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Beyond - Legends "Strength of Will" (OC Family Challenge, Part 1/3)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by JadeLotus, Apr 27, 2015.

  1. JadeLotus

    JadeLotus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 27, 2005
    Title: Strength of Will
    Characters: Zebula Pavish, Quix Treelaj, Maribelle (OCs), Leia Organa Solo
    Summary: A young orphan comes of age in the lower levels of Coruscant
    A/N: Response to the “Family” challenge in the OC Revolution thread. OCs are from my fic The Shadow of Fate, however you don’t need to have read that to follow along with this.

    13 NRE (18 ABY)

    The lower levels of Coruscant were in revolt again, the gangland wars spilling from the backrooms of bars, cantinas and gambling grottos out into the streets. It happened every few years, when simmering tensions over territory, control of the drug trade, protection rackets and personal grudges boiled over until there was no option but a brawl to settle matters. For the most part the NR security forces, already stretched too thin to combat crime, made only cursory efforts to quell the violence. A gang war meant a thinning of the herds, and less crime overall to deal with; an indictment of the value of life in the lower levels.

    For Quix Treelaj, who had spent most of his adult years navigating the underground realm, the best strategy was to keep a low profile so not to get caught up in the violence. He had no gang affiliations, for as a Lasat his bulky form, extraordinary strength and razor-sharp claws usually meant he wasn’t messed with. That, and the bo-rifle he kept strapped to his back and wasn’t shy about brandishing against any challenger.

    Luckily no one had ever figured out that Quix didn’t have much of an idea of how to use the weapon. He’d never been trained as a Lasan Honor Guard, in fact he’d never even set foot the homeworld of his Lasat forebears. His uncle had given him the bo-rifle for protection, with only a rudimentary lesson on how to wield it. In a pinch Quix was sure he’d get by, but he prefered tricks and deceit to combat.

    Which was why he was running away from the brawl as fast as he could, the war cries, blaster fire and heavy clang of makeshift weapons fading behind him. NR security had dispersed tear gas, blanketing the streets in a smoky white cloud, the potency stinging Quix’s eyes and scratching inside his lungs.

    “You - Lasat!” A security officer in riot gear and gas mask pointed a blaster rifle at him, and Quix stopped running.

    “Listen I ain’t one of them, guv,” Quix told him, knowing from experience that it was best to speak first, or get shot. “I’m just trying to clear out, yeah?”

    “Show me your hands,” the officer demanded. “Now!”

    Quix held up his hand obediently, knuckles facing towards the officer so that he could see they were free from gang tattoos. “All righ’?” he asked.

    An explosion rocked in the distance - someone had set off a pulse bomb. The security officer gave Quix one last look of contempt before running off towards the fray, and Quix resumed his journey in the opposite direction. He didn’t get far before needing to stop for a rest, the tear gas burning hot in his lungs. Luckily the street was empty, the local residents barricading themselves inside their apartments to wait out the storm.

    Quix ducked into a dark alley to catch his breath beside a stack of ale crates. But when he caught his breath, e heard the sound of crying coming from the ground next to him. The sound was unusual enough for Quix to peer in behind the crates to locate the source of the whimpering. If it was another bleedin’ tooka begging for food...

    “‘ello?” he called softly, pushing aside the top crate to reveal a small dark-skinned boy curled up against the wall of the alley. His tears were milky-white, a side-effect of the tear gas, and he looked up at Quix with large, fearful eyes. Although Quix was no expert on human young, he assessed that the boy couldn’t have been more than four or five.

    “Who are you, eh?” Quix crouched down so he could look into the child’s dark eyes. “You’re a wee one. Why’re you all alone?”

    The boy sniffed. “I not supposed to talk.”

    “Yeah, smart dat is,” Quix kept his voice soft, knowing that this appearance might be frightening to the child. “Where your parents at?”

    “I dunno,” the boy wailed through fresh tears. “They left me here, told me na to talk to anyone. There was bad people out there.”

    Quix sighed to himself - more than likely the kid’s parents had been caught up in the riot, and unable to escape through the streets had left him there to keep him safe. Which meant that in all likelihood they were already dead - he didn’t see any gang brands on the kid to claim him to any sect, and innocent bystanders never fared well in a brawl.

    “What’s your name, son?” he asked kindly, the boy’s abject fear and sorrow alighting a strange sort of sympathy.

    “I...I don’t...” the boy said through his tears.

    “Alrigh’” Quix patted the young boy on the shoulder, relieved when he didn’t flinch. Another pulse bomb exploded in the distance and the sound of blaster fire increased, the shouts and orders from NR security intermingling with the war cries of the conflicting gangs. More tear gas was dispersed, enough to blanket the entire district, and Quix knew he had to get out of there.

