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Beyond the Saga "The Winter Queen" | A gothic romance from the future of Hoth | Reposted

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Pandora, Aug 7, 2019.

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  1. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Title: The Winter Queen
    Timeframe: A long, long time after Return of the Jedi.
    Characters: All original.

    *This is a revised version, more than a repost, of a story I originally wrote and posted here in the autumn of 2005. Thanks to the truncation, vast swaths of the original are gone daddy gone, which meant I have had to write much of it all over again--and of course, there isn't any way I could write the same story I did fourteen years ago.

    *If you have ever read my 2016 diary "Something is shining like gold, but better" aspects of this story may well seem familiar, and understandably so.

    *There are a few elements in here from the Legendary EU, but (as befits the story's 2005 era origins) absolutely nothing, not one thing, from anything of Disney's.

    *"I forget what eight is for."

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


    The Winter Queen


    1.


    When I arrived on Hoth, I was wearing a long black fur coat. It was made to resemble the fur of some bear roaming through some mystical wildlands. I don’t remember what it was once called. They used to hunt it down for that fur, but there isn’t any need for that sort of thing now. My coat was artificial, but it smelled like that animal must have, like its warm panting breath. Anyhow: I had known it would be cold here, the sort of knife-toothed cold I hadn’t ever experienced before, and this coat was the best I had to wear. I still wasn’t prepared for just how cold it was when I set forth into the air of the hangar, where the governmental aide was waiting for me.

    She watched me with a sullen locked frown: she was, I guessed, in her middle thirties, and plain, with bland brown hair and watercolor-damp blue eyes. She wore a blinding white jumpsuit that matched with the heavy snow outside, and the sleepy sky hanging over it. There was a little girl standing next to her, the first child I had seen this close in over a year.

    The girl stared straight ahead at me, her face a blank (a secret-hiding sneaking blank) mask, and her hands shoved into her coat pockets. Her hair was done up in two rope-knotted braids, and it was the same dull color as the aide’s hair. I wondered, without much thought, if she was her daughter.

    “Well, I see that your trip has been successful,” the woman said, and then: “Governor Creager wishes to welcome you to Hoth City, Miss Ving.”

    “Tell her I offer my gracious thanks,” I said.

    The hangar was a huge shadow-grey dingy cavern: it was so large that I could just make out the dayplanes parked nearby, and I couldn’t at all see the duracrete-rock ceiling up in the darkness that hovered overhead. It was kept heated for the sake of the ships—and I could smell the sunburned dry dust from what they were using—but I couldn’t feel any resulting warmth, and my breath still blew out as steamsoft white smoke.

    The aide had not introduced either herself or the girl. She continued to watch me, and my nightblack bear coat, in patient silence--and even with my hyperspace-dulled wits, I knew the nature of that look. It had the desired effect of making me feel silly and lumbering and somehow, overall, wrong, and I did not like that. I let her wait another moment more before I spoke.

    “Now that we’ve met, shouldn’t we be getting on with things?” I said.

    She blinked, and made the attempt to snatch her role back. “Of course,” she said. “Of course. If you will follow along with me.”

    She led me down a long bright white hallway through the main house. It was mercifully warm, which I hadn’t known if I should expect--and then, after a few minutes, it was too warm. The air seemed to hum from the heated overhead lights, and I was beginning to flush with a stuffy thick sweat. Several groups of varied people passed us, and one woman with elaborate dark braided hair, walking in a trot on deer-hooved black boots, turned her hard business quick eyes towards us.

    “Ho there,” she said, acknowledging Vittoria, and Vittoria nodded back.

    The little girl trotted along next to us, with a stiff bounce of her braids. It was easy for me to forget to see her there. She had yet to speak one word, and I wondered if she was (only, merely) shy—or if the aide had impressed upon her that good girls remain silent. I didn’t know much, from an adult perspective, about how children tended to behave, but now I needed to figure it out.

    We arrived at a parlour. Yes, a parlour: a large room with tall windows glowing with the white light outside, and a polished-bright dark wood tile floor. It looked too clean, too impossibly clean, and I would know soon enough that the house-maids clean it every day on their hands and knees.

    There were several older ladies sitting on one of the plump cream-white sopha, holding bone china cups locked in their little hands. They were dressed all in white, in puffy suits like the one the aide was wearing. Then behind them, on the far side of the room, several men were working on the guts of a computer-unit and talking amongst themselves. I could gather from the low murmur of their voices that they took their task to be a terribly serious one.

    “Well, well, well,” said one of the ladies.

    The aide bared her teeth in a nerf-cringing smile. This woman wasn’t the actual governor, but she was important enough for her. “This is Lysinora Ving, the new teacher,” she said.

    The woman set down her cup with a clockwork tick. She had grey hair in a fist-clenched chignon, with a long diamond-eyed hairpin stabbed through it, and dry dark eyes—and while she was past middle age, she was the youngest lady present. “I know. And we are all pleased to see you, Miss Ving. I do hope the asteroid field didn’t give you too much trouble. It’s been a while since I last braved it myself. We don’t tend to get out of here very often.”

    “The ship survived intact,” I decided to say.

    The woman threw off a little haha. “But I should introduce myself. I’m Erzebet Antilles. Yes, yes, I know—another Antilles. But not one from Corellia. I have proper blood, not rocket fuel, in my veins, thank you very much.”

    She had obviously used this line before, and I put on a politely arched smile while the aide, and one of the women, went through the motions of laughing. The little girl watched them in continued, and disinterested, silence. E.A. turned, and indicated the aide with a twitch of her hand: “And—since I know she won’t have introduced herself—you have already met my modest assistant Vittoria Sade.”

    The Ladies had a shared bird-pitch twitter from their places in the background, and Vittoria Sade looked down, modestly indeed, at the light blur reflected in the glossy floor. Finally, when they left off, I went through the expected pleasantries: “It’s been a pleasure to meet you.”

