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. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 25, 2010
    Really unique take on the challenge and the prompts! I like it. And your character Eliskandro, whom I have heard about in other threads, is quite the personality to read about.
  2. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you for the reviews, Nyota's Heart and Briannakin! I'm writing by the seat of my pants here, so I have no idea where this story is going, but this is good fun.

    Chapter II

    The rickety turbolift resumed its downwards trip towards the bowels of the vast administrative complex, as the immigration office was further underground. There were far fewer passengers now and the mood was subdued, with the Rodian’s words about slavery still hanging heavily in the air. There were a couple more stops for various departments where all the remaining passengers disembarked, until Eliskandro and Pulastya found themselves all alone in the cabin. The Hutt let out a sigh of relief – he had always felt uncomfortable in cramped spaces – and the disembodied voice finally announced, ‘Department for Alien Immigration on Imperial Centre.”

    The doors slid open to reveal a hallway that was absolutely deserted. There were no windows and the only light came from a series of glowpanels, at least half of which were broken or malfunctioning, with several flickering on and off at irregular intervals as if on the verge of a short-circuit. A severed cable hanging from the ceiling released sparks half-way down the hall, and trails of humidity were visible on the grey walls. Eliskandro shuddered at the thought of the composition of the seeping liquid so deep under the city, and he shut his nostrils before crawling out.

    Pulastya came to perch on his shoulder and covered her small beak with the tips of her wings as he began slithering along the length of the corridor, navigating carefully around the puddles of unspeakably vile goo on the floor. The hallway was so quiet that he soon started wondering if he really was in the right place – every single office was closed and not a sound could be heard, as if the department was abandoned. He finally spotted a ray of light under a door at the far end of the hall and hastened his pace to reach it.

    He straightened his hat, took a deep breath and raised his hand to knock on the door but the stench that assaulted his olfactory system was such that he reached for a handkerchief instead – one of the fancy lace handkerchiefs he’d had as Eliskandra and that he hadn’t replaced yet; that was something he should deal with sooner rather than later, he thought. The smell was so overwhelming that he didn’t manage to grab it before he could get a grip on himself and he let out a thunderous sneeze. A voice from inside the office answered casually, “Come in.”

    A pretty blue Twi’lek wearing a sophisticated headdress was filing her nails indifferently behind a desk covered in a mountain of documents, with a small computer terminal tucked between the towering flimsi piles. She barely raised her head to acknowledge Eliskandro’s presence and he wasn’t too sure if he should crawl forward or not, but when she didn’t hear the door closing she looked up and said tersely, “Hurry up, will you? This is the only room around here that doesn’t stink too much, and I’d like to keep it that way. So get in and close that door. Now!”

    Pulastya closed the door hastily behind the Hutt, who slithered to the desk and tipped his hat politely. “Let me introduce myself, dahling,” he said in his usual jovial manner. “Eliskandro, formerly Eliskandra, Fasolia Faké, hairdresser and –”

    The Twi’lek gave him a puzzled look. “What do you mean, formerly?”

    He let out a small sigh. “Oh, just make it Eliskandro. I don’t imagine you’re particularly interested in the gender orientation of Hutts, are you?”

    She stared at him for a moment. “Well, this promises to be interesting,” she muttered. “I’m Yynaya Lakura, assistant immigration officer. How can I help you?”

    “I came to Coruscant to open a high-end grooming salon with my associates. We would need some information about the immigration procedure.”

    “How many are you?”

    “Twenty-eight. That’s two Humans, twenty aliens and six droids.”

    The Twi’lek’s perplexity increased to bewilderment. “You’re a group of twenty aliens and you want to immigrate to Coruscant?”

    “But of course, dahling! As I was saying I’m a hairdresser and groomer of Galactic reputation and –”

    She waved her hand. “Just want to be sure you know what you’re doing. Most of us here are thinking of packing and leaving, if you get my point.”

    Eliskandro’s double chin wobbled slightly in disappointment. “Yes, I have been told that there are... issues,” he said cautiously. “However the sort of commercial activity we want to engage in is much sought-after, particularly on worlds that have a history and a culture as centres for fashion and social life. We have already identified the ideal premises for our grooming salon project in Coco Town and we believe that what we have to offer will attract a significant and affluent clientele. We also have adequate funds to start. At any rate, Imperial Centre is still the best place to establish –”

    The Twi’lek extracted a batch of forms from one of the towering piles of flimsies. “You need to fill these. NHR, NHB, NHHH and NHS for starters, and then we’ll see.”

    Eliskandro flicked through the pages and saw the headings Non-Human Resident, Non-Human Business, Non-Human Health and Hygiene and Non-Human Slug. He was so taken aback that his chin acquired a triple fold. “Are there Human slugs?”

    “Not that I know,” Yynaya replied indifferently. “But then this is the Imperial datacracy, so everything is possible. Now start filling them so that I can transfer the data to the electronic system.”

    Eliskandro looked at the forms, then at the immigration officer. “Begging your pardon, but wouldn’t it be simpler, since I’m already here, to fill the forms electronically?”

    The Twi’lek shook her head. “Nope. You have to fill a hard copy.”

    “May I ask why?”

    She shrugged. “I dunno. Probably because someone is printing them. Now get started, and we can expedite this process.”

    By now Eliskandro clearly thought that he had landed in an asylum. He was sweating profusely and removed his hat to fan himself a little while Yynaya dug for a stylus among the mess on her desk.

    The Hutt’s hand was so slippery that Pulastya took the stylus in her tiny claw and started filling the documentation while he stared at the Twi’lek clerk, who was looking absent-mindedly at her monitor. Yynaya was indeed a very pretty woman who would make a great model for his salon, he thought. He finally summoned all his courage and asked the question that had been teasing the back of his mind from the moment he had entered the office.

    “Is that a Rylothan regent headdress you are wearing?”

    The Twilek’s eyes shot up towards him. “How do you know that?”

    He pointed at the arrow-shaped pendant that ornamented her brow, a glittering, multifaceted gem hanging from a thin silver thread attached to the headdress. “This is a Rylothan glimstone, if I am not mistaken,” he explained. “I have been told that only regent families get to wear them on their forehead, in order to indicate their status.”

    She sighed. “You’re right. My family were selected as regents when a member of our head-clan died and the remaining four were cast out in the Bright Lands. Then we became regents and it was all good and well until our turn came.”

    He gave her a puzzled look. “Your turn to what?”

    “To be cast out in the Bright Lands and die when the next head-clan came of age,” she answered sadly. “That’s the law on my homeworld.”

    Eliskandro was horrified but he sought to maintain his composure. “That’s awful,” he said kindly, patting her shoulder. “I imagine that you then came to Coruscant seeking refuge?”

    She nodded. “It’s a bit more complicated than that, but all in all you’re right. I escaped from Ryloth on a spice smuggling ship during the Clone Wars, went around a bit and ended up here.”

    “And you got yourself a government job,” Eliskandro said cheerfully. “That’s got to count for something.”

    She gave a derisive snort. “Yes, I guess it does. My job is to make your life impossible, but it sure beats working as a pole dancer.”

    Pulastya handed her the Non-Human Resident form, which was now completed. “Gee, that’s quite a diverse group you got there,” she said as she scanned the sheet. “Human, Togruta, Twi’lek, Zeltron, Nautolan, Chagrian, Selonian, Karkarodon, Bith, Elomin, Feeorin, Chevin, Wookiee and...” – she struggled a little over the unknown word – “Elellumiwi? What in the blue blazes is Elellumiwi?”

