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Wild Blue or Emte'ir'astov, To Ruzihn En'kin: a short story

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by pashatemur, Jan 2, 2022.

  1. pashatemur

    pashatemur Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 21, 2004
    Wild Blue or Emte'ir'astov, To Ruzihn En'kin: a short story
    by @pashatemur and the contribution of Master Shadow by @darthbernael. Also, I extend my appreciation and gratitude to Timothy Zahn for the world building and beautifully crafted and complex character of Thrawn and many others which inspired this short story and upon which it is based. Thank you.

    “Ch'at ch'uz rinti, in'a bazir viz ch'a csart'un'b csah recat, rab hsah rcsas cas to k'usco ch'acit.”

    (To shift sand, one must have a reliable bucket, but greed strains even the strongest metals.

    -Chiss proverb)



    “It is considered impolite to stare, little one,” said the man without lifting his head. Tall, possessed of angular features, he whisked his winnings into a small purse at the open air eatery. When he had arrived for lunch, she was struck by him. Blue! Just like her own skin, he was blue complected, only darker, with long blue-black hair and brilliant red eyes, the same as her own. Absently touching her cheek, she crouched in the dense foliage of a hedge in which she had been hiding. Only a day had passed since she’d taken up residence there. Convenient to the diner, the girl discovered it was an easy reach from her leafy screen to a couple of tables at the outdoor eatery from the leafy screen. She was the happy beneficiary of leftovers, some of which she held in her hand this very minute.


    Eyes trained on the tall blue stranger, she watched closely to see how he confuse each challenger who sat to take him up on his game of shells. Dressed in a familiar but weathered close fitting black suit, he also wore a sort of gray wrap over his shoulder. Thus far, he’d cleaved at least 23 people of their funds and she was keen to learn how to do the same. With swift and graceful movements, he always tricked the eye.


    Soon, the proprietor came to collect on the stranger’s bill and the two spoke quietly, their words seeming friendly in tone.


    She waited in the deep shade, breathing lightly and not moving, when she noted the stranger looking directly at her from his seat. He leaned back, the corner of his lip twitched, "Van cavrcah ch'auh roncan'i, rab rah vah roncan'i can csea g'ecnsi, etah csarcican't cssuzah vah csaah.” The man spoke Cheunh, and though she was surprised, she was stuck to the spot. Seldom could she or dared she leave ship and not only had she left, she left and intended never to return. To be found out would bring a heavy beating or worse.


    A darting glance to this and that side at his warning, she could not bring herself to move. So much more had she better not come out into the open. But no pirates were to be seen anywhere. He repeated in Basic softly so only she could hear, leaning forward elbows on his knees, “Come out or stay, but if you stay in those shadows, they will find you again."


    She'd been munching on a stuffed bread pocket, cheeks full to bursting and white sauce dripping down one scrawny blue forearm. Now her hands held it still before her where she crouched. She'd have stayed there too had a canne not ripped the pocket from her hands.


    "Ahhhh!" she cried, half-lunging and half-falling to snatch back her dinner and there she lay sprawled on the ground, sauce bedecked with dust. The tan canne trotted off, tail wagging.


    The man chuckled lightly, "Do you truly wish to continue this path or take another?"


    From head to toe she was covered in lubricant and sludge. She skittered backwards and peered up at him, dressed in coveralls of indistinct color too big for her thin frame, her hair shorn at the shoulder and falling in front of her dirty face.Her mouth worked to form the old words she only spoke in her head. "I ...what path, ...where!" she demanded trying to chew and swallow what little of the pocket remained in her mouth.


    His hand dipped into his backpack, rising again, to reveal he held a wrapped pastry in it. Her looked to her and said, as he offered it to her, "Vor vim vil ch'auh tasn'ah ch'at bicit,” suggesting her choices were to run and hide or learn to fight!


    "Ber vah!-Says you!” she challenged, standing up quickly and backing away. What did he know, anyway! Eyes on the pastry, she wet her bottom lip and bit.


    Chuckling, he held the pastry in his hand, letting the other waft the scent of it to her. "Yes, I say so. One offer and one offer only, choose the first and I walk away, leaving you here."


    Hungry red eyes the shape of almonds switching from his equally red ones to the pastry and back. She blinked. So seldom had she seen anyone who remotely resembled her. But in a split second, she dove for the pastry and snatched it ready to dash away.


