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Saga - Legends The Detective Eliskandro Stories | Mystery/humour, OC ensemble cast | Short story collection

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Chyntuck, May 1, 2015.

  1. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Foreword

    Not very long ago, in a galaxy known as the Milky Way, I was working on an original fiction involving a gay hairdresser nicknamed Alessandro, who owns a luxury salon in a posh neighbourhood of downtown Athens and solves crimes through the information he gathers in the course of his work. I had the misfortune (?) to mention him first in the OC Revolution thread, then in the Out of the Closet thread, and after that the rabid fanfic bunny bit me and it just wouldn’t go away. Transposing him to the GFFA was a long process, but he ultimately evolved into Eliskandro Fasolia Faké, a transgender Hutt who runs a grooming salon for beings of all species on Coruscant. He made his first SW appearance in The Hairdo, a crack!fic that I wrote for the Mod April Fools’ Challenge, and now he is here to stay. What you will read in this thread is the story of his adventures, as a detective and as a hairdresser.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
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  2. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
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  3. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Title: Seven
    Summary: The story of how Eliskandra the Hutt became Eliskandro, solved a murder mystery, adopted a flock of avians and opened a multi-species grooming salon on Coruscant.
    Genre: Mystery, humour
    Timeframe: circa 15 BBY

    Notes:
    This story was written as a prize for Kahara, who won the 2015 awards in Saga for Best Author, Best Series, Best Interpretation of a Canon Character and Best Reviewer. Make sure you read her award-winning fics Long Gone and Kaleidoscope Candles, they’re awesome.

    There are a number of people who should be given credit for ideas and events in this fic, most notably Findswoman, whose help with building the plot and beta-reading has been invaluable, and Kahara herself, as well as a well-known mystery writer whom I will not name just yet. Acknowledgements and notes will come after the last chapter, in order to avoid spoilers.

    Dramatis personae listed behind the spoiler tag
    Princess Xerola of the Falleen – the sole remaining representative and heir of House Psonia
    Eliskandra Fasolia Faké – a female-personality Hutt and a groomer of Galactic repute

    Princess Xerola’s seven attendants:
    Ilektra – The Human manicurist
    Maua – The Togruta lady’s maid
    Meeropi – The Twi’lek dancer
    Taïgheta – The Zeltron masseuse
    Pleoné – The Nautolan perfumer
    Celano – The Chagrian reader
    Steroop – The Selonian waitress

    Princess Xerola’s seven household staff:
    Foos - The Human pilot
    Babloony – The Karkarodon bodyguard
    Zefs – The Bith musician
    Gizeh – The Elomin accountant
    Hali – The Feeorin manservant
    Artemian – The Chevin chamberlain
    Kolosso – The Wookiee co-pilot

    Princess Xerola’s seven droids:
    Arthree – The astromech (R3-series model)
    Mousey – The cleaning droid (MSE-4 model)
    Dolby – The digital sound enhancement droid (HF-34 model)
    Eethree – The protocol droid (E-3PO model)
    Doc – The medical droid (GH-7 model)
    Foodie – The personal chef droid (434-FPC model)
    Dark-Eye, nicknamed Nosey – The spy droid (modified DRK-1 model)

    Princess Xerola’s seven Rishi avians:
    Pulaha – the blue-headed avian
    Kratu – the green-eyed avian
    Pulastya – the red-tailed avian
    Atri – the yellow-beaked avian
    Angiras – the brown-feathered avian
    Vasishtha – the orange-winged avian
    Bhrigu – the black-footed avian

    Distribution of rooms aboard the Simplon – drawing behind the spoiler tag
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
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  4. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Seven

    Chapter I

    The Privileged Travellers’ section of the Falleen Throne spaceport was in full mid-afternoon mayhem as hundreds of luxury speeders flew in and out, ferrying noblebeings and their entourages to the elegant ships that would take them to the Core. In docking bay 7, just off the central alley, a little group of DUM-series pit droids was furbishing, polishing, maintaining and refuelling the Simplon, a particularly flashy, ovoid-shaped craft that was known across the planet to belong to Princess Xerola, sole remaining representative of the noble House of Psonia. The entire Psonia family had been wiped out during the Clone Wars when their ship had disintegrated upon entry into hyperspace – a freak accident that, according to an ill-intended but persistent rumour, the Princess was no stranger to – and, after an adequate period of mourning that she nevertheless put to good use in purchasing the Simplon and re-staffing her household, Princess Xerola now regularly travelled the Galaxy to enjoy her immense wealth and that of her deceased brothers and sisters.

    All activity in the central alley came to an abrupt halt when two vehicles – one of them a hoverbus bearing the coat of arms of House Psonia, the other one a limo speeder cab for hire – arrived from opposite directions and stopped simultaneously in front of the Princess’s docking bay. The doors of the bus slid open with the faintest of creaks and a flock of twittering avians zoomed out, followed shortly by a group of sentients and droids all dressed in the same garish livery. A tall, muscular Feeorin opened the storage compartment and started pulling out luggage and handing it to a Human and a Wookiee who piled it up on a floatpad, while a scrawny Bith carrying a Mawlenhawer case of flutes and horns helped an HF-34 sound system droid off the ramp and an Elomin who was wearing a sweeping cape over his uniform chattered away with seven females of various species.

    “Security check,” a raspy voice boomed from inside the bus. “Make way and stay where you are!”

    A fierce Karkarodon appeared on the top of the ramp, one blaster at the ready in each webbed hand. A vivacious-looking Twi’lek chuckled. “You don’t need those, poodoo-head,” she quipped. “Last time you ended up mauling the poor thing anyway.”

    The little troupe burst out laughing as the Karkarodon gazed at his weapons doubtfully and re-holstered them before jogging into the docking bay. “Play nice if you find someone this time,” a voluptuous Zeltron called after him. “Mousey’s had enough of having to clean the floors after you.”

    “The master’s security comes before the welfare of droids,” a metallic voice snapped overhead. They all looked up to see a spherical black droid floating in the air above them, his camera rotating slowly to capture the entire scene.

    “Oh, shut up, Nosey,” the Zeltron said. The droid let out an electronic snort. She leapt up to bat him and sent him spinning across the air and slamming into the hoverbus with a nasty clunk.

    The little MSE-4 housekeeping droid zoomed in a circle around the Zeltron’s feet as she landed and chirped cheerfully. A shiny E-3PO protocol droid toddled up.

    “Mousey greatly appreciates your concern for his well-being,” the protocol droid translated. “He would be grateful, however, if you could also limit the amount of massage oil spilt on the floors.” The small, boxy droid chirped again. “Although Mousey acknowledges that massage oil is excellent for his servomotors. But R3 units are known to be an envious lot and he dreads the idea of losing his best friend over an issue of cosmetics.”

    The astromech that was standing nearby let out an indignant beep and flashed the lights under his clear transparisteel dome, causing the bright blue-headed avian that was perching on it to jump in fright and flutter away towards a GH-7 droid that was hovering quietly in a corner.

    “Pulaha knows what’s good for her,” a pretty Nautolan chuckled. “You all noticed that she went for Doc. Foodie would have skewered and roasted her in no time.” The 434-FPC personal chef droid unfolded his forearm placidly, sliding a skewer out of the back of his hand as if giving her a middle finger.

    Assez!” a heavyset Chevin thundered from the bus. “Foodie! I ’ave told you already that such be’aviour is unbecoming of a master chef.” He waddled down the ramp. “Now, are we all ’ere? Ah, oui. I believe that we are still expecting our new ’airdresser.”

    A disgusting squelching sound behind him caused the Chevin to spin around on his heel to face the newcomer. His jaw would have dropped if it had not already been touching the ground. An overweight, apparently female Hutt was wriggling her way out of the limo speeder cab, whose pilot was staring in horror at the puddle of slime accumulating on the backseat platform as she squeezed her massive frame out of the door. She was coiffed with a fan-shaped silver headdress topped by a crest of peafowl tail-feathers and wore an elegant bolero of embroidered brocade. The contour of her lipless mouth was traced with liberal amounts of Gwerlayne Interstellar’s trademark rouge and her heavily lidded eyes were carefully enhanced with khôl. She dropped her vanity case to the ground, swapping a tiny clutch purse to her left hand so fast that it came across as a conjuring trick, and held out her right hand, whose stubby fingers were covered in heavy rings matching the many necklaces hanging over her chest.

    “You must be Chamberlain Artemian,” she said in a deep contralto voice. “How delightful – delightful – to meet you. Allow me to introduce myself. Eliskandra Fasolia Faké, trained hairdresser and groomer of Galactic reputation, formerly of the Great Bonvika Deseradii Feolla’s court and recently recruited by Princess Xerola of the Falleen.” She surveyed the little troupe behind the Chevin. “I imagine that these are the young ladies I will have the privilege to look after.”

    Artemian promptly overcame his astonishment. “But bien sûr, Madame,” he answered with his usual exquisite courtesy. “It is a true pleasure to welcome you to the Psonia ’ousehold.” He turned towards the Princess’s entourage, who were still goggling at Eliskandra with utter bafflement, and wiped his hand discreetly. “Please, my dears, will one of you ’elp Madame Eliskandra with ’er luggage?”

    The Wookiee stepped forward to take the travel chest that the limo driver was proffering – it was obvious that the man could not wait to leave, and he sped away in his luxury cab as soon as the Hutt’s tail was out of the vehicle – and a Human woman who had been filing her nails indifferently went to pick up the vanity case. She stopped dead in her tracks at the sight of the delicately entwined grek and osk that were embossed on the leather. “Is this genuine?” she asked in wonder.

    “But of course, dahling,” Eliskandra replied enthusiastically. “Straight from Goochy & Offspring, makers of quality nerf and shaak leather gear on Alderaan since the Ruusan Reformation.”

    The Hutt found herself surrounded by a gaggle of giggling females while the little avians fluttered around. “I’m Ilektra, by the way,” the Human girl said. “This over there” – she pointed at a Togruta – “is Maua, and this...” She interrupted herself. “Ah, never mind, you’ll learn our names with time. The only one you need to know straight away is Nosey” – she gestured towards the spherical black droid that was floating overhead again – “because he’s the really useless one of the bunch. His only function is to get us in trouble.”

    “My correct appellation is Dark-Eye,” the metallic voice said through the vocabulator. “As in, DRK-1 Dark Eye Probe Droid. I am a modified model of course with enhanced surveillance and data processing capacity, and I am certainly not useless. I...”

    “Begging your pardon, but your skill is questionable,” the hovering GH-7 med droid interjected melodiously. “I reported several days ago that my most powerful sedative was stolen. Master Gizeh” – he nodded gracefully at the Elomin – “recorded it in the household’s accounts, and I am yet to see any progress in your investigation.”