    E.A. snapped her eyes in a blink. “Now that we are all introduced, you must want something to drink. Of course, you do. You’ll learn that we take our teatimes seriously around here.”

    I could see that already, but I kept that thought to myself. I took advantage of that opportunity to take off the smothering weight of that coat. Vittoria was there hovering to snatch it away from me before I could think to ask. My skirts snapped with static-sparks. I was wearing an old dusk-grey dress with a velvet collar. It didn’t fit quite so well at my waist, but it was the plainest thing I owned—and since it was wool, it was also the warmest.

    But even then, I stood out. I don’t think it is much arrogant to say that I’m pretty. It’s only stating a fact: my mother designed me, even before I was conceived, to be that way—to be tall (because she is short for the Hapan female), and slender, with blue-tinted white skin and the graceful cold hands of an artist. Otherwise, I haven’t turned out to be what she wanted, but then, I suppose that not many people make their mumsies completely happy.

    That day, my hair was a dark fushia flower pink. My hair was originally grey—and yes, my mother planned that out as well—so you should be able to understand why I keep it dyed. I have it changed every several months or so. Right now, it’s purple. This may be a colony in the midst of a winter wilderness, but I can still do my hair.

    The Ladies were presiding over a teapot and a silver plate half filled with pink petit cookies set out on an old wooden coffin sea-trunk they used for a coffee table. The tea, which I poured for myself, was a bark-black tea that was still extremely hot after sitting in the pot. I’m not mature enough to like tea, but I made myself drink it. The little girl appeared and sat down, with a defiant kitten glare, near me on the sopha opposite the Ladies.

    I took one of the petit-cookies. The little girl hunched towards the table, and lifted her hand, and E.A. said: “I’m sorry, dear, but we have to follow Vittoria’s rules. Those are for ladies.”

    She snatched her hand back into her lap, and the other Ladies nodded with approval. I could see how things worked here. Vittoria rushed over to pour more tea for them. When she filled the one Lady’s cup, she turned away towards the windows, and took out a small perfume-sized flask and added a gulping big dash into the tea. Oh, I could see how things were.

    E.A. watched me from across the table. When I set my teacup down, she said: “This place takes some getting used to, Miss Ving. And one can’t really imagine it beforehand, as I should know. Vittoria knows all your details, but I can assume you’re from a temperate world--”

    “Of course, she is,” said one of the other Ladies. She swatted at some pink dust crumbs in her lap. “There are only a few amongst us who are not!”

    The men hadn’t turned their attention away from their loving care of the computer even long enough to notice my arrival, but now I remembered them as the background noise of their voices burst into a loud flock of thunder-deep hahahas. The Lady turned towards the sound with a fondly sweet smile. “That Mattio. He’s almost as amusing as they all think he is.”

    “She’s right,” I said, with a tossed-off shrug. “There is but one lovely and well-behaved season on the world of New Alderaan. I haven’t ever even seen snow.”

    “That doesn’t surprise me,” E.A. said. She squinted at my dress for a long poking-sharp minute—the plain dress with the velvet collar and the star-stone glittered buttons. I had figured out her point, but she just had to speak: “Far be it for me to dispense the false pearls of my advice. But you might wish to start your time here by—reconsidering your wardrobe.”

    I knew better than to actually tell her this, but I would rather take my chances, and continue to wear the clothes I had, than be dressed up like a swollen snowmaiden in the sort of get-ups they were all wearing. Really. And I could tell already that the building in general, and that parlour in particular, were kept so well heated I wouldn’t ever be that cold or that desperate.

    Then the little girl spoke for the first time, suddenly thrusting her hard little voice into the pause in the conversation. “There isn’t any snow at all, on your entire planet?”

    Before I could even decide on an answer for her, Vittoria had snapped around from her place standing behind the Ladies, and: “Adé! The ladies are having an adult conversation!”

    “Really? I hadn’t any idea,” I said. Then I turned to look at the girl, at Adé. I can’t say that I have a gift for knowing how to speak with children—but when I took this position, I had known that I would have to figure out some way to communicate.

    She had her mouth locked into a sullen frown, and she blinked in rapid wing movements, but she had heard me. I continued: “Well, there is actually some snow. But it’s all up in the mountains, and most people avoid it. That would include me, because I haven’t ever been up there.”

    E.A. arched her eyebrows, but refrained from actually commenting. One of the other Ladies said, with a daydreamed sigh: “Well! You should see the mountains we have.”

    The other Ladies nodded, and turned their attentions back to their tea, and there was merciful snowpale lit silence for a few minutes—before one of the men came over. He had an ironblack beard, and wore an indoor tan wool coat, and mountain hiking boots.

    “Ladies,” he said, with that manly haha lurking in his voice, and acknowledged me, and Adé, with a nod. “If I know you, and I do, you have a few extra of those cookies for me.”

    “Perhaps, Jasen! But you will have to ask,” said E.A.

    Jasen poured himself a cup of the steam-breathing tea, and took two of the cookies at once in his other hand. Vittoria met him next to the sophas, and when she held out the knife-flash of the flask held in her discreetly fisted hand, he nodded, and she dripped some into his cup. There was a thick muffled smash of sound behind the windows that I assumed came from the snow. I reached out and took up one of the last few of the cookies. The Ladies pretended not to notice.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2019
  2. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    I like the idea that this takes place far, far into the future. Hoth has become a civilized, prim world; New Alderaan has been established for many years now. As with so many of your characters, Lysinora has set herself apart from the rest. The fact that she wears a huge fur coat instead of the puffy white snow suits is just the outward difference. She is a stranger here, learning the way that the community works. She is a tutor, not a technical worker or one of the ladies. And she seems to notice the one thing that everyone deliberately sees right past -- Adé.

