A not-so-subtle cough brought Parck back to the real world. He took a sip from his Corulag lager before he slowly turned his head, calmly raising his eyes to face a man who sat down next to him by the bar. Not a pleasant sight at all: a morbidly obese, awfully dirty, and foul-smelling human who was giving him a harsh scowl, an expression of disapproval clearly visible on his ugly, unshaven face.
Such attempt at intimidation might have worked on the usual clientèle, however, it could have never worked on Parck: the years of service with Grand Admiral Thrawn made him completely immune to the death glares coming from anyone else than from the said commanding officer.
Since the man kept simply throwing proverbial daggers at him, saying nothing at all, Parck shrugged and turned his attention back to the golden hue of his drink. A fresh, unfiltered Corulag lager wasn't something he could allow himself very often in the Unknown Regions. He planned to enjoy it to the very last drop.
What was wrong with his guy? Was Parck sitting at his usual spot or something?
Once again, Parck lifted his eyes to meet the other man's, getting mildly annoyed. The man was staring at him as if his very presence was poisoning the atmosphere of the bar.
"How can I help you, sir?" Parck asked as calmly as he could.
The other man's death glare intensified.
Sorry, darling, still not impressed, Parck thought.
"You can leave my bar. Now," the man said with a heavy Corulagi accent.
Parck frowned. It was the owner?
"I beg your pardon?" he said aloud, his eyes darting over to the bartender who suddenly became too busy preparing a cocktail for another client.
What was going on?
"You deaf or something? Maybe I need to spell it out for you: Leave. My. Bar." The owner snarled, emphasizing each word by repeatedly slamming his fist onto the table.
"I'm sorry, sir, but I paid for the drink and I am not finished yet. However, I will gladly leave your establishment once I am done here."
He decided to simply ignore the man, calmly taking another sip while staring at the wall.
The man bared his teeth and clenched his fists, visibly seething with anger. "Listen," he growled, pointing a finger at Parck accusingly. "I know what you are, and I don't want freaks like you in my bar. I have a boy, and he's, well…"
He looked briefly to his right. Parck followed his gaze and saw a young man in his late teens busily washing dishes in the farthest corner of the room, discreetly listening to the exchange.
"I caught him messing around with those guys several times already, and I don't want to make the situation worse by having him looking up to you as some kind of a role model. He's a good boy, got it?"
With a sinking feeling in his stomach, Parck realised what was the man getting at. Oh c'mon, not this nerfshit again, let me at least enjoy my last hours of leave.
"I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about," he said aloud.
"Of course you don't," the owner clipped, clearly unimpressed. "I saw you coming out of the den of iniquity across the street the other night," he narrowed his eyes in disgust. "I know what kind of freak you are."
And then proceeded to unceremoniously spit in Parck's general direction. Fortunately for Parck, the owner's aim was as bad as his attempt as intimidation. The bigot must have been crushed when a gay bar opened right next to his infamous Corulag Pub in the Coruscant's Lower Levels.
Karma is a bitch, isn't it? So, your hobby is watching out for the freaks in case any of them has the audacity to visit your establishment?
"Ah, well," Parck returned to his drink, slowly stirring the glass before taking yet another sip. "Do you also kick former clone troopers out of your bar or only gay men?"
That remark was enough to wipe the scowl from the man's face. The man looked positively outraged at the suggestion. Parck knew how to deal with his kind; the clone troopers were considered the war heroes on Corulag since they had proudly fought for the ideals of Chancellor Palpatine, playing an irreplaceable role in establishing the New Order on Corulag. All Corulagi were Palpatinists; he, too, had been a Palpatinist in the past.
"What? Of course I don't kick the war veterans out of my bar. Well, like all Corulagi I don't particularly like the fact they were born out of the tube, but it's not like they chose their fate."
Clone troopers might have been mere clones, but they were bred for war, and they won the war for their masters, which earned them respect among Corulagi.
Parck's lips marred in a smirk. Gotcha. "So I chose to be gay?" he countered in a deceptively mild tone, placing the glass on the table.
The man let out a deep scowl, his expression clearly saying Parck asked the most idiotic question ever. "Men are drawn to women, and women are drawn to men. Always been that way, since the very beginning of life. Life would have disappeared otherwise. People like you are twisted. Sick."
You must have been right there, waving the rainbow flag when the den of iniquity opened, Parck thought sarcastically.