    The black droid whistled furiously and zoomed to face the GH-7, electronic eye to electronic eye, when the Karkarodon came out of the docking bay and dropped by the public recycle bins the carcass of what appeared to have been an insectoid alien – a Blood Carver, if the puddle of orange blood that gathered around the corpse was any indication. “They sent another one, but I got him,” he said with a satisfied smile.

    A Selonian female who had remained silent until then bared her fangs at him before stifling quickly her reaction and brushing some non-existent dust off her sleek white fur. The Wookiee let out a disparaging grunt while the Bith rolled his bulging eyes. “I hope it was worth it,” a velvety voice muttered in disbelief. Eliskandra looked around to find a shy-looking Chagrian staring at the Karkarodon. “For poor Mousey to be cleaning the floors again,” the Chagrian added with exaggerated concern. “Babloony never thinks of him. This is the third time we catch a Blood Carver assassin, and that orange blood of theirs corrodes the ship’s durasteel if not removed immediately.”

    The little housekeeping droid let out a mournful hoot and raced into the docking bay while one of the little avians came to perch on the Karkarodon’s shoulder and nibbled his cheek affectionately. The shark-like alien yelped in pain. “Don’t do that, Kratu,” he grunted angrily. “I think I might have broken a tooth. That exoskeleton was really tough.” At this the Bith rolled his eyes again.

    “I believe we are ready, n’est-ce pas?” the Chevin intervened. He stepped forward to Eliskandra and offered his arm. “Shall we? The Princesse likes us to be on board when she arrives, so as to be ready to take off immediately.”

    Chamberlain Artemian was a true gentlebeing and he took the time to expound on the details of the household as he showed Eliskandra around the Simplon. “The blast doors to the airlock will be shut during our trip, sealing off this access to the portside corridor from starboard for the duration of the flight,” he explained as she slithered into the circular hallway. “This is a minor inconvenience that affects those among our staff who ’ave, shall we say, romantic...” – he chuckled discreetly – “... entanglements and must walk all around the ship to meet the fortunate subject of their interest. The female staff, as well as the Princesse and yourself, Madame, ’ave their quarters on the starboard side. The attendants’ cabins face the medical wing, which is in the central compartment, while Princesse Xerola’s and yours face the engine room. But fear not! We recently upgraded the Simplon with Space Acoustics’ top-of-the-line Echo Damper, and all you will hear is a perfectly unobtrusive rumble that will lull you to sleep as melodiously as if you were listening to the dulcet croaks of batrachians on your homeworld.”

    Eliskandra wiped a single tear off her cheek. “How wonderfully poetic! You cannot fathom how I miss the swamp batrachians of Nal Hutta. The Great Bonvika breeds several varieties in the pools of her gardens in Gebroila. Did you know that it is her ambition to form the first ever all-batrachian orchestra in Galactic history?” The Chevin let out an appreciative whistle. “And they make such adorable pets! Would Her Highness mind if I brought one on board sometime?”

    “Ah, I am afraid not, Madame,” Artemian replied regretfully. “Princesse Xerola reserves ’er affection for ’er Rishi birds.” He gestured elegantly towards the two little avians that were fluttering around their heads. “The one with the red tail feathers is Pulastya, and the smaller one with the yellow beak is Atri. As you can see, all the doors ’ave been refitted with avian flaps to allow them unimpeded access to the entire ship. I assure you ’owever that they are as charmant as your little batrachians. They may come across as a little shy at first, but they are very affectionate pets. I ’ave no doubt that you will develop a rapport with them in time.” He slid a card key into a lock and handed it to Eliskandra as the door swooshed open. The little avians zoomed in. “These are the quarters we prepared for you, room number six. The Princesse intended to ’ost ’er distinguished guests ’ere, but... euh... there ’aven’t been any, and a dame of your quality is no doubt used to such accommodation from the Great Bonvika’s court.”

    The room was spacious and equipped with every possible amenity, including a royal dais on repulsorlifts. “How thoughtful of you!” Eliskandra exclaimed. “This will make my wandering around the ship so much easier. And that poor little mousebot will be spared my slime trails in the hallway. I would hate to incur the wrath of our young Zeltron colleague and her Chagrian friend. They both seemed quite protective of him.”

    The Chevin let out an inaudible sigh. “I must apologize to you, Madame. Unfortunately we ’ave not been able to adjust the door to the width of the dais yet, but it will be a priority as soon as we reach Coruscant. ’Owever, do not concern yourself too much about Mousey. ’E is a most ’ard-working droid and always very eager to ’elp.”

    His explanations were interrupted by shrill screams from the neighbouring cabin. Eliskandra could have sworn that she heard Artemian mutter “merde!” under his breath, but he composed himself quickly. “It appears that the Princesse ’as arrived and is settling in,” he said casually. “’Er nerves ’ave been somewhat frayed recently by a spat of poor returns on investment, but I am certain that the good services of her attendants will soothe her by the time I can introduce you formally.” He gave her a respectful bow. “Now if you will excuse me, Madame, I must tend to the ’ousehold’s needs. ’Owever, I would be delighted to keep you company for dinner, if you would accept my presence. Should you wish company in the meantime, you will find those members of the staff who are not on duty in the common room. That is in the central compartment, beyond the Princesse’s quarters and the cockpit, the door facing the kitchen.”
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  5. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    FIRST. This time with actual content. And yeah, I also needed to like the second post with no content, now you can write EP is a kriffslider there and it will remain liked. Ha-ha.

    Heeey, I first shipped these two and I first asked for an Eliksandro story. I deserve a lifetime of Greek food, nuts, spices and "Opa!" ;)

    I mean, I did not expect this to start this early. Like, whoa. I go to leave a proper comment on The Crib and then suddenly I see this? How on Endor does one catch up with all your stuff?

    [​IMG] is [face_love]

    OK, an actual review. An actual review...

    Earlier bits of the chapter have a very Borghia vibe to it, but knowing you, it could be a red herring, so I am not falling for this just yet. Snow White Lucrezia Borghia. Multiplied. At the same time, I can see how Kahara will like this, it totally does fall into the "oddfic" category. [face_cow]

    “Mousey greatly appreciates your concern for his well-being,” the protocol droid translated. “He would be grateful, however, if you could also limit the amount of massage oil spilt on the floors.” The small, boxy droid chirped again. “Although Mousey acknowledges that massage oil is excellent for his servomotors. But R3 units are known to be an envious lot and he dreads the idea of losing his best friend over an issue of cosmetics.”

    This takes Artoo and Threepio up to eleven. At this point, there are six Artoos and one kriffslider Threepio. Or maybe five Artoos, as DRK-1 seems to be Threepioish as well. SEND HELP.

    “My correct appellation is Dark-Eye,” the metallic voice said through the vocabulator. “As in, DRK-1 Dark Eye Probe Droid. I am a modified model of course with enhanced surveillance and data processing capacity, and I am certainly not useless. I...”

    “Begging your pardon, but your skill is questionable,” the hovering GH-7 med droid interjected melodiously. “I reported several days ago that my most powerful sedative was stolen. Master Gizeh” – he nodded gracefully at the Elomin – “recorded it in the household’s accounts, and I am yet to see any progress in your investigation.”

    Hmmm. A machine can be wrong if somebody messed around with it, if an authority convinces everybody that it's wrong or...hmmm. My third idea is a crack! one, I'd better leave it for now.

    “Although Mousey acknowledges that massage oil is excellent for his servomotors. But R3 units are known to be an envious lot and he dreads the idea of losing his best friend over an issue of cosmetics.”

    The idea of droids liking massage oil is crackier than the whole of MESA, JAR JAR!!! I mean, it's not, but you get what I mean. :p

    “For poor Mousey to be cleaning the floors again,” the Chagrian added with exaggerated concern. “Babloony never thinks of him. This is the third time we catch a Blood Carver assassin, and that orange blood of theirs corrodes the ship’s durasteel if not removed immediately.”

    Can't tell if this is actually valid from the xenobiology POV or some heartless, sick, snobbish statement. :p

    “You must be Chamberlain Artemian,” she said in a deep contralto voice. “How delightful – delightful – to meet you. Allow me to introduce myself. Eliskandra Fasolia Faké, trained hairdresser and groomer of Galactic reputation, formerly of the Great Bonvika Deseradii Feolla’s court and recently recruited by Princess Xerola of the Falleen.” She surveyed the little troupe behind the Chevin. “I imagine that these are the young ladies I will have the privilege to look after.”

    Come to think of it, I wonder if Bonvika kicked her for courting at this point in time, not realising that they were meant to be and stuff. The other option, of course, is that she discovered her talents by accidentally solving a mystery while there and decided to go undercover. Either way, she totally did not come here as a hairdresser.

    Goochy & Offspring - Watch out, Dolce and Gabana sue people for bastardisations of their glorious name. Hope Gucci folks are better about it.

    These are some initial thoughts. Now I am off to analyse each single individual in this ensemble, as well as the rooms. And possible Chekhov's guns et cetera. But I shall keep quiet about the later.

    P.S. I sadly cannot find a description of it, but the behaviour of both Bonvika and Eliksandra/Eliksandro reminds me of Fema, the lead character from Jovan Sterija Popović's play, "Pokondirena tikva" (a close translation would be "Bejewelled Squash"). Their love for all things shiny, odd speech patterns using fancy foreign words and so on...it's like Fema was kidnapped from her XIX century world and transported to GFFA, holy mother goat. In case you or Findswoman ever come across that play translated to a language you can speak, I think you'll enjoy it greatly. :D

    P.S.2. Fun fact: In Serbian, DRK would be the onomathopeia of drkati which is a slang verb for that thing that makes zillions of teenagers go blind. Poor teenagers.
     
  6. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Whoa. Then this ^^^ happened.

    It's like the circus has come to town and they ain't moving. Lady, I don't know what you eat for breakfast that generates such an incredible imagination, but I want some of it.

    Each character is unique, with hs or her (or xis) own voice. I really like them all! And the references to Snow White's seven dwarfs, the seven muses, and I'm sure other "seven" references which I am just not sharp enough to catch. But then again, look at the fic's title.

    I literally lol'ed when I read about the Gwerlayne cosmetics. Then again, a genuine Goochy bag! I wish I could afford such luxuries! Nice touches, Chyn.

    Great start and I will be watching for updates. :)
     
  7. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Something more elaborate later, but I just wanted to say YAY! :D Already loving the new characters and curious how the mystery is going to evolve. [face_dancing]

    ----

    Okay, and now for the more elaborate. Editing the same post so it's not a double.

    There's a detailed ship map? [face_love] Oh, I think this is going to be good (IE, it's going to be mysterious. ;) )

    The mood and setting are wonderfully established here -- the "Privileged Travellers’ section of the Falleen Throne spaceport", the wildly varied inhabitants of the Simplon in all of their upscale chattering, the not so subtle hint of danger with Babloony casually disposing of assassins on the way, and Eliskandra of course, who seems entirely at home in this fancy but potentially deadly environment. :D I'm very curious to see how both the Detective and the Eliskandro sides of the hairdresser we meet in Ayesha's tales will develop here.


