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Saga - PT Saga - OT To Infinity and Beyond: Tales of the Infinite Ezras | Fanfic Olympics decathlon

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Raissa Baiard, Jul 3, 2020.

  1. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Title: To Infinity and Beyond: Tales of the Infinite Ezras
    Author: Raissa Baiard
    Timeframe: Saga PT, OT, anywhere from 19 BBY to 5(?)ABY
    Characters: Ezra Bridger, the other Rebels, Mira and Ephraim Bridger, Grand Admiral Thrawn, OCs
    Genre: Miscellaneous
    Canonicity: Various
    Synopsis: short stories from across the multi-verse of Infinite Ezras.

    This is an extension of my Infinite Ezras project, in which I try to write as many different variations on Ezra Bridger’s character and still keep him recognizably himself. In case you’re interested, the project includes

    Thread Index:
    1. Escape :
    Prime Time Coverage: 500+ words of action, adventure, or excitement
    2. The Last Best Day: 100 Word Sprint
    3. Here Kitty, Kitty... : 110 Word Hurdle
    4. Rebel at Heart: 4 X 100 Relay
    5. Imperial Youth: !500 Word Dash
    6. Spectre Four: 400 Word Cross Country
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
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  2. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Escape : Prime Time Coverage: 500+ words of action, adventure, or excitement
    Characters: Ezra, Thrawn
    Timeframe: 1 BBY
    Canonicity: AU
    Genre: Action

    Notes: This story occurs after the finale of Rebels, while Ezra is aboard the Chimaera with Thrawn. The doorway from the Lothal Jedi Temple actually crumbles in canon, but I didn’t remember that until I was 3/4 done writing this, so I decided not to let canon stand in the way of a good story.

    Thank you to @Findswoman for beta-reading @};-
    ———

    It was a trap, of course.

    My lightsaber was in Thrawn’s gallery. Some careful observation showed there were only two guards on the entrance and my saber was on a pedestal conveniently within a line of sight through a vent in the duct where I crouched So, yeah—it was obviously a trap. Thrawn was arrogant, not stupid.

    I should have left it—there was more to being a Jedi than swinging a laser-sword after all. I might have, if not for what lay on the pedestal next to it.

    Kanan’s lightsaber.

    Okay, fine...I’d play Thrawn’s little game. I wasn’t letting him keep Kanan’s saber as a a trophy. It belonged with Hera, and I was going to get it back to her somehow.

    I edged the vent open and stretched out in the Force. Kanan’s saber rose—and a strident alarm blared. My hold on the lightsaber faltered; it bobbled in midair as the guards spun. One pointed towards my hiding spot. “Up there!”

    I summoned Kanan’s saber and then my own as the guards opened fire. I slammed the vent shut, scrambling away from the opening as. I fumbled to clip the sabers onto my belt.

    As I crept towards the main air shaft, I heard a whirring whine approaching—seeker droids. One zapped off a shot that grazed my shoulder. I swore and turned around, but more droids blocked the way. There was no way to fight them in such close quarters. The only way out was down. I plunged my lightsaber into the duct, cut through the ceiling and dropped down.

    Into a squad of troopers.

    I ran, deflecting blaster bolts, skidding around corners, dashing down side corridors. No matter which way I turned, troopers blocked my path, herding me towards the cargo bay that contained the Jedi Temple’s doorway.

    Thrawn stood in front of it, flanked by more troopers, his arms folded across his chest, smirking. “There’s nowhere left to run, Jedi.”

    “Oh yeah?” He was wrong. There was one place left, Force help me—through the Temple’s door. But I’d closed the gate; who knew what was on the other side now? If anything was there. But I had no choice. I sprinted towards it full tilt amid a flurry of blasterfire.

    Thrawn leapt aside at the last moment. “Stop him!”

    I hit the access panel as I charged down the stone corridor and just had time to see a golden haze coalesce at its end before I launched myself through it.

    I felt like I’d been shot with a blast meant to stun a Hutt, and there was a horrible wrenching sensation like I was being torn from the Galaxy. I plummeted, flailing through nothing and landed with a thud, sliding forward to slam my head against something.

    “Ezra!?”

    I opened my eyes slowly. The Galaxy came back into focus; I was in a house.

    My house.

    A girl with my mother’s eyes and my father’s chin stared down at me. “Ezra? What are you doing?!”
    ———

    Note: If that girl at the end seems familiar
    it’s because she’s Aliza from “Sometimes I Just Know”—or at least some version of her.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    =D= Riveting action as Ezra puts on a Luke Skywalker style escape :cool: and arrives to be greeted by his sister [face_relieved]
     
  4. Anedon

    Anedon Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Quite an exciting escape scene. :)
     
  5. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Hey, Ezra was pulling off escapes like this before Luke was! Maybe we should say that Luke pulls off Ezra Bridger style escapes :D [face_laugh]
    Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!
     
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  6. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    The Last Best Day: 100 Word Sprint
    Characters: Ezra, Mira and Ephraim Bridger, Mr. & Mrs Sumar (mentioned)
    Timeframe: 12 BBY, when Ezra is 7 years old
    Canonicity: Canon
    Genre: drama
    ————
    The Last Best Day

    Ezra never forgot the day his family took their speeder out to the Sumars’ farm for the day. Mom had worn her hair down and Dad had smiled more than he had in months. They’d had a picnic with Mom’s topato flatcakes and Mrs. Sumar’s jogan pie, and Mr. Sumar had let him pick as many jogans as he wanted.

