Saga - PT "So Few Things" | OTP Romcom Redux & Wistful Piano Challenge | Bly/Aayla; Song!verse AU, Short Story

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Mira_Jade , Mar 17, 2021.

  1. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh my goodness, but I have to thank every last one of you for all of the above and beyond awesome feedback! I appreciated each and every word.

    A few replies, and then on with the romcom! :D

    Oh yay! At first I was worried it would be a touch too TripAdvisor-y to enjoy. :p



    Yeah, Kamino was definitely no home sweet home. [face_plain]

    All for the mission, of course. [face_whistling] ;)

    Just you wait. ;)

    Again, thank-you so much for reading and I hope you continue to enjoy! [:D]

    Aw, thank-you so much! This really meant a lot to me. I just love all of these dear boys so, so much, and am all too happy to pass out a few happy endings for them in defiance of canon. [face_love]

    Because he's Obi-Wan! Including him was pure indulgence on my part, just for my own fan-girl self. :p

    Right??? You know they do, and the idea gives me a special sort of joy. Although Cody can't call the kettle too black here. He's still the crazy one who punched General Grievous in the face, after all. :p

    I will never get over just how awful the creation and use of the clone army was in-universe. But, at the same time, I love exploring their bonds with their generals and them figuring out themselves along the way. There's just so much power in that narrative that I hardly have to tap into to really draw into focus. Or at least that's how it seems when I'm writing. :p

    Thank-you so much for your kind words! [:D]

    [face_laugh] [face_laugh] Fake Dating and Undercover as Lovers are a few of the best romcom tropes for a reason, and I am having a hoot writing this. These two are so ridiculously in love, and just need a little push. [face_mischief] [face_love]

    As always, I can't thank you enough for reading! [:D]

    Right??? I - like so many of us - am just itching to travel again. C'mon, COVID, scooch over so that we can go back to vacationing. :p

    Legit, when I was telling my sister about this story and listing the tropes I was going to use, she interrupted me and said, "And there's only one bed, right?" HECK YEAH, BUT YOU BETTER BET THERE'S ONLY ONE BED! [face_rofl] [face_rofl]

    I am but a simple author of fanfic; I have a duty to fulfill.

    Long may he reign. :p

    You'd think that would be right up Disney's alley! [face_laugh]

    In the meantime, as always, we've got things covered in fic. [face_mischief]

    [face_rofl] [face_rofl]

    That's why our little community of transformative works is just the best. [face_love]

    (And also, it's still totally your fault. ;))

    So many RL experiences! I have the best and the worst stories from flying, with the best and the worst people. Usually sitting on opposite sides of the aisle from each other.

    For Bly, I could only imagine how disorienting a feeling dealing with the hustle and bustle of the spaceport and commercial travel without the visible trappings of a clone trooper. I'm really throwing this poor guy in the deep end. But he'll be better off for it in the end. Eventually. [face_whistling]

    SO ADORABLE! Honestly, writing this story just hurts my heart in every good way. [face_laugh]

    And yeah, poor Bly is just way over his head in the good ol' river Nile. :p

    Right??? It's kinda amazing that the clones as a whole are as healthy and relatively happy and sane as they are. They were never nurtured, from their infancy onwards. They were literally created to be weapons, and even view themselves as such to a large extent until being deployed and learning differently. But to be human is to belong to a family and a community, and we need to touch each other in order to thrive. I remember that, while flying, it would be so weird to be gone on a trip, plastering a smile on my face, just having superficial conversations with my passengers all day before crashing for a few hours in a hotel room, and maybe only hugging my crew hello and goodbye or shaking their hands at the start and end of the trip. (Depends on the crew. :p) By the time I got home I just needed to bask in my family. That was on a small scale. COVID has really demonstrated that to us on a large scale, you're too right!

    In-universe, I couldn't help but think of the episode where Waxer and Boil met Numa on Ryloth. It was still second nature for them to not only want to protect her, but to comfort her too. She was a child who needed them; it was just that simple for human instinct to take over. Just: the look on Waxer's face when she hugs him, and that moment when he's just clueless for how to respond - and Boil's awkward little shoulder pat. It's just so powerful, and hits me right where I live every time.

    (For anyone who wants to share in a minute or two of these dorks figuring out what it means to be human, here's the clip here. ;) @};-)

    ALL THE DRAMATIC TIDES AND BEACHES. [face_mischief] [face_love] ;)

    I really wasn't being subtle, there, was I? [face_laugh]

    So: backstory time! When I was first sat down to flesh out the Kiffar culture more for my Sintas Vel diary (which is a WIP I still want to return to), I begun, of course, with Vos. I started looking for inspiration with RL cultures who wear their hair dreadlocked. There are so many options to choose from worldwide, but then Wikipedia mentioned that the ancient Minoans wore their hair either locked or braided, and the feel and history of Greece at that time fit with a lot of the headcanons I was coming up with for the Kiffar. So, it was only fitting to take their seat of power in Crete and honor that here.

    Plus! The Greek islands are so high on my bucket list of places I want to visit and explore. So, um, yay self-indulgence! :p

    It's so interesting that you would find this interesting, because this is actually going to become a major plot point coming up. (Same brainwaves again, I tell ya! ;)) So, stay tuned. [face_mischief] [face_whistling]


    I looked up so many mega luxury hotels in Greece that my mind was just swimming with imagery! The setting just wrote itself from there. [face_love]

    Oh indeed she will. [face_mischief]

    Then, you know, Bly being absolutely bucket over boots for his space goddess is absolutely a hundred percent canon. I don't make the rules, I just follow them. :p


    Eventually. [face_mischief]

    And, as always, it's such a pleasure to read your thoughts! I can't wait to share where this goes next. [face_mischief] [face_love] [:D]

    Oh yay! I am so happy to have you along for the ride, and am thrilled that you are enjoying the story so far. [:D] [:D]

    I loved writing that line. [face_love] As much as it is fun to write these dorks pine over each other, it's great to have a mature couple who know what's what and are happily bound together in contrast.

    It's just such an Obi-Wan thing to say. Honestly, I included him just for that line, pretty much! [face_laugh]

    Perfect sense, don't you worry! First off: yay TCW! It took me forever to finally give the series a try, too, but once I did I was sucked in by just how powerful a story there was to be told in the clones learning what it is to be human, and each individual, unique human-beings, at that. (I loved the Republic Commando books for that even earlier, way back in the PT heyday. [face_love]) And it's just like you said! There's something so relatable about a character finding themselves and what they want versus what they should want, and it's been a joy as an author to explore that in my stories.

    Rambling comments are the best, and this was no exception. ;) [:D]

    I looked up so many pretty dresses in the name of research, lemme tell ya. :p Because, right?? Who wouldn't not stare? That's another square marked off for my trope bingo. [face_laugh]

    Aw! I love that imagining, too. And, now that you mention it I have a certain vignette for the current OTP challenge that is definitely going to highlight this. [face_whistling] [face_love]

    ALL THE TROPES! [face_laugh]

    Yay! I spent so long fussing with the details that I had no idea what was good or not by the end, truth be told. So that's gratifying to hear. [face_love]

    That's easily one of the sections I'm most proud of so far in this fic. So I'm thrilled it stood out to you, as well! [face_love]

    This had me grinning like a loon to read! :D Because it's too true. Even when it comes to art and writing, there's just that zone you slip into where you're not thinking, you're just creating, and that's where the magic happens. [face_love]

    Yep, I'm still here grinning like a loon! And now I really feel like me and my two left feet should give dancing a more honest try the next time I have the opportunity to do so. :p

    [face_love] [:D]!

    There's no higher possible compliment as an author to know that something you write has resonated so vividly with a reader. I am thrilled beyond words to hear how much you enjoyed this chapter, and hope that you continue to enjoy the rest of the story as it goes. [face_love] [:D]

    What kind of self-respecting fan-fiction author would I be if there wasn't? [face_laugh] [face_mischief]

    Oh, T'ra knew exactly what she was doing. [face_mischief] And yay! From such a maestro of scenery and detailed worlds such as yourself, that means a lot. [:D]

    Right??? As much as Bly has come so far in developing his own individual self, he hasn't yet quite made that jump to realize, even internally, that he deserves just as much love and happiness as every sentient being deserves. He'll get there, though, and Aayla will too. Once they climb out of the good ol' river Nile, of course. [face_laugh]

    A bit of that shadow overhead really does make the romance all the sweeter, doesn't it? As I know you know. ;) It's definitely going to be a bit of a crazy ride coming up, that's for sure, and I can't wait to tell more of this story as it goes! [face_love]

    As always, I can't thank you enough for your kind words! It's always a pleasure to read your comments. [face_love] [:D]

    Alrighty! I'll have the next part up in just a few. :D [face_dancing] [:D]

    ~MJ @};-

    Last edited: May 8, 2021
  2. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004

    Excusing herself to the ‘fresher – no, she was not retreating, never that – Aayla turned the tap as cold as it would go and splashed a generous amount of water on her face. She held her hands pressed to closed eyes, breathing deeply in and out as she grappled to recover what she could of her equanimity. Yet, no matter how she willed her composure to return, her efforts were to little effect: her skin remained a tellingly flushed shade of indigo, and her eyes were even darker still. She frowned at her reflection in the mirror, unsettled by the truth it told.

    Goddess, but she was stronger than this, she was.

    . . . she had to be.

    With that last sobering thought, Aayla turned away from the vanity. After traveling on a commercial spacecraft she was eager to scrub the film from her skin and the sense of so many stressed sentient beings confined in too small a space from her lekku. After she was clean again she donned a light and breezy dress, made from a soft white, nearly transparent material. The sleeves of the gown were long and loose from her shoulders before collecting again at the wrist, while the neckline plunged in a matching deep vee over her chest and back before cinching in a thick band around her waist. The skirt fell in an asymmetrical line, splitting from high on her thigh on the right and sweeping down to her ankle on the left. The dress was delicate and graceful, and fit the local style of Kiffu fashion – the foremost reason why T’ra had included it in the first place. Practically, the gown provided her with freedom of movement while supplying just enough excess material to hide her lightsaber – should such measures become necessary, of course. A white leather harness with only enough bands at the root to keep her lekku from slipping over her shoulders was gentle compared to the normally severe style she wore, and matched the laces of her sandals that strapped up her leg to her thighs. No heel this time, she made that tactical decision; she was prepared for anything.

