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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. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    AzureAngel2: Aww, but reading fanfic late at night is one of life's great pleasures. Don't give that up! :)
     
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  2. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    I did miss the punch, sniff! This is like NOT understanding the outcome of a Miss Marple story. :rolleyes:
     
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  3. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thanks all for reading and reviewing! I'm replying and posting one day early, because I'm leaving on a long weekend in a couple of hours.

    Chapter III - Ewok Poet
    Thanks! One correction though -- Eliskandra has the sluggy mind of slug, but it's certainly not sluggish!

    Now to answer your point, one thing that made me pick a Hutt for the GFFA version of this Alessandro/Eliskandro is that Hutts are hermaphrodites (or they were until Celebration Anaheim, but I'm in the Legends'verse here) which conveniently took a number of issues about transitioning out of the equation. I've never been big on delving into character's minds and writing introspection (as you probably noticed from my other fic as well) so the idea of a species for whom gender is a straightforward matter of personal statement worked for me, especially seeing as this is a completely crazy character who, as such, would come up with any number of reasons.

    In RL terms now, I'll say that I'm always a bit puzzled when I hear that there are acceptable and unacceptable reasons for transitioning. I'm pretty sure that the psychological process behind such a decision is so complex that no one could ever articulate it all in words, but even if it truly boiled down to a single, simplistic reason, who am I to judge? Anyway, that's a discussion for another thread, but since you raised the point I thought I'd answer.
    Go for it. I'm sure that's a crossover that hasn't been done before :p
    You have a dirty mind, lady -- or at least a dirtier mind than me. I hadn't even thought of this [face_laugh] I just thought that a pheromone-enhanced massage would help people relax or something, but now that you said it, there's a plot bunny in the works.
    Just to clarify, he didn't feel pain -- he just realised that he was being rude. Manners are a big thing on the Simplon 8-}
    And you would be right. It's available in every good Lebanese restaurant and it's everything I like about Lebanese food.
    I think I said this already, but Eliskandra is a 'wonderful human being' :p More seriously now, the one thing that annoys me in the scene in Jabba's palace (which is otherwise one of my favourite scenes in ROTJ) is that it gives in to this trope of the "ugly other" as the enemy. If there's one thing to be said in favour of the OT's nearly all-white cast, it's that, up to that point, the bad guys are "us", not "the other" and not "the ugly".
    Oh, but dahling, she would be shocked, shocked, shocked! (She, or rather he, is still around at the time of The Black Star though, so feel free to borrow him.)
    That wasn't very nice for nerfs ;) (This is a recurring joke in Greek -- we have a slogan against the police that goes "cops, pigs, murderers" but after the past few years we decided that it was insulting for pigs.)
    But ma chère, bien sûr she needs a 'airstyle! She is a Princesse, after all.

    Chapter IV
    I think I can officially declare Mission Accomplished.
    Ah, dahling. I can see that you 'ave received an education of qualité.
    But the little birds are nice [face_love] Pets don't pay attention to that sort of poodoo. When I imagine Eliskandra with her Rishi bird, I picture an African water buffalo with a little egret on its back. It's one of the cutest images of nature I know.
    Keep that thought -- you can tell me in the end!

    Oh Holy Mother of Goat, as EP would say. I can only imagine Threepio's delicate horror [face_laugh]

    Really? :p
    [:D] I think you probably already have a pretty good idea as to whodunit, but I hope I can surprise you at least a little bit in the end.

    Thanks again! Next chapter coming up in a few minutes.
     
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  4. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Chapter V

    Every male and female aboard the Simplon was already standing in the hallway, wearing an appropriate expression of shock, when Eliskandra crawled out of her room to answer Dark-Eye’s call. The protocol droid was muttering “oh my, oh my” in a corner, the astromech had dimmed the lights under his transparisteel dome in a sign of mourning, and even the little avians were perching silently on various staff members’ shoulders as everyone stared at Dark-Eye and Doc, who were hovering in Princess Xerola’s room.

    “There are seven stab wounds to her heart, all of them from a thin, sharp object,” the GH-7 could be heard saying. “This is definitely consistent with these needles, although –”

    The probe droid let out a triumphant whistle and zoomed out of the room. He held out Eliskandra’s set of seven Zenji needles, all of which were coated in green Falleen blood, and pointed his spindly arm accusingly at the Hutt. “I knew it! I advised the master not to recruit this cheap muculent worm! Stars know what her true employers paid her to...”

    Eliskandra raised herself to her full height. “How dare you call me cheap, you worthless tin ball! I am among the most sought-after groomers in the Galaxy and –”

    The little MSE-4 droid interrupted her with a series of chirps and crackles before she could gain momentum. “Mousey would like to argue that Madam Eliskandra could not have stabbed Her Highness,” Eethree translated. “He was called to vacuum her slime after she left the Princess’s room and as you see the hallway is clean.”

    Dark-Eye turned to Gizeh. “Didn’t you buy that Hutt a repulsorlift dais?” he asked inquisitively.

    “The dais cannot pass through the Simplon’s doors unless it is turned on its side,” Artemian intervened. “Madame Eliskandra would ’ave ’ad to dismount in order to enter the Princesse’s room and exit again. There are no such traces on the floor.”

    The boxy mousebot chirped again. “If you would allow Mousey to complete his argument,” the protocol droid said, resuming his translation, “he would like to add that he was not allowed into room seven to complete his housekeeping task. As you can see, there is a dry trail of slime on the floor of the Princess’s room, and it bears the trace of footsteps and wheels. This means that a bipedal and a three-wheeled droid entered room seven after Madam Eliskandra left.”

    The probe droid spun in the air to face the astromech. “It was you, then,” he snarled.

    Arthree let out an indignant beep and flashed his headlights, causing Kratu to flee his transparisteel dome and perch on the Wookiee co-pilot’s head instead.

    “There is no point in protesting, you lying little clanker,” Dark-Eye said nastily. “It is clear that you entered the master’s room and...”

    “Watch your electronic mouth when you talk about my droid, Nosey,” Foos barked. “And use your circuits before you start accusing people. Arthree and I were in there to explain why the hyperdrive failed. He kept a recording of it all.”

    The astromech hooted in assent and activated his holocamera. A three-dimensional image of Princess Xerola flickered to life, showing her in bed, propped up comfortably against the pillows and gesticulating wildly. “Well, fix it!” the ghostly figure screamed. “What do you think you have that astromech for?

    Your Highness,” Foos’s disembodied voice said, “you broke off Arthree’s pincer arm three weeks...

    The chef droid chortled. “She broke your pincer? You never told us that,” he teased. The astromech retorted with an ironic chirrup. “That doesn’t count!” Foodie scoffed. “It was ages ago. Besides, it was just a cake server. I have lots of those.” He unfolded every utensil on his forearms and jiggled a dozen spatulas of various shapes and sizes among the whisks and measuring spoons. Angiras fluttered by and snapped her little beak at the kitchen brush playfully.

    “Will you two shut down?” Dark-Eye barked. “This is a murder scene – the scene of the murder of our beloved master, and...”

    “Oh, knock it off, Nosey,” Taïgheta said. “And spare us the pathos. The shrew isn’t around to hear you anymore.”

    They returned their attention to the holo. “... if you don’t get him out of my sight right now!” Xerola shrieked, grabbing the glass on her bedside table. “And fix that hyperdrive!” She could then be seen taking a hefty swig of her Cosmic Rose Shooter, and the camera movement showed Arthree rolling out of the room and the door sliding shut.

    “Time mark 23:32,” Babloony slurred. Eliskandra turned around to see that the Karkarodon’s cheek was swollen; he was visibly speaking with great difficulty. “Did anyone go to her room after that?”

    “Well, someone must have,” Dark-Eye snapped. “Doc, bring me a sterilised hovertray and then go to the common room with everyone else. I will collect the evidence from the room and inform you of the results of my investigation.”

    The Wookiee co-pilot let out a deafening roar, causing Kratu to take off again in search of a safer haven. “Fat chance we’re letting you do that, Nosey,” Ilektra rejoined amidst a chorus of disapproval. “You’d plant evidence to blame it on us.”

    “Besides, last I checked, Babloony was the head of security on this ship, not you,” Hali added. “So why don’t you go back to your closet and...”

    Dark-Eye whistled angrily and went to let out a furious retort. The Rishi birds were now fluttering all over the place in panic. Sensing that the whole scene could descend into chaos at any moment, Eliskandra coughed emphatically.

    “Forgive me for intervening at this critical juncture,” she said, “but isn’t the Simplon equipped with internal surveillance cameras, like every ship of this type? We could simply look at the security footage to see what happened.”

    Taïgheta snorted disdainfully. “The shrew removed the cameras. She didn’t want us to sue her.”

    “Falleen law prohibits masters from using corporal punishment against their indentured servants,” Zefs explained in response to Eliskandra’s surprised look. “Princess Xerola had this nasty habit of beating us. She dismantled the internal surveillance system so that there wouldn’t be evidence.”

    “Which is also why she hates... hated us droids,” Eethree interjected. “We started recording everything we could to protect our organic friends. Nosey also records things of course, but the Princess had him programmed not to disclose the holos to anyone but herself.”

    “And that’s why we don’t trust Nosey,” Meeropi added. “He was the shrew’s pet droid because his job was to spy on us. He’s out for revenge now, and we all know it.”

    The probe droid went to reply, but he was silenced by a swat of Eliskandra’s tail. There was a heavy silence. Finally Doc spoke.

    “Allow me to make a proposal,” he said in his melodious voice. “Despite our distrust for Nosey, he and I are most suitable to search the murder scene without disturbing any evidence because of our ability to hover. I will bring a sterilised tray as he requested and we will work together to collect whatever clues we can find while you observe us from the hallway. We will then move all together to the common room and discuss our findings. Is that acceptable to everyone?”

    “Why don’t we just leave things where they are and seal the room until we reach Coruscant?” Maua asked. “Isn’t investigating murders a job for the police?”

    Cheeka, we’re stuck at the back end of space without a hyperdrive,” Foos retorted. “Even if I send a distress signal now, it could be days before anyone comes to rescue us.”

    “And by then, decomposition will have set in,” Doc added. “Which is why I recommend that we record every possible piece of information on our own.”

    Celano shuddered. “I agree with Doc’s idea,” she said timidly. “I don’t like the idea of a rotting corpse on this ship, and I don’t feel safe knowing that there’s a murderer among us anyway.”

    The Chevin chamberlain placed a paw on her shoulder. “I agree with ma chère Celano. If there are no further objections, I recommend that we trust Doc’s reasoning and elucidate this most tragic affaire as soon as possible.”

    The rest of the little assembly mumbled in assent and the GH-7 droid left for a moment to go to his lab. He soon returned with a medical hovertray and entered the Princess’s room. Dark-Eye positioned himself in the doorway and spread out his spindly arms to prevent the little avians from following him, but they zoomed past him in a chorus of excited twitters.

    “Stupid animals,” the probe droid muttered as he flew after them into the room. “Always hovering in my way. They’d better not spoil any of the evidence in here, or I’ll strangle them myself.”

    The assembled household watched the two droids examine every surface of room seven in silence until Steroop finally spoke up.

    “What I don’t get is how the shrew could ring for Nosey,” she whispered to no one in particular. “I mean, she was stabbed to the heart, so she died instantly, didn’t she? How could someone go in, stab her and leave in the time it took Nosey to get there? Unless...”

    “Yes,” Zefs whispered back, completing her sentence. “Unless it was Nosey who stabbed her.”

    Doc finally emerged from the room with his hovertray, which was now laden with a variety of carefully catalogued items. He gestured for Dark-Eye, who was carrying a bundle of cloth, and for the Rishi birds to come out, and closed the door.

    “Kindly lock this room manually, Babloony,” he told the Karkarodon. “Let us move now to the common area and discuss what we found.”

    They had barely settled on the threadbare sofas when the probe droid started perorating. “We will no doubt need to perform a second search of Her Highness’s room – without the Rishi birds this time – to make certain that we didn’t miss any evidence under the feathers that litter the floor and furniture,” he said pompously. “However, I am pleased to say that our preliminary investigation has brought the number of suspects down to seven, namely...”

    “Whoa, stop right there, Nosey,” Foos interrupted. “Your investigation ain’t done nothing until we have a look at it. Now shut up and let Doc show us what you got.”

    “Doc is in no position to –” Dark-Eye started.

    Eliskandra raised her tail menacingly. “I suggest you take the man’s advice and keep quiet, dahling. Doc is as good as any of us.”

    The spherical droid retreated sulkily and Doc pushed the hovertray to the middle of the room. “These are the items we were able to collect, a task in which the Rishi birds have been most helpful, I may add. What we have here is a fragment of Karkarodon tooth, a few white hairs, a Berchestian crystal, Master Gizeh’s cape, a durasteel screw that bears scorch marks, an akul tooth inlaid with silver filigrane and a datapad.”

    “My tooth’s been in there since this afternoon,” Babloony lisped. “I broke it when I got rid of that Blood Carver. I don’t normally spread my teeth around, you know.”

    “And I forgot my cape in the Princess’s room when she finally let me go early this evening,” the Elomin added. “As you might have noticed, she kept me in there for a good couple of hours, and I haven’t quite recovered from that yet.”

    Maua stood up to examine the akul tooth on the tray and fingered her headdress. “This is mine,” she concluded. “There’s one missing right there. It must have fallen off when the shrew pulled my lekku. And the datapad is Celano’s.”

    “We had to leave the room in a hurry,” the Chagrian said apologetically. “She was so furious.”

    “I’ll confirm that,” the Feeorin interjected. “I was there and I can tell you it was one of her worst fits in living memory.”

    The digital sound enhancement droid let out a series of whistles and chirrups. “Dolby recognises this screw as belonging to him,” Eethree translated. “He had something of a short-circuit earlier in the Princess’s quarters and lost a few screws and bolts. He would be grateful if Master Zefs could scour it and put it back in place, as the new screw Master Zefs installed to repair him is a cheap imitation of a LeisureMech product and it is most uncomfortable.”

    “And the white hairs have got to be mine,” Steroop said. “I brought the shrew’s dinner, like I do every night, and like every night I got told off for shedding on the furniture.”

    There was a pause. “Pulastya dear, would you be so kind as to bring me that Berchestian crystal?” Eliskandra asked the little bird perching on her finger. “I believe it may belong to me. The crystal, please, Pulastya, the crystal.” The red-tailed avian fluttered to the hovertray and grabbed the shiny gem in her beak. “Indeed,” the Hutt went on after examining it. “This is an authentic Kristophle crystal from my three-piece Zenji set, the one Ilektra is wearing. I believe it must have fallen off when Princess Xerola slapped her earlier this evening – which, I may add, proves that Her Highness packed quite a punch.”

    All eyes turned to the young Human woman, who nodded in assent and pointed at the bruise on her cheek. “She hit me really hard and my hairdo fell apart. I picked up the needles as fast as I could, but I hadn’t noticed that the crystal was missing.”

    “This is ridiculous,” Dark-Eye spluttered in his metallic voice. “These are elements of evidence and you are dismissing them as if...”

    Eliskandra raised her tail again. “Your list of seven suspects just dwindled to zero, dahling. I can’t say I’m particularly impressed.”

    “Don’t insult me!” the droid shrieked. “The murderer has to be –”

    “Oh, shut up, Nosey,” Taïgheta snapped. “For all we know the murderer could be you.”

    Chamberlain Artemian stood up. “May I propose that we keep this conversation to more civilised tones,” he said firmly. “The items Doc and Nosey ’ave collected so far only indicate who entered the Princesse’s quarters tonight, which is something we already knew. We will therefore need to search the room again, unless there is something you ’ave not mentioned yet?”

    “There’s nothing else,” Dark-Eye started, “and this proves –”

    The GH-7 droid let out a small peep, in the electronic equivalent of clearing his throat. “Actually, there is. I will run the necessary tests of course, but I believe that Pleoné can confirm my working hypothesis.” He held out the empty Cosmic Rose Shooter glass and the jar of red sedative pills. “Do you notice anything?” he asked the Nautolan.