    She didn't even see his hand twisted as she grabbed the pastry. By the time her hand closed on it, her thin wrist was in his grasp. "I need to hear you say it, little one, yes or no?"


    She growled and bared her teeth, her grime striped fingernails clawing like a Loth cat and kicking out at him. "Tir ch'tra bah ch'ah!" she bit out, ferociously. She chewed the wrapping open and pulled herself up to grab as much of the pastry between her teeth as she could. The few denizens of assorted species laughed or grunted as she kicked and demanded he let her go. His other hand moved before the words had fully left her full mouth, the half-eaten pastry vanishing into the backpack slung on his shoulder.


    "As you wish, but the slavers will be here again soon." He let go, letting her fall back as he turned and began to walk away.


    Indignant, she grabbed a clod of mud from the dusty street to bean the back of his head. Her actions eliciting another peal of laughter and applause from the diners. She was about to smile in satisfaction and swatted the dust from her coveralls, when the man rose one hand to gently prod the clod off course and kept walking. "Hum!" she grunted and followed stealthily after him, keeping her distance. She would get that pastry! It was a matter of pride now.


    He turned down a narrow street but when she turned the corner, he wasn't in view at all, not even above. Creeping along, she carefully looked into the lane and up and down and to the sides. Where was he?


    She smiled and then threw her arms up in theatrical exasperation and turned her button nose whence she'd come. Watching the long shadows stretching out in front of her, she spied a shadow quickly rise and falling before a pebble fell before her in the lane and she looked up to find the rooftops empty. Shadow then pebble, shadow then pebble, shadow then pebbles- she turned fuming and ran to the end of the lane, looking back and then ahead to see him round the end of the lane after a light thud caught her attention.

    "Vam, vah! Veah k'iser vah ch'tra?" she called trotting after. "How'd you do that?"

    His red eyes seemed humored as she followed. "I told you, run away or learn to fight. I do not joke about such matters. Besides, I thought you made your choice.

    She ignored the taunt and trotted faster, calling, "Vam, Nanotat. Vam!" running to catch up.

    "Maybe you are dangerous!" she reasoned and shrugged, panting as she caught up with him. Yet, after a thought she boasted, "Maybe it is I who is dangerous!" she said looking down at her fingernails and biting off a jagged dirty nail, before spitting it out with vehemence, just to prove she was in fact very dangerous...

    "Of course I'm dangerous, you just have to decide if I'm dangerous to you or those that would hurt you." He said as he continued to walk, heading in a circuitous route toward where he'd left his ship and not in the spaceport. He chuckled at her gesture, "Self mutilation is not being dangerous."

    "What is ...mutilation?" It was an interesting sounding word, but he didn't answer right away so she asked if she could buy the pastry from him.

    A chuckle, "You know the way to buy that pastry, child."


    She hopped along after him, asking, "So, what happens if I choose to go with you, besides that pastry?" Smiling, she thought, she could always run away.


    He stopped for a moment and looked down at her and said with quiet emphasis,"Then you stop being the scrawny waif you are and you learn how not to be a slave."


    "I might give it a try!" she said nonchalantly. She thought first thing was to get a good meal and on her way she would note their path so she could find her way back


    She looked up at him as they walked. He was clean. She stuck her hands in her pockets.


    "Do or do not, there is no try. Or, at least I've heard that said before." He commented, his stride lengthening slightly. He led her back and forth through the warren of the town, until it seemed as though they were lost.


    House with broken lamp, tall building with crooked second floor awning, pair of trees with purple flowers, left, left, and right at store front with corner entrance....she committed as many markers to memory as she could, but soon it grew dark and she dragged along. "Where is this place of yours, on one of the moons?"


    His eyes were filled with humor again as he looked down at her, "Who said I was going home? Or that I lived on this world?" Passing through a darkened section of street he suddenly seemed to disappear into a wall.


    She'd been growing tired and lulled by his deep voice, only to be suddenly brought up by his sudden disappearance. "Vam, Nanotat!...Hey...!"


    It was gloomy and strange and he was nowhere to be seen. She blinked and touched the walls searching. He had not answered and it had been quiet far to long. Maybe she should go back. She reminded herself that anywhere was better than Captain Bil's ship. She concentrated trying to "find" and "follow" his heat signature.