    It's interesting that Adé's mother hasn't shown up yet. You'd think she would want to greet the woman who will be spending so much time with her child personally. There's a lot in hiding, and Lysinora has to determine the truth that lies beneath.
     
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  3. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    divapilot: I like the idea that this takes place far, far into the future. Hoth has become a civilized, prim world; New Alderaan has been established for many years now.

    Well, I don't know if Hoth has become all that civilized outside the Ladies' parlour--they have done, and will continue to do, their damnest to tame the place, but there's probably some old saying about how "the storms take it all back." And yes, New Alderaan has been the only Alderaan for centuries. Since I first wrote this story, in 2005, I have thought more and more than that having a new Alderaan to replace the lost one is a bad idea--there are some things you can't recreate, no matter how you try. But that doesn't mean they wouldn't still try, so it remains in the story.

    As with so many of your characters, Lysinora has set herself apart from the rest. The fact that she wears a huge fur coat instead of the puffy white snow suits is just the outward difference. She is a stranger here, learning the way that the community works. She is a tutor, not a technical worker or one of the ladies. And she seems to notice the one thing that everyone deliberately sees right past -- Adé.

    Lysinora is about as prepared for the winter life on Hoth as I was when I went off to first grade (and my mother was a teacher once too) armed with a yellow crayon instead of a pencil and a Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox. But she's a reasonably fast learner, and she does notice just about everything.

    It's interesting that Adé's mother hasn't shown up yet. You'd think she would want to greet the woman who will be spending so much time with her child personally. There's a lot in hiding, and Lysinora has to determine the truth that lies beneath.

    It must be pretty obvious that, despite Lysinora's initial impression, Vittoria is not actually Adé's mother--so yes, that is interesting. The truth on that should be out soon.

    Thank you for reading, and commenting!
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
    Findswoman likes this.
  4. Oddly_Salacious

    Oddly_Salacious Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 5, 2005
    There are rich, well-crafted descriptions in here. I came away with a sense of: And did I just read myself some undertones of steampunk? I enjoyed this. Nicely done @Pandora!
     
    Findswoman likes this.
  5. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    I recently rediscovered this as part of the 2020 Reading Challenge, as it’s one I remember meaning to start following last year but hadn’t gotten to. With this beautiful, smart newcomer recently arrived from a temperate world, this opening chapter definitely gives us a “fish out of water” vibe akin to the one you explored so skillfully in “Something is shining like gold, but better.” In a way, Miss Ving is getting a warmer (!), more helpful welcome on Hoth than Miss Taffe did on Tatooine—which makes sense for the extreme conditions. And a good thing, too, because as has been pointed out, she doesn’t seem quite prepared for just how extreme those conditions are! But I can tell she is a close observer of those around her: both the ladies, the aide, and young Adé (whom I’m finding intriguing too, and wondering if there is more than meets the eye in the way the ladies keep shutting her up, withholding cookies from her, etc.). It looks like there might be some kind of hierarchy of the sexes at work, too, given the more menial, manual labor the men are doing (they too do Not Necessarily Get Cookies, either) And perhaps my biggest point of curiosity: who actually is the Winter Queen of the title? Someone we haven’t met, or have we yet? Hope you continue this so we can find out more—always great to see you back and writing again! :)
     
  6. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    Love the title (there's something very mystical about it) and the creative premise. You have a gift for painting a very detailed, vivid sense of setting especially in parts like this:

    When I arrived on Hoth, I was wearing a long black fur coat. It was made to resemble the fur of some bear roaming through some mystical wildlands. I don’t remember what it was once called. They used to hunt it down for that fur, but there isn’t any need for that sort of thing now. My coat was artificial, but it smelled like that animal must have, like its warm panting breath. Anyhow: I had known it would be cold here, the sort of knife-toothed cold I hadn’t ever experienced before, and this coat was the best I had to wear. I still wasn’t prepared for just how cold it was when I set forth into the air of the hangar, where the governmental aide was waiting for me.

    We learn so much about the setting and what the character is wearing with these details that all are included in a way that feels natural rather than forced. It's great how much information you could include with good flow in this first paragraph. Nice job!

    The hangar was a huge shadow-grey dingy cavern: it was so large that I could just make out the dayplanes parked nearby, and I couldn’t at all see the duracrete-rock ceiling up in the darkness that hovered overhead. It was kept heated for the sake of the ships—and I could smell the sunburned dry dust from what they were using—but I couldn’t feel any resulting warmth, and my breath still blew out as steamsoft white smoke.

    More details that feel very real. Sunburned dry dust and steamsoft white smoke are particularly strong phrasings. Almost a poetic quality to the prose here.

    Thanks for an enjoyable, richly detailed chapter!
     
    Findswoman likes this.
  7. mavjade

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

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2005
    I really love the idea of Hoth having at the very least a colony. It would not be an easy place to live, but I could totally see it happening. As others have said, your descriptions are fantastic and really give you a visual and feeling of how things are. And I do think the ladies take their tea time quite seriously, but I wonder if it will come back to bite them in the future for being mean to the little girl?

    And like Finds, I'm very curious as to the title, who is the Winter Queen?
     
    Findswoman likes this.
  8. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    I like the idea of the ladies trying to make their parlour the most over civilised and pretentious place on Hoth. Definitely reminds me of our history where middle and upkeep class women in the ‘colonies’ tried to outdo each other by repeating everything they did at hole but on a much grander and more snooty scale.

    Wonder what both child (when she’s not in the company of all the ‘ladies’ and mother will be like).


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  9. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    I know you mentioned that this shares roots with your 2016 diary, but it definitely has a feel all its own. A Winter Queen to match the Desert Ladies of your Tatooine stories -- I was really intrigued by the change in setting and how much is different even though some things remain the same from one part of the galaxy to the next in some ways. People are people, after all, and the pecking orders, the injustices large and small, and the moments of beauty are to be found anywhere. [face_thinking] But the world, and Lysinora herself, feel quite different.