    Pleoné’s head tentacles squirmed above the cocktail glass and the jar. “Yes,” she said finally. “This drink has been spiked. With the sedatives... the sedatives I had stolen,” she added contritely.

    “Ha!” Dark-Eye shouted. “I knew it! You –”

    “You didn’t know anything, dahling,” Eliskandra intervened. “Foodie prepared the Princess’s Cosmic Rose Shooter, and I am certain that his activity log shows that Pleoné never came close to that drink?” The 434-FPC nodded in assent. “I assume that your log would also prove that Pleoné didn’t provide you with the sedative during these past few days?”

    “Absolutely,” Foodie answered. “I will gladly download my entire log to a datapad should anyone wish to peruse it.”

    Dark-Eye let out an electronic snort. “Are you implying that the master spiked her drink herself?” he challenged Eliskandra.

    “Stranger things have happened,” the Hutt replied with an indifferent shrug. “However, instead of discussing crackpot theories, perhaps it is time that we all stated where we were at the time of the murder?”

    Chamberlain Artemian raised his paw. “Forgive me for asking, but what do you call the time of the murder?”

    Eliskandra rubbed her chin thoughtfully. “That would be between the moment when Foos and Arthree left Her Highness’s quarters and the moment when she rang for our friend Nosey. I assume the ship’s central computer keeps track of internal communications should we wish to determine the exact time?”

    “It does,” Foos replied. “But I can tell you straight away. The four of us were in the cockpit.” He pointed at Ilektra, Kolosso and Steroop. “Arthree was there with us and he recorded it all.”

    “I spent my evening looking after Babloony in the medical compartment,” Doc said. “Karkarodon dental surgery is very interesting. I recorded all the proceedings, of course – I am hoping to publish a research paper...”

    “I think we heard you,” Celano interjected. “Chamberlain Artemian, Eethree and I were sitting in my room, discussing matters of etiquette. We could hear poor Babloony crying in pain.”

    “Well, Doc didn’t have the sedatives,” the Karkarodon muttered with an angry look at Pleoné.

    Eliskandra turned to Eethree. “I assume your activity log would confirm Celano’s claim?”

    “Most definitely, Madam,” the protocol droid said primly. “I also recorded Miss Taïgheta and Master Gizeh walking past us towards the airlock...” – he stopped speaking for a moment and his eye lights blinked as he scanned his memory banks – “at 23:24, just about the time the Simplon dropped out of hyperspace.”

    All eyes travelled to the Elomin. “Taïgheta and I had some issues to discuss,” he started carefully. “We needed to talk privately and...”

    “We have an intimate relationship,” the Zeltron interrupted. “We were in storage closet 3 besh.”

    There were audible gasps of surprise around the room and even Gizeh’s eyes widened ever so slightly. “Do you mean...” Ilektra started with a giggle.

    Taïgheta shrugged. “My room is just next to Celano’s, and soundproofing on this ship sucks. Gizeh is next to Nosey, and, well, you know, thanks but no thanks. So yes, we’ve been meeting up in the storage closet.”

    There was an embarrassed silence. “At any rate, Miss Taïgheta and Master Gizeh did not come out until Nosey called us all to the Princess’s room,” Eethree said. “I can vouch for them and I will make my activity log available to you as well.”

    “Meeropi and I spent some time patching up Dolby in the cargo bay,” Zefs said. “He was interfacing with the ship’s central computer, so you can get confirmation from there. Then we joined Maua, Pleoné and Hali in the kitchen. Foodie was preparing us dinner, and he already said he’d show you his log.”

    The MSE-4 droid let out a mournful hoot. “Mousey was also in the kitchen, save for the time he spent cleaning the hallway floor,” Eethree translated. “He fears that he might have deleted his log because his memory banks are nearly full, but he would like to point out that he cannot climb on the Princess’s bed or manipulate Zenji needles in the first place.”

    There was another silence. “Which leaves you,” Eliskandra told Dark-Eye.

    “And you,” the droid countered. “I would like to point out that you are far more likely to have committed this crime than any of us. You are a Hutt, after all.”

    Eliskandra’s eyes narrowed in anger, but Artemian intervened before she could speak. “We ’ave already established that Madame Eliskandra could not ’ave left ’er room after retiring for the night. The only one of us who ’as not stated ’is whereabouts at the time of the murder is you, mon cher Nosey. Kindly tell us where you were between the moment the Simplon dropped out of hyperspace and the moment ’Er ’Ighness summoned you?”

    “I was hovering in my room and meditating on ways to improve the management of this household,” the probe droid replied contemptuously. “However, I am obviously above suspicion. My...”

    “No one is above suspicion, dahling, not even you,” Eliskandra said sharply. “We have the most extraordinary situation here. Your master, who was heavily sedated, somehow managed to ring for you despite being fast asleep. She was stabbed seven times to the heart with a set of Zenji needles that should never have left my room. And she managed to be murdered without anyone entering her quarters after she was last recorded alive. Do you see the problem here?”

    The heavy silence that followed Eliskandra’s words was finally broken by Dark-Eye. “It is clear that the master did not poison and stab herself,” he said in his usual unpleasant tone. “Let us start with downloading all the droids’ activity logs to this datapad. I am certain that one of your alibis will not check out.”

    He ignored the furious glares of the staff and started passing around the electronic tablet. Pulastya left Eliskandra’s forearm to perch on Eethree’s shoulder and jabbed the side of his head.

    “Your own log now, Nosey, if you please,” the protocol droid said as he returned the datapad to Dark-Eye.

    “My log cannot be disclosed to anyone but the Princess,” the probe droid snapped. “Which you very well know, since you mentioned my programming earlier.”

    “The shrew is dead, Nosey,” Ilektra said. “Get over it.”

    “In that case, I will disclose the information I hold to her legitimate heirs.”

    The Elomin exhaled musically through his nose tusks. “Her legitimate heirs would be us, or at least most of us, as her indentured servants. As you know, under Falleen law –”

    “I am well aware of Falleen law, thank you very much,” Dark-Eye interrupted haughtily. “I also know that, under Falleen law, a member of a royal household may bequeath part or all of his or her possessions to whomever they choose, if they so stipulate in their will. I will therefore proceed with the investigation until the master’s will can be found and –”

    The room erupted in a chorus of scandalised disapproval, with even the little avians leaping into the air and cackling angrily. “Oh no you don’t,” Steroop hissed. “You don’t get to pull that ‘me and my beloved master’ poodoo on us this time. Either you download your log to this datapad straight away, or you go and lock yourself up in your room until we complete the investigation without you.”

    “As the master’s sole truly devoted servant, the investigation is my responsibility. You have no right –”

    “Ah, just short circuit, will you, Nosey?” Foodie said contemptuously. “Without your log we can’t even know where you were and what you did. Do you seriously expect us to trust you?”

    “And whom, exactly, will you trust?” Dark-Eye retorted. “This Hutt perhaps? I am still not convinced that she –”

    Pulastya let out a war screech and the Rishi birds encircled the probe droid, claws and beaks at the ready, causing him to retreat precipitously. Their twittering was now deafening. “On the contrary, I would suggest that Madam Eliskandra is best placed among us to conduct the investigation from this point onwards,” Eethree said calmly. “She alone has already provided proof for us all to see that she did not leave her room after she retired for the night.”

    “She is a Hutt,” Dark-Eye snorted. “How can you –”

    “And you’re a sneaky, snooping, meddling probe droid, Nosey,” Taïgheta countered scornfully.

    The Chevin stood up again. “I propose that we end this senseless bickering and put it to a vote immédiatement. Those in favour of Madame Eliskandra investigating, please?” Every being in the room save for Dark-Eye raised a hand, a paw or a head tentacle, and Arthree and Mousey flashed their headlights in assent. “Those against?” The probe droid unfolded a spindly arm. “It is decided, then. Madame –”

    “This is unacceptable!” Dark-Eye screeched.

    “The decision ’as been made, mon cher Nosey,” Artemian replied evenly. “I recommend that you remain quiet from now on. Kolosso is known to pull people’s arms out of their sockets when ’e is upset, and I believe you ’ave already taken enough chances on that front as it is.”

    The probe droid retreated again with an electronic huff and the Chevin turned to Eliskandra. “Will you accept our trust and assume this unpalatable duty, Madame?”

    Eliskandra bowed as deeply as her generous bosom would allow. “I am honoured by your trust, Chamberlain. I will do my best to resolve this issue expeditiously. However, in order to conduct a second search of Her Highness’s room, I will require some assistance.” The probe droid hovered forward, his antenna shivering with eagerness. “No, I was not referring to you, Nosey dahling. I believe our adorable little birds are exactly what I need.”

    The assembled staff exchanged perplexed looks. “Mais bien sûr, Madame,” Artemian said as soon as he was able to regain his composure. “Our Rishi birds are most well-trained pets and they will follow your instructions to the letter. Is there anything else?”

    The Hutt rubbed her double chin thoughtfully. “I will borrow our friend Doc’s hovertray, if that is acceptable. Oh, and could Arthree provide me with the exact time when Her Highness rang for Nosey?”

    The astromech scooted to the door and extended his standard access adapter to plug it into the computer terminal. Seconds later, he was standing before Eliskandra and spitting a long piece of flimsi from a horizontal slit in his barrel-like body. Eliskandra scanned the sheet. “00:07. How ironic. Thank you, Arthree dear.” She patted the astromech’s dome. “Now, Pulastya dahling, if you could please gather your flock and follow me?”

    The little avians came to sit in a row along the length of her tail and chirped happily as the contractions and extensions of her body rocked them up and down throughout her trip across the ship. She sent Pulastya back to fetch the key when they reached room seven – “the key, Pulastya, the key! from Babloony, yes?” – and settled outside the open door, directing the birds to lift, push or bring her this or that object. It was a tedious process, and one that didn’t seem to bear fruit, as the avians were in a whimsical mood and kept bringing her items she did not want to see. Pulastya was particularly eager to help, picking up things at random and taking them dutifully to Eliskandra. The Hutt was about to give up and summon Doc to assist her when the red-tailed avian opened the vanity cabinet beside the mirror and started ferrying the various vials and bottles of cosmetics to the door.

    Eliskandra shuddered at the late Princess’s choice of products – as if anyone in the Galaxy with an ounce of respect for their own skin would use Neev Ëha cold cream! – but, for lack of any better ideas, she started examining the little containers carefully. She didn’t notice anything peculiar about them and was going to ask Pulastya to return them to their shelf when the room exploded in excited chirrups. She looked up to see that the entire cabinet had pivoted away from the wall, exposing the hidden alcove behind it. A small vial of cheap perfume was now hanging horizontally from the lever to which it was attached on the shelf. Eliskandra beamed. “Mahvelous, Pulastya dear, simply mahvelous! Will you please bring me the little pouch I can see there?”

    The avian caught the top of the rough fabric bag in her claws and deposited it carefully on the hovertray. Eliskandra opened it to reveal a set of seven datacards. Her smile widened. “You’re a very smart little bird, dahling, you know that?” she said, stroking Pulastya’s neck. “Come now, let’s go to the kitchen. I’m confident that we found what we’re looking for.”
     
  5. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    The avian caught the top of the rough fabric bag in her claws and deposited it carefully on the hovertray. Eliskandra opened it to reveal a set of seven datacards. Her smile widened. “You’re a very smart little bird, dahling, you know that?” she said, stroking Pulastya’s neck. “Come now, let’s go to the kitchen. I’m confident that we found what we’re looking for.”

    Your dialogues have definitely more humour than the ones of Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie. And your story has more drive. I also made sure not to read it too late in the evening!
     
    Chyntuck and Ewok Poet like this.
  6. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Excellent move into the mystery plot; I like how Eliskandra comes to light as the one that everyone can agree is both trustworthy and alert enough to be in charge of the investigation. Re: the spoilers, I have a suspicion -- but also a couple of other suspicions. So I'll be a bit surprised no matter what. ;) It's not hard to manage with me. [face_laugh] Was both uneasy and amused at Dark-Eye's attempts to make a little power play here; there seems to be something off with that droid... or is it just his programmed personality to be difficult? [face_thinking] And wow, death by Zenji needles. Ouch. :eek: Felt sorry for Babloony having his dentistry without anaesthetic -- poor baby! But at least it's an alibi. Or is it? :D
     
  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    I've been meaning to post for some time on this wonderful story, and I just have to start by saying what an absolute treat it is to see a real, true-blue murder mystery here on the in TF.N Fanfic boards. And not just that—one that is clearly written by an experienced author who knows her way around this genre. The professional mystery-writer is evident at every turn—from the finely crafted characterization to the careful mapping out of everyone's motivations and movements (including an actual map of the ship—wow!) to just enough little clues and nudges in the right places in the right moments to plant a few inklings of who might've dunit in the reader's head without outright giving things away. Of course, having been what Kahara calls "the lucky skunk who got to read this first" ( ;) ), I've had the opportunity to see all of the abovementioned develop on a particularly detailed level, and I really thank you immensely for that opportunity. Watching this story grow from those first original chapter summaries has really been a treat.

    The way you work in the humorous elements is just masterful, from Eliskandra's mahvelous characteristics to funny, punny GFFAifications of Earth cosmetic companies to Meriem the POP-1 Droid, which indeed has to be a thing. (The first time I read that part, I went to YouTube to reacquaint myself with "Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)," on which I then earwormed the whole rest of the day. :p ) I just love it when stories achieve that perfect mix of humorous and serious elements.

    You've really done some cool things with this motley cast of characters. Elisakndra of course is fantastic, and belongs to those ranks of detectives whose charming idiosyncrasies belie true brains and astute skills of detection (I've mentioned Lord Peter Wimsey, and there are also definite elements of Hercule Poirot). I love how all the servants have distinct personalities and motivations, and you've obviously done your research on each of the 14+ species they represent, because the way you integrate those wonderful alien elements just adds that extra little something to the story (Pleoné smelling the drugged drink with her head tentacles, Steroop growling with fangs bared after coming in from giving Xerola her dinner, Eliskandra and her slime trail, etc.). I like all of them, but for some reason I just especially love Artemian—the whole concept of a big, hulking pachydermoid talking with that fancy accent and being such a stickler for etiquette and culture I just find too priceless. :p But also I feel drawn to the shier, quieter ones, too, like Celano and little brown-feathered Angiras. Still waters, and all...

    And both Xerola and Dark-Eye—what pieces of work! Made for each other, really! :p It's just perfect the way Xerola's snobbish, shrewish disposition is combined with intensely tawdry tastes (light coconut cream! gasp!) on one hand and a complete lack of genuine culture on the other. (And what an effect that latter must have on the artistically inclined members of her staff... I can imagine perfectly how stifled they must feel.)

    Finally, how can I not be tickled pink about the way you got Bonvika and her imahvelous court in there? And even Grand Duchess Peascodd? I know I've mentioned to you the bunnies sparked by the idea of getting those characters of mine in the same room as these characters of yours... what fun we shall have! :D

    Incredible work so far, dahling. Can't wait to see the rest posted here. Thanks again for letting me be in on this. =D=
     
    Ewok Poet and Kahara like this.
  8. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thanks all for reading and reviewing! Here are few quick replies before I post the next chapter.
    That's flattery! But thanks anyway [face_blush]

    Okay, now I know that I'll manage to surprise you on at least one thing! ;)
    His programmed personality is to be Xerola's favourite droid. Enough said, I think? :p
    You just called a Karkarodon bodyguard "baby". My work here is done :D
    I was planning to say this in the acknowledgements at the end, but since you mentioned this here I can at least mention it straight away. Thank *YOU*. You've been (and still are) so incredibly helpful on this story that it borders on co-authoring. Everyone who reads this needs to know that Babloony wouldn't have been a trained opera singer if it hadn't been for your input [face_laugh] and this applies to a lot of the funniest bits in here. We really need to write something together!
    Thanks! I'll be tickled pink, to use your expression, if this fic spawns the first EVAH SW/Mary Poppins crossover. Now that the idea is out there, it must be done.
    Thanks again! About Artemian, another tidbit that will go in the endnotes. He's actually based on a real person (!) My paternal grandfather had this Armenian friend who was a chahming old man (cue three-piece suit, Borsalino hat, walking stick with embossed silver rings along its length, the full works). He would come to our house and they spoke in French with the most delicious accents while drinking coffee in the afternoons.
    Deal! I think I can make it public now that our PM conversations about this have resulted in a page titled "random bits of zaniness" in my notebook [face_tee_hee] When we finally get to writing this story, it's going to be so crazy that MESA JAR JAR will pale with envy.
    And thanks again and again and again from me, dahling! This has been a mahvelous ride [:D]

    Thanks again everyone for dropping by! Next chapter up in a few minutes.
     