    How convenient for her. ;) Can see how she has assassins after her, given that way of operating. I bet the other Falleen royalty are quite rightly scared of her...

    Had to giggle at the earlier comment about the circus coming to town, because that's exactly how the appearance of the Princess's entourage seems. All those droids ("Foodie" is a perfect name for a cooking droid), the avians (I like how their species has been called here, and I won't say more since it may be spoilers), the multi-species attendants and staff... it's overwhelming in a good way -- captures what it must be like to meet that whirlwind of beings in person. :D

    [face_laugh] At the same time that it's disturbing how much of a bloody swathe this Karkarodon seems to leave, I love how utterly unafraid the others seem. They tease him just the same as the others. (And I'm very amused at how they all are rather cheerfully poking at each other like siblings on a car trip that never ends -- which I suspect may describe their lives a bit. :p)

    The seven-of-everything is very interesting, and now that others mention it does have a Snow White vibe. Except one gets the impression that the Princess is more of a poisoned apples type. [face_thinking]

    And this:

    [face_rofl] Already love these droids. They're all full of personality.

    Really nice intro that tells us so much without a word being said. Especially liked the bit about the conjuring trick. And the headdress. :D

    Goochy & Offspring. Goochy & Offspring.

    ...

    [face_rofl]



    Very intriguing that Psonia feels such a need to spy on her own people. o_O That can't be good. But they seem to treat Dark-Eye as an irritating younger sibling here. Very interesting. Also interesting is the disappearance of the sedatives. I think that will be significant in some way...

    Their complaining about stained floors and Babloony's broken tooth (oh, quit whining mister -- sharks lose teeth all the time, but they get replacements :p) shows they are used to these botched assassination attempts. What a surreal world they seem to live in!

    Liked the description of Artemian as a "true gentlebeing" and his subtle accent as displayed here (so that's what you were asking about in the Desk thread. :)) The conversation with Eliskandra about the ship's layout and batrachians was a very endearing one.


    The utter sincerity combined with a sharp, thoughtful mind under there somewhere (as we know from later appearances) is loads of fun to read.

    Aww, what a sweetheart he is. :) Or seems to be, anyway.


    Oh boy. Here comes the Princess. :p "Frayed nerves", uh huh... this is going to be interesting.
     
  8. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thanks all for reading and reviewing! Replying to some of your comments is a little bit difficult since this is supposed to be a mystery story ("supposed" being the operative word here) and I want to keep my answers spoiler and clue-free. So if I don't answer this or that bit, it's that I can't disclose any further information at this point, but I'll do my best [:D]
    Oh you will definitely be mentioned in the acknowledgements [face_love] I'm going to disappoint you on "opa" though, it's a word I only ever use in the sense of "hold your tauntauns", so that's probably not what you're looking for ;)
    :D Kahara is getting what she asked for (which may turn out to be a "careful what you wish for" situation :p)
    It's the secret Balkans breakfast with Athenian bourgeois. Trust me, you don't want to try it 8-}
    Actually, 3 Artoos, 3 Threepios and Dark-Eye, but you'll find out more about him later :) I need to mention that two important sources of inspiration for writing droids in this story were Hazel 's Artoo diaries and Ewok_Slayer 's I-Five diary, because yeah, you can't make this stuff up [face_laugh]
    Crackier than MESA, JAR JAR is impossible! But I'll take that as a compliment [face_cowboy]
    Challenge accepted. The lawyer in me needs to see this court case.
    Brace yourselves. I mean, Eliskandra is a groomer of galactic reputation...
    Eliskandra is a Hutt. Admittedly, a very peculiar Hutt, but a Hutt nonetheless [face_chicken]
    Oh, it is totally meant to be a circus. I've spent some time in posh Athenian hairdressing salons when researching for the RL version of Eliskandra/o's stories, and I assure you that "circus" is not far off the mark :eek:
    You mean a spacecraft trip, right? [face_laugh]
    In case you hadn't identified it, the headdress she wears is the same as Queen Apailana at Padmé's funeral (here). Maybe I should have kept the makeup as well... [face_thinking]
    Yeah... somewhere. :p (But no, she's brilliant of course, she just doesn't show it.)
    I hope you'll enjoy it [:D]

    Thanks again! The next chapter will be up on Saturday.
     
  9. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Chapter II

    A slight jolt and a rumble indicated that the Simplon was taking off. As soon as Chamberlain Artemian was gone, Eliskandra set about unpacking her possessions – her travel trunk and vanity case had already been brought over – and choosing the appropriate place for each item in the plain, durasteel-walled room. She hung her brocade bolero in the closet and replaced her feathered headdress with a simple but elegant Hayrmees kerchief before turning to the repulsorlift dais. She was sorely disappointed when a careful examination revealed that it was a crude, heavy-duty Lerrimore floatpad that had merely been covered in fluid-proof satin to make it appear like a LeisureMech luxury product. Meanwhile, the shouting in the neighbouring room – a shrieking rant interspersed with syllables of the Elomin’s deep baritone, who was apparently seeking to get a word in edgewise without being disrespectful – was growing louder by the minute, and Eliskandra could feel the beginning of one of the awful migraines to which she was prone. She closed her eyes and tried to block out the sound, but the argument didn’t seem to wind down – quite the opposite, in fact; the din was reaching ear-splitting levels. She took her vanity case and went off exploring the ship, followed at a distance by the red-tailed avian Artemian had called Pulastya.

    Ilektra’s laughing eyes greeted her in the common room, where the seven attendants and the muscular Feeorin were lounging lazily on the slightly threadbare sofas and playing with more of the little avians while the Bith fiddled with his digital sound enhancement droid in the far corner.

    “Do you Hutts have ear-flaps that you can shut at will?” the Human girl asked point-blank. “You were in there for a whole half-hour.”

    “Wait, the shrew was yelling at Eliskandra?” the Togruta named Maua interjected. “I thought she was having a go at Master Gizeh again.”

    The Feeorin shrugged. “Of course she’s having a go at Gizeh. Money always comes first, remember? It’s just that Eliskandra was given room six.”

    Maua gave Eliskandra a sympathetic look. “Oh, that’s bad luck,” she said kindly. “I’m just next door, in room five-besh, and when she gets going I can hear her as if she were in my own bed. Hali here” – she pointed at the Feeorin – “has the best room because it’s at the other end of the ship.”

    “The best room unless she decides to call on Gizeh in the middle of the night,” Hali grumbled. “He’s just next to me. Even if she doesn’t come in person, I can hear her over the intercom – and she still hasn’t released the funds to fix the bursts of static.”

    Eliskandra dropped her vanity case to the floor and massaged her eyes. “I may be mistaken, what with all the emotion of this trip,” she said cautiously, “but it seems to me that Chamberlain Artemian mentioned something about the ship having been fitted with Space Acoustics’ Echo Damper? I am told that its efficiency is unrivalled in the world of soundproofing.”

    The Bith let out a derisive snort. “That’s just the engine room, and even then she paid only for the starboard wall facing her quarters. We had to cough up the cash ourselves to get this room done. The engines are right there” – he pointed at the durasteel partition behind him – “and believe me, before we came up the credits, you couldn't sit in this room during the jump to lightspeed without going deaf.”

    The pretty Nautolan sighed. “Zefs summed it up. Princess Xerola of House Psonia, a.k.a. the galactic master of the art of cutting corners on just about everything.”

    “Pleoné’s right,” the Zeltron added contemptuously. “Just look at our livery. You’d expect a being with claims to nobility to order it at the very least from the Coruscant Fashion Concourse. Well, think again. Cheap, off-the-rack stuff made on Cato Neimoidia. And just look at this choice of colours. I’m pink-skinned with purple hair, for heaven’s sake! I’m telling you, the princess has the taste of a blind grub.”

    “That will be reported, Miss Taïgheta,” a metallic voice enunciated overhead.

    They all looked up to find the DRK-1 droid hovering above them once more, his camera eye rotating to take in the room. “Oh, go to the Nine Corellian Hells, will you, Nosey?” Taïgheta snapped angrily. “Should I send you back to the storage closet where you belong, or should I ask the Rishi birds to do it for me?”

    The probe droid lowered himself menacingly to her level. “As you very well know, Miss Taïgheta, my value to our master is such that I, alone among the droids of this crew, have been granted a private room on equal footing with organics. Furthermore, as you very well know again, the master has placed her complete trust in me, as opposed to the unreliable organics who...”

    The Bith whistled sharply through his teeth, and the little avians that had been peacefully fluttering about rounded on Nosey with a war screech and chased him out of the room before coming back to settle on this or that staff member’s shoulder. A brown-feathered one landed on Eliskandra’s tail and started pecking away at her hide, making her giggle. “Not to worry, not to worry,” she said when Maua berated the bird for disturbing her. “I am simply wonderfully ticklish, but it is not an unpleasant sensation. Quite the opposite indeed.” The avian took off again and came to perch on her proffered finger. “Oh my, oh my. This one is truly adorable. Do you have a name, dahling?”

    “That’s Angiras,” the Twi’lek said. “She’s the shyest of the lot. You must have made quite an impression for her to take such liberties with you.”

    The avian chirped cheerfully and pecked Eliskandra on the cheek. “How chahming! Rishi birds, you said? Do they originate from the Rishi system?”

    The Twi’lek shrugged. “I don’t know. They’re supposed to be these luxury pets that the Princess got on the cheap.”

    The avian with orange wings that was sitting on the top of her head jabbed her lekku sharply. “You know that they sense it when we speak of them, Meeropi,” the Chagrian chided in her velvety voice. She turned to Eliskandra. “They’re very smart, you know. Just watch. Vasishtha, come here,” she called softly to the avian. “Show Eliskandra what a good little bird you are.” She picked a piece of candy from a jar and threw it on the table. “Bring me the candy, Vasishtha, bring me the candy.”

    The orange-winged avian zoomed on the crystallised zherry and brought it back to her, twittering wildly. Eliskandra applauded enthusiastically.

    “Angiras can do even better,” Meeropi rejoined. “Here, Angiras, your turn. Take this zherry to Eliskandra. Come on, Angiras, take the zherry...”

    The brown-feathered bird grabbed the candy in its beak, and, after a moment’s hesitation, flew back to the Hutt and dropped the crystallised fruit in her open hand before darting away.

    Eliskandra applauded again. “Very smart little birds indeed! How many are there?”

    “Only seven now,” Ilektra said sadly. “There used to be a lot more of them, but they’ve been dying one after the other. The last one died yesterday, actually. The shrew says they’ll be fine now, because seven is her lucky number.”

    “Everything comes in sevens here,” the white-furred Selonian who had been sitting quietly near the dining table explained in response to Eliskandra’s puzzled look. “Seven attendants, seven household staff, seven birds, seven droids. The shrew even changed the rooms’ numbering on the ship so that she would have room number seven.”