    He’d played fetch with the Sumars’ canid, Tippy, for hours. His parents had laughed when he’d tried to smuggle Tippy home in the back of the speeder.

    It had been the best day ever.

    The next night, the stormtroopers came.
    ———
    Notes: This story was inspired by some of the concept art of the Bridgers’ “family holos” featured in the Art of Rebels book. One of the drawings shows the family sitting on a picnic blanket. Mira has long hair (and Ephraim is bald!) and Ezra holds some kind of small furry animal. It’s such an ordinary setting and they all look so happy, that it makes me=(( knowing what will shortly happen to their little family.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
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  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    :_| !!!!!!! Oh, even the title makes me ACHE for Ezra. :* :*
     
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  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Wow, you are really off to a rip-roaring start with these, and it is so much fun to see your wonderful Infinite Ezras back in action--what a great choice for a decathlon! :ezra: And great idea to start it off with such an action-packed 500-word piece--you're brave to tackle that one right out of the gate! (It's one of the events that looks particularly intimidating to me!) Not only is it great to see that Ezra hasn't lost one ounce of his Loth-street-rat speed and caginess even post-S4, but he's now also added to it some very mature strategic thinking that allows him to see right through Thrawn's little trap. And of course it is the thought of returning Kanan's lightsaber to Hera that motivates him, not recovering his own--that's how we can really see how much he's grown. Take that for your best-laid plans, Grand Adm. Hoity-Toity Art Collector! :p I know you went back and forth about how to do the temple escape, but I am totally cool with the bending of canon in aid of a good story--especially since Ez's escape is directly into very familiar AU territory--what a cool touch, and yes, that girl is super familiar! ;) Great job on this. =D=

    And oh, what a heartwrenching choice of subject matter for the 100-Word Sprint! What a sudden change from such a perfect fun day with family friends (I love the Sumars!) to the loss of Ezra's parents! Definitely unforgettable for Ezra, in so many ways. =(( It was a really neat touch that you tied this into the concept images from the Rebels art book--I too really loved how Mira looked with her hair down, and love the idea of Ezra being able to sport and play with pets even as a youngster, given his later beastwarden talents. (Which we even see a taste of here, in his attempt at smuggling Tippy!) You packed a lot of feeling into these 100 words--headcanon definitely accepted, even though it hurts! ;)

    Excellent work on these first two events, and I can't wait to see what further Ezras will appear in those to come! =D=
     
  9. Mira_Jade

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

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh yay! It's so, so wonderful to see more of your Infinite Ezras feature in such a mighty fine collection as the Olympics! This is already off to such a wonderful start - rip-roaring, indeed, to borrow @Findswoman's words. I feel like I'm really just going to be parroting most of her excellent review, but here I go anyway. ;) [face_love]

    The action here was awesome - and I really appreciate how you tackled probably the most intimidating event first, in true Ezra fashion. [face_mischief] Ezra is really thinking instead of just barging in, showing how much he's truly grown as both a young man and a Jedi Knight. But this sentence, and the emotional weight behind it, really just hit me. Of course he's going to honor Kanan's legacy, and in this way especially; that lightsaber is not Thrawn's to keep. [face_plain]

    Aliza! :D

    I'm sadly not familiar with all of your Ezras - which is something I both want and need to rectify! - but I recognized his sister here! What an awesome way to cross canon into AU. I just loved how this entire scenario played out. [face_love]

    Oh ow ow ow. =(( Wow, but that was quite the visceral, emotional punch! But it was a mighty fine sleigh of hand to build up such a happy, joyous scene - the quintessential best day ever from a little boy's point of view - and then slam the last sentence home with Ezra's new reality only just words later. Really excellent work, and a great way to use the short drabble format to its best. =D=


    Your decathlon is off to a wonderful start, again, and I can't wait to read more! :D =D=
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
  10. amidalachick

    amidalachick Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Escape: I have to agree with @Findswoman and @Mira_Jade that you are brave starting off with the action piece! But you did an amazing job of it! Ezra made quite the escape, and I love his determination to retrieve Kanan's lightsaber. And I love the sibling reunion at the end! [face_love]

    The Last Best Day: Ouch! Such a peaceful, happy family moment and then the last line hits. :( Really great job of saying so much in just a few words!

    Once again I loved these first two entries and I'm looking forward to getting to know Ezra a little better through the rest of these events! =D=:)
     
  11. Anedon

    Anedon Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    The scene defenetly becomes very tragic if we consider the context, but its nice they at least had that last good time together before it happened.
     
  12. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Titles can be really hard for me to come up with, but this one came even before I finished the drabble and was just so fitting and poignant.
    I didn’t necessarily mean to start off with a tough event (because action can be pretty intimidating to me, too). But I was musing about the Temple portal and what exactly it opened onto—another time, an alternate Lothal?—and the idea of Ezra having to escape to that other dimension fell into place. The hardest part was trimming it down into 500 words! Ezra really has grown so much by the finale; he sacrifices so much for his family and his planet. He’s become a Jedi who meditates and plans instead of a boy who just rushes headlong into everything. He’s capable of thinking outside the box—purrgils, anyone?—and that throws a spammer into Thrawn’s plan, because he thinks in orderly, logical X people do Y patterns.