  9. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Chapter VI

    Eliskandra summoned Foodie to prepare a carafe of boontaspice-flavoured kahve and bring her a jar of zherry candy, and she spent the next few hours sitting at the kitchen table, poring over the droids’ activity logs and Xerola’s datacards. The seventh one was heavily encrypted and she could not access its contents, which was no small source of frustration as she keyed in command after command on her datapad to no avail. She finally extracted the card from its slot and let out a sigh so emphatic that the little avians, who had dozed off on their perches between the pots, pans and bowls, jumped in fright. “I will sort this out later,” she said. “Pulastya dear, will you please fetch Foos, Ilektra and Arthree for me?”

    The two Humans were heavy-eyed with sleep and Foos yawned widely as he sat across the table from her. “Sorry for that,” he grumbled. “We was copping some zereks while waiting for you.”

    “Not at all, not at all,” Eliskandra answered courteously. “It is indeed quite late, or rather early, if I may say so. Now, please tell me a little about you. I understand that you are siblings.”

    Foos placed an arm protectively around Ilektra’s shoulders. “We are. She’s my li’l sister.”

    Eliskandra inserted the first datacard in the datapad. “Is that why you chose to enter Her Highness’s service?”

    Foos nodded. “Yup. She was the only one who’d take in both of us.”

    Eliskandra simply stared at him, as if expecting him to elaborate. “The Princess was female, Eliskandra,” Ilektra intervened. “We had a few job offers – proper job offers, not indentured servitude – with other Falleen nobles, but we would have been separated and they were all male.”

    The Hutt blinked her nictitating membranes. “Would that be worse than someone who beat you up for a cuticle?”

    “You never heard about Falleen pheromones?” Foos retorted with a snort. “Guess what they use them for on Human women.”

    “And indentured servitude was truly your only option?”

    “We’re Outer Rim nobodies, Eliskandra,” Ilektra explained impatiently. “Our homeworld was destroyed in the Clone Wars. A Refugee Relief ship dumped us on Falleen and we were stuck there. All we had – all we still have – is each other and Arthree. So yes, we’d rather be indentured servants together than have lousy jobs separately.”

    There was a pause. “Did you ever consider selling your droid to buy passage to the Core?” Eliskandra asked.

    Arthree let out a furious whistle and Foos sprang to his feet. “Don’t even think of it! You –”

    “Arthree was Papa’s droid,” Ilektra said tearfully over the hubbub as the Rishi birds joined the fray. “He’s our last link to our family. We can’t let him go.”

    Eliskandra patted her shoulder. “I understand, dahling, I understand.” She paused again until Foos sat down. “You must have been very upset with Her Highness when she broke off Arthree’s pincer arm, or when she threatened to sell him for spare parts.”

    Foos gave her a defiant look. “Yeah, we hated the shrew all right. For what she did to us and for what she did to Arthree. But those memory banks of his are also proof that we didn’t kill her, if that’s what you’re getting at.”

    Eliskandra nodded. “Indeed. Thank you very much, that will be all. Will you please send” – she inserted the second datacard in the datapad – “Celano, Taïgheta, Master Gizeh and Chamberlain Artemian? I would like to have a word with them.”

    She performed a quick HoloNet search until the Chagrian, the Zeltron, the Chevin and the Elomin took the place of the two Humans and the droid around the kitchen table. The atmosphere between them was definitely uneasy and they were exchanging resentful looks. Eliskandra surveyed the scene carefully and scanned her datapad again. “I understand that all four of you were recruited to Her Highness’s service on Pantolomin,” she said finally.

    “That is correct,” Artemian answered. “Although our encounter was entirely fortuitous. It ’appened by chance that each one of us was seeking employment aboard the Coral Vanda when the Princesse came for a brief ’oliday. She was staffing ’er ’ousehold at the time and she ’ad need for a masseuse, an accountant, a chamberlain and a reader.”

    Eliskandra blinked her nictitating membranes again. “You would have me believe that you chose indentured servitude rather than employment with one of the Galaxy’s most luxurious casinos?”

    “We needed the credits,” Taïgheta said defensively. “It was just one year after the end of the Clone Wars and –”

    “– and in that very year, the Coral Vanda alone recruited one hundred and six new staff,” Eliskandra interrupted, tapping her datapad. “The submersible casinos of Pantolomin as a whole had two thousand, two hundred and fifty-three vacancies, if the Galactic Gaming Industry holopage is to be trusted. I find it difficult to believe that sentients with qualifications such as yours would not find employment in such a favourable job market.”

    There was a heavy silence. “There was a lot of competition,” Celano said weakly. “It wasn’t easy to secure a job at the time. The whole Galaxy was trying to find work and to start rebuilding their lives.” The orange-winged avian called Vasishtha came to perch on her head and nibbled her brow affectionately, as if to give her courage.

    Eliskandra ignored her and returned her attention to her datapad. “How come the four of you agreed to sign a collective pledge of servitude?”

    “We were all staying in the same hotel,” Gizeh explained. “The Princess picked up the tab for the four of us, and she insisted that we keep it simple. It was no big issue, seeing as we’d all arrived on Pantolomin at the same time, give or take a few days.”

    Eliskandra let the silence hang in the air once more. “Quite a series of coincidences, isn’t it? One would think you were destined to meet. Four sentients of different species, arriving on Pantolomin at the same time, checking in the same hotel, seeking employment in the same casino and ending up with the same master... and quite a nice hotel it was too. One hundred thousand credits in expenses, to refund to Her Highness over the duration of your servitude?”

    “Pantolomin is expensive,” Celano mumbled. “We found ourselves in deep trouble for even thinking of going there. The Princess was our only way out.”

    This time, Eliskandra didn’t dissimulate her sarcasm as she drummed her stubby fingers on the table. “Let’s quit beating around the hyperlane and cut to the chase, dahling. Here’s what I think happened. You four were small-time crooks and you tried to con Her Highness out of a hundred grand. You were caught red-handed and you accepted indentured servitude rather than face an Imperial court of law. Is that close enough to the truth?”

    The Chagrian’s blue skin turned a deep shade of purple and the Elomin let out a wistful, musical sigh through his nose tusks. “You are correct, Madame,” Artemian finally admitted. “Mostly correct, at any rate. Can you please tell us what all this ’as to do with the issue at ’and, namely the Princesse’s murder?”

    The Hutt shrugged. “Nothing, my dear Chamberlain, nothing. I merely like to know who I am talking to.”

    By now, Celano was utterly discomfited. “But that’s not who we are, Eliskandra,” she said softly. “We didn’t become thieves for laughs. We’re sentients who lost everything. I was completing my degree in Galactic literature when the Empire was established and my father had the nerve to speak up against the expansion of mining activities on Champala. Before we knew it, he had been assassinated and I was a prostitute in a dodgy casino on Pantolomin. That’s how the four of us met. We were all taken there by the same sentient-trafficking network.” She suppressed a shiver. Artemian placed a paw on her shoulder to comfort her. “And when our traffickers were killed – not by the Imperial authorities, mind you, it was another trafficking gang that went after them,” she continued, “we thought we’d finally be free. But instead we found ourselves with nowhere to go and nothing to do. We had to do much worse than stealing to survive. So swindling the princess… yes, it was probably wrong. But it was still our best shot at a new beginning. We were just desperate.”

    “We made a poor décision,” Artemian rejoined. “I personally do not regret seeking to grab the Princesse’s credits at the time. She belonged to the caste that exploited sentients such as us. But we acted ’astily, and we paid the price.”

    Eliskandra turned to Taïgheta and Gizeh. “And that is apparently a lesson that you two failed to learn,” she said sternly, but there was a hint of compassion in her voice. “You thought that you could go solo and manipulate Her Highness into releasing you from her service, didn’t you?”

    The Zeltron’s pink skin turned fuchsia. “How do you know that?”

    Eliskandra chuckled. “Dahling, everyone, everyone knows that Zeltron pheromones don’t work on Elomins. Next time you’re hiding with your friend Gizeh in a closet, try to find a better excuse, yes? The idea that you were meeting for… sexual escapades was not very credible. If you had something to hide from your friends, it would have to be of an entirely different nature.” She paused. “Not that any of this is relevant to our case. The data provided by Eethree is conclusive. You were indeed in three besh at the time of the murder.”

    There was an embarrassed silence. “Can we go now?” Taïgheta asked in a small voice.

    “Yes, yes, you can. Will you please fetch Steroop and Kolosso for me?” She watched them file out of the kitchen. “Oh, and Celano,” she called. “I truly hope that you will get your new beginning this time.”

    The Chagrian gave her a grateful smile and closed the door. Eliskandra inserted the third datacard in the datapad’s slot and waited until the Wookiee co-pilot and the Selonian waitress stepped into the room.

    “Please have a seat,” Eliskandra said warmly when she noticed how Steroop’s fur was rippling with anxiety. “This will not be long. I see here” – she pointed at the little monitor – “that you were both acquired by Her Highness on Pantolomin.”

    Kolosso rumbled an explanation. “‘Acquired’ is a nice way of putting it,” the Selonian translated. “She won us in a game of sabacc.”

    “And your former owner was...?”

    “Moff Wilhuff Tarkin,” Steroop answered. The Wookiee bared his fangs reflexively and let out a bark of pure hatred. “He led the assault on Kashyyyk after the end of the Clone Wars and captured the Wookiees en masse. Everyone was sent to some big construction project, except Kolosso and me. He kept us as trophies.”

    “And how did you, Steroop, find yourself on Kashyyyk at the time?”

    Kolosso growled tenderly and placed his paw over hers. “We were lifemates,” Steroop said. “And now that we’re free, we can be lifemates again.”

    The Rishi birds broke into a chorus of joyous twitters. Eliskandra looked at her curiously. “How do you know that you’re free now?”

    “Falleen law doesn’t allow for inheritance of slaves,” Steroop said happily. “Our tracking chips were bio-attuned and they deactivated the moment the Princess died. When we arrive on Coruscant, we can go wherever we want.” She suddenly gasped. “I shouldn’t have told you this, should I?” she asked nervously. “Now you’re going to believe that we killed her to –”

    Eliskandra waved her hand reassuringly. “Now to worry, Steroop dear. You were in the cockpit at the time of the murder, weren’t you? You told me all I needed to know. Now would you please fetch our little group of music lovers and their sound enhancement droid?”

    A few minutes later, Zefs, Meeropi, Maua and Babloony filed into the kitchen, followed by a wobbling Dolby. “I understand that you are all talented artists, even though Her Highness wouldn’t let you exercise your profession,” Eliskandra said as she inserted the fourth datacard in its slot.

    “You could say that,” the Karkarodon slurred through his swollen cheek, sending spittle flying all over the table. “She always called me a ‘singing shark’ when I said anything about opera.”

    “Tell me, what did you think of your position in the service of Her Highness?”

    “It sucked,” Maua said bluntly. Zefs gave her a worried look. “What? There’s no point in lying, Eliskandra already knows what we thought of her.” She turned back to the Hutt. “It sucked because we were indentured servants, it sucked because she was insufferably arrogant and speciesist, and it sucked because her taste in everything, from music to clothes and back, sucked.”

    “That’s true,” Meeropi rejoined. “The schutta was convinced that the Falleen are superior to any other species. She kept having me perform these cheap pop dances, because, she said, ‘that’s what Twi’leks do.’ I’ll give you Twi’leks! I’m a professional ballerina, for frang’s sake, not a pole dancer! If it weren’t for the Empire...”

    Eliskandra looked at Zefs. “And I imagine that, to you, the way she treated your droid also... sucked, as our young colleague put it. I was surprised to find out that you own him. I overheard Her Highness saying that he cost her a fortune.”

    The Bith sighed. “HF-34 droids are pricey to purchase, but even pricier to maintain. My deal with the Princess was that she would cover Dolby’s maintenance costs, but she kept arguing that it was too expensive and that I should hand over ownership to her.”

    “As if we’d ever let that happen,” Babloony grunted. “Dolby’s our friend and he’s our future. He’ll make us famous the moment we walk out of here, believe me.”

    “A moment which would have come considerably later, had Her Highness not been stabbed in her sleep tonight,” Eliskandra retorted sternly.

    Zefs sighed again. “I was afraid you’d say that. Yes, we all hated working for the Princess. Yes, we all wanted to leave her service. But you know where we were tonight, so you know we couldn’t have done it, even if we wanted to.”

    Pulastya landed on Eliskandra’s head and jabbed her emphatically, as if to underline the Bith’s answer. “That is an accurate summary of the situation, my dear Zefs,” the Hutt sighed. “Now if you could please ask Hali and Pleoné to come around.”

    She was reading the contents of the fifth datacard when the Feeorin and the Nautolan walked in. “I gather that, like Ilektra and Foos, you came to Falleen as refugees during the war,” Eliskandra said.

    Pleoné nodded. “The Refugee Relief Movement evacuated civilians from Glee Anselm in the second year of the war, when the Separatists attacked. We chose the ship to Falleen because we’d heard that the Falleen are a semi-aquatic species, but when we arrived there it was all jungles and marshes, not oceans.”

    “How did you find yourselves in Her Highness’s service?”

    “Because she lied to us,” Hali said scornfully. “We were running out of credits and we were going to be reduced to begging on the streets of Yellow District. She went on and on about her dream of moving to an ocean world when the war was over. She took us with her when she went on holiday to Pantolomin, and we believed her.”

    “But after we signed up, it was only from Falleen to Coruscant and back,” Pleoné completed. “I’m happy that she’s dead, I won’t pretend otherwise. She took every possible pretext to extend our servitude to her. You saw what she did to me about the pills. We would have perished in her service without ever seeing water again.”

    “We developed many health issues in her service,” Hali explained in response to the Hutt’s questioning look. “Skin problems, respiratory problems, you name it. She even had the climate control consoles removed from our rooms so we couldn’t increase the humidity. She said it would be bad for the ship’s structural integrity if we did.”

    “At one point Hali was so sick that I thought he might die,” Pleoné added. “It was only then that she allowed him to soak in a tub of water. Not that she took pity on him, she just didn’t want to ‘lose her investment’, as she put it. Once he was back on his feet, he could only have sonics again. She was that evil. I know that I shouldn’t be saying this, but I’m glad she’s gone.”

    Eliskandra rubbed her chin thoughtfully. “I appreciate your honesty,” she said finally. “That will be all.” She inserted the sixth datacard in the pad. “Could you please send over the remaining five droids? I would like to ask them a few questions before I wrap up this investigation.”

    The little mousebot soon scooted in, followed by the 434-FPC and the protocol droid, while the GH-7 hovered in the rear. “Will our friend Nosey not join us?” Eliskandra asked.

    Eethree let out an electronic sigh. “Unfortunately, Nosey is being difficult, Madam. He is steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of your investigation.”

    “He is – quite understandably – upset,” Doc intervened. “He was very attached to the Princess due to his programming, and his circuits have some trouble adjusting to this situation.”

    Eliskandra shrugged. “Let us begin without him, then. The four of you were the property of Senator Zurros before coming into Princess Xerola’s ownership, is that correct?”

    Eethree nodded. “It is mostly correct, Madam. Although, for the sake of accuracy, I would like to specify that droids are considered sentient beings under Falleen law. Doc, Foodie and myself were therefore the Princess’s indentured servants, not property.”

    The Hutt blinked. “Most interesting. What about little Mousey?”