    The synthetic (because nobody needs to hunt, or because that would be too messy for these very indoors Hoth residents, I wonder) bear coat is a wonderfully atmospheric bit of wardrobe, and I love how it gets that "Gothic" vibe mentioned in the title line in there right away. :cool:

    Lysinora is perceptive of what these fancy Hoth folks really are under the surface -- and I love that her sympathies are on the side of the kid who just wants a cookie! And she has no compunctions about speaking her mind if she pleases. :p There's definitely a sense that everyone in the room except for poor Adé (and that naming scheme seems familiar...) lives a very deliberately insulated life in more ways than one. The big, overdone layer-y clothes on the ladies, and the never-mentioned mystery substance that seems to be a soporific -- or some other drug -- only add to that stuffy, trapped feeling. No wonder that Lysinora doesn't seem like she's having a great time!
     
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  10. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Oddly_Salacious: There are rich, well-crafted descriptions in here. I came away with a sense of: And did I just read myself some undertones of steampunk? I enjoyed this. Nicely done @Pandora!

    Thanks! As for overtones of steampunk--you're not wrong, and there shall be more to come. (No zeppelins, though. I'm afraid the appeal of those completely eludes me.)

    -----

    Findswoman: I recently rediscovered this as part of the 2020 Reading Challenge, as it’s one I remember meaning to start following last year but hadn’t gotten to. With this beautiful, smart newcomer recently arrived from a temperate world, this opening chapter definitely gives us a “fish out of water” vibe akin to the one you explored so skillfully in “Something is shining like gold, but better.”

    Yes, it's certainly a theme I have explored before--I don't know much about "plot" (since I learned in a college fiction writing course that "having things happen" didn't make a plot, and then nearly instantly didn't care) but I can always go with the basics for getting a story started--Someone comes to town, someone leaves town. When I began this story, I started with a character arriving on Hoth, and virtually nothing else.

    Also: I have a tendency towards writing about alienation, and when someone doesn't fit, in such an obvious way, that theme just leaps right in.

    In a way, Miss Ving is getting a warmer (!), more helpful welcome on Hoth than Miss Taffe did on Tatooine—which makes sense for the extreme conditions. And a good thing, too, because as has been pointed out, she doesn’t seem quite prepared for just how extreme those conditions are!

    There are some things you can't ever really be prepared for--and besides that, I don't think they even have adequate winter gear for Hoth on all those temperate planets.

    But I can tell she is a close observer of those around her: both the ladies, the aide, and young Adé (whom I’m finding intriguing too, and wondering if there is more than meets the eye in the way the ladies keep shutting her up, withholding cookies from her, etc.). It looks like there might be some kind of hierarchy of the sexes at work, too, given the more menial, manual labor the men are doing (they too do Not Necessarily Get Cookies, either)

    I hadn't realized that about the hierarchy of the sexes: for what it's worth, Antilles is really just messing with Jasen in this scene regarding the cookies. But it is true that there is a hierarchy, and the Ladies are sitting on the top of it. The aides are all women, and they are pretty much relegated to menial jobs too, even if it's not manual labor.

    And perhaps my biggest point of curiosity: who actually is the Winter Queen of the title? Someone we haven’t met, or have we yet? Hope you continue this so we can find out more—always great to see you back and writing again!

    The Winter Queen is a mystery that has yet to be introduced into the story at this point. And as for the story in general: yes, I have continued it--I'm not done, but I must have around 25000 words of it together--I just have to get to editing the second bit in order to post it.

    Thanks for reading, and commenting!

    ------

    devilinthedetails: Love the title (there's something very mystical about it) and the creative premise. You have a gift for painting a very detailed, vivid sense of setting especially in parts like this:

    When I arrived on Hoth, I was wearing a long black fur coat. It was made to resemble the fur of some bear roaming through some mystical wildlands. I don’t remember what it was once called. They used to hunt it down for that fur, but there isn’t any need for that sort of thing now. My coat was artificial, but it smelled like that animal must have, like its warm panting breath. Anyhow: I had known it would be cold here, the sort of knife-toothed cold I hadn’t ever experienced before, and this coat was the best I had to wear. I still wasn’t prepared for just how cold it was when I set forth into the air of the hangar, where the governmental aide was waiting for me.

    Thanks. And yes, I have been known, in several lives, for pretty writing (though in a review of one of my very few published works, the reviewer accused me of going with "style over substance," at least I had style). I wrote the original version of this first post in 2005 in this weird free-for-all mood I can no longer access--when I would open a fresh word processing file on a whim and just bang something out--and I threw the title on top of it in the same way. So if it works, I couldn't tell you how I did it.

    We learn so much about the setting and what the character is wearing with these details that all are included in a way that feels natural rather than forced. It's great how much information you could include with good flow in this first paragraph. Nice job!

    The hangar was a huge shadow-grey dingy cavern: it was so large that I could just make out the dayplanes parked nearby, and I couldn’t at all see the duracrete-rock ceiling up in the darkness that hovered overhead. It was kept heated for the sake of the ships—and I could smell the sunburned dry dust from what they were using—but I couldn’t feel any resulting warmth, and my breath still blew out as steamsoft white smoke.

    More details that feel very real. Sunburned dry dust and steamsoft white smoke are particularly strong phrasings. Almost a poetic quality to the prose here.

    To be honest, sometimes I think I may be putting too much work in getting across what a place feels like--but what I can say, I wasn't meant to be a minimalist. (Though I don't think I would resent them, Gordon Lish in particular, quite so much if minimalism hadn't been the law of the land in writing rather than one style amongst many for years upon years, but I won't go into that further.) Anyway! So I'm glad to hear that the details worked for you, and flowed with the paragraph, rather than landing with thuds.