    I knew as soon as I saw those concept drawings I’d wind up writing about them. We have so few glimpses of Ezra’s life before his parents were arrested, and the art of them was just heartbreakingly beautiful. Tippy was very nearly the Bridgers’ [et, but I couldn’t stand the idea of the dog being homeless, too :p (and similar to Ez, I tried to smuggle kittens home from a friend’s house).
    Thank you so much! I think Ezra’s character arc has to be one of the best in SW, because we get to see him grow and truly fulfill the potential that Hera and Kanan saw in him from the beginning. He’s capable of thinking strategically and seeing that Thrawn’s laid a trap, but he’ll risk it rather than leave his master’s lightsaber as a piece for Thrawn to gloat over.

    I couldn’t resist having canon Ezra cross into the more ordinary life that could have been his if his parents had chosen a different path; it’s something I may play around with more in this decathlon or elsewhere.

    Thank you again! The “holo” was so beautifully, ordinary and so happy that it conjured visions of those sort of simple pleasures—sunshine, picnics and puppies—that do make the best days and memories. Knowing what was going to happen to the family made the drawing so bittersweet, and I wanted to capture that feeling in the drabble. I’m glad that it succeeded for you.
    Thank you! Action is a challenge for me, but it was fun to have Ezra once again confound Thrawn’s carefully constructed plans by doing something completely unexpected and illogical :D I imagine Ezra was more than a little surprised to find that he has a sibling in this alternate Lothal! Working in short form fics like these is a great challenge; I have a tendency to turn all my stories into long multi-chapters but these short fics and drabbles are showing me how much can be said with only a few sentences. Glad you enjoyed these.
    I’m sure that the memory of this day was something they all held onto when things were at their worst. Thanks for reading!
     
  13. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks to @Findswoman for beta reading @};-
    —————
    Here, Kitty, Kitty….: 110 Word Hurdle
    Characters
    : Ezra, Kanan, and a Loth-cat
    Timeframe: 14 BBY, Rebels S1
    Canonicity: Canon
    Genre: Humor
    ———

    “Here, kitty, kitty…. That’s right, good Loth-cat. Now give it to me…”

    “Mrow!”

    “No, hey! Aw, come on, get back here! No, don’t go under the ramp! Get out of there. Come on, you stupid cat! This isn’t funny! Give. It. To. Me.”

    *Hiss!*

    “Hey! Why you mangy, flea-bitten… if you don’t give that to me right now—“

    “Ahem...What are you doing?”

    “Oh, hey, Kanan… Nothing. I mean, just I’m practicing my animal empathy. Nice kitty…”

    “Is that my holocron?”

    “Is it? Whoa… how did he get ahold of that? Bad Loth-cat! Give it back...Ow! Um, here you go.”

    “Thanks… You two have fun.”

    “Bye! Stupid furball…”

    “Mrow!”

    ————————

    Rebel at Heart : 4 X 100 Relay
    Characters
    : Ezra, Zeb, Hera, Sabine
    Timeframe: various, from 4 BBY to 1 BBY
    Canonicity: Canon
    Genre: mush, drama, friendship
    ———

    Charity

    When the Spectres handed out supplies in Tarkintown, the residents thanked Ezra, too. Even though he hadn’t done anything. Even though he’d tried to steal those supplies. Why should he feel guilty? He was poor, hungry, ragged and homeless, just like them. Why shouldn’t he have had the supplies? They would have kept him fed for weeks; here everyone only got a couple meal packets each.

    But there were little kids there. Babies. Old ladies. He could take care of himself. They couldn’t.

    So he did feel guilty.

    And, unexpectedly, he cared.

    That was the moment he became a Rebel.
    ———

    Friendship

    Okay, so Zeb is big.

    And grouchy.

    And smelly.

    But other than that, he isn’t such a bad guy.

    He doesn’t think I notice, but he always slips me some extra of my favorite jogan pie.

    He didn’t make fun of me—too much—when he caught me trying to make a drawing to impress Sabine.

    And he sits up with me after I have nightmares about the night the stormtroopers came for my parents, not saying anything, until I don't hear the shouts anymore and I can go back to sleep.

    This must be what having a big brother is like.
    ———

    Affection

    It was the pajamas that did it.

    Hera became Ezra’s mother avian when he joined the crew. She made sure he knew where to find things on the Ghost. She asked what he wanted for dinner, and tried to draw him into their conversations.

    But when she gave him a pair of pajamas—plain white ones like his dad used to wear—because she said he’d sleep better in them, Ezra broke down, threw his arms around Hera and hugged her as tight as he could.

    Because no one had cared enough to take care of him in a really long time.
    ———

    Intimacy

    The first thing fourteen-year-old me noticed about Sabine was that she was beautiful, but it didn’t take me long to figure out she’s a lot more than that. She’s smart, fun, creative. She can kick serious Imperial shebs with any weapon or no weapon at all and she can turn any surface into a work of art. Once I got past the whole awkward crushing thing, we became friends.

    Now, I’d say Sabine’s my best friend. I trust her and I know I can always count on her to be there for me And…

    I think I really love her.
     