    The Zeltron let out a mirthless laugh. “What Steroop isn’t telling you is how the shrew came up with that idea about seven. She used to have seven brothers and sisters, and she had them all killed in a space” – her fingers drew inverted commas in the air – “accident.”

    “That will also be reported, Miss Taïgheta.”

    Eliskandra casually swatted the DRK-1 droid out of the room with a flick of her tail as Taïgheta continued speaking. “The story is that they all boarded the House Psonia flagship, the Taurus, on one sunny morning, and two hours later, they were blown to smithereens when they entered hyperspace. Funnily enough, she was on board. She claims – listen to this – that they had this humongous family argument, and that she left in an escape pod just before the Taurus jumped to lightspeed. I mean, who would believe a sorry excuse like that?”

    Hali shrugged. “The courts apparently did. They found her innocent, and not only that, she inherited her siblings’ fortune.”

    “Well, court officials can be bribed,” Taïgheta said scornfully. “Common sense cannot. And whoever is sending these Blood Carvers after her doesn’t believe it either.”

    There was a heavy silence. “Anyway, for some zany reason, she decided that seven was her lucky number after that,” Ilektra said. “Something or other about the bad aura of the number being spent after such grief – I never really got the hang of these Falleen superstitions. So now everything comes in sevens, and we were sorta baffled when she said that she got herself another indentured servant, because you’re disrupting the balance.”

    Eliskandra raised herself to her full height. “I am not an indentured servant! How dare she say such a thing of me? I am a professional hairdresser and groomer – quite a successful one, if I say so myself – and...” She stopped abruptly and caught her breath. “What do you mean, another indentured servant? Who is in indentured servitude here?”

    There was another silence. “Well, all of us,” Meeropi finally said. “Except Steroop, that is” – she pointed at the Selonian – “and Kolosso, you know, the Wookiee co-pilot. They’re slaves.”

    The Hutt clapped both stubby hands over her mouth. “How awful!”

    Steroop shrugged. “It could be worse. Most of my friends and family are dead.” A discreet cough by the door attracted her attention. “Yes, what is it, Eethree?”

    The shiny protocol droid waddled in and handed her a piece of flimsi. “Tonight’s menu, Miss Steroop. Master Artemian insists that you serve the Princess’s dinner as soon as possible.” He lowered his voice. “She appears to be in a most foul mood.”

    “Just my luck,” the Selonian muttered. She glanced at the menu. “Marsh lizard eggs, gorg brains, arachnid legs... all raw stuff. Foodie’s going to be happy again.” She held up the flimsi to the height of her shoulder, where a tiny, black-footed avian was snuggling in her neck. “Bhrigu? Kitchen, Bhrigu! That’s a good girl! Kitchen!”

    The avian clasped the menu in its little beak and took off. Steroop turned back to Eliskandra. “Anyway, I’m amazed she actually hired you. She doesn’t like to pay for things, you know.”

    “I got that, thanks,” the Hutt grumbled. “Well, this is going to be quite a change for me, then. At the Great Bonvika’s court...”

    Taïgheta’s eyes widened. “You used to work for the Great Bonvika? As in, the Great Bonvika?”

    “But of course, dahling!” Eliskandra exclaimed, reverting to her cheerful tone. “It is a most wonderful place to work. The supplier of grooming products there is top-notch.” She dug into her vanity case and started pulling out various bottles, vials, jars and objects. “Ahrmaney’s Exclusive Hair Wash, Doltshe of Ghaban Fine Leather Head Bands, Deyor’s All-Species Aroma Collection (no pheromones added), Sheesëdau Temp Tattoos” – she looked at Meeropi and Pleoné – “very good for lekku and tentacles, you know! And L’awreal Fur Glitter – that would look mahvelous on you, Steroop dear. And this!” She pulled out a flat box and opened it to display three sets of exquisitely carved, needle-like objects decorated with shimmering stones. “Handmade Erwan Angel-Lawrence Zenji sticks, tipped with authentic Kristophle crystals. I also have some spare crystals if you’d like to add them to your Togruta headdress,” she told Maua. “They complement the shine of the akul teeth most excellently.”

    The seven attendants gasped as they passed the box to one another while the little avians fluttered around excitedly. “Zenji needles always come in sets of a prime number,” Eliskandra explained. “So far I have managed to acquire sets of three, five and seven. I believe my three-piece set would be perfect for Ilektra, while the five-piece would be more suitable for Taïgheta – because you have denser hair, yes? Let me show you.”

    The Selonian waitress excused herself and left the room to tend to Princess Xerola’s dinner while Eliskandra demonstrated how a proper Zenji hairdo should be done – “not like this, dahling, you don’t want the points to poke your head, they’re quite sharp and if one of these adorable little birds were to perch on it, you’d be done for” – and soon the common room was a chattering hive of exuberant females. The Hutt finally crawled back and extracted a looking glass from the vanity case. “Chahming. You both look absolutely chahming.”

    “Holy banthas, Eliskandra, this is astral!” Ilektra exclaimed when she saw her reflection.

    Pleoné’s head tentacles were twitching with appreciation as she looked at Taïgheta, who was posing in front of the mirror. “You really know your stuff. The girls are so elegant now and yet it looks perfectly natural. Why in the Galaxy would a sentient of your talent ever leave the Great Bonvika’s court?”

    “Especially to come here,” Ilektra interjected. “This place sucks.”

    Eliskandra’s eyes became clouded. “Ah, my dears. Would you believe that I left because of a broken heart?” The Bith stifled a chuckle, drawing an irate glare from the Chagrian, but Eliskandra didn’t pay attention. “The Great Bonvika is not only a master of elegance and fashion sense, she is also a truly extraordinary sentient... kind, gentle, warm-hearted… oh, what can I say? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!” The little assembly burst out laughing when Zefs played a few notes of the tune from the popular holodrama on his Kloo horn. Eliskandra gave them a sad smile. “And she has the most wonderful sense of humour,” she continued. “I’ve been courting her – discreetly, of course – for the last couple of centuries, but when I finally decided to declare my feelings I was rejected. She isn’t interested in other female Hutts, you see.”

    There was a definite quaver to her voice now. Meeropi gave her a compassionate look and stood up to take her hand as tears started rolling down the Hutt’s cheeks. Two of the little avians came to perch on her head and nibbled her brow affectionately, as if to console her.

    “I was utterly devastated,” Eliskandra went on. I’d spent nearly all my adult life under Bonvika’s enchanting influence, and now my whole world was collapsing upon itself. And I had very little support, you know. Sentients always imagine that we Hutts have no feelings, but that’s not true, of course it’s not true. We’re very sensitive beings even if we don’t show it and...”

    She extracted a delicate lace handkerchief from the vanity case and blew her nose so loudly that the furniture trembled. The Twi’lek was about to hug her, but Eliskandra shooed her off. “No, don’t. As awful as your livery is, I assure you that you don’t want my slime on it,” Eliskandra hiccupped. “That’s one of the advantages of being a Hutt, I guess – I’ll never have to wear Neimoidian pupation droppings, will I? Not that they make my size in the first place. Anyway, after a while I decided that it was time to move on. Grand Duchess Peascodd of Geonosis was kind enough to issue me with a letter of recommendation – she was most happy with my services, she’d been having trouble with Shanêl’s Semi-Permanent Deluxe Chitin Dye until I showed her the trick – and here I am.”

    A perplexed silence followed her words, which was broken at last by Ilektra. “I’m not sure I get this ‘not liking females’ poodoo,” she said with her trademark bluntness. “You’re such a fantastic person! Besides, aren’t you Hutts hermaphrodites in the first place?”

    Eliskandra sighed. “We are. But we still choose our gender orientation. I identified as a female all my life, and that started way before any your great-great-great-grandparents had reached the larval stage.”

    “Still,” the Chagrian piped up after another pause, “since you get to choose, couldn’t you consider switching to a male personality? I mean, if you love her so much...”

    “Celano’s right,” Ilektra interjected. “If your physiology allows for it, it’s definitely something you should take advantage of.”

    A vicious hiss from the door interrupted their conversation, and they all looked up to see Steroop striding into the room. The Selonian had her fangs bared, her snow-white fur was standing on end and she was muttering angrily under her breath.

    “That didn’t go too well, did it?” Pleoné asked.

    Steroop shrugged. “I got told off for shedding on the furniture. It never gets old, does it? Plus, she was barking at Master Gizeh the whole time, something about an investment gone bad. I’m sure you’ll all get to profit from it tonight. She told me to send Ilektra and Taïgheta to her room double-time, she wants a massage and a manicure. To soothe her nerves, she said. As if anyone can do that.” She plopped down on the couch as the Human and the Zeltron stood up to leave.

    “Good luck,” Hali called after them. “You’re going to need it.”
     
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  10. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    [face_dancing] :D [:D] Another wonderful chapter! While I intend to comment in more detail at some point, for now I'll just say that I'm loving all the GFFA brand names and the further information we've gotten on the characters.
     
  11. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    You guys really get me into trouble by being such great fanfic writers. I spent hours reading and finding more good things to follow. Sigh!
     
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  12. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Given my tendency to accidentally figure things out, even though I personally think I suck at it, I tried to comment only on seemingly irrelevant things. XD

    ...

    Eliksandra's mahvelous fashion accessories are hilarious. My Immortal kind of hilarious, but in combination with actual good writing. She totally needs to have a monocle and a handheld fan at some point, otherwise my little heart will be broken.

    “Do you Hutts have ear-flaps that you can shut at will?” the Human girl asked point-blank. “You were in there for a whole half-hour.”

    I almost wished that "there" was someplace else, so this could be a toilet joke.

    There was another silence. “Well, all of us,” Meeropi finally said. “Except Steroop, that is” – she pointed at the Selonian – “and Kolosso, you know, the Wookiee co-pilot. They’re slaves.”

    Even in a story that's meant to be fun, there's the lingering shadow of the Empire. :(

    The moment Eliksandra raises to her full height, I instantly think of the caterpillar scene from Alice in Wonderland...the one where Alice complains about being only eight centimetres tall at that given moment and then the caterpillar claims there is nothing wrong with her height. Therefore, Eliksandra needs a hookah of some sorts. She doesn't even have to smoke, hookahs are mahvelous.

    “Marsh lizard eggs, gorg brains, arachnid legs... all raw stuff. Foodie’s going to be happy again.”

    I'll pass.


    For some reason, with how hostile Steroop is and with her being a slave, Fur glitter is most likely the very last thing she needs in life.


    Zenji needles must be sharp. Perhaps, if they show up in a non-prime number at some point...oh...never mind. Surprise me. Surprise us.
     
  13. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thanks all for reading and reviewing! I'm squeezing in a few replies before I post the next chapter...
    Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying it. I posted the complete list of the GFFA brands in the Fanon Thread.