    Thanks for an enjoyable, richly detailed chapter!

    You're welcome, and thanks for reading and commenting!

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

    mavjade: I really love the idea of Hoth having at the very least a colony. It would not be an easy place to live, but I could totally see it happening. As others have said, your descriptions are fantastic and really give you a visual and feeling of how things are. And I do think the ladies take their tea time quite seriously, but I wonder if it will come back to bite them in the future for being mean to the little girl?

    The Hoth colony is certainly a place for the bold--or those who decide it is better to take their chances in a frozen "winter wonderland" than continue to live in the crowded depths of the underlevels on Coruscant or another world that is "all one big city."

    I am glad the concept worked for you, because if it doesn't, the entire story falls apart from the beginning. (Yes, I admit to worrying about it a little.) It does seem unlikely that worlds like Hoth would be settled in the saga time--and after all, with so many, many temperate worlds--it seemed like 3/4th of the worlds in my guide to planets and moons are described as temperate--there would be no reason to. Hence those nicely uninhabited worlds for the rebels to hide a base. But this story takes place hundreds of years later, so the galaxy has obviously changed enough to make this colony possible.

    And like Finds, I'm very curious as to the title, who is the Winter Queen?


    All will be revealed in time.

    Thanks for reading, and commenting!

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

    Kit': I like the idea of the ladies trying to make their parlour the most over civilised and pretentious place on Hoth. Definitely reminds me of our history where middle and upkeep class women in the ‘colonies’ tried to outdo each other by repeating everything they did at hole but on a much grander and more snooty scale.

    The Ladies certainly have made their parlour into the most civilized, and well-heated, place on Hoth--though when your competition is wampa hunters (I think that might be a spoiler, but oh well) that isn't saying much. I can't say that I consciously created them in the image of similar women in Australia and other British colonies, but the resemblances are probably so natural I didn't have to. The parlour is indeed a "piece of home away from home."

    Wonder what both child (when she’s not in the company of all the ‘ladies’ and mother will be like).

    That should be revealed in time.

    Thanks for reading!

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

    Kahara: I know you mentioned that this shares roots with your 2016 diary, but it definitely has a feel all its own. A Winter Queen to match the Desert Ladies of your Tatooine stories -- I was really intrigued by the change in setting and how much is different even though some things remain the same from one part of the galaxy to the next in some ways. People are people, after all, and the pecking orders, the injustices large and small, and the moments of beauty are to be found anywhere. [face_thinking] But the world, and Lysinora herself, feel quite different.

    The funny thing about that is that I started my 2016 diary when this story was a broken truncated mess--and I'm restoring this story while the diary has been stalled in place for over two years. So the two stories have never really existed at the same time. But this story does feel different to me from the diary, even if they do have the same basic story (a teacher from a nice planet comes to the frontier town), so I'm glad, and relieved, that it feels different to you as well.

    Lysinora is certainly different--I have the feeling, in a way I never before have had with characters from two different stories of mine, that if she and Miss Taafe from the 2016 diary were to meet, they would loathe each other. A whole lot.

    The synthetic (because nobody needs to hunt, or because that would be too messy for these very indoors Hoth residents, I wonder) bear coat is a wonderfully atmospheric bit of wardrobe, and I love how it gets that "Gothic" vibe mentioned in the title line in there right away. :cool:

    The coat was more supposed to represent that the residents back on New Alderaan have no need to hunt--but it's true that the Ladies aren't exactly going out toting laser-rifles either. And I do like to get the vibe of the story set up straight away.

    Lysinora is perceptive of what these fancy Hoth folks really are under the surface -- and I love that her sympathies are on the side of the kid who just wants a cookie! And she has no compunctions about speaking her mind if she pleases. :p

    She certainly has those Ladies figured out (well, more or less, anyway). Cookies have to be earned, and they are not for children!

    There's definitely a sense that everyone in the room except for poor Adé (and that naming scheme seems familiar...) lives a very deliberately insulated life in more ways than one. The big, overdone layer-y clothes on the ladies, and the never-mentioned mystery substance that seems to be a soporific -- or some other drug -- only add to that stuffy, trapped feeling. No wonder that Lysinora doesn't seem like she's having a great time!

    They want to stay inside, in the parlour where it's warm (and civilized, of course), and I suspect some of the Ladies' teas are at least 50% booze. If there's a stuffy, trapped feeling, that is no wonder--they're inside nearly all the time while the winter-world howls outside. But Lysinora has only just gotten there, and there is much for her to learn--sorry--about this place.

    Thanks for reading, and commenting!
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2020
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  11. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    ---------------

    2.

    They call this colony Hoth City, and they want it to become a city. Well, they might want that, but I could see straight off that it wasn’t ever going to happen. The Mansion, which continues to be the one main structure, might as well be a pastewood stage set against the snow and the hovering glaring blue skies. The windows are double-layered plexi, and they still tremble in the hard sneering winds that attack on the coldest nights. They have the one paved street that ends just past the few outbuildings. The house engineers put up a system of heat pipes underneath the pavement floor I haven’t ever seen: it is always covered with a stamped flat sheet of snow.

    It was the first permanent settlement on the entire planet. I read about that when I researched the place before I accepted the teaching position—though there hadn’t been much written about it to read—and I have been reminded of this fact many, oh many, times since then.

    They built it on the site of an old hunting base hunched down near the foothills of the tall jagged mountains that didn’t have any names before someone christened them as the Hella Range. As it turned out, the wampa hunters, with their macho blasters, their macho clenched grins, and fang-bitten scars, still made use of the area. They were to stay out of sight and mind in the outbuildings.

