Author: Findswoman Title: Stand Together on the High Places Era: Saga—OT, ca. 0 ABY, not long after the Battle of Yavin Characters: Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios, Shulma Trilasha Orrelios (OC), other Rebels and Spectres, numerous OCs Genre: Drama, romance Summary: A reunion after long years of exile, loss, and separation. Contents: One (below) | Two | Three | Four | Five | Notes: Oh gosh, I know I have other stories I should be working on—but I just found a groove on this earlier than expected and couldn’t help myself, especially after wrapping up Shaman, Traveler, Oracle! This story is a direct sequel to that one and (of course) part of the Lasan Series. Most of the OCs referenced here are ones that either also appeared in ShTO or were introduced there; please see the notes within that story for details. Note that, in this story, some of the chapters (numbered with roman numerals) are divided into sections (numbered with arabic numerals). That’s not something I often do, but it seemed to work here. Once again I thank @Raissa Baiard for thoughtful and supportive beta-reading, @TheRynJedi for the kind loan of her OCs Sennah, Danyal, and the members of Alloy, and both of them for their invaluable support. – I. – 1. Yavin IV, Yavin System, Gordian Reach Sounds of celebration filled Massassi Base. The Rebel Alliance had just won its biggest and most decisive victory yet: the Death Star, the Empire’s gruesome superweapon, had been destroyed. It had been a long and harsh battle, with great loss of life and materiel: only three pilots had come back alive. But at least the biggest threat was now defused, and the civilized Galaxy could breathe a little easier—definitely something worth celebrating. And, as usual, Captain Garazeb Orrelios was on security duty. He had mixed feelings about that. It was his job, of course, as security chief, and he carried it out proudly for the Rebellion. And he was just as glad not to have to do any dancing, especially not to that hideous sparkle-bop tripe that all the Humans and near-Humans seemed to go all moofy over. Still, he couldn’t help but wish that he could celebrate with everyone else just once—even if it was just kicking back with a few good comrades-in-arms for a collegial tipple. It was awfully lonely work standing guard outside the Great Temple, and it always got him thinking about things. About days and celebrations gone by. About good old times on the Ghost, or sometimes even all the way back on Lasan. About friends and comrades now gone, never to return. And karabast if there hadn’t been way too many of those lately... A surprisingly hefty punch to his upper arm, from a surprisingly small fist, startled him from his thoughts. “Hey there, ori’vod.” “Aw, hey, Sabine.” He pulled her into a one-armed hug as she came up beside him: his little Spectre sister, her hair colored in a festive green-to-orange gradient, her beskar’gam newly repainted in a jungle motif. There was one friend he hadn’t lost, anyway... “Hey, can I ask you something?” she asked as she disengaged from his hug. “Yeah?” “So, next month some of us were planning to go to the big festival on Khorassan, and we wondered if you wanted to come with. If we have enough people we can sign out one of the transports.” “Festival on Coruscant?! What’ve you got, a death wish?!” “No, no! Not Coruscant, Khorassan. Kanson-Wiss Sector. Outer Rim. Perfectly safe. Anyway, they throw this huge festival each year that people from all over the Galaxy come to. They call it the Days of Love and Light.” Zeb’s craggy features screwed up in sarcastic disgust at these words. “Aw, nice.” “Oh, come on! It’s not that kind of love at all. It’s more like… er… unconditional good will and brotherhood between one sentient being and another, that sort of thing. It’s an important concept in Khorassani culture.” The Lasat’s only response was a gusty sigh and an incredulous eyeroll; Sabine simply continued. “C’mon, big guy. Three days of culture, music, art, games, food. Food, Zeb. You. Like. Food.” Zeb grunted in annoyance as she punched his upper arm with each word for emphasis. “And then on the very last day there’s a big ceremony where they crown the queen!” “Wha? Huh? Queen?!” Zeb felt himself seize up at the bitter, tender memory that word sparked in him— * * *“My queen.” He kissed the stripes at the edge of her face. “My beautiful, alluring queen.” Each word was a kiss on her neck as he coaxed her over to the bed and sat down with her, his hand stroking her waist. “Now how ’bout my beautiful, alluring queen comes to bed so her Honor Guard can keep her safe all night long…” * * * —and immediately quashed the feeling. “Aw, I dunno,” he said. “This doesn’t really sound like my kinda thing.” “C’mon, Zeb, please?” Her hazel eyes pleaded with him as she sidled closer, placing a hand gently on his capacious shoulder. “Garel, Atollon, Lothal, Scarif, and now