  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    The Hurdle made me laugh!!! That kitty was messing around with something that shouldn't be played with. :eek:
    The 4 kinds of affection: friendship and affection, lovely as Ezra feels cared for by Zeb and Hera. :) Intimacy was pure sweetness as Ezra reflects on Sabine's qualities.

    =D=
     
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  15. Mira_Jade

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

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    These were an awesome assortment of character sketches. I enjoyed every one of these drabbles. [face_love]

    Ha! I love how you took the all dialogue approach with this one and really made it work. Your writing flowed and was easy to read; I could totally envision the entire scene, even without any descriptive words. Yep, practicing his animal empathy, indeed! [face_laugh] [face_mischief]

    It's fitting that the loth-cat gets the last word. :p

    What a beautiful character moment to capture in words, and too true! Ezra has looked out for himself for so long that this had to be an eye opening moment for him, yet, once his eyes are opened . . . it's just onwards and upwards from here. [face_love]

    Aw! I want to know more about the drawing to impress Sabine now. [face_mischief]

    This one really hit me; it anyone knows nightmares from the actions of the Empire, it's Zeb. [face_plain]

    Yes, this is very much indeed what it's like to have a big brother. [face_love]

    Aw! I love how this entire drabble was a beautiful train of thought - you could follow Ezra so clearly as he went from viewing Sabine as a pretty girl to a competent girl to a comrade and partner and friend and now, finally, maybe even something more. A fantastic way to show a progression of intimacy! [face_love]


    These continue to be excellent, and I look forward to reading more! :D =D=
     
  16. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Oh, wow, what a wonderful next batch! What a fun idea for the 110-word hurdle—dialogue-only works really well for that, and what an adorable scene you worked up from that goofy “Ezra’s Loth-cat puts something in its mouth” prompt! Oh boy, of all things for that Loth-cat to spirit off with... yeah, more than animal empathy will be needed for this situation, methinks... nice try there, Ezzums! :p And I too love the fact that kitty gets the last word (as a cat owner, I can say that that is pretty much true to life :p ).

    Really GREAT WORK with the 4x100 prompts—absolutely PERFECT choices for each one. Love how you made Tarkintown such a formative moment for Ezra, the moment when he truly sees that “helping those who cannot help themselves is the beginning of honor” (OK, yes, different story, but it still applies here, too!). Of course I squeed over sweet Zebby’s big-brotherly friendship toward Ezra! Oh, I bet there’s no one on the Ghost who gives better late-night, woke-up-from-nightmare hugs, because again, as @Mira_Jade rightly says, he’s been right there himself. <3 It’s so cool how you worked those semi-infamous plain white pajamas into “Affection” as a gift from Hera In memory of Ezra’s dad—headcanon accepted there, for sure! :D And “Intimacy” was a very sweet exploration of his blossoming relationship with Sabine and its very believable progression from crush to admiration to friendship to love.

    Once again, wonderful work! Always looking forward to seeing where you’ll go with this series and with Ezra in general. You really know and understand him so well! :ezra: =D=
     
  17. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    I didn't come up with a definite backstory for how the kitty got Kanan's holocron in the first place, but I'm pretty sure that it involves Ezra borrowing it without permission and that's part of the reason he's so anxious to get it back! :D Zeb's big-brotherly friendship and Hera's maternal affection show Ezra he's loved, and his relationship with Sabine grows as he learns to appreciate her for all her qualities.
    Thank you so much! I have a tendency of turning everything into epics, so it’s been a fun change to do some short fics for this challenge. They’re like potato chips....you can’t do just one!

    I admit, I took this approach because it seemed like the easiest way not to mention Ezra’s name:D And I wanted to do something light and fun after “The Last Best Day”.

    Always. It wouldn’t be a cat if it didn’t!

    It’s a testament to his character and his parents’ teachings that when Ezra sees the residents of Tarkintown, he’s touched by their plight. He may stumble a bit on his new path, but he does his best.

    Hmm...maybe I can work this into a story...:D

    I saw a beautiful piece of fan art of Zeb comforting Ezra this way, and the headcanon was immediately accepted. I think after their brotherly bond is firmly established that Ezra is able to do the same for Zeb.

    This is one of the things I love most about Rebels—you can see how characters and their relationships grow over time. Ezra starts out clearly attracted to Sabine on a physical level, which she mostly good-naturedly tolerates, but by S4, they’ve developed a wonderful, reciprocal friendship built on trust and respect, which could easily grow into love.

    Thanks so much for your lovely comments[face_love]
    Thanks! I enjoyed playing with the dialogue only form in “Things You Said”. It proved to be a fun way to do some quick character sketches. And I’m glad you like how this turned out; I felt like doing something a little silly and remembered that prompt! :D It’s been a while since I’ve owned been owned by a cat, but yes, they do like to get that last “mrow”, don’t they? :p

    Thank you! Three of them were pretty easy to choose subjects for ;) Re-watching that first episode, I could really see how this is the first time Ezra has considered the world beyond his marketplace and tower, and it’s so much to his credit that it makes him think and feel. I knew friendship had to be Zeb (purple heart here). They have such a fun, but heartfelt, bond once they get past that initial antagonism. Hera’s gift grew out of my in-joke-y headcanon of her giving cute patterned pajamas as birthday and Life Day gifts. It’s a very mom, practical kind of gift, but there’s a lot of caring behind it. “Intimacy” was the one that was a tougher choice. @devilinthedetails ’s definition of intimacy more as knowing and being known by another person could have worked with any of the Spectres, but it seemed appropriate for Ezra’s relationship with Sabine and how it develops from adolescent crush to one of mutual trust and respect—of knowing and being known by each other.