    Welcome to this story [:D]

    Something like this drawing of a glamorous Hutt by Raissa Baiard you mean? (Come to think of it, I probably need to bribe Raissa into drawing cover art for this story :p)

    [​IMG]

    Duly noted. Eliskandra (as Eliskandro) will have a hookah in his Coruscant salon.

    Thanks again! Next post up in a couple of minutes. And a quick note: the Cosmic Rose Shooter mentioned in this chapter and the following ones is the creation of leiamoody.
     
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  14. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Chapter III

    Half an hour later, Eliskandra started crawling back to her cabin. The Bith musician had played the happiest songs from Meriem the POP-1 Droid to cheer her up, but her mood remained pensive as she hummed “Feed the mynocks, two credits a bag, two credits, two credits...” accompanied by the red-tailed avian’s rhythmic cackles, and pondered on the relationship advice that her new friends had given her. The idea of switching to a male personality in order to woo Bonvika was not without appeal – and, even though it was uncommon for Hutts to change their gender orientation during their lifetime, it was not entirely unheard of. But, cudgel her brains as she might, she couldn’t pinpoint the reason why she was so reluctant to take this step. She waved absent-mindedly at the pilot and the co-pilot, who were sitting in the cockpit and preparing for the jump to lightspeed, and was about to slither past Princess Xerola’s quarters when the door suddenly swooshed open.

    “And next time, keep your pheromones to yourself!” a shrill voice screamed. “Or I will hand you over to Prince Xizor, and that’s a contest of pheromones you’ll lose big time. Now get out of my sight, both of you, and send me Zefs and Meeropi. Maybe some art will finally help me relax, as clumsy as theirs can be.”

    A flustered Taïgheta appeared in the hallway, followed by the Elomin accountant, who had now shed his sweeping cape and appeared rather diminished in his tawdry, tinsel livery. Last came Ilektra, who started fiddling with the lock panel to close the door. “Is everything okay?” Eliskandra whispered.

    The Zeltron’s eyes were glaring laser bolts. “She doesn’t want me to use pheromones. What in the Galaxy did she get herself a Zeltron masseuse for? Anyone can do a massage without pheromones!”

    “She’s just paranoid,” Ilektra muttered. “She thinks that...”

    Eliskandra gasped at the sight of the bruise that was now ornamenting Ilektra’s cheek. The young Human’s lower lip was swollen and her hair was dishevelled, with the three Zenji needles sticking out at odd angles. “Dahling! Did she hit you?” the Hutt asked.

    Ilektra shrugged. “I’d be okay with her hitting me if she didn’t scream all the time. She thought I cut a cuticle too close on purpose. Of course, my job would be easier if she weren’t flapping her arms like a thranta all the time, but try to tell her that.” She sighed. “Anyway, let me go and see Doc. He’ll give me some bacta salve and I’ll be fine.”

    “I’m coming with you,” Gizeh said. “All six of my heart chambers are pounding from all this disorder. I’d better take a tranquillizer before I develop a permanent condition.”

    They turned on their heel and left towards the medical compartment, leaving Eliskandra alone with Taïgheta. Pulastya took off from the Hutt’s shoulder and came to rest on the Zeltron’s to peck her on the cheek.

    “Just another day on the Simplon,” Taïgheta grumbled. “Let me go and fetch Zefs and Meeropi before things get worse.”

    Eliskandra watched her turn down the curve of the hallway and resumed her squirming towards her room. She was so deep in thought – was this really a place for her to be? – that she would have flattened the MSE-4 droid, who was zealously polishing the durasteel floor by her door, had he not pulled her out of her reverie with a sharp trill.

    “My deepest apologies, Mousey dahling!” she exclaimed. “I hadn’t seen you.” The droid let out an angry beep. “Of course I was not implying that you are too small for me to see! I was merely distracted. Besides, you know the old saying, size matters not.” She bent over and added conspiratorially, “it’s rumoured that it was a Jedi saying, you know.”

    The MSE-4 emitted a series of chirps and flashed his head and tail lights to point at the two ends of the circular hallway. Eliskandra looked around and saw that, while the floor ahead of her was neat and shiny, the portion she had just slithered on was covered once more in Hutt slime.

    “Oh, I am so sorry, Mousey,” she whispered apologetically. “I am giving you so much work. But I promise that as soon as we reach Coruscant, I’ll make sure that my door is wide enough, and once I can use the dais you’ll never see me on the floor again.”

    Pulastya landed on Mousey’s back and jabbed the top of his shell, as if berating him for his rudeness. The droid let out an mournful hoot and scooted away to vacuum the trail of greenish goo, and Eliskandra finally entered her room, followed by the avian, who had apparently taken a liking to her. The little bird fluttered around the room while Eliskandra emptied her vanity case and wiped carefully the objects she had handled with Aïas’s All-Purpose Mucus Remover, then spread them out on the bedside table to dry. “You’re a curious little thing, aren’t you?” she asked when Pulastya came to stand in the middle of the displayed cosmetics, between the set of seven Zenji needles and the vials of Deyor’s aromas. “Or maybe you just like the sparkles. Your mama should have taught you that all that glitters is not aurodium!” she chided, patting the avian’s tiny head with a single stubby finger. “Here, I’m going to get you a present. I have a mismatched Kristophle crystal somewhere.”

    She extracted a small leather band from the depths of her vanity case and was adjusting the improvised collar decorated with a shiny stone around the bird’s neck, who was twittering with pleasure, when the door slid open to allow Chamberlain Artemian into the room.

    “Ah, I see that you ’ave become friends with Pulastya,” the Chevin rumbled. “She is a most friendly little Rishi bird. Although I have a particular fondness for ma petite Pulaha,” he added, pointing at the blue-headed avian perching on the tip of his snout. “Now, my dear Madame, would you like to ’ave dinner? Our chef ’as outdone ’imself tonight.”

    Eliskandra barely had time to acquiesce before the 434-FPC droid walked in, pushing a hovertray laden with food. “I hope these will be to your liking, Madam,” he said courteously as he slid a blade out of his forearm to slice some bread. “I was told that Lebnan cuisine is highly regarded in the Great Bonvika’s court, and I did my best to emulate my esteemed colleague there.” He pointed at the various dishes. “Hom mousse, strained blue milk yoghurt with scry-mint, mutt ’abal, Bababbb-harvested ghanuj, taba oolleh, and a main course of marinated nerf-and-bantha shah-shliik with caramelised chyntuck rings. I will also be delighted to serve you boontaspice-flavoured kahve, if you would like some after your meal. I roast and grind the beans myself and I am proud to say that I received the Golden Roasting Award from the Pan-Galactic Kahve Society the last time the competition was held before the Clone Wars.”

    “Oh, I adore kahve,” Eliskandra said enthusiastically. “I will certainly come and ask you for a cup in the morning, but I cannot have any just now. It gives me these terrible bouts of insomnia.” She sighed. “I am so very sensitive.”

    “Quite an unusual sensitivity among Hutts, if you will allow me to say so, Madam,” Foodie commented. “Although I am certain that you are most unusual – exceptional, even – in more ways than one.” He bowed respectfully. “Enjoy your meal. Chamberlain Artemian will summon me should you need anything else.”

    The reedy sound of a flute came through the partition wall separating Eliskandra’s room from Princess Xerola’s quarters as Chamberlain Artemian eased himself into a chair. “Ah, la musique! What else could we wish for to accompany such a perfect meal?”

    Eliskandra laid a napkin on her generous bosom and accepted graciously the glass of Kefr’aya wine the Chevin was proffering. “Our Bith colleague, I presume? He played some pieces for me earlier today. He seems to be most talented.”

    “Indeed. Zefs graduated among the top of ’is year in the Coronet City Conservatoire de Musique. ’E is a very skilled instrumentalist, extremely subtle and delicate in ’is interpretations. And I ’ave no doubt that you will soon ’ave the privilège to see Meeropi perform to the sound of his flutes. ’Er feet barely seem to brush the ground when she dances, she is exceedingly graceful. Did you notice ’ow we cannot ’ear ’er step right now?”

    Eliskandra nodded. “If you don’t mind my asking, Chamberlain, how did Zefs find himself in the service of Her Highness? I would expect a sentient with such credentials to find a position with a high-profile band or an orchestra.”

    “Ah, ma chère,” the Chevin sighed. “Such are the vagaries of life in the Impérial Order. You lived a sheltered existence on Nal Hutta among those of your kind. ’Ere in Impérial Space, the lives of beings such as us are regulated by COMPNOR, which, I regret to say, ’as always expressed blatant disregard for the talent and value of non-Humans. Our dear Zefs ’ad started a promising career with the Corellian Classical Orchestra, but ’e found ’imself excluded from all major venues once the Empire was established. And ’e was not alone in this situation. Meeropi herself is a graduate of the Corellia Ballet Académie, and Babloony is the only professional Karkarodon opéra singer ever trained in a Core World institution – before COMPNOR regulated such things, of course. Maua – you know, the young Togruta lady’s maid – also ’as a lovely singing voice. I ’ave no doubt that they will all be very successful in the future, probably together as well, as soon as the situation allows.”

    “This is so very sad,” Eliskandra said regretfully. “I had heard about COMPNOR while on Nal Hutta, but I didn’t realise it deprived young artists of the possibility to express their art. Do you think...”

    Her question was interrupted by a loud explosion in the next room, followed by a series of sizzles and crackles, the clang of metal falling on the floor and a loud coughing fit.

    “You’ll pay for this!” Princess Xerola’s shrill voice came through the partition. “That digital sound enhancement droid cost me a fortune! I should have known better than to entrust it to your care!”

    “Your Highness,” Zefs’s calm voice filtered through, “I have been requesting funds to replace Dolby’s circuitry for months. As I told you HF-34 droids are delicate equipment and require constant...”

    “Don’t try to blame it on me, you incompetent peedunky!” Xerola screamed. “You better get that droid fixed by tomorrow morning or I’ll withhold it on your wages and if need be even on your food! Now get out of here, both of you, and send me my manservant, my maid and my reader. Oh, and get me my Cosmic Rose Shooter. Only that will calm me tonight.”

    There was an embarrassed silence in Eliskandra’s room, broken solely by the swoosh of a door opening and closing and hurried footsteps down the hallway. Eliskandra finally turned back to Artemian and blinked her nictitating membranes several times, in the Hutt equivalent of arching an eyebrow. “Peedunky?”

    The Chevin sighed. “I must say, to my deepest regret, that the Princesse’s manners leave much to be desired – and this is not due to the influence of Ilektra and Foos, whose Outer Rim origins occasionally seep through despite my best efforts to educate them appropriately.” He lowered his voice. “As a matter of fact, my experience ’as been that the schooling of Falleen nobility in the glorious art of étiquette is wholly inadequate. Most would not even know ’ow to ’andle a shah-shliik skewer properly, let alone choose their words with suitable care. Their sole saving grace as a species is the value that they place on self-control. Although this does not apply to the Princesse, of course,” he added with a chuckle. “She ’as a tendency to vent her emotions quite loudly and occasionally uses such profanity as would make Jabba the Hutt blush.”