    But it was no longer the one lone settlement. They had founded a second town, near the grey bone walls of the ancient ruins the exploring corps had found, on the opposite hemisphere—thousands of klicks away across the snow plains, and the frozen broken mirror of the ocean. When I made my arrival, Governor Creagor was staying there to supervise the construction of the town meeting house. She is there still, even though they finished with that over a year ago.

    I have yet to meet her, though I have seen her call image. She is a nightdark blue Pantoran woman with large staring lavender eyes who hardly looks sixteen years old, though I know that she is, of course, much older than that. The imaging shows the exact pastel lavender color of her eyes, but the audio part cringes across the distances, and I have only heard her voice as a static-echo.

    And yes, I know: the sea does not actually look like mirror glass. I was being fancifully poetic about that. It is only what it is--a heavy ice ceiling the mysterious world of water beneath, which even the explorers have mostly left alone.

    It isn’t at all surprising that they named the place--after the Ladies used the mining guild’s money to raise the Mansion into existence, and they had their first building—Hoth City. It is the only name they could have gone with. I lived for too many years in New Aldera, and I do know.

    When I arrived, they had only recently started work on a third outbuilding at the far end of the “street.” According to E.A., it was going to be an all-purpose store. Trust me, I did not pick that location, she said. Those dear little boys must be trying to improve us, but the joke will be on them. There isn’t a woman here who will go that far for a bit of shopping. Ha ha.

    I was the first new resident to have made an appearance in some time. When I inquired into what that meant exactly, both E.A and the aides were vague with their answers. It had “been months.” It had indeed been months, as I learned eventually, and closer to a standardized year. As the Ladies are so fond of saying, Hoth City is only for the brave.

    They were waiting on the promised arrival of an entire family unit. The woman, the mumsy, was Lady Dorabella’s granddaughter: and she had her husband (who couldn’t find a suitable job as a systems engineer on the entire world of Eriadu) and her three children, all of whom were too young to be my students, and therefore were of no interest to me. But for now, they just had me.

    3.

    After teatime in the parlour (I shall dispense with the proud capital the others use), Vittoria showed me to my room upstairs on the women’s hall. There was a glass bubble lift, but thankfully, Vittoria led the way up the staircase. I knew she was probably doing so for selfless reasons—like the petit-cookies, the lift was for Ladies—but I prefer to walk when I can. Her mouth was still locked in a polite cringing smile. I suspected—and soon enough, I would know—it wasn’t because of any genuine emotion she felt. She couldn’t help it. She was so used to smiling, and pleasing, that she went on doing it, when she didn’t even like me.

    We came to a stop in front of a door in the middle of the hall, and she stayed to watch while I took the keychip out of my dress pocket, and the door unlocked with a hiccupped snap. The room inside was flushed with pale snow light from the one window. It smelled like laundry soap, and the bed, the stainedwhite mattress, was blank and unmade. And—I needed to thank something out there for this—I could see the opened door for the fresher-closet.

    I had known beforehand that I was going to have one of their best rooms, but they hadn’t been so clear on the fresher situation. Now that I knew we all wouldn’t be sharing one, I felt a relief I hadn’t dared to hope for. I could not have endured that.

    I mean: who wants to have to smell other women, their panting underskirts, their skin, and their showerwater steam. The Ladies, I knew, all lived on this floor. And if those of us who were younger were all going to menstruate on the same cheerfully communal cycle, I didn’t want to know about it. I menstruate in private—I prefer to knock out the gnawing cramps, and back pain, with a nice powerfully muscled painshot, and I don’t discuss it with anyone.

    Once when I was ten, and had just started with the womanly cycle, my dear mother told me about a Dathomiri menarche ritual she had been reading about. It was as terribly savage and stupid as one would expect. She had used her arched drawling voice, the one that heralded an attack of her wit, but I had actually snarled in response. Yes, snarled. I wasn’t old enough to figure out that she was telling me this to make fun of it.

    Vittoria was still standing over by the doorway when I emerged from the fresher.-closet again. Her smile had relaxed somewhat, and I waited for her to get to her point. “So,” she said.

    “So?” I said, ceasing to wait. The heater-unit had turned on in the hallway, and the air it blew in was as dry as burned paper leaves, with a stuffy fur smell. It was turning out to be too warm: and while Vittoria had to be used to it, I wasn’t quite ready to tolerate it.

    As I wrote earlier, she didn’t like me. But I don’t know that she disliked me either. Vittoria tends to have the most predictable responses, and she wouldn’t have thought much of me at all: She would assume that someone who was tall and beautiful—beautiful especially compared with her--with garish dyed hair, would have to be stupid. I can’t say that I’m terribly intelligent, but I know one can be a genius, and still wind up wriggling in a bronze bra in a Hutt funded pleasure club.

    She looked around the room with a critically-squinted eye. “The housebots ought to have brought in your luggage by now. I’m afraid they don’t always work as they should.”

    “Oh, that. I’m not concerned.” And I wasn’t: because if those androids, or someone else, did not bring my belongings to me soon, I intended to return to the hangar and hunt them down myself, and if I had to kick manners into an android to do that, I would have kicked it hard.

    “There are some linens in the closet for your bed,” she said. “And Adé and I have the suite several doors to the left, if you ever need to find me.”

    “Thank you,” I said, even though I wanted her to leave. My mother used to say it was the done thing to be polite with “social inferiors”—though since she was Hapan, she thought everyone, and that included my father and possibly me, were inferiors. Then: “I take it Adé is your daughter?”

    “Oh, no!” she said. I wondered then if she was her niece (or cousin, or even much younger sister of her father’s autumn-time romance) but before I could go through with asking that, she answered the question for me: “We’re not at all related. I was pressed into looking after her when her mother died. Madame Antilles made me her official guardian when she was one.”

    “I see,” I said. I had gotten trapped in this excruciating conversation, and now I didn’t know what the next move ought to be. “That’s quite the responsibility to take on.”