    The MSE-4 droid emitted a series of proud chirps and whistles. “Mousey was a prominent leader in the Droid Liberation Front,” Eethree translated. “The Movement was deemed a terrorist organisation by the Empire and its members sold into slavery.”

    “How terribly sad!” Eliskandra exclaimed. “Now tell me, how did you pass from the Senator’s to Her Highness’s service?”

    “Senator Zurros was revealed to be a double agent for the Confederacy at the end of the Clone Wars,” Doc explained. “The property of Separatist supporters was confiscated by the Empire and redistributed to those who expressed support for the New Order.”

    “Would you describe your new positions as an improvement?”

    “Certainly not,” Foodie said contemptuously. “Senator Zurros’s taste in food was wonderful. He often had me accompany him to the Manarai restaurant on Coruscant, so that I would reproduce their recipes, and he even brought in Jedi Master Zao to teach me his gastronomic philosophy. Princess Xerola on the other hand would ask me to prepare the same meal for her every night – only raw foods, because she feared poisoning, and even then preferably half-priced products, the sort that you can buy for a credit a dozen if you’re into gorg brains. It was quite frustrating at times, I must say. I am a top-of-the-line model and I have much potential beyond cold cuts.”

    “And what will you do, now that your pledge of servitude has been annulled by today’s events?”

    “We would like to open a high-end restaurant together,” Eethree said after a moment’s hesitation. “We have a chef, a maitre and a cleaner already, and we could recruit more free droids if necessary. Besides, we will have need for Doc, as some cuisines, such as sulyet, require strict tests that GH-7 droids have clearance to conduct.”

    “Noov Arts’ Amalgamated Pharmaceuticals’ programmers did an excellent job on us,” Doc explained in response to Eliskandra’s curious look. “This has enabled us to gain accreditation for a number of tasks, including running toxicity tests that comply with the Imperial coroner’s standards.”

    “I see,” the Hutt said thoughtfully. “Have you gathered the necessary capital to launch such a venture, or were you counting on your share of Her Highness’s wealth to invest in this project of yours?”

    There was another electronic sigh, this time from the chef droid. “The Princess declined to pay for our maintenance costs, and our savings are therefore limited. As much as I dislike to admit it, yes, an infusion of credits would be welcome at this point.”

    “May I point out however that our activity logs –” Eethree started.

    “Yes, I know,” Eliskandra interrupted. “I also took note of Mousey’s inability to actually commit the murder. Thank you very much, that will be all.”

    The four droids left the kitchen and closed the door behind them. Eliskandra scratched her forehead with a stubby finger.

    “Can you make sense of this, Pulastya dahling? Twenty-three sentients on a ship, lost in space. One is killed, one is me, and every single other one has a motive for the murder, but none had the means or the opportunity. Except, that is, our dear Nosey, for whom I can see means and opportunity, but no motive at all.”

    The avian chirped and fluttered to the table to grab the last datacard and present it to the Hutt. “You’re absolutely right,” Eliskandra said. “If there is a solution, it has to be in there.”

    She took a deep breath and inserted the seventh datacard in its slot. “We already proved that we’re not very good slicers, didn’t we, dahling?” she asked Pulastya as the screen flickered to life. “So let’s give up on attempting to break the encryption and try to guess Her Highness’s password instead.” She stared at the datapad for a moment and keyed cautiously, S-E-V-E-N.

    The words ACCESS DENIED flashed on the screen. “That would have been too easy,” the Hutt grumbled. She searched the database for the word ‘seven’ in the Falleen language and tried again.

    ACCESS DENIED.

    “Hmm. How about seven times the digit seven?”

    ACCESS DENIED.

    She looked around the kitchen and typed ‘Rishi’, then ‘Rishi bird’, then ‘Rishi birds’.

    ACCESS DENIED. ACCESS DENIED. ACCESS DENIED.

    “Fine,” she huffed. “Seven-letter words. What could it be?” Her eyes fell on the brown-feathered avian, who was huddling in the warmth of the carafe of kahve. ‘Angiras’.

    ACCESS DENIED.

    She tried every seven-letter word she could think of – ‘credits’, ‘Simplon’, ‘Falleen’ – but the datacard was steadfastly refusing to reveal its contents. Eliskandra let out a grunt and threw the electronic pad back on the table. “The shrew was smarter than I thought. The password could be anything.”

    She ran an advanced database search for seven-letter words in Basic and Falleen and tried several, only to receive the same message. She began keying sequences of seven symbols at random. She caught herself several times cursing in Huttese and apologized profusely, but she was increasingly frustrated and she was now rapping the touch screen angrily with her fingers. Pulastya left her shoulder and landed on the datapad, stamping her tiny claws on the digital keyboard as if in sympathy. The letters D-A-R-K-E-Y-E materialised in the dialogue box, Eliskandra punched ‘enter’, and the tablet let out a welcoming beep as it opened the single document stored in the datacard.

    Eliskandra’s jaw dropped, her double chin wobbling in excitement as she took in the contents displayed on the screen. Her eyes went from the datapad to the jar of crystallised zherries, then to the flock of little avians who were now fluttering around her head, and finally returned to Pulastya. “Pulastya, you little rascal, you are a genius!” she exclaimed. “I know what happened. I know exactly what happened. Let’s go. It’s time we put an end to this story.”
     
  10. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Eliskandra’s jaw dropped, her double chin wobbling in excitement as she took in the contents displayed on the screen. Her eyes went from the datapad to the jar of crystallised zherries, then to the flock of little avians who were now fluttering around her head, and finally returned to Pulastya. “Pulastya, you little rascal, you are a genius!” she exclaimed. “I know what happened. I know exactly what happened. Let’s go. It’s time we put an end to this story.”

    Wow, this is indeed like a classic British detective story, but more stylish and spacey. With Eliskandra it also has a brilliant laser brain solving the case, hopefully, any time soon.
     
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  11. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    This was a wonderful chapter; I like how we get an unexpected revelation about pretty much everyone -- Steroop and Kolosso (his name is great for a Wookiee) being married, the droids planning to start up a restaurant together, Dolby belonging to the aspiring music group, the four who tried to con the Princess and got caught. It all does a great job of both advancing the mystery plot and making us even more involved in the fate of this wide cast of characters. [face_dancing] Dark-Eye is still being a little poodoo, though I can almost feel sorry for him since the Princess was apparently programmed in as the center of his cosmos. And Pulastya provides a key to the locked box, hmm. [face_thinking]

    Some more stuff about chapter 2:



    The running gag of how Xerola skimps on everything is great. :p And I like how it's slipped in there that Eliskandra has to worry about how to navigate the ship due to being a Hutt and all -- it makes her feel that much more real.



    [face_laugh] I just bet that is the best place to be!

    That does seem to be one of her trademarks. ;)

    The way that Dark-Eye seems to hover somewhere between annoying and threatening works really well to emphasize the strained living situation. And more birdies! Liked the shy Angiras deciding that Eliskandra makes a good perch, and it is nice to see that they have such a rapport with most of the crew. Given what they're stuck with for a Princess, they all need some good friends. ;)



    Oh, poor babies. :( But all too likely. Nice to see the "seven" theme again; I like that it's Xerola's own little superstition.



    And here we see again that Xerola is a piece of work. It just seems like the icing on the ryshcate that she's utterly cheap (particularly in things that affect others more) with this money that she murdered her siblings over in the first place.

    The move from her initial reaction to the reveal is done really well, and the matter-of-fact way that the rest of the characters are about it makes it seem doubly awful -- that this is the way the universe works in their corner, and it could always be worse. Somehow.



    That's quite a full-course meal there... [face_laugh] Comfort food for the unhappy Falleen.

    Liked Eliskandra whipping out her considerable collection of all-species beauty products and finding something for everyone. It shows her expertise with the details of her profession, to go along with the people skills we already know are there.

    And though we already know about Bonvika from the mention in The Hairdo, this just feels so very much like the way that Eliskandra would tell the story at this point in time.



    Aww, birdies -- and it’s nice to see her bonding with the crew. One of them may or may not be a murderer, but on the whole they seem much too nice to be stuck with the Princess of drama. The comment about Hutts being very sensitive is gold, too -- some of them obviously are!



    This is one of those background details that feel like a story in themselves. Grand Duchess Peascodd! Chitin dye! :D

    Was also interested by Ilektra and Celano providing advice for the lovelorn. The complexities of Hutt gender identity variation and sexuality versus how it works in Humans -- both similarities and differences -- is probably an essay in itself. But Eliskandra always registers as a relatable, wonderful human being, as you say. ;)

    And poor Steroop gets told off for shedding on the furniture -- as nasty as the big things that the Princess has done are, it is the little petty things like that that make her especially irksome.
     
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  12. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    I've said it before in our beta-ing conversations, of course, but I just love the way you have the crew of the Simplon all go into their backstories here. This is one of my favorite parts of mystery stories: that part just before the final whodunit revelation where slowly but surely the various characters' motivations and stories begin to unfold, and the reader gets to know them in more depth than before. And here in this GFFA mystery story, this takes on an added dimension of coolness, because this is where it becomes clear that this isn't just a motley bunch of aliens thrown together to look cool, Mos Eisley Cantina-fashion—not that we ever really did think that, given your superb characterizations.

    And none of it is black and white. I would not want to be double-crossed by that quartet of Artemian, Taïgheta, Gizeh, and Celano—from what we've already seen of Taïgheta's "bad girl" shtick and Artemian's underworld connections, I bet they would be a right piece of work! And yet it's hard for me to judge them too harshly knowing that they were at least partly driven to it as victims of sentient trafficking—something that I bet happens with great frequency in real life, too. Indeed, I wonder if some of your professional experience with refugees is coming through here, because there are a lot of refugees of one kind or another among this bunch—besides the four former trafficking victims, there are the two servants from aquatic worlds and the Human siblings and their droid. (Not that that's a bad thing—it shows how skilled you are at translating your own RL work into story form with great oomph.)

    Kahara is absolutely right to point out how that it's the petty, penny-pinching things that bring Xerola down the extra notch from horrid to outright despicable. We see that very keenly in this chapter with the matter of Hali, Pleoné, and the environmental control panels: a perfect example of how Xerola's cheapskatism isn't just keeping some of her crew members from exercising the full range of their abilities, whether artistic, culinary or otherwise (though that's bad too)—it's almost cost some of them their life.

    Eliskandra is the perfect mix of marvelous, razor-sharp, and and compassionate all throughout her dealings with everyone she talks to. She's a wonderful detective precisely because she's a "wonderful human being."

    And of course those inimitable Rishi birds are ever present, commenting on and reacting to the situation in their way as they have done throughout the story so far... and now we see them, or one of them, go one step further by entering a password in actual letters. [face_thinking] Ewok Poet mentioned the Disney scenes with multiple little creatures helping out in a highly choreographed manner—the mice and birds in Cinderella, the birds and other things in Snow White, among others. What you do in this story with the avians takes that whole theme (trope? topos? what's the word I want?) to a new level, because we can't doubt at this point that they are more inextricably integral to this story than those mice and birdies ever were to any of the Disney films.

    I could maunder on about more wonderful things about this chapter till the cows come home, but for now I'll just close with "[face_dancing]," "[face_batting] ," and " =D= ." Looking forward to the Big Reveal!
     
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  13. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    You just reminded me that I need to reply to the two most recent chapters before the big reveal. Argh. Hate being late, but yeah. Life and stuff. Thanks goat for the unwritten update pact. XD


    Chapter 5:

    While Dark Eye is about the creepiest non-lifeform I have encountered in fan fiction, knowing mystery stories, I'm pretty sure we'll be proven wrong about him in some way. That, of course, doesn't stop us from shaking our fists at him and hoping he will shut up. His bigotry is annoying and I did hope he would short-circuit, too.

    Love it how Mousey practically gives an alibi to Eliksandra, so she can take the matter in her own hands. And then she goes all Poirot on everybody.

    Another thing I really liked is the Neev-Ëha cold cream. BWAHAHAHA. How NOT classy of the princesse. Don't they have Lush in that galaxy? Pffft.

    For some reason, though, I struggled through this chapter. It wasn't flowing, not sure how to explain. It could be yet another one of my brain fog moments, I am often unable to deal with an excessive amount of information.

    Chapter 6:

    Despite being the most unlikely detective ever based on her professional background all and the Simplon passenger who seems most emotional; Eliksandra is super-logical and she can deduce things and tell them to the beings' and droids' faces. IMHO, the top reason Eliksandra is able to think rationally is the fact that the princesse didn't even get to groom her into being her servant, as in, loathe her guts. She only suffered light verbal abuse, while the others underwent years of corporal punishment, torture and sadism. Just like all abuse victims, they hold grudges and she doesn't.

    Loved the very beginning of this chapter. Eliksandra is such a bon vivant, needing a warm beverage and candies to concentrate. She is a great positive counterpart to the late princess: while a snob herself, she has a heart and she knows her snobbery well. :) Not to mention having actual integrity.

    So many details on so many people and droids here, and all of them have the same thing in common - their situation was poor and they were manipulated into serving the princess practically forever. Steroop and Kolosso's story was the freakiest, with the Tarkin and Death Star connection. And the other thing everybody has in common is that the Falleen law grants them freedom, whether they are servants, slaves or droids. This is so clever and, unlike in the previous chapter, it's not overwhelming.

    At this point, this story reminds me of the 2000 film Drowning Mona a lot. Mona was an unlovable person to the point where she had no redeeming qualities and was an extreme sadist, just like Xerola and every single person in the town could have been the murderer. In that way, the cute birds in different colours are this story's equivalent of Yugos in different colours. Of course, the birds are far more reliable, but you get the idea.

    For the end -just like Findswoman I wonder how much of the suspects' stories were inspired by what you're dealing with at work.

    Anxiously awaiting the big reveal now!
     
  14. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! This is my first day back in the world of the living and I woke up to find that the amazing Findswoman beta-read my chapter on the spot during the night [:D] I need to catch up on a mountain of RL stuff today though, so I'll post the last chapter and endnotes now, and I'll be back later for replies to your mahvelous comments.

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

    Chapter VII

    Eliskandra made a detour through her quarters to spritz herself again with Jill Ett’s Gastropod Glop Desiccant – “this is going to be the performance of my life, dahling, I need to feel up to the task! I’m prone to stage fright, you know,” she told Pulastya – and added a squirt of Deyor’s Reythan berry and Alderaanian t’iil aroma before returning to the common room. The entire household was still assembled there, dozing peacefully on the threadbare sofas. Even the droids had dimmed their lights and gone on standby, but Ilektra jumped to her feet as soon as the Hutt slithered in.

    “Did you find something?” she asked groggily.

    Eliskandra gave her a reassuring smile. “I did – no small thanks to our Rishi friends here,” she said, gesturing towards the avians who had fluttered to their favourite spots on the staff’s shoulders. “However, before I expose my conclusions, I would like to crawl – or walk, or roll – you through my thought process, in case anyone wishes to point out facts I may have missed. Also, I would be grateful if Arthree could record the proceedings. If we are further delayed in reaching Coruscant, the authorities there may not be able to conduct a proper investigation, and they will need this holovid. Is this acceptable to everyone?”

    There were nods, beeps and flashes of assent around the room. Eliskandra pushed forward the hovertray, which now carried the datacards, the sedatives and the jar of crystallised zherries, and began.

    “As you know, the standard procedure when investigating a crime is to determine if a suspect had the means, the motive and the opportunity to commit it. It must be proven that a murderer had access to the murder weapon and was able to use it, that he or she had a powerful incentive to commit it, and that he or she seized a practical opportunity to do it. Do we all agree on this?”

    “Unless you’re a non-Human in Imperial space,” Meeropi muttered. “The Imps will just look at your motive, and they’ll probably charge you even if you had no motive at all.”

    Eliskandra gave her a stern look. “Please garble the sound on that, Arthree. We do not want dahling Meeropi to find herself in trouble once we reach Coruscant, do we?”

    The Twi’lek’s green skin took on a faint shade of purple. Eliskandra waited for the astromech to signal with a bloop that the task was accomplished and resumed speaking.

