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

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

  1. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you for the reviews, and thanks to everyone who stopped by to read!
    Nah. That's not going to happen ;)
    Oh yes, Raissa gets Eliskandro. I think she gets him better than me :)

    Oh dear. I thought only we had those awful spas for Russian tourists here. I never knew that they'd made an international career.

    But then, of course, you could probably have them with a fancy SW critter in the GFFA... especially for the Yuuzhan Vong. Yikes!
    Oh, I'm sure Eliskandro gave her the full treatment, with Deyor's Feather Brightener and L'awreal's Avian Massage Oil :D But Sagi Delvas isn't getting away with this. In fact, Eliskandro's plan will have him punished in more ways than one [face_devil]
    Hehehe. That was actually Kamalata, not Kalamata, but the reference was quite transparent. We have a lot of bogus preachers from that area.
    Oh yes, the humans will have to intervene. Just read on!
    The Scarlet Pimpernel has been on my reading list for sooooo long, and I never got around to reading it :( I really have to fix that!

    Thanks again! Next chapter up straight away.
     
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  2. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Like chapter VI, this chapter was written as a very, very belated response to the Fanon Roulette Challenge. The fanon items I picked were the Worrite by Gamiel and the law enforcement agencies by Sith-I-5 (from which I specifically chose S.T.A.N.G).

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

    Chapter VII

    It took a little longer than expected to iron out the finer details of Eliskandro’s ‘project’, as he liked to call it – he was adamant that Dayr, Yynaya and Liada should be protected from retaliation if the plan backfired and also that no innocent bystanders should be caught in the anticipated kerfuffle – but less than a week later everything was ready for his little team to spring into action. On Primeday at precisely fourteen hundred hours, as the crowds in the Aliens’ Bureau began to thin out ahead of the working day winding down, an aircab dropped Eliskandro, Pulastya and Arthree on a gangway by an emergency exit of the gigantic administrative compound. Within seconds Yynaya swung the door open to let them in.

    “Are you sure that the passkey tracking system is disabled?” the Hutt asked as he slithered inside.

    “Don’t worry,” she whispered back. “Dayr has it covered. The electronic records show that Liada is in the guard room upstairs, even if we have her pass.”

    They made their way hastily to the immigration office where the Bothan HoloNet technician was sitting at Yynaya’s desk, her fur rippling with excitement. She pointed at one of the split screen windows on the monitor that displayed a live feed of the main lobby. “We’re good to go. She just arrived.”

    “Time for a cup of caf then.” Yynaya collected her purse and walked to the door.

    “Be careful, dahling,” Eliskandro called behind her.

    The Twi’lek gave him a tight smile. “You too. Make sure you don’t lose any body part you can’t re-grow.”

    * * *​

    Mousey the cleaning bot would be outraged if he could see the state of this place, Taïgheta thought as she sauntered leisurely through the Aliens’ Bureau decaying hallways. It was really as bad as Eliskandro and Pulastya had described, and she considered herself lucky that her role in the plan wouldn’t take her to the lower levels of the administrative building, where they’d said that the stench was unbearable – not to mention the abandoned basements. She followed the itinerary that had been given to her, and she was beginning to worry that the timing had gone wrong when she finally caught a glimpse of a blue-skinned Twi’lek in the distance. Yynaya ignored her as they passed each other going in opposite directions, but she heard her whisper in her comlink, “Two minutes.”

    The young Zeltron took a few more twists and turns in the corridors and finally reached the IDHHHP. She checked her wrist chrono – exactly two minutes since she’d run into Yynaya – and allowed herself a smile as she pumped herself full of pheromones before ringing the chime. A grumpy voice said, “You don’t have an appointment.”

    She opened the door and stepped inside nevertheless. All she could see now was the vibro-nail studded soles of Sagi Delvas’s boots. The Zabrak didn’t even look up. “You don’t have an appointment,” he repeated. “Book one. I’m not available now.” And he slouched deeper in his chair.

    Difficult customer, eh? she thought with an inner shrug. Fine. I like a challenge. She circled the room to come to his side, noticing as he emerged from behind his desk that his brow was still dotted with bacta patches where Pulastya had drawn blood, and she perched herself on the arm of the chair. Her already short skirt receded even further up her thighs when she crossed her legs. The office was now flooded with pheromones. There was an obvious foggy daze in his eyes as he took her in but he was still fighting back. “What is it that you want, precisely?” he asked in a slightly slurry voice.

    Time to get to business, she thought. She adopted her most suave tone. “I’ve come to make you an offer that you’re not likely to want to refuse.”

    * * *​

    “She’s good,” Dayr said with an appreciative ripple of her fur as they observed Taïgheta on the split screen. “I know that she’s a Zeltron, but she’s really good.”

    “And Yynaya seems to be having a good time,” Pulastya added, tapping her wingtip on another window. “I wonder if she’ll need to do her part or if the Brotherhood will do it for her.”

    “Do not be over-optimistic, dahling,” Eliskandro interjected darkly. “Disrupting the balance between criminal gangs that have a mutually beneficial arrangement is not easy. They will go to great lengths to avoid a confrontation.”

    The avian whistled disparagingly. “Killjoy.”

    The Hutt blinked his nictitating membranes and turned to the Bothan. “We aren’t broadcasting this beyond the cafeteria, are we?”

    Dayr’s ears stood up in a sign of mild offense. “I know my job, Eliskandro. It may not be quite as spectacular as Taïgheta’s, but still...” She pointed at the network icon at the top of the monitor. “It’s just us and the cafeteria seeing this right now. Now let me enjoy the show.”

    * * *​

    For years, Yynaya Lakura had thought of her position in the Aliens’ Bureau as the least rotten job someone like her could obtain in the age of the Empire, but in this very moment she wouldn’t have swapped it with a place on the throne at the Emperor’s side for all the stars in the galaxy. Granted, the caf they served here was truly third-rate stuff, and many of the patrons, especially the Brotherhood members, couldn’t be commended for their sense of hygiene. But the situation she was observing exceeded every single one of her expectations. The Coruscant News Network broadcast, to which few had been paying attention, had abruptly switched to a live feed of the IDHHHP, and every alien in the cafeteria was raptly following how a scantily-clad, curvaceous woman was seducing a Zabrak who appeared to be completely befuddled by her good looks. Most seemed to believe that the regular programming had been replaced by a saucy holodrama, and before she had to ask for it, the Besalisk behind the bar had raised the volume to better appreciate the scene. The only one among those present who did not seem entirely happy was the security guard on duty by the entrance – a Zabrak himself – and after a few minutes he pulled out his comlink and whispered, “Boss, you want to see this.”

    On the holoscreen, Taïgheta could be seen nimbly avoiding Sagi Delvas’s wandering hands even as she whispered sweet nothings in his ear. “You and I could achieve such great things together,” she murmured. “It’s such a shame that a gorgeous man like you” – she let a finger trail down his torso – “would find himself relegated to inferior jobs that a youngling could carry out in his sleep.”

    Sagi nodded stupidly and tried to wrap his arms around her, but she evaded him again. Yynaya saw in the corner of her eye that the Zabrak chief of security had arrived in the cafeteria and was staring at the monitor with utter stupefaction. “Who activated the surveillance cameras?” he asked his subordinate when he overcame his bafflement.

    “I dunno, boss,” the other Zabrak said. “It sure ain’t me. Can’t say I really mind though.” He gestured at the holo. “Ya think she’s gonna kriff him live on air?”

    The security chief threw him a scathing look. “A shame, really,” Taïgheta was saying. “A boss that skims off half of your take... who doesn’t value your skills... who cuts deals behind your back with the Brotherhood of Purity...”

    Yynaya suppressed a grunt of satisfaction when the entire room twitched ever so slightly and focused on the holoscreen with renewed interest. The couple were very close to kissing now, but Taïgheta pushed Sagi back with what came across as plausible tenderness and pressed her hand to his chest. “We could take him out, you know. We could take them all out,” she said. “You could become head of security, and I’d take care of the Brotherhood aliens... and whatever we earn here is ours. All ours.”

    Sagi nodded again, enthusiastically this time. “Yeah,” he said. “Yeah. All ours. Just you and me.”

    “We don’t need the Brotherhood of Purity,” Taïgheta breathed.

    “We don’t need the Brotherhood of Purity!”

    “Zabrak power.”

    “Zabrak power!”

    The tension in the cafeteria went up one notch as all eyes turned to the security chief and his acolyte. “You moronic nerf-herder,” the senior official whispered, “why did you call me here instead of sending me to the IDHHHP? She’s a Zeltron! She’s controlling him now, and the brainless blinking barve doesn’t even know it.”