    Pulastya ruffled her feathers angrily. “The Elellumiwi are a mahvelous species of clever little avians like Pulastya over here,” Eliskandro intervened. “They are very talented artisans and they will be a great asset for our salon. Have you ever heard of a groomer who creates individualised accessories for his clients?”

    Yynaya ignored the Hutt’s enthusiasm and turned to her computer terminal. She punched a few keys and watched the results scroll down on the monitor. “You’re listed as non-sentient here,” she finally told the bird. “You can’t register with immigration. I suggest your friend Eliskandro declares you as imported goods.”
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  3. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Chapter III

    Pulastya’s tail twitched with fury at the immigration officer’s words. “We will not be declared as ‘goods’, whether imported or not,” she snapped with a click of her beak. “We are not goods. The Elellumiwi of Pemmirit are sentients! We are sentients with a complex society, a culture and a system of government, and we have a right to be recognised as such. We are skilled technicians, we will be working in Eliskandro’s salon on an equal footing with our friends, and it is not acceptable that our work is not acknowledged, despite what you and your Empire might think.”

    There was a spark of anger in Yynaya’s eyes. “Honey, I’m a Twi’lek. I’m a female Twi’lek. I’ve been abused since the day I was born. We’re considered as commodities. I’ve been sold as a slave, I was sentenced to death by those of my own kind, I had to flee my homeworld and I had to do all sorts of nasty jobs before I finally landed here and got myself a somewhat decent life, if you can call what I have decent at all. Don’t lecture me about how life is unfair, because I know it all too well.”

    The avian and the Twi’lek started at each other for a moment in a contest of wills, until Pulastya relented and bowed her head in shame. “Are we on the same page now?” Yynaya asked sternly. Pulastya nodded. “Now listen to me,” the immigration officer went on. “I’m not telling you that I like it, but this is the law on Imperial Centre. If you don’t have an owner or a master or call it whatever you want, anyone can pick you off the street and take you as a pet and you won’t have any legal recourse against it.”

    “But we can’t be declared as goods,” Pulastya said imploringly. “My kin and I were captured and sold as pets. Our owners used to trade us as if we were objects and we spent two years under the authority of a horrible shrew. Most of us died from sorrow, all our males died from sorrow. Now we’re only seven females left and my nest-group is on the verge of extinction, unless we manage to find more males to restart it. We travelled all the way from Falleen to escape from that and I assure you it wasn’t an easy trip.”

    Her words sounded like a desperate plea. Eliskandro intervened. “Pulastya dahling, I understand that you don’t like the idea, that it’s insulting for you and that it’s offending your dignity. But we’re not talking about Princess Xerola right now, we’re talking about me. I’d rather know that you are safe on Coruscant as imported goods than have to go out looking for you if –”

    The avian shook her head stubbornly. “I don’t want to be declared as goods. We are not goods. I’d rather take my chances with the passers-by, or even hide in the salon and never go out.”

    There was a long silence. “You’re looking for trouble here,” Yynaya finally said. “I don’t deal with imports and I have no reason to report your presence on Coruscant to anyone, it’s just not my job. But I can’t enter you in the immigration database either because my job is to enter only aliens whom the Empire recognises as sentient. As a matter of fact, I can’t even process this document,” she added, pointing at the Non-Human Resident form. “You’re going to have to fill another one so that your friends can apply for permits. As it is, it’s worthless.”

    Pulastya was about to let out an acid retort when the Bothan HoloNet technician they had met earlier in the turbolift barged into the room, followed by a whiff of the stench of the hallway. Her fur was standing on end. “What happened to my residence permit, Yynaya?” she asked breathlessly. “The Labour Office told me that I couldn’t get the zerek-33 stamp because my residence papers are out of order.”

    The Twi’lek turned to her computer terminal and tapped a few keys. “You worked only 4678 hours last year. That’s two short of the required minimum to renew your –”

    “Working 4680 hours a year is impossible and you know it!” the Bothan shouted. “It means ten hours a day, every single day of the year including holidays. No employer can –”

    “I told you that you needed to be prepared for this eventuality,” Yynaya replied. “4680 hours a year is the minimum requirement for your profession. And for the record, I don’t make the requirements, I only enforce them. Heck, I don’t even enforce them, the system does it for me. You need to compensate your working hours by the end of this month or your permits will be revoked.”

    The Bothan took a step back and stared at her numbly. “How am I going to compensate?” she whispered. “I already need to catch up on more than 40 hours since the beginning of the year. My cub was sick and I missed almost a week from work. Even if my employer were willing to give me overtime – which I doubt – I’m sure he doesn’t have a need for so many hours. And without zerek-33 I can’t seek a second part-time job.”

    “You can freelance,” Yynaya said helpfully. “You’re a well-established technician. Don’t you know someone who needs a holosite?”

    “How, who, when?” the Bothan asked tearfully. “It’s already the twelfth of the month. Even if I found someone who needs a holosite and who’s willing to hire me to build it straight away, how am I going to work forty-six hours on top of my job? I have my children to look after, you know how it is. My lifemate went missing during the war and I’m alone to look after them. My days have only twenty-four hours, just like yours. How can I possibly manage that?” She was shivering so badly that her fur rippled in all directions.

    Pulastya took Eliskandro’s delicate handkerchief and fluttered towards her. “Thanks,” she hiccupped before blowing her snout. “I’m sorry, I know that I’m really making a fool of myself and I’m sure you sentients have your own problems, but all this is just becoming too much to bear. If I can’t renew my work permit I’ll lose my residence, not only for me but also for my kids. We’ll all be deported to Bothawui and –” She stopped mid-sentence and blew her snout again.

    “Here’s another idea,” Yynaya offered. “You can fill the ALER form. You know, Alien Labour Exemption for Residency.”

    The Bothan threw the snotty lace handkerchief on the desk. “The Labour Exemption form is useless! Those applications always get rejected, we both know it. How is that going to help?”

    “It’ll at least buy you some time,” the Twi’lek clerk said kindly. “At least another month, perhaps even two. You could squeeze in some overtime and a freelance job over a longer period and catch up on your missing hours. Or maybe you can find someone to give you a bogus contract so that, on paper at least, you meet the requirements.”

    The Bothan sank into a meditative silence.

    “Let’s give it a try,” she said finally. “For me this is a matter of survival. My clan has a blood-debt to another clan on Bothawui. If I go back there, I’ll be first in line for the other clan’s vengeance. I can’t afford to be deported.” She composed herself and turned to Eliskandro and Pulastya, who were exchanging dismayed looks. “I apologise for interrupting you. Would it be okay if I wait here while you finish your flimsiwork? Unless you’re going to be disclosing private information of course. I’d rather avoid staying in the hallway, it smells too bad.”

    Eliskandro gave her a careful look and saw that, despite her best efforts, her beard was still trembling with anguish. “You should go first, our business here might take some time,” he said politely. “Pulastya can continue filling our forms while you sort out this issue with Yynaya. However, I would like to make a proposal to you. I came to Coruscant to open a high-end grooming salon and I will definitely need a holosite to advertise it. I would therefore be honoured if you accepted a short-term contract for this month and the next to build it for me.”

    “You can’t do that,” Yynaya objected. “You don’t have a residence permit, let alone a license for your salon.”

    The Hutt shrugged. “Is there a law that forbids visitors to Coruscant, however alien, from purchasing services?”

    “Not really,” the Twi’lek conceded. “But you’ll have to pay even if you don’t get the permits to settle here. What if it doesn’t work out?”