    An arm reached out, pulling on hers. When she slipped through the wall she found herself in a well lit space, a hollowed out home. He released her, "Last chance to make a choice before I leave, with or without you." he stated as he headed toward the streamlined shuttle crouched in the middle of the open space. For a moment, she stood mesmerized by the ship. She recognized that kind of ship! There were many such ships like that one on the “Reliance!”


    She pouted and hung back, now those brave eyes with the hungry and fierce gaze began to gather in anger and confused dismay. She looked back from where they entered through the wall and then to the shuttle. Back there, was a beating if she found her way back, and ahead-her stomach rolled with emptiness-food and not being a slave?


    He shrugged, "Slavery and remaining the filthy mess you are or learning and growing-your choice." he said calmly, in the face of her anger. The ramp lowered and extended and he headed up it, into the shuttle.


    Her heart beat in her chest as she pouted, still trying to look as tough as she could, as the shuttle began to hum, the engines purring smooth and quietly. Her eyes widened at this marvelous ship. She had served in many capacities aboard the pirate ship, her small frame fitting in the tight spaces of the ship's engines where she spent much of her time keeping her "sailing." Now as she stepped closer, she could see the craft coming to life and the tall man’s shape in the cockpit.


    As soon as the ramp began to retract and lift she ran and leaped, scrambling over the edge to slide down the upended "plank" and tumble into the cabin with a thud. "Umph!"


    A chuckle drifted from the cockpit, as the ramp shut with a “clump.” "You may wish to strap in," he warned as the nose pitched up, she hadn't felt the landing legs retract nor had she moved and too late, she rolled suddenly back against the bulkhead and clung to whatever her hand struck. "Esehigi!" she piped the SyBisti curse.


    Another chuckle, "Faster, child. I'm not going to hold back if you don't strap in. That or I'll have to toss you in the medbay when we reach order." The ship was nearly vertical at this point, racing toward space.


    She clawed her way to the cockpit and into the co-pilot's seat and deftly strapped in-She'd done this before!-glaring at him. "Ch'ah k'ir nah viz ch'a lcut'etaci cssa cseo k'ir nah tan vim bircun'i ch'ah, Nanotat- Vit'ecin!" she warned in her child's voice without compunction. That too, it was clear she'd said before.


    He shook his head, his usual stoic expression awash in concern. He glanced at her. "Once we arrive, you will clean up, child." The blackness of space replaced the blue of atmosphere. A few minutes later the blur of hyper appeared, although the screens before her were blank, so if he was wrong about this waif, she wouldn't know where they were headed.


    But she did soon enough. She sat, her eyes focused, but not on anything. He knew the girl focused on what heavenly bodies and eddies reflected light and exuded gravitational pull on the vector they traveled. If she'd known the charts of the pirate's vessel and the location of the planet they left, she could replicate their path. This was a chance he took.


    The wash of the universe rippled around them and returned waves which once encountering resistance of densities, telegraph there locations and left a trace of all these strange patterns full of meaning for her, her hands rested on the co-pilots disengaged controls and sometimes jerked at them all in muscle memory. He glanced over, the look in her eyes confirming what he'd thought when he'd found her, what the meager information he had about her said. Internally sighing, he flew the shuttle, following hidden pathways laid down by the navigators of old. They led to a world away from the Ascendency, hidden in the depths of the Unknowns, one with no other sentients, only his home and the native wildlife.


    ***


    Consternation! She followed him as he led her through a glade of trees to a slope at the bottom of which glinted a large spring-fed pond. He explained these geographic features as they walked and he ignored her queries about food and sleep. He continued after offering her, "All in good time, child."


    His home was a rough place made of wood and thatching, outside of which he'd made her remain while he retrieved some things. Returning, the tall Chiss held up a new set of coveralls, at which he shook his head and then another at which he seemed to approve. "They did not feed you well-Come! Carry this and we'll take a short walk." She looked over her shoulder at the cabin-hut-thing longingly, but took the bag, towel, and coveralls, while he carried a poll...


    ...Nah! Nah! Ch'ah van von vim vah tsucarah csei tircasi! Hah ch'aah ch'itzishn! Ch'ah cart ch'itrico!" She shouted after touching a toe to the glistening water. She'd hoped that firmness would settle this. Her stance was stated forcefully, "No! No! I came along and you promised that pastry! It's cold! I'm hungry!"...