    He ran out the door. His colleague made to stay back for a moment, but he finally took note of the sea of facial feelers that were oriented his way. He decided that it was time to make himself scarce and rushed out after his boss.

    * * *​

    “Phase one complete,” Pulastya announced in the comlink. “Liada, get Taïgheta out of there before your boss turns up.” She turned to Dayr, who was drumming her fingers on the side of the keyboard. “Get ready to cut that transmission within three minutes.”

    Eliskandro took a deep breath as he focused on the livestream from the cafeteria, where Yynaya was standing up. “This is the moment of truth,” he whispered nervously. “Can you turn up the volume, dahling?”

    The Bothan punched a few keys, and the split screen reorganised itself. They could still see the IDHHHP in the window on the top left. Two other windows showed the hallways, where Liada was emerging from the guard room and racing to beat the two Zabrak security officers to their destination, and the last one, bottom right, displayed the feed from the cafeteria. “Looks like I made the right call, Kamalata,” Yynaya was saying with all the contempt she could muster. “Why would I pay you for protection if you cut a deal with the Zabraks? You conned a lot of sentients out of good credits.”

    The crustacean alien rose to his full height. “I hope he doesn’t hurt her,” Pulastya whispered.

    “We have no deal with the Zabraks,” he rasped.

    “Oh really? I think we all just heard the opposite.” She gestured at the holoscreen.

    “It is a lie.”

    Eliskandro, who was keeping an eye on the IDHHHP, suddenly poked Dayr in the ribs. “Switch back to CNN. Taïgheta is running out of steam and Liada is almost there anyway.”

    The Bothan punched a few keys again. Nothing happened. “Switch it off, switch it off!”

    Dayr’s fur flattened in anger anger. “I did switch it off, dahling,” she snapped. “We’re still seeing it. They’re not. They’re just too busy to notice that their broadcast changed of its own accord.”

    The Hutt deflated like a plastoid balloon. “My sincerest apologies,” he said after a moment. “I tend to act like a mother avian in situations such as this.”

    “The mother avian act is my department, Eliskandro,” Pulastya said dryly. “Now shut up, I want to listen.”

    * * *​

    Yynaya was looking defiantly at the alien who was towering over her, his pincers clattering ominously. “The Zabraks didn’t deny it. We had two of them in here with us. You didn’t seem to mind when they ran off to shut up their overly talkative colleague.”

    “We have no business sorting out what the Zabraks do!” the monk shrieked. “We –”

    “Beggin’ your pardon, but you do,” the Besalisk barman intervened. “I’m payin’ you to keep ‘em outta my cantina. If you’re sharin’ profits with ‘em, I want to know it.”

    Time to go one better, Yynaya thought. “And if you can’t really protect us, we all want to know it, Kamalata. I just heard Sagi shout ‘Zabrak power’, we all heard him. Are you going to submit to Zabrak power?”

    By now all the patrons of the cafeteria were standing and looking at the Brotherhood members expectantly. “Nah. You don’t really want to change anything, do you?” Yynaya added. “Too bad. Zabrak power it is, then.”

    She turned her back on the aliens and made for the door as slowly as she could. “Get outta here,” she heard the Besalisk grow to Kamalata. “I don’t need you in my cantina. I’ll take care of myself from now on, thank you very much.”

    “Same here,” a Verpine said as he left. “Have fun with your Zabrak buddies. I’m going home.”

    Several more sentients followed. Yynaya paused by the door. “No chance that anyone could get a refund, eh, Kamalata? We’re going to need the credits if we have to defend ourselves on our own.”

    The crustacean aliens began turning their heads left and right, their masses of feelers waving in a form of silent communication. They suddenly lined up in a single file headed by Kamalata and made their way through the steady stream of visitors and staff who were leaving the building at the end of the working day. When they reached the entrance of the hallway leading to the ground floor offices, Kamalata raised his gimba cane in full view of the crowd and shouted, “No to Zabrak power!”

    “No to Zabrak power!” the others repeated in unison. And they charged into the hallway with angry war cries.

    Back in Yynaya’s office, Eliskandro clapped his stubby hands. “Mahvelous, simply mahvelous! Dayr dahling, will you please feed a holostream of the situation in the corridors to the S.T.A.N.G. precinct as soon as things get bad enough?” He crawled to the door. “Come now, Arthree dear. We need to crash a turbolift.”

    * * *​

    This was promising to go down in history as the wildest day in the history of the Imperial Bureau for Aliens’ Affairs, Liada thought as she guided Taïgheta towards the exit through a series of service passages. The two women were still laughing their heads off at Sagi Delvas’s discomfiture when the Zeltron had stopped saturating the air of his office with pheromones, and the thought of his encounter with his partners-in-crime only minutes after they had left made them laugh even more. However, the pitched battle that was developing between the Zabraks and the Brotherhood of Purity was delaying them, and Pulastya’s pleas in the comlink urging them to hurry up were increasingly panicked. “Take it easy, luv,” Liada said when the safety alarms started blaring, signalling that Eliskandro had successfully brought down a turbolift. “We’re going to adjust our plan. I’m sending Taïgheta downstairs to you, and I’ll go to the lobby through the public hallways.”

    She guided the Zeltron to a stairwell and gave her detailed instructions on how to reach the immigration office. “Make sure you pinch your nose when you get there,” she concluded. “You wouldn’t believe how much that hallway stinks.”

    “Can’t wait to find out,” Taïgheta said glumly. “Be careful.”

    Liada waved her lekku. “Dahling, I’m a Twi’lek, not a Zabrak. I think I’ll be all right.”

    * * *​

    In all his years as the head of the local precinct of the Special Tactics And 'Nuff Guns division, Commander Inio had never been called to the Aliens’ Bureau. There were brawls aplenty in the area, given its proximity to Invisec, but they tended to happen in the streets, not in government offices. Furthermore, he was a little confused when the holofeed from the Bureau came to life – that monitor had never worked before, and he was quite certain that the whole surveillance system wasn’t even calibrated. But the situation he could see developing there was definitely something that required a forceful intervention, lest the Zabraks and the whatever-they-were who were fighting in the hallways brought down the entire building. Within minutes, he and his team had pulled on their armour, collected their riot control gear and slipped their comlinks in the designated pouch of their blasterproof vests, and they were soon on a short-distance transport to the massive administrative compound. He made a mental note to take his vest to maintenance after this operation – the yellow S.T.A.N.G. logo was beginning to fade.

    The situation on the platform outside the main entrance was even more chaotic than he expected when they arrived there a few short minutes later. Loud emergency alarms were blaring, causing beings of every possible species to run in all directions as they fled the building. A glance from the air told him that there was a single civilian security staff – a Twi’lek, as far as he could tell – who was doing her best to channel the crowd to the side streets in an orderly manner. At least the woman is something of a professional, he thought. As soon as the transport touched the ground he shouldered and elbowed his way to her.

    “Oh am I glad to see you!” the Twi’lek said when he reached her side, without stopping her gesticulations for the last aliens exiting the Bureau to clear the platform. “I’m security officer Liada Tamala. We have a serious situation here.”

    Inio took in the scene once more. The woman was doing quite well, despite her being alone. “Report.”

    “There was an argument in the IDHHHP between a group of Zabraks and a gang of religious zealots who like to hang out in the cafeteria,” she explained. “It turned into an all-out brawl, and they have weapons too. And for good measure, the emergency alarms went on. I think it’s a turbolift malfunction, we get them all the time” – she paused to direct a group of Rodians to a gangway to their left – “but I had to evacuate the building, it’s protocol. So now I’m stuck out here doing crowd control, and there’s no one inside to stop the riot.”

    “Where’s the rest of the security service?”

    “They’re inside, sir. They’re all Zabraks, you see.”

    Inio raised an eyebrow. “You’re telling me that the security staff are involved in this riot.”

    Liada did a fair job of bringing a blush of embarrassment to her cheeks. “I’m afraid they are, sir. Zabraks are a very tight-knit community, they look after their own.”

    There was a pause. “Where’s your boss?”

    “Inside.”

    He observed her a moment longer as the last visitors to the Bureau came out and Liada led a green-skinned family with a small child off the platform. “Okay, officer Tamala,” he said with grudging respect. “You’re the chief of security now. You stay here and continue what you’re doing, and we’ll take care of that riot.” He lowered the visor of his helmet and gestured for his men to follow him. “Let’s clear this place out. Stun whoever is fighting and take them back to base. No questions asked.”