    “Of course, it is,” she said. “But Adé needed me, and well. I won’t ever be able to have my own children, so you could say that this way, I get to have a daughter.”

    She said the last few words with a drooping sigh: no doubt, she was feeling, predictably, a lurch of guilt over having the motherly duties that rightfully belonged to Adé’s long dead mumsy. I had no idea what I was supposed to say—and thankfully, I refrained from making an attempt. It would be one of the many subjects that she considers unacceptable to speak aloud.

    She continued to watch me, and I said, in a painfully insincere rush: “Well! I shall be certain to let you know if I should need anything in the future.”

    “Of course,” she said. And good—I was beginning to suspect she was going to offer to make up my bed for me. “And I should be returning to the Parlour about now.”

    Once she had removed herself, I closed the door on the emptied hallway. I made up the bed with the practical white linen sheets stored on the closet shelf. My father doesn’t have any housebots, so I learned to do that myself. When an android, an older model with a shaggy lace trimmed purple velvet patch over its missing eye, showed up with the luggage, accompanied by Vittoria and Adé, I had, in lieu of the nap I wanted, settled into reading a novel.

    “There you go!” Vittoria said--as I lurched off the bed onto my feet, and the android entered, shuffling with rusted-squeaking knees, its red mouth perched in an arched smile.

    Adé wasn’t allowed to set one foot into the room that I couldn’t quite think of as belonging to me, but she hovered outside the doorway and watched.

    There isn’t much else worth relating about my first few days living here. I had another day of holiday time, during which I observed the rituals of the women’s hall, and was introduced to its members. I nodded through conversations at dinner. I finished reading the novel. Then it was time for me to walk downstairs one storey and prepare the room they had given me to be my classroom.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2020
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  12. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Wonderful detailed descriptions, both of Hoth City, its look and layout and materials, and of Lysinora's new digs; it is indeed reassuring that she'll have some privacy even in this very structured, very communal settlement, and I'd like to say that shows that her hosts have some respect for her. Though I'm curious about why she seems so sure Vittoria doesn't really like her, or why she seems to look down on her so much, when Vittoria seems to have been nothing but friendly and hospitable to her so far; I guess maybe that's something that will be revealed later on. Now we know some important new things about Adé, namely, that she's by way of an adopted daughter to Vittoria—and given the ages mentioned, it looks like Vittoria's pretty much the only mother figure she has ever known. All in all, it looks like Lysinora is about as settled in on this Strange New World as she is likely to get, and I will look forward to seeing how her first days of teaching go! Glad you're continuing this; keep it coming. :)
     
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  13. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Findswoman: Wonderful detailed descriptions, both of Hoth City, its look and layout and materials, and of Lysinora's new digs; it is indeed reassuring that she'll have some privacy even in this very structured, very communal settlement, and I'd like to say that shows that her hosts have some respect for her.

    Lysinora does appreciate her privacy (and perhaps she also likes to keep others at an emotional and etc. distance as well? You'll have to decide for yourself on that). And yes, her hosts have respected that--I suspect they used the fact that she would have "one of the best rooms" as a selling point during the hiring process. I doubt there were too many candidates interested in a teaching post in the remote snowbound wilds of a winter planet such as Hoth.

    Though I'm curious about why she seems so sure Vittoria doesn't really like her, or why she seems to look down on her so much, when Vittoria seems to have been nothing but friendly and hospitable to her so far; I guess maybe that's something that will be revealed later on.

    That may be because--and I think it's pretty clear even when they've only just met--Lysinora doesn't much like Vittoria either, on an almost instinctual level. Or at the least, she doesn't trust her. Yes, she is friendly, but she's doing so because that's a requirement of her role, and Lysinora both at the time, and in retrospect, finds it all to be fake. And she isn't entirely wrong: as I see her, Vittoria (like several people I have encountered in real life over the years) has worked in a service job for so long that she is no longer really capable of behaving in a genuine fashion.

    Now we know some important new things about Adé, namely, that she's by way of an adopted daughter to Vittoria—and given the ages mentioned, it looks like Vittoria's pretty much the only mother figure she has ever known.

    That's true--but as you may have noticed, though she is the closest to a mother-figure Adé has ever known, Vittoria doesn't identify as Adé's mother, but as her guardian. There has to be much more to the iceberg (sorry) of this little girl's story.

    All in all, it looks like Lysinora is about as settled in on this Strange New World as she is likely to get, and I will look forward to seeing how her first days of teaching go! Glad you're continuing this; keep it coming. :)

    You will be seeing the first glimpse of the classroom in the next post, so--stay tuned?

    Thanks for reading, and commenting!
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
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  14. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Hoth City may not much impress Lysinora, but it is taking on a life of its own with every new revelation and bit of scenery-setting, and I'm really enjoying finding out more about it. Of all the places to set up shop -- but just the kind of place that these residents somehow would find their way to. It's a little place with big ambitions, which seems to suit the hint of pompous pride that Lysinora sees in the Ladies.

    [face_laugh] Straight to the point, as usual!

    Very interesting -- are these the same guys that we saw in Chapter 1? In any case, they're a stark contrast to the indoorsy Ladies. It sounds like they were around before the "city" and so I'm guessing they're not related to the newer settlers. The more we learn, the more curious I am about this town and why it came to be.

    There are so many "New __" in this world, and I guess that kind of stunning creativity is not limited to Earth. :p I like how you can just about hear her tone of voice through the narration in comments like this.

    Wow, this place is about as isolated as it gets! And interesting that it seems to be kind of last option not just for Lysinora but maybe also for some of the other residents.