    Eliskandro let out a snort so emphatic it sounded like a fart. “Dahling, I’m a Hutt,” he said with a tip of his satin hat. “No one can resist the charm of a Hutt, you should know that.”

    The Twi’lek stared at him appreciatively for a few seconds. “Well, you’re definitely an anomaly on this planet,” she muttered. “Get back to filling your forms while I take care of our Bothan friend here. I can then transfer your data to the system and hopefully we’ll manage to fast-track the procedure so you can go and collect the stamps you need from other offices.” She handed a clean NHR sheet to Pulastya. “Oh, and make sure you don’t include the Elellumiwi anywhere in there. Do whatever you want with the Imports Bureau, I just don’t need to know it.”
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  4. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 25, 2010
    Eliskandra is such a character and fun to read. Great (and unique) job on the challenge!
    AzureAngel2 and Chyntuck like this.
  5. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Sep 10, 2005
    Great job not only with the drabbles, but also making them into one cohesive story! I tried to do that with one of the old drabbles challenges and it turned into a complete mess that made no sense.

    I was around when my now former roommate was applying for US citizenship and the crazy amount of hoops they made her jump through, this really shows that kind of annoyance well!

    My favorite part -probably because I sympathise with it so much- was:
    Eliskandro looked at the forms, then at the immigration officer. “Begging your pardon, but wouldn’t it be simpler, since I’m already here, to fill the data electronically?”

    The Twi’lek shook her head. “Nope. You have to fill a hard copy.”

    “May I ask why?”

    She shrugged. “I dunno. Probably because someone is printing them. ​

    I've wondered that very thing sooo many times, especially when dealing with government things. It's quite frustrating!

    AzureAngel2, Kahara, Chyntuck and 2 others like this.
  6. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you for the reviews Briannakin and mavjade :)

    Well, this story is continuing with my response to Dare #1 of the Fanfic Olympics. You'll find the requirements behind the spoiler tag.
    Two (or more) characters of your choice are stranded on an island (or similar such setting). How do they save themselves, and survive in the meantime? You must include:
    The phrase “I cannot unsee that!”
    The words agelast, callipygous, and kerfuffle
    Dangerous fauna
    A fishing mishap

    Chapter IV

    Two hours later, Eliskandro and Pulastya had left the immigration office with their flimsiwork in hand and had even managed to assemble the authorisations they needed from the various services of the Aliens’ Bureau ahead of their appointment with the Imperial Department for Health, Hygiene and Human Protection. “I feel that sentients exaggerated a little about the cumbersomeness of Imperial datacracy,” the Hutt told his friend as they left the Slugs’ Department after collecting the indispensable stamp krill-432 for non-Human slugs. “Yynaya was most helpful of course, but I cannot say that I have any complaints about the efficiency of the other employees we met here. I think that –”

    The avian interrupted him with a high-pitched trill. “No offense, dahling, but the reason we managed to go so fast through all the services is that everyone started giving you a wide berth after the effect of Jill Ett’s Gastropod Glop Desiccant wore off. You need to freshen up a little before we get to the IDHHHP, because there’s no way we’re getting that license if you leave a puddle of goo when you squeeze through their door.”

    Eliskandro glanced behind them to see the throng of sentients that populated the hallway doing their best to avoid the thick trail of greenish slime he was leaving on the floor. His cheeks took a delicate shade of purple. “You should have warned me earlier,” he whispered angrily. “I tend to revert to my bad Hutt habits when I become tired, but I have a reputation to keep. How am I going to open a luxury grooming salon if everyone knows –”

    “When was I supposed to warn you? While you were flirting with the Non-Human Slug clerk, or while you were explaining the benefits of L’awreal Fur Glitter to your new Bothan friend?”

    The Hutt reared his bulbous head, throwing the avian who was perching on it off-balance. “Pulastya dear, you understand that this is a golden opportunity for us to advertise our talents, yes? In such situations the appropriate thing to do is to nibble my ear a little and inform me discreetly that –”

    “Shush!” Pulastya interrupted again as she landed back on his top hat. “We’ll have this conversation later. Let’s just find you a ‘fresher for now, we can talk when we get home, okay?”

    Eliskandro sighed and pulled an elegant pocket chronometre from his waistcoat. “We have a little over an hour and a half to go before our appointment. Let’s return to the lobby. I am certain the ‘freshers will be somewhat... more hygienic there, and I would like to stop by the cafeteria for a snack. It’s well past my morning teatime and I would rather avoid gracing the IDHHHP with my stomach rumbles.”

    They made their way to the turbolifts and, despite the crowd of beings of all species pushing to get in, they somehow managed to get a car on their own. Eliskandro gave his fellow aliens a pained look. “How can anyone hope to advance the cause of non-Humans when there is such discrimination among ourselves,” he said mournfully as the doors slid shut and the cabin started moving up. “I understand that other species’ bodily fluids can make one uncomfortable, however –”

    He was cut short by a loud clang followed by a blaring alarm, and the turbolift abruptly dropped downwards at a speed so dazzling that Pulastya was thrown against the ceiling and even Eliskandro had to scramble to recover his balance before picking his friend’s limp form from the floor. The avian had been knocked out cold. “Pulastya dahling, talk to me,” the Hutt said tearfully over the lift’s disembodied voice that was continuously repeating ‘malfunction – danger – malfunction – danger’. “Please talk to me,” he said again, caressing the avian’s tiny head with the tips of his stubby fingers. “Please be okay, Pulastya!”

    The falling car was still picking up speed, the alarm was blaring even louder and Eliskandro was beginning to panic when the disembodied voice announced ‘prepare for impact – engaging emergency repulsorlifts’. The Hutt pushed aside a fleeting thought of what was to happen if the mechanical safeguards failed and cradled the little avian to his chest to protect her from the impending collision. A not-wholly-unexpected whoosh indicated that the safety devices were being activated and the turbolift came to a surprisingly smooth halt.

    The lights went out and Eliskandro found himself in pitch darkness, but not before he could spot a crowbar attached to the wall of the cabin. He groped a little left and right to find his top hat, which had fallen off his head, and installed the unconscious avian within it as delicately as he could before he rolled up his sleeves and set about opening the doors. He was sweating profusely and the crude durasteel tool was slipping out of his hands, but his efforts were finally rewarded when a sliver of light filtered through the narrow opening. He dropped the crowbar and pulled the two panels apart with all his strength, and he was finally able to slither out into a hallway so dank, decrepit and fetid it made the corridor of the Immigration Office look like the monumental entrance of the Hotel Imperial.

    He ignored the foul puddles and the ominous shadows and picked up his hat to see that Pulastya was slowly coming to. His face broke into a wide smile and he lifted his avian friend cautiously to cradle her again to his chest. “It’s so wonderful to have you back, dahling! How are you feeling?”

    Pulastya clicked her beak and blinked several times. “What happened?”

    “We experienced a slight... turbolift malfunction,” Eliskandro said. “Luckily for us the emergency repulsorlifts activated before we crashed.”

    The bird raised her tiny head and took in their new surroundings. “Where in the name of all the demons of Mustafar are we?”

    Eliskandro shrugged. “Given how fast our car was dropping, I would venture that we are in the basement of the basement of the basement of the Aliens’ Bureau. Possibly near the actual crust of Coruscant, although that is merely an assumption on my behalf.”

    Pulastya stood up in his hand and ruffled her feathers anxiously. “How are we going to go back up?”