    She paused only briefly to glance at herself in the mirror. Satisfied that nothing was amiss, she didn’t give her appearance another thought until she stepped back out into the main room of the suite. Her mind was already focusing on the mission ahead, or was at least attempting too, when she noticed exactly when Bly . . . noticed her dress. At first he merely nodded at her – an acknowledgment and awareness of her presence that ever tugged on her own senses in return – before shaking his head to do a double take. He turned to face her fully, and stared.

    In a way, years of bring on the receiving end of such appreciative sentient gazes had long since numbed her to their effect. Aayla knew that she was considered beautiful by the standards of most humanoid species, yet she rarely dwelled on her appearance beyond acknowledging that fact. The Jedi eshewed vanity; to the contrary, the corporeal shell they so briefly inhabited was inconsequential compared to one’s innermost spirit in the eyes of the Force, to which they all would inevitably someday return. She was both grateful and fortunate to belong to a community that did not objectify her the same as so many of her sisters so sadly were across the galaxy. Even her men – besides the gawking new recruits who were inevitably smacked by their older brothers and ordered not to stare at their general – treated her as a comrade and a fellow soldier-in-arms, first and foremost. She viewed herself the exact same way.

    Yet this was nothing like being ogled by some random passerby who thought they had the right to look their fill of her just because she was a Twi’lek woman. This was . . . this was Bly. She could feel the path his eyes took the same as a physical touch, tracing from the straps of her sandals all the way up her body to the bindings of her lekku. Almost absently, Aayla wished that she’d chosen a more constraining harness then – undoubtedly they quivered, hardly silenced and so, so affected as a heady wave of human endorphins and pheromones washed over her. Only years of training to hold her ground and exist apart from herself kept her from swaying on her feet, even as her skin traitorously flushed again. This wasn’t the occasional stolen look Bly would indulge in before guiltily ducking his eyes away again – no, no. He stared at her now, she couldn’t help but think, like he wanted to devour her.

    Goddess help her, Aayla sucked in a break to admit in a single terrifying, exhilarating moment of abject honesty, but she wanted to let him.

    Yet, while she was inwardly debating the merits of giving into years’ worth of suppressed longing and making use of that thrice-Force-cursed bed mocking her like the proverbial rancor in the room, Bly shook his head in a visible effort to gather himself. He took a physical step back from her, and she felt his retreat the same as suddenly missing the presence of her right hand – of losing the breath from her lungs or the beat from her heart. Before she consciously realized what she was doing, she took a step forward, following him. She did not wholly know what she intended, only that she intended, until -

    “Are you ready, sir?”



    Jedi Master.

    She was the custodian of such an unfathomly great power, a dynamic might in both name and deed. The Force filled her as one of its chosen vessels, and to honor the weight of that gift she served the citizens of the Republic first and foremost. She did not belong to herself, but rather to them.

    Reminded of who she was . . . of what she was and who she could not allow herself to be, Aayla drew herself up short. She could feel as her cheeks took on a different sort of flush, and she burned in mortification. Right, then . . . that was that.

    “Yes, I am ready,” she didn’t bother to correct his formal manner of address. Not then. Not when she needed the reminder. Instead, she clung to the truth of her rank and anchored herself with its purpose. Their purpose.

    Yet, finally bringing herself to focus only belatedly let her notice that Bly had changed as well. He too had shed his layers from Ossus in deference to the warm, coastal climate of Krete, and his arms were distressingly bare again. The earthy toned, soft yellow color of his shirt complimented the warm tan of his skin and made the golden tattoos decorating his shoulders and biceps seem to glow in comparison. The material was thin, almost lovingly stretched across the sculpted musculature of his upper body in a way that made her fingertips itch to reach out, to touch and trace and learn. Dusky brown pants embellished with leather ribbing on the sides matched the color and style of his boots and the bracers he wore on his forearms. Those pants, she wanted to groan, fit loose and comfortable by design, but he filled them out . . . nicely. She hadn’t realized how much of a Force-send to her sanity his armor had been before, at least not consciously.

    Somewhere, she was nearly certain, T’ra was having quite the laugh at her expense.

    Goddess, Goddess, Goddess, Aayla repeated like a mantra as they wordlessly fell in step together to depart, grappling with her composure and struggling to pour her distracting emotions into the Force all the while. No matter her best efforts, she was not sure how wholly she succeeded.

    It was past noon by the time they stepped outside again. The sun was just tipping from its highest point in the sky, and was dazzlingly bright as it reflected off the triad of Kiffex and the sea and the white-washed buildings of the city. For the most part, they did not have to play at their cover as tourists. Bly tried to look everywhere at once, taking in every detail of their surroundings with a soldier’s practiced eye for observation then giving way to his own wonderment and curiosity. She couldn’t help but smile for just how absolutely endearing he was whenever he looked over at her, endeavoring to ensure that she noticed any highlight that he felt was especially worthwhile.

    They made their way down the massive slope of Vrea’s hill, which ended in a steep drop-off where the cliffs plunged to greet the sea. They continued on into the valley between Vrea’s hill and Volpi’s rise, where the merchants and artisans of Krete thrived. The streets here were narrow, and lined with stalls of vendors selling everything from handmade wares to crops grown in the farms further inland to fishermen haggling that morning’s catch. It was loud and busy with such a sentient clamor of life, so much so that the Force sparkled and leapt against her senses, as bright and dancing as the sunlight catching on the cresting waves of the sea beyond them.

    Volpi’s Rise was home to the Old City, where Clan Iro had based their stronghold before they were dominated by Clan Vos and fell out of power – back in the days of the Old Republic. The ruins of the Iros’ Halls of Memory still stood as a ghostly specter atop the summit of the hill, stripped of its wealth in a bleak testament to the rise and fall of the mighty and elite. Most Kiffar avoided the ruins as an ill omen, and Aayla agreed with them for how the sight of the ruins – like sun-bleached bones picked clean by carrion fowl, left bare to pierce the sky – pricked at her senses with disquiet. But tourists found the weathered columns and crumbling stone edifices fascinating, and the site was always crowded with off-worlders posing for holo opportunities.

    The further they ventured into the Old City, the vibe surrounding them changed ever so slightly. The stalls of the artisans turned fewer and further between as they entered the territory of the Forgotten – those who were left over from the clans who had been subdued and defeated by their neighbors in the ever fluctuating inner-wars of the Kiffar. Signs of poverty marked the heart of the Old City like spores, from the refuse in the narrow alleys to the lines of laundry strung out to dry between the steeply stacked living structures overhead. Barefooted children with grimy cheeks and clever fingers darted through the crowd, and many of the stall owners were visibly armed in a clear threat to thieves. Many, she knew, were thieves themselves, at that.

    Volfe’s Anzati followers could feed freely here, Aayla allowed herself to remember with a grim shudder of revulsion and blame. Few would mourn those victims who were lost, and those who did had no voice to appeal to any power that would care for their plight.

    There were none of the High Clans this far into the Old City, Aayla noticed as the passed. She saw none of the gold stripes of Clan Vos, the proud green spirals of Clan Theos, or the bold red slashes of Clan Hara. She saw not a single mark of the Mlio or Alke or Cedis or Xex. Instead, there were many markings she didn’t recognize, and those she could – like those of Vel and Opik and Dis – were all disgraced clans who now only existed to serve their betters. Their Hearts of Fire had been overwritten with memories of conquest, and their strongest Keepers either slain or pressed into service in the prisons of Kiffex. Some faces were even unmarked – either erased in punishment for their crimes, or those of whom the Kiffar had deemed as unworthy of remembrance, whose bloodlines had been cursed to become Forgotten. The perilous balance of power between the clans was just the same now as it was in the earliest days of the Republic, Quinlan had once explained to her. The Kiffar were proud of their ways, and slow to change for the better.

    As such, Kiffu just barely kept to the Universal Rights of Sentients that was required to be upheld by all planets sworn to the Republic. The delicate balance of violations of that charter and sanctions imposed in penalty was a constant point of contention between the Chancellery and the Sheyfs. Besides keeping a close eye on the prisons of Kiffex, that was one such reason the Jedi were ever canny in their watchmanship of the sector. Aayla knew that T’ra was subtly involved in just as many mercy missions for the oppressed as she was openly a frequent guest in the court of the Sheyf of Sheyfs to help see to more official, permanent changes.

    Once they were deep enough into Old City, Aayla opened herself further to the Force. She had muted her senses ever so slightly since their initial descent, not wanting to feel Volfe until she was certain she was ready to withstand his pull. Even then, when she thought that she was prepared, the sickly black mire that seemingly filled her veins like oil and blotted out the light still took her by surprise with its intensity. She stopped there in the street – to any outside eye drawn by a spice vendor that Bly was wide-eyed to observe, taken in by the numerous ground herbs and oils and vinegars on display in beautiful bottles of colored glass – trying to breathe deeply and regulate her connection to the Force. Even the noontide sunlight had turned dim to her eyes, and, suddenly, the cacophony of life surrounding her was edged with danger and intent.

    Hello there, little one, she could feel press in against her mind – unwelcome to grate against her thoughts in an ugly contrast to the gentle, familiar way Tholme or Quinlan would speak into their bond. My, but it has been much too long.

    Volfe’s voice was ever a low baritone that thrummed in her bones more so than she heard in her ear-cones. It had been years, but still she shivered, an awful specter of the enamored, stupid child she’d once been then rising from her memories to take note and listen. Once, whenever Volfe had called her, she had been all but euphoric to answer. She had yearned to please him, in whatever way she could. Such was the power, the temptation of the Dark.

    Now, a woman grown and a Jedi Master firmly established in who she was as she, herself, Aayla wanted nothing more than to recoil from the long-slumbering bond that then dared to awaken without her welcome or consent.

    That, however, she couldn’t let Volfe know. He was intrigued already, and arrogantly looked to see if there was anything left of the wide-eyed girl she’d once been. Aayla, for her part, would allow him to glean only what he wanted to see until it was too late.

    It was then, Aayla sensed as her determination helped clear her mind, that she knew they were being watched.

    Subtly, she threaded her arm through Bly’s as they stopped next by a booth of seashells. She didn’t have to pretend to be interested – Bly clearly was, and the elderly woman tending the stall was happy to strike up a conversation about the origins of the various shells and their symbolism, hoping for a sale. Though Bly kept his attention on the woman and her words, she knew that he was aware of her nearness. His focus on every place they touched as she pressed in closer to him – to any outside eye a Twi’lek woman happily besotted with her partner – was nearly enough to overwhelm her awareness of Volfe’s shadow as it pressed against her mind. That shadow took on a sharp edge where its pall met the light, and Aayla could feel his anger loom for her preoccupation – whether be it from what she allowed him to glimpse from her thoughts or saw through his agent, she did not know.

