Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Ewok Poet, Nov 19, 2017.
Thanks for comments. New chapter coming right up!
14 In Your Best Interests
Shaban Sapphyra and the Members of Steamy Wasaka Stew were enjoying their breakfast – ranging from Dale’s nerf lard and elbina pepper open sandwiches to Anjie’s chlorophyll-enriched Chandrillan wheatbars. Just then, Liska An’tre stormed in, running to the table at sublight speed.
“My men, I have news for you!”
“Can’t that wait until after we’ve eaten?” Wompy asked.
“No, this cannot and will not wait!” Liska threw a large pile of flimsi on the breakfast table. “I have got us the gig we wanted – an Outer Rim festival in the right place. We are going to make a statement…and how! This will boost the sales of ‘The Coronet Way’, which I want you, Nokaarbe, to rename to just ‘Coronet’. More beings will identify with it that way, because…because it can be anything and everything Coronet! It’s your brand!”
Anjie continued munching on his wheatbar, absent-mindedly; while the other four men leaned over the table.
“So, what’s going on?” Antonio was curious.
“This promoter, Subastra Marbelara, she is trying to make it big by booking the greatest wailer-groups and solo artists from both the Scarlet and Banned lists for the events she’s involved with. She has connections all around the Outer Rim and she’s a very, very smooth talker.”
“Is she pretty?” the singer continued. “Because…”
“Focus on what matters, Nokaarbe! She could not get Dalyn R. Baobab to perform at an event she is assigned to. He refuses to be a part of that until the whole Galaxy is free from Imperial rule. There’s an empty slot for co-headliners. The festival is a benefit for civil war victims, but the exposure we’re going to get is precisely what we need right now.”
Wompy calmed down for a moment and stopped fidgeting. Dale stopped mid-bite. They were waiting for the one who made all the important decisions.
“I’m in.” Antonio threw his nerf-skin vest on the table, revealing a toned chest.
Dale was baffled. He was expecting his wailer-mate to wink as well, as, by now, he was likely to do so whether women were around or not. He looked at Wompy, who just nodded.
“One condition, though.” The singer remembered something. “We need to be billed first. I don’t care how popular the others are among the paupers.”
“Paupers?” Dale was confused. “You sure that was the word you wanted?”
“Yes.” Antonio raised his eyebrow. “They will be camping out to see us…and whomever else. I am impressed with the amount of organisation that went into your careful planning, Mistress An’tre! By the way, can I call you Lis?” Antonio’s eyebrow was not going back down, it seemed.
“Nobody ever calls me Lis. Nobody! That includes you, Nokaarbe.”
Dale chuckled, but the moment the singer looked at him, he did his best impression of the quetarra player’s sheepish grin. He then attempted to change the focus of the conversation.
“So, where are we going, then?”
Liska rubbed her hands. “The planet is the flagship of resistance to the Empire. They gained their independence from it after mere days of occupation and it’s the freest of the free worlds possible…As, in, it doesn’t get freer than that! We are going to give the other wailer-groups a run for their credits!”
Shaban joined the conversation. “Oh, I have heard of that festival, twenty years of tradition, last time around they had two Tatooine wailer-groups the members of which have apparently witnessed some…interesting events. There was that Max Rebo fellow who escaped from…whatever. So, we have to top that somehow.”
“I like the way you’re thinking, Sapphyra! On top of it, the planet is very do-it-yourself. Many species living together, all appreciators of the times long gone and obsolete inventions, they love their animals as well.”
“So, where are we going to, then?” Dale repeated his question.
“Roon, in the Abrion Sector.”
Anjie swallowed the remaining piece of his wheatbar. Antonio jumped to pat him on the back. He spat out his food, but he proceeded to cough.
“What happened?” Shaban asked.
“Mencuri, don’t try and further convince me that you’re a liability.” Liska crossed her arms. “Are you afraid of the comets? Of the alleged ‘Cloak of the Sith’?”
“N-no! It’s…” the Naboo begun, but Antonio put a hand over his mouth.
“He is excited! Are you excited, Anjie?” the singer nudged the quetarra player and gave him a knowing glance.
“Y-yes, I am! I am more excited that you can pos-possibly imagine!” He blushed. “But w-who else will be performing?”
Liska showed them a piece of flimsi. “Deeply Religious, the notorious pronkers from Nubia. Their singer is on a holiday, but Marbelara was very convincing and the new manager agreed to contact the young man. The rest of the band was imprisoned on Sacorria, but has just been exchanged for a couple of war prisoners and…our contact is pulling, well, his own contacts to get them the hell out of the Core and get them to tell their story. Of course, our journalist contact might add a couple of shocking details to it!”
Antonio opened his mouth wide and put both of his palms on his ears.
“H…how could you perform such an unscrupulous attack on my persona, Mistress An’tre? Do you know that Valorum and I have a long-standing feud? Plus, he’s a snotty little brat and I am thirty-nine years old!”
“I do. I know everything and don’t you dare doubt it. I am also more than aware that you and Mencuri were guests at his wedding for the reasons I cannot and will not try to fathom. And somebody over at Juicy Blabber wrote about that, she said that she had a first-hand account of your presence and an alleged “memento” to prove it, in form of your aurek-shirt. While I am not going to make any guesses so as to what in Bothan Space had happened between the two of you...”
It was too late. Dale and Wompy laughed out loud and Anjie shrugged and let out a quiet “hee-hee”.
“…between the two of you…” Liska continued. “…this was interpreted as both your and Valorum’s most sincere aims to get over your creative and ideological differences! We need to jump on the repulsortrain and make our best use of it. Just think about that, Antonio Nokaarbe. Think about that! Two influential front-beings reconciled at an intimate wedding ceremony after the well-known debacle on Sacorria two years before that nearly claimed both of their lives! And now they’re set to perform…together!”