    “Which would be no small achievement,” Eliskandra giggled.

    “Indeed, ma chère Madame, indeed. My cousin Ephant Mon ’as the privilège to be one of the Mighty Jabba’s closest collaborators, and I gather from my correspondence with ’im that the Northern Dune Sea palace is a hive of scum and villainy unrivalled across the Galaxy. Quite unlike the palace of your former employer.”

    “Oh, absolutely!” Eliskandra rejoined. “The Great Bonvika would much rather wash her own mouth with engine scouring agents than use a word such as ‘peedunky’, and I assure you that she is no less of a Hutt than Jabba or I.”

    Artemian sighed again. “’Ow I wish I could work for such a master of elegance and sophistication. Hélas, the vagaries of life that I mentioned earlier led me ’ere. ’Owever, I am still working towards my own betterment on my free time, and I ’ave not given up all ’ope to be in the employ of the Great Bonvika in the future.”

    Eliskandra helped herself to another serving of shah-shliik to give an impression of composure – she was dying to know how a Chevin could have found himself in indentured servitude to a Falleen, but she couldn’t find a polite way to phrase the question – and had just resumed her meal when some shuffling and voices were heard in Princess Xerola’s room. Chamberlain Artemian stood up.

    “All good things have an end,” he said wistfully. “Maua and Hali ’ave arrived to prepare the Princesse for the night and Celano is now reading to her, which means that I am expected at any moment to come and receive my instructions for tomorrow. I am certain that we will ’ave many more opportunities to discuss the grace of the Great Bonvika’s court in the future. Should I send Foodie to clear the table?”

    He left Eliskandra to listen to the Chagrian through the durasteel partition – Celano was apparently reading Harlek Quin’s latest best-seller to the Princess, and it was difficult to tell if the catch in her velvety voice came from repressing a derisive snort as she ploughed through the frivolous prose, or from trying to stifle a cough – and she had taken to feeding the breadcrumbs to Pulastya and Pulaha by the time the 434-FPC droid came in.

    “I apologise for the delay, Madam,” he said as he started piling up the dishes on his hovertray. “I was preparing Her Highness’s Cosmic Rose Shooter. I hope my cooking was to your liking?”

    “Everything was absolutely scrumptious, Foodie dear,” Eliskandra replied enthusiastically. “If you’ll allow me to call you Foodie, of course.” She went on before the droid could reply. “Please tell me about this Cosmic Rose Shooter. It’s the first time I have heard about it.”

    “The Cosmic Rose is Her Highness’s favourite drink,” Foodie explained with a hint of distaste in his voice. “She has me prepare one for her every night. It’s a cocktail made of muja fruit juice, Ishi Tib cracked coconut cream, Corellian rum, Starshine special and Lyme’s rose juice. The ingredients are poured slowly along the side of the glass in order for it to be red on the bottom and white at the top.”

    “Dear me, but that must be positively delightful!” Eliskandra exclaimed. “Would it be too much trouble for you to prepare one for me too?”

    The droid’s left eye blinked as if he were winking at her. “Better wait until we reach the Core and I can purchase the proper ingredients, Madam. The Princess likes her Cosmic Rose with light cracked coconut cream” – he let out the electronic equivalent of a snort – “and she insists that I use a crystallised zherry rather than a fresh one for decoration. Oh, and the Corellian rum she favours is a second-rate brand that the Great Bonvika wouldn’t want for hyperdrive fuel.”

    Eliskandra’s reply was once again interrupted by strident shouting from the neighbouring room. “Shut up!” Xerola yelled. “What use to I have for a reader if you’re coughing all the time?”

    “I apologise, Your Highness,” Celano was heard saying. “It’s the smoke from Dolby’s short-circuit, it’s very irritating...”

    “I don’t care if it’s irritating! I hired you to read to me, short-circuit or not!” She suddenly yelped in pain and her screams became hysterical. “How clumsy are you that you cannot even comb a topknot?” she screeched. “How would you like it if I pulled your head-tails, eh? Like this perhaps?”

    There was another yelp and a voice that Eliskandra identified as Maua’s started, “But, Your Highness...”

    “Enough of Your Highness this and Your Highness that! Worthless poodoo-heads, the lot of you! Oh what have I done to deserve this? Out! Out! Out! All of you, out!”

    There was more shuffling of feet in the hallway, and Artemian suddenly reappeared in Eliskandra’s room. “Please believe me when I say that I wish your formal introduction to the Princesse could take place under better circumstances, Madame,” he said breathlessly. “She is demanding that you prepare ’er topknot for the night.”
     
  15. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    There was more shuffling of feet in the hallway, and Artemian suddenly reappeared in Eliskandra’s room. “Please believe me when I say that I wish your formal introduction to the Princesse could take place under better circumstances, Madame,” he said breathlessly. “She is demanding that you prepare ’er topknot for the night.”

    I bet the princess is a very lonely and paranoid person. This is why she is so harsh with everybody. To mask up her fears and insecurity. [face_thinking]
     
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  16. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    As mentioned for chapter II, I do want to go back and comment in more detail later. But for now, I'll just say that I like how we're seeing this crew's situation unfold through Eliskandra -- and how she's coming to see that living in the Hutt section of the galaxy has insulated her from what's happening to many beings under the Empire. Enjoyed her bonding with Pulastya and talking more with Artemian (love his somewhat classist snark about the unbearable Princess and how the Falleen nobility have less than proper manners. :p ) I'm also impressed by how the Princess is this increasingly loud shrieking in the background that seems to do harm to everyone, but we don't see her yet.

    And I very much appreciated the fashion article in the Fanon Thread! :D
     
  17. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2005
    Ah, so my little creations finally appeared! :D It's lovely...a little out-of-body, perhaps, but lovely nonetheless.

    Before I commence with comments, I need to point out something:

    I don't care if the Princess/Princesse is designated as royalty, she has the tastes of a nouveau riche philistine. [face_plain]

    Now that's out of the way, on to the rest of the story...

    I really enjoy how you create this atmosphere in which those who consider themselves rarefied (they certainly live in the upper classes, but that doesn't make them precious except in behavior) live. The little touches including the types of music played and food served are excellent. It provides a detailed look into that level of society which you don't normally see in the GFFA. It's like the level of detail provided by Fitzgerald regarding Gatsby's parties, from the names of guests to what clothes they were wearing. You give the reader a clear understanding of these beings, how they operate, how they think, and what motivates them.

    Eliksandro/Eliskandra is a delightful character. Unlike other Hutts, zhe certainly seems more considerate (being concerned about messing up the floors after Mousey cleaned them up, for example), and enjoys life simply because of existing and not for money or torturing beings unlike zhir's fellow Hutts. Zhe has good manners, too, which is a gold standard for any being from any species. ;)

    Overall, these chapters (and the upcoming ones) are just FUN. Not like frothy, but witty fun like anything written by P.G. Wodehouse (there is a certain Jeeves and Wooster feel to the way you describe the upper class). I look forward to reading more. :)

    (Oh, and I like your expansions on kahve too).
     
  18. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! I'm starting work late today, so I'll take advantage of that to write a few replies.
    Well, isn't that what happens to people when the only thing they care about is money? ;)
    ... because, as we all know, Hutt space is a nice and friendly and safe area! :D
    Careful what you wish for -- you're going to meet her in the flesh in the next chapter.
    Welcome to this story [:D] I hope I can do your little creations justice. The Cosmic Rose Shooter just fit too well in this story for me to pass on that opportunity.
    Understatement of the year! [face_laugh]
    Wow, those were some very flattering comparisons, thank you [face_blush] Your comment that "they certainly live in the upper classes, but that doesn't make them precious except in behavior" is spot-on -- I'm not going to elaborate now because that would be spoilers for chapter VI, but yes, they don't really belong where they are. And yes, Eliskandra is "a wonderful human being" ;)

    Thanks again! I'll be back with Chapter IV on Saturday.

    PS: I posted the list of Lebnan Hutt dishes (together with RL sources of inspiration) in the Fanon thread (here).
     
  19. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Eliksandra's concept of transgender is so, so out there; just like the rest of her personality. She has come from a completely different world, yet she seems to be blissfully innocent in a way, which is in a perfect juxtaposition with the rest of her persona. Perhaps that is why the real-world-unacceptable idea of transitioning for the sake of somebody being into her seems perfectly normal in her sluggy sluggish slug mind. Not sure if you were reading that deep into this concept, but being an ally to many people, I don't find this offensive at all...which implies you're doing everything right.


    Anyway...here we go.

    The Bith musician had played the happiest songs from Meriem the POP-1 Droid to cheer her up, but her mood remained pensive as she hummed “Feed the mynocks, two credits a bag, two credits, two credits...” accompanied by the red-tailed avian’s rhythmic cackles, and pondered on the relationship advice that her new friends had given her.
    The droid Mary Poppins NEEDS TO BE A THING.

    The Zeltron’s eyes were glaring laser bolts. “She doesn’t want me to use pheromones. What in the Galaxy did she get herself a Zeltron masseuse for? Anyone can do a massage without pheromones!”
    Oookay...this may or may not be the GFFA-equivalent of a happy ending massage. Your worldbuilding here keeps on getting more and more jawdropping as you go.

    “My deepest apologies, Mousey dahling!” she exclaimed. “I hadn’t seen you.” The droid let out an angry beep. “Of course I was not implying that you are too small for me to see! I was merely distracted. Besides, you know the old saying, size matters not.” She bent over and added conspiratorially, “it’s rumoured that it was a Jedi saying, you know.”
    Ha! Nice tie-in. And a proof that Eliksandra is not false-nice, despite her out-there behaviour. :D
    At this point, I was scared that Mousey would pull an Artoo on her.

    And then, whoop, the avian lands on Mousey and Mousey can feel pain?! Fustercluck.


    Love Eliksandra's friendship with the avian, and it's fun that the avian seems to have a passion for fashion, too. These two are like Bratz dolls at this point.


    Hom mousse, strained blue milk yoghurt with scry-mint, mutt ’abal, Bababbb-harvested ghanuj, taba oolleh, and a main course of marinated nerf-and-bantha shah-shliik with caramelised chyntuck rings.
    WANT.


    “Oh, I adore kahve,” Eliskandra said enthusiastically. “I will certainly come and ask you for a cup in the morning, but I cannot have any just now. It gives me these terrible bouts of insomnia.” She sighed. “I am so very sensitive.”

    “Quite an unusual sensitivity among Hutts, if you will allow me to say so, Madam,” Foodie commented. “Although I am certain that you are most unusual – exceptional, even – in more ways than one.” He bowed respectfully. “Enjoy your meal. Chamberlain Artemian will summon me should you need anything else.”
    How ironic, moments after Eliksandra quoted Yoda. Of course she can be sensitive, but the GFFA has predjudice about large, non-elegant things such as her species.