    Carefully, as if leaning closer to look at the shells, she let her opposite hand come to rest against Bly’s arm. There, she slowly traced out the sign for danger.

    She felt his muscles twitch, but that was the only visible reply he gave to her touch. Placing his hand against the booth where she could see, he tapped out an answer. Location?

    A seven for the symbolic chrono-face. Bly didn’t look, but she knew that there hadn’t been a moment when he was unaware of the crowd milling around them. Though she normally kept herself from skimming the minds of her men the same as she reflexively would her fellow Jedi – it was the height of rudeness to glean from them when they could not do the same in return – that courtesy meant nothing when it came to the life and death stakes of battle. From their years spent working together, Bly knew to think as loudly as he could: the man who’s too interested in the wine vendor? Grey cloak?

    It was as easy for her to slip through the warm, inviting waters of his thoughts as it was to dive into an ocean at peace – all too easy, even, gratifyingly so. If she was not careful, here she could happily remain.

    Her fingertips caressed his arm in answer. Yes.

    They turned away from the booth of seashells, and Aayla remained tucked close to Bly. She leaned her head against his shoulder to further their charade for Volfe’s agent, and one lek was all too happy to drape down over his back as they walked. Forcing away all of the wonderful sensation and base awareness that brought, Aayla kept her focus on their tail as the cloaked man continued to follow them.

    As close as they were then, Aayla allowed herself to mutter, “There’s an entrance to the catacombs not far ahead,” without fear of them being overheard. She felt Bly tap an affirmative when he reached over to cover her hand with his own. They needed to confirm whether or not the tunnels were still being used by the Anzati, and while she knew there was one such hunter following them then, it would behoove them to attempt to find out how many had returned – or remained, even, since Volfe’s stupefying resurrection.

    And, if Volfe saw her returning to his previous base of power – even innocuously so, that would only further his curiosity for the better.

    At the end of the street there was a small Hall of Memory built into the hill-side, just before the summit of the cliffs. Columns surrounded the shrine, colored with the symbols of a clan she could not identify. Inside, the space was dimly lit, allowing only three Hearts of Fire on their pedestals to shine – a sad contrast to the thousands of such stones in Clan Vos’ grand Hall, annexed to the Sheyf’s palace. It was a lonely space, filled with achingly empty alcoves. There was only a pair of off-worlders within, wandering in from the street out of curiosity for their surroundings. There were no Kiffar with matching markings to the symbols emblazoned on the walls, communing with the memories of their ancestors. Distantly, Aayla wondered if there were any left to remember.

    The cloaked man could not enter behind them, not immediately if he wished to remain discrete in his ploy. Aayla took her opportunity, and pulled Bly into one of the empty alcoves and through the hidden door there that led into the catacombs laced beneath the city.

    At first the tunnels were dark – oppressively so, but Aayla remembered the way even years later. They only had to turn the next corner to see sunlight pouring in from the open lattice-work naturally carved into the cliffs from the violence of the surf over the centuries. There were still waterlines marked low on the walls from where the tunnels still periodically filled. Deeper down, the caverns flooded completely. Some of the sea-caves could only be entered and exited at different times of the day, even, depending on the rhythm of the tides.

    The only sound they could hear was the pulsing of the waves, reverberating through the stone. Aayla could feel the presence of the sea like a second heartbeat in her chest.

    “Most of these tunnels are natural,” she whispered to explain, careful to keep her voice low so that it did not echo. “A combination of volcanic chutes and ancient waterways. Those that are not were excavated by Clan Iro millennia ago; they used them when they overthrew Clan Kies from power, long before the time of the Republic.”

    “And now?” Bly asked.

    “Thieves and smugglers make use of them, mostly,” Aayla shrugged to answer. “Though not so much now as before. The Kiffar are sensitive to the memory of any given place, and here . . . the stones retain the suffering and pain they have witnessed. Such is a warning of danger, and the Kiffar are canny to heed that warning.”

    For that, Bly gave a wry snort of sound. “You don’t need the Force to know that something here stinks like strill osik,” he agreed. “Somehow this is worse than the tunnels on Geonosis, even without the bugs.”

    Those tunnels had been dark and narrow and crawling, and yet natural in their own way, Aayla remembered. They were merely home to the sentients who had adapted to live there. Here, however, even with the broken sunlight and the beauty of the stone and sea . . .

    . . . evil lurked here, and its presence lingered like a fist threatening to close. Even the air they breathed seemed to be hushed with expectation.

    She led them through the pathways, falling silent as she turned into herself to better concentrate on their surroundings, alert for any sign that they were not alone. They went deeper and deeper into the catacombs, towards the caves that were carved out down by the level of the sea. As they went, she couldn’t detect any indication of the tunnels being recently used; she couldn't even sense their tail from the marketplace following behind them. More than once she ruefully wished that Quinlan was there, even, so that he could read the memory from the stones.

    But, for the time being, their own senses would just have to serve them, and it was then, just on the wings of that thought that she heard -

    - a scream, desperate and shrill, echoing from just up ahead.

    Catching Bly’s eye, she didn’t have to say a word aloud. They both took off at a run, and honed in on the sound.


    End Notes: A short update, by my standards, but I had to break up the part to follow before this chapter became too much of an unmanageable beast. In return, though, I gave you about 1k words of mutual ogling. So, there's that. ;)

    Until next time! [:D]

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    How absolutely stunning Aayla is in that dress. It's no wonder Bly is twitterpated and discombobulated [face_laugh] No, I can tell it's not a huge stretch for them to "pretend" to be a couple [face_mischief] The whole sinister Anzati presence however lends a creepy undertone. :eek:

    Last edited: May 8, 2021
    Findswoman and Mira_Jade like this.
  4. pronker

    pronker Force Ghost star 4

    Jan 28, 2007
  5. DaenaBenjen42

    DaenaBenjen42 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    May 15, 2005
    I... think I have to go read other parts of this first to start making sense of it, based on the introduction here...
  6. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Aug 9, 2002
    I'm here, I'm heeeeeere! Gonna get to work on some more in-depth feedback right now, so I'll be back with that, but it's all so good. :D

    Edit: I'm back! ;)

    They are tropes for a reason… [face_whistling][face_mischief]

    :p :p

    I love all of this! (And ditto the Greek islands! Such a beautiful area that I would love to visit one day.)

    Oooooh, now I’m even more intrigued… :D

    Dang, girl, you and your dress descriptions! [face_love] And also, YES for choosing a dress that can conceal a lightsaber! (And the appropriate footwear, lol.)

    This poor, frustrated, lovestruck woman. :p I probably shouldn’t be as amused by this as I am… but I am. [face_whistling]

    Aayla really is a devoted servant of the Force and the Jedi Order, isn’t she? I admire that devotion, and again, I understand why she would feel this way, especially after everything she went through in the past with Volfe and Quinlan… but still.

    [face_laugh] Oh, she definitely is.

    Everything about this whole section was just amazing. I could visualize the city clearly, and the amount of history you described really made it come alive for me. I have no idea where canon ends and fanon begins, and I think that’s perfect and shows just how gifted you are when it comes to setting the scene and describing locations and customs and cultures. And your prose throughout is, of course, beautiful. [face_love] (I did really love this bit about the sunlight catching on the cresting waves. I’m predictable, I know. :p)

    SO OMINOUS AND CREEPY. [face_worried] And because you did such a wonderful job in previous chapters of establishing how Aayla perceives her bonds with Bly and Quinlan, it made this connection to Volfe stand in even starker contrast.

    Ah, and there’s that bond with Bly, and I love the phrasing here. [face_love] Even with the absolute darkness that is Volfe pressing in around her, there’s Bly at her side, an ocean at peace. I also love the idea that he feels that way to her, even though he was bred for war and has hardly known anything else in his short life. I don’t know, there’s just a simple beauty in that. :)

    The tension is mounting in more ways than one, and I can’t wait to see where it goes! :D =D=
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
    Mira_Jade likes this.
  7. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fan Fiction Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Nov 9, 2002
    It's honestly just kind of sad that the clones aren't used to being considered people. They're good characters, but placing an order for sentient beings just so they can serve as short-lived cannon fodder - I mean. Who thinks that's okay? Aside from the entire dang Republic o_O So yes, give these boys the happy endings they deserve [face_love]

    Also I am sure there are good Kuatis and Hapans, but their spoiled brat attitudes in the EU are most off-putting o_O

    Atta boy, Bly. I am here for all the stories about men who treat women with genuine respect and insist those around them do the same. (A big part of why I love Luke and Kanan so much, tbh)

    I. Want. This. Suite.

    He's such a goner :p


    Cracks me up that it didn't occur to her that he'd notice that outfit :p

    This is an eloquent summation of the way the best Jedi likely viewed matters. I like it [face_thinking] And from a writer's standpoint, if the self-sacrificing nature of it can foster some pining or angst, so much the better :p

    Aw [face_love]

    Ooh, excellent description of how it might feel to sense the Force *takes notes*

    Oh, this is clever, I like :D

    I also very much like the self-disciplined courtesy Aayla describes here, and how Bly has learned the practical ways of working with a Jedi :D

    A) I like how Vi makes it sound like it would be such a trial for her to inject angst into a story o_O
    B) I agree with Mira :p
  8. amidalachick

    amidalachick Force Ghost star 5

    Aug 3, 2003

    (Sorry, I couldn't resist. And now I really want to watch Bad Santa again. [face_laugh])

    SQUEE! I CANNOT wait to read that! [face_love]

    And now onto Part 3. I could have just quoted the entire chapter but I'll try and show some restraint haha!

    [face_laugh] All of you amazing flight attendants absolutely work magic with those overhead bins, I swear!

    There's so much in this section that I just love. Aayla initiating the touch, Bly trying to convince himself it's just part of the mission, the comfortableness of it, the poignancy of the 'touched him without violence' bit - it says so much about both of them and it's just so beautifully written.

    Also, it makes me think of this song (Springsteen of course :p):

    "You might need somethin' to hold on to
    When all the answers they don't amount to much
    Somebody that you could just talk to
    And a little of that human touch..."

    [face_love] No matter how many times I fly this is one of my favorite parts. Whether it's a familiar skyline or the very first glimpse of a corner of the world I've never seen before it's just so exciting and full of possibility and magic. And oh boy, do I miss it!

    The descriptions of Kiffu are just gorgeous. [face_love] I want to visit!