"And don't tell me the usual galaxy is overpopulated kraytspit, blah, blah, blah," the man continued his lecture, crossing his arms in front of his chest, grinning in a way that suggested that he was about to deliver the final blow to Parck's ego. "Oh, wait, the galaxy is overpopulated. By freaks like you."
It took all Parck's self control not to burst into a laughter at the man's bigoted speech. Not a particularly brightest star in the galaxy, was he? Did he really think Parck hadn't heard it all? He must have recognized Parck as a fellow Corulagi from his accent just like he recognized him.
The owner flashed him an evil smirk. "You just need a night out with a couple of hot babes. Human, preferably, but it might have not worked on someone who spent his whole life screwing around with freaks. But hey, I was told a night with a Zeltron female could turn even the most stubborn gay men. Try a Zeltron."
Parck let out a deep sigh. "A Zeltron, huh?" He shook his head. "You know what, you are right. Your son definitely deserves better. I can see myself in him, and I don't want him to make the same mistake I did. Let me talk to him. Let me show him my mistake."
The man's scowl disappeared immediately; he nodded reluctantly, watching Parck with a mixture of hope and disbelief. He even had the same expression as Parck's own father back then.
"Well, you're a bugger, but at least you are an honest one," the owner said finally, and with obvious effort he wiped the expression of hate from his face."What kind of mistake are you talking about? What do you have in mind?"
"A very foolish one. Allow me to demonstrate." Parck gave him his most seductive wink, placing his hand on the man's shoulder. The owner froze, as if transfixed, an expression of pure, naked shock appearing on his face, and as Parck leaned in the man's complexion turned ashen.
"W-what the hell are you doing?" the owner spluttered when he finally found his voice, yanking away from him, flinching in disgust.
"Mmm… What's wrong?" Parck wondered, his expression pure innocence.
"Oh, don't worry," he said in a supportive tone, patting him on the shoulder soothingly, "you just need a night out with a fine Core World gentleman like me. You will forget all about women as soon as you experience how fabulous gay sex can be … Oh. Guess what, it doesn't work like that."
Parck flashed him a hard glare.
The man flinched again, muttering an old Corulagi curse, and stared at him as if Parck really was a freak of nature. And that was the moment when Parck finally lost it, bursting into an honest laughter, guffawing with open amusement.
He shook his head then, and threw a small wink at the young man in the corner of the room, who shyly nodded in understanding; there was little doubt that the boy would be leaving his bigoted father soon, finding a different place to stay. Coruscant was a galaxy within the Galaxy, there was no need to stick around with Corulagi expats who kept feeding him with the usual nerfshit about his chosen lifestyle.
Chapter 2: Authors' Note
VulptexFTW's, SilverEyedOwl's and EnsignJaime's Note:
This fic is based on MissKitsune08's The Freak Fleet verse and it focuses on Voss Parck. If you’re hoping for Thrawn/Parck romance, we're about to disappoint you right away. There will be no Thrawn/Parck content. We cannot imagine Thrawn getting involved with any of his crew, regardless of their gender, it just doesn’t fit in with Thrawn's deeply engraved sense of professionalism and duty. Sorry, Thrawn/Pellaeon or Thrawn/Eli fans.
MissKitsune08's stories to read first before you start with Queer as Core Folk:
The Freak Fleet (Gen: Thrawn & Parck & Pellaeon and others)
Breaking the Ice (Gen: Thrawn & Parck & Pellaeon)
An Unstoppable Force Meets an Immovable Object, chapter 2:
The Danger of Keeping Secrets (Thrawn/Lisetha in the first half, Thrawn & Parck in the other half. Thrawn tells Parck he's always known about Parck's little secret. Talk about awkward.)
All Roads Lead to Coruscant, chapters:
Meanwhile in the Unknown Regions (1/2) (Gen: Parck & Niriz & Stent)
All Roads Lead to Coruscant (1/3) (Gen: Parck & Thrawn & Stent)
All Roads Begin on Coruscant (Gen: Parck & Stent)
Chapter 3: (Not So) Respectable Corulag Citizen
Title: (Not So) Respectable Corulag Citizen
Authors' Note: Jump back in time to the evening Captain Niriz found out Vice Admiral Parck’s little secret.
As Parck listened to another of Niriz’s and Pellaeon’s lady hunting stories during their younger years, he couldn’t help but burst into laughter as usual. Oh dear, Niriz always came up with the best stories.
Since there was virtually nothing to do in the Unknown Regions most of the time, and they were cut off from long range communication and from the holonet as well, the two of them often sat down in the Captain’s Ready Room and discussed various topics together. From time to time, Niriz even brought up the stories of his youth, which never failed to make Parck double over in laughter. Oh, Niriz and Pellaeon had been menaces!