here. We’ve fought hard. And we’ve lost a lot. But today we finally won, finally. So I’d say we deserve a break, don’t you?” Zeb sighed again and returned the gesture. He looked about; the party was starting to break up, and the various denizens of Massassi Base were beginning to trickle back to their barracks, talking and laughing and joking and crying together. Sabine was right, of course. After all the fighting they’d done, after all they had had to give up, it was time for them—all of them—to give themselves something, for a change. Maybe these Love and Light Days with all their culture and music and food and queen would be all right. If not, he could just play dejarik with Chopper or something. And hey, even then, it’d at least be a nice change of pace from that confounded stuffy, steamy jungle. Hailing from an arid world, Zeb could never understand how living things could even breathe under such Boganishly humid conditions. “All right,” he said at last. “I’ll go.” 2. Khorassan, Khorassan System, Kanson-Wiss Sector [From another journal of Shulma Trilasha Orrelios.] O radiant spirits, I am trembling! I trembled the entire journey from Nal Hutta. Even in the calming swirl of hyperspace I felt vision shock looming over me like a predator, its lightnings stabbing relentlessly at me, head and heart, body and soul. If not for Telfien’s care and Sennah’s tea blend they would have claimed me completely (though I am beginning to run low on the tea blend). I am still trembling, even here, even now, in the honored-guest suite at the culture ministry, with the white whispersilk gown and veils of the Queen of Love and Light hanging before me. Tomorrow I shall wear them when I appear in the parade, and then again, two days later, for the final coronation ceremony in the Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina. They were made to fit me, as they are each year, for each queen. Oh, I can barely look at them—I am no one’s queen!— What is wrong with me? Should I not be joyous? Haven’t I seen—haven’t you, sovereign Ashla, shown me that this is the place where I shall finally see my lost love? My mighty bristlecone, my Last Warrior of Lasan… oh, I remember the day, that bright day in my humble apartment at Bonvika’s villa— * * *MY QUEEN Oh, my head, my currents— Those were his words—that is what he said to me as stood in the doorway of my bed alcove, extending his strong arms toward me, before he disappeared (as always)— MY QUEEN oh that was what he called me on our wedding evening, too— O Ashla O sovereign spirit of the universe I need not ask for advice for I understand now— I must go. Because that is where I will find him: not on Yavin but on Khorassan, at the festival, in the temple... * * * But it was only one small vision, one short moment of brightness, and there has been nothing since. No more promptings, no more visions—not even the most fleeting image of him standing before me, or sitting on the bed, or sitting at breakfast. How do I know it was not merely a fever dream or an illusion? Have I taken all I own with me—my clothes, my books, the little remnants of my homeworld—for nothing? (Though for some reason I have not been able to find my old journal, which is why I have begun this one in one of my blank notebooks.) Worse yet: have I dragged my dear friends on a futile journey? Telfien and I have tried to meditate together on this question a few times, both in hyperspace and here in Khorassograd, but we can turn up no new insight. Everything, as she would say, is still shrouded in thick fog. We had been hoping to go out to the temple to meditate again, since the Ashla flows so strongly there, but it is closed for the preparations for the ceremony. So you are withholding your revelation from me, sovereign spirit. I must accept your judgment, but the silence is killing me! I shall fix myself another pot of tea, and then, for the thousandth time, take a walk in the inner court of the culture ministry. That is another point of frustration: to maintain the secrecy of the Veiled Queen’s identity, I am not permitted to leave the grounds unless I am fully robed and acting in official capacity as the queen—which will not be until the parade tomorrow midday. And that means, of course, that I cannot make any investigations about any off-planet arrivals to the festival, karabast’aka. (I have asked Ardyse G.