    “Not in this turbolift, that’s for sure,” the Hutt said with a chuckle. “Even if it deigned to operate – which I doubt – I don’t think we should trust it a second time.”

    The avian gave him a furious glare. “You mean we’re stranded.”

    “Not to worry, dahling, not to worry,” Eliskandro said cheerfully. “We’ll find a way out. Are you up for a little bit of exploration?”

    He put his top hat back on, installed the little avian on his shoulder and turned around to look at the hallway before them. The walls were literally crumbling and a section of the ceiling seemed to have caved in a few hundred meters ahead, just after an intersection, while a large and apparently deep pool of foul-smelling sewage covered the floor. He let out a sigh. “And to think that I put on my best waistcoat today in order to make a good impression,” he muttered. “The least I can say is that this place is not making a good impression on me. But then, it could be worse. I could be a Zeltron instead of a Hutt, and that wouldn’t be helpful, would it? I’m still hungry however, and I doubt there’s a cafeteria on this level.”

    He crawled to the edge of the pool, dipped a finger in the sludge and let out another sigh. “As I said, it could be worse. At least the temperature is acceptable.”

    He felt Pulastya’s tiny claws tighten their grip on his hide as he waded into the puddle and gave the avian a reassuring pat. “Dahling, don’t worry! I’m a stylish Hutt, but I’m a Hutt nevertheless. Bogs are my natural environment. We’ll get through this just –”

    The Elellumiwi barely had time to take off with a terrified screech when a long, whitish tentacle whipped out of the brown liquid and wrapped itself around Eliskandro’s bulk. She watched in horror as it sought to drag her friend under the surface, but he remained perfectly calm and dived head first into the pool without a second thought. All Pulastya could see was more tentacles flailing about and angry strokes of the Hutt’s mighty tail, until Eliskandro finally resurfaced, clutching what appeared to be a narrow stalk ending in a globular eye. He lifted the mollusk-like creature from the pond with one hand while fishing his top hat out of the sewage with the other. The dianoga convulsed one last time as his captor smashed it against the wall, the hat landed back in the puddle with a splash, and more of the sickening goo flew all over the place in the kerfuffle, covering Pulastya in muck.

    The little avian spat, coughed and shook herself furiously to get rid of the sludge coating her colourful feathers, and she looked up just in time to see the Hutt, who was now coiffed with his top hat once more, plucking the eye off the dianoga’s carcass and popping it into his mouth. She could hardly suppress a retch before shouting, “Oh, for Force’s sake, Eliskandro! Did you really have to? I cannot unsee that.”

    The Hutt swallowed. “What?”

    “You just ate a dianoga’s eye!”

    “What’s wrong with that?”

    “It’s gross!”

    “Tsk, tsk,” Eliskandro answered placidly. “You need to update your knowledge of fine Hutt cuisine, dahling. Dianogas are perfectly healthy food. They can be made in pies, you know. The Muun even consider dianogan tea to be a delicacy. In the Great Bonvika’s court –”

    The avian rolled her eyes. “Here we go again. We’re stuck somewhere in a Coruscant basement and he’s going to start raving about how mahvelous, how chahming and how callipygous his dear Bonvika is.”

    The Hutt blinked his nictitating membranes slowly. “Callipygous... Now there’s a adjective I never thought of applying to dahling Bonvika, but I must say it rings true – in a sense, yes? If you get my meaning. At any rate, it is certainly a word I need to add to my vocabulary.”

    He sank into a meditative silence, his eyes acquiring the cloudy shade they always took when he was daydreaming about his beloved. Pulastya landed on the edge of his hat and jabbed his brow sharply. “You will forgive me for being such an agelast,” she said pompously, “but I would like to remind you that we are stranded in the bowels of Imperial Centre with no means of transportation to return us to the surface. Any proposals to extract us from this situation would be most welcome, unless your intention is that we are remembered as the subject of a holopainting of Galactic renown such as Jerr Eeko’s Lifepod of the Mynock.”

    Eliskandro left out a wistful sigh. “Ah, Jeer Eeko. An extraordinary artist. I met him once in Bonvika’s –” The avian jabbed his forehead again. “Yes, Pulastya dahling, yes, I am trying to focus,” he added hurriedly. “However, as I said, I am hungry, and I find it difficult to concentrate in this situation. I need my morning snack.”

    Pulastya fluttered to face him. “Anything else down here you’d like to eat?” she asked sarcastically.

    The Hutt surveyed the dank corridor thoughtfully. “I believe this is a shadow barnacle reef,” he said finally, pointing at a dark spot on the floor near the corridor intersection a few metres away. “I have never had them so far, but I am told they are quite a treat, especially when caught fresh. ”

    Pulastya let out an exasperated snort. “Would you like me to serve them on a platter? Perhaps with a squirt of Roonan lemon too? Oh, and what about cthons? Coruscani ogres? Duracrete worms? Corridor ghouls? Hive rats? Feral droids? Will you eat them too?”

    “Well, I suppose I could, but I doubt they would be very tasty, especially the droids. However, granite slugs are said to be delicious and they’re native to Coruscant. Maybe we’ll find a few of those, but I’d need Foodie to prepare them for me.” He gestured for the bird to return to her seat on his shoulder. “Shall we?”

    “Thanks, I think I’ll fly,” Pulastya retorted acidly. “I’m beginning to worry that you might forget I’m your friend and think of me as some scrumptious snack instead.” She glided away over the pool of sludge. “Come on, will you?” she snapped when she saw Eliskandro lingering behind. “We don’t have all day. Our appointment at the IDHHHP is in an hour, and seeing as the second H in their name stands for ‘hygiene’ we’d better clean ourselves up before we get there.”

    The Hutt followed her reluctantly, but his sulky mood soon brightened when he realised that there was indeed a shadow barnacle reef near the corridor intersection. “The will of the Force is indeed a mahvelous thing,” he said with a squeal of delight as he harvested a few from the wall and crushed their shells between two fingers. “Some would even claim that all you have to do is ask, and you shall receive.”

    The Elellumiwi gave him an angry look – although she couldn’t suppress a twinkle of affection in her eyes as she watched him settle comfortably in the corner to better enjoy his meal – and zoomed to the end of the lateral hallway, where a dim light seemed to come from the upper levels. “Well, the will of the Force or that bottomless pit you have for a stomach showed us the way,” she chirped happily when she returned ten minutes later. “There’s a service ramp at the end of this hallway, and if the sign that’s still there is to be believed we only need to go some two hundred levels up.”

    “Quite the trek,” Eliskandro replied with a yawn. “I should take a digestive nap first then, I think I overdid it a bit.” He pointed at the pile of crushed barnacle shells on the floor.

    Pulastya came to perch on his shoulder and nibbled his cheek fondly. “Get moving, you fat slug,” she twittered in his ear. “Bonvika would be appalled to think that you’re so lazy.” The Hutt went to protest, but she continued before he could speak. “Besides, there’s some sort of cargo carrier out there, and it still has residual power. You’ll have your nap while it carries you up, and I’ll keep watch. Okay?”


    Author notes

    The Imperial Department for Health, Hygiene and Human Protection is one of the many Imperial administrative offices I have created; it first appeared in my vignette The Hairdo.

    Pulastya's species, the Elellumiwi, are of course @Kahara's creation, and the Great Bonvika is the most mahvelous Hutt sybarite created by Findswoman.