    Aww, thank so much [face_blush] Ezra is such a mult-faceted character with so many possibilities to explore; I give all credit to Dave Filoni and Taylor Gray for making him such a rich, well-rounded character.
     
  18. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading @};-
    ------
    Imperial Youth : 1599 Word Dash

    Characters
    : Ezra, Major Charles Dotheby (OC), Lt. Marilla Mathyas (OC), Mira and Ephraim Bridger (mentioned)
    Timeframe: 11 BBY
    Canonicity: AU

    “Who do we have here?” Major Charles Dotheby, director of the Wilhuff Tarkin Home for Boys, peeked through the door’s small, barred window at the young boy sitting on the bed. His blue-black hair was unkempt and overgrown, hanging down into his eyes and his clothes were worn, ragged at the elbows and knees and short at the wrists and ankles. He picked sullenly at a thread of the starchy white sheets.

    “Ezra Bridger, sir,” Lieutenant Marilla Mathyas handed him a datapad with the boy’s file displayed on it. “Patrol picked him up in the marketplace this morning trying to pick pockets. Apparently he’s been living on his own since his parents were arrested for broadcasting seditious material last year.”

    “A sad case,” Dotheby remarked, glancing between the datapad and the boy, and shook his head. He didn’t understand how the boy’s parents could have put pursuing their misguided political ideals above their son’s welfare. The poor boy was much too young to be living on the streets of Capital City. No wonder he was thin and dirty; that he had lasted this long on his own was nothing short of amazing.

    “A hard case.” Mathyas pursed her lips. “The officers who brought him in said he ran them on quite a chase and fought like a rabid Loth-cat when they finally cornered him. Kicked one in the groin and bit the other’s nose, all while screaming about the evils of the Empire. Don’t get your hopes up on this one.”

    Dotheby balanced the datapad on the covered tray he’d collected from the dining hall as he reached for the door. “There’s always hope, Lieutenant. That’s why we’re here.”

    The boy looked up as Dotheby entered and transferred his ferocious scowl from the frayed corner of his bedding to the major. Dotheby remembered Mathyas saying that Ezra had fought like a rabid Loth-cat, and reflected that the boy did look rather like a small, scruffy cat, puffed up and snarling to make himself seem bigger. Dotheby set the tray on the bedside table and sat down in the wobbly folding chair next to it. “The Empire welcomes you to your new home, Ezra!”

    Ezra glared out from under the fringe of dark hair that spilled over into his eyes. “I’m not gonna stay here. I can escape anything.”

    Dotheby suppressed a chuckle; the boy certainly had spirit and no lack of bravado. It was unfortunate that his time on the streets had already started to turn him feral, wary and defensive against the very people who were trying to help him. But as with any young wild creature, patience and kindness were the best remedy for that. “Well then, I suppose we’ll just have to convince you not to go.”

    Ezra expressed his opinion of the likelihood of that happening by blowing a loud, splattery zoochberry.

    As juvenile provocations went, it was hardly the worst Dotheby had ever endured. Presumably the boy hadn’t yet learned to disparage his opponent’s mother’s footwear. “Perhaps you’ll change your mind after you’ve had a good meal.” A savory aroma wafted through the room as he removed the tray’s cover to reveal its contents. “I imagine it’s been some time since you’ve had fried tip-yip and smashed topatoes. There’s a lava roll and bantha milk to go with it, and beebleberry surprise for dessert.”

    The boy’s eyes widened at the bounty of food that had been presented to him, and he stared at it with naked longing. But as he reached for it, something hard flickered across his face and he jumped back as if he’d been electro-shocked. He crossed his arms firmly over his chest, jamming his hands in his armpits as if he was afraid they’d snatch the food up of their own accord if he didn’t keep them pinned there. “No,” he said, resolutely dragging his hungry eyes away from the plate.

    “No?” Dotheby asked, nonplussed at Ezra’s adamant refusal. He had to have been hungry. He was homeless and alone, and his appearance certainly gave every indication that he hadn’t been eating well. Still...this small, feral Loth-cat needed patience and kindness, he reminded himself. “Is there something else you’d like more?”

    “No,” Ezra repeated, his mouth set in a flat line and his chin jutting out defiantly. “I’m not taking anything from the Empire. You probably poisoned it, anyway.”

    “Poison?!” This time Dotheby couldn’t contain his laughter. The idea was patently ludicrous, but he supposed if one was a small boy raised on tales of the Empire’s treachery, it made a certain dreadful sense. “I assure you, Ezra, we’re not in the habit of poisoning children here!” He picked up the fork and took a large bite of mashed topatoes, chewing slowly and carefully. ”There now; I’d hardly do that if I meant to poison you.”

    Ezra continued to eye him with suspicion. “It might be slow-acting poison,” he pointed out with a child’s incontrovertible logic.