    They disappeared into the lobby. Yynaya came out of the corner where she was hiding and slipped behind her friend. “You didn’t tell them about the gimba canes,” she whispered.

    Liada grinned mischievously. “Hey, they’re Imps. We brought them here to do the job for us, but we didn’t say we’d make it easy.”

    * * *​

    Several levels below, in the immigration office, Dayr’s beard was quivering with satisfaction and Pulastya was flying around, twittering with joy. “I think that’s enough now,” the Bothan said. “I need to shut down and de-calibrate the system before they move to the lower floors looking for any rioters who may have escaped.”

    “Oh just a minute more,” Taïgheta said pleadingly. “I want to see how this ends.” She pointed at a window on the split screen where Sagi Delvas was duelling against a Brotherhood monk. The Zabrak had picked a broken chair as a weapon, while the crustacean alien was flashing his cane. They danced around each other for a moment, trying to land a hit, until the jelly-like tentacles caught Sagi’s arm. Before he could switch his grip to his other hand, the gimba stick swept under his feet and sent him tumbling to the floor. The Zeltron grinned. “That looked adequately painful. Okay, now we can shut down.”

    Within minutes, Dayr had done the necessary manipulations on Yynaya’s computer, erased all electronic traces of their passage and switched everything off. She collected Liada’s passkey from the desk and slipped it in her pocket. “Come on. The emergency exit is over there. Arthree, are you ready?”

    The astromech let out a mournful hoot. “He’s worried about Eliskandro,” Taïgheta translated. “To be honest, I don’t really understand either why he had to be inside the turbolift we crashed.”

    Pulastya whistled. “He was probably hoping to find a Hutt spa somewhere in the sewers on his way home. Let’s go and prepare decontamination suits. We’ll have to clean him up.”
     
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  3. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    I fear life always catches up with poor Eliskandro and turns his existence into quite an adventure. But somehow he always survives and does so with grace. Well, most of the time with grace... ;)
     
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  4. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Smooth. In some ways, Eliskandro is running a gang - but for nobler purposes than most Hutts. :)
     
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  5. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    The legality of his tactics may be questionable, but his motives are good.
     
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  6. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    I can't wait to see how this ends, either! Clever, playing the two sides off against one another.

    [face_laugh]
    Of course we do! [face_laugh] I'm sure he's okay (or there wouldn't be more stories, which would be unthinkable), it's the how. Can't wait to find out!
     
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  7. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! This story is finally reaching its epilogue. I'm very much aware that this is a weak ending, but this is what happens when I write by the seat of my pants and don't plan half a dozen plot twists in advance :( But the next story is into its advanced planning stages, and I think (hope?) that it won't be as disappointing.
    [face_laugh] Much grace. Especially when he wades into bogs of toxic liquids!

    Dahlings, Eliskandro is a Hutt. Disregard for the law is in his DNA ;)

    Oh, the how isn't anything too fancy this time -- probably just cutting a cable and unscrewing a few bolts here and there. You did tempt me into writing a whole chapter about Arthree's dastardly plan though!

    Thanks again to everyone who dropped by to read! Epilogue up in the next post.
     
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  8. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Epilogue

    “So this is it.”

    “Nice location, don’t you think?”

    “And you and Dayr have already been inside.”

    “Yup. I was here for the final Health And Hygiene inspection, and Dayr came with a holographer to take some shots for the holosite.”

    “What’s it like?”

    “Less slimy than you’d expect. Jill Ett’s Gastropod Glop Desiccant works wonders.”

    Yynaya, Dayr and Liada, together with a little Bothan cub, were standing in a busy street of CoCo Town in front of an entrance topped with a sign that read ‘SHAZAM! – Eliskandro’s Hair and Feathers Salon’. The lights were off and the shop wasn’t due to open officially until the next morning, but they had received invitations to a private inauguration from the Hutt himself, and they had put on their Benduday best to come and visit their new friends. Liada seemed a bit intimidated, but Dayr’s cub was tugging at her hand and Yynaya motioned for her to step forward. “You go first. You haven’t had the honour yet.”

    The door slid open and they found themselves in an airlock of sorts, surrounded by a flock of diminutive avians who helped them slip on bright pink protective gowns. “I think we can skip the breathing masks for you, can’t we?” a blue-headed Ellelumiwi who introduced herself as Pulaha said. “You know that Eliskandro takes his body fluids issue very seriously.”

    Before any of them could answer, they were ushered through a second door into the salon proper. It was truly a sight to behold. The mirror-panelled walls were lined with seats of every possible shape and height to accommodate as many species as possible, the lumipanels overhead diffused a soft glow, a Bith was playing his flutes in a corner while a Togruta and a Karkarodon sang, and Eliskandro himself was splendid on his velvet dais, dressed in a flamboyant purple waistcoat with a green bowtie. The little Bothan pup let out a squeal of delight and rushed into his arms.

    “Welcome to Shazahm!” he boomed. “Here we will take care of all your needs, from lekku to fur to –” He couldn’t figure out a third item to continue and stopped mid-sentence. “Oh dear, oh dear. I have such a bad case of stage fright right now. I hope that – umm –”

    “We ’ope that our ’umble salon will be to your liking,” Artemian intervened graciously. “Would you like some boontaspice-flavoured kahve? Our chef prepares it most excellently, ’e is a notable winner of the Golden Roasting Award from the Pan-Galactic Kahve Society.”

    Foodie stepped forward with three small cups on a tray he had extracted from his arm while Celano disentangled the Bothan cub from Eliskandro’s embrace to take him aside and read him a story. Taïgheta was already chatting and giggling with Liada as she showed her around and Steroop was leading Dayr to one of the chairs in order to give her “the full L’awreal’s Fur Glitter treatment, honey, and you wouldn’t believe how much better you’ll feel after that.” Yynaya found herself alone with Eliskandro and Pulastya, who was perching on the top of his head.

    “How’s it going?” the Twi’lek asked, gesturing towards the shiny shimmersilk scarf that was wrapped around the tip of the Hutt’s tail.

    “Oh fine, fine, dahling. It takes a little time to re-grow these things, you know how it is.”

    “And Eliskandro won’t go looking for bogs in the sewers anymore,” Pulastya said sternly. “Not now that he knows that corridor ghouls can bite off a chunk of him.”

    The Hutt shrugged, causing his double chin to wobble. “I pity the poor beast, really. He must have had quite an indigestion.” He turned to Yynaya. “Are you enjoying your new position at the IDHHHP?”

    The Twi’lek gave him a bright smile. “It’s astral. I thought what I’d like best would be not having to go down that filthy hallway to immigration, but the job is actually interesting.” She lowered her voice a little. “Oh, and I got Dayr’s paperwork processed for that... side job. The Labour Office were a little curious about the nature of the ‘technical assistance’ she provided you, but I smoothed things out. She got her zerek-33 stamp and her residence permit was renewed.”

    Eliskandro beamed. “That is excellent. I badly need my holosite manager, you know. She has done such a mahvelous job.”

    “We need her too. Thanks to your generous donation, Liada was able to recruit her to calibrate and maintain our surveillance system. Shazam! is an official corporate sponsor of the Imperial Bureau for Alien Affairs now. We’ll be unveiling the commemorative plaque in the lobby very soon.”

    “My, my. I am beginning to feel as powerful as the mighty Jabba himself. Bonvika would be quite proud of me.”

    Pulastya jabbed his forehead sharply. “Don’t get any delusions of grandeur, sluggy. We’re still aliens on Imperial Centre, even if we got rid of a few crooked Zabraks.”

    “But we will be fine, Pulastya dear. Our little scheme went unnoticed, didn’t it?”

    “Actually, Commander Inio has been asking questions about the holofeed,” Yynaya said. She nodded towards Liada who was now lying prone on a massage table with Taïgheta at her side. The Zeltron was singing the praises of Sheesëdau’s Fragrant Body Oils (pheromones included!) and Temp Tattoos. “S.T.A.N.G don’t understand why it came to life just at the right time, only to disappear again.”

    “And how did you explain it?”

    The Twi’lek’s lekku twitched. “Liada told them that it was the will of the Force. Or maybe a mystery of the Imperial datacracy.”
     
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  9. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    =D=[face_laugh] Well-played, Chyntuck. A happy ending, and some Imperial noses get tweaked. :D
     
  10. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    “...Thanks to your generous donation, Liada was able to recruit her to calibrate and maintain our surveillance system. Shazam! is an official corporate sponsor of the Imperial Bureau for Alien Affairs now. We’ll be unveiling the commemorative plaque in the lobby very soon.”