    Awww! I think, out of a story and a chapter full of completely beautiful writing and scenery, this is one of my absolute favorite bits. I love the visual of awestruck Bly, and I totally feel for him trying to put all these feelings into words.

    And then the hotel! More totally gorgeous descriptions that make me want to go there right now.

    OH NO, HOWEVER ARE THEY GOING TO MANAGE! :eek:[face_tee_hee]:D I love this trope so much haha.

    I'm really loving this story and I can't wait to read the next part as soon as I get the chance. [face_love]
  9. amidalachick

    amidalachick Force Ghost star 5

    Aug 3, 2003
    And finished reading Part 4, finally! :p

    OH THIS SOUNDS SO GORGEOUS!! [face_love] Especially the white against her blue skin - like white clouds in a clear summer sky. Just so pretty and I love it.

    I also love the contrast in her thoughts, as a Jedi and solider versus a woman in love. As always, it's such beautiful writing and characterization.

    Oh, the staring. [face_love] I'm a simple woman; I see two characters share intense eye contact, I ship them. [face_laugh]

    Probably. [face_laugh]

    Oh, such a gorgeous line! I love how Bly is still so captivated and amazed by everything too, both because this is all so new to him and because I can totally relate.

    And then that chilling darkness in the midst of all this beauty - it's such a contrast and a reminder that there's still a mission to complete (I really hope they get a nice, 100% relaxing real vacation after all this :D). And I love the way they communicate through touches and thought!

    Another stunningly beautiful line. [face_love]

    Fantastic work, as always, and I cannot wait to read more! :D=D=
  10. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    Alrighty, good readers, here I am with some replies! Then, I should have the next part up sometime this weekend, which I am so very excited for. Needless to say, I sprinkled a few of my favorite tropes like confetti in the next chapter and it's gonna be a blast. ;) [face_whistling] [face_love]

    That it does, doesn't it? Which makes the twitter-patedness and discombobulation even better! Or, at least, so we'll see by the end of the story. :p

    Thank-you so much for reading, my friend, as always! [:D]

    [face_mischief] [:D]

    That's more than fair! But, as always, it's great to see you stop in here regardless. [:D]

    We're going to touch on it in this chapter - and by that I mean hit it with a sledge hammer - but it's going to be soooooo important by the end, and I just can't wait! :D [face_mischief]

    I LOVE WRITING PRETTY DESCRIPTIONS FOR ALL THE PRETTY DRESSES, YES SIREE I DO! (I may or may not have an entire pinterest board dedicated to potential Star Wars fashions. :p) And, while I'm at it, let's make it practical-ish. (Don't even get me started on how Aayla and Ahsoka, and even Padmé at times, are dressed in canon! :rolleyes:)

    Well, I know I'm amused, and as the holder of the pen I'd say I'm doing my job right then. [face_mischief]

    Seriously, though, the UST here is killer when you think about it. Talk about two people from super repressed backgrounds (by choice and otherwise) quite literally sparking and threatening to combust after years and years of denial. Frustrated doesn't even begin to cover it, even before tossing in pesky feelings like love and a perceived sense of duty to a higher calling . . . :p [face_mischief] [face_whistling]

    Again, as much as I enjoy writing Jedi who are ready to chuck the code out of the window when they find love *side-eyes our Trash King*, it is fascinating exploring a mindset like Aayla's. She truly believes in the tenets she's sworn a vow to uphold, and she's seen first-hand what can happen when Jedi are loose and careless with their emotions. Of course, it's two entirely different things - her bond with Bly and what she went through with the Dark Side with Volfe and Quinlan, but she'll figure that out. ;)

    Oh, definitely!

    I think pronker called it TripAdvisor mode a few posts back, but I just love describing scenery and world-building alien locations. What's the fun in writing for a sci-fi fandom like SW if you can't just let loose and explore, quite literally? So I'm glad that all of my rambling was enjoyable! [face_laugh] [face_love]

    So, SO ominous and creepy. And we haven't even gotten started with the horror-show that is Volfe. Not really. [face_plain]

    But, you know, I do love my fluff and romance with a dark, angsty edge, that's for sure. Not that I have to explain that to the master, though. ;)

    These two just kill me dead with how sickeningly sweet and adorable they are. Which is amazing, again, seeing as how Bly was quite literally bred to be a weapon and Aayla is still very much a servant of the Republic to match - though more organically so by choice. For them to find peace and serenity in each other - even tangibly so for Aayla . . . that's just the good stuff for me as a writer. [face_love]

    Ain't that the truth? And I'm about to toss a match on everything, just you wait . . . [face_mischief] [face_whistling]

    As always, I can't thank you enough for reading and for leaving your awesome feedback! I appreciate every word more than I can say. [:D]

    It's funny: AoTC came out when I was thirteen, and I remember being incredibly uncomfortable with the use of the clone army even then. It creeped me out how the Jedi - and even Padmé in her scene - fell so easily into ordering them about just because they were made to be weapons for the Republic to discharge like ordnance. The sad way Bail Organa looked down when the troops were being deployed in the final scenes struck me even as a child and I thought: there, that's where Leia gets it from. But it's brilliant how masterfully Palpatine orchestrated the Anakin's fall (and the Republic's) down to the last detail - and a big part of that was him being a general in what amounts to a slave army as a former slave himself. It's so morally messed up and the Jedi know it is, but . . . what is there to do instead? [face_plain]

    Anyway, I can write essays on this subject. In the meantime, I love giving all of these dear boy all of the autonomy and happy endings I can. Yes siree I do. [face_love] [face_love]

    It's just so much fun to write them as the galaxy's spoiled brats, isn't it? That's what smothers out all of the good Kuati and Hapans! [face_laugh]

    Right??? All these good men who respect their - and all - women! [face_love]

    Me too, me too, meeee toooo!

    So far gone. :p

    Aayla has no idea what you are trying to imply, of course. :p

    She's just trying so hard not to notice that her brain isn't even working in reverse! Poor woman. [face_laugh] :oops:

    Just like I was saying to Vi: it's fascinating examining a Jedi POV that really embraces and believes in the Code, as opposed to, say, Anakin, who is always ready to chuck every rule out the window at the first opportunity. But in the end, let's be honest, it's all for that self-sacrificing angst and mutual pining. Mmmhmm, yes it is! [face_mischief]


    Aw, thanks! *takes a bow*

    Any excuse to get these two to touch - For the Mission, of course. [face_whistling]

    There are just so many fascinating things to explore about Jedi/Clone bonds even without the romance, lemme tell you . . .

    As always, it's fantastic to have you along for the ride in this story, and I hope that you continue to enjoy this tale as it goes! [face_love] [:D]

    How bad is it that I couldn't even find a 'classy' Billy Bob Thornton gif to counter this with? The man definitely has a MO, that's for sure. [face_laugh]

    Heck, we fly as passengers too and we know how insane the costs are to check luggage. It's ridiculous. So, personally, I would try to fit absolutely everything I could onboard - and I've even got a few rounds of applause for working miracles with luggage over the years. But that also means that when we say something won't fit, it won't fit - and I'm looking at you: Mr. 2C who had us on a four hour maintenance delay in Montreal when he broke the overhead bin trying to prove me wrong with his swanky over-stuffed Tumi bag. That particular shell never fits on a regional jet, no matter what it says on the tag. :p

    Aw, thank-you! That was one of the bits of writing I was most proud of, and that made me so happy to hear that it struck a chord. [face_love]

    I LOVE THIS SONG AND IT'S NOW OFFICIALLY ON MY WRITING PLAYLIST. Between that and Ghost, my muse is well fed. Thanks for sharing! [face_love]

    [face_love] No matter how many times I fly this is one of my favorite parts. Whether it's a familiar skyline or the very first glimpse of a corner of the world I've never seen before it's just so exciting and full of possibility and magic. And oh boy, do I miss it![/quote]

    Right??? This world is just gorgeous, and there's nothing like descending into a new place for the first time. It's magic, and I miss it too. [face_love]

    As much as I love writing about my dear boys figuring out the whole Life thing and all its wonders, this really is so relatable as a traveler, you're right! I adored writing this bit, and am thrilled you enjoyed it too,

    [face_rofl] [face_rofl] [face_rofl] BEST TROPE IS THE BEST, it's true. :p

    THAT WAS EXACTLY THE SAME METAPHOR AS I WAS THINKING. She's just so pretty and dresses are so pretty too, and I loved describing all the pretty things here. [face_love]

    A Jedi soldier and a woman in love, isn't that the crux of it? Thank-you so much for this, that really meant a lot to me to know I'm getting her character right as an author. [face_love]

    Right??? All the sizzling smoulders, for the win! We are but simple fangirls, and we are weak for well placed eye contact. [face_laugh]

    Oh, definitely!

    Again, I love how much you love travelling! Because it's true, and we can relate. I have had an absolute blast writing this story, for more reasons than one. [face_love]

    They don't know it yet, but T'ra has that room booked for a few solid weeks longer than they'll need it for the mission, and Trig and Tug are both totally fighting over who gets to be the de facto Commander of the 327th in the meantime. Also, Fives would have won the pool betting on them if he was still alive, hands down. As it stands, Kit Fisto is going to take it all as runner up. :p

    I just ADORE that line - and it was a last minute addition while editing! - so I'm thrilled to hear that you do as well.

    Again, I can't thank you enough for all the time you put into your wonderful feedback! I appreciated every word and I hope that you continue to enjoy this story as it goes! [face_dancing] [face_love] [:D]

    Last edited: May 28, 2021
  11. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    Author's Note: Well, I am probably posting this earlier than I should. But I am just so excited about this update, so I will keep on editing out little typos over the next few days that I know I missed. In the meantime: enjoy! And I do mean enjoy. [face_mischief]



    Bly knew, even as they ran, that they would be too late. He’d heard screams like that before; from his brothers too many times on too many battlefields to mention, and even from civilians caught in the wrong place at the wrong time during the worst days of the war. There was a horribly raw quality to the sound of a sentient being fighting against their end and desperately clinging to life, before -

    “That's a negative.”

    Sure enough, when he knelt down besides the crumpled body – a young Kiffar man with two intertwined orange loops on his forehead – there was no pulse to be found. Tell-tale drops of blood drained from his nose, still wet and bright red with thwarted life, yet besides that one ominous clue there was no other sign of a struggle. This man had come willingly with his attacker, Bly suspected, and hadn’t tried to fight back until it was too late.

    A struggle; something about thought that nagged at Bly. When an Anzati made the choice to feed, a victim never had time, nor did they even think, to scream. They certainly didn't try to fight. This, he thought, was a message.