    You'll be as surprised as me to find out that dianoga pie and dianogan tea are not products of my deranged imagination, but actual Legends items. Similarly, shadow barnacles, cthons, Coruscani ogres, duracrete worms, corridor ghouls, hive rats, feral droids and granite slugs are all creatures that populate the Coruscant Underlevels in Legends. Roonan lemons are a bona fide Legends foodstuff and the Hotel Imperial a real Legends location.

    On the other hand, Jerr Eeko’s Lifepod of the Mynock is a painting I made up in reference to Théodore Géricault's RL painting The Raft of the Medusa, so no need to go looking for it on the Wook :p
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  7. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    These are amazing. Excellent work, very funny! ^:)^
    AzureAngel2, Kahara and Chyntuck like this.
  8. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Sep 10, 2005

    The visual you gave when Eliskandro waded into the bog and ate the dianoga's eye was great! And dianoga pie... love it!

    But I think the part that made me laugh the most was when Pulastya was listing other things...
    Feral droids? Will you eat them too?”
    LOL! Loved that!

    Great job with the Dare!
    AzureAngel2, Kahara and Chyntuck like this.
  9. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 25, 2010
    Great job with the dare. I loved these bits

    HEHEHEHE. I've had these types of exchanges before [face_blush] though not involving dianoga’s eyes.

    Also, digestive naps are my favourite type of naps!
    AzureAngel2, Kahara and Chyntuck like this.
  10. Admiral Volshe

    Admiral Volshe Chosen One star 10

    Sep 2, 2012
    Sorry for forgetting to respond to even the drabbles! [face_beatup] (Which were awesome!! :D ) You had a brilliant way of incorporating them all.

    I love your dare challenge, too. It's very well written and the dialogue is great! You capture the characters and challenge very well in such a short post! The movement of Pulastya is especially natural. :)
    AzureAngel2, Chyntuck and Kahara like this.
  11. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    This is great; I love the depiction of this ridiculous bureacracy -- filling out the forms because someone prints them! ;) Sounds all too plausible. Also really liked that the Twi'lek official who's un-helping them is not really so much a jerk by nature as trapped and disillusioned. Which doesn't make her less crabby, but it lends her a sympathetic side. And I kind of hope that Eliskandro can do something to help that poor Bothan. Knowing him, he may find a way -- he's got a bit of a knight in shining armor streak going. :p

    Also really enjoying the latest installment with Eliskandro and Pulastya discovering the basement of the basement.

    The dynamic they have throughout is really cute; Ms. Snark and Mr. Optimism make for an entertaining buddy comedy. And there's also Eliskandro's rather adorable protectiveness of Pulastya when the lift failure knocks her out (carrying her in his hat, aww [face_love]), and her mingled horror and amusement at how the slime pits of Coruscant are basically a smorgasbord where he's concerned. (Dianoga eyes as a snack? We who are about to barf salute you. [face_sick])

    If you have to get stuck in such a place, you apparently could do a lot worse than to have a Hutt as an ally. The bit with the dianoga was cool -- it's sometimes easy to forget that Eliskandro's species are really pretty powerful when they feel like moving. Perhaps moreso because Eliskandro is so deliberately cultured most of the time. So it's nifty and amusing to see this other aspect highlighted.
  12. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thanks all for the reviews and comments! I promise I'll reply later, but now I need to post because it's ten minutes to the deadline and I have another dare entry to post.

    This chapter was written in response to Dare #2 (requirements behind the spoiler tag).
    Dare #2:
    Someone is late for something important!
    You must include:
    • Condiments of some sort
    • "Is it supposed to do that?"
    • Dialogue from at least 3 people
    • A stuffed animal
    • Someone wearing really amazing shoes

    Chapter V

    The first thing Eliskandro saw when he finally arrived in the Imperial Department for Health, Hygiene and Human Protection, panting and out of breath, was the soles of a pair of boots so extravagant that he forgot for an instant why he was there and stopped dead in his tracks to better assimilate the view. The soles, which had a pointed toe and an angled heel, were studded with miniature vibro-nails, their contour was traced with imitation Corusca gems and, if his first assumption was correct, they were surmounted by knee-high boots made of the most glittering Numatra snake skin he had ever seen, to the point of making him wonder what this footwear version of L’awreal’s Fur Glitter could possibly be that he’d never heard of. He stood there for a moment, his mouth agape at the sight, until a voice said, “You’re late.”

    The boots left the top of the desk and their owner emerged from the chair in which he was slouched to reveal a grumpy-looking Zabrak wearing a fine jacket of supple shaak leather. The tips of his vestigial head horns were dyed in bright colours matching the tattoo that decorated his cheek and the pattern drawn by his facial scars was so elaborate it made Eliskandro’s head spin. The Hutt took in the scene one more time and noticed that the empty desk – a sharp contrast to Yynaya’s, that had been covered in piles and piles of flimsies – bore solely an aurodium-encrusted carafe containing some brew of kahve, if the scent emanating from it was any indication, while a life-size stuffed baby acklay occupied the corner of the room, staring at the visitors in a rather intimidating manner.

    There were a few seconds of silence that were finally broken by the Zabrak. “I said you’re late. Do you want to come in, or should I give you an appointment for...” – he checked his monitor – “the twenty-sixth of next month, which is the next available slot?”

    Eliskandro exchanged a slightly puzzled look with Pulastya before he slithered forward and tipped his hat politely. “My apologies for the delay,” he said. “We experienced a slight turbolift malfunction and found ourselves in the deepest part of this compound’s basement. It took us some –”

    The Zabrak snorted. “Oh, it was you, was it?” He gave Eliskandro the once-over. “I didn’t realise you’re so fat. The last sentient who made a turbolift crash came across as much bigger than you.” Eliskandro went to protest but the clerk swung his legs up, and the Hutt found himself facing the soles again. “The alarms up here were blaring for half an hour and now I have a migraine. I hope your flimsiwork won’t be much to handle, because you’ve already ruined my day.”

    Pulastya fluttered forward and dropped their satchel on the desk to extract the stamps and authorisations they had collected from various departments in the morning. The cargo carrier that brought them up from the basements had let out its last breath after about two-thirds of the distance, and Eliskandro had had to crawl the rest of the way up. Despite their mad rush, it had taken time, and by the moment they reached the upper levels of the administrative complex he was sweating profusely, adding more of his own green slime to the goo that coated all their belongings following their unfortunate encounter with the dianoga. They had been only able to dash briefly into a ‘fresher in order to remove as much of the glop as they could from themselves, their clothes and their satchel, but the sodden pouch still stank of sewage and sludge.

    The Zabrak gave them a disgusted look and opened his mouth too say something when the acklay let out three terrifying screeches. Pulastya sprang up to the ceiling in fright and, when she realised that the stuffed animal had reverted to its immobile position, she fluttered down cautiously, landed on Eliskandro’s hat and asked crossly, “Is it supposed to do that?”

    The Zabrak shrugged. “Of course it is. It’s a chrono. It tells you the time every hour. Which means that it’s already three hundred hours, this office should be closing right about now and you were supposed to be here half an hour ago. So bring out whatever is left of your stamps before I decide to leave and to postpone your appointment.”

    The little avian opened the satchel and carefully laid the humid, stained flimsies on the desk around the Zabrak’s feet while the clerk helped himself to a cup of kahve from his carafe, opened a drawer to extract a small bottle and poured a dash of an acrid-smelling red liquid into his cup. Eliskandro bowed forward with great interest. “Is that pimyento gel you are adding to your kahve?”

    The Zabrak looked up disdainfully. “Is there anything else that can be reasonably added to kahve?”