    “C’mere,” he gathered the boy in his arms, and thankfully he did not protest. “I’ll take you somewhere safe.”


    Quix lived in the Estron district, a haven for smugglers and con artists. His apartment was housed above a cantina called the StarDrive, run by a surly Corellian named Eli Sillow. As Quix entered the old man had his feet propped up against the bar, his ever present cigarra dangling from his lips.

    “What have you got there?” Eli asked. “Picked yourself up a stray?” He chuckled to himself and then started to cough, phlegm audibly rattling around in his throat.

    “You gotsta stay off those, chief,” Quix advised him, and Eli waved him off. The boy grasped Quix’s neck tighter, more than likely disturbed by the cigarra smoke after the pain of the tear gas. “Found this one in the beef out there. Had to get him clear, see if we can find his parents when it settles.”

    “Aw, you’re breaking my heart,” Eli drawled. “By the way that no good son of mine commed last night.”

    “Yeah, how is Petar?” Quix’s ears picked up with interest. “Thought he was on the long con a few levels up.”

    “He might need your help,” Eli shrugged. “I left the message on your comm unit. Hope it works out, you might actually pay your rent on time this month.”

    “Ah, lay off,” Quix moved past him to the back stairs which led up to his apartment. It was small but functional, and Quix set the boy down on the kitchen counter. Grabbing a cloth from the drawer, Quix moistened it under the tap and then gently wiped the boys milky tears away.

    “Dat’s better, innit?” he said gently, and the boy sighed with relief. “Now, do ya remember your name?”

    The boy shook his head, his lower lip trembling. “ Mum called me m’darling sometimes.”

    “Right.” Quix sighed. Names were vitally important on Lasan, a moniker for a young Lasat child to live up to. Quix himself was named for the folk hero Quixim Silar, whose exploits were told and re-told around the campfires of his youth. He’d been only a child, then, not understanding the necessity of their nomadic existence on the run from the Empire. Around those fires he dreamed of the Lasan, the grassy plains and red wroshyr trees of the homeworld he had never seen, imagining himself as the trickster Quixim riding a tramat beast from town to town, performing his illusions and foiling the dastardly plans of corrupt clan leaders and greedy merchants.

    It had only been later, after his parents had died and he’d been found by his uncle Garazeb that the truth had been revealed - Lasan devastated, and the majority of his race slaughtered. His uncle...

    “How about Garazeb - it’s a good, strong name,” Quix mused aloud as he patted the little boy on the shoulder. “And you’re strong, eh?”

    The boy gazed up at him with wide, dark eyes, and nodded fervently. Garazeb in Old Lasan meant mountain of strength, but looking down at the child Quix realised it wasn’t quite right.

    “How 'bout...Zebula?” Quix asked. “Strength of will.”

    "Can I has a cookie?" the kid asked in response, and Quix chuckled softly as he went to the pantry to see what he had that a human child would find appetising. "You need a clan name too, Zeb," he said, falling easily into the nickname. While he would go back to where he’d found the boy the following day and ask around, Quix knew that in all likelihood the boy’s parents were dead, and he therefore had to resume responsibility for him. He could be helpful, in fact - the best player in a con was a kid, since they seemed immediately trustworthy.

    "I don't suppose ya know dat either?" Quix found a packet of salty pop kernels and tossed it across the room. Zeb caught it and shook his head, then ripped open the packet and ate ravenously.

    "Well I found ya in the Pavish district," Quix mused. "Dat's as close to a clan name as you’re probably ever gonna get.”

    The boy smiled for the first time, his teeth full of pop kernels, and Quix chuckled lightly “Well, Zebula Pavish,” he said, covering the kid’s left shoulder with his right claw in a traditional Lasat greeting. Zeb quickly caught onto the meaning, putting aside his kernels and putting his tiny right hand on Quix’s left shoulder - or as close to it as he could get.

    “Welcome to the fam.”
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb reading about how Zeb got both names. ;) =D=
    JadeLotus, AzureAngel2 and Kahara like this.
  3. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    I love it! I can picture this so vividly. Terrific story of how Zeb found his new home.
    JadeLotus, AzureAngel2 and Kahara like this.
  4. whiskers

    whiskers Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 19, 2005
    The opening scene was very descriptive and I loved that. I also loved the contrast between the streetsmart Quix and the young, naive Zeb. I also liked that Quix was quick to point out to himself that a child was useful in a con, almost as if he was justifying him being a sort of sentimental type. to himself, or at least that was my interpretation of it. Great work.
  5. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    Oh, my. The last thing I expected to read in a SW fanfic was a reference to Happycat. Or at least I think it was a reference to Happycat! That moment has a nice WTF vibe to it. Especially when the rest of the story is Oliver Twist in alien hell, with the darkness of the lower levels of Coruscant nicely complimenting the moist, depressed setting of London at the dawning of the Victorian era. It makes for a nice parallel where the technology changes, yet everything else stays the same. The whole idea of the family being a gang, just like in the said book, gives a whole new twist to the topic of the challenge. Brave, very brave.