    Dotheby chuckled again. Mathyas was right; he was going to be a tough nut to crack. But what spirit! He wasn’t giving up on the boy that easily. “Ah, well, then I’ll stay and we can chat until you’re certain I’m not going to die, because whatever your parents may have said—”

    The boy’s reaction was fierce and instantaneous; he shot up off the bed, hands balled into fists and eyes flashing. “Don’t talk about my parents! They're not the ones who are evil, the Empire is! The Empire took them away from me and I hate it! And I hate you!”

    “Oh, Ezra…” His heart went out to the poor child, so young to be so hurt and angry. He wondered what kind of tales the boy’s parents had fed him to make him this way. Why couldn’t these so-called Rebels, who fancied themselves heroes and reformers see what the Empire had done for Lothal and the Galaxy? It had brought peace and stability after the chaos of the Clone Wars, and it was bringing new industry and jobs to this small agricultural world. Dotheby sighed. “I don’t believe your parents are evil, just...misguided. I believe they started listening to the wrong people.” Governor Azadi himself, if what was in Ezra’s file was accurate. Anyone on Lothal would have listened to him; Dotheby certainly would have, once. “People who filled their heads with falsehoods about the Empire and used them to spread their propaganda. However your parents feel about the Empire, though, I’m sure they love you.” Mira and Ephraim Bridger looked like such nice, ordinary people in their holos. Perhaps they’d been heedless of the consequences their actions would have on Ezra, but surely they’d cared for him. “They wouldn’t want to see you hungry or cold. Here you’ll have good food, a warm bed, clean clothes. And perhaps you can even help your parents.”

    “Me? How?!”

    “If you follow the rules and work hard at your lessons, I may be able to arrange for you to get a letter to your parents. I’m sure it would make them happy to know that you’re safe and well.” And with any luck, the knowledge that their son was happy and well-cared for in the Empire’s custody would help them to see that it wasn’t the monstrous entity Azadi and his fellows had convinced them it was. The sooner they repented of their errors, the sooner their family could be reunited.

    For one moment, a terrible, beautiful hope lit Ezra’s face, and then it all came crashing down. “You're lying!” he shouted. “The Empire always lies! I don’t want anything from you! Go away!” He threw himself onto the bed and cried, wracked with great, noisy sobs.

    Dotheby sighed and slipped quietly into the hall where Mathyas was still waiting.

    “Well, that went well,” she commented, one eyebrow raised.

    “You can’t blame a man for trying, Lieutenant.” Someone had to try, for Ezra’s sake, and Dotheby intended to keep trying. Coruscant hadn’t been built in a day. There was still something good and trusting in Ezra, if only he could reach it.

    He watched Ezra through the window as he wept, curled into a ball, until his sobs finally subsided. The boy sat up slowly, sniffling and heaving ragged breaths. He wiped his tear-streaked face on one dirty sleeve, staring blank-faced into the distance for a moment, then his gaze returned to the room around him and fell onto the tray of tip-yip and topatoes that Dotheby had left on his table. Ezra frowned at it and then hesitantly, carefully, as if the fate of the Galaxy weighed upon this single action, picked up the fork and took a bite of smashed topatoes. And then another, just as carefully, and a third and then he was devouring the food like a starving animal.

    Dotheby smiled to himself. It was a beginning, a small one, but from such beginnings great things could grow.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
  19. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb. =D= Ezra's defiance and anger are very understandable indeed, but I know it was hard to resist the food, as plentiful and needful as it is. I'm glad he relented (even if it was after Dotheby left). Dotheby seems to believe wholly in the Empire, but he doesn't seem to be a ruthless unsympathetic type. [face_thinking]
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
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  20. Anedon

    Anedon Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Nice story :)
    Its a side of the empire we rately see but there are probably many people in there like said Major who truly believe and try to help people this way.
     
  21. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    This is a really interesting and different idea for an AU! And Dotheby is a very interesting figure here; as @Anedon says, there are probably more people like him in the Empire than we would think, who are sincere about wanting to help--and about bringing out the good in Ezra--but also sincere about being Imperials at the same time. It's to his credit that he's so patient and understanding with Ezra despite Ezra's hostility toward him; it says a lot about him that he can see that good, trusting side to Ezra (just as Kanan and Hera could! Neat juxtaposition there!). And the fact that he's willing to give Ezra the chance to write to his parents is nothing to sneeze at--that's something Ezra never got the opportunity to do even after joining the Ghost (other than the broadcast message, but that's not quite the same thing). And in turn, Ezra's reactions and actions are very believable; true to character (even in an AU! ;) ) he wants to stand up for what he believes is right, but he's also tired and starving and has been living on the streets, and his stomach is probably growling like the Bogan. I know you've shared with me a few ideas about how things might continue to go for this particular "infinite Ezra," and I would be definitely eager to see those take story form, whenever that happens to be! Great work once again on another very cool addition to the Infinite Ezras Project! =D=
     