    “I’m rather partial to boontaspice myself,” the Hutt answered politely. “Our chef droid makes it most excellently and he even won the Golden Roasting Award from the Pan-Galactic Kahve Society last time the competition was held. He will actually be serving it in our salon, which you will be most welcome to visit – if you kindly approve our authorisation of course. We –”

    The Zabrak, who had been scanning the flimsiwork while he spoke, suddenly choked and spluttered kahve all over the documents. He looked up again, took in the multiple stains of gunk ornamenting Eliskandro’s waistcoat and hat, the trail of green slime that seeped from his armpits and the grime covering Pulastya’s feathers, and asked, with barely concealed irony, “You turn up in the IDHHHP in this condition and you expect me to give you a license for a grooming salon?”

    “For a grooming salon with functioning turbolifts,” Pulastya snapped. “It was never our intention to visit the basements of this compound and we certainly don’t plan to keep dianogas in our workspace, if you get my meaning.”

    The Zabrak observed her appraisingly for a few moments. “You’re a feisty little one, I’ll give you that,” he snarled. “Plus, you’re a surprise to me, because I had no idea your kind could speak Basic. But I’m not in the business of regulating turbolifts, my job is to check that you comply with health and hygiene regulations. What I see right now doesn’t cut it.”

    “Begging your pardon, but I believe we have provided adequate documentation to ensure that our salon will meet the most stringent criteria, regardless of the mishaps we might have faced today,” Eliskandro intervened. “As you can see our team has updated its vaccinations, we have organised appointments for any necessary trimming of feathers, fur and claws as stipulated in the Alien Labour Act, I have filled a sworn statement to use Jill Ett’s Gastropod Glop desiccant on a regular basis in order to avoid the inconvenience caused by –”

    “I can’t see any effects of the Glop Desiccant on you right now,” the clerk interrupted. “You look like someone who’s never even heard of it. I should actually be reporting you for fraud. Under oath. That carries... well, some serious penalties.”

    Eliskandro was struggling by now to keep his temper in check. “As you might have guessed, my vial of Glop Desiccant was lost in the mahvelous bog that graces the basement of this compound,” he said as calmly as he could. “However, your colleagues who saw me this morning can testify that I was in the best of shape when I arrived here and conducted my business before the unfortunate accident that led us to come to your office in this condition. I am certain that Yynaya Lakura –”

    The Zabrak waved. “Yynaya doesn’t have a say in this. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a no. You haven’t provided any credible evidence that you can meet the minimal health and hygiene criteria required under the rules of this office. You may have filled all these documents, but I’m not issuing you the license.”

    The Hutt and the Elellumiwi exchanged a dismayed look, and Eliskandro took a deep breath before opening his mouth to speak again, but the Zabrak suddenly added, in a much lower voice, “Unless we can come to an arrangement, of course.”

    Eliskandro froze and took in the room and the clerk once more, realising suddenly that the aurodium on the kahve carafe, the fancy acklay chronometer, the fine shaak leather jacket and the extravagant boots could not have been purchased on the salary of an alien employed in the Imperial civil service. He nodded slowly. “I believe I understand,” he said quietly, although not without a slightly ominous tone to his voice which the Zabrak didn’t seem to catch. “Yes, I think that we can come to an arrangement. What could that be?”

    The Zabrak’s eyes went from the Hutt to the little avian who was now perching on the edge of the desk. “I always wanted an Elellumiwi,” he said. “I’m told they make great pets, and now I know they can speak and think for themselves, which means they aren’t entirely useless. I’ll take your bird.”
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  13. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    You are a true miracle when you write, so creative with drabbles, character creation & a bewitching plot. =D=
  14. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! Here are a few late replies.
    Thank you [face_laugh]
    Thanks! I thought I was overdoing it a bit with my idea of Eliskandro eating the dianoga's eye, but then I did some Wook surfing and I found out that there's someone with a sicker mind than mine among the EU writers. Dianoga pie... [face_sick] I considered for a moment having Eliskandro use a shard from a feral droid as a toothpick, but then I remembered that Hutts have no teeth.
    Haven't we all... [face_mischief] Although if you said you'd had dianoga eyes, I'd be quite worried about you.
    For this I grant you honorary Greek citizenship. It's a national requirement here.
    Thanks :) And you have nothing to apologize for, I've been a terrible reader/reviewer myself lately. I'm glad you enjoyed my little bits of zaniness!
    Hehe. As you can imagine, there's quite a bit of real-life experience in the description of the bureaucracy and the Twi'lek clerk [face_laugh] As for your comment about Eliskandro wanting to help every stray he runs across, well, now I'm imagining a Hutt in medieval armour with a top hat instead of a helmet and I can't stop laughing.
    All this is thanks to you and your brilliant Elellumiwi [face_love] I think I mentioned this in my replies to the previous story, but one reason I enjoyed turning Eliskandro and Pulastya into an unlikely pair of buddies is that this starwars-ified visual of an African water buffalo with a birdie on its back just got stuck in my head.
    Well, Eliskandro is a pig... err, I mean, a Hutt. He may be cultured and everything, but deep down he still loves marshes and slime pits :p In many ways, Pulastya is more of a snob than he is -- plus, she always dealt with him in those very civilized environments (if you can call Xerola's ship civilized) so all this is a bit of a surprise to her. Imagine though if it had been Taïgheta down there instead. She'd probably be complaining about how the encounter with the dianoga chipped her nail polish.
    Thank you [face_blush]
  15. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    Playing catch up....and now I am so inspired,dahling! I simply must update my Portrait of a Glamourous Hutt with a companion piece, wearing a waist coat and a pocket watch, and a top hat (perhaps a monocle, or would that be going too far, dahling?)

    Eliskandro continues to be fabulous, even while combatting Imperial datacracy and wallowing in basement bogs. Pulastya is indeed the perfect sidekick, and I love the image of them as a water buffalo with a bird on its back [face_laugh]. You are a genius at pulling all of these disparate, surreal elements into something that not only works, but is a lot of fun!
  16. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 14, 2002
    Nice tactic on the Read/Review thread, crossing out the Seven title, but keeping the link live.

    Okay-dokey, Chapter One of Seven was very well populated, and controlled.

    I enjoyed the level of organisation and details that has gone into this, taking a stroll through many of the room functions of the Simplon before proceeding to the story.

    You have a good eye for detail, and a good vocabulary, such as the avians flying ahead of everyone as soon as the vehicles arrive at the spaceport, and the interactions between characters.

    First time I have seen such care extended towards an MSE-6 and responded to, as if the little guy had intelligence of its own.

    A lot of very well realised characters. A while since I have written a Hutt, and I can well empathise that poor limo driver seeing the layer of slime left by his passenger.
  17. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    Go Eliskandro! A truly delightful being, and the nicest Hurt I have ever "met"!
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  18. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008
    Chyntuck - A fun series of reads, to be sure. :D

    Eliskandro's larger-than-life personality and sense of class shine through, and s/he certainly tries to overcome problems head-on.

    That Zabrak, however, needs a swift boot to the shebs. :mad:
  19. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    "The nicest Hurt"? D'oh! I meant "the nicest Hutt"! :oops:
    Kahara, AzureAngel2 and Chyntuck like this.
  20. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    I am FINALLY starting to tackle a long list of things I need to catch up on; started with this on my lunch hour.


    I am so glad there were only 3 people at work today; ate lunch at my desk, giggling with each bite. Come to think of it, I'm lucky I didn't need the Heimlich.

    The Hutt love-child of Hercule Poirot and Edna Mode, as raised by Phryne Fisher!