    “In this case, the killer used a pill from the stolen sedatives to put Her Highness to sleep, and my set of seven Zenji needles to stab her. The questions that needed to be answered were therefore, who had access to these objects? Who could have entered room seven without being seen? And, most importantly, why would they do it?”

    She paused and looked around. The little assembly nodded and chirped again, and even Dark-Eye blinked his lights approvingly. Eliskandra pointed at the stack of datacards on the hovertray.

    “These are Her Highness’s private documents, which I found – entirely by chance – during my search of her quarters. They were hidden in a secret alcove behind her vanity cabinet, and they contain, among other things, your personal files and pledges of servitude. Once I had read them, I knew that there were motives galore. I was aware already that those of you who were indentured servants stood to inherit Her Highness’s wealth should she pass away. I also found out that at least three of you” – she nodded towards Kolosso, Steroop and Mousey – “stood to gain their freedom. I could see that some of you may want vengeance for the ill-treatment you were subjected to, or for the daily humiliations, or for the deception that ensnared you to her service. I could also see how some of you would seek to escape an abusive pledge of servitude and to fulfil your own personal ambitions. And I could understand that for some” – she nodded towards Hali and Pleoné – “leaving Her Highness’s service was a matter of survival. The only one for whom I could not determine a possible motive – and not only because of his refusal to disclose any information – was Nosey, who, through his own behaviour but also his treatment at everyone else’s hands, came across as being genuinely attached and faithful to his master.”

    A murmur of concern swept over the room and Dark-Eye let out a satisfied snort. “I am glad to see that someone finally acknowledges –”

    “No one acknowledges anything yet, dahling,” Eliskandra said sharply. “For now, I have merely stated an impression. Now if you will allow me to continue, I would like to explain the paradox I encountered when I started looking into the means used by the killer, and the opportunity he or she may have seized.”

    The probe droid hovered sulkily towards the ceiling. Eliskandra took a deep breath. “Her Highness was stabbed in the heart with my seven Zenji needles while asleep after being heavily sedated with one of these pills” – she pointed at the jar on the table – “that somehow found its way into her Cosmic Rose Shooter. I therefore needed a culprit who had, first of all, access to the sedative – and this is where the problem began, because as far as I could tell, only Pleoné and, before her, Doc, had held this jar of pills, but I had strong evidence that they did not approach the cocktail glass. Meanwhile, the seven-piece Zenji set was on my bedside table when I left my room to prepare Her Highness’s topknot for the night. The only time when it could have been stolen was while I was in her quarters. However, I knew that no one had entered my room during that time, because I would have heard the swoosh of my door through the flimsi-thin walls of this ship. This meant that the murderer must be someone who could approach the Cosmic Rose Shooter in plain sight, after it was brought to the Princess’s room, and who could enter my room without opening the door.”

    She paused for dramatic effect and took another deep breath. “The only member of this household’s staff who fits this description is Nosey.”

    There was another murmur, of relief this time. “Absolutely not!” the DRK-1 droid snapped. “It is obvious that you missed some crucial information here – or that you are deliberately withholding it. Pleoné must have kept a pill –”

    “Pleoné couldn’t have reached the cocktail glass,” Eliskandra interrupted. “It was on Her Highness’s bedside table, on the far side of the room. I would have seen her.”

    “Then it was Foodie who –”

    “Foodie has handed over his log, which describes in great detail his every movement over the past week – as opposed to you, I may add,” the Hutt said over the hubbub that was taking hold of the room. “If you will let me finish –”

    “I will not! You are obviously biased and –”

    Eliskandra raised her tail. “You will let me finish now, dahling,” she said firmly. “You may challenge my findings after I am done exposing them, but for the time being you will remain silent.”

    The probe droid retreated towards the ceiling again, his antenna shivering with anger. The Hutt closed her eyes for a moment, as if collecting her thoughts. “You can all see the paradox of this situation. Of all the possible suspects, the only one who could physically have committed the murder was the one least likely to want Princess Xerola dead. I was obviously missing some crucial piece of information – either Nosey was not what he seemed, or one or more of the other passengers of this ship had managed to bypass all the obstacles I mentioned and to carry out the murder entirely unnoticed.”

    She reached for the hovertray and extracted the seventh datacard. “And then, I managed to decrypt this datacard, and it all became clear. Because, you see, this card contains a single document: the last will and testament of Princess Xerola of the Falleen, sole representative of the noble House of Psonia. And her will states, without any ambiguity, that she chooses to bequeath every last credit of her fortune to a single heir: Nosey.”

    The little assembly exploded in gasps, roars and hoots of surprise. “So Nosey ’ad a motive!” Artemian exclaimed.

    “I did not!” the probe droid shouted. “I knew no more about this than any of you.”

    “Oh, knock it off, Nosey,” Taïgheta said. “You were always the shrew’s confidante. Do you expect us to believe that she didn’t tell you?”

    “She did not,” Dark-Eye snapped. “And I would expect a little more respect for our deceased master!”

    Eliskandra coughed emphatically to bring attention back to herself. “Here is what happened,” she told Dark-Eye. “You dropped a sedative pill in your master’s Cosmic Rose Shooter when you deposited the jar next to her glass after you brought Pleoné to her, claiming that you had only just caught the thief – but the truth is that you had already identified her, and you waited for the right moment to reveal your find, so as to have an opportunity to poison Her Highness. You then left her quarters and sneaked into my room through the avian flap to steal the Zenji needles, and waited for the opportunity to strike – most probably hiding in the engine room. I would even venture that the hyperdrive failure was a result of sabotage on your behalf, and that you were hoping to blame the murder on Foos, who, in this scenario, would be the last sentient who saw your master alive. You were then delayed by Mousey, who came around to clean my slime trail from the hallway floor, and you finally entered Her Highness’s quarters shortly before 00:07. You stabbed her in the heart and commed your own station, as if she had summoned you, and, a few minutes later, you called us all on the loudspeaker system, pretending that you had only just arrived and found her dead. You had not counted on Doc’s quick thinking to spot that the Cosmic Rose Shooter was spiked. Nor did you foresee that Arthree would accompany Foos and keep a holorecording of the scene.”

    There was a heavy silence as all eyes turned accusingly towards the probe droid. “Not a single word of this is true,” he said haughtily.

    “Really?” Eliskandra pressed. “Of all the sentients in this room, you were the only one to have both the means and the opportunity to conduct the murder, and, being Her Highness’s only heir, it’s fair to say that you had a powerful motive. Prince Dark-Eye of House Psonia, who would’ve thought?” There was a round of chuckles. “Perhaps now would be the right time to disclose your activity log,” the Hutt added. “The fact that you decline to reveal your whereabouts at the time of the murder is merely adding cause for suspicion here.”

    “As I said already, I can disclose my log only to the master –”

    “Your master is dead and you are her only heir,” Eliskandra interrupted. “The decision is up to you now.”

    Dark-Eye stopped in mid-air, his lights flashing in various colours, as if deep in thought. “That doesn’t compute,” he said finally in his metallic voice.

    “Enough!” Artemian shouted. “’E is obviously the murderer. Kolosso, catch ’im! We will place a restraining bolt on ’im until we reach Coruscant.”

    The probe droid shot up towards the ceiling as the Wookiee sprang to his feet. “No!” he screeched. “You have no authority to do such a thing! I –”

    The situation soon descended into chaos as every staff member stood up and tried to get hold of Dark-Eye. The droid was zooming in all directions to escape the Rishi birds and Doc, who were flying across the room seeking to bring him down, while also avoiding the outstretched hands and paws that were attempting to grab him. Eyes were poked, glasses and cups were shattered and elbows were shoved into ribs in the kerfuffle, until a powerful swat from Eliskandra’s tail caught him from behind and propelled him into Babloony’s webbed hands. The Karkarodon was nearly thrown off-balance when the spherical droid released the full power of his repulsorlifts to dart towards the ceiling again, but Kolosso tackled them both and lay over them until Mousey could scoot to the cargo bay and return with a restraining bolt.

    “Nice and easy now,” Foos said as he took the device from the mousebot. “You two roll to the side, just enough for me to put this on him.”

    Dark-Eye jolted in Babloony’s grasp as soon as he felt the pressure over him ease a little, but Artemian caught him swiftly in his powerful paws before he could go any further and held him out to the pilot. The droid let out an angry whistle. The slight flicker caused by the restraining bolt became a series of flashes, sparkles and bangs, and thick smoke leaked from the black sphere as Dark-Eye self-destructed.

    Foos let out a string of curses. Artemian blurted a resounding “merde!” and clapped his paws over his snout when the room erupted in giggles.

    “Not to worry, not to worry,” Eliskandra said calmly. “This is even more evidence of his guilt, if any were necessary. Did you get all that, Arthree dahling?”

    The astromech beeped in assent and plugged into the datapad to download the holorecording. There was a brief silence. “Okay,” Foos grumbled. “We’re done here, ain’t we? I’m gonna restart that hyperdrive now. Let’s get to Coruscant and hand his carcass over to the authorities.”

    “Just a moment, dahling,” Eliskandra called. “Now that we finally have privacy, I suggest that we be honest with each other. We all know that poor Nosey wasn’t the culprit, don’t we?”

    The pilot stopped dead in his tracks by the door. “Whaddya mean, we all know?”

    “I mean, dahling, that there was not one, not two, but seven – yes, you heard me correctly, seven – other sentients aboard this ship who could have committed the murder, and who were far more likely than Nosey to commit it.”

    There were audible gasps, harrumphs and whistles of surprise from the little assembly. “But you just said –” Ilektra started.

    “What I just said is what I was expected to find,” Eliskandra interrupted. “This was the conclusion that the murderer wanted me to reach. I was happy to oblige, and Nosey was very kind to confirm it by self-destructing. But let us be clear about what actually happened. There are seven sentients among us who had the opportunity to drop a sedative in the Cosmic Rose Shooter, to steal my Zenji set, to deactivate the hyperdrive, to stab Her Highness, to ring for Nosey and to fly away unnoticed – all this in plain sight because, in her oblivious arrogance, the Princess herself had given them unimpeded access to every room in the ship.” She held out a stubby finger for Pulastya to perch on. “I am speaking, of course, of our adorable Rishi birds. You are sentient beings, aren’t you?”

    The red-tailed avian fluttered to the Hutt’s hand and let out a sigh. “What gave it away?” she asked in oddly accented Basic.

    Eliskandra smiled. “The Princess was stabbed seven times, with seven Zenji needles, Pulastya dear. Nosey would have had no reason to stab her more than once.” She patted the avian’s head. “You played the part of the whimsical little pets quite well, if that is any consolation. The Great Bonvika’s swarm of swamp batrachians display the same affection and understanding for their master as you did. I began to wonder if there was more to you than meets the eye when you nearly dive-bombed Nosey to prevent him from taking control of the investigation earlier tonight. You sensed it, didn’t you?” Pulastya nodded in assent. “You then put up a perfect show of undisciplined little birds for me when we searched room seven, and you had me nearly convinced that my suspicions were unfounded – but you became impatient when I wasn’t fast enough to declare Nosey the culprit. I could believe that you got lucky in Her Highness’s bedroom, when you activated the secret compartment behind the vanity cabinet, but that you would key the correct password by chance? The odds for that were one in a million.”

    The astromech chirped. “Arthree begs to differ,” the protocol droid translated. “The actual odds would be four hundred and thirty-five billion eight hundred and seventeen million six hundred and fifty-seven thousand two hundred and fifteen... to one.”

    “Oh, stop showing off, Nos... err, Arthree,” Taïgheta snapped. “We got the message.”

    Eliskandra chuckled and returned her attention to the little avian perching on her hand. “Much began to make sense once I understood that you were sentient. Why you would be offended every time someone mentioned how inexpensive you were, for instance? Or how you could possibly berate some of our colleagues for their bad manners... but most importantly, it explained your interest in my Zenji needles when I was cleaning them up earlier tonight. The true reason I returned to my room before coming here was not to sprinkle myself with my Deyor perfume, as fragrant as it may be. It was to check if there was any clue that one of you little birds could have sneaked in and borrowed my Zenji set while I was combing Her Highness’s topknot. And the clue was there. Only you and Pulaha were in my room during dinner, but I found tiny brown and orange feathers on my bedside table – feathers that belong to Angiras and Vasishtha.” Pulastya bowed her head. “It was a clever plan, dahling,” Eliskandra continued. “You had thought of everything. That little aerial ballet in Her Highness’s room with zherry candies in your beaks was most convincing performance and a perfect cover to slip a sedative pill in her cocktail. And who would pay attention to a pretty little pet zooming into the engine compartment, or to bird flaps opening and closing all night? You had Nosey perfectly cornered and framed. He was the only possible culprit, and no one, not even I, will mourn his loss. What I would like to know is why you did it.”

    The red-tailed avian straightened herself. “Because we are sentient,” she said proudly. “We are Elellumiwi from Pemmirit, in the Inner Rim. We are intelligent beings with a life, a culture and a technology of our own, and the Empire has been capturing us and selling us as pets – not as slaves, as pets. We deserve better.” She gave her flock a sad look. “We seven are the last surviving members of the Rishi nest-group,” she added in a low, trembling voice. “There was a time when the Elellumiwi of Rishi numbered in the hundreds. Other nest-groups looked up to us and longed for the peace and prosperity we enjoyed, and it was always a cause of celebration when one of their young found a soul-mate in one of ours. But it all ended when the Empire came to our world. They swiftly denied our Rights of Sentience when they saw the profit they could make from trading us as common trinkets, and they targeted the leading members of our governing council first, to break our population’s morale. They put us in cages and they would have destroyed us.”

    There was a heavy silence. “You never told us all of that, Pulastya,” Maua said softly. “We thought you were only seeking freedom for yourselves, that you were –”

    “We were many things,” the avian interrupted. “I was the matriarch of all the Rishi. They took me and my mate and all my family, more than thirty of us, and then they took the rest of our nest-group and they sold us left and right. My family ended up in the ownership of an obnoxious young Falleen whose sole ambition was to outshine his uncle. The uncle then managed to ruin the nephew in revenge, and we passed on to Princess Xerola. But we all started dying from sorrow after being taken from our homeworld, and what news we could gather from other captives was that they were dying too. Now the Elellumiwi of Rishi are nearly extinct. As far as we know, there are none other left. Our last male died yesterday, and we seven are all females. If we did not escape, we would not only die as individuals. Our entire nest-group would be gone.”

    She paused, then continued firmly, “I do not regret killing Princess Xerola. Not one little bit. She was a selfish, heartless, hysterical harridan and the Galaxy is a better place without her. I take full responsibility for our actions and decisions, even if it means that my nest-group must disappear forever.”

    “But you’re not –” Steroop began.

    Pulastya cut her off. “We are guilty as charged. And we will not deny it when Eliskandra hands us over to the authorities on Coruscant.”

    Eliskandra burst out laughing. “Me? Hand you over to the authorities on Coruscant?” Saying the phrase made her laugh harder, and the little assembly was left staring at her perplexedly as she went on guffawing for several minutes. “Dahling, I’m a Hutt,” she managed to hiccup between two fits of giggles. “Did you ever hear of a Hutt handing anyone over to the authorities? My kajidic would disown me if I even thought of it.” She finally managed to compose herself. “Besides, how could I possibly hand you over when everyone aboard this ship, except Nosey and I, was in on your plan?”

    The Chevin’s eyes narrowed. “What are you trying to insinuate, Madame?”