    Sure enough: “This was purposefully done,” Aayla's voice was cold to pronounce, cutting into the eerie silence that had descended over the catacombs. Distantly, a breaking wave crashed against the cliffs, its might echoing through the stone and trembling beneath their feet.

    Bly paused as he looked up and down the tunnel for any sign of the Anzati in the grey cloak. Of course, there was nothing. Then: “Very,” he agreed with a sigh.

    He stood to cover her as Aayla knelt down besides the body, the lines of her lekku quivering with righteous anger. Gently, she reached forward to close the man’s eyes, her touch lingering as if in apology. It was a long moment before she exhaled, composing herself. When she lifted her eyes again, her gaze was steeled with determination. “We’ll alert the others,” she said simply. “They will take care of the body once our mission is complete. For now, I suspect that we have found all that Volfe will allow us to find.”

    Bly nodded in agreement. If she’d given the order he would have followed her even deeper into the caverns, but truth be told he was eager to leave the tunnels behind. This place felt as wrong to him as the inside of Kami Ra’s lab, and he had no desire to linger – for his Jedi to linger when her safety was his primary concern, and the foe here was something past his ability to easily subdue.

    They had nearly made it down to the waterline of the sea in their search. When he looked out the natural openings in the stone walls, the glittering expanse of the water seemed almost close enough to touch. This far down, he could feel the pounding of the surf reverberate in his chest like a thunderclap. The sun was just starting to set, and Kiffex loomed as a massive orb in the sky at the periastron of its dual orbit with Kiffu. Gold whispered over the crests of the waves, refracted from above, and the air felt charged to herald the electrical storms that would dance between the two magnetospheres when they joined at the Mingling. Without another word spoken between them when none needed to be said, they turned to ascend back out of the depths.

    As they made their way through the maze of catacombs, Bly kept his hand on the butt of his blaster, never fully at ease with the sinister eyes he could feel on them as they went. They were quiet and tense in answer to the threat pressing in against them, wholly focused on their surroundings – or at least they were until Aayla suddenly . . . was not.

    No matter how carefully he scanned the tunnels around them, there was never a moment when he was unaware of his Jedi. She was ever his central focus – as much as through the inculcation to be everything to his Jedi at all times as it was that his awareness had grown beyond the initial parameters of his creation to see Aayla for Aayla. One moment she was cannily scouting the terrain ahead of them, and then the next the lines of her body relaxed – overly so. He looked, a frown threatening to furrow his brow for her uncharacteristic lapse in vigilance, and saw the exact moment when her gaze softened. The deep brown of her eyes turned glazed, and she stared distantly ahead. Her lekku flicked as if she was listening for some faint whisper only she could hear. Even as he watched, they slackened completely in their harness, swaying as if lulled by some distant melody.

    Something, he thought between one breath and the next, was not right.

    “Aayla?” it was then as reflexive for him to use her given name in concern as much as for the sake of the mission – with the sudden intuition that they were then not alone filling him with its truth and demanding to be heard.

    His worries were only heightened when she didn’t reply; her lekku didn’t even flick towards the sound of his voice – as ever alert to him as he was to her. She was, he thought to know with a stinging sense of certainty, then very far away from him . . . and poised to go even further still.

    Bly had seen Jedi taken by the Force before, lost to visions and premonitions and battle melds, or even just to the casual conversations they uttered between their minds. This was similar, he thought, but not. And it was then that he remembered that the Anzati were able to overwhelm their victims with a sort of Force-telepathy that was more akin to hypnosis than not. While he first wanted to scoff and say that his Jedi was stronger than any mere mind trick, where Volfe was concerned . . .

    He’d take no chances.

    Back on Kamino they’d been taught to recognize the presence of mental coercion; they'd even been trained to build what rudimentary psychic shields they could in their own minds. Apparently, while not sensitive to the Force in the slightest, Jango Fett held gritty stubbornness in spades, and he’d passed a strong sense of self in relation to his reality onto his clones. One of the Cuy’val Dar had been a Maelibus – a native of Iego before she’d embraced the tenets of Resol’nare and swore to follow the true Mand’alor – who'd overseen their training in this aspect. Bly remembered Sergeant Dominga’s sweeping horns and the massive girth of her body, her gold plated beskar only enhancing the more monstrous details of her predator’s form. She’d had a gift for hypnosis that was inherent to her people, and a voice that sounded like a song in juxtaposition to her uniquely nightmarish appearance.

    “If your shields fall,” she'd said at the end of her module, her smirk audible in her voice no matter how her helmet masked her face, “resort to cognitive recalibration. Your brothers will thank you for it – eventually.”

    For that thought, dread pitted in his stomach. He stopped in the middle of the tunnel at an elbowed joint that overlooked the sea, where he could keep an eye on the comings and goings in both directions. He cut into Aayla’s path and was concerned when she patiently came to a stop before him without question. Her expression was docile as she stared at some distant point beyond him, so much so that Bly brought his hands up to cup her face – not out of any sense of heart-stopping concern, he told himself, but to tilt up her chin and lift her eyes to his as she currently could no longer do for herself.

    “Aayla?” he tried to break through to her, his voice sharp to his own ears. He shook her as gently as he dared before sweeping his thumbs over the high cut of her cheekbones. Neither gesture gained a reaction. “C’mon, cyare, snap out of it.”

    Yet, instead of rousing her, her condition only worsened as he watched. Her eyes rolled back in her head as her body began to tremble. He suspected that the only thing keeping her upright was his hold on her. She did not even try to reach out to him in an attempt to ground herself – perhaps she couldn’t. Fear spiked through him, wild and terrified enough to overwhelm all thought, prompting him to movement and demanding action.

    Cognitive recalibration spiraled through his mind like a whirlpool, and yet he couldn’t bring himself to raise a hand to her – not like he hadn’t hesitated to smash a fist in Wolffe’s face when that harpy Ventress had been up to her tricks again on Dalooine. Wolffe’s surly temper made him an easy target when push came to shove, and he’d quickly gotten over it when he snapped back to his senses. But this . . . this was Aayla.

    Maybe that was why, without even consciously making the decision to do so, he swept forward, and kissed her.

    Somewhere beyond the consuming knowledge that he was kissing Aayla, he desperately hoped that this would be a shock enough to help her break free from Volfe’s hold. He knew that he had to give her something tangible to hold onto like an anchor when she was fighting against her own mind. If she could just reach for him, then he’d pull her up the rest of the way.

    . . . even if she did snap out of it and saw fit to slap him for the liberties he was taking. Wolffe certainly had come to with both fists swinging.

    But he definitely wasn’t thinking about his brother then – or about much of anything, really – when his mind finally caught up with his actions and short-circuited for any further thought. He all too quickly forgot that this was a duty he was performing – a needs must rather than a need that he suddenly never wanted to let go of now that he'd embraced it. His fearconcerntterror and a more possessive notmyjedi and his pathetically smitten sheisnotandcanneverbeyours that he normally clung to whenever he teetered on forgetting his place with Aayla then disappeared. He forgot that he had no idea what he was doing, that he had never kissed anyone before, let alone been kissed, as he held himself so painfully, awkwardly still. He still cradled her face in his hands, faltering after his initial bravery and stunned into motionlessness by the weight of his actions – by the sudden softnessheatjoy that seared through him with all the force of a live current.

    He faltered . . . and yet, Aayla did not.

    Bly felt the exact moment when she returned to herself; felt her blink and suck in a breath as if coming up for air before he was overwhelmed with a surge of her from that hallowed place in his mind where she usually only reached out to him in midst of battle. This was no war to wage here, though, and rather than a command he felt an outpouring of questiondoubtsurprise before a wave of finally that eclipsed all other rational thought. He couldn’t process anything further than that, because suddenly his general – Aayla – was kissing him back, and then there wasn’t any more room for thought beyond the all-encompassing furor of that knowledge.

    He’d been caught in an undertow once before. This felt much the same – letting the current take him and surrendering to his inability to escape. He didn’t want to escape; he didn’t even think about coming up for air as he followed her lead and left his uncertainty behind to kiss her back. He still cupped her face – gently now – as she pressed herself against him and wrapped her arms around his neck to close their embrace. He could feel her nails scrape down his back, even as he gave into the impulse to finally, finally touch her in return. The dress she wore had been maddening from the first, but now he reveled in the soft translucency of the material – with that frustrating, haunting shadow of blue visible underneath the mist of white now his to seek out in a wonderfully tangible way – as he felt the dip of her waist and the flare of her hips and the sleek muscles framing the dips of her spine, left bare from the vee in her dress. He felt her lekku writhe for his touch, and that certainly couldn’t be ignored as he palmed one gorgeous appendage from root to tip and felt her gasp into his mouth.

    Bly,” sharply, she mewled his name in a way he would never forget. He trailed kisses to where her jaw met her neck, and would have happily continued chasing her sighs by following the path his hand had taken before -

    - reality doused him like the proverbial bucked of cold water as one particularly massive wave crashed just below them, and just as violently as it had first claimed him, the undertow released him. They were still in enemy territory with an unknown variable in Volfe lurking somewhere in the shadows, the bare sliver of his mind that was still aware of his surroundings was merciless to remind him. And this was his . . . this was his Jedi. He couldn’t . . . he shouldn’t . . .

    In an effort to catch his breath – which had been stolen just as thoroughly as if he’d just finished running ten klicks in full gear – he leaned down to rest his head where her neck sloped into her shoulder. He could feel her exhale as she too tried to recover herself, with the ghost of her fingers trailing over him one last time before her hands fell away completely, the moment broken.

    Strangely, he felt as if he was walking away from himself when he took a careful step back from her. He couldn't immediately bring himself to meet her eyes.

    “Are you all right?” Bly couldn’t call her sir – not then, and yet her name felt much to intimate to even whisper, so he left off a form of address entirely.

    Deeply, Aayla sighed. “Yes,” she answered, lifting her hands to cradle her temples. “He is gone.” She paused, and then added, “and he is most displeased.”

    Good, Bly thought with no small amounts of satisfaction – for the mission, of course, and not for the savagely strummed cord of possessive Iwontletyouhaveher that echoed through him for her statement. That was . . . that was good.

    Finally, Aayla stepped back, moving even further away from him, and for a moment he wanted nothing more than to follow her. Instead, he held himself so carefully still as he watched her, and then militantly brought himself to stand at attention once more. His doing so felt . . . necessary, then.