Antonio shook his head. “Okay, okay, you win. Comm Valorum, bring the other two to wherever. Get whichever Baobab is in charge for this – as I damn right know it’s a Baobab – to…”
“You’re starting to understand things, Nokaarbe.” Liska rubbed her hands together. “This meeting is over. All five of you can go back to your breakfast. But keep an eye on Mencuri, he could choke on just about anything.”
When the Bothan woman left, the wailers and their producer continued to eat. Anjie was pensive, absent-mindedly nibbling on his new wheatbar, a mug of caf in his other hand. Shaban, Dale and Wompy ate in silence. Antonio was done and he turned to the quetarra player.
“So, comrade, you’re getting your kriff-stop after all. Not to mention that, but one thing that Wompy and I would really, really love would be utilising the Baobab Recording Studio in Nime to get the remaining three songs one – ‘Lost Girls’, the one about freedom and poodoo and, err, the third one. If we could stay for a couple of standard weeks that would be ideal!”
Anjie’s smile grew wider, to the point where he decided to ignore the phrase “kriff-stop”. “Wow! That would be an honour. But would Dalyn accept us at all? We don’t know what he thinks about wailer-groups like ours!”
“Shaban and Liska are pulling all of their connections.”
Anjie crossed his arms. “Should’ve assumed that this-this would be the answer!”
“Good, good. Maybe you will finally acquire some much-needed knowledge on how things work in the industry.” Antonio started pacing around the dining room. “Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. If there’s somebody out there whom Dalyn Baobab owes a favour and who owes us a favour, this will be as easy as a flatpie!”
“It’s called ‘huttza’ back home…”
“Some call it ziippa. Not an issue worth discussing. Anyway, Roon had 665 000 residents back when it was liberated from that two-week Imperial occupation. With the refugees, it’s estimated to be about 900 000 to one million. Compare that to your average planet’s statistics. Finding your little kriff-buddy will too be easy as a…ziippa!”
This time, Anjie was not sure what was more annoying – the phrase “kriff-buddy” or various synonyms for the word “huttza”. Probably the former.
“C-can you please not call Doria that? I k-know that she rejected you and that your e-ego is hurt and things like that…”
“My ego? Nonsense, she is not visually pleasing to me at all!” Antonio stuck up his nose. "Demure attire hiding who knows what kind of an atrocious body shape. You might not care about such things, but I do, Anjie. I do.”
“So…what are you trying to say?”
“She’s all yours, comrade Mencuri. All yours.” He paused. “If you wanna have her, go get her!”
Wompy jumped off his seat. “Say that again, Tony!”
“What? If you wanna have her, go get her?”
“Yes!” The bassoon player climbed on the table in his usual, hyperactive fashion. “Use that for ‘Lost Girls’! It’s going to be a hit!”
Antonio put a finger on his forehead. “Hmmm…perhaps I should make that one deeper. If you wanna have her, go get her. If you wanna groove her, move her…yeah, that’s good…”
“Didn’t you say deep?” Anjie was confused.
“Yes. There shall be no scat singing on this one. That’s what I call truly deep.”
Antonio went over to the balcony, while the other four men shrugged at the same time.
“Doria, Doria, Doria, Doria!” Ebe ran into the bedroom with the bunk beds, stomping his feet and waving his hands. Doria was sitting at the desk, writing her assignment on the works of Janyor, the renowned Bith artist and Rebel propaganda chief. She was startled.
“Why didn’t you knock? You scared the living poodoo out of me!”
“This cannot wait. Have you heard from Charon and Deeina yet?”
“They holocommed me about an hour ago. Why? Is everything all right?” She turned around.
“I guess that they didn’t want to spoil the surprise! Know the Kiaa Island Festival? The one that’s usually held at the same time as the Colonial Games in Nunurra, but just outside of the port here in Nime?”
“Yes? Please, stop beating around the angleberry bush, Ebe! Now!”
“Deeply Religious are scheduled to perform. That’s in one week. Isn’t that exciting?”
“Charon and Dede didn’t tell me anything about that. Are you sure that they even know? And aren’t Anra and Koobs still in the Dorthus Tal prison back home?”
“Apparently somebody is getting them here. Not sure if Mungo is involved, despite being related to Dalyn and all. Nilz is not responding to my comms. But they will be here before the Valorums are back from Bakura.”
“I have never met them, Ebe. You know, I stood next to them for a couple of minutes and that was it. But we have to get to them as soon as they are here. I don’t even want to think how it was to spend nearly two years at the…”
Ebe put his little hand on Doria’s back, since he couldn’t reach her shoulders. “Don’t worry. It was not your fault that you couldn’t get them out with the rest of us. Neither was it Charon’s fault!”
“Guess you’re right. Anyway, who else is going to perform?”
“Ha, I’ve been waiting for you to ask that.”
“Because because it’s…Steamy Wasaka Stew! The press release says that it’s ‘their first concert with the fan-favourite quetarra player, Anjie Mencuri’…since hmmm, it must have been a year or two before the Battle of Yavin!”
Doria attempted to sit down, but she missed the chair and ended up on the floor. She grabbed her backside and clenched her teeth in order not to scream again. Then she put her hands over her face.
“N…no! I cannot do this! I cannot and I will not do this!”
“Dodo and Revan! Dodo and Revan! Nya nya nya nya nya nya!” Ebe was now dancing around the room.
At this point, the girl was yelling. “Stop it, Ebe! Just stop! Stoooop!”