    She landed in the pond with a splash all arms and legs, despite his best efforts to gently introduce her to a bath which it was clear she remotely recalled having. She scratched and cursed, struck him and kicked him, leaving two small half moon bites on his forearms.


    He watched her flail around in the pond. "You're staying in there until all the grease and oil is gone. Until you are clean." he said quietly.


    She shrieked when her feet lost touch with the bottom and she sank, bobbed, gasping for air, and paddled desperately, drinking a fair amount of the pond and the soap.


    "No drowning." he told her, prodding her back deeper with his staff, whenever she got close to the shore.


    At his last poke, she grabbed his staff, yanked hard, and with a great splash, pulled him into the cold pond, making her forget about drowning. Her laughter was cut short as she made a frantic break for shore.


    Slipping under the surface, he disappeared from her sight, but soon she felt hands around her ankles, pulling her deeper into the pond. She could not break loose though she kicked hard. He pulled her back to the center of the pond before he surfaced, making sure to do so several arms lengths away.


    Dragged under the water, struggling to keep her head up she rose with a gasp above the surface. She coughed and struggled for breath until she spat out a small fish. She brushed her tongue with her palms and shot daggers at him.


    He swam back toward the shore and tossed her another pod of soap. "Child, clean yourself or you will not enter the house."


    She humm it at him and he caught it calmly, skipping it back across the surface of the water to impact her breastbone.


    She stood in the water, treading with angry tears.


    He slicked the water off his black uniform. "Why do you cry now, child? Have I done anything to truly harm you, save, insist you bathe?"


    "You're trying to kill -Vah cart tan ch'at ch'uscehah ch'ah!"


    "By making you bathe?" He asked, eyes sparkling in humor.


    She whimpered back, "Vah cart tan ch'at ch'uscehah ch'ah!"


    "Why would I save you from slavers only to kill you myself? You may hate me, and the training you will receive, but I am not attempting to kill you."


    She glared and growled. Eventually, it was over, and when she reported to his table, she was pristine blue, the color of the northern sky just on the edge of dusk, her blue-black hair sticking up in all directions, the soap not quite rinsed out.


    Eyes averted he sat at the table. "Do you plan on wearing the new coveralls I gave you or were those old ones that burned so well of special significance to you?" He asked, gesturing to the ones in her hand.


    "They itch!” She pointed to an irritated, reddening patch of blue skin. "You have eyes!" She covered herself with her arms as a breeze zithered by.


    "I do, yes." He said and nodded, still averting his gaze. "Put them on for now!” He sighed and said softly, “I can see the marks of past trauma upon you. Trauma you neither deserved or should have endured."


    She looked away and stepped into the coveralls. "Trauma is Cssio'cit...hurt?


    "Yes, someone has hurt you, many times over, child. You never deserved that, or the blind spot in your mind."


    She shot him a wide eyed look.


    "Yes, I know," he said wearily. “You can’t remember before the program, can you?”


    She took the seat he indicated, nodding. "Do you have the blind spot too?" she asked quietly and shivered.


    His eyes flared for a moment, "Yes, but for a different reason. A long time ago...but more to the point almost exclusively, female Chiss can be navigators, possessing the gift of sight. I was an instructor of Navigational Systems Interface and trained to protect navigators, as well."


    "I don't remember a protector, just crew and officers...but my caregiver was female..." she said, "...on the Nightdragon man of war, Reliance," she said proudly, her smile fading with the pained memory she did have and the loss. She looked down and blinked, trying to erase the images and screams of her fellow navigator. She squeezed her eyes to press away the sight of the other navigator as the Grysks began to cut into her-the blood ran from her body like a river.


    The tall man continued, his deep voice calming. "Not every Chiss female can be a navigator either, you are a 'rare breed'." He replied. "But, I've gone well beyond what a protector is trained for."


    "What did you do?" She asked, trying to distract herself.


    "I got out, escaped the program and programming. And then traveled everywhere to learn." he replied.


    "Was that allowed?" She asked, looking to him through a watery haze, holding herself.


    He shook his head and cocked it to one side. "To escape? No, which is why the Ascendency has a price on my head. And many have tried to take it...” he said, his voice trailing off.