    “My thanks,” she said, and he could feel the commander that whispered across his mind – a reminder in every way. He had done his duty, he repeated to himself; he had protected his general, and nothing more.

    “It was nothing,” Bly replied, but the words felt like stones dropping from his mouth. They landed uneasily between them.

    Aayla nodded sharply, and then turned to continue on their way. That was . . . that was that, then.

    Yes, Bly was merciless as he followed her, that was that.

    By the time they exited back through the secret entrance in the unnamed Hall of Memory, the sun had almost set completely. The sky was the color of molten gold, turning to old bronze and then blue-black as forks of lightning danced across the plane of the horizon from the Mingling between Kiffu and Kiffex. The streets were even more crowded now than they had been before, giddy with a sense of excitement and revelry that even the height of business in the afternoon market couldn’t match. Unlike earlier, however, Bly couldn’t bring himself to appreciate the clamor but for the strategic awareness he always maintained of his surroundings. His senses were much too preoccupied looking for the threat from earlier to return, he told himself. He was certainly not watching the sway of Aayla’s hips as she walked a half step in front of him . . . he was not focusing on the dance of her lekku . . . on the blue stretch of skin left bare down the length of her back . . . he was not remembering, in any way.

    Pull yourself together, trooper, Bly sternly called himself to order, and, in that way, they made their way back to Vrea’s hill without a single word spoken between them.

    Upon returning to the hotel, they paused outside the door to their suite. The air between was charged with energy enough to match the Mingling, sparking in a way he could all but feel against his skin. Aayla looked at him, her eyes darker than usual, and Bly sucked in a breath. If she wanted to talk about the . . . about the Incident, then he would listen and accept whatever censure she could think to rebuke him with. Yet there was something else about her gaze that he couldn’t quite place, and he was even more confused when her eyes fell to his mouth. He thought to know what that look meant, and yet that couldn’t be . . .

    . . . could it?

    For his part, Bly knew that he very much wanted to kiss her again. Perhaps he thought that last thought too loud, for, in the next moment, Aayla was uncharacteristically graceless as she waved her key over the sensor for the door and slipped inside in a way that felt like she was retreating from him. He blinked, feeling strangely off-balanced between his confusion and the strange, dormant sense within him that suddenly awakened and wanted to follow her, to give chase. He had to forcibly hold himself still, and breathe.

    When he trusted himself – just barely, anyway – to act in a manner becoming of a clone trooper, he followed her inside. Yet, no matter how much he was preoccupied with everything that was Aayla to his senses, that didn’t take away years of training and battlefield experience. We are not alone, he suddenly knew, and he had his blaster drawn just as soon as a familiar snap-hiss sounded beside him, throwing a brilliant sapphire glow across the shadows.

    “Lights,” Aayla commanded, her voice nearly a growl, and Bly instinctively flanked her as the room illuminated to reveal -

    - Quinlan Vos, sitting on one of the plush couches of the conversation circle with his feet propped up on the low-slung table in the center. He had a bottle of a dark amber liquid in his hands – undoubtedly pilfered from the room’s more than adequately stocked bar. He flipped them a lazy salute in greeting, even as Bly blinked to adjust to the light.

    “My but don't I feel welcomed,” he drawled, a smirk tugging on his mouth that had Bly rolling his eyes as he – only somewhat regrettably – holstered his weapon. It took Aayla a heartbeat longer to extinguish the blade of her lightsaber. “It’s almost like you didn’t miss me at all.”

    Like armor rash on a ten-day campaign, Bly wanted to retort, but kept that thought to himself. He must have thought a little too loudly anyway; Aayla cracked the smallest of smiles, while Quinlan decidedly did not.

    Instead of finding a rude reply in answer, Quinlan frowned to look them both over – taking in Aayla in her dress and the overly stiff way Bly knew he was holding himself at attention. “You kids have fun today?” he asked, an edge lining his question.

    Just as Bly wondered just how thoroughly his shields were shredded from the events in the catacombs, it was Aayla who took point. Narrowing her eyes, she avoided answering him completely. “What do you want, Quin?” instead she challenged with a question of her own. “You should not be here.”

    Vos, Bly knew, was still wanted for his murder of the previous Sheyf of Sheyfs – no matter how justified the death of his great-aunt may have been. He was still a kinslayer in the eyes of the Kiffar, and if he was caught here that would only complicate matters for them – perhaps to the point of blowing their cover completely.

    Vos merely shrugged, and took another long swallow from the bottle in his hand. “It won’t hurt what they don’t know,” he brushed Aayla’s concerns aside. He tilted the neck of the bottle towards her in an irreverent gesture that had Bly grinding his teeth.

    It was arrogance like that that got good men killed, Bly inwardly seethed to himself. He was grateful, not for the first time, that Vos never had a legion of clones assigned to him to command. He would have gone the way of Krell in no time, no doubt.

    Aayla, for her part, wasn't at all impressed. Her lekku twitched as she folded her arms across her chest, and stared.

    “Fine,” Quinlan growled, placing the bottle down and taking his feet off the table. “I’m here to pass on a message from T’ra.”

    “T’ra is more than capable of relaying her own messages,” Aayla swatted his words aside the same way Bly would ignore a shiny who was trying to sidestep some rookie mistake or another in mid-sitrep.

    Her words were true, at that. They had all agreed that Volfe was much too arrogant to tap their comms early on. The same secure channels they used for communication during the war would serve them just as well here as they did on any other frontline.

    “T’ra has managed to secure an invitation to break your fast with Keres Vos at her villa tomorrow morning,” Vos ignored Aayla’s clear annoyance in favor of delivering his supposed message. “Keres wishes to greet her guest in a more intimate setting before the performance, and the Count will be in attendance. 1000, you’re scheduled to be there.”

    “Lady Vos wants to show her off in an effort to impress Volfe,” Bly found himself muttering, little liking the idea.

    “Exactly,” for once, Vos’ eyes locked on him, and they stood united in their opinion.

    And Aayla was having nothing of it. “Yours is a most important message,” she challenged on a retort. “We would not have been able to go on otherwise.”

    “What can I say? I had time,” Vos shrugged. “Obi-Wan and I are off to do a little bit more searching in the catacombs as soon as the Mingling is through. We’ll go deeper into the sea caves to see what we can see . . . and we’ll take care of the body."

    Only then did something about Vos’ arrogant façade falter. His shoulders fell from their proud line, just slightly, and his mien was suddenly serious as he locked eyes with his former apprentice – looking her over for harm, Bly suddenly understood, both for which was unseen and not.

    Aayla, he thought, must have reached a similar conclusion – or, more likely, she’d known the truth all along. “I am well, Quin,” she said softly. A moment of silence passed, heavy in a way that Bly knew that more was said into the bond between their minds. He lingered only somewhat awkwardly on the outside of their shared moment, letting them take all the time they needed.

    “Of course you are,” finally, Vos grunted. “After all, I trained you.”

    The moment passed, and then ended completely.

    “All right, then,” Quinlan found his feet and headed towards the balcony. “Obi-Wan will be wondering where I’ve gone, and I don’t want to hear his mother-nunaing right now. The nag,” he added in his version of fondness.

    Quinlan didn’t say anything directly to him in parting. He didn’t say keep her safe or don’t screw this up, but Bly could feel the warning and the question that the elder Jedi pressed in against him the same as he could feel a storm building even before he could see it. Bly merely stood up straighter underneath the weight of his regard, and held Vos’ stare without blinking.

    “Have a good night,” he said, his tone overly formal. He didn't bother calling him general, nor would he ever.

    “Yeah, you too,” Vos said – more to Aayla than to him, Bly knew. Yet he paused, and after a moment where he clearly tried to think better of his impulse, he smirked wickedly. “Though not too much fun. Don't do anything I wouldn't do.”

    With that, Quinlan nodded at the maddeningly single bed in explanation, and before either of them could muster a reply he was off like a shot through the columns lining the balcony. He jumped over the ledge in a single fluid motion, and then was lost to the night.

    With the rancor in the room then so summarily called to attention – and Bly remembering the Incident as much as he suspected Aayla then was – they awkwardly stood there without looking at each other. He was wracking his mind for something – anything – to say, wanting to break the tension and put his Jedi at ease, when -

    “Are you hungry?”

    Bly blinked, taken aback by the sudden change in pace. “Beg pardon, sir?” he asked.

    “T’ra has gone through so much trouble, and has clearly spared no expense,” Aayla waved a hand to explain, encompassing their surroundings. “You haven’t lived until you have tried kataifi. So, are you hungry?”

    With that, his stomach gave an almost embarrassing growl in answer to her suggestion. Honestly, he could eat; he was just a simple clone, and he would never turn down an opportunity to try something new. Besides, if it would get them out of that Fett cursed room then a diversion was more than welcome.

    They waited only long enough to wash up and for Aayla to change again. Just how many dresses had she packed? Bly wanted to groan when she came out of the ‘fresher. She still wore white, but this time in a more formal dress that bared one shoulder and ended too high on her thighs for his sanity. It was tight in all the right places, in a way he both appreciated and regretted, and the straps on her sleeved shoulder matched the same harness and sandals she'd kept on from earlier. Bly, for his part, went over the munitions manual in his mind from aurek to besh in an endeavor to keep a tighter rein on just how much he was . . . noticing her. Especially after the Incident.

    Thankfully, however, they found their stride again when they arrived at the hotel’s onsite restaurant. The restaurant was just as gorgeous as the rest of the hotel, and they were seated in an alcove lit by actual wax candles high on a balcony that had a perfect view of the plunge waterfall that punctuated the ornate gardens as a focalpoint in the décor. There was an intimacy in the soft lighting and the hushed strains of music drifting to them from a live quartet on the level below, but one that didn’t feel as suffocating as it had back in their room.

    Bly didn’t even bother ordering, instead trusting Aayla to make a choice for both of them. In the end, the kataifi was just as good as Aayla promised it would be – a desert hot with aromatic spices, baked into a flaky dough, and topped with custard and a drizzle of sour roonan lemon sauce – as was dinner beforehand. They tried a little bit of everything, from hot freshly baked bread with a bright and zesty yogurt dip to a spicy white bean soup and fresh steamed greens drizzled with the region’s famous yolv oils and vinegar. The main course was a sample platter of the the various delicacies from the local waters, the seafood fresh-caught and prepared by the hotel’s award winning chef. It all tasted amazing to Bly, and he was sure he put on another kilo of weight in that one sitting – especially when Aayla laughed at his open wonder over the kataifi and let him finish her dessert.