“We have to talk. Now.” Duchess Branna appeared out of nowhere, or so it seemed. She took Doria by hand and dragged her out of the room and out to the small back yard of the four condo building.
“I know! Me and Reeeeeeeeeeevan, right? Right?” Doria said, panting.
“Just quit yelling, will you?” Branna was annoyed. “Can you be rational, for a change? I know damn right that you are capable of that, when you want to!”
“Ummm….yeah. I can. But nothing you can tell me will change the way I feel right now.”
“Doria, listen to me! You are anxious and your anxieties have anxieties and it’s all unfounded! Why don’t you try to see the bright side?”
“We live on the bright side, Branna…” The girl rolled her eyes. “I yearn for the dark side sometimes. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, you know?”
Branna snickered. “There, you said it, Comradette Brightside. You have the hope, after all.” She paused for a moment, then continued. “So, it’s pretty obvious that Rev…Anjie cannot forget you. Is there anything you didn’t tell me about your encounter?”
“No. Nothing other than kissing. But these dreams…they still haunt me. It’s all him, him and more him. This most recent time, the other night, I dreamed of him and a woman holographer assistant and he went for her hours after he had met her. The bastard!”
“Sorry, but that’s hilarious! I don’t even want to think what con-artists such as Seegmon D’Fraud would say about that, but one has to wonder why it was him and a made-up woman and not him and you.”
“Because it’s not nice to be lustful?” Doria was avoiding Branna’s eyes.
“Ha! See, you are lusting over him! But, wait. Do you think you love him? You don’t have to answer immediately. Take your time.”
Doria sighed and shook her head. Then she remembered something. “But how did this happen? Why would anybody pick Roon, a backwater planet on the edge of the Galaxy, in a sector dotted with way too many insignificant systems?”
“It’s simple, my child. Simple and beyond ugly. This is one of the rare planets that kicked off the Empire before it was even conquered, around the time you were born. Some planets have not done so even to this day. The music industry is full of greedy managers and promoters and they need to sell their clients’ work as products. So many worlds have been ravaged by the civil war and prior terror, that only beings in the most stable of places can afford gigtix for such ambitious events. And then, everybody wins. Except for those who lose their lives in the skirmishes still taking places among the restless stars.”
“That is…so ugly!” Doria said. “I just can’t believe that somebody could have an interest in others’ misfortune! That is impossible!” She kicked a pebble, which landed in a puddle from dripping water.
Branna looked down. “Ugly, but it’s the so-called business of art. My Dyeke was a true artist. Most Sacorrians remember him for those propaganda posters he was blackmailed into doing. The Curheg Sunset you know is, like I told you, forgery… and installations such as Nolerian Wilderness might have been destroyed, if Roula of Pelayn is as power-mad as I suspect she is.”
“But that’s Sacorria! We’re crazy back home…this…this is the free world.”
“Nobody is ever free of the shackles of the selected ones’ interests once they have signed the pact with them. Nobody. Including your Anjie. I bet that both groups will come up with some sort of an empowering song, for the people, by the people. Just wait and see, Doria.”
All of that was too much for the young woman to handle. She kicked another pebble and picked her red boots up from the threshold of the back door.
“I think I’m going to take a walk to the port. I need some time on my own.”
Minutes later, she was at the port, gazing at the horizon, the turbulent sea in front of her – the turbulent Roon Sea, known for its numerous whirlpools and, in the not-so-distant-past, galleys powered by slave labour. Somewhere in the distance, the light faded into the dark and the dark faded into the light. It was their meeting place, the twilight zone, where one could not tell which came first. It was a strange, curious abode full of luminous beings and radiant plant life, wrapping the small, sparsely-populated Outer Rim world like a golden and violet gift wrap band. There were no boundaries there. That is where all these ships were heading to.
But she could not find her peace. Branna’s words still echoed in her mind, the waves crashing at the concrete blocks of the pier resembling her high-pitched voice.
“Do you think you love him?”
Doria took a deep breath and moved her lips to speak.
“Yes. I do.”
To-do list for myself in the next couple of days:
- complete the list of related stories in the OP
- update the list of characters up to chapter 14 and, as per @Sith-I-5's comment, find a different way to display them
- update table of contents
- add comment replies on 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 08 - second batch, 09, 10, 11 - second batch and 13
- add footnotes starting from 03
- remove unnecessary stuff from the OP
- perhaps compile a quick e-book for people who are faaar behind and anybody else might be interested in this masterpizza
If this is where I couldn't find where the story started, you could just put a navigation link close to the top, so we can skip past the gumpf.
Yup. Your comment was 100% in place. I guess that just linking to #4 will do.
Catching up ...
First: Hopefully, Kneessa feeds whomever burned the Gemwood Tree to a Gorax. This conniving treachery cannot stand .
Clearly, the branch she saved will become the sapling for the next tree, but still - whether it's that stuffy (treasonous?) elder, or threats from that corrupt village, Bright Tree really doesn't need this right now.
And Anjie and Doria ... She admitted her feelings!
Not sure how romantic Roon is, but it's not Saccoria, either, so that's something. Let's hope these crazy kids patch things up.
Ah ha, so it appears that Antonio isn't as dumb as he acts sometimes! Even if his ego is partly behind his insistence that SWS get first billing, it's a pretty shrewd move for promoting their return. And he seems to have met his match in shrewdness in the indomitable Liska An'tre. She's just the kind of no-nonsense promoter this bunch needs, someone who can keep both Antonio's ego and excesses and Anjie's otherworldly artistic sensibilities in check long enough for them to actually, y'know, make some money. Love how she refuses to let Antonio's "feud" with Charon stand in the way and even convinces him that with the right spin, it will be a great story to promote their album. Plus there's the chance to use the famous Dalyn Baobab studios to record
Luvitt! Okay, maybe Antonio is as dumb as he acts And the bestest part! The festival's on Roon! How convenient! Looks like that trail of breadcrumbs in the starfield is leading Anjie right to Doria.