    “My, my. I am beginning to feel as powerful as the mighty Jabba himself. Bonvika would be quite proud of me.”

    Pulastya jabbed his forehead sharply. “Don’t get any delusions of grandeur, sluggy. We’re still aliens on Imperial Centre, even if we got rid of a few crooked Zabraks.”

    Power, unlimited power! [face_rofl]

    Anyway, I appreciate a fan fic of yours with a real happy end at times. ;)

    Not a Greek drama, but an almost divine comedy. [:D]
     
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  11. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    Somehow, I think the ghouls got the short end of the stick, though...

    Another triumph for Eliskandro and one more wonderful read chalked up to the account of Chyntuck! A nice lift when I needed it.

    So many plotbunnies could be birthed just from those lines! I'm glad to hear you're plotting sequels. Write reallyreallyreallyreally fast, okay? [face_love]
     
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  12. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you for your kind words Onderon1 AzureAngel2 Mistress_Renata, and thanks to everyone who dropped by to read! Eliskandro's adventures are something of a never-ending story, so yes, there will be lots of comedic sequels -- starting straight away with a new one!
     
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  13. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Artemian’s Eleven

    Summary: How Artemian freed a group of Ellelumiwi from captivity and settled an old grudge with Prince Xizor.

    Genre: Heist, humour

    Timeframe: circa 14 BBY

    Notes:
    • This story is written as a prize for Findswoman for her wins in the 2016 fanfic awards, namely: Best Author in Before as well as Best AU and Best Relationship for Just Ask Dad; or, Talking Things Through on Taris; and Best Author in Saga as well as Best Epic for The Book of Gand. Findswoman wanted a fic that features Artemian the Chevin chamberlain, and I hope that this one won’t disappoint!
    • My mahvelous beta-reader this time is the wonderful Kahara.
    • This story is also a very belated entry for the Fanon Quote Challenge. The elements I picked were Kahara’s Ellelumiwi and “I have a bad feeling about this”.
    • As you probably already guessed, the title of this story is borrowed from Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven, from which I also took a few plot points. Another source of inspiration is Timothy Zahn’s Scoundrels.
    • Lastly, this story includes references and characters from Findswoman’s Sai-perimetry at Gleebaloola's, You Bet! You don’t need to read it to understand what happens here, but it would help if you did plus, reading such an awesome and hilarious story is always time well-spent.
    Dramatis personae

    This story features the cast of Seven, in particular the following OCs (listed here in alphabetical order):
    Artemian the Chevin chamberlain
    Arthree the R3-series astromech
    Babloony the Karkarodon opera singer
    Celano the Chagrian reader
    Doc the GH-7 medical droid
    Eliskandro the Hutt hairdresser
    Foos the Human pilot
    Gizeh the Elomin accountant
    Kolosso the Wookiee jack-of-all-trades
    Mousey the MSE-4 cleaning droid
    Taïgheta the Zeltron masseuse
    Pulaha the blue-headed Ellelumiwi
    Pulastya the red-tailed Ellelumiwi

    Further characters include:
    Prince Xizor of House Sizhran a Falleen nobleman and the Black Sun Underlord
    Rhicos Mon Prince Xizor’s Chevin chief of security and Artemian’s relative (OC)
    Gleebaloola a Squib who runs an antique shop in CoCo Town (borrowed from Findswoman)
    Norrwin Mun a Kiffar insurance broker whose offices are also located in CoCo Town (borrowed from Findswoman)
     
  14. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Chapter I

    “Oh, stop groaning, Kolosso,” Taïgheta snapped. Her pink skin had taken on the fuschia hue that betrayed envy in Zeltrons. “We know how much you’re enjoying this. No need to make the rest of us jealous too!”

    The Wookiee waved a paw nonchalantly and rumbled with pleasure again as the flock of little birds fluttering around him continued to run Jill Ett’s Universal Untangling Combs through his fur. A little MSE-6 series droid, who’d just returned from discarding the grit he had collected in the recycler, let out an irate beep when more hairs and wood shavings floated to the ground. “We’re almost done, Mousey,” Pulastya apologised. “We know that this is a lot of work for you, but Kolosso needs some grooming now and we do want to thank him for the wonderful home he carved for us.”

    The mousebot chirped querulously and scooted towards the Wookiee to vacuum the floor once more. “On the upside, you don’t need to deal with my slime anymore now that we’ve settled down, Mousey dahling,” Eliskandro said from atop his royal velvoid dais that floated near the sitting area. “Today is a very special day for our Ellelumiwi friends, and I am certain that they will make it up to you sometime.”

    Mousey’s photoreceptors flashed as he took in the shiny, polished tree towering above him and beeped again, this time in a more amenable tone. A transparent-domed astromech answered with a series of chirrups. “As Arthree says, it is indeed quite lovely, at least by organic standards,” Doc the medical droid translated. “And we mechanicals are also very grateful to Kolosso for building a proper power station and oil bath. Now each of us has a proper place to recharge or, in your case, rest,” he added with a nod towards the motley assortment of humans and aliens who were lounging on the sofa and armchairs.

    The months since the little team’s arrival on Coruscant had gone by in a blur. They had struggled to sell the ship they inherited from Princess Xerola, find adequate premises for a beauty salon in CoCo Town, obtain the necessary licenses and permits, and attract a regular clientele in order to make ends meet. However Gizeh, the Elomin accountant, had told them that they had finally reached the point where they could spend a quiet evening together. They were now dealing with less pressing issues such as improving the comforts of their new home.

    The apartment they were renting, just one level up from their salon Shazam!, occupied an entire floor of the building. It was ovoid-shaped, much like the Simplon “I’m still looking for the cockpit,” Foos liked to say, “I’m sure I could pilot this thing and fly away,” and featured a central common room with a circular hallway running around it that branched off into the bedrooms. Everyone helped a little when the time came to make the furnishings less spartan, but none so much as Kolosso. The Wookiee spent days scouring the markets for pieces of furniture from the homeworlds of his friends, he scouted the groceries to purchase their preferred foodstuffs, he re-wired the entire electrical system to make life easier for the droids. His latest accomplishment was to have found a specimen of a tree native to Pemmirit in a shop for exotic wood run by an Ithorian deep in the Underlevels. The Ellelumiwi erupted into a chorus of joyous twitters when he returned from his expedition, as it turned out that the llwuifen was their preferred type of tree for nesting, and, in his enthusiasm, Kolosso began working on the wood on the very same day, sanding and polishing the trunk and hollowing out seven of the branches, each one of which was now converted into an individual dwelling for the seven little avians.

    The Ellelumiwi were putting the combs away when Artemian gave up on zapping through the channels and dropped the telecontrol on the caf table. “I must say that the ’Olonet programming on Coruscant is extremely disappointing,” he said with a heavy sigh, gesturing towards the screen where the anchor was ending the Coruscant News Network evening bulletin with a long series of social announcements. “The much-vaunted impérial capital of culture leaves much to be desired in terms of cultural activities.”

    The blue-headed avian who responded to the name of Pulaha came to perch on his snout and pecked him playfully. “What do you need Imperial culture for? It’s not like you haven’t got an opera singer at home.”

    “Oh no, please, no more opera,” Taïgheta interjected. “Let’s ask Celano to read us a book instead, she has such a lovely voice.”

    Babloony raised himself to his full height and bared his several rows of teeth. “Are you implying that my voice is somehow disagreeable?”

    “Astral, a fight!” Foos said cheerfully. “Been a while since we did this.” He grabbed a cushion from the sofa and threw it at Taïgheta. The Zeltron ducked and allowed it to soar towards Doc, who caught it on a scalpel that slid out of his forearm.

    Within moments the room was a chaos of flying pillows vomiting feathers as the various droids’ sharp appendages sliced through the fabric. Mousey let out a mournful hoot and extended his vacuuming pipe again, and the Ellelumiwi zoomed to the floor to collect down for their nests. The shouts, laughter and curses drowned out every other sound, but Kolosso suddenly let out a deafening roar to get everyone’s attention and pointed at the CNN broadcast. They all turned to the holoscreen, which now displayed the image of a dejected reptavian of a species they were all too familiar with.

    “The Ellelumiwi are a rare and valuable variety of small birds from Pemmirit, an uninhabited planet of the Inner Rim, and Prince Xizor is said to own at least half a dozen,” the anchor was saying. “Collectors will be waiting impatiently to find out if he intends to put them on sale together with the remainder of his collection of exotic pets, as this would no doubt raise the stakes in the auction he will be holding. A tentative date has been set for the 24th of this month

    Pulastya trilled sharply as she landed on the Wookiee’s head. “The 24th? That’s less than two weeks away from now!”