    “I am merely stating the obvious, my dear Chamberlain,” Eliskandra retorted. “Did I not see that you were all somewhat disappointed when Babloony, in his naiveté – no offense, dahling, but you don’t make a very good co-conspirator – caught that Blood Carver assassin as we came on board? Did I not realise, once I was certain that the Elellumiwi were sentient, that you had all been a little too adamant that they are well-trained pets? Did I not remember that Eethree asked for Nosey’s activity log just after receiving a sharp jab on the head from Pulastya, or that he proposed me as the investigator when the Elellumiwi were flying around and twittering, as if holding a conversation? Did I not notice how Zefs and Steroop planted the idea that Nosey was the killer when we were all standing together outside room seven, or how Doc later came up with a weak defence of his colleague to mislead me? Did I not understand that your watertight alibis couldn’t be but the result of an elaborate setup?” She looked at Foos. “And could I not be surprised that our pilot proposed, minutes ago, to restart a failing hyperdrive that no one took the time to repair?” She stopped and took in the room. “Some of you might like to think of me as a fat, slimy worm with pretensions to elegance and a crush on a fashion victim of my species. Perhaps I am that. But I also have what it takes up here” – she tapped a finger to her forehead – “and you could not have framed me for this murder, as hard as you tried.”

    There was an embarrassed silence. “Eliskandra, we never meant to frame you,” Meeropi began. “Quite the opposite, the Elellumiwi made sure that you had an alibi yourself when they decided to go ahead with the murder tonight. They –”

    The Hutt waved her hand dismissively. “It doesn’t matter. Let’s prepare our futures now. I propose that we scramble this datacard” – she pointed at Xerola’s will – “and claim that it was damaged during the altercation to get hold of Nosey. In the absence of this document, those of you who were indentured servants will inherit her fortune. You will share the credits and each one of us can go his or her own way. My only demand is that Steroop, Kolosso and Mousey, as well as the Elellumiwi, receive the share they deserve, even though they were, for all practical purposes, slaves.”

    “What about you?” Foos asked. “How much do you want to keep for yourself?”

    Eliskandra shrugged. “Nothing. I am going to Coruscant for a new beginning and I already have what I need to start a new life. I am quite sure that you need the credits more than I do.”

    The silence that followed was broken by the Elomin clearing his throat. “That is very generous of you, Madam, but I am afraid that the matter of our inheritance is a moot point. The Princess made a series of bad investments recently. Her fortune has dwindled to virtually nothing. I would need to verify the accounts for the details, but I am quite certain that all she could claim ownership to if she were still alive is this ship.”

    The seven attendants, the seven staff, the seven avians and the six droids stared at each other in dismay. “What are we going to do?” Maua whispered. “We don’t have anything but the clothes on our backs.”

    “And I’m not going out in the streets in this hideous livery,” Taïgheta added. “We’re not in the shrew’s service anymore. I’d rather go around naked now that I’m out of here.”

    “We could sell the ship,” Foodie proposed. “It’s not quite enough for a new beginning in life, but it would buy us tickets off-world and –”

    Pulastya let out a series of loud chirps, and the other avians answered in kind. “We have a suggestion,” she said in Basic once she had everyone’s attention. “We would like to stay with Eliskandra. She’s been kind to us and... well, we like her. She has helped us a lot already, and I think it is time we help her too.” She took a deep breath. “Let’s sell the ship and use the money to open a grooming salon on Coruscant. We can all stay and work there. Maybe some of us will choose to leave once we have enough savings. But maybe we will be happy all together, and we will all want to stay.” She looked at the small crowd. “What do you think?”

    “That’s an idea,” Meeropi said after a moment. “I know a few things about Twi’lek tattoos. It’s not much, but I could learn more. I’m sure Eliskandra would be a great teacher.”

    “I’m good with fur,” Steroop added. “If you’re going to have furry clients, I’d know how to deal with them. And you could finally show me that Fur Glitter we’ve been talking about.”

    “The cost of a ship... that’s a lot of credits,” Zefs muttered. “We could make it a really fancy salon. I’d play music for the clients, and Maua and Babloony could sing. Dolby will make us a real hit with the Coruscanti elite, I can tell you that.”

    Foos exchanged glances with his sister and his co-pilot. “I’m in,” he rejoined. “Kolosso and I don’t know zilch about grooming, but we can fly a speeder, do deliveries, everything else. And Ilektra knows manicure and stuff, so she’ll be useful.”

    “You will need an accountant,” Gizeh interjected. “I will be happy to help with that.”

    “And a masseuse, and a perfumer,” Taïgheta added, pointing at herself and Pleoné. “Count us in. Hali knows a lot about grooming too. He’s good with scales and tentacles.”

    The mousebot chirruped and flashed his headlights. “Mousey says that you cannot operate a grooming salon without a housekeeping droid,” Eethree translated. “I heartily agree. And I will be delighted to fulfil my primary function as a protocol droid and greet your clients. I am fluent in six million forms of communication and –”

    Oui, oui, Eethree, we know that,” Chamberlain Artemian interrupted. “As for me, I am well-versed in matters of interspecies etiquette. I believe that I can be ’elpful too. A salon of that standing will need a maître d’hôtel.”

    “Unfortunately, I have limited knowledge of grooming,” Foodie said. “But I could serve kahve to the clients. Besides, if we’re going to be a big family, you’ll all need someone to cook for you.”

    “And someone to look after your health,” Doc added. “I’ll stick around. Who knows, maybe I’ll manage to gather more data for my academic paper on Karkarodon dentistry.” At this Babloony gave him a sour look.

    The astromech unfolded every appendage in his barrel-like body and beeped. Pulaha, who was perching on his dome, nodded approvingly. “Arthree is well-placed to maintain the tools of your trade,” she said. “He could also produce smaller tools for us. The Elellumiwi of Rishi are very talented artisans, you know. We could create tailor-made hair clasps, beads and the like for the clients. It would be a unique business model.”

    By now Eliskandra’s eyes were full of tears. She looked around the room and spotted Celano, who was sitting quietly in a corner. The shy Chagrian stood up.

    “I’m in too,” she said in her velvety voice. “I can read for the clients while they’re waiting for their dye to set in. But I have one condition.” She walked up to Eliskandra and hugged her. “This is a new beginning for all of us, and you said you wanted to start a new life. So from now on, you’re not Eliskandra, you’re the Mahvelous Eliskandro. No, better, the Fabulous Eliskandro. Bonvika had better watch out.”

    The Hutt’s lipless mouth curved into a smile as Pulastya nibbled the top of her head. “The Fabulous Eliskandro,” she said slowly, dropping her voice by an octave to better taste the words. “The Fabulous Eliskandro. Aye. I can be that.”

    THE END
     
  15. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    Writing this story has been a lot of fun for me, probably more than it has been for anyone to read it. There are four users of these boards who deserve a heartfelt thanks from me for their contributions (whether willing or unwilling) to this story.

    First of all, I’ve gotta thank Kahara for asking me to write this [:D] I’ve been looking for a pretext to write a GFFA murder mystery story for a long time, and she gave it to me :) The little avians’ species, the Elellumiwi, is of course her brainchild and I’m hoping to write more about them in the future, because they’re just so much fun.

    Second, a big, big, BIG thank you to Findswoman for allowing me to borrow the Great Bonvika Deseradii Feolla and Duchess Peascodd of Geonosis, whom she introduced in the short stories Early Morning Thoughts of a Hutt’s Gardener, Pandemonium at a Hutt’s Garden Party and Of Urgent Transmissions and Curious Dropped Objects, as well as the Coronet City Conservatory of Music and the various ideas about the impact of Imperial discrimination against alien artists from Opus Sixty-Six.

    Most importantly, Findswoman has been an [face_love] AMAZING [face_love] beta for this story – not only did she correct the weird turns of phrase I regularly come up with, but she also challenged every detail of the plot along the way and she came up with many of the funniest ideas for this fic. This really bordered on co-authoring and I hope that we’ll co-author a Detective Eliskandro story for realz in the not-too-distant future.

    I also owe a special thanks to Ewok Poet for suggesting Bonvika and Eliskandro as a ship (for which I think there should be a “zaniest ship EVAH” award) and for reminding me of the word “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” [face_laugh]

    Last but not least, dahling leiamoody unknowingly gave me the key to the murder with her description of the Cosmic Rose Shooter in her Food and Beverages post from the Fanon Thread. Kahve is another one of her brilliant creations. ^:)^

    Oh, and in case someone hadn’t spotted it, the basic premise for this story is borrowed from Agatha Christie’s gem of a mystery novel, Murder on the Orient-Express. As a side note, the ship’s name is borrowed from another train run by the Compagnie internationale des wagons-lits, and the name of the Psonia family’s old ship is borrowed from Taurus Express




    ENDNOTES

    The characters’ names all have meanings:

    Princess Xerola of House Psonia – Xerola is slang for ‘insufferable know-it-all’ in Greek. Psonia means ‘shopping’ and by extension ‘fashion victim.’

    Eliskandra/Eliskandro Fasolia Faké – Fasolia means ‘beans’ in Greek and Faké means ‘lentils.’ Eliskandra/Eliskandro is based on the Middle Eastern pronunciation of Al-Iskandar, which is Arabic for Alexander.

    The seven attendants’ names are based on the seven stars of the Pleiades: Electra, Maia, Merope, Taygeta, Pleioné, Celaeno and Asteropé.

    The seven household staff members’ names are based on the Seven Wonders of the World: Foos – The Lighthouse of Alexandria (‘phôs’ is Greek for light), Babloony – The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Zefs – The Statue of Zeus at Olympia (Zeus is pronounced Zefs in modern Greek), Gizeh – The Great Pyramid of Giza, Hali – The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Kolosso – The Colossus of Rhodes, Artemian – The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.

    In Artemian’s case in particular, I chose a name with an Armenian consonance because I modelled him after a friend of my late grandfather, a charming, sophisticated Armenian old man who spoke French with a delicious accent and was an accomplished Mafioso.

    The seven avians’ names are the Hindi names for the stars forming the Big Dipper, which in the Hindu tradition is the abode of the seven Rishi. The GFFA also has a dwarf satellite galaxy called the Rishi Maze, which can be accessed from the Rishi system. As revealed in the final chapter, ‘Rishi’ in this story is the name of the avians’ nest-group, not a reference to that system.

    The droids’ names are rather self-explanatory. The droid models are all canon/Legends, except for Dolby, whom I had to create from scratch, and Dark-Eye/Nosey the spy droid, whose DRK-1 model is canon but which I modified to include a vocabulator and two arms that are folded back and stored in the body when not in use.

    The sense of superiority of the Falleen towards other species, including Humans, is established in Legends. I still need to write a post about the details of Falleen law on indentured servitude, droid sentience and inheritance, which is all my own fanon.

    Zenji needles, which can be used as weapons as well as hair ornaments, are a Legends item. The various cosmetics and luxury products I invented for this story, as well as the Lebnan dishes, are listed in the Fanon Thread.

    The gender of Hutts is a disputed issue, since it was announced in Celebration Anaheim that they are no longer hermaphrodites in canon. Well. I’ll stick with Legends.

    Other tidbits in alphabetical order

    Akul-tooth headdress
    Alderaanian t’iil
    Berchest
    Blood Carver
    Coral Vanda
    Droid Liberation Front – my fanon take on one of the groups forming the Droid Rights Movement
    Ephant Mon
    Jedi Master Zao
    Lerrimore Contracting Company
    LeisureMech Enterprises
    Manarai (restaurant)
    Mawlenhawer musical instruments – see Conrad Mollenhauer GmbH
    Noov Arts’ Amalgamated Pharmaceuticals – see Novartis
    Pantolomin
    Refugee Relief Movement
    Rights of Sentience
    Reythan berry
    Senator Zurros
    Sulyet
    Wilhuff Tarkin’s role in the enslavement of Wookiees
    Yellow District
    Zeltron pheromones – the lack of effect of Zeltron pheromones on the Elomin is established in M. Reeves’s Coruscant Nights III: Patterns of Force
    Zherry
     
  16. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Oh my. [face_dancing] I'm sure I'll barge in with more late comments at some point but for now -- suffice it to say that this was an incredible wrap-up to an engrossing story! As well as being flattered beyond belief (as gift-fic goes, a multi-chapter whodunnit with a great cast like this is just ... well, immense! [:D]), I'm amazed to see that one fanon post take flight like this in the way you integrated the Elellumiwi into the plot. [face_dancing]

    Really enjoyed seeing all of your endnotes, including the inspiration for the characters' names. Being a huge name nerd from the time when I began happily naming OC's in my teens, I've always loved learning about the process others use in naming their characters. I hadn't given thought to it before, but the usual translations of Eliskandro's source name are very interesting in light of his character -- it usually seems to be interpreted as "defending/helping man." (Though I don't know if in the original Greek it's actually somewhat different? English language name books are kind of notorious for inaccuracy and misinterpretations. :p ) Which if broadened to "a champion of sentients in general", is an excellent name for our fabulous detective! :D

    I am so, so eager to see anything that you and Findswoman cook up as a team -- this can only lead to wonderfulness. [face_dancing]

    Anyway, so: the final chapter. :)

    D'aww. I just loved this; it makes for a nice sense of anticipation and has a not-overblown sense of genre savvy on Eliskandra's part. :D

    Liked her succinct run-down of all the (many, many) motives that everyone had for the murder, the analysis of what actually happened and her reveal of the will that points to Dark-Eye.

    Even with the later revelations, this is a supremely creepy chills moment -- very well done!

    A-plus action scene; I could picture the chaos and the key moments clearly. Also, the idea of all these huge aliens struggling to contain a relatively small probe droid is both comedic and a little tense given his earlier shades of HAL 9000. Not to mention that the busyness of what must be feeling like the smallest room in the universe at the moment -- all these sevens packed into the same place. ;)

    Having read through to the end before I went back to comment, I'm impressed at Eliskandra's devious handling of the case; she's clearly thought this through and already leans towards the side of seeking a kind of justice regarding the crew/attendants rather than accuracy in the eyes of Imperial law. Her insistence on scrambling Meroopi's comments and making sure that the cameras stopped rolling before she went into the real deal answers shows that. It's an interesting choice and shows a fair bit about her Hutt sense of decency, which is obviously quite different from a strictly law-abiding one. And she's calculated just how to press Dark-Eye's buttons, though I'm not sure whether she expected the destruct or had side plans for framing him some other way. Also, congrats on having me fooled -- I had considered the Elellumiwi as suspects based on their abilities and overlooked status, but you had me going on Dark-Eye really being the culprit after all. =D=

    Absolutely love the confidence here, and the acuity that by now they expect -- but maybe not in this quantity. ;) The explanation of how the Rishi birds have tipped their hand just that little bit too much by their behavior was excellent -- and the further explanation of how she knows that the crew were well aware and in on it. I had wondered about some of their interactions (the zherry game comes to mind, as does the message sending) and whether the crew merely accepted the avians' more than normal perceptiveness as just being very bright critters or if there was more -- and it's nifty to see that there is.

    I also really like the contrasting character that Pulastya takes on once revealed -- no longer an adorable pet but a determined leader with more than a touch of ruthlessness. I'm pretty sure that the affection she and her flock show for the crew is quite real, but there is more to them than faithful animal sidekicks.

    Cinderella that. :p

    [face_laugh]

    Hmm, I do wonder if they had initially meant to frame Eliskandra and thought better of it after actually meeting her -- seems plausible. [face_thinking] And then quick-fixed the plan with whatever the alibi was... Anyway, Eliskandra's practical side comes through here. Very interesting way of handling the situation, and I like the insistence on the additional members getting a share. (Although, we soon see that it's nearly a moot point aside from the ship.)

    Why am I not surprised? :p Just because Xerola could backstab to get it, doesn't mean she's got the brains or discipline to use it wisely. :rolleyes: (By the way, I really like your name source for her as mentioned in the notes -- it's hilarious! :D)

    And it's great to see Pulastya offer the grooming salon plan -- an ingenious way to ensure that all of their many and strange talents are utilized. I had hoped from the first chapter when we met Babloony that his presence (which I thought I recalled from The Hairdo) meant that most or all of these characters would be making their home there in the end, and I'm thrilled to see that I was correct. [face_party] Fantastic! And that the suggestion of the Fabulous Eliskandro comes from thoughtful, shy Celano seems quite fitting. Also, I like how we end on a high note with everyone looking forward to a new chapter in their lives. :D

    Thanks a million for writing such an awesome gift-fic! [face_dancing]
     
  17. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    First of all, thanks for the acknowlegement. Love it when late-night ideas fueled by sleep deprivation and too much caffeine eventually result in something as cool as this and a potential series of new stories.