Speaking of whom...Ebe's teasing about "Dodo and Revan" is priceless. Interesting discussion between Doria and Branna about her dream of Anjie and the photographer's assistant--the schutta! (and I know exactly which dream she's referring to--yowza, it was quite steamy!) Thought provoking questions from Branna as usual, but at least this time Doria is really giving them some thought instead of going into her usual "la la la, I'm not listening!" denial. And wonder of wonders, she admits her feelings to herself... Now she just needs to admit them to Anjie! Odds are that won't be easy, but I'm looking forward to seeing how she handles it!
Well, you did warn me: this Liska An'tre is quite a piece of work, isn't she, especially with all this "liability" business directed toward Anjie. Not nice of her. I have to say I love how she stands up to Antonio, though. Also, the way she's spinning Antonio and his old nemesis Charon together on the same concert as a continuation of the reconciliation begun at the wedding does indeed speak to some true shrewdness on her part. I'll be curious to see to what extent that reconciliation actually happens. (I wonder too, just from my own curiosity, whether it's based on anything between the two RL bases for these characters.)
All throughout this chapter we see hints of the everlasting struggle between artistry and moneymaking—a recurring motif in your Anjie stories, and as Branna says, it's beyond ugly. Of course it's a Baobab who's running things; of course the answer to Anjie's question about Dalyn Baobab is that connections are being "pulled" (and I love his response to that; another moment where we see he knows more than he lets on about what's going on). And of course these organizers and agents and managers would see a place like Roon, basically untouched by the Empire's rule, as primarily a cash cow of sorts. Even the way Wompy gets that sudden burst of inspiration about incorporating the line "If you wanna have her, go get her" into "Lost Girls" seems like there must be some kind of ulterior publicity-related motive behind it—nothing's pure or safe with this bunch, not even the very act of songcraft.
Now on to Doria. Of course she is utterly and completely flabbergasted by the news SWS will be performing right there on Roon! But even amid Ebe's teasing (and he really is cutie—I like him!), she is reacting to the whole thing in a much more even-tempered way now, without sinking into self-sabotage or denial, and that is immensely encouraging to see. Good on her for going out and taking a walk to collect her thoughts; that can really do wonders for clarity, and it does for her, too. With a nightworlds twist, of course, because it's in the darkly luminescent setting of Roon's twilight zone that she's able to admit her true feelings to herself. That is what I call progress. (Not unity yet,perhaps, but definitely progress! )
So yes, the breadcrumbs are definitely leading in the right direction—not just to a reunion between Anjie and Doria (as wonderful as that will be), but to increased clarity on both their parts. A very good thing indeed, and I hope it will continue!
Thank you for your comments everybody and sorry for another week without a new chapter. I was dragging this delightful combo of strep throat and allergic sinusitis and I only got help the other day, because the doctor kinda sorta sees me as a hypochondriac.
The next chapter is packed with action and it will give some much-needed answers regarding what the k'vark is going on at the Bright Tree Village.
Oh, no, you're not going to get away like that. I guess you've been reading?
A real Gorax or one of 'em metal ones? Then again, who cares? I absolutely agree with the statement.
No corrupt village involved. It will be a partial surprise.
It was hard, wasn't it? But doing that without the Doaba Ke'demii-style drama and without saying that she hates him or something was quite an effort, too.
I always thought that the twilight zones of tide-locked planets were quite, quite something. Romantic enough for me. Then again, I'm the woman who'd pick food over a guy or, at this point where I'm skint, go on a date to pig out. And yeah, the one who sees something romantic in manmade disasters.
He's like tomcats, not stupid at all...until he spots a kitty.
Liska An'tre is the Thrawn of music management. I believe that, err, many Bothans died so she could get ahead. And yup, she is pretty rough in terms of communication, but she knows how to give the foursome the much-needed reality check.
In this case, sadly, he means precisely what he says.
He was right about that, all right. But he could have just accepted her comm-code and made it easier.
The little korrak.
Says A LOT about Doria's own repressed desires. That's what all the super-specific details in the steamy story were for.
When it's a party, it's a party!
She has no idea why and how the dramatic moment happened, so she's dealing with it the best way she knows how - by being sooo charming...not.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em...right? #insane_troll_logic
Nah, the last time I saw the two faceclaims together, they were in a photo session for some corny magazine. I don't think they ever argued, but darn, wouldn't it have been a fun argument?
He does, to a certain extent, but his idealism is a fire that never ceased to burn. Plus, he doesn't have a choice - it's either putting up with it or going back to Naboo and being stuck in some droid-job at his dad's office.
Nah, Wompy just thought it sounded cool. But of course, Antonio will "improve" the lines and make them "meaningful".
Yes to the rest. Funny that Roon is so close to Scarif, btw!
She stops self-sabotage and denial pretty fast here, I bet that she even surprised herself. And Ebe was meant to be cute, yet mischievous.
So would you rather I didn't de-lurk?
No, I would rather you say something sub-sub-sub-sub-substantial.
Okay, let's see.....
Antonio sure seems to know a lot about pizza...er, ziippa...for being no-carb-y.
Looks like before we know it Ebe will be all "Dodo and Revan, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G"
If she hasn't done that already. Maybe she has. It sounds familiar.