  22. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thank you! The evil, unsympathetic orphanage/children’s home director is such a trope that I wanted to do something different with Dotheby. Ironically, he is what he describes the Bridgers as being: not evil, but misguided from listening to the wrong people. Despite his political beliefs, he has a sincere desire to help the children in his charge.
    Thanks! It seems like most of the imperials we see are the high ranking officers, who are mostly ruthless and pursuing power, but there had to have been a lot of ordinary Imperials—including civil servant types—and it’s unlikely all of them were bad. A lot of the were probably good people who were doing their best within the system, which was after all, the established government. That’s sort of where Dotheby fits in; he accepts the Empire at face value. He’s doing his best for these boys, and since he’s keeping them off the streets and turning them into model Imperial citizens, his higher ups are happy to to let him do it.
    Thank you! As I said, I didn’t want to go with the stereotypical hard-hearted overseer/ruthless Imperial officer, and I thought that the thing that would get Ezra to accept the Empire—without him being forced or coerced—would be if someone showed a sincere interest in him, just like Kanan and Hera do in Canon. I think Dotheby is fundamentally a decent person, maybe a little naive or incurious when it comes to the Empire, but sincere in his desire to help this small, scruffy little boy who’s obviously been living a very hard life. And Ezra, though he believes his parents and wants to live up to their ideals, is, as you say, hungry and tired, and probably very scared at having been apprehended by the Empire. The last thing he would have expected is someone kind to offer him a bounty of food. It takes a lot for him to give in and take that first bite, and it puts a chink in his armor. Glad you enjoyed this story and I hope I’ll be able to expand on those ideas someday.
     
  23. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    New Kids in the Neighborhood: AU Archery
    Title: New Kids in the Neighborhood
    Genre: drama, AU
    Canonicity: AU
    Timeframe: 15 BBY
    Characters: Ezra Bridger (age 14), OCs, Mira and Ephraim Bridger (mentioned), Aliza Bridger (OC, mentioned)

    Notes: this is set in the same AU as “Sometimes I Just Know”, where Ezra’s parents were never arrested and he has a younger sister, Aliza.


    This is part of @brodiew ‘s Norman Rockwell Challenge and “double-dipped” here with his permission. It was inspired by Rockwell’s “New Kids in the Neighborhood”

    Thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading @};-

    ——-

    Taungsday afternoons meant Ezra went shopping after school. As chores went, it wasn’t bad. He’d grown up in this neighborhood and knew the marketplace like the back of his hands, knew all the vendors by name, and knew exactly where to find the freshest produce, the best baked goods and all the little sundry spices and things on Mom’s list.

    But the marketplace was changing. The vendors smiled less and snapped more; shoppers clutched their bags and hurried about their errands instead of lingering for neighborly chit-chat like they used to. And every Taungsday it seemed like there were fewer open stalls and more stormtroopers.


    There had been troopers patrolling the market as long as Ezra could remember, even when he’d come here with Mom and Dad before Aliza had been born. But back then, they’d strolled past the stalls at a leisurely pace, and you rarely saw them pull their rifles unless there was an altercation--or unless Dad and his friends had set up one of their rallies on a corner. But now they walked around rifles in hand, and it wasn’t unusual to see them demanding shopkeepers—particularly the non-Humans—show them their licenses and registration.

    Ezra had gotten the jogans and zoochberries, the kibla greens, choke roots and topatoes, and was just paying for the five-blossom bread and lava rolls at the baker’s stall when a weird, prickly feeling—the feeling he always got when something was going to happen—started creeping up the back of his neck.

    Ezra glanced in the direction the feeling seemed to be coming from and reflexively bit back the word he wanted to say because Mom didn’t like him to use that sort of language. There was a pair of Imperial cadets by a display of topatoes and rootabaggas, and if there was one thing Ezra hated more than stormtroopers, it was the cadets from the Imperial Academy. They talked tough and acted big, swaggering around the marketplace harassing shoppers like they were already real troopers. Some of them were barely older than Ezra. If they hadn’t been wearing those stupid white buckets, everyone would have seen what bullies they were and some adult would have given them an earful about it. But as it was, no one even looked at them funny.

    Their target today was a young Gotal. Ezra recognized her from school; she was a year or two younger than him, one of the influx of new students from the Westlands, where the Empire had been buying up farmland. She was a good head shorter than either of the cadets, laden with a string bag full of fruit and vegetables. A very small Gotal whose horns were hardly more than nubs clung to her skirts with one hand and clutched a jogan in the other.

    “We don’t need your kind stinking up our market,” one of the cadets sneered. He jabbed her with an accusing finger; she cringed away. It was a cheap shot; Gotal as a species had a distinct aroma, a little bit like old socks, but it wasn’t that bad. There were plenty of Humans who smelled worse.


    The other cadet laughed. “Yeah, chuff-sucker, go back where you came from!” And that, Ezra thought, his hands tightening on the straps of his shopping bag, was stupid as well as mean. “Chuff-sucker” was a Gran insult, not Gotal. He hoped the Academy wasn’t serious about their “best and brightest of Lothal” slogan, because it sure hadn’t found that in these two.

    “Go on!” the first cried, shoving her roughly. “Get out of here!”

    She gave a startled bleat and staggered backwards, jostling her little brother. The jogan fruit flew from his hand, landing at the cadet’s feet. The little Gotal scrambled after it, but as he grabbed for it, the cadet brought his foot down on the jogan, splattering it into a puddle of blue-purple pulp. He and his fellow cadet laughed, braying like a couple of bantha as the little Gotal’s face crumpled.

    “Hey!” Before Ezra even really thought about what he was doing, he shoved the baked goods into his shopping bag and sprinted into their midst, positioning himself between the Gotals and the cadets. “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?!”