    Can't be getting any commoner germs in the Ladies' lift, I suppose. :rolleyes: Vittoria may not like the newcomer much, but I have to wonder if the fact that the feeling is so very mutual has something to do with that. She might be used to being a people-pleaser, but that may also mean she's all too aware of when someone isn't delighted to meet her. Still, I can see why Lysinora doesn't trust her -- and I get the impression she's not one prone to trusting easily in the first place. (Given what we've seen of her mother, hard to blame her for that one!)

    :eek: DYED HAIR. THE SHEER AUDACITY. Lysinora certainly has ideas on how others see her, though in this case I get the feeling she may not be far off the mark. I can imagine that this outsider with her garish dyed hair might in fact be a bit of a sore spot for Vittoria, who is so used to conformity. Having to fade into the background and caretake the Ladies all the time probably would make someone else NOT doing that extra irritating.

    [face_rofl] Oh Lysinora. Yeah, I imagine she and Miss Taafe would not get along so well.

    Poor Adé! It sounds like Vittoria can't quite decide if she's a burden or an opportunity to play the socially acceptable parent-figure, and either way that's kind of a difficult thing for the kid. It'll be interesting to see if she shows up in Lysinora's class, and what she's actually like. [face_thinking]
     
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  15. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Kahara: Hoth City may not much impress Lysinora, but it is taking on a life of its own with every new revelation and bit of scenery-setting, and I'm really enjoying finding out more about it. Of all the places to set up shop -- but just the kind of place that these residents somehow would find their way to. It's a little place with big ambitions, which seems to suit the hint of pompous pride that Lysinora sees in the Ladies.

    The Ladies do have their delusions of grandeur for their Little Colony That Could in the frozen winter wonderlands, and Lysinora certainly doesn't share their delusions (because she's right, as not many people are brave, or desperate, or etc. enough to come to Hoth City to make it the size of a village, let alone a city) nor does she take them seriously. But she's right there with them, so I suppose that says something about her too.

    "They call this colony Hoth City, and they want it to become a city. Well, they might want that, but I could see straight off that it wasn’t ever going to happen."
    [face_laugh] Straight to the point, as usual!


    Just telling it like it is.

    Very interesting -- are these the same guys that we saw in Chapter 1? In any case, they're a stark contrast to the indoorsy Ladies. It sounds like they were around before the "city" and so I'm guessing they're not related to the newer settlers. The more we learn, the more curious I am about this town and why it came to be.

    No, these are a completely different group of men from the ones living indoors in "Hoth City"--who are probably rightly afraid of them. They were indeed around before the Ladies and their entourage first landed on Hoth, and the two groups have come to some sort of agreement that leads to them both remaining in the area--while having as little to do with each other as possible. As for how the colony came to be--well, hopefully more on that shall be revealed with time.

    There are so many "New __" in this world, and I guess that kind of stunning creativity is not limited to Earth. :p I like how you can just about hear her tone of voice through the narration in comments like this.

    If the Official Guide to Planets and Moons is anything to go by, this sort of stunning creativity is legion in the galaxy far far away--with many a capital city on many a "temperate world" named for the planet itself. Her tone has been well earned.

    Wow, this place is about as isolated as it gets! And interesting that it seems to be kind of last option not just for Lysinora but maybe also for some of the other residents.

    As the Ladies are so fond of saying, it takes a special sort of person to come to Hoth--but everyone there has their own reasons, some of which may come up. As for Lysinora, I suppose that--at least in the abstract, before it became a real place--Hoth has something she needs.

    Can't be getting any commoner germs in the Ladies' lift, I suppose. :rolleyes: Vittoria may not like the newcomer much, but I have to wonder if the fact that the feeling is so very mutual has something to do with that. She might be used to being a people-pleaser, but that may also mean she's all too aware of when someone isn't delighted to meet her. Still, I can see why Lysinora doesn't trust her -- and I get the impression she's not one prone to trusting easily in the first place. (Given what we've seen of her mother, hard to blame her for that one!)

    Oh, Vittora was probably well aware, and quite soon, that Lysinora hasn't taken to her, though from Lysinora's perspective, it is difficult to know how much effect that had. Vittoria is probably used to dealing with people who don't like her (or underestimate her) and remaining gracious. It is also a certainty that Lysinora doesn't understand her: she says that Vittoria is predictable, which means that she knows what she will do in most situations--even what she'll say--but she doesn't understand why Vittoria does these things.

    :eek: DYED HAIR. THE SHEER AUDACITY. Lysinora certainly has ideas on how others see her, though in this case I get the feeling she may not be far off the mark. I can imagine that this outsider with her garish dyed hair might in fact be a bit of a sore spot for Vittoria, who is so used to conformity. Having to fade into the background and caretake the Ladies all the time probably would make someone else NOT doing that extra irritating.

    I KNOW.

    I have the feeling that Vittoria thinks that once a woman has reached the age of about twenty-five, she is too old for such things as garish dyed hair. (Unless she is a Lady. Now that I think of it, there has to be at least one with them who has her hair dyed a permanent fake dark red.) And you're right that she may resent the fact that Lysinora--who has pink hair, and is six feet tall--stands out even more than she has to. Vittoria doesn't believe in standing out.

    "And I wasn’t: because if those androids, or someone else, did not bring my belongings to me soon, I intended to return to the hangar and hunt them down myself, and if I had to kick manners into an android to do that, I would have kicked it hard."
    [face_rofl] Oh Lysinora. Yeah, I imagine she and Miss Taafe would not get along so well.

    That's an understatement.

    Poor Adé! It sounds like Vittoria can't quite decide if she's a burden or an opportunity to play the socially acceptable parent-figure, and either way that's kind of a difficult thing for the kid. It'll be interesting to see if she shows up in Lysinora's class, and what she's actually like.

    It certainly can't be easy being Vittoria's ward. And yes (I don't think this is too much of a spoiler) Adé is indeed in Lysinora's class, and you shall be seeing more of her soon.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
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