    He could see her shivering and the tears falling steadily from her face. She was tired and hungry and frightened, for good reason. Touching her just now while meant for comfort, might also produce stress and pain. He’d been told by those he trusted about these abductions and the fate of some of the navigators. It wouldn’t be till after a few years' passage that he told how this meeting affected him.


    She spoke matter of factly about her liberation from the Grysk transport, much of which she did not know, only that she woke amongst pirates who threatened to gut her if she did not do as told and keep her mouth shut. She cooked and tinkered, cleaned as much as they allowed. If they were in a good mood, she was given a good ration, if not, she ate what they left to throw away. She slept on the grain stores or in the Captain’s bed...


    He leaned his head to his shoulder to catch her lowered gaze. " Ch'ah csarcican't nan'eo turcoti vah bezeb ch'eo tet sir ei rab ch'at'uhah, en'kin- K'ir vah rcisah rob vim vsabah ch'ah?," he asked sternly and with concern. It was important she know he would see she was safe.


    Picking an insect out of her hair she squashed it between her fingernails and flipped it away. Then, she looked up to him and nodded quietly as he reached out with his booted foot to ensure the bug didn't crawl away. She was glad he’d taken care of it. She looked down at her bare feet dangling above the floor.


    "I..." she looked at him confused. "Then ...very well!" she looked for a spot on the floor where she could curl up. "Can't I have the pastry now?"


    Taking the cover off of a platter, he slid it toward her. "You may sleep in the bed, not on the floor. We'll make do.” She nodded, looked away and then grabbed the plate, raised it up, and ate ravenously.


    “More?” he asked.


    Nodding enthusiastically, she held up her plate onto which he ladled another helping of hearty stew which she promptly ate as quickly as she’d eaten her first helping. She offered up her plate again.


    He furrowed his brow, but ladled another helping onto the plate. “You don’t remember how to use your utensils?”


    As she chewed, she mumbled, “Don’t want to...use ‘m!”


    He sighed as she finished and downed a glass of water. Wiping the food from her face with her fingers to lick, she asked sleepily, "What is your name?"


    His reply was simple, “I am G'ecnsi."


    She screwed her face up and then said the name several times. Your name is ...”Shadow” just “Shadow!”


    He nodded.


    “I am Blue Deck'nd, Th'Blue Deck'nd, but my friends call me just Blue Deck'nd!" She fibbed slightly, having made up what she could remember of the sound and structure of Chiss names. Later she admitted the pirates called her “deckhand” or “blue.”


    Again, his lips curled into a bemused smile at her conceit, but he could see how exhausted she was, almost nodding off at the table. Picking her up, even as she struggled weakly, he carried her to the bedroom. "That is what you are called, that’s not your name," he said softly as he laid her in his bed. He pulled the covers over her, then placing a pillow between them, he laid down fully dressed, on the other side.


    She had no friends, but he was right. She used to have a name, but she lost it the day the Grysks came. She sighed a half-whimper, shivered, and slept


    That was how she remembered it being. However, recalling it all now, she wept. “Ch'irci G'ecnsi!-Master Shadow!”

    She’d begged to stay, but he sent her away across the foothills to wait for him with the ship. She waited 2 days, but he never came. He must have anticipated they would need to leave their home, he’d stocked the galley, stowed her old katana and other training gear, a duffle of clothes and finally, a sealed flimsy to be given to a “Master of the Force,” and instructions to leave should he not join her after those 2 days.


    It would take her another day to return to the cabin. When she crossed the training field, the maze and balancing posts, the shed and garden were all in ruins, some of it charred or entirely burnt to the ground. The air was thick with the smell of cooked meat and char, sickeningly sweet. She wrinkled her nose and resisted a cough. Her footsteps hurried as she passed the pond and stealthily climbed the slope weaving in and out of the trees, not a snap or brushed twig as she passed, her heart pounding.

    The beheaded form speared through the chest had been bound with thick cable and pinned to the ground before the cabin, black and fragile, still flaming with the lick of a breeze.

    There was nobody to hold, no last subtle half-smile, no last word, no scream...Just an unnamed planet and a cabin with an open door she left behind!
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2022
  2. Nehru_Amidala

    Nehru_Amidala Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Oct 3, 2016
    This was really, really well written. It was exciting to see Blue’s escape and the start of her training. Your writing style is polished and to the point. I liked how you incorporated Cheunh into your story. I want to do that with mine ar some point.