Admiral Thrawn was missing so much by never inquiring about his crew’s personal lives. Parck would have bet his rank plates the stories of Pellaeon’s youth would make the Chiss’s sabbac face crack, making Thrawn laugh out loud. Or perhaps it was Niriz’s fabulous way of storytelling that added the glamor, making it sound like an episode straight of his favorite holodrama series.
Well, there was definitely no need for holodrama when Niriz was around.
Parck shook his head and returned to his drink, taking a small sip of the Chandrilan brandy with a soft smile on his lips. From the corner of his eye, he could see Niriz watching him, his brows furrowed in a frown, the wrinkles around his eyes deepening, his lips pressed into a thin line—the same kind of grumpy expression he used to have whenever he wanted to ask something but knew it would be out of line.
“What is it, Niriz?” Parck prompted lightly, suppressing a smirk.
Drop the grumpy lothcat look, Niriz. It doesn’t suit you.
Niriz cleared his throat. “Well, it’s just... You always seem to find these stories beyond hilarious, sir, but you’ve never shared any of your own. I, ah, happen to know from Major Covell that respectable Corulag citizens like you, sir, are somewhat conservative when it comes to talking about these things, but...”
Niriz left the sentence hanging in the air, finding a sudden interest in his drink.
Oh, Niriz, you have no idea.
“Well,” Parck admitted sheepishly, letting out an innocent shrug, “I am afraid there isn’t much to tell, Niriz. Not really, since I prefer the company of fine Core World gentlemen instead.”
He spoke as offhandedly as possible, keeping his tone light. There it was.
The timing couldn’t have been better. Niriz had just taken a deep sip from his glass, and when he heard the admission, he spluttered the brandy all over his uniform jacket, literally jumping in his seat with an expression of pure, naked shock spreading over his face as his jaw hung wide open.
Oh, it was priceless. Totally worth it. Now, where was a holocam when you needed one...?
The good old captain kept gaping at him, and Parck let out a small snort. “You might want to change the jacket of your uniform, Captain,” he said nonchalantly, trying his best not to burst into laughter as the other man was completely mindblown by the revelation.
Seriously, who needed holodrama when there was Niriz around?
Niriz finally snapped out of it, looking down at the state of his uniform and shaking his head, his cheeks reddening in embarrassment. He looked as if he wanted to evaporate into thin air. “I’m sorry, sir, it’s just—” he started babbling, at a loss for words. “Ah, it just totally came out of the blue, and well, I never thought... I mean...”
Parck shrugged it off. “We are a long way from Corulag, Niriz. It hardly matters, anyway.” He let out a small sigh. “But now you know. Just don’t expect a general ship-wide announcement from me, Captain, it’s none of the crew’s business.”
“By the Emperor,” Niriz let out a deep guttural sound, finally putting himself back together. “And Freja has always thought of you as the epitome of a respectable Corulag citizen, displaying the very model of Corulag behavior. He would have never seen it coming.”
Parck flashed him an evil smirk. “Oh yeah, compared to me, he is the respectable Corulag citizen. I’m positive his reaction would have been even more hilarious than yours, Niriz.”
Freja Covell of Corulag, son of a single mother in a patriarchal society, aka son of a whore. Also, poor as a nerfherder. And to top it all, the head of the Chimaera ’s rumor mill, an undesirable character trait for a Corulagi man. He fit in the Freak Fleet like a Twi’lek dancer in a disreputable establishment. Still, compared to Parck, Covell was the respectable Corulag citizen.
Parck tapped his fingers nervously at the desk. “What can I say, Niriz? I’ve always been the black sheep of the family. I guess that’s where all the ambition originally came from.”
Coming from a wealthy, respectable Corulag family with a long history of military service, his parents weren’t exactly overjoyed with his chosen lifestyle; but since he focused solely on his military career, becoming essentially married to his ship, they finally stopped pestering him with finding a wife that would complement his image of a model Corulag citizen. Many starship captains ended up married to their ships, never settling down, never starting a family, straight or otherwise. At least his parents came to acceptthat sort of life for their son, if nothing else.
So that was driving force behind his own ambition. That was what made him pull such a daring stunt as to bring a cunning alien right in front of the Emperor. He wanted to beat them all, to show the rest of his uptight, conservative family that a gay man from Corulag could make it straight to the top, telling them that one day he would return either as an admiral or as a military governor and then he would screw the entire House of Citizens, the governing body of Corulag.