    Indeed. Zefs graduated among the top of ’is year in the Coronet City Conservatoire de Musique.
    Oh, a nod to Findswoman's Opus 66. :D Sweet!

    “This is so very sad,” Eliskandra said regretfully. “I had heard about COMPNOR while on Nal Hutta, but I didn’t realise it deprived young artists of the possibility to express their art. Do you think...”
    As I said above, Eliksandra is genuinely good at heart and I am glad that a controversial species can be portrayed in such a positive light. No species can be bad, it comes down to individuals and how they choose to accept their heritage and their surroundings.

    “She ’as a tendency to vent her emotions quite loudly and occasionally uses such profanity as would make Jabba the Hutt blush.”

    “Which would be no small achievement,” Eliskandra giggled.
    LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL =D=


    “Indeed, ma chère Madame, indeed. My cousin Ephant Mon ’as the privilège to be one of the Mighty Jabba’s closest collaborators, and I gather from my correspondence with ’im that the Northern Dune Sea palace is a hive of scum and villainy unrivalled across the Galaxy. Quite unlike the palace of your former employer.”
    Obi-Wan Kenobi would disagree, but at least he would get the planet right. :p
    Love how Eliksandra is shocked by Jabba. Now I want her to meet Deeply Religious. :D


    “The Cosmic Rose is Her Highness’s favourite drink,” Foodie explained with a hint of distaste in his voice. “She has me prepare one for her every night. It’s a cocktail made of muja fruit juice, Ishi Tib cracked coconut cream, Corellian rum, Starshine special and Lyme’s rose juice. The ingredients are poured slowly along the side of the glass in order for it to be red on the bottom and white at the top.”
    Oooh, and there it is, leiamoody's special. I love to see fanon at work and the way everything is flawlessly integrated in this story makes it even more special to people whose main outlet for fan fiction is this board.


    Eliskandra’s reply was once again interrupted by strident shouting from the neighbouring room. “Shut up!” Xerola yelled. “What use to I have for a reader if you’re coughing all the time?”

    “I apologise, Your Highness,” Celano was heard saying. “It’s the smoke from Dolby’s short-circuit, it’s very irritating...”

    “I don’t care if it’s irritating! I hired you to read to me, short-circuit or not!” She suddenly yelped in pain and her screams became hysterical. “How clumsy are you that you cannot even comb a topknot?” she screeched. “How would you like it if I pulled your head-tails, eh? Like this perhaps?”
    The Princesse is worse than all the nerf-herders AND the nerfs of the Galaxy. I don't see a single quality to her. If she is really noble, well, ex-squeeze me, but she gives me an impression of one of those war criminals turned creme de la creme. A sadist, with no feelings for anybody other than herself, a classic capitalist boss who thinks coughing is unprofessional or whatever. Boooy, do I hate her right now.


    There was more shuffling of feet in the hallway, and Artemian suddenly reappeared in Eliskandra’s room. “Please believe me when I say that I wish your formal introduction to the Princesse could take place under better circumstances, Madame,” he said breathlessly. “She is demanding that you prepare ’er topknot for the night.”
    And of course, the princesse needs another poor soul to torture. She needs a hairstyle to sleep? Ugh.

    Let's see what happens next.


    Do we even want to? :D

    Great minds think alike, tee-hee.


    This reminded me of Gatsby, too. Once again, great minds...
     
    AzureAngel2, Findswoman and leiamoody like this.
  20. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thanks for the (extensive) review Ewok Poet [:D] I can't reply in detail just now, because today's the big spring clean-up day in Chyntuckopolis, but I'll be back soon!

    -----------------------------------------------

    Chapter IV

    Eliskandra spritzed herself with a dash of Jill Ett’s Gastropod Glop Desiccant – despite her growing dislike for Princess Xerola, she wanted to make a good impression on her new employer on their first formal encounter – and she started gathering the tools of her trade. Reorganising her vanity case was too time-consuming and she abandoned the Zenji needles, the aroma vials and other bottles she wouldn’t need on the bedside table. Instead, she handed a set of combs to Pulaha and Pulastya, who were fluttering around and twittering excitedly.

    “Here, dahlings, would you be so kind as to help me with these? To the Princess’s room, do you understand? The Princess!”

    The little birds grabbed the combs in their tiny claws and zoomed out through the avian flap, and Eliskandra followed ponderously with a box of ribbons and a jar of hair serum once the door slid open.

    “At last someone with an ounce of competence!” Xerola barked when the Hutt slithered into her room. “I’m glad I listened to Peascodd when she told me to go for the best of the best. I’m sure she doesn’t have to deal with the poodoo I face every day.”

    Princess Xerola’s quarters consisted of a spacious room with en-suite ’fresher, but the decoration she had chosen for her private space was definitely cringeworthy. The over-elaborate furniture was smothered in gilt and draped in opulent fabrics of the same garish colours as the staff’s livery, while the Falleen herself was wearing a pale pink shimmersilk gown that stood out sharply against the flashy green hue of her skin. Every single surface, from the small table on the far side of the bed to the vanity set in the boudoir corner, was laden with cheap trinkets disposed in a poor approximation of Imperial bourgeoisie interior design.

    Eliskandra stifled a grunt of disgust. “My humble greetings, Your Highness,” she said politely. “Chamberlain Artemian informed me that you would like your topknot done for the night.”

    Xerola waved a bony hand. “Yes, yes! I know that such menial tasks aren’t within your remit, but that good-for-nothing Togruta can’t even handle something that simple. I hope you can teach her sometime. Be warned, however, you need to arm yourself with patience when that day comes. The girl’s skull is thicker than your hide.” She strode back to the chair in front of the mirror and yapped in pain. “Kriff! What did that rapscallion Hali fail to pick up again?” She collected a metal bolt from the floor and let out a string of curses that would have made a seasoned spacer pale with envy. “Well, this is one piece that waster of a Bith will be paying for! That’ll teach him to take care of Dolby properly. You have no idea how useless my staff can be. They cost me twice what they’re worth.”

    Eliskandra untied the Falleen’s topknot and massaged liberal amounts of Ch’warss Copff’s All-Environment Serum in her thin, wispy hair to untangle it. “I understand that Your Highness has had a difficult day,” she said to make conversation.

    The Princess let out a dramatic sigh. “That’s my lot in life, isn’t it? I took in this incompetent bunch to keep them out of trouble, and look at how those mudcrutch whelps thank me for it. The filthy borg-lickers are more concerned about their droids than about me. You’d think it’s the droids putting food on the table for them!”

    “Well, one of them does,” Eliskandra giggled to change the subject. “Your personal chef served me the most exquisite Lebnan dinner tonight.”

    The Falleen turned around sharply, and it was only Eliskandra’s deftness that kept the tip of the comb from poking her eye. “Don’t tell me that you like eating that poodoo,” Xerola said with a disdainful pout. There was an embarrassed silence. “Well, that’s disappointing,” she went on as she turned around to face the mirror again. “But then I know that dear Bonvika also has dreadful taste in food. Perhaps I should pass Foodie over to her. The only thing he’s good for as far as I’m concerned is to prepare my Cosmic Rose Shooter.” She pointed her thumb over her shoulder at the colourful glass standing on the bedside table between the mess of plastoid curios. “Keeping a dedicated droid just for that is a bit overkill, don’t you think? I can probably find a cheaper way to cater to my needs.”

    By now Eliskandra was lost for words – how could Grand Duchess Peascodd have recommended that she work for such a vulgar credit-pincher? – but the chime interrupted her search for a suitable reply. The door slid open to reveal Dark-Eye, who had unfolded his spindly arms. He shoved Pleoné into the room, hovered in behind her and held out a small, transparent jar of red pills.

    “The thief has been identified, Master,” he said in his metallic voice. “She had the sedatives hidden in the false bottom of her purse. Apparently some here still believe that they can keep their hidey-holes from me.”

    Xerola’s eyes flashed with noxious glee as she stood up to look at her Nautolan attendant, whose head was bowed contritely towards the floor. “So,” the Princess said ominously, “would you care to explain how these pills found themselves in your bag? Or perhaps you’d like to tell me why your bag has a false bottom in the first place?”

    “That’s how it was when I bought it, Your Highness,” Pleoné mumbled. “It’s from that shop in the Yellow District...”

    “I don’t give a Psadan’s patoot where you bought it!” Xerola yelled. “Don’t try to hoodwink me with your tales. I’m going to tell you what you did. You stole the sedatives from the infirmary and you were going to sell them to make some money on the side.” The Nautolan’s tentacles sagged on her shoulders and she bowed her head even lower. “Oh, yes, I know that you’re all after credits,” the Princess continued. “After my credits. Were you hoping to buy your freedom with what you stole from me? Well, think again. You’re not going to make a profit from petty theft.” She paused for dramatic effect. “I’ll be withholding the cost of these medicines from your stipend.”

    Pleoné looked up. “But, Your Highness, the pills are all there! And they’re worth years of my wages!”

    “You should’ve thought of that earlier,” Xerola said nastily. “Consider it a down payment on everything else you might have stolen in the past.”

    “But...”

    “Silence! You’re lucky I’m keeping you in my service. Now get out! Out! Out!”

    She watched a tearful Pleoné leave the room and turned to Dark-Eye. “Please put this over there, dear,” she said in a friendly tone Eliskandra didn’t think her capable of. “There, on the bedside table. I’ll return those to Doc tomorrow, but I’m going to count them first. If any pills are missing, she’ll pay them double.”

    The spherical droid set the little jar carefully next to the Cosmic Rose Shooter amid the clutter of bibelots, hovered back to his mistress to receive a pat on his electronic eye and left through the avian flap. Xerola dropped heavily on the chair and let out another dramatic sigh.

    “Do you see what my life is like?” she asked Eliskandra. “Sometimes I lose all hope of civilising these ne’er-do-wells. I don’t know what I was thinking when I went and rescued a pack of strays. All they care about is credits, credits, credits. If it weren’t for me they’d all be grovelling and begging in the streets of Falleen Throne, but they’re so ungrateful that they’d like me to drop dead.”

    “Surely you are exaggerating a little, Your Highness,” Eliskandra said cautiously. “They would never wish...”

    “Ha! You don’t know them. And you don’t know Falleen law. Our legislators, in their infinite wisdom, decided that indentured servants stand to inherit their master’s fortune on an equal footing with legitimate children.”

    “Is that so?” Eliskandra started. “Why would...”

    “But they ain’t getting a single credit off me,” Xerola went on shrilly. “I’ve already taken measures, you know. They’re in for a big surprise the day I die, but that’ll be too late for them then, won’t it?”

    Eliskandra allowed herself a tiny dismissive nod and tried to resume her grooming duties when the avian flap clacked open again to allow the entire flock of Rishi birds into the room. The seven avians performed something of an aerial ballet to the sound of their twitters and cackles and scattered feathers all over the bed before perching higgledy-piggledy on whatever space was available on the furniture. The Princess squealed with joy.

