1. In Memory of LAJ_FETT: Please share your remembrances and condolences HERE

Saga - OT Spectre Six: More Tales of the Infinite Ezras |2023 Fanfic Olympics

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Raissa Baiard, Jun 13, 2023.

  1. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Title: Spectre Six: More Tales of the Infinite Ezras
    Author: Raissa Baiard
    Characters: Mostly Ezra Bridger, but also the other Spectres and some OCs
    Genre: Various, mainly AUs
    Timeframe: OT, anywhere from 14 BBY to ca. 10 ABY
    Synopsis: A collection of stories featuring Ezra Bridger in a variety of alternate universes.

    For my pentathlon, I thought I'd return to my original FF Olympics: To Infinity and Beyond: Tales of the Infinite Ezras. Some of the stories pick up on alternate universes that began in that collection, and I will include links to them where necessary.

    Thanks as always to @Findswoman for beta reading and support @};-

    1. In Service to the Empire (AU Archery)
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2023
  2. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Title: In Service to the Empire
    Genre: AU, drama
    Characters: Ezra Bridger, Major Charles Dotheby (OC), mentions of Mira and Ephraim Bridger
    Timeframe: OT, 6 BBY
    Synopsis: Five years after he came to the Wilhuff Tarkin Home for Boys, Ezra must make a decision about his future.
    Event: AU Archery (A story of at least 100 words set in an alternate universe)

    Notes: This is a follow up to "Imperial Youth" in To Infinity and Beyond: Tales of the Infinite Ezras.

    Major Charles Dotheby, headmaster of the Wilhuff Tarkin Home for Boys in Lothal’s Capital City, tried not to play favorites among the residents, but he had to admit that he was quite fond of thirteen-year-old Ezra Bridger and considered the boy one of the home’s greatest successes.

    Ezra had come to the Tarkin Home five years earlier when he’d been apprehended picking pockets in the Chapel Street Marketplace. He’d been a ragged street-rat of a child who’d been fending for himself since his parents had been arrested for broadcasting seditious material. Because of his parents’ anti-Imperial sentiments, Ezra had had a fine distrust of anyone in a uniform. He’d injured several officers in the process of bringing him in—scratching one, kicking one in the groin, and biting the third’s nose. Once he was brought to the Tarkin Home, he’d boldly declared that they would never be able to hold him. He’d been convinced that the staff was going to poison his meals, smother him in bed or somehow dispose of him in an equally dramatic and farfetched manner.

    Despite the boy’s feral demeanor, Dotheby had been convinced there was still hope for Ezra. It was a long, hard road, though. For months, Ezra met all of Dotheby’s friendly overtures with defiance and disdain. Sometimes it felt as if Ezra was trying to goad him into wreaking some dire punishment on him, as if to prove that all the dreadful things his parents had said about the Empire were really true. But as Ezra realized that even his cheekiest disrespect and most blatant provocations led to extra chores rather than the beatings he seemed to expect, his rebellious behavior gradually diminished. It was all very well to nobly defy the Empire in theory, but peeling topatoes and missing out on dessert every night was an unglamorous reality.

    Dotheby would never forget the day that Ezra finally responded to his daily inquiry of “And how are you today, Ezra?” with something other than a sneer or a zoochberry. It had been a muttered “okay…” followed by a very belated “sir”, but Dotheby had counted it as a victory nevertheless.

    A few days later, Ezra had sidled up to him like a stray Loth-cat that was unused to being around Humans but was hoping to be fed. “Sir…” he began hesitantly. “You said if…if I was good…that maybe I could write to my mom and dad…?”

    “Of course, Ezra,” Dotheby answered with a smile. He might have known that there was a reason for Ezra’s change of heart other than being virtuous for its own sake. Still, as motives went, this one was laudable. “I’ll get you a stylus and some flimsi right away.”

    Now, five years later, watching Ezra referee a kickball game among some of the younger boys in the play yard, Dotheby reflected that he really had grown into a fine young man despite his rocky start. Ezra was a diligent student and a proficient athlete. He was popular among his peers and much-loved by the younger residents, for whom he was an older-brother figure. Ezra made a point of helping each new arrival to the Takin Home learn the ropes and settle in. He had a warm and outgoing nature, but there was often a wistfulness to his smile and a faraway look in his eyes when he thought no one was watching him.

    Dotheby waited for a pause in the game’s frenetic action before approaching. “Ezra, may I speak to you for a moment?”

    Good lad that he was, Ezra immediately came to attention. “Of course, sir! Now, remember,” he admonished the kickball players, with a particular eye for the young freckle-faced boy holding the ball. “It only counts as a goal if the ball goes all the way past the line.” He fell into step beside Dotheby. “What did you want to talk about, sir?”

    “Ezra, have you given any thought to your future, now that you’ve almost completed elementary school?”

    “My future, sir?”

    “Yes.” Dotheby had certainly thought about it. Ezra had so much potential. He was a natural leader, strong and principled, and Dotheby believed he was capable of doing great things. Unfortunately, the Tarkin Home had limited financial resources to pay for tuition to the kind trade and vocational schools the most promising young Lothali would be vying for. There was, however, one option left. “Normally at this point, I would counsel a resident your age to submit his application to the Academy for Young Imperials, but I wasn’t certain how you would feel about it.”

    Ezra stopped. He looked away, a shadow sliding over his features. “Because of my parents, you mean.”

    Dotheby instantly regretted his words. Perhaps it would have been better to simply offer Ezra the choice and let him say how he felt about it. “I will certainly understand if you’d rather…”

    “Major Dotheby, sir,” Ezra interrupted, shaking his head. “I know you remember what I was like when I came here. If it wasn’t for you—if it wasn’t for the Empire— I’d still be on the street, sleeping in alleys and eating out of trash cans. If I was even—” He broke off, his mouth tightening into a flat line, but Dotheby could easily guess what he’d almost said: if I was even alive. Ezra hardly spoke of the time between his parents’ arrest and his arrival at Tarkin Home, and Dotheby could hardly imagine what it must have been like for a child of seven to fend for himself on the streets of Capital City.

    “The Empire gave me everything when I had nothing.” Ezra’s voice was soft as he continued. “You know, sir, I’ve written to my parents every month for the last four and a half years; do you know how many times they’ve written back? Never. Not once.”

    He shook his head again. Ezra’s hands balled into fists at his sides, his posture unnaturally straight, as if he was holding himself in check to keep from slamming his fists into the nearest punchable object. “It got to where I thought they must have died, but I figured they would send the letters back if they had. They would let you know if something had happened so you could change my status to ‘orphan’, right?” Ezra gave Dotheby a curious look of mingled hope and dread, but Dotheby had no answer for him. No one had ever apprised him of Mira and Ephraim Bridger’s fate. He’d never thought to inquire, either.

    Ezra’s shoulders sagged a bit when Dotheby said nothing. “I almost gave up a couple times, but I always hoped that maybe, maybe the next letter would be the one that finally made them change their minds. They never did.” He looked around—at Dotheby, at the Home’s facade and back towards the play yard, where the boys were still playing their raucous game. “This is my home, sir,” he said, spreading his hands, “And the Empire is my family. I’d be proud to submit my application to the Academy. I’d be proud to serve the Empire like you do.”

    “You’re certain?” Dotheby asked quietly. He’d never been prouder of Ezra than he had at that moment.

    “Yes, sir.” He looked up at Dotheby and gave a firm nod. There was a resolute gleam in his deep blue eyes. “My parents made their choice a long time ago—and now I’m making mine.”

    For the next few days, Dotheby thought often of Ezra steadfastly writing to his parents for years with no response. Surely Ezra was correct that the corrections facility would have informed him if something unfortunate had happened to them, but for Ezra’s sake, he decided to reach out to Lann Gaylor, a friend from his military who was now an administrator at the nearby penal colony.

    After a bit of catching up, Dotheby ventured, “Say, I was wondering if you could help me with something, Lann. One of my residents’parents were sent to your facility around six years ago. I thought perhaps you might be able to tell me what had happened to them.”

    “Hmm, well, I’m not really supposed to comment on individual prisoners,” Gaylor replied, once Dotheby had filled him in on Ezra’s situation. “But I suppose there’s no harm in telling you that the Bridgers are still alive. As far as their son’s letters—well, they would have had to go through the ISB, as would any letters they wrote back to him.”