-S. about this, but she says she does not have access to those records. She of course wondered why I asked; I simply told her I knew someone who might be coming. Ah, but I cannot place any blame on her; she has been a gracious and attentive hostess, and has been visiting me regularly each day since I arrived. It is not her fault that I am essentially a prisoner while I am here. My currents and vision pains are most definitely not her fault.) My tea is finished boiling. I shall take it with me out to the courtyard. At least it is a pleasant day, and the sweetblossoms are blooming. * * * This evening was the rehearsal of the coronation ceremony in the culture ministry auditorium. Ardyse and the festival subcommittee presided over the proceedings, and all the dancers and members of my “court,” as they call it, were there (which seems to consist of half daughters of prominent local families, and half theater and dance students from Khorassograd University). Ardyse and the subcommittee members began by exacting a solemn oath of secrecy from all present, enjoining them not to reveal the identity of the queen (though I don’t think any of them knew who the giant purple woman was, anyway). The musicians were there as well, and with their help we practiced the dances, the procession, and the choreography of the coronation ceremony itself. Everything went smoothly and without incident; there really is not much I have to do besides be conducted up to my throne by the dancers during the procession, and then shine my ancient, Rakata-era light-stylus on the “chosen servant” who will come up to crown me—in this case it was a little bespectacled Human man on the subcommittee who resembled Shaman Rokseth from back home and who was later introduced to me as Deejnits Mekonnensen. All in all, I found it calming to be occupied with something besides my own anxiety. But what was even more amazing, and completely unexpected: all throughout the rehearsal I was aware of a familiar songlike pull in the Ashla. It seemed to be coming (perhaps unsurprisingly) from the musicians, and once I got a closer look at them I noticed among them the red-brown fur of my old friend and benefactor Sennah, of the Ryn! She was singing, and her husband Danyal, with the dark brown fur and the long hair, was playing lead quetarra. Afterward I went over to greet them; Sennah recognized me, and we exchanged a long embrace as I told her how glad I was to finally see her again and thanked her once again for saving me from that horrible case of vision shock years ago. After the band (called Alloy) had packed up and stowed its equipment, she came with me to the courtyard, where we talked a long time. She shared news of her family and friends in Alloy and on board the Second Chance, and I told her of my own doings as well: my Osthi publication with KhU Press, recent travels with the Rose Evergreen, and the loss of Lua’s son. She said she had heard of that expedition and asked me to pass on her condolences. Since Sennah too harbors the spark of the Ashla, I confided to her about the vision of G. I experienced soon after receiving the invitation to be queen. She perked up as I told her, then told me that she had once seen him, very briefly, at one of the Rebel Alliance’s installations (on Atollon, I believe it was). Everything about her description matched him perfectly (yes, even the way she described his “Ashla-song”!). My heart surged with joy to learn that my brave husband had indeed joined the larger Alliance, just as the Ashla had once hinted to me. But what made my heart surge even higher: Sennah told me that an Alliance transport ship was docked at the main spaceport near her own, presumably having come for the festival. Of course she could not say whether my husband was likely to have been one of its passengers. She mentioned the names of some others who might be with him—a Lieutenant Commander Renn? a General Sindoola?—though I do not know who those are. And of course I cannot go to the spaceport myself to investigate; neither can Sennah, really, with her own responsibilities and those of the band. But I believe I have a plan. Glockel said I could contact Rika if I needed any errands run… to be continued Spoiler: Notes ori’vod: Mando’a for “big brother.” beskar’gam: The Mando’a word for traditional Mandalorian armor (beskar being the metal from which it is made). The planet of Khorassan, the Days of Love and Light festival, its queen, and its associated customs and festivities are fanon, first introduced in The Jewels of . . . WHAT?! and mentioned at various points throughout Shaman, Traveler, Oracle, most notably the very last chapter... Ardyse Goldfleck-Straz (culture minister of Khorassan), Telfien (Gand Findswoman), Glockel (Human spacer/pilot), and Rika (astromech droid) are OCs that all appear in various entries of Shaman, Traveler, Oracle. See notes within that story for details. sweetblossoms: https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Sweetblossom Sennah, Danyal, and the members of Alloy appear here with the kind permission of TheRynJedi—thank you so much once again, Ryn! She is indeed planning a story in which Sennah and Alloy visit Atollon and meet the Spectres, which explains how Sennah knows “Lieutenant Commander Renn” and “General Sindoola.” The italicized segments placed between asterisk separators are excerpts from previous Lasan Series and related stories. For now, see if you can guess which ones they are from.