    “Oh, look at them, the dear little hearts!” she exclaimed. “They know that the staff are giving me a hard time and they always come to console me. What would I be without them? They’re my only joy.”

    “They are truly chahming,” Eliskandra rejoined. “I asked Meeropi earlier, but she couldn’t tell me. Do they originate from the Rishi system? It’s the first time I’ve seen them.”

    Xerola shrugged indifferently. “How would I know? I got them from Prince Xizor’s nephew. The poor lad was in a tight spot and he sold them to me for a pittance. They’re normally very expensive, you know,” she added with a giggle.

    Pulaha, who had taken off from the top of the vanity mirror and was flying towards the Princess, changed direction in mid-air and went for Eliskandra instead. She dropped a crystallised zherry in the Hutt’s hand. “Why thank you, dahling,” Eliskandra said kindly. “This zherry candy is excellent,” she told Xerola appreciatively. “And your little birds seem to be most fond of it.”

    “They are,” the Princess chortled. “The little scamps love sweets. Look at Pulastya over there. She’s stealing cracked coconut cream from my Shooter. She does it every night, but I pretend I don’t see it. It’s our little secret, my little poppet and me.”

    Xerola was now on a roll and she perorated endlessly about her luxury pets while Eliskandra resumed combing her hair. The little avians took off and left after a while – a sound decision to escape their master’s adoring vociferation, Eliskandra thought – and soon the topknot was tied up with an elegant silvery grey ribbon and the Princess was ready for the night.

    “This is positively enchanting, Eliskandra dear,” the Falleen said as she posed to admire her hatchet face in the mirror. “Now I understand what Peascodd saw in you. Not that she’d have a use for you, with that rough exoskeleton of hers. Geonosians can be kind, but they are so aesthetically repugnant, don’t you think?”

    The sigh of relief that escaped Eliskandra when the Princess’s door finally slid shut behind her was so emphatic that the flock of Rishi birds, who were congregated in the hallway, gave a collective start and fled in all directions. Pulastya zoomed into Eliskandra’s quarters, while Atri and Kratu dived into the engine room, Pulaha and Angiras shot through an open door further down the hallway and Vasishtha and Bhrigu darted past the Hutt towards the cockpit, where voices and laughter could be heard. Eliskandra thought for a moment of joining her colleagues, but the moral exhaustion of having been subjected to a whole hour of Xerola’s rants won the day. She entered her room, prepared herself for the night and lay down on her satin-covered dais – she would need to improve the padding when they reached Coruscant, she noted – to fall asleep instantly.

    Her deep slumber was short-lived, for less than half an hour later she was awakened by Princess Xerola’s strident voice.

    “Well, fix it!” the Falleen was screaming. “What do you think you have that astromech for?”

    “Your Highness,” a voice that Eliskandra identified as belonging to Foos, the Human pilot, said through the partition, “you broke off Arthree’s pincer arm three weeks ago. I explained to you that...”

    “Shut up! You keep asking me for credits to upgrade his toolset and he can’t even repair a malfunctioning hyperdrive! What did you do with the collection of hydrospanners you had me buy last year? I should have stuck them up where they belong.”

    “Your Highness, as I told you already, I can’t fix the engine while it’s operating, even at sublight speeds. That’s what we have Arthree for, but he needs his full toolset to be able to work. As things are, my only option was to shut down the hyperdrive completely and wait until it cools enough for me to be able to replace the negative power coupling. If that doesn’t work...”

    “Stop trying to befuddle me with your technobabble! It’s lucky we’re on a major hyperlane and that I don’t have to count on your incompetence to get us to the Core before next year.”

    The astromech chirped. “One hundred and twenty-three years, your Highness,” Foos translated. “Arthree says that it would take us one hundred and twenty-three years to reach Imperial Centre at the maximum sublight speed this ship is capable of.”

    “Well, I’ll be kesseled! Your little scraphead even knows math. I’m going to sell him for spare parts on Coruscant if you don’t get him out of my sight right now!” The door swooshed open. “And fix that hyperdrive!” Xerola shouted after the retreating pilot, whose footsteps could now be heard in the hallway.

    Another swoosh indicated that the Princess’s door was closing, and Eliskandra heard the shuffle of feet coming her way, followed by a loud plop and a string of curses.

    “Kriff that glamorous Hutt and her slime trails,” she heard Foos grumble as he struggled to stand up. “I need to go and clean up now before this goo disintegrates my clothes. Arthree, go and fetch Mousey, will you? I’m not even trying to get to the engine room before this gunk is mopped. Stars know what diseases I might get from it.”

    The sound of footsteps left towards the cockpit, and a mortified Eliskandra wiped a tear from her eye. Pulastya fluttered over and nibbled her cheek affectionately.

    “You’re a good little birdie,” Eliskandra murmured. “You don’t care if I’m a Hutt, you see me as a person. Diseases? How ignorant and prejudiced can that man be?” The bird twittered and pecked her cheek again. “I know, I shouldn’t pay attention. It’s just that... it happens all the time.”

    Pulastya gazed at her for a moment, looked at the door and zoomed away through the avian flap. “And the Rishi birds fly to the rescue,” Eliskandra whispered to herself. “That pilot is going to get a nasty jab on his head, big time.”

    She tried to doze off again, but every little noise seemed much louder in the absolute silence that had taken hold of the ship now that the engine was powered down. She heard the Chevin’s deep rumble coming from the direction of the boarding ramp – he was probably sitting in the room with the open door that she’d spotted on her way back to her quarters – until Mousey arrived and started vacuuming her slime trail from the hallway floor. The little droid’s hum lulled her to sleep, but the constant clacks of avian flaps opening and closing kept startling her every time she began to snooze. She was seriously considering getting up and joining Chamberlain Artemian and her colleagues for an evening chat and a nightcap when she heard the intercom beep in the Princess’s room. She reflexively plugged her stubby fingers in her ears and was making a mental note to check the cost of refitting her room with Space Acoustics’ Echo Damper when, to her great surprise, instead of Xerola’s shrill howling through the partition, she was jolted wide awake by Dark-Eye’s metallic tones.

    “All staff come to room seven,” the droid called over the ship’s loudspeaker system. “All staff to room seven. Princess Xerola has been murdered in her sleep.”
     
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  21. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    The very beginning of this is like some dark, twisted take on the scene where the mice and birds are dressing Cinderella up. This is the princess from Mustafar (the closest to hell, I think? :p) and yet, Eliksandra is still making some effort to treat her well. I LOL'd.


    “At last someone with an ounce of competence!” Xerola barked when the Hutt slithered into her room. “I’m glad I listened to Peascodd when she told me to go for the best of the best. I’m sure she doesn’t have to deal with the poodoo I face every day.”

    Look at that kriffin' monkey-lizard.


    Princess Xerola’s quarters consisted of a spacious room with en-suite ’fresher, but the decoration she had chosen for her private space was definitely cringeworthy. The over-elaborate furniture was smothered in gilt and draped in opulent fabrics of the same garish colours as the staff’s livery, while the Falleen herself was wearing a pale pink shimmersilk gown that stood out sharply against the flashy green hue of her skin. Every single surface, from the small table on the far side of the bed to the vanity set in the boudoir corner, was laden with cheap trinkets disposed in a poor approximation of Imperial bourgeoisie interior design.

    Pretty much confirms what leiamoody and I said about her taste. Turbo-folk rich type. :D


    I love it how Xerola is so self-absorbed that she thinks Eliksandra may be her ally in all of this bigotry, madness and sadism...until Eliksandra mentions that she loved the meal. At that point, she just...gets passive-aggressive, which is not a quality of cultured people, by any means.


    After the Pleoné interlude and the fact that she claimed these sedatives were her own and purchased and not princess' own; I wonder if that was a deliberate diversion created for somebody else to get the dirty deed done.


    “Ha! You don’t know them. And you don’t know Falleen law. Our legislators, in their infinite wisdom, decided that indentured servants stand to inherit their master’s fortune on an equal footing with legitimate children.”

    Now, THAT is interesting...


    The princess got ten times more obnoxious and crazy-boss like the moment she assumed that one does not need to repair the droid and that they can get to the Imperial Centre without the necessary repair. This happens so much in my day-to-day life and in most cases, it's nothing but pseudoauthority and pure nastiness. YUCK.


    The sound of footsteps left towards the cockpit, and a mortified Eliskandra wiped a tear from her eye. Pulastya fluttered over and nibbled her cheek affectionately.

    “You’re a good little birdie,” Eliskandra murmured. “You don’t care if I’m a Hutt, you see me as a person. Diseases? How ignorant and prejudiced can that man be?” The bird twittered and pecked her cheek again. “I know, I shouldn’t pay attention. It’s just that... it happens all the time.”

    This was a heartwarming moment and it confirms my previous reply - Eliksandra is very sensitive and she did not deserve that racism/xenophobia she got.


    “All staff come to room seven,” the droid called over the ship’s loudspeaker system. “All staff to room seven. Princess Xerola has been murdered in her sleep.”

    Soo...the poodoo has hit the fan!

    And I think I know how. :D
     
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  22. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Eliskandra untied the Falleen’s topknot and massaged liberal amounts of Ch’warss Copff’s All-Environment Serum in her thin, wispy hair to untangle it. “I understand that Your Highness has had a difficult day,” she said to make conversation.

    The Princess let out a dramatic sigh. “That’s my lot in life, isn’t it? I took in this incompetent bunch to keep them out of trouble, and look at how those mudcrutch whelps thank me for it. The filthy borg-lickers are more concerned about their droids than about me. You’d think it’s the droids putting food on the table for them!”

    Perhaps a tea party with C3PO would humble our noble princess.

    I hope that Eliskandra or somebody else teaches her a lesson. [face_not_talking]
     
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  23. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    AzureAngel2, I think somebody just did! Or, more specifically, she's beyond lessons now.

    And we have the murder. [face_dancing]

    Uhh. Well. But, you know. Couldn't have happened to a "nicer" person. And it makes for an interesting plot.

    I too wonder about what was going on with those pills -- red herring or part of the mystery. From a mystery-reading perspective, I like how this follows in the tradition of setting it up so that either everyone or no one seems to have an appropriate motive to kill the victim. There's not a person on that ship (with the exception of our protagonist -- and even she would probably admit to wanting to brain the twit after that hour of misery) who wasn't provoked to potentially lethal levels by Xerola. Can't wait to see how the investigation unfolds! :D
     
  24. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014

    I was about to say that last night, Azure probably couldn't concentrate on catching up with so many stories late at night and missed the ending. The princesse Xerola is no more. And I don't think anybody is mourning the Falleen, no pun intended. :D
     
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  25. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    I never will read gorgeous fanfic so late in the night. [face_blush]
     
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