And it took the same cunning alien to make him realize how childish and immature his petty grudge against Corulag society had been, that he should simply concentrate on the things he did best, and the recognition would eventually follow. Or not. Any true warrior would have given up everything for the chance to serve under Thrawn, even if it meant literally going into the middle of nowhere.
He shook his head, noticing that Niriz was watching him with a brooding look on his face as he stroked his chin, deep in thought. Niriz, too, came from a proud Core World family with a long history of military service. He even served in the Coruscant Defense Fleet, a most prestigious assignment, the dream job of all wealthy Core Worlders—until he ended up noticed by a certain someone who had him transferred to the Seventh Fleet. It was a change Niriz actually welcomed, since he saw the potential in the cunning alien as well, hoping to finally get his hands on a Star Destroyer of his own. The Coruscant Defense Fleet was full of prestigious sons and daughters with connections in the highest places, which gave them precedence. On the other hand, when Niriz found that his dream ship would be tasked with mapping uncharted space, he had almost broken down in tears. Parck had to take him aside and explain to him that no, this was by no means intended to be viewed as a punishment, for they had a very different task from Admiral Thrawn: to search and destroy the threats to Thrawn’s people as well as to the people of the galaxy.
“Ah, well, anyway...” Niriz cleared his throat. “Something tells me you’ve got far more hilarious stories than I have...” He left the sentence hanging in the air once more, clearly giving him an opportunity to back off, and at the same time trying to show he had no problem with his superior. After all, it wasn’t exactly a model behavior of a commanding officer either; while it wasn’t illegal, military men like him were dismissed as soft and weak. And it went double for Imperial military men. They were the laughingstock of the entire Fleet.
Parck released the breath he had no idea he was holding. Thrawn couldn’t have found a better captain for him, a stalwart supporter of order and obedience in naval service, taking his position seriously, while at the same time having a bright, open mind.
“You mean, like if I ever got asked out by a woman or if I ever asked out a straight man?” Parck let out a small chuckle. “Oh, more times than I’d like to admit, but those kinds of stories are rather embarrassing. But hey, you’re going to love this one.” He shot Niriz a wide, evil smirk. “I hit on a COMPNOR agent.”
Niriz flinched, taking a sharp intake of breath, his expression becoming chalk white. “Oh, kriff.”
Parck’s evil smirk widened even further. “Oh, relax, Niriz, it’s not what you think. They just came fishing for information. They didn’t come to ruin my ‘image of a respectable Corulag citizen,’ though it was quite clear that such would have followed if I hadn’t cooperated. I told them what they wanted to know, and we all went our separate ways. Still, I couldn’t resist taunting them a little.”
Niriz exhaled deeply, some of the color returning to his face. “Those guys are really dangerous, sir. They would have dragged you down had you crossed the line.”
Parck crossed his arms, leaning back in his chair. “Well, they followed me into a gay bar, keeping tabs on me all night, I presume. I had actually noticed them, but since they kept to themselves, I assumed they were a thing. And then they finally approached me on my way back, showing their COMPNOR badges and inviting me out for a beer.”
He flashed Niriz his best seductive wink. “So I told them I was really flattered by their interest in me.”
Niriz guffawed with open amusement. “I don’t think there are many people around who can say they trolled COMPNOR and lived to tell the tale.”
Parck’s expression turned very smug. Oh no, he wouldn’t let those buggers screw him. If anything, it would be the opposite way around.
“Ah, the best part is about to come, Niriz. They both flinched when I said that, barking out sharply that they were straight. And I told them, ‘So is spaghetti until you heat it up.’”
Authors' Note: We’ve wondered how the issue would be viewed in the galaxy far, far away, and we came to the conclusion that it would be different from planet to planet.
In Legends, Corulag has always been portrayed as a wealthy, conservative world even during the days of the Republic, and later it became extremely loyal to Palpatine, fully embracing the New Order, to the point the New Republic wasn’t exactly overjoyed in offering aid to the devastated world once the Empire fell apart and left it to its fate… On the other hand, I can easily imagine no one would even blink twice on, let’s say, Alderaan.
While the Empire ruled with an iron fist, the member systems still had their own governments (though often they became puppet governments answering to the moffs, such was the case with the House of Citizens on Corulag), therefore they must have had their own sets of laws and their own sets of morals.
Please do not link to this fic (or reblog!) publicly on tumblr, twitