoulders in defeat.
“I’m sorry,” she said, her voice sad. “I just feel…” she shook her head and sighed. “I should get myself and Quin changed. Room service should be here in a minute.”
Del watched her walk quietly and dejectedly from the room. He turned back and started to gather together the remnants of their earlier meal, stacking the plates and cups neatly back on to the tray. From the door there was a knock.
“That’ll be room service,” he called out as he made his way to the door, still holding one of the delicate tea cups. He flung it open and Kei and Taro bounced towards him, messy and covered with dirt and scratches. Both boys were yammering about Snivvians, fighting, cake and lightsabers. Zallie hung more hesitantly behind them, playing with the end of one of her long, dark brown plaits.
“What’s going on?” Del asked as Kei and Taro threw their arms around his leg. Behind him he could hear Kit coming hurriedly back into the room.
“Del!” Her voice was a warning but it was too late. Behind Zallie stood a cloaked figure. A Jedi. Their hood was up, obscuring their face.
Del’s heart stopped and the world froze. Everything he’d said to Kit, every assurance he’d made that the Jedi would not appear on their doorstep went out the window. Every foolish promise he’d made to himself that he could keep his past hidden, that his secret would never come out was tossed aside. Every nightmare of being found, of being made to pay for what he had done was suddenly true.
The figure took a step towards him and carefully pulled back the hood, revealing their face.
The tea cup slipped from Del’s suddenly paralysed fingers, seemed to hang in the air for a moment and then dropped, smashing as it hit the ground.
Superbly intense discussion. Del's right though and so is Kit about forcing choices versus having none. Eagerly awaiting more.
Thank you. I'm really glad you enjoyed it. The two of them are coming at the same problem from opposite sides but also wanting the same outcome - it'll be a tricky thing they both have to solve.
Many thank yous to @Healer_Leona for continuing to let me borrow her amazing character.
Journey to the Pet Shop – 27 BBY – (10 years and four days) - Part 6
“See if the parent can bring the child in this afternoon,” Doctor Rygwys said as he walked with Kirsh and Leona down the hospital corridors. “I am looking forward to meeting them and working with you two. I’ve always thought that the hospital and Temple should work more closely together.”
“I’m looking forward to meeting them too,” Leona said, shooting a side-ways glance at Kirsh. Then, ever the diplomat, she smiled and patted the Doctor’s arm. “I think it will be a good opportunity to learn from each other. To see the ways in which Force healing can blend with modern science.”
Kirsh gave both of them a wan smile. He’d had to fill Leona in so that she would help. So far everything had gone to plan. Some part of Kirsh whispered that it had gone too well and that there would have to be some glitch soon. A glimmer of colour caught Kirsh’s eye and he frowned.
“I take it the Council is all on board with this?” Doctor Rygwys continued. Kirsh looked up, suddenly feeling flustered as a familiar babble of voices reached him.
“I believe Healer Aleski has taken care of that,” Leona said, shooting Kirsh a look that clearly asked if he had, actually, done that. The voice grew louder, demanding and edged with worry. Kirsh grinned worriedly.
“It will all be sorted by tomorrow,” he said, hating himself for the lie. It had been hard enough trying to convince Leona to get on board with this. It hadn’t even helped that Kirsh had been carrying two cups of caff, hastily bought from the tiny hole-in-the wall shop that Leona frequented. The normally placid healer had raised an eyebrow on his return and then asked him to explain himself. He’d grown up half under her care every time his Master went on an extended mission to one of the more dangerous worlds. While this was a blessing as he’d learnt a lot from Leona over the years, it was also a curse - he could never deceive her. She saw right through any pretense. Even now there was a slight crease of a frown that told him that there would be trouble and more questions in his future.
“Excuse me one second,” he said bowing slightly as Leona opened her mouth. “I just need to see something.”
“Oh?” Doctor’s Rygwys’ voice was suddenly concerned, “is there anything the matter, Master Aleski?”
“Uh, no...uh- just a disturbance in the Force?” He could have slapped himself for such a pathetic reason. Leona’s eyes narrowed in a way that suggested the whatever story Kirsh came up with had better come with both a double-strength caff and some sort of chocolate biscuit. It worked on Doctor Rygwys though, who nodded and gave a short bow.
“I’ll see you later this afternoon, Master Aleski.”
“See you then,” Kirsh said, smiled and turned back towards the corridor they’d just passed, trying not to look as flustered as he felt. Estra was standing near a doorway having a rather tense conversation with a doctor. Kirsh wanted to groan. Instead he took a deep breath, and walked towards them. The doctor said something and then hurried away. Kirsh could see Estra frown as she slumped against the wall.
“Estra?” Kirsh asked, keeping his voice low. The girl turned to face him, her mouth set in a thin line, her hands clenched.
“They won’t let me see them,” she said, and Kirsh could hear the tremble in her voice underneath all that anger.
“Won’t let you see who?” he asked, trying to stay calm as a million different possibilities ran through his brain.
“Nicco and F’kisi,” Estra said, turning her head back to the door. “I just want to see that they’re alright, but they won’t let me. Said I had to wait for my parents.”
“What happened to Nicco and F’kisi? Where are your parents? Actually, where are the twins and Zallie?” Kirsh said realising the questions were tumbling out too far to answer.
“Back at the hotel. They sent that other Jedi back to get them.The twins and Zallie are with them.”
“Other Jedi?” Kirsh felt his stomach drop. He grasped Estra lightly on the shoulders and turned her to face him. “You need to tell me everything.”
“We were on our way to the pet store,” Estra said, her lip trembling. Kirsh led her over to a chair and sat down next to her. “We got lost and found by some swoop gang. They took Kei and Taro. We tried to…” Her voice trailed away and she shuddered. “We tried to fight them and then Nicco got hurt and then F’kisi dragged him away and then-then-then F’kisi got hurt. Master Tarindae and Master Windu show up-”
“Master Windu?” The words were out before Kirsh could stop them. Estra looked up and nodded.
“Master Windu and Master Tarindae scared them off and then they said that Nicco and F’kisi needed to go the hospital and now they won’t tell me anything.”
Estra’s lip trembled again and Kirsh could see unshed tears in her eyes.
“They’ll be okay,” Kirsh said and Estra frowned. The flash of defiant anger in her eyes reminding Kirsh that the strong, independent, angry young lady from The Lady was still there. “You’ll be okay,” he added.
Her face crumbled and tears slipped down her cheek. She glanced down, fingering the edge of her tunic. Kirsh saw the blood on the hem and the way her fingers kept straying to it. He reached down and gently took her hand in his. Estra looked up at him, tears streaking her face.
“Zallie was using the Force,” she said quietly. “What you showed her at home, she was using that with the swoop gang. I think the other Jedi saw.”
Kirsh swore, a litany of colourful curses that wouldn’t have been astray in some of the dinger lower-level bars. Estra looked at him and then laughed, a slight hysterical edge to her voice.
“I didn’t think Jedi were allowed to swear.”
“Who told you that?” Kirsh asked, refocusing on the girl in front of him instead of all the worst-case scenarios that were running through his head.
“Rin. She’s said it when I’ve sworn in the past.”
“Ha! She’s the one who taught me!”
Estra laughed again and then went quiet. They sat together for a few moments in silence.
“Do you think you could talk to the doctors?” Estra asked softly, “see how the boys are doing?”
Kirsh nodded. “I’ll go find one of them right away.” He stood up and then paused. “Essie, did Master Windu or Master Tarindae come with you to the Hospital?”
Estra frowned slightly. “Master Windu came with us. Master Tarindae said she thought that would be better. I didn’t tell either of them who Da or Rin were but-”
“I think they guessed. Or guessed Rin at least.” Estra shrugged. “Master Windu seemed annoyed. I think that’s why Master Tarindae insisted on taking Zallie and the twins back to the hotel.”
Kirsh frowned. None of this boded well for what had been organised. Somehow he’d have to find a work around and somehow -
“Who’s your friend?”
Healer Leona’s voice took him by surprise. He’d been so focused on Estra that he hadn’t heard her come up behind him. Not that he was surprised. Leona had long seemed to be able to walk silently and appear when least expected. As a padawan, Kirsh had once asked her how he could learn that particular Jedi skill. The small healer declared that she had no such power, but then had winked at him and walked silently away. Now she was staring up at him, a serene smile on her face that did not bode well for his future, but did bode well for the fortunes of her favourite caff shop. She transferred her gaze from Kirsh to Estra, who wiped furiously at the tears on her face and then rolled her shoulders back and met the Healer’s gaze.
“I’m Master Healer Leona P’lila,” Leona said quietly. Kirsh braced himself for Estra’s terse response but instead the young woman dropped her shoulders and stared at the ground.
“Estra, that’s a beautiful name,” Leona said quietly, “means hidden. I think given what Healer Aleski has told me, that’s quite fitting.”
Estra scowled at Kirsh who winced.
“Necessary information only,” he said and put his hand on Estra’s shoulder but she shook it off.
“Keep the family name safe in your mouth,” Estra still scowling. Kirsh didn’t need to see Leona to know she was raising an eyebrow.
“How about I get Heilan to get you some fresh clothes and find a doctor to give us an update on your brothers,” Kirsh said, forcing a smile onto his face. Estra raised one eyebrow and then nodded.
“I’ll get Quijia to assist Heilan,” Leona said. The two Jedi turned and walked away, leaving Estra to slump back down into the seat.
“Kirsh’of Aleski, you have a lot of explaining to do.” Even though it was just a whisper, the use of his full name made Kirsh cringe. “What is going on.”
“There was a fight with a swoop gang,” Kirsh explained. “I imagine the older siblings protected the younger ones.”
“That’s noble of them, but I don’t think that’s the entire story.”
“Mace and Tara rescued them.”
“Oh.” Leona said, raising an eyebrow. “Well, that may throw a bit of a spanner in the works. It would explain why I walked past Mace.”
“Where?” Kirsh realised his voice sounded a little too panicked.
“He was out on the walkway making a holocall,” Leona said, “face like thunder.”
“That’s not the whole story. What else?”
“Zallie used the Force in front of them. Which means that Mace has probably worked out that Kit is back on Coruscant.”
“Hmm,” Leona pursed her lips and then looked at him. “That won’t matter as long as this scheme of yours went through Yoda. You did pass this whole thing by the Council did you not?”
Leona sighed. “I’d figured as much. Not a lot we can do now. I’ll have a quiet word with Yoda. I’ll get Quijia and Heilan to bring some clothes and food for Estra. She'll need it.”
“You’re a lifesaver, Leona. I-”
“Double strength caff, large.” She walked away and then turned. “You’d better think of what you are going to tell Mace.”
Kirsh nodded and breathed deeply. Leona turned the corner and disappeared just as there was a sound from the other end of the corridor and Kirsh looked up just in time to see Mace pushing the swinging doors open as if they’d done something to offend him.
“Healer Aleski,” Kirsh only just managed to keep from ducking at the sound of the older Jedi Master’s voice. “I should have guessed that if she was here, you would not be far behind.”
Poor, darling Kirsh has recently been caught in the crosshairs of a lot of unexpected calamity. Leona is understanding and of corse wants things to go smooth for the sake of Quin and now Zicco and F'kisi being critically injured on top. Tara would be sympathetic but Mace...