    “Oh, like you, Loth-rat?” the nearest cadet retorted, getting in Ezra’s face, like an up-close look at his junior bucket-brain’s helmet was supposed to be intimidating or something.

    Ezra refused to be bullied—annoyed, maybe, but not intimidated. “Loth-rat?” he snorted. He really hated that term, and had ever since he’d first heard the stormtroopers hurl it at his dad. The Imperials thought they were so much better than the Lothali, more civilized somehow, and Ezra kind of got why the ones who came from the Core thought that way. But this guy… “That’s pretty rich coming from someone with a Westlands accent!”

    “Yeah, well, unlike you, I’m not going to stay a Loth-rat!” From his defensiveness Ezra figured the cadet was turning red beneath his bucket; he probably didn’t like having his Imperial buddies reminded that he was one of those farmboys they thought were so backwards. “I'm going to be a pilot and I’m going to get off this dirtball and never look back.” He set his palms flat on Ezra’s shoulders and shoved him. “So how about it, you alien-loving rat, you looking for a fight?”

    Oh, man… Ezra belatedly considered that he should have gone in with a better plan than “hey, you, stop that.”. He sized up his chances, like he should have done before. There were two of them, but neither was particularly big; they didn’t have weapons, but they were wearing helmets. Still, Ezra was fast, and he played striker and defender on the Junior AppSci grav-ball team, so he was good at avoiding hits and he’d learned how to take down guys who were a lot bigger than him.

    A small snuffling noise reminded Ezra that the Gotal siblings were still behind him, watching, wide-eyed. And he knew there was no way he could teach the cadets the lesson they deserved, because even if they didn’t have rifles, they still had commlinks. They’d call in the real troopers if things got hairy, and while Ezra was confident he could lose any bucket head in the marketplace’s labyrinth of alleys, that still left the Gotals here with the cadets, who’d be looking for someone to blame.

    Fortunately, Ezra had another option: he excelled at talking his way out of trouble. It was as if he knew what people wanted to hear and could get them to believe just about anything he said. He brushed the cadet’s hands away, shrugged and gave him his most persuasive smile. “Me? Nah--a Loth-rat like me isn’t even worth your time.”

    “Yeah, he’s not worth our time,” the second cadet agreed.


    So far so good; Ezra decided to lay it on a little thicker. “I mean, you guys have to have more important things to do. Shouldn’t you get back to the Academy and tell them how you cleared the marketplace of undesirable elements?”

    “We ought to get back to the Academy and report.” The cadet’s voice sounded more distant and droid-like than his helmet’s vocoder usually made it. He motioned vaguely to his friend, and they wandered off without another word.

    Can’t believe that actually worked. Ezra turned to the Gotal girl, who was comforting her little brother as he tugged at her hand, pointing to the remains of his jogan fruit, making sad little whimpering noises.

    “Hey, are you guys okay?” Ezra asked. He didn’t think the cadets had stepped on the little guy’s fingers or anything, but he wouldn’t have put it past them, either.

    The girl looked up with a shaky smile.“Yeah, we’re fine, thanks to you. Thanks for standing up or us.”

    “No big deal.” At least, it shouldn’t have been. His mom and dad always told him that they had to look out for others, but he guessed no one else in the marketplace felt that way—which was pretty sad, really. “Oh, hey...before you go… here.” Ezra pulled a jogan from his shopping bag and handed it to the little Gotal. Mom wouldn’t mind if he came back one jogan short, not when he explained the circumstances.

    The Gotal girl shook her head, even as her brother’s eyes lit up. “You don’t have to—”

    “It’s okay. I have a little sister,” he added by way of explanation. And he hoped that no one would ever be as mean to her as the cadets had been to this poor little guy and his sister .


    She smiled again, more warmly this time. “Thank you.” She waved and the little Gotal flapped one chubby hand (the one that wasn’t busy stuffing the jogan in his mouth) as they departed.

    Ezra watched them go and hitched his bag up on his shoulder with a sigh. If he was the only one who was willing to get involved when a couple of bullies were harassing a schoolgirl and a toddler just because those bullies were wearing Imperial uniforms, what chance did people like his parents have to convince anyone to take a stand against the Empire? One of these days, though, Ezra would be old enough to really do something about things on Lothal--and then the Empire had just better watch out.

    Until then….he’d do what he could for those in need.

    One small act at a time.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2020
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  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Bravo for Ezra from first to last! [face_love]
     
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  25. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Another very compelling AU, made all the more so because it's a "quieter" type of AU, in which Ezra is leading a more "normal" life with an unbroken family! But he still displays the very same the courage and determination to do what's right as he does in canon. When he tells those not-so-best-and-brightest cadets (and oh yeah, they're definitely not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier, to say the very least...) exactly where they get off bullying these new neighborhood kids, he does so with the same gumption we've seen him show toward Sith Lords, inquisitors, and blue-faced grand admirals. Not only that, but there's that touch of the Force, too—intriguing to see that figuring in this universe as well! And I love that his generosity with the jogan fruit is motivated by thoughts of his own little sister, whom I know he will protect from trouble just as he has this new schoolmate and her little brother. It's the beginning of a lifetime of standing up to the Empire, just as those early Rebels episodes were, and just as I did there, I say a hearty "bravissimo" to Ezra here, too! Thanks so much for sharing—a wonderful and very true-to-character addition to both challenges! =D=