    It was nice just to sit with his general and talk about mundane matters, for a moment just forgetting about the monster waiting in the shadows and everything else that had happened that day.

    . . . well, almost forgetting, at any rate. If Bly was completely honest with himself, he’d have just how soft her skin was and the heat of her mouth and the way she moaned his name locked into his memory until the day he marched on to join his fallen brothers. Yet it was easier to put those small thoughts aside here for the sum and whole of his Jedi, and he . . . he was happy for the simple joy of sharing a meal with her. Probably the happiest he’d ever been.

    Eventually, dinner came to an end and they returned to their suite – thankfully a little less awkwardly now than before. Aayla took her turn in the ‘fresher to change for the night, and Bly went outside to make use of the suite’s private pool. He’d always loved the water – he'd grown surrounded by it, in every way – and a lingering tension in his muscles that he hadn’t consciously realized he was holding onto eased as he swam long laps in the pool. It was a novelty all its own, swimming just for the joy of doing so, and he had every intention to indulge while he could. High above him, the Mingling had long since ended for the night, but stray forks of lightning still branched across the sky, and the stars that were visible beyond the constant light the twin planets reflected from their sun were touched with gold. When his laps were done, Bly just floated on his back in the water, languidly listening to the sound of the distant waves as he traced patterns of imaginary constellations from one star to the next.

    He felt his eyes drift close as the water cradled him, and he was comfortable near to the point of drowsiness when he heard Aayla walk out to join him.

    “The ‘fresher’s free,” Aayla paused between the columns to welcomed him back inside – a moment that felt terribly domestic, and familiar for just how easy it was was to fall into. Bly opened his eyes for her words, and sank to his feet again in the water.

    Of course, that’s when he turned to her and had to do a double-take. Aayla was wearing one of the standard issue sleep-shirts that all the clones were provisioned with, and just the shirt. What fit comfortably snug on him and his brothers was loose on her, slipping off one of her shoulders and draping over her body to fall midway down her thighs. The sight was intimate in a way that touched something deep inside of him – even though this was far from the first time he’d seen her dressed like that. This had been her garment of choice throughout the war for years now, mainly because of just how readily available the shirts were. Yet, it was different here, away from the 327th and the familiar surroundings of the Superior . . . just different.

    He was staring, Bly knew, little as he could help himself, and yet . . . he thought that she was too as he walked up the steps out of the pool. He could feel water sluice over his chest, and he knew that his shorts were clinging to him. He watched her eyes trace over him, following the dips and planes of his musculature, and he strangely felt shy as much as he was emboldened by her gaze. He’d never felt self-conscious about his body before – how could he, when his body was his brothers’ too in every way? But, with Aayla looking . . .

    “You've got more ink done.”

    “Um, yeah,” it took him a moment to register her words. Unconsciously, he flexed his arms as if to better feel the bands of tattoos and all they meant to him. Moko had done his job well, and he was proud of the art that distinguished him as his own self. Color flooded Aayla’s cheeks, visible even in the low light, and he had to fight again not to stare.

    “They are . . . they’re nice,” her voice was strangely high-pitched and strained. She shook her head, visibly gathering herself, and spun away from him. “’Fresher’s free,” she repeated again – and yes, that was definitely an embarrassed squeak of sound from his Jedi. “Whenever you’d like to come in, of course," she added. "Take your time.”

    And then, his general – who had never run from anything, not from Grievous or Dooku or Ventress, all – spun away from him, and retreated. Bly watched her go with a strange sort of smile threatening to split his face. For a long moment he simply stood there in the water, dumbly staring after her, before he wrestled himself back under control again. He felt like he was still floating, even as he stepped out of the pool and walked inside towards the ‘fresher. Aayla, he noticed, was very carefully not watching him as he went.

    It had been a long, surreal day, to say the least – in so many ways, and their mission had hardly begun. He didn’t even dare wonder what would happen next on the morrow.


    ~ MJ @};-
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
  12. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Aug 9, 2002
    THESE TWO!!!! [face_love] [face_love]

    I'll be back with more, obviously, but just had to let you know how good this was! :D
    Kahara and Mira_Jade like this.
  13. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    Oof! Cleopatra wigs all around! Somebody needs to lock these two in a closet together.
  14. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Aug 9, 2002
    New post because I can't be bothered to edit the old one. :p

    Just absolutely beautiful language and imagery here. Throughout this story, I've felt like the electrical storms between the two planets are in some way a reflection of the mounting tension between Aayla and Bly, but also very much a reflection of the growing danger that Volfe poses, especially as relates to Aayla. It's a fantastic metaphor any way you look at it, and I'm sure you have to be pleased with just how many canon elements came together to create the perfect atmosphere for this story. ;)

    And there's that focus and awareness. Even though he can't perceive her as she can him, he's still insanely attuned to her.

    SO CREEPY, MIRA. Especially after finding that victim's body *shudders*

    I love Bly's fierce pride in Aayla, that he has that split-second of thinking she's too strong to be controlled; but then, of course, he loves her too much to take any chances.

    Cyare!! [face_love]

    Whenever I read cognitive recalibration, I think of Natasha and Clint. [face_laugh]

    And also, OF COURSE Bly wouldn't want to raise a hand to her, even in a moment like this. But I'll be honest, I was wondering just how he was going to snap her out of it, when oh my gosh that kiss!!! [face_love] [face_love]

    Everything about this was just simultaneously sweet and adorably awkward and passionate and euphoric. I was especially struck by "his pathetically smitten sheisnotandcanneverbeyours"... for reasons that are probably obvious. [face_batting][face_whistling] (Bly, you are not pathetic in the least, poor guy.) You really drove home just how new this all is to Bly without losing sight of the urgency of the situation.

    Fantastic use of the undertow imagery to show how he's feeling here, that was just spot-on perfect. And then SHE KISSED HIM BACK!!! :D [face_dancing] [face_love]

    Yep, I'll bet he won't forget that, mmhmm. o_O [face_mischief] And then there's that wave crashing, dragging them both back to reality.

    Gorgeous! [face_love]

    Oh, Aayla. [face_laugh]

    And whew, Bly is feeling all sorts of new and confusing emotions today, isn't he? [face_mischief]

    Well look at that, another walking disaster for me to love. [face_laugh] He's so irreverent and snarky, it's the best.

    Aw. [face_love] Protective Dad Mode activated! I do enjoy seeing the bond between these two and the way he softens ever so slightly for her.

    [face_rofl] [face_rofl]

    Aw, I loved this, balancing out the intense passion with these moments of normalcy and almost domesticity. He's not just in love with her - she's his friend, and he's so happy and content just to be with her. [face_love]


    Laughing again at Aayla's awkwardness, I can't help it. [face_laugh]

    Hee, it's all coming together. :D I'm glad Bly is starting to notice Aayla noticing him. He deserves happiness just as much as Aayla does, even if he wouldn't see it that way. I'm always here for these clones discovering their worth is more than just as soldiers, but as people. And hey, if that story intersects with romance and mutual pining, so much the better. And it has been good.

    But *ahem* when are we going to see those ballroom dancing lessons in action, Mira? [face_batting] [face_batting] [face_batting]

    Another excellent update, and as always, I'm can't wait for more!! [:D]
    Kahara and Mira_Jade like this.
  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    MAGNIFICENT SQUEELICIOUS! Each and every sizzly, scrumptious word and undercurrent! :) [face_sigh] The on the brinkness already tumbled overness is too sweet! Like stuffed marshmallows! [face_laugh]
    Kahara, Findswoman and Mira_Jade like this.
  16. pronker

    pronker Force Ghost star 4

    Jan 28, 2007
    Terrific pacing as the entry progresses from the grim discovery :eek: to Bly considering his template ...
    ... a memorable instructor
    ... a most useful tactic! =P~
    ... and an epiphany on both their parts, I should think
    ... smart evaluation with a touch of rancor
    ... to conclude with a touching acknowledgement of just how much this means to him.[face_love]
  17. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Apr 13, 2005
    Well, it looks as though I had better join this party before I get any further behind.

    Oh, this is indeed the slowest of burns with Aayla and Bly. And after eight years of longing--where much of what they say is but the tip of the iceberg of their thoughts and their churning burning feelings--it is a flame fit to rival the majesty of The Mingling. But considering their backgrounds, it just cannot go any faster for them: He is "the best of the kriffing best." She is "the kriffing embodiment of Jedi calm." He is aware of, and has long accepted, his feelings for her--but not only doesn't know if she returns them, he believes it isn't even possible she could. She knows of his feelings for her, but doesn't dare admit out loud to herself that she does in fact return them. It's not just that she truly believes in the Jedi Code she was brought up in. After learning the hard way of what darkness she is capable of, she doesn't trust her feelings.

    But despite all of that, the longing remains. The release of the Incident--and oh, the Incident!--was just waiting to happen. And it isn't helping matters (or it is actually doing just that) that on this particular mission, away from the battlefield, they are getting to see each other in new ways.

    Behold the female gaze in action (and yes, T'ra knows, and she is laughing): He too had shed his layers from Ossus in deference to the warm, coastal climate of Krete, and his arms were distressingly bare again. The earthy toned, soft yellow color of his shirt complimented the warm tan of his skin and made the golden tattoos decorating his shoulders and biceps seem to glow in comparison. The material was thin, almost lovingly stretched across the sculpted musculature of his upper body in a way that made her fingertips itch to reach out, to touch and trace and learn. Dusky brown pants embellished with leather ribbing on the sides matched the color and style of his boots and the bracers he wore on his forearms. Those pants, she wanted to groan, fit loose and comfortable by design, but he filled them out . . . nicely. She hadn’t realized how much of a Force-send to her sanity his armor had been before, at least not consciously.

    As an aside, even apart from my usual appreciation of seeing the female gaze in fiction, this is especially of note because Aayla, a Twi'lek woman--who are so often objectified that even Aayla, as a Jedi, has experienced many a leering gaze on her travels--is the subject doing the observing, and the very appreciative oogling.

    I found myself thinking, as I read along, that they need to do something about their feelings, instead of admitting-not-admitting them in their heads, before they interfere with their deep friendship, and maybe even get in the way of their accomplishing their mission. There is no reason that Aayla should have been nervous about joining Bly, the man she has known and trusted and fought with for years, for that dance lesson--and that is made clear once she actually joins him, and especially once they close their eyes and trust the dance.

    (T'ra really was quite patient with them--and surely she will be sharing at least a few of those credits with Kit Fisto when the time comes to pay up?)