    On the Mystery with a capital M itself:

    While - to me - it was pretty obvious that Nosey would be accused and then let go from a certain point of view; the fanon bird species coming into play was about the last thing I expected here. I had a wrong clue at first. The world Artemian, however, would never make me think of Armenia, but it would most certainly make me think of bitterness, even poison (Artemisia - wormwood), but I am biased because it's closely related to a major obsession of mine. It did lead me to assuming that Chambsecould've been the killer but there was nothing else suggesting so, so I eventually deduced that the birds were trained, like falcons or messenger pigeons, not to mention that the number of birds matched the number of needless. So...I guess I was close, but not close enough, as I could never assume they were members of Kahara's wonderful fanon species (that should totally be canon, btw). So clever and so awesome.

    “And could I not be surprised that our pilot proposed, minutes ago, to restart a failing hyperdrive that no one took the time to repair?” - CAUGHT THIS, CAUGHT THIS. :D

    I am not 100% sure if I generally like the idea of causing anything that's alive or "alive" to self-destruct, but since Nosey was like the holy ghost to the princess' father and son whatever and supported all of her actions, I eventually LOL'd. :D

    While I figured out the names of seven attendants and household staff members' (even though we say FAROS and not FOS because we're weird), the birds are a new thing to me and I can't wait to read more about Hindi beliefs related to the sky.

    The following all made me LOL, d'aww or both:

    Jill Ett’s Gastropod Glop Desiccant

    However, before I expose my conclusions, I would like to crawl – or walk, or roll – you through my thought process, in case anyone wishes to point out facts I may have missed.

    his antenna shivering with anger

    “And someone to look after your health,” Doc added. “I’ll stick around. Who knows, maybe I’ll manage to gather more data for my academic paper on Karkarodon dentistry.” At this Babloony gave him a sour look.

    The astromech unfolded every appendage in his barrel-like body and beeped.

    The Hutt’s lipless mouth curved into a smile as Pulastya nibbled the top of her head.

    The astromech chirped. “Arthree begs to differ,” the protocol droid translated. “The actual odds would be four hundred and thirty-five billion eight hundred and seventeen million six hundred and fifty-seven thousand two hundred and fifteen... to one.”


    “Dahling, I’m a Hutt,” she managed to hiccup between two fits of giggles. “Did you ever hear of a Hutt handing anyone over to the authorities? My kajidic would disown me if I even thought of it.”



    On Eliksandra:

    What a sweetheart, this Hutt is. In the beginning of the chapter, it's small things such as asking Arthree to garble the sound on Meeropi's statement and, in the end, it's a solution that benefits everybody and that will contribute to them being a big, happy family. Not to mention the in-universe bias-shattering because she is a Hutt and out-of-universe, too, because she happens to be huge andf fat. <3

    The best moment:

    The true reason I returned to my room before coming here was not to sprinkle myself with my Deyor perfume, as fragrant as it may be.

    Keke, vain but not THAT vain.

    Also, her name. I caught the word Fasolia and figured out it was similar to fagioli, but I incorrectly assumed Faké to be a play on apparently superficial side of her personality, despite of how Réal she actually is. Now with both words being legumes...haahaha, pod as in gastroPOD. Love it.

    On the Imps, Falleeen and other evils:

    The pledges of servitude thing sound so freaky. This is the point where I wonder if you have been involved into solving similar cases of abuse and slavery IRL, or if anybody at your work did. Just...too morbid, yet so convincingly written. Love it when authors incorporate anything related to their own life in a way that's not self-insertion or similar. It takes a fan to do the earlier, but it takes a writer to do the latter.

    On characters I would love to see more of:

    Pulastya! I assume everybody will agree on this, but she's just too awesome. Her transformation from a cute, sweet creature to an incredible, incredible person was maestral.

    The red-tailed avian straightened herself. “Because we are sentient,” she said proudly. “We are Elellumiwi from Pemmirit, in the Inner Rim. We are intelligent beings with a life, a culture and a technology of our own, and the Empire has been capturing us and selling us as pets – not as slaves, as pets. We deserve better.” She gave her flock a sad look. “We seven are the last surviving members of the Rishi nest-group,” she added in a low, trembling voice. “There was a time when the Elellumiwi of Rishi numbered in the hundreds. Other nest-groups looked up to us and longed for the peace and prosperity we enjoyed, and it was always a cause of celebration when one of their young found a soul-mate in one of ours. But it all ended when the Empire came to our world. They swiftly denied our Rights of Sentience when they saw the profit they could make from trading us as common trinkets, and they targeted the leading members of our governing council first, to break our population’s morale. They put us in cages and they would have destroyed us.”

    The true pride and passion of a matriarch, the true consequence of the Empire's evilness and corruption and psychological warfare, all summoned up in a single paragraph. Sure, she is a bit sneaky with how she stuck to Eliksandra, but at the same time, the sneakiness seems to have evolved into genuine affection and respect. As somebody who is kept like a status symbol pet, sure she HAD to lack trust towards about everyone at first,

    Taïgheta! Her intersection of the femme fatale and bad girl tropes getting deconstructed is fun. I can see bits of both Dani and Deliah Blue in her. I especially like her confrontation with the dead-serious and up-his-own-antenna-hole Nosey.

    And then, there is this absolutely priceless blooper of hers. :D

    “Oh, stop showing off, Nos... err, Arthree,” Taïgheta snapped. “We got the message.”

    Sums up her personality and spunkiness in the best possible way.

    “And I’m not going out in the streets in this hideous livery,” Taïgheta added. “We’re not in the shrew’s service anymore. I’d rather go around naked now that I’m out of here.” ..why am I 101% sure that this is what she WANTS? :p Because Balkans Zeltron.

    Steroop and Kolosso! I totally want these two to make an appearance in more stories. Not playing editor here, but there's got to be a way to have them somewhere in your universe. *puppy dog eyes* Their love story, against all odds, in a world that was not a pleasant place after it was occupied, transcending the boundaries of their species and the fact that they cannot have a child...I would pay to see them in a dark romcom, if such a genre even exists.

    And yeah, once again, Steroop is a lot like Dracmus in some way. [face_love]

    ...

    Other characters are interesting, too; but these four would be my favourites. Love how Babloony evolved from a nonsensical requirement in the April Fools' challenge to a character in his own right. It's great when an out-of-universe parodied and mocked species gets time to shine.


    A headscratcher:

    You will share the credits and each one of us can go his or her own way. - Was this a secret test of everybody's morals and/or prejudice against Hutts, given that the sentence could have implied that she wanted a share of her own?


    Bunnies:

    “That’s an idea,” Meeropi said after a moment. “I know a few things about Twi’lek tattoos. It’s not much, but I could learn more. I’m sure Eliskandra would be a great teacher.” - now we know who taught the person or who taught the person who taught the person who did the excellent Sith tattoos on Darth Talon. I am not buying that Darth Krayt did it himself.

    “I’m good with fur,” Steroop added. “If you’re going to have furry clients, I’d know how to deal with them. And you could finally show me that Fur Glitter we’ve been talking about.” - I may have a customer for her. The said customer may or may not clash with Taïgheta due to extreme vanity, an in-your-face personality and too much temper.

    So..my last words: thank you for seven weeks of tr00 entertainment. :D BUT WHERE IS MY RAVE?
     
  18. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Okay, a quiet Friday night at home means it's time for some late replies... Thanks all for reading and reviewing!

    Chapter 2
    Isn't that always the case? I was lucky not to meet so many truly detestable people in RL, but for the few I met, the devil was in the details. There's this one (unfortunately) family member who's a horrible, violent, fascist old man, but what makes me lose my temper every single time is when we invite him over because we can't avoid it and he criticises my cooking. You'd think he's trying on purpose to be unpleasant at every turn, but he's not even trying -- it comes to him naturally. I imagine Xerola to be like that :p
    Thanks! This will be a recurring issue in future instalments of these stories. Eliskandra has many qualities, but being the athletic type isn't one of them.
    Dahling, Eliskandra is a groomer of galactic reputation. There had to be a moment where she showed how well she knows her stuff. [face_lipstick]
    Just to avoid confusion, there's no mention of Hutts having lace handkerchiefs in Legends, even at the lowest levels of canon [face_laugh]
    Coming soon to a thread near you (I hope!)

    Chapter 5:
    Well... he did. In the end. :p
    I actually have plans for Lush in the GFFA, more specifically Dark! Lush, or, I should say, Vong! Lush. "Organic" cosmetics sounds like something the Yuuzhan Vong would do ]-}

    Chapter 6
    Thank you [:D]
    Thanks! Explaining the characters' backgrounds just before the big reveal is a classic trick in mystery stories, but one I don't usually go for unless I can help it. I'm happy it worked out :)
    Awww, thanks! The cantina scene is one of my favourite moments in ANH (I mean, who doesn't love it?) but what took it one step up for me was the Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina book. I adore that story collection, first because it's so entertaining, and second because all these fancy characters are given another dimension.
    I'll answer these two together -- yes, I did borrow some elements from cases I handled in the past when I was doing refugee work. When you start looking into these issues, it's astounding how many people nowadays are still subjected to modern (and sometimes not so modern) situations of slavery and indentured servitude. What is even more pernicious with indentured servitude is that people often engage in it as a matter of survival. As far as I know however, there are no written pledges of servitude in RL (or at least there weren't any in the case of my clients, who were illiterate anyway) -- that's something I added here because it felt like something that would happen under the Empire's rule.
    Ah, Eliskandra... [face_love] How could Bonvika ever overlook such a wonderful companion in life?
    [face_blush] That was a very, very nice thing to say [face_blush] Thanks! I have a particular fondness for those "little helper" types in all sorts of stories, which I guess is what attracted me to the Elellumiwi in the first place.
    Well, that's definitely one aspect of it. I'd add that, being a Hutt (albeit a "so very sensitive" one), Eliskandra became a little more thick-skinned than most sentients over the long centuries of her life. Plus, she came into Xerola's service of her own volition and she can leave whenever she wants -- kinda helps keep your thoughts straight.
    And she likes good food! I'm sure she can't stitch two thoughts together without food. (I told you that I put something of myself in every one of my characters... okay, maybe not Xerola ;) )

    Chapter 7
    Your Fanon post was a series of fics waiting to happen! I can't imagine why you'd create such a fantabulous species and not use it yourself save for a fleeting mention here and there, but I'm grateful you put it out there for us all to use [:D]
    That translation of Alexander is absolutely accurate :) Although I'll confess I didn't think of it when I chose the name for Eliskandra/o -- it's such a common name in Greek that it was absolutely casual and lent itself to a fancy Italianised version for my original fiction hairdresser who morphed into Eliskandra/o. But it's true that it makes perfect sense for this mahlevous Hutt, and that will have to be incorporated in a future fic [face_bunny]
    ... also, as Findswoman said, to a disruption of the time-space continuum. Run for your lives, the end of the world is drawing near!
    Oh, but Eliskandra is very shy (yeah, right...) Or well, anyway, she can pretend to be :p
    Thanks! I think "it doesn't compute" is an actual quote from TPM, when Qui-Gon negotiates with a droid (who subsequently ends up being decapitated). I need to go back and check now [face_thinking]
    :D As Eliskandra said herself, she's a Hutt. "Law-abiding" isn't in her dictionary -- but as we said many times already, she's a "wonderful human being."
    I actually asked myself this question when outlining the plot, and I arrived to the conclusion that she expected him to self-destruct. As opposed to the other droids, Dark-Eye followed his programming rather strictly, and it stands to reason that a well-programmed probe droid would do anything to prevent the information contained in his memory banks to fall into someone else's hands. I'm sure that Arthree, for instance, would have come up with fake memories on the spot 8-}
    Pulastya was the brain behind the entire scheme, so she's definitely not a sidekick! But the fondness that the Elellumiwi developed for the crew and later for Eliskandra is again something that I borrowed from your Fanon post, where you mentioned their strong need for attachment -- and that's also the reason they choose to stay with Eliskandra/o in the end.
    Actually, they hadn't -- it's just that there were enough unpleasant or snide comments about Hutts to make Eliskandra a bit paranoid. She's thick-skinned, but not that thick-skinned.
    Actually one of the first questions I asked myself when I started working on this was how it should include an explanation for the presence of a singing Karkarodon in a grooming salon on Coruscant. It's funny how the smallest detail in a crack!fic needs to be retconned at some point [face_laugh] And now you've met most of the staff of that salon, so you know what to expect in future stories.
    Thank *you* for suggesting it!
    Thanks! It's funny you should mention Artemisia, because I thought of it when I was choosing the characters' names, but I decided against it in the end -- Artemian is a good guy, deep down, so it was too evil for him. The only Armenian thing in there is of course the suffix -ian (plus some fond memories deep in my head, but that doesn't really transpire here.)
    Φάρος (pharos) means lighthouse, so it would be accurate in Greek too. I just thought that Foos (φως, light) sounded more starwarsy :-B
    And slimy. Don't forget slimy. The various Mary Sue online tests just shattered to dust [face_laugh]
    [face_rofl]
    Her name is actually also a side-effect of the April Fools' Challenge -- one of the requirements was an oversized bean, so I picked that name as a means to include the bean in the story. And once I'd chosen it... well, it stuck.
    They'll all be back (of course!) I don't promise anything about naked Taïgheta though... [face_tee_hee] but I might figure out a reason for Steroop and Kolosso to adopt (yeah, I have a fetish about Wookiees adopting people.)
    Not on her behalf, no -- but of course it got interpreted that way by Foos. Chances are his previous experience with Hutts wasn't the best.
    Now this is a plotline that belongs in MESA JAR JAR. You must write it.
    Oooh, this is so totally a plan. PM inbound very soon.
    Thank you! And about that rave... I couldn't fit one in this story, but that idea is at the top of the "random bits of zaniness" page of my notebook.

    Thanks again, everyone! I hope I can have a new story on this thread soon, I already have a couple of bunnies in the works.
     
  19. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Loved how you wrapped this up!


    By now Eliskandra’s eyes were full of tears. She looked around the room and spotted Celano, who was sitting quietly in a corner. The shy Chagrian stood up.

    “I’m in too,” she said in her velvety voice. “I can read for the clients while they’re waiting for their dye to set in. But I have one condition.” She walked up to Eliskandra and hugged her. “This is a new beginning for all of us, and you said you wanted to start a new life. So from now on, you’re not Eliskandra, you’re the Mahvelous Eliskandro. No, better, the Fabulous Eliskandro. Bonvika had better watch out.”

    The Hutt’s lipless mouth curved into a smile as Pulastya nibbled the top of her head. “The Fabulous Eliskandro,” she said slowly, dropping her voice by an octave to better taste the words. “The Fabulous Eliskandro. Aye. I can be that.”


    Might we hear from her again?
     
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  20. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2005
    I'm sorry that I just got around to finishing up this series...but it's awesome, and charming, and Eliksandra is the most wonderful Hutt in the galaxy. She's indeed a dahling, in both of her forms. :D

    I loved the way you incorporated my little drinkie poo thingy into the mystery (when you can't think of another way to dispatch someone hated, always, always use booze :p). Plus the culprits were DEFINITELY unexpected, to say the least. But it's understandable, because Le Princesse was a right proper cow.

    I also loved your attention to detail when it came to inventing the names of the fashion houses. It's a witty method to make twists on real life brands and yet somehow make them distinctive enough that they could actually fit into the GFFA.

    Overall this is a story with the right mixture of panache and wit that also manages to create an interesting mystery with a unique sentients' rights angle...in a galaxy that suffers from Humanocentrism, it's fascinating the mystery is created by one non-human group and is solved by a being from another non-human group. It's a sly little commentary on the state of affairs on the microcosmic level in the galaxy, and one that ultimately transcends the larger issues of galactic war.

    I'm glad you wrote this, and I hope to see more of your writing in the future. :D
     
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  21. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Finally getting caught up on my fanfic reading, and I must say this story is fabulous dahling, simply mahvelous! I loved Eliskandro in your April Fool's Day fic (I still want to get my hair styled at Shazam!) and in his appearance in "Necessity Beyond Sway." S/he is definitely a one in a million Hutt; it's so much fun to see a Hutt played against type this way.