    “The ISB would confiscate letters to or from a child?!” Dotheby had heard that the ISB were a paranoid lot, but did they honestly think the Bridgers would use letters to their young son as a way to spread sedition? Or that Ezra, a mere boy, would somehow sneak Imperial secrets to them?

    “They were arrested for treason, Doth,” Gaylor’s tone was just a touch patronizing. “You can’t be too careful with those sorts of people. They don’t think like you or me.”

    “I suppose not,” Dotheby sighed.

    “You said the son is at Tarkin Home now?”

    “Yes, though his application was just accepted at the Imperial Academy. I have all faith that he’ll be selected to go to the officer’s academy on Carida once his term is finished.”

    “It sounds like he has a good future ahead of him, then.”

    “Indeed.” Dotheby answered with a smile. “I’m certain Ezra will serve the Empire well.”
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2023
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent entry! Dotheby seems a decent sort and I'm glad Ezra responded and became outgoing and like a role model to the younger residents. Sad that his parents never answered despite his persistence. Very understandable that he would therefore decide to forge a path in the Empire.
  4. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Ooooh, nice! I went and read Imperial Youth first, then I came back here, and this is a very different storyline for Ezra indeed! He still has most of his familiar traits, but the rebelliousness and the cheek have been set aside (for now). I find it a great plot twist that what made him change isn't so much Dotheby (who really comes across as good people, both here and in the other story) but the fact that his parents aren't writing back – which, essentially, means that the ISB won, but in a much more insidious way. I don't know if you have plans to continue this particular storyline in this pentathlon or in the future, but it would be interesting to see how he comes to find out that his parents weren't receiving his letters, or that their replies were never sent out – and I'd be very curious to see how this will impact on Dotheby too...
  5. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Dotheby is a nice man. And good to see Ezra responding to him and writing letters to his parents. Will they answer?
  6. whiskers

    whiskers Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 19, 2005
    I don't know a whole whole lot about Ezra, as I never was all that big a fan of Rebels, but this was an interesting tale, especially with what I DO know about the character. It's also interesting to see a "good Imperial" if you will, as at least for the moment it seems that he truly does have the best interests of his wards in heart.

    Great work!
  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Ezra's back! (Of course, to some of us, he never left! :D ) Great to see your Ezrathlon off to such a great start, with one heck of an AU! :eek: This kid is completely recognizable as the Ezra Bridger we know and love, but here his life has taken a very different path—and he's reacted to it in a way that is completely understandable. His parents didn't write to him (or at least not that we know of). The Empire, or this small subset of it, did take him in when he had no home. Dotheby did believe in him and support him (and yikes, as crazy as it is to say this about an Imperial, he really is a pretty decent guy). With all that, one can see exactly why this Ezra made the choice he did—and just like that, you achieved with flying colors your goal of making an AU!Imperial!Ezra in a nongrimdark manner! Great job, and I too will be very curious to see how this storyline continues at whatever point you choose to do so. =D=
  8. UltramassiveUbersue

    UltramassiveUbersue Jedi Knight star 3

    Nov 7, 2022
    I love this! You pack so much fascinating characterization into a short fic, and I'd love to read more on this storyline if your muse inspires you. :)

    I haven't seen Rebels, so I'm not too familiar with Ezra in canon, but you do such an excellent job of introducing him that I've got it on my list to read more of his adventures in your various multiverses.

    Dotheby is a great OC; he seems like a decent guy... but I would think knowing the status of an apprehended child's caregivers should be part of his job. That said, I get the feeling that he doesn't think of it because he lives in a culture where human rights are considered more of a privilege. I also wonder if Dotheby is simply disconnected from the reality of what the Empire is, or if he's the GFFA equivalent of a committed Fascist who is nice to who he deems are the right kind of people. His military rank suggests the latter, but perhaps he served most of his active duty during the era of the Republic, or his role has been mostly administrative, etc. I would be very interested to learn more about him, especially because this fic hints at a potential change in his attitude towards the establishment.

    Also excellent is the tragic irony of Dotheby's praise for Ezra's "improvement", when in many ways he's just a child whose spirit is breaking and who is being gaslit about everything his parents fought and sacrificed for.