    I did correctly predict [hl=black]that the Elellumiwi were the killers, although I didn't realize they were sentient. I just thought they were intelligent and had possibly been trained by someone on the ship to do the job.[/hl]

    And now a salon on Coruscant? While it is non-Human friendly, I predict that the human members of the Imperial Court will be slipping in the back door for some titivation. If they can get through the bureaucracy. I predict [hl=black]a full-on Day Spa, with sludge wraps from Nar Shadda, and microfoam cuisine for those watching their waistlines.[/hl] Will the Zabrak survive this encounter? All signs point to...

    Write faster, Chyntuck! [face_love]
    Kahara, AzureAngel2 and Chyntuck like this.
  21. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    Oh, no he didn't! [face_phbbbbt]
  22. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    *peeks into thread and realises that she's once again several months late on replying to comments [face_blush] * Let's just say that 2016 happened, okay?

    Right. Thanks everyone for reading and reviewing! Before I move on to replying, I need to share with you the portrait of Eliskandro that the mahvelous Raissa Baiard made for me after last year's awards. She described him as "the love child of Jabba the Hutt and Willy Wonka, with a little of the Easter Bunny and Louis XIV thrown in for good measure" and that sounds just about right :D I'm putting a spoiler tag over the image for size, but if you're not on mobile data I strongly recommend that you open it, it's awesome [face_love]
    On to replies!

    Darn, you noticed [face_laugh]
    Thanks :)
    Hehe. Now that you read Champion, you probably know why :p
    Thank you :) I had a great time developing this crowd. Did you post any of your Hutt stories here to the boards? There's an ever-growing collection of fancy Hutts, and that's a club I'd like to see grow until it conquers the boards.
    Don't you hate autocorrect when it plays such tricks on you? Welcome to Eliskandro's world and thanks for reading!
    Thanks and welcome to this thread [:D] I think you just gave us one of the best descriptions of Eliskandro right there, you had me laughing my head off. Now I'll challenge you to figure out Eliskandro's grand plan to sort himself out of the Imperial datacracy.

    Well, you threatened to do it and you did it, and I'll be forever grateful [:D] [face_love] The ring and the little finger were a nice and indispensable touch too [face_rofl]
    Thanks! Tbh this story isn't very coherent, seeing as I wrote it by the seat of my pants as a response to various challenges, but I think I figured out a way to bring everything together in the end.
    Oh yes he did! But chances are that his victory will be short-lived... [face_devil]
    Welcome to Eliskandro's world [:D] And don't worry about the Zabrak, he'll be getting that boot and more very, very soon [face_beatup]
    Oh dear oh dear. So many ideas... Can I borrow some for the epilogue of this story?
    Survive, yes. As for the rest... just read on!

    Thanks again, everyone, and sorry again for the delay in replying and updating. Next chapter up in a few minutes...
    Kahara, AzureAngel2 and Findswoman like this.
  23. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    This chapter and the next were written as a very, very belated response to the Fanon Roulette Challenge, for which the deadline was 01 May 2016, but never mind that 8-} The fanon items I picked were the Worrite by Gamiel and the law enforcement agencies by Sith-I-5 (the latter will appear in chapter VII).


    Chapter VI

    Pulastya took off from the edge of the desk, circled ominously in the air and dive-bombed the Zabrak with a war screech. “I – am – not – hisbird! I – am – not – a – pet! I – am – not –”

    Eliskandro didn’t even try to hold her back as she punctuated every word with a sharp jab of her beak to the Zabrak’s head. The near-Human stood up and started flailing his arms wildly. His chair fell back, the stuffed acklay clock crashed to the floor and the aurodium-encrusted carafe flew across the room, its contents showering everything within reach. Eliskandro was wiping a splatter of kahve off his waistcoat with a sigh of resignation when the Zabrak suddenly leapt onto his desk and caught the tiny avian in mid-air. The scream Pulastya let out was so shrill that the Hutt half-expected every transparisteel panel in the Aliens’ Bureau to shatter – provided of course that any were not broken yet.

    “I have you now,” the Zabrak said smugly as the Ellelumiwi snapped her beak in a vain attempt to bite him. “And you’re going to be my pet, whether you like it or not. You’re worth a lot of credits, so keep quiet if you don’t want me to sell you –”

    Eliskandro coughed politely. “I am afraid that I have not agreed to this deal yet. Or to any deal at all, for that matter.”

    “I don’t care if you agree to the deal, you cheap bloated blob. Unless you can prove that this bird is your property, she doesn’t belong to anyone. I’m confiscating her and I’ll be reporting you to the Exotic Pet Trade Commission for smuggling her on planet without the appropriate flimsiwork.”

    Eliskandro blinked his nictitating membranes in the Hutt equivalent of a raised brow. “Cheap bloated blob?”

    “Yes, cheap and bloated and blob. Now get out of my office.” He tried to adjust his grip on the struggling avian, who finally managed to get hold of a tiny fold of skin and bite it with all her might. He pulled her head plumage nastily. “Why you little –”

    Pulastya screeched again, in pain this time, and her tormentor never knew what hit him. A casual swat of Eliskandro’s tail caught him right in the middle of the abdomen, causing every last molecule of oxygen to flee his lungs, and he bent over, scrambling not to collapse on the kahve-stained floor. Pulastya zoomed back to her perch on her friend’s shoulder. “Let’s go,” she whispered.

    “Yes, I think you might be right, dahling,” Eliskandro answered. “The Great Bonvika would be most disappointed if she saw me in such company.”

    He collected his forms and stamps, filed them carefully in the satchel and crawled towards the door. “You’re in so much trouble, you have no idea,” the Zabrak called behind them. “Assault against a government employee, that’s going to cost you –”

    Eliskandro looked at him over his shoulder with superb indifference. “Dahling, you’re a small-time crook and I’m a Hutt. I have nothing to worry about.”

    “Well you’re not getting the license for your salon anyway!”

    Eliskandro’s lips curved into a smile as the door slid open. “We’ll see about that.”

    * * *​

    As soon as they were in the hallway, Eliskandro took off his hat and gestured for Pulastya to hide inside. “You said we had nothing to worry about,” she whispered, her voice muffled by the thick satin as he placed his hat back on the top of his head.

    “I lied,” he whispered back. “Stay put now, dahling. I will get us out of here.”

    The Aliens’ Bureau lobby was now deserted save for a few small groups here and there, mostly employees having a brief chat before leaving back to their homes. He made his way to the doors as surreptitiously as his size would allow – with Pulastya’s safety at stake, he decided that the cloakroom could keep his dais – and he was preparing to slither out into the street and flag down an air cab when he ran into Yynaya, who was standing with Dayr the Bothan HoloNet technician and another Twi’lek wearing the uniform of the Bureau’s civilian security service. They were arguing over the need for a full evacuation of the building each and every time an incident activated the safety alarms.

    “Oh no!” Yynaya said when she saw the gooey stains all over Eliskandro’s waistcoat and the tracks of slime flowing down his hide. “Don’t tell me you were the poor son of a mynock in that malfunctioning turbolift.”

    The Hutt sighed. “Sadly, I was.”

    The three female aliens exchanged embarrassed looks. “Did that happen before or after you were able to complete your flimsiwork?” Dayr asked cautiously.

    He sighed again. “After I was able to collect all the stamps and documents. Before my appointment with the IDHHHP for final approval.”

    “Oh dear oh dear,” the Twi’lek security agent whispered. “I’ll bet that Sagi had a field day.”

    “Who is Sagi?”