And as for Doria.... Would you just admit you like the guy already? Sheesh.
And of course the Ewoks are just the cutest. With the obvious exception of Certain Individuals who are acting like Total And Complete Buttheads. Grrrr!
(Is that better?)
15 The Fall, The Leap
Feeling defeated, exhausted and disillusioned, Kneesaa climbed the rickety stairs to her chamber. Father was fast asleep, consumed by the mysterious illness that had rendered him barely able to speak, and she had no strength to wait for her sister to return with what could have been another slap on the face, more bad news.
When Asha woke her up, the Ibleam were already high in the sky. Had she overslepet? Has something happened to Chirpa?
“Father is still sleeping, but he seems to be stable. The metal Gorax did not burn down, it sort of…became cold, mostly. Inside of it, we found a droo-hed and Taychee. He didn’t make it.”
“Taychee? One of the newly appointed warriors from just before the Big Battle?” Kneesaa gasped. “How did he know to work that evil thing? Only Willy and W…”
Asha shook her head and rolled her eyes. “I think you’re suspecting the same thing I do. But this was not the Gorax that fell asleep next to the ruins of the Lair of the Skull Ones. That one is still there, I had a couple of scouts check. And those we killed in the Big Battle could not have been recovered.”
The princess nodded. “We have to react. Fast. Let’s go get Logray and Teebo!” She grabbed her knife and the sceptre.
The two royal sisters stormed out of the big hut and made their way to the level below the main one. The village seemed to be strangely deserted, as if it had still been morning. Nobody at the main fire pit, nobody at the flour mill, nobody near the outhuts. They decided to use the vines and climb down one by one.
“I have a bad feeling about this.” Kneesaa heard herself say the same words she had uttered when the Tulgah witch had fooled her and her friends and trapped them in her lair. “K’vark!”
She did not have the time to scold herself for cussing. A group of Skull Ones appeared from the treetops and jumped onto the bridge.
“Freeze!” The one in the front used one of the rare words that she understood.
The Skull Ones spoke among themselves, in their language.
“Is it her we’re looking for?” the one with red on his shoulder asked the other.
“Yes. Set the blaster to stun! We need her for later!”
Even though she was clueless about the intruders’ discussion, the Ewok princess could sense that she was in immediate danger.
“Nobody is using me as a bait! Dengar!” She remembered her sister’s advice, took her sceptre out and clubbed the Skull One with the red patch, then swung towards an even lower platform.
“Glad you’re listening to my advice!” came the voice from the platform above.
Hearing Kneesaa’s battle cry, Asha jumped from her hiding place, right onto the head of the all-white warrior. Seconds later, she managed to snatch his firestick and she aimed it at him. Two other Ewoks approached. She recognised Rabin and Lakotup. They did not seem to be on bad terms with the Skull Ones, judging by how they put their weapons away upon their approach.
“Ee-chaa!” Rabin pointed to Asha. Before she could even react, another Skull One stunned her from behind.
“These things cannot even speak Basic.”
“If you don’t want to surrender to them, this unlikely alliance is our only way to survive,” the other one said. “This is not the one we need for the negotiations, but she’s almost as good. Almost!”
The Skull Ones gestured to Lakotup and Rabin to drag the unconscious Asha to the supply hut. Inside were already her betrothed, Tak, as well as Logray, Paploo and Bozzie, all of them stunned.
By the time this had happened, Kneesaa was a couple of kilometres away, running through the tall ferns of the Happy Grove, armed with nothing but her trophy knife and her gemwood sceptre.
Meanwhile, Chief Chirpa woke up.
“Kneesaa? Asha?” He called for his daughters. Then he looked to the side of his bed, only to see Head Elder Kazak there.
“Your daughters have embarked on a search for young Warrick on their own, it appears,” the leader of the Council said. “It might take them a couple of days before they give up and come back home.”
That did not sound like something the two princesses would have done. Still, by now, Chirpa was aware of his daughter’s fondness for Wicket, so it wasn’t that far-fetched.
"Who is going to help me heal? I can’t even get up.”
Kazak crossed his fingers behind his back. That was exactly what he hoped to hear.
“Don't worry.” He put on his best servant smile. “I am still here to serve you, my Chief. But I need your urgent assistance. There has been a skirmish, some of the villagers have been collaborating with the enemy. They have awakened one of the metal Goraxes last night and summoned a band of scattered Skull Ones to the village this morning. But we caught them and placed them in a cage.” He stopped to catch a breath. This was going well.
“What would you suggest, Kazak?”
“The black-ribboned scroll,” the Head Elder said firmly.
Chirpa seemed surprised. “Isn’t that too much?”
“No. We have lost so many of our tribesmen in the Big Battle. These are the most uncertain of the times that the Bright Tree Village has ever been through. You need to be tough and I am willing to act on your behalf.”
“I guess you’re right. But make sure the traitors don’t suffer too much.”
Kazak nodded. “Their deaths shall be painless, my Chief.”
Teebo had no idea what was going on. He was sleeping in the unfinished hut with his arms around Latara and the next thing he knew, he was hanging from a stick, much like the one he had used when his hunters had caught Genersolo, Mastalook, Chewbacca and the droo-hed who hurt him.
And now he was in the very same place where the four intruders had been initially taken – above the fire pit. A couple of Skull Ones stood by the side of Head Elder Kazak and Wunka. Near them, there was Lumat. One of the Skull Ones held Latara, who was all tied up, unlike him.
Whatever had happened here, it did not make much sense to him. But he was positive that Kazak was about to get rid of him. And his lover was held captive.
Lumat seemed to have been puzzled by the latter himself.
“Kazak, this was not the part of the plan! She is my daughter!” he protested. “You promised that she would not be missing a single hair off her head!”
“We changed the plans.” The Head Elder pointed to the Supply Hut. “Latara will be used to trick the runaway princess into coming back to the village.”
“I am never going to betray Kneesaa!” Latara attempted to kick Wunka’s shin. “And let my boyfriend go. Now! He has not done anything. Mppph!” Wunka put his black-furred hand over the girl’s mouth.
The crowd was strangely calm. Usually, in a situation like this, somebody would have been quick to protest. But all of the couple’s close friends and relatives apart from Latara’s father were absent from the scene.
Teebo was trying to be calm. His Master must be there somewhere. From the conversation among those who stood close to the fire pit, he had determined that Kneesaa was missing. Otherwise, she would have been here now, acting on her father’s behalf. Moreover, this did not sound like something Chirpa would do - accuse him of having awaken the same metal Gorax that he brought down.
But if he were to use Kazak’s twisted logic, it all made sense.
Of course…since we were shamed the other day, they expected one or both of us to be guilty of something else. They did not care about the old mating law at all, he thought to himself. Just then, somebody kicked him in the back and yelled at him to shut up.
Kazak banged his dreaded hammer against the walls of the nearest hut.
“Arandee, Ewoks. We have caught the traitor, thanks to the help of our friends.” He pointed to the Skull Ones. “He dabbles in the magic of the Night Spirit – everything that had happened after the battle was his doing and he robbed poor old Logray of his magic, too.”
“Why did Logray trust him?” a woman in the crowd asked. “Didn’t he have a bad experience with Zarrak, his first apprentice?”
The Head Elder grinned, unconvincingly. “That was dark magic, too. His powers are too strong and threatening to everybody here. Tomorrow, he might try to overthrow our Mighty Chief Chirpa.”
The crowd gasped.
“So, since we cannot find Logray and find out the location of the legendary Realm of Spirits, we will execute him the same way he wanted to execute our saviours. By fire!”
I knew that this would come back to haunt me, sooner or later…
“Wait,” Flitchee interrupted the speaker. “If he is the traitor, why are those Skull Ones by your side?”
Wunka was quicker to respond. “They have surrendered and they will help us protect our village from the whole band of traitors that scattered after the last night’s attack at the Festival of Hoods!”
Flitchee shrugged. Lakotup poured the highly flammable gan’ga root essence over the wood and Rabin approached the fire pit with a torch. But Kazak showed him to stop, then stepped out and took the duty himself.
Teebo was trying not to show how afraid he really was.
“You have been undermining my powers…” the Head Elder said to him, quietly so nobody else could hear it. “…and you’ve been standing in my way for far too long, together with your group of friends. One down, the others will come on their own!”
The fire was burning too fast and the young medicine man apprentice was unable to set himself free and use his hands to summon his nature powers. He managed to look up, only to see a frightening expression on Latara’s face. She was rarely ever afraid of anything, refusing to submit to anybody. But this time she was almost paralysed.
I’m sorry…I love you. But without my hands, I cannot save myself and I cannot save you, either.
An inner voice spoke, all of the sudden.
You don’t have to use your hands.
Or maybe it was the voice of the Soul Trees?
Mastalook did not use his hands when he lifted the golden droohed above the main square! Just close your eyes and focus!
But I cannot put out the fire! Not with the powers of the Shadowstone!
A great wizard always finds a way out of fire! Focus! Now! It’s not just your life that’s at stake.
He had to believe. Despite the flames approaching his belly, he cut himself out of his surroundings and closed his eyes, murmuring something in the language of magic.
This is not going to work! I have not reached the powers of…
Just like the night before, everything happened within a couple of bats of an eye.
The wooden floor under Kazak’s feet collapsed and he fell straight into the wooden pipe of the outhuts on the level below, with a big splash. Wunka and a couple of others ran in, only for the floor to continue breaking. Lumat pushed Latara to the side, but lost his balance in a matter of seconds.
“What is going on?!” he yelled, as he fell down on top of the others. Latara was close to laughing, but she bit her tongue and attempted to crawl her boyfriend’s way. What was he doing? The flames were a couple of hairs away from his satchel.
Then she smiled. It appeared that it was exactly what Teebo was going for.
The moment the satchel was set on fire, a pile of kakhoo-dust emerged from it and put down the fire just enough for the young Ewok to set himself free and then burn the ropes with the remaining flames.
This seemed to have escaped almost everybody’s eye, as most of the onlookers ran away. A couple of warriors, by now clearly Kazak’s supporters, remained close, but only few dared to approach the elders climbing back from the dreck pit. A couple of onlookers started laughing as Kazak got up and started chasing chickens, attempting to wipe himself off with one. Minutes later, one of his minions arrived with the hose spreading from the main water tank and managed to send him flying over the main square, crashing into the Royal Hut under pressure.
Teebo did not have the time to admire the chaos that he had created and wonder why it looked like a Jinda play. He ran across the square, grabbed Latara and jumped off the platform. They fell into the piles of leaves on the forest floor. He had just enough time to untie her.
"What in the name of the Great Tree have you done?”
"It's the only thing that I could have done! We have no time to waste, run! Yubnub!”
“You do have some strange ideas. Remind me never to allow you to cook food again!” she pouted.
Yago the bordok was munching on some roots some fifty steps away. Seconds later, he had two young Ewoks on his back. “Ha-yah!”
The animal recognised the Ewok who once sent him back to the village with an important message. He galloped among the trees and did not stop until they were out of the Happy Grove. Then he collapsed.
“He needs to rest.” Latara patted the bordok and ran her fingers through his reddish mane.
“He also needs to find my master. And this time, I cannot relay any sort of a message. It could be too dangerous! I hope that just seeing him will be enough!”
Teebo gently patted Yago’s mane and made sure that the animal was all right before they sent him away. And just then, there was rustling on the other side of the shruberry.
Latara jumped out of the bush and came face to face with a Skull One.
“TK-578 calling the headquarters. I found them.”
“This is my kind of a thing.” She said and pulled out her firestick.
The Skull One fell down.
Teebo exhaled, after he’d held his breath for a couple of seconds. “I love you.”
“I know.” Latara winked. “Wait, that sounded so…”
“So you.” He planted a quick kiss on her lips and caught onto the nearest vine. They swung as far as they could, the weight of their bodies needing more momentum than normal. Once they had landed on a thick conifer tree branch, Latara managed to duck seconds before another blaster bolt passed right by her eye. She turned around and blindly fired a couple of shots, then jumped on a lower branch, turned around and fired at the two remaining Skull Ones again.
She put her finger on her chin and scratched. “Is that it?”
“I hope so. Let’s get out of here.”
“Where are we going?”
“I…don’t know. But something is telling me to head this way.”
Latara shook her head. “Arandee, Teebo…next time ask that ‘something’ for clear directions, will you?”
They walked for what seemed like all day, until the tired animal stopped in front of a hut that, though dilapidated, looked nothing like Ewok ones. It was vacant and there were cobwebs in many places.
“Hope there are no reeps in here!” Latara crossed her arms and pouted.
“I don’t think so. This has got to be the place where Wicket’s friend, Noa, lived.”
Latara was puzzled. "Whaa? How would anybody other than Wicket know about this hut?" Latara put her finger on her forehead. Teebo just rolled his eyes. "Don't tell me it's your nature powers again."
Teebo shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s like I could read it. Somehow. It’s like everything is leading to…err…ummm…something.”
“That doesn’t actually sound helpful.”
“Would you accept ‘I don’t know’ as an answer instead?”
“Chak.” Latara reached out and hugged her betrothed. “And what about our loved ones?”
“We will think of a plan tomorrow. If the Skull Ones are still scattered around Endor, then our allies have got to have kept at least one village of their own somewhere. With ‘spiders’, firesticks and everything!”
“Great. Just great. I mean, all we have to do is find them. No biggie!” The female Ewok rolled her eyes. Sometimes, Teebo lacked logic, or anything rooted in the material world.
After lighting up a fire and fixing themselves a stew from the roots growing outside the hut, the two Ewoks fell asleep in the large bunk, holding each other. It was raining outside, but no rain could get in. Whoever had built this hut, and Teebo suspected that it could have been Noa himself, must have been capable of far more than everyone he knew.
“What is going on? Teebo, is that you?”
They proceeded to the dark corner of the hut, him carrying a hatchet and her with the blaster ready to fire.
Just then, the creature behind the yellowish eyes jumped right in front of them.
“Dengar!” Latara let out the Ewok battle cry.
Hi EP- I'm just on Chapter 1 so I have a lot of catch up to do! Doria Vorr won me over with her telling off of the sleaze Antonio. She's a great character and loved the back drop of Naboo. Anjie is also an intriguing character but I'm not so sure about his stability. But that's what makes him so intriguing and even though it may not be the bright thing to do, I hope Doria takes him up on the offer to see him in concert.
I liked Jar Jar in this. In Revenge of the Sith he was turned into such a stately senator and you captured him well, even though he was a little 'too' helpful in telling Anjie Doria's last name. I also liked mention of the tragic tale that took place there. Well done! Thanks for taking me to another world. One of my favorite books is Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and with the band Deeply Religious and all the different eclectic characters, I feel a little bit like I'm back in that world and Zaphod could come out any time. I hope you'll take that as a compliment because I love that book! Just on Chapter 1 but plan to read the next tomorrow! Great job EP and well written!
Chapter 2- Holy moly, your worldbuilding! Letara and Teebo were so sweet together. It's beautiful how in love Letara is with Teebo and he is so shy and wonderful with her. I can just see them making music together with her flute and his poetry. So romantic that she made the perfume from the flowers he had grown for her. And weaving their story around the downfall of the Empire and the loss and suffering that they sacrificed for freedom, was wonderful. Looking forward to reading more!
AAAAAAAH! The poodoo hits the fan in Bright Tree Village! Kazak, you rotten so-and-so! I knew you were bad news but I thought you were too much of cowardly toady to do something like this! Lying to the incapacitated Chief Chirpa (whose illness is no coincidence, I'm sure) and trying to execute Teebo! Lumat, too, though he still seems like a dupe who's not been filled in on the whole plan. Interesting that one of the stormtroopers mentions that they need Kneesaa for "negotiations". With whom, I wonder? Whoever it is, it can't be good news for our intrepid band of Ewoks.
Just in the nick of time, Teebo finds that he can access the Force or the Nature Spirits or whatever on may call them after all. This time, it doesn't seem to be the dark power of the Shadowstone--instead the guiding voice sounds like the voice of the Soul Trees themselves. And then everything turns into a cartoon ... sorry, I mean a Jinda play!(and you know I mean that in the best possible way!) Kazak literally lands in the poodoo and...wipes himself off with a chicken :Rofl: He gets hosed into the Royal Hut, and I'm sure all this chaos is going to help his credibility with the village immensely!
It's so much fun to see all our Ewok friends in action hero mode in this chapter--Kneesaa swinging from vines and clobbering troopers with her scepter, Latara shooting blasters and riding off with Teebo on Yago's back! Here's hoping that they can straighten things out before Kazak's evil plan progresses!
Ch3- This is so deep in interesting characters. It will be interesting to see what some of the 'upgrades' are to Charon and Deeina's new ship. And interesting about that datacard that Doria gives Charon.
Interesting with Anjie's struggle with addiction and becoming sober. What a precarious position to be in feeling the sometimes luke-warm reaction to the crowd, and the comments afterward, 'he was better on the spice!' Yikes, what a challenge. And now he's found Doria. I am looking forward to having them go out sight seeing together. I am still not sure that Anjie will be able to hold it together for very long. Lots of undercurrents swirling around- like Antonio not supporting him. Looking forward to more!
Ch 4- Go Batcheela! I like her sticking up for Latara! Such strong Ewok women.
Teebo is such an intriguing character for me. Born with 'nature powers' and he has such a big heart.
Kazak, stop trying to be chief. This is not going to end well for you ...
Glad to see Latara, Teebo, and Kneesa got away - but Stormtroopers? And negotiations?
Kazak and his goon squad have gone too far. But yes, I also wonder who's really pulling the strings ...
Ch 5 Have to avoid reading other people's comments because of spoilers! I felt like I was right with Doria and Anjie as they walked through the market and chose their food and saw the date.
Loved the art work!
I also liked that she is committed to being herself and not dressing up for the date. Anjie is an interesting character, and the recounting of his past fascinating! He has many inner demons chasing him. Sometimes beautiful art comes from those dark places. I like that he has found his way so far through his art, and interesting about the waters, and the souls of those past, helping him write. .Soileu Ashes- so many intriguing things in this chapter. They are both interesting people and I hope that he and Doria's paths cross again soon.
The mausoleum was haunting. Their time together felt so truthful, with the awkward moments, silences, and saying the wrong things. I think that fate will lead them back together again. Great job once again!
What a stupendously action-packed chapter! Some wonderful bravery and badassitude by the two royal sisters. And for Kneesaa in particular, the way she continues to fight on with such resolve even after the tragic loss of the gemwood tree is really nothing short of amazing. She definitely carries on the SW warrior princess tradition in spades!
Echoing what everyone else has been saying, that sleemo Kazak is absolutely positively up to no good whatsoever. I have no doubt that the Skull Ones (and his own goons) sent to capture Asha and Kneesaa are doing so at his behest; he is clearly lying through his teeth to Chirpa when the latter asks where his daughters are. And of course, in true sleemo fashion, he has some sort of plot up his sleeve (!) to paint the wrong people as traitors in order to disguise his own treachery. And Teebo is his target, specifically—I hope I have this right—on account of his use of Night Spirit powers those few times. I recall earlier how Teebo felt that his connection to the Light Spirit was fading; could Kazak be using that fact to his own advantage, somehow? (Though Kazak is presumably a muggle himself, right?)
And somehow I am not totally surprised to see that Lumat cut some sort of deal with him—though I'm equally not surprised to see Kazak pulling a Vader-in-ESB-like "I have altered the deal" with him. I hope that will lead Lumat to reconsider this alliance!
Teebo gets a wonderful moment of badassitude here himself—and what a breakthrough it is, on the figurative as well as literal levels, especially given what we heard earlier about his dwindling Light Spirit connection. I love that other voice, the one in Times italics, that cuts into his thoughts and dispels his doubt: it seems to be another side of him, or of his powers, or of another side of the Force/Light Spirit itself. If nothing else, all this
Then: a madcap escape by the two lovers on bordokback, and Teebo's powers kick in again (if subconsciously) to find them that abandoned hut as a place of refuge. I feel like it should be familiar somehow, but if I try to guess I probably won't guess right. It's cute to see Teebo and Latara saying the classic "I love you" and "I know"—with the genders reversed, which works so perfectly for them! And their vine-swing together earlier in the escape of course recalls Luke and Leia's ANH swing—great job working in those fun little Saga touches! I see someone shows up to join them at the very end there... will have to see if that's friend or foe.
Just as a side note, I'm noticing that the title of this chapter reminds me of your stories "Before the Fall" and "After the Climb," which I know are about a wholly different sector of your universe... but just mentioning it, because I know you are all about subtle connections.
Ch 6 Anjie's dream is intriguing! From Doria's story to his dream, they are definitely linked and now the universe needs to show them. I hope that breadcrumb trail starts for Anjie as he's rebuilding his life because the two are fascinating together. I was thinking about all that Anjie revealed to her in the last chapter and even his tears which he couldn't control. He really opened up to her. Not an easy thing to do. I hope he finds some way to use that Holonet and somehow contact her.
Doria's family is wonderful. Liked their recollections of Anjie...'I sure hope that was mud...' I'm having so much fun reading this, and your images and ideas stick with me...a sign of a good book! I also like your world building- a planet tidal locked into a permanent day. woohoo! Love it! Looking forward to more.
PLACEHOLDER PLACEHOLDER PLACEHOLDER BECAUSE THE WORKERS ARE GETTING ON MY NERVES AND I CAN'T BRAIN.
SPECIAL set of replies for @NobodyIX, who delighted me with this comment-shower and made me super-happy...so she would not accidentally read the spoilers in replies to the other four people.
// reminder for myself: up to chapter six
PLACEHOLDER PLACEHOLDER PLACEHOLDER BECAUSE THE WORKERS ARE GETTING ON MY NERVES AND I CAN'T BRAIN.
*** REPLIES TO CHAPTER 15***
// reminder for myself: also @Cowgirl Jedi 1701's comment that I swore was not there when I had posted the previous chapter. O_O