    Waiting to see what happens next. And corridor ghouls. Please, tell me that there will be corridor ghouls!
  6. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Fan-tas-tic! I was sure you'd come up with a brilliant backstory for Zeb, and this is beyond anything I could hope for. Like EP, I loved the "Oliver Twist in an alien world" atmosphere of the Underlevels and after all my nice experiences with riot police and tear gas over the past five years, I'm kinda motivated to ask you to co-write a fanon post about law enforcement on Coruscant :p

    One aspect of this story I really enjoyed is how you transferred the various characters' accents/dialects to writing -- that was really nicely done, just enough to convey the feeling and not at all Gone With The Wind-ish ;)

    I'm looking forward to the next instalment, corridor ghouls or not!
    JadeLotus, Kahara, Ewok Poet and 2 others like this.
  7. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    “What have you got there?” Eli asked. “Picked yourself up a stray?” He chuckled to himself and then started to cough, phlegm audibly rattling around in his throat.

    This story sucked me right in from the beginning. Because it has like dear Chyntuck already pointed out the darkness, misery & dirt of a Charles Dickens tale in it. I also love stories which contain an orphan who has to find its way through life. =D=
    JadeLotus, Kahara and Nyota's Heart like this.
  8. Rau_Fang

    Rau_Fang Jedi Master star 2

    Mar 28, 2005
    Ive always been fascinated with post Battle of Endor Coruscant, the old regime desperately grasping at what power they have left, they poor and disenfranchised people living under increasingly scared and vicious losers - or maybe they're just leaders on the wrong side - either way they're all are finding themselves in over their heads. Not to mention the Empire was known for extreme racism

    also with all thats been going on in the news I love that your art imitates life imitates art.

    Thank you for writing about Quix and Zebula! Looking forward to reading more.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  9. taramidala

    taramidala Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jun 18, 1999
    Girl, I loved learning more about Zeb (named after THE Zeb!!) and his early life with Quix and the rest. I can't wait to read more!
    AzureAngel2, JadeLotus and Kahara like this.
  10. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    I really like your depiction of the Coruscant underworld here—so often in SW the "scum and villainy" sector is romanticized and even a bit whitewashed, so it's nice to see it portrayed as the dark, dank, gritty, and extremely violent place that places like that really are (I like Ewok Poet 's comparison to Oliver Twist). And given this gritty setting—which, if one had to name a GFFA location they associate with the concept "family," is probably one of the last that would come to mind—it's especially striking how Quix's rescue of this orphaned youngling prompts recollections of his own name and family and the homeworld he never had. A creative and thought-provoking interpretation of the challenge: what "family" can possibly mean in such dark place. :cool:

    And I take it from the character list that we will get to find out more about what it will mean in future installments, which I'd be glad to see. :) I wonder what kind of a guardian our hardboiled Lasat (who definitely has a "gentle giant" streak to him) will be to young Zeb. And I take it, too, that the meaning of "Zeb" as "strength" is something of your own creation, since I didn't find anything to that effect in the Wook entry on Rebels Zeb?
  11. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Really liked this look into Zeb's early days. As Findswoman and others noted, it's great for the exploration of Coruscant's lower levels. That the New Republic isn't exactly perfect and wonderful at valuing the lives of the locals is both heartbreaking and sadly believable. Some things don't seem to have changed with the management. I'd be really curious to see how that affect's Zeb's later political career -- I can't imagine that he'd forget what it's like to grow up there, so it must be a driving force for some of what he does.

    And it's awesome that he's named after the Zeb from Rebels (that's such a neat way to work the new canon in! I really like how you're continuing to weave this new stuff in with abandon. :)) "Strength of will" seems like a great theme for the Zeb that we meet later in life! Also really enjoyed the deeper look into Quix's character -- yes, he's a shady character, but there's more than that and his history with the loss of his homeworld and growing up a refugee is really moving. And for some reason I really like that he's not that much of a fighter, mostly relying on basic competence and looking mean. :D Appearances being deceiving is one of my favorite things.