    Then there's the mission itself: I am not at all familiar with the comics arc this relates to, but I think I understood how it went well enough from the briefing. Volfe is (especially when we got that glimpse of him in Aayla's mind) ewwww. I know, I know--really articulate. It really feels to me as though she had a classic abusive relationship with him. He took advantage of her when she was at her most vulnerable, when she had been drugged and confused and controlled--when, because she had lost her memories, she was even younger than her actual age. In some ways, Vos was right when he said she wasn't herself at the time: since she didn't have her lifetime of memories as a Jedi, she was a different person from who she had been when she did. She can still remember, even if she thankfully can no longer feel, how she felt with him at the time--and this mission is her chance to put some closure to that part of her past, though it won't be easy.

    I actually find it appropriate that Bly breaks Volfe's control over Aayla's mind by kissing her--by using a gesture of love and the life force against Volfe, a creature of death and pain. Oh, that must have gotten him harder than a punch ever could have.
    I don't usually try to predict how a story will turn out, but I will say this much: If there is enough left of Volfe to regenerate at the end of this, it won't be because of any oversight on either Bly or Vos's part.

    And I should probably stop there for now. Thank you for writing this for my challenge!
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2021
  18. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fan Fiction Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Nov 9, 2002
    You and Vi are both very good at writing horrifying things in poetic ways and it is both impressive and disturbing :p

    Such a little thing to quote, but I love your technique here. The way you've structured this one line lifts it from an ordinary sentence to a miniature work of art. It has a perfect rhythm, with the pause counterintuitively accentuating the urgency.

    Well, that's one way to handle it :p

    lololol, and even after this they're both impossible, because of course they are :p

    At some point, at least one of all these people who clearly know what's going on better than Aayla and Bly do really needs to take them aside and explain it to them :p

    I...I just realized why I like PT Obi-Wan so much. We're both snarky den mothers O_O

    Haha, I followed a suspicion that you were using a real food name and googled, and now I have a recipe for this, thank you kindly :D

    Never mind the morrow, we haven't sorted out the one bed issue yet :p
  19. Findswoman

    Findswoman Ammonia-Breathing Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Upcaught at last! :D Very nice new chapters, and so much going on—so much happening, so evocative, so intense, and this couple is just so golden! Their eyes on each other in their vacation clothes, studying each fold, each sinew, each curve, each glint of skin—love details like that. [face_love] (And I agree with @Pandora that it's kind of refreshing to see the lady getting to enjoy some of that, for a change!) The details of the Greek Islands-like scenery, the taste of the food. (I recognize kataifi, and no one does pastries like the Greeks!) Then contrast that with the creepiness of Volfe's Force-presence, tendrilling out toward Aayla while she's just trying to enjoy the scenery and atmosphere, trying to get her back to that place where she's subservient to his every whim again... so creepy! But best of all is the way Bly steps in to counter his efforts, with a GREAT BIG KISS! [face_dancing] What a moment, what a moment! Yes, it stymies that sleazeball of Anzati, at least for now (and that is no small thing, I can tell), but even better is the fact that they, both of them, are just clearly loving that moment so much and knowing that their relationship with each other is on the verge of "leveling up." So whatever Egyptian-river business may have followed, I refuse to believe that "that was that" in any real way. ;)

    Of course, too, I kind of want to smack Quinlan upside the head for ruining their moment—all that just to tell them T'ra invited them to a 'do hosted by Keres Vos? Couldn't he have sent a holomessage? :p But there are hints that there may be more to that 'do than meets the eye, and at very least Quin does seem to have some awareness of what Aayla's up against with the Vos situation, so I'm intrigued as to where that will lead. And at least they got to end the day with a scrumptious dessert and a nice swim (and another nice view of each other's features, I see! ;) ), and yes, there is that whole Just One Bed business still to be hashed out... [face_thinking]

    So, yes, do keep it coming, for all those reasons! Keep up the superb work—it's been such a treat to read this, to bask in your amazing details and lyrical writing, and to get to know these characters up close and personal, just as they are learning to do the same with each other! Bravissima! =D=
    Kahara and Mira_Jade like this.
  20. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    So, so, so. I'm here at long last – as you know Mira I read this sometime ago already and I promised I would be back with a review, and since I just re-read the whole thing for the third time while taking notes for The Secret Project™, this is as good a time to leave a review as any.

    I left a review not too long ago on one of Vi's stories (Festus/Allana, d'oh) in which I discussed the lovely landscape of Egypt with feluccas gliding down the river and the pyramids in the distance, but you've taken the themes of denial and slow-burn so much further here that I'm going to have to travel all the way to Khartoum and describe the confluence of the two Niles with the waters swelling for the seasonal flood if I want to do you justice :D

    Before I get to that though, I want to say a few words about your amazing Kiffar worldbuilding. The Prince of the Lilies is my favourite Minoan fresco, and would you believe that I never, ever, for the past forty-something years, explicitly told myself that his hair is braided? He's just so much there in my mental landscape that I'd just assimilated the details without naming them. So of course I recognised space!Greece as I was reading, but the heavy coloured columns made sense when I saw your reply to Vi up-thread. And there's an interesting twist of fate here! When I was building my own Kiffar fanon, I imagined the (yet-unnamed) area that would be the stronghold of Clan Malki (my Big Bad) as similar to the region of Jericho in Palestine, and listen to this: there's this legends that the Palestinian people are descended from settlers from Minoan Crete. You couldn't make it up if you wanted to!

    Anyway, I loved all the description of Kiffu, with the sea and the cliffs and the Crete/Santorini/Aegean island meld, and the Old City and its Forgotten and the Halls of Memories, you name it, I loved it all, and I am going to pillage all this for The Secret Project™, you have no idea!

    Okay, I'm done fawning over this aspect, let me fawn a little over the rest. First of all, the characterisation, and I'm going to begin with Aayla. I'm just awed by how you manage to make her feel so alien, so Twi'lek, with the constant reminder of the movement of her lekku, her sense of smell, the aesthetics and functionality of her harness, etc. The moment when she's possessed by Volfe Karkko in the catacombs and Bly can tell because her lekku slacken completely was so well-written, I had to stand up and look at my monitor from up there to make sure that I was reading it right.

    And Bly. Poor Bly, who, other than having to deal with his feelings for his Jedi, is also still adapting to life as a citizen of the Republic and not as an expendable clone of the GAR. You did such an amazing job at giving him all those fish-out-of-the-water moments: the wardrobe challenge, then facing a crowd without his armour, then travelling on a commercial flight (“I thought our pods were bad (...) I can’t believe people actually pay for this.” was so on-point), then having to deal with public transportation, the luxury hotel, the tourist trip, the restaurant and the food... and of course this, which was possibly the most endearing moment of the whole story so far:

    And then, of course, Quin, who is being so perfectly, so obnoxiously Quin in this story that I'm not even sure where to start. Here, maybe?
    Or perhaps here:
    ... which was one of the most Quin-ish Quin entrances I've ever read. That whole scene was just. so. good., with all his antics to reveal in the end that he'd come around (at great risk) just to check that Aayla is okay. And of course, once he's reassured that she's okay, he can't help but kick the rancor in the room when he leaves, look at the only bed and say “Don't do anything I wouldn't do.” [face_laugh]

    And now, the story itself! I saw that you mentioned in one of your posts that the story has a whole lot of exposition, but I feel that there was just enough of it and that it set up both the plot and the relationships between the characters really well. The opening scene, with Bly walking into the room and identifying the characters in attendance, was really good, because we got to see the balance of these various relationships through his eyes.
    And this titbit stood out for me, because Quin is also important to Aayla, but Bly doesn't quite feel the same way about him #understatementofthecentury
    This was so, so meta [face_laugh] And I also loved the contrast between the Jedi, who normally try not to kill people (okay, except Quin, but he has a body count that they need to dance around) and Bly who has no qualms about it whatsoever, especially if the not-dead person we're talking about harmed his Jedi in any shape or form.
    The starved desert of his heart. [face_love] Also, what a thing to notice that would make him fall for Aayla!
    There were several of these moments throughout the story, but this one was one of my favourites. Nah, he wasn't, who would dare say he was?

    And then, the whole dance lesson scene!
    I love that T'ra is trying to put this in military terms, presumably to make it easier for him, but yeah, it doesn't quite work that way. But then, Aayla saves the day:
    This was one of the first moments when we see how well they work together, how well they are together, and then, it kept getting better: the moment when they hold hands in the commercial liner, the scene with the hotel receptionist, and of course the scene where they communicate silently in the Old City when Aayla notices they're being watched:
    Wow, just wow. These few lines said more about the relationship between these two than dozens of pages of introspection possibly could – both because they can communicate without words and are fully aware of what the other is doing at all times, and because of Aayla's side note about the rudeness of reading deliberately the minds of her men.

    Overall, there was such an ominous atmosphere from the moment they reached the Old City and then entered the catacombs. I knew of course that Something Bad was bound to happen, but I particularly appreciated the description of the sensation of Volfe Karkko in Aayla's mind as a "sickly black mire that seemingly filled her veins like oil and blotted out the light." It made him simply terrifying, if he wasn't already enough from what we'd read of him.

    And then, the kiss, or, as it will soon be known, the Incident as a form of cognitive recalibration (I laughed out loud at the Avengers reference here.) Aayla and Bly are in deep doodoo here, because this is an Incident that they're not about to forget.

    To close this review – because I do feel that I've been going on for too long and I'm rambling here, I just want to comment for a second on this:
    Somehow I feel that Bly and Quin are going to hate each other a little bit less by the time this mission is over. They've agreed on too many things already at various points in the story to keep up the aggressive antipathy for long :p

    I could go on and on and on (T'ra Saa! Tholme! Obi-Wan! Nen Netl!!!!) but I'm going to stop here, and when you give us a new chapter of this story I'll write everything I didn't write today :D
  21. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Oh no, I think I'm going to have to reread this one again. Whatever will I do? :p Just in case I don't get back to it soonish, I did want to say that this story made me ship Bly and Aayla so much! [face_love] And that I too really enjoyed all of the textural details of the setting, the tropes (the tropes! :D), and the really extensive dive into Legends canon that is so naturally weaved into the story.
  22. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    [face_laugh] Thanks to getting a watched thread alert behind Kahara's review, now I've come in here and remembered how delightful this story was. My lands, but this is a WIP from the past. :D Time flies! Totally off-topic, but two years ago, my favest team was on the brink of a championship and the world was just barely emerging from serious COVID restrictions. ... This to say, yeah, I'm ready for this to continue [face_laugh] [face_love]