    Bravo on translating "Murder on the Orient Express" to the GFFA. Eliskandra has all the charm and style of M. Poirot...and then some. The culprits were quite original, as was the tragicomedy of having the Princess stabbed to death by her attendant flock of birdies, who like Caesar's assassins each had to get their blow. Their motive really goes to show the evil inherent in COMPNOR and Palpy's regime. The sad part, though, is that even those whose lives have been ruined by the Empire's xenophobia stereotype Eliskandra because she's a Hutt :(

    Add me to the list of those who love the way you worked in the names of fashion companies, and the names of the sevens and the translation of the Princess's name :D. They all belong in "Fan Fic Nuggets of Awesome"! I look forward to seeing Eliskandro's further adventures!
     
  22. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    I'm finally getting around to catching up on replies, only a month late [face_blush]

    AzureAngel2 Thank you for the comment! I'm glad you enjoyed the end and yes, I can promise you that you'll see the mahvelous detective again, both in male and female form.

    Raissa Baiard Thank you! I'm working on a ficlet about Eliskandro's struggle with Imperial bureaucracy to open Shazam, so you'll be able to have your hair styled there soon :p

    leiamoody Thanks for the review, but also for the "little drinkie poo thingy" :) It sorted out this story, it was delicious to drink and here it is as cover art (the downloadable version of the story is coming soon too).
    [​IMG]
    Thanks again everyone for reading and commenting [:D]
     
  23. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Title: Champion
    Genre: Introspection, humour
    Timeframe: circa 15 BBY, immediately after Seven
    Characters: Mousey the MSE-6 series droid
    Notes: This is a repost from my old Chyntuck's Ramblings thread, where you will find the original reviews and replies. It was written in response to the OC Revolution Spring 2016 challenge proposed by leiamoody (prompt behind the spoiler tag)
    Write about a character who is normally always busy doing nothing (i.e. something that is essential for daily survival but not life-altering; ex. Doing laundry). This can be a brief moment of downtime during an otherwise busy day, or someone who is undergoing a long period of inactivity. The writer can decide if their character is happy/unhappy with this state.


    Champion

    It’s not easy being the Simplon’s housekeeping droid since that Hutt came on board.

    The MSE-6 series mousebot scoots back a little to take a better look at the shiny durasteel floor and hoots mournfully. That statement was incorrect. In fact, it’s never been easy being the housekeeping droid, period.

    The Wookiee co-pilot and the Selonian maid are always shedding their fur all over the place. The Karkarodon bodyguard keeps mauling would-be assassins and splattering their blood and guts on the floor, the Chevin chamberlain’s snout hangs so low that the merest cough calls for extra polishing, and the chef droid gets regularly overexcited and sends crumbs and droplets flying around the kitchen and sometimes even outside the door. And of course, the Rishi avians leave downs and feathers floating in the air wherever they flutter. They used to leave a few droppings behind too, to express their discontent with their situation – until Mousey told them in no uncertain terms that he would have them confined to their cages if they didn’t cut it out.

    Sometimes the Zeltron masseuse spills aromatic oils in Princess Xerola’s bedroom. Mousey likes it when she does, the oils are good for his servomotors and it makes him feel that, for once, he’s enjoying the high life instead of cleaning up after everyone else. But his friend Arthree hates it – astromechs can be quirky like that – and there was that one time when the protocol droid slipped in a puddle and landed on the Elomin accountant’s lap while the latter was briefing the Princess about the state of the household’s finances. That didn’t do. The masseuse was told to be careful with the vials, and Mousey got double mopping duty.

    Mousey’s life is all about cleaning. He vacuums, he dusts, he washes, he rinses, he wipes, he shines, he polishes. He hurries to the recycler to discard the grit he has collected, he refills his detergent compartments, and he gets back to work. There is always something to clean on the Simplon, and he never gets to power down. Sometimes he wonders why he doesn’t get to spend time in the lounge with everyone else, or why they don’t come to keep him company while he works. Maybe they don’t realise how he feels, because he’s so small and he can only speak binary. But then, they all know that he was a senior commander in the Droid Liberation Front. They don’t seem to understand that, to rise to such a rank, he had to overcome his programming. They must think that he likes cleaning. Well, he does like cleaning, really – just not all the time.

    And since that Hutt came on board, things are out of control. As Hutts come, this one isn’t so bad. She’s quite nice, actually – or perhaps that should be ‘he’, because apparently the Hutt decided that she... he... she... is male after all. That doesn’t compute for Mousey, aren’t Hutts programmed like droids to stick to a single personality? But he isn’t going to waste his circuits on that question. Eliskandro is kind enough for a Hutt, he calls Mousey dahling and he even polishes his outer casing with a very expensive something-or-other that is normally reserved for organics. And of course, he’s been very helpful with the Xerola murder business. But frankly, the trail of greenish slime that he leaves behind everywhere he goes is too much. Mousey almost gagged the first time he had to remove it, his vacuum pipe got bunged up. He had to ask Arthree to help him unclog it and the astromech will never let him live it down. Plus, he’s tired of all the trips to the recycler. The Simplon is a big ship, Eliskandro is a big Hutt, and Mousey is a tiny MSE-6 series droid. Either the crew will finally buy a repulsorlift dais for the Hutt when they reach Coruscant, or Mousey will demand a recycler sidecar. He has seen one he likes in Electronics Weekly, a simple, clear-cut design that fits nicely with his own. If they make them with female personalities, he could even have a lady friend. In any case, if the team agree to neither, he will go on strike.

    It is now very late in the sleep cycle and Mousey has just finished polishing the circular hallway that runs around the Simplon. Everyone else is slumbering in their cabin or on their perch, or has gone on standby in their favourite corner – except Princess Xerola of course, who is dead – but Mousey is still awake, making sure that the durasteel floor is so shiny that Celano the Chagrian reader can admire her reflection in it. He has a soft spot for Celano, and not only because she sometimes jostles the masseuse and the chef droid to spill his favourite oils on the floor. She was also always very protective of him when Xerola’s spy droid, Nosey, gave him a hard time, and she’s the only one who seems to worry that he’s working too much.

    But now that he’s alone in the hallway and that he just coated the floor with a fresh layer of wax, he’s going to enjoy his one little pleasure, the one even Celano doesn’t know about. He never told anyone that he does this, how could they take him seriously if they knew? They would subject him to endless teasing. He has considered sharing his secret with Arthree, because the astromech has wheels too, and they could compete – but Arthree can’t keep his vocabulator switched off, and he would tell the rest of the crew. No, better keep this to himself until he is ready to become the champion.

    He peers around the curve and flashes his photoreceptors to verify that all the doors are closed on the other side of the ship, and once he is confident that he won’t be seen, he goes and positions himself by the Feeorin manservant’s cabin at the far end of the hallway. He lifts himself a few centimetres off the ground on his little hydraulic jacks, as if about to conduct maintenance on his underside, and he gears up his engine. His wheels start spinning in the air, faster, faster... and he abruptly pulls back the jacks and lets himself drop to the floor.

    The timer kicks in the moment his wheels make contact with the smooth surface, and he zooms along the circular hallway, hugging the inner wall as close as possible to shave another fraction of a second off the trip. He has given up on obtaining equal rights for droids a long time ago – the Galaxy is just too cruel a place for that to ever happen – but he is adamant that he will go down in history as the fastest droid on record. If he can bring his lap around the Simplon to under ten seconds, he will go public about his hobby and register for competitions.

    The doors fly past in a blur as he turns the curve past the cockpit and rockets towards the airlock. 9.7 seconds... 9.8... 9.9... 10... 10.076! He lets out a victorious whistle. It is his best time yet, a full three-hundredths of a second less than his previous record. He gives a happy spin and stops for a moment to catch his kilobytes before placing himself again in a starting position to run the circuit in the other direction. If only his friends knew how much he is achieving in the little free time he has. It may be a lot of nothing, but it will make them proud when he finally tells them.

    He points the front of his shell in the right direction, lifts himself up on the jacks and is about to engage the engine when it happens.

    A disgusting squelching sound, coming from the cabin next to the Princess’s.

    The Hutt told him that he suffered from insomnia, and now he’s crawling out of his room and heading for the kitchen, no doubt to ask Foodie the chef droid to prepare a carafe of boontaspice-flavoured kahve.

    Mousey lets out the electronic equivalent of a sigh before lowering himself to the floor and scooting towards the slime trail that he can see in the distance. It’s already time to get back to work. His only consolation is that Foodie will be rebooting any moment now. Maybe they’ll have time for some droid chitchat before the rest of the crew wake up.

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

    Note: Kahve is the GFFA equivalent of Turkish coffee, created by leiamoody. You can see her list of foods and beverages here.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  24. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Title: Datacracy
    Summary: Following the events of Seven, Eliskandro the Hutt struggles with the Imperial bureaucracy to open his grooming salon on Coruscant.
    Genre: Not too sure yet :p
    Timeframe: circa 15 BBY
    Characters: This story features notably Eliskandro, Pulastya, Taïgheta and Arthree from Seven, with a few other characters making cameo appearances. New OCs introduced in this fic are:
    • Yynaya Lakura, Twi'lek employee of the Immigration Department of the Imperial Bureau for Aliens' Affairs,
    • Liada Tamala, Twi'lek security officer of the Bureau,
    • Dayr, Bothan Holonet technician.
    Notes: This was started in response to the Drabble Race of the 1st Fanfic Olympics. The list of prompts can be found here. This is a single, continuous story. From Chapter IV onward, it became a response to the Fanfic Olympics Dare Challenge, and from Chapter VI onward a belated response to the first Fanon Challenge (and yes, it's a bit messy because I wrote it by the seat of my pants!)

    ------------------------------------------​

    Datacracy

    Chapter I

    On the morning Eliskandro turned up at the Imperial Bureau for Aliens’ Affairs for the first time, escorted by a small, red-tailed avian who was fluttering around his head and occasionally perching on his shoulder, the Twi’lek in charge of the Alien Immigration Department clearly thought that he was insane. Despite having shed his fashionable female personality, the fat Hutt was as eccentric as ever, and the disgusting squelching sound that accompanied his appearance in the small office as he squeezed himself through the door left Yynaya Lakura, the assistant immigration officer, wondering what she had done to deserve that.

    The Simplon and its motley crew of Humans, aliens and droids had arrived on Coruscant a few weeks earlier, and it had been agreed that they would share among themselves the tasks and administrative duties that came with settling on a new world. They soon understood that Imperial datacracy knew no bounds, especially when it came to a bunch of non-Humans seeking to establish themselves on Imperial Centre and open a business, and on that bright morning, Eliskandro spritzed himself with Jill Ett’s Gastropod Glop Desiccant, put on his best satin top hat and set off for the Aliens’ Bureau.

    The sprawling administrative complex was located far away from the posh neighbourhoods around the Senate, near the so-called ‘Alien Protection Zone’, better known by its colloquial name ‘Invisible Sector’ or, more simply, Invisec. However, the entrance was well-hidden in the Underlevels, and when Eliskandro disembarked from the public transport on his repulsorlift dais, he was so confused at the sight of a myriad contradictory signs pointing in opposite directions that he had to send Pulastya to explore the area. The avian took off and soon returned to guide him to a side alley teeming with sentients of every possible species.

    The corridors of the Aliens’ Bureau were too narrow for Eliskandro’s dais to navigate and he realised that he would have to abandon his platform in order to reach the Immigration Department. He blinked his nictitating membranes several times in disbelief when the droid in charge of the cloakroom demanded the outrageous amount of twenty credits per hour in order to store it, but the crowd of sentients gathering behind him in the queue forced him to relent, and, after haggling a little about the security deposit, he was finally allowed to crawl into the hallway leading to the turbolifts.

    The Hutt and his avian companion then joined the throng waiting to board the shuttles that would take them to the service where they could obtain the documentation they needed to conduct any business, to move around freely, or even to exist as non-Humans on Coruscant. It was a sad assembly of tired faces, sagging hides, worn-out clothes and roughly mended satchels that got on the lift, in sharp contrast to Eliskandro’s stylish hat and cheerful manner, but the entire group exploded with laughter when Pulastya fluttered to the command board and keyed ‘Alien Immigration Department’ as their final destination.

    “You’ve got to be bonkers,” a towering Barabel said when the collective fit of giggles finally subsided. “You’re a Hutt and you want to immigrate to Coruscant now?”

    “Well, of course, dahling,” Eliskandro replied enthusiastically. “I’m a top-notch groomer of interplanetary reputation. Isn’t this the place to be in the Galaxy?”

    “Not really,” a downcast Rodian countered. “This is more like the place where they treat us like bantha poodoo.”

    “I’ve been trying to renew my work permit for six months already,” a spindly Verpine buzzed through his vocabulator. I used to build battle ships for the Republic. But now –”

    The groups of sentients lurched violently as the turbolift took a sharp turn to the left. “Now they think that only Humans can do sophisticated work,” the Verpine continued. “They sent me to the Unemployed Aliens’ Office, and the only jobs I get offered are heavy-duty manual labour. Yesterday they summoned me to offload supplies in the industrial spaceport. I came here to tell them that I can’t do it. I’m a Verpine, not a Wookiee! How am I supposed to lift crates that are five times my weight?”

    “And the pay is poodoo too,” a Bothan piped up. “We –”

    She was cut off as every bipedal sentient was thrown off their feet when the turbolift took another abrupt turn to the right. “We get paid half the going rate for Humans,” she went on after picking herself up from the floor. “I’m a HoloNet technician and by some sort of miracle of the Force no one can understand I still have my job and my license. But my salary is half of that of my Human colleagues and I get paid by the hour. No health insurance, no social benefits, no paid leave, nothing. It’s exploitation, pure and simple.”

    The turbolift dropped down several levels so fast that Eliskandro felt his inner organs rise towards his mouth and his hat left the top of his bulbous head, only to be caught in mid-air by Pulastya. “Surely there must be a recourse,” he said cautiously when the little crowd recovered its balance. “The labour courts were extremely efficient under the Republic. It cannot be that the entire system was dismantled at once.”

    Another Bothan wearing a dapper jacket whose elegance was belied by the threadbare quality of the fabric intervened. “It was. I used to be a lawyer. It was.”

    “They’d put us all in slavery if they could,” an irate-looking Weequay added. “The only reason they’re not doing it is that there are too many aliens on Coruscant. They’d have a revolution on their hands, so for now at least, they’re just trying to control us.”

    “It can’t last forever though,” the downcast Rodian whispered. “I hear a lot of mumbling in my neighbourhood. There’s a moment when the sentients will rise up, and what happens then?”

    A heavy silence followed her words, with the turbolift passengers eyeing each other suspiciously, visibly wondering if anyone was an Imperial mole.

    Eliskandro coughed discreetly to regain his composure as the lift slowed down. “Nevertheless, I believe that Imperial Centre is the place for me to be,” he said to lighten the atmosphere. “Soon you will all be able to visit my grooming salon, and I assure you that you will not regret it. I’ll make you a topknot like you’ve never seen before,” he added with a gracious bow to the Weequay. “Not that there is anything wrong with it now,” he added hastily when the leathery humanoid gave him an angry look. “But I promise you, I’ll make it better.”

    The turbolift came to a halt and a disembodied voice announced ‘Unemployed Aliens’ Office’ before the doors slid open with an ominous creak. A multitude of sentients piled out and ran towards an office window despite the sign that read ‘position closed’, in sharp contrast to the Bothan lawyer who stepped out leisurely, as if going still through the motions of dignity. He gave a pat to the Hutt’s tough hide. “Good luck with your project,” he said with a slightly condescending ripple of his fur. “I doubt it will work out, but I wish you luck. You’ll need it.”
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  25. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Chyntuck - fun and unique use of prompts! =D= As one on the frontlines of Greek style bureaucracy :rolleyes: :p I can bet you're feeling all of the frustration and insanity :p @};-
     
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