    “Sagi Delvas, the health and hygiene officer.” She gave a slight shrug. “He’s well-known for his extortion tactics. What did he ask of you?”

    Pulastya lifted Eliskandro’s hat ever so slightly and stuck her little head out. “He wanted me.”

    Yynaya gave her a kind look that somehow managed to convey a sense of ‘I told you so’. “And how did you talk your way out of it?”

    Eliskandro’s cheeks took the faintest shade of purple. “Let us say that I did not precisely talk my way out of it,” he mumbled. “I –”

    “He rammed him with his tail,” Pulastya said bluntly.

    Yynaya grinned. “You did?” The Hutt nodded sheepishly. “Wow. I wish lekku could do that.” She waved her head-tails menacingly.

    The little group were still trying to suppress a fit of giggles when a very tall, extremely strange-looking being the like of which Eliskandro had never seen materialised at their side. His face consisted of a multitude of sensory feelers and, while bipedal, he sported two pairs of arms, one of which ended in large pincers encased in a thick carapace that seemed to extend all over his body under his long, monk-like robes. He was carrying a nasty-looking coral stick almost as tall as him. Pulastya retreated prudently into Eliskandro’s hat.

    “Scheming, are we?” he asked in a gravelly voice. “Making plans? Discussing how to take advantage of your fellow sentients? You know that this is forbidden by the word of the Maker.”

    “We’re just talking among friends, Brother Kamalata,” Yynaya said coldly. “Surely the Maker didn’t forbid that?”

    The alien shook his head, his mass of facial feelers waving right and left as he did so. “A likely tale,” he rasped. “I know how all you scum-of-the-galaxy Bureau staff have nothing in mind but –”

    “Don’t try to bully me, Kamalata,” Yynaya interrupted. “Your people tried already, and no means no. You’ll need to find someone more gullible than me.” She pointed at the cafeteria, from where the sound of dialogue and explosions filtered into the lobby. “You’re missing your favourite holodrama,” she added sarcastically. “Why don’t you go and dream yourself a hero now?”

    Kamalata raised his coral stick, whipping out three jelly-like tentacles, and pointed it at her, but before he could bring it down Eliskandro’s tail was saving the day once more. “Not to worry, dahling, not to worry,” he said in a renewed fit of giggles as Yynaya fussed over him, examining the patch of hide that had come in contact with the tentacles. “It was merely a pleasant tickling sensation. What was it supposed to do?”

    “The gimba cane? Pain,” she said, looking contemptuously at the discomfited alien who was scrambling back to his feet. “And temporary paralysis. Perhaps Kamalata should inform his Brotherhood of Purity not to mess around with Hutts from now on. I’m sure you could do far better than sending him flying across the room if you wanted to.”

    She turned on her heel and gestured for the others to follow her. “What was that?” Pulastya asked as she emerged from under the hat.

    “They claim to be a group of religious zealots but they’re really just another gang,” Dayr explained. “They live in the ground floor cafeteria, they even sleep there. They pretend to believe that theft, all forms of theft, should earn you the capital punishment. You’d think they could help us against the corruption in this place, but no. All they care about is selling protection to those of us who have none.”

    “Where are they from?”

    The Bothan shrugged. “Nobody knows. Some water world is my guess. They look crustacean to me.”

    Eliskandro rubbed his face and pinched the strip of flesh between his eyes. “I am beginning to think that the balance of power in the Imperial Bureau for Aliens’ Affairs is more complex and unstable than the many layers of plotting and scheming that can be found at any given moment in the palace of the mighty Jabba himself.”

    The Twi’lek security officer snorted. “That would be quite something, wouldn’t it? But no, it’s much more simple than that. We only have two mafias here. One of them is the Zabraks, who managed to grab all the positions of power in the administration and demand bribes from everyone. The other is the Brotherhood of Purity, wherever it is they came from, who harass us in the hallways. They’ve shared the territory among themselves, and they actually get along quite well.”

    “What about the Imperial authorities? Don’t they have a surveillance system in place?”

    The Twi’lek sighed. “The system hasn’t even been calibrated. I requested funds for it a long time ago – I even went over my boss’s head, he’s a Zabrak and you can imagine how furious he was – but the credits never came. The only monitor that works is the Coruscant News Network broadcast in the cafeteria.”

    “As long as sentients pay to get their flimsiwork done, the Imperials don’t care,” Dayr said. “It’s the Zabraks running the show here. Yynaya applied for Sagi’s job, you know, and she should have been better placed than him to get it, she’s more qualified. But nope, he was promoted and Yynaya was sent to immigration – a professional dead end if there ever was one. Same for Liada here” – she gestured towards the other Twi’lek – “she’s much more experienced than her boss, more competent and more honest. But the higher-ups don’t really care, and they’re intimidated by the Zabraks too. Imperial law enforcement don’t come here. As long as we don’t make too much noise, they let the aliens sort out the mess themselves.”

    “I see.” Eliskandro rubbed his forehead again. “Tell me something,” he said after a moment’s meditation. “If there were enough noise – if somehow we could, ahem, influence the Zabraks and the Brotherhood of Purity into engaging in a large-scale brawl... for instance, if we could give the Brotherhood solid evidence that the Zabraks are vying for their territory and force them into a confrontation – would the authorities intervene and arrest those involved?”

    “They would,” Liada replied wearily. “But they would probably also arrest a whole lot of other people who were there going about their business and trying not to pay too many bribes or protection money in the process. And everyone would eventually be deported.”

    “Unless we could ensure that there was no one else to arrest and deport.”

    Pulastya looked down at her friend from under the hat. She could almost feel the whirr of his brain. “Eliskandro... are you thinking what I think you’re thinking?”

    “I most probably am, dahling,” he said jovially. “We have an administrative staff member and a security officer who want promotions, and a HoloNet technician who wants a temporary job. This is a mahvelous team for this little project to improve the lives of our fellow non-Humans on Imperial Centre. Who else do we need?”

    The avian whistled. “A Zeltron and a mechanic.”

    “That shouldn’t be too difficult, should it?” He turned to the two Twi’leks and the Bothan, who were exchanging puzzled looks. “If you will allow me to invite you to our humble home for a late lunch,” he said graciously, “I would like to introduce you to a most chahming young woman named Taïgheta and a most adorable little astromech who is known to his friends as Arthree.”


    Notes: the gimba is one of Gamiel's creations for Worrite technology.
  24. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008
    [face_laugh] Oh, Eliskandro, never change ... :D

    And Chyntuck and Raissa, I love that artwork! :D Perfect mix of whimsy and class.
    Kahara, AzureAngel2 and Chyntuck like this.
  25. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    Borrow away! In fact, [hl=black]you might work in something along the lines of those weird doctor fish some fancy places use in pedicures to eat dead skin cells.[/hl] Or something like that. [face_sick] I do love fancy spa days, when I can afford them.

    Now...poor little Pulastya. What a fighter she is! If the others of her nest had been with her, that creep wouldn't have gotten off so easily! In fact, he's lucky Our Hero let him off so easily. I love that she's so courageous. I hope she gets a little special TLC when they get back to the ship tonight; what a horrible experience for her!

    Brother Kalamata. Heh. Because he's got a vinegary personality? Wrinkled skin? Such an unpleasant fellow named after a tasty snack.

    Ooo, scandalous gang war coming! Perhaps the humans are going to be forced to take an unwanted interest in the activities of their underlings. Can't wait!

    And the artwork was fabulous. Eliskandro has a sort of Sir Percy Blakeney thing going on...