    Foos gave her a sarcastic look. “What? You’ll have to cancel a... prior commitment to go to the auction?”

    “I mean that we have less than two weeks to free them,” Pulastya snapped back.

    “And how are you going to do that?” Foos asked. “You lot can’t even go out for fear of being kidnapped.” Kolosso barked angrily at his friend’s lack of sensitivity. “Oh don’t start that with me, you furry oaf. Everybody says Xizor’s the big honcho in Black Sun. I’m not messing around with those dudes.”

    “Indeed,” Artemian said softly. “’E is a very dangereux sentient. We must be cautious.”

    “But there must be something we can do,” Pulaha said. “They said he has at least six of our kind, maybe more. We must try to help them, if nothing else to save us from extinction.” She gave the Chevin her best imitation of pleading tooka eyes.

    The members of the little assembly exchanged awkward looks. “Pulaha’s right,” Taïgheta finally said. “We can’t abandon them. We have to do something, but what?”

    Gizeh’s nasal tusks quivered in assent. “I agree. We must do what is necessary to deserve the proud and beautiful name of friends that our flock have graced us with.” He turned to the Zeltron. “A little pheromone persuasion would go a long way, I think.”

    Taïgheta shook her head. “No way. Falleen pheromones are at least as powerful as mine.”

    “But seduction would be a mahvelous strategy against such a handsome man,” Eliskandro said in a dreamy voice. “Perhaps I could try to introduce myself in Prince Xizor’s entourage and

    Celano, who was sitting next to Gizeh, nearly choked on her Cosmic Rose Shooter. “I doubt that would work, Eliskandro. You see

    The Hutt blinked his nictitating membranes slowly, in the equivalent of a displeased raised brow. “Don’t underestimate my powers of seduction, dahling,” he huffed. “I assure you that

    “What ma chère Celano means is that Prince Xizor ’as the reputation of a Don Juan,” Artemian interrupted. “’E is known to be interested exclusively in the female persuasion. Furthermore, as notre ami Foos already pointed out ’e is a crime lord. ’E is bound to be on ’is guard, particularly on something of this importance. ’E only récemment established ’imself as the Underlord of Black Sun on Impérial Centre and ’e will be counting on this auction to improve ’is standing with the Coruscanti élite.”

    Eliskandro was observing the Chevin carefully. “You seem to know a lot about the inner workings of Black Sun, my dear chamberlain.”

    The pachydermoid’s nostrils flared in an unmistakable sign of embarrassment, but he answered with studied indifference. “I am merely keeping up with recent développements, mon cher Eliskandro. It is an unfortunate fact that the ’igh society we are targeting for our clientèle is awash with such shady figures from organised crime, and

    Taïgheta snorted. “We get it, we get it, Arty. Now will you tell us what you really know about Xizor, so that we can move forward with our plan?”

    The Chevin looked around to find twenty-one pairs of eyes and six pairs of photoreceptors staring at him inquisitively. He sighed again, acknowledging defeat. “Prince Xizor of House Sizhran is the most cunning and ruthless being you will ever encounter. ’Is ascension within Black Sun was absolument meteoric over the past twenty years. ’E sidelined or eliminated ’is rivals at every turn as ’e rose through the ranks and ’e ’as now established ’imself as the Underlord of the galaxy’s largest crime syndicate an organisation so powerful and extensive that ’e ’as the ear of the Empereur ’imself. ’Is sole weakness if one can call this a weakness is ’is fondness for the arts. ’E fancies ’imself a snob and is known to ’ave spared opponents whom ’e considers sufficiently cultured to be allowed to live.”

    A silence followed his words. Celano rearranged her tentacle horns on her chest before asking, “Were you a member of Black Sun, Arty?”

    Artemian sighed once more. “Indeed I was. Many years ago, when Prince Xizor and I were young, we competed for the position of sector chief in Doldur. ’Ow foolish I was to believe that I could challenge ’im on ’is own turf. ’Ad it not been for my ability to recite Alderaanian poetry, you would not ’ave a maître d’hôtel for our salon now.”

    Taïgheta shook her head in dismay. “You’re saying that we need to get in his good graces by reciting poetry?”

    “I do not intend to get in ’is good graces at all,” Artemian said firmly. “I will go nowhere near ’im. I value my existence too much.”

    The Zeltron came to perch the the armrest of his chair. “Oh, come on, Arty! You can’t let us down like this!”

    The Chevin let out a deep rumble. “Do not attempt to seduce me instead of ’im, ma chère Taïgheta. You should know by now that pheromones do not work on pachydermoids.”

    “I’m not using my pheromones!” she protested. “I’m just saying that you’re our best chance at figuring out a way to trick him! We need to get those Ellelumiwi out!”

    “Besides, you must have a grudge to settle with him, don’t you, dahling?” Eliskandro asked. “He took the job you were vying for, and you found yourself in Princess Xerola’s clutches. This is your best chance to get even as well.”

    There was another silence as everyone stared at Artemian again. “Okay, Arty, let’s think about this some more,” Pulaha said. “Who else do you still know in Black Sun? I’m sure you have useful contacts in there.”

    The Chevin hesitated. “Well, there would be Rhicos Mon, Prince Xizor’s chief of security… ’e is my second cousin thrice removed.”

    “Does he owe you any favours?”

    Artemian scratched the tip of his snout and slowly bared his teeth into an ominous smile. “Indeed ’e does. Now that I think of it…” He scratched his snout again. “I may ’ave an idée. Together with…”

    His voice trailed off. Pulaha jabbed him sharply to bring him back to reality. “Together with what?”

    The Chevin’s smile widened. “I still possess one of Black Sun’s exclusive encryption and slicing devices. Xizor believed that mine was destroyed when ’e purged me from the syndicate, but I kept it as a… memento, shall we say. Perhaps this is the time to put it to good use.”

    Taïgheta grinned. “I like the sound of that. I’m in!” Her eyes wandered around the room and came to the small couch where Gizeh and Celano were sitting side-by-side. “What do you say, you two? Let’s put the team back together.”

    The Elomin’s nose tusks vibrated excitedly, but Celano was reluctant. “I’m not too sure that putting that particular team back together is a good idea,” she said shyly. “After what happened on Pantolomin

    “You don’t want to help our Ellelumiwi friends?”

    The Chagrian’s blue skin took a faint tinge of purple. “I do, I do! It’s just that… I have a bad feeling about this.” She hesitated a moment longer and finally sighed. “Okay. Count me in.”

    Kolosso let out a bark of approval. “Well said, Kolosso dahling,” Eliskandro said enthusiastically. “I’m in too. What would you do without a Hutt on such an adventure anyway?” He patted Arthree’s transparent dome. “And Arthree will help me out. We two have already proven that we can come up with the most mahvelous plans.”

    The medical droid floated to the centre of the room. “I would be glad to participate if there is a role for me in this little scheme if nothing else to help Eliskandro regrow any pieces of himself he might lose in the process. Babloony won’t let me finish my paper on Karkarodon dentistry, I could use a distraction.”

    The Karkarodon gave him a furious look but was prevented from replying by Ilektra. “What about the rest of us? How can we help?”

    Artemian was still smiling in an increasingly feral way. “For now, you can keep our salon open and running, ma chère. We eight will begin with our planning, and we will request your good and loyal services should the need arise.”

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

    Notes:
    Jill Ett’s Universal Untangling Comb Set is one of my many fanon creations for cosmetics.
    The llwuifen tree is also a fanon creation. It is adapted from the Welsh word for elm (llwyfen), which sounded suitably Lelluim to me.
    I still need to elaborate on my fanon about Wookiee woodwork, but what I have so far can be found in this post.
    The Cosmic Rose Shooter is leiamoody’s creation; see her list of fanon foods and beverages here.
    The idea of an exclusive encryption/slicing system for Black Sun was inspired by the cryodex in Timothy Zahn’s Scoundrels.

    Wookieepedia links:
    Tooka
    Black Sun
    Doldur sector
    Coruscant News Network
     
  15. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Oh, Xizor is in it! =D= I am loving it already. [face_love]
     
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  16. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    Buckle up, kids, it's gonna be a bumpy ride! *bounces up and down with excitement* Robbing the Emperor would be easier than robbing Xizor! And yet we know the crew will pull this off...somehow...
     
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  17. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    :eek: Xizor?! Oh, this will be an exciting story, especially with the flair Eliskandro and friends display ... :D
     
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  18. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Hooray, hooray, it's up, it's up! :D I've been so looking forward to this—and what a fun start it's off to! Love the idea of the former Simplon crew and their friends of the Rishi nest group setting out to rescue more Elellumiwi from the clutches of petdom—and especially that A Certain Highly Cultured, Protocol-Minded Chevin is going to be the leader of the effort (I always was partial to him, as you know). It's wonderful to learn more of his background here—you introduced some of it to us in Seven, but here we really get to see it in depth, and we learn some surprising things about him—our urbane maître d'hotel was a Black Sun member himself, and even still held on to one of their encryption devices! I love too that Artemian was able to save himself from Xizor's retribution long ago by reciting Alderaanian poetry and thus exhibiting his cultural knowledge—besides just being a very cool image, it's interesting to see that potential weakness in Xizor's otherwise ruthless green exterior, and I wonder (and hope!) if that approach will still be able to serve Artemian in good stead even now. [face_thinking] I know he'd rather not have to actually go face to face with Xizor—but I somehow have a feeling that that may end up happening anyway. [face_nail_biting}

    And naturally I am looking forward to meeting Rhicos Mon, and seeing what favor he might owe his second cousin thrice removed, and exactly wherein Artemian's new idée consists—I bet there's no small story there, too. I also of course am curious about the Elellumiwi owned by Xizor, and their backstory, which I am guessing we'll learn somewhere along the line. Incidentally, I seem to remember that the surviving members of the Rishi group are all female, which doesn't bode well for continuity into future generations and all that—so if there are males among the avians they rescue, that could be a very good thing for them. (OK, I'm not trying to just be an obnoxious matchmaker here—just thinking of the future. :p )

    Thrilled to see this up, and looking very much forward to more! Thank you so much for this. :)
     
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  19. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Okay, finally I can share the squee over this one. :D

    The quiet (well, not always so quiet) bonding time with the team is fun to witness, and I love that Kolosso and the Elellumiwi are shown to have such a close friendship. Birdy fur-grooming, with Jill Ett’s Universal Untangling Combs, no less. And he helped make their tree livable! [face_dancing] Also liked the pillow fight, and Artemian's despair over the abyss of Coruscant holovid entertainment. ;)
     
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  20. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Oooh, this is going to be fun. [face_mischief]

    I'm still making my way through your earlier entries, but what I can see from this entry alone, your OCs are already fantastic! What diversity; what well rounded characters! Anything with Eliskandro is going to be marvelous, I know, but now I am all the more intrigued by Artemian's past - we have a heist with the Black Sun coming up? Oh, sign me up for more! You already have me hooked.

    And then, this part had me honestly chuckling out loud:
    Oh, Xizor would be so lucky! Eliskandro is too good for him! [face_love][face_laugh]

    I am already loving this, and can't wait for more! =D=
     
  21. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you for the reviews AzureAngel2 Mistress_Renata Onderon1 Findswoman Kahara Mira_Jade! There isn't much I can say in in my replies without revealing what happens next, so I'm going to limit myself to a massive group hug today and I'll post the next chapter straight away.

    Thanks also to the lurkers out there -- you're in this group hug too!

    [:D] [:D] [:D] [:D] [:D]
     
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  22. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Chapter II

    Prince Xizor prided himself on always being perfectly groomed. As the child of a Falleen noble family, he had been taught the importance of maintaining an appearance that matched his rank. As a youth he had discovered that elegance, together with a little judicious pheromone use, was an asset in sentient relations, particularly when it came to women and females. As a grown man, he had found out that gentility, sophistication and splendor were indispensable tools to tame the wildest hoodlums of the underworld while at the same time charming, befuddling and tricking the highest classes of society. His refinement and magnificence were the stuff of legends on Imperial Centre, both among the socialites that he entertained in his sumptuous palace as part of his public life and among the ruffians, mobsters and goons who carried out the secret activities of Black Sun. Many of the latter had learned the hard way that his exquisite manner was merely a facade hiding the most ruthless of souls, but his reputation was now established. All he had to do was to recruit the best fashion designers, the most talented groomers, the most gifted interior decorators to maintain the image of a cosmopolitan aristocrat while running the criminal empire that he had taken over only a few years prior. The fact that he enjoyed the pampering was his own little secret his men had seen him get down and dirty when the situation required it; they didn’t need to know that taking care of himself was an actual pleasure that reminded him of his royal origins. There was a very private gratification to letting oneself go at the skilled hands of a tailor, a masseur or a hairdresser, and it was something of a hobby for him to experiment with new servants and see if they could surpass the quality of the care provided by their predecessors.

    Today, however, the slight trepidation he always experienced when he was waiting for a new groomer was tinged with suspicion. Eliskandro Fasolia Faké’s credentials were impeccable. He was recommended by the Great Bonvika Deseradii Feolla herself; Grand Duchess Peascodd of Geonosis had also put in a kind word Xizor felt nothing but scorn at the thought of the blasted insectoid, but she was his partner in the lucrative smuggling of CoCoToys Deluxe Edition Ultimate Braids Bastila dolls after all; and the salon he had recently opened in the commercial sector was already the talk of the town among those who considered themselves the trendsetters of fashion and good taste on Coruscant. But there was something truly uncanny to the fact that such high praise had reached him through none other than his Chevin chief of security, Rhicos Mon. How, why and where in the Empire had that scruffy slob developed the remotest interest in any form of grooming, let alone the sort provided by a specialist of galactic reputation? Something was definitely amiss here, and for the umpteenth time Xizor made a mental note to seek alternative solutions to the management of his security service. A droid would be ideal absolute loyalty, absolute compliance but any humanoid would do. He could not afford the risk of being betrayed by one of his minions, much less by one he couldn’t force to reveal himself through a casual push of his pheromones.

    He carefully observed the security footage that the surveillance holocams were transmitting from the palace’s landing platform to his private quarters. An opulent limospeeder had just arrived, and a white-gloved pilot in austere black livery was extending the ramp for a royal velvoid repulsorlift dais to hover out. This Eliskandro character was an unusual Hutt, Xizor would give him that the slug-like alien was wearing a waistcoat with a bright green bowtie and a flamboyant purple satin top hat, and every one of his stubby fingers was encased in a series of flashy rings that matched the heavily encrusted pocket chrono chain that hung from his buttonhole. But this brief moment of grudging respect for the hairdresser’s stylishness was swept away by a new wave of suspicion when he took note of the droid that followed the dais out of the vehicle. The idea that a groomer would need an R-3 series astromech was puzzling at best, and Xizor immediately keyed the red button on his console to signal to the guards that they were to perform a complete security scan of the droid before allowing the newcomers into the palace.

    He was unsurprised when the security scan came up empty, but he decided to remain on his guard. For all the Hutt’s flair for fashion, and Bonvika’s recommendation notwithstanding, this Eliskandro was a dubious figure whose motives were still to be ascertained and he would not expose himself to treachery at the very moment when his upcoming exotic pet auction was about to establish him once and for all as the ultimate arbiter of style among the Coruscanti elite.

    * * *

    “Oh but this is mahvelous, simply mahvelous,” Eliskandro exclaimed. “The Great Bonvika speaks most highly of the combination of old world charm and modern technology in Your Excellency’s palace, but words cannot convey the talent of your interior decorator. I would be most grateful if you could put me in touch. My salon would benefit greatly from ventilation shafts camouflaged in the latticework such as those you have here.”

    “That will not be possible,” Xizor replied. “He’s dead.”

    Eliskandro shook his head, oblivious to the Falleen’s glacial tone. “That is most unfortunate, Your Excellency. My sincerest condolences.” He handed the tool he was holding to Arthree, who extended a vacuum pipe and a rotating cutter from openings in his barrel-like body and began sharpening it. “My apologies for the noise,” the Hutt said graciously. “These files must be honed regularly, lest I end up blunting your scales instead of reshaping them, but worry not! Arthree will ensure that any dust he generates is sucked into his recycling compartment so as not to damage this invaluable carpet. Wrodian, I believe? More evidence of Your Excellency’s exquisite taste in furnishings, if I may say so.” He took the file back from the droid and returned his attention to Xizor’s forehead. “It is most unfortunate that Kristophle’s designers could not come up with a more durable alloy for the tools they produce although of course this speaks volumes with regard to the robustness of Falleen keratin. One would never imagine, from looking at your kind, that such delicate-looking scales could be so impervious to metal.”

    Xizor was observing the astromech, who was folding his tools back into their compartments. “I see that Your Excellency is most intrigued by my droid,” Eliskandro said. “It is indeed an odd choice for a groomer, isn’t it? Sadly there is no other model that can accomplish the variety of tasks I require in the course of my work. The versatility of the R-3 series is unrivaled, particularly when it comes to weighing and mixing ingredients for the finest emulsions. A shame that this poor interior decorator passed away I am certain that he could suggest adaptations to make Arthree more… agreeable to the eye.”

    The astromech beeped angrily in protest, but Eliskandro was too focused to pay attention. The tip of his tongue stuck out of his lipless mouth as he carefully scraped away the edge of a scale that was slightly chipped and polished another. “Your Excellency may want to consider Shanêl’s Keratin Rejuvenator,” he said. “It is truly the best product in the market to revive colours and its ease of use is no doubt most adequate for the busy life of a man of your standing. If you will allow me, I will offer you a sample before I leave today.”

    The Falleen crime lord was letting out an exasperated sigh at the Hutt’s ongoing chatter when the tabletop comm pinged. The head and shoulders of a protocol droid appeared on the monitor. “Your Highness has a visitor,” the droid said in a feminine voice. “A young Chagrian female who wishes to discuss the upcoming auction with you. Her name is Saarai Amedda.”

    Xizor waited nonchalantly for Eliskandro to finish his task before replying. “Escort Miss Amedda to the grand function room and serve her the best refreshments we have. I will be joining her momentarily.” He stood up and gave Eliskandro a cold but polite nod. “I am afraid that you will have to wait a little. An important social obligation calls.”

    He ignored the Hutt’s protestations that time was no matter and that patience was a virtue and left the room. Eliskandro immediately reached for his ear, where Pulastya had inserted a Lelluim micro-chip comm. He could already hear Artemian’s cultured tones at the other end of the line when the door opened again. A bulky Chevin trundled in. “I’m Rhicos Mon,” the pachydermoid grunted. “I’m gonna keep you company till the master comes back.”

    * * *

    Xizor paused briefly in front of a gilded mirror to examine his face. It was truly a shame that this Hutt, like, apparently, every single one of the galaxy’s most skilled groomers, had to be such a vacuous chatterbox. The more prominent scales on his forehead were now smooth and shiny, like he wanted them to be, but he could not face the prospect of being subjected to Eliskandro’s yapping every time he needed a facial. Perhaps he should kidnap him, cut off his tongue and keep him as a slave, but this would expose him to retribution from the kajidics over an issue that was not worthy of his time. He sighed again as he resumed walking towards the grand function room. He would enjoy what grooming the Hutt had to offer today, but this was the last time the talkative slug was setting foot or tail in his palace.

    It was regrettable that the first security staff he encountered when leaving his private suite was Rhicos Mon, in whom his trust had been shaken, but a visitor with the surname of Amedda could not be made to wait. This Eliskandro was far too harebrained to pose a credible threat, the reason for his astromech’s presence was plausible, if still improbable but then, was there anything at all about the Hutt that wasn’t? and Xizor had been trying for months to ensnare the former vice-chancellor of the Republic and current member of the Imperial Ruling Council in his tangled web of lies, deception and blackmail. The exotic pet auction was already yielding results, he thought with an inner smile of satisfaction. He had received a steady stream of visitors from Coruscant’s most prominent families since the announcement had been made, most of them to express interest in the rare specimens that would be put on sale, and the list of social events where he was invited had expanded tremendously. Perhaps this young Chagrian woman would give him the opportunity he had been hoping for to interact with Mas Amedda in a somewhat informal setting, to identify his weaknesses and if needed to create some, so as to make him a malleable ally in the Emperor’s court.

    Saarai Amedda was lounging in one of the elegant damask sofas of the function room with the ease and assurance of someone to whom luxury is a way of life. She was wearing ornate robes whose understated colours enhanced the cyan of her skin, as befitted a female of taste on a morning visit, and her sense of fashion and style was further enhanced by the discreet crystals that graced the tips of her horns. She half-lifted herself on her seat when Xizor walked in and immediately returned to leaning against the backrest, as if the respect he was affording her was something that was due.

    “A true pleasure to meet you at last, my dear prince,” she said in a velvety voice. “My apologies for arriving unannounced; I have heard a great deal about you from my uncle and have asked him repeatedly to introduce us to each other, but as you know he is an extremely busy man.”

    So she was Mas Amedda’s niece, Xizor thought. “Nothing to apologise for, my lady,” he said as he lowered himself into an armchair at her side. “It is well-known that I dedicate my mornings to social calls from friends.” He helped himself to a cup of aromatic caf from the carafe that stood on the table and continued, “To what do I owe the honour?”

    Saarai toyed a little with the expensive-looking ring that adorned her finger. “You are very kind. I know that you are an exceedingly busy man yourself and I will seek not to take up your time. My visit, as you probably already guessed, has to do with the auction you will be holding. I am exploring options for presents for my uncle’s upcoming birthday, and I thought that an exotic pet would make an unusual gift. Could you tell me more about the specimens in your possession?”

    The deities that governed the galaxy were smiling upon him, Xizor thought. This was the nudge of fate he had been hoping for he might even be able to introduce a spying device into Mas Amedda’s home, camouflaged on the beast his niece would purchase. He summoned his protocol droid to bring him the complete file of the auction and activated the holoprojector. The droid whispered something about a second visitor in his ear when she returned with the datacard, he told her to drive the newcomer away, and he turned back to Saarai to describe the beings he would put on sale.

    * * *

    Can you ’ear me now, mon cher Eliskandro?” Artemian asked in the earpiece. “I take it that Celano’s little distraction worked, n’est-ce pas?

    Eliskandro turned to the Chevin who had just entered the room. “How delightful to meet you, my dear sir!” he exclaimed far louder than the situation called for. “I am Eliskandro Fasolia Faké, hairdresser and groomer

    “I know, I know,” Rhicos Mon grunted. “Saw your letters of recommendation and passed them along. My cousin said he was doin’ a favour to a friend, said I owed him one.”

    The line of communication is bad,” Artemian was saying. “Could you try to improve it, Pulastya chérie? The sound is garbled.”

    “How very kind of you!” Eliskandro said. “Although, you will forgive me for asking, who is your cousin? I was not aware that anyone had interceded in my favour, and I would like very much to thank him.”

    “Oh, ya know him. Artemian Mon. He’s a regular in your shop or whatever business it is you’ve got.”

    Celano just activated the comm in her ring,” Pulastya said. “Xizor is with her now.”

    “Très bien, très bien. Now fix our line with Eliskandro and Arthree! They may need ’elp with the encryption device.”

    I’m trying, I’m trying! We had to come up with these chips in a matter of days, you know! I told you we should have run multiple tests before we started.

    “Hmmm, it seems I cannot place him,” Eliskandro told Rhicos Mon. He was almost shouting now to cover the ethereal buzz of words coming from his ear. “But I am certain that I will recognise him in time. Meanwhile, I will enjoy knowing that I have an unknown benefactor! These little mysteries are the spice of life, don’t you think?”

    The Chevin chief of security was eyeing him suspiciously. He sniffed the air once or twice and asked, “Who else is here? I’m hearin’ voices.”

    Arthree erupted into a series of loud beeps and chirrups. “Now a burst of static!” Artemian said with growing exasperation. “’Ow can we expect this plan to work if

    Chamberlain, if I may ” Doc’s voice said over the comm.

    Not now, Doc, not now. Pulastya needs to get this line working, otherwise

    But sir! I have a message from Eliskandro.

    ’Ow is that?”

    This series of beeps and chirrups we just heard! It was Arthree telling us that they are under the surveillance of your cousin.

    Artemian let out a resounding “merde!”, and to Eliskandro’s relief the line went dead. “Whadya droid twirp?” Rhicos Mon asked.

    “Oh, dahling Arthree was merely saying that he was listening to an audiodrama,” the Hutt improvised wildly. “He shut it down now; he knows that your kind is very sensitive to parasitic noises.” He leaned closer to the Chevin and whispered conspiratorially, “You would never believe how much droids can be into romance.”

    He tried to collect his wits and figure out a new conversation topic when the inquisitive security chief’s wrist comm pinged. “Your presence is required in the lobby,” the voice of Xizor’s female protocol droid said. “There is a visitor that His Highness would like to see driven away.”

    * * *

    The Sith blast Artemian and all of his scheming, Rhicos Mon thought as he made his way to the gates of the palace. He should never have agreed to meet his cousin, much less to return the favour he had owed him since their younger years Xizor had made it clear after that messy business in the Doldur sector that Artemian should be cut off from the organisation entirely. The worst part of it was, he couldn’t warn Xizor that the Hutt was up to something fishy, not without betraying himself and while Xizor had spared Artemian’s life when he could have killed him, he wouldn’t do the same for Rhicos Mon. The security chief had always been a dunce when it came to anything cultural, and he’d climbed his way to the top of the boss’s personal guard through sheer force of will and muscle. All he could do was to hope that, whatever Artemian was up to, it wouldn’t be the end of his career when Xizor, unfailingly, figured it out.

    The visitor waiting for him on the landing platform was a young Zeltron woman with bright pink skin and purple hair who was fidgeting with the heavy pendant that hung from her neck. “About time they brought the person in charge!” she said when he walked up to her. “I’m Donna Dafurry from PEEVA, I came to present my credentials for the auction.”

    The Chevin snorted. “PEEVA?”

    “Promotion of Ethical Egalitarianism for Varactyls et Alii,” Donna said importantly. “We’re a non-sentient rights group accredited by the Exotic Pet Trade Commission and we’ll be monitoring Prince Xizor’s auction.”

    “We ain’t got no varactyls here,” Rhicos Mon grunted. “You got yourself accreditation for the wrong show.”

    “I said, ‘et Alii’,” Donna snapped. “That means ‘and others’, as in, other species. We started out as a varactyls’ rights advocacy group, but we provide protection to all non-sentients now.”

    The Chevin scratched his snout. “The Master ain’t available to see you right now,” he said finally. “You’re gonna have to come back tomorrow.”

    “I’ll wait, thanks. Surely he’ll be around at some point during the day?”

    “As I said, he ain’t here now. You need to be on your way or

    The Zeltron rounded on him with a fury. “Listen, you outdated mastodon. I know all about the tricks to avoid having non-sentient rights monitors in your business, and I also know that allowing us in is a requirement under article 15, paragraph 2 of the Exotic Pet Trade Commission’s charter. Either you find someone who can register and approve my credentials now, or I’m going back to the Imperial authorities and putting your auction on hold.”

    Rhicos Mon huffed angrily. “Didja just call me an outdated mastodon?”

    “Oh, don’t try to change the subject! Are you going to look at my flimsiwork or not?”

    The Chevin sighed. He had already dealt with such blinking barves in the past, and he knew that they were as tenacious as they were loony. “Right. C’m’on in; you can wait till the prince turns up.”

    * * *

    “Are you sure that this won’t trigger any alarms, Arthree dahling?” Eliskandro asked as he extracted a palm-sized encryption device from his pocket chrono. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

    It will not,” Artemian’s voice said over the micro-comm. “Please show a little trust in my knowledge of Black Sun procédure, mon cher Eliskandro. I may ’ave left the organisation for a while, but I ’ave been keeping up. And you must ’urry! Celano and Taïgheta will only be able to keep Xizor away for so long.

    The little astromech let out a beep as Eliskandro fitted the device on his computer arm. “Oui, Arthree, you definitely ought to keep your sensors activated, even if it will slow you down. Better a partial information dump without being caught than a complete download that finds you both ’osted in Xizor’s dungeons.”

    The droid beeped again and scooted to the computer terminal. Eliskandro held his breath as he plugged in and counted to ten, watching the flow of data on the monitor. “It works,” he said with a sigh of relief. “I’ll keep watch near the door. I am afraid that Rhicos Mon’s suspicions might bring him back here sooner than we expect.”

    Don’t worry, sluggy,” Pulastya’s affectionate voice said in his ear. “Taïgheta is doing great. She activated her necklace chip, and I can hear her driving him crazy.

    * * *

    Prince Xizor’s mood was absolutely foul by the time he returned to his private quarters. Mas Amedda’s niece had proven to be a tough customer, and she interrogated him to no end about the health, origin and reproductive status of his pets “because Uncle Mas is so fond of little avians, and I’m sure he’d love to see them multiply!”. Then it turned out that Rhicos Mon had allowed himself to be bamboozled by the Zeltron crackpot who represented one of those blasted non-sentient rights groups instead of sending her to Chaos where she and her kind belonged, and Xizor had had no choice but to approve her credentials to monitor the auction. Not only that, he had to put up with her endless enumeration of articles from the Exotic Pet Trade Commission’s charter, all this while the Hutt and his droid were alone in his room. It was a good thing that his personal terminal was protected by one of the encryption devices exclusive to Black Sun, and he checked more than once that his own decrypter was in his tailcoat pocket at least, if Eliskandro was up to something, he wouldn’t be able to access his private files. But now, in order to have his topknot done, he would have to endure more of the groomer’s blabbering, and that did not sit well with him at all.

    He found the Hutt precisely where he had left him, by the vanity set in the boudoir corner. He was polishing the astromech’s dome. “Is everything all right, Your Excellency?” Eliskandro asked as soon as he stepped into the room. “I would be glad to come back some other time if your obligations

    “There will be no need,” Xizor said glacially. “You will finish what you started this morning, but not a word, do you understand me? I need to meditate while you take care of my hair.”

    “It will be my pleasure, Your Excellency,” Eliskandro began cheerfully, but he was stopped mid-sentence by the Falleen’s withering glare. He opened his mouth and closed it again, visibly uncertain what to do next, and finally settled for gesturing politely towards the chair.

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

    Notes:
    Bonvika, Peascodd and the CoCoToys Deluxe Edition Ultimate Braids Bastila dolls are all the brainchildren of Findswoman. They appear in the stories Early Morning Thoughts of a Hutt’s Gardener, Pandemonium at a Hutt’s Garden Party and Of Urgent Transmissions and Curious Dropped Objects.
    Kristophle and Shanêl’s Keratin Rejuvenator are my
    cosmetics fanon.
    Lelluim micro-tech is an element of Lelluim culture that Kahara developed in her fanon post about the
    Ellelumiwi.
    Credit for the acronym PEEVA goes to Kahara. I just filled in the blanks.
    I doubt you’ll ever find a reference to the Exotic Pet Trade Commission outside this fic, unless someone else on the boards wants to use it (?)


    Wookieepedia links:
    Xizor wanting a droid to manage his security service is a reference to Guri.
    Wrodian carpet
    Kajidic
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  23. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Well, they're doing well so far - neither Xizor nor Rhicos are slouches, to be sure. But now push comes to shove ... [face_thinking]
     
  24. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Well, well! Gotta congratulate Eliskandro, Artemian, and co. so far—they've really come up with quite an elaborate and clever plan here for infiltrating Xizor's upcoming exotic-pets auction. But Onderon1 is absolutely right: neither Xizor nor Rhicos are slouches, and it's clear that they're picking up on some things here. For one thing, there's Eliskandro's unusual choice of a droid companion; styling hair (or scales, or chitin) ain't like fixing navcomputers, boy. :p For another, there's the fact that Rhicos apparently knows about his cousin's connection to Eliskandro somehow, and I don't know if our heroes were quite counting on that. And then all the micro-comm chatter on top of it all... kudos to Eliskandro for keeping so levelheaded throughout all this! Keeping up a conversation with a tough customer like Rhicos hard enough when there aren't 5 other voices chattering away in your ear at the same time. And being a conscientious soul, Eli no doubt wants to keep an earhole (!) on what else is happening with his comrades.

    I have to say, Taïgheta and Celano are doing absolute yeoman duty with their diversions. PEEVA is absolutely priceless (and very Kahara :) )—I know exactly which RL agency inspired them! :D And that's an absolutely genius way to get in on the inner workings of the pet auction.

    Rhicos is such a complete polar opposite to his cousin—gruff and boorish where Artemian is diplomatic and refined. I would wager, that, unlike Artemian, Rhicos is not up on his Alderaanian poetry—but that in no wise means he's a dummy, and I see why Xizor holds on to him. It's a good thing the protocol droid showed up when she did, because I kind of doubt the extent to which Rhicos has actually bought Eli's explanation about droids enjoying romantic audiodramas. [face_thinking] Thank goodness for Taïgheta's diversion, once again. One thing I'll be curious to see is whether Artemian and Rhicos will come face to face at some point in the story—that could be amusing and climactic all at once!

    Can't wait for more—and keeping my fingers and toes crossed that Eli and R3 will be able to download everything they need in the very short time they have. Though "I have a bad feeling" that this won't be the end of their obstacles! [face_nail_biting]
     
  25. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    Love Celano's deception, and Eliskandro frantically trying to silence the earpiece. Filing Xizor's scales! They're up against a truly worthy adversary here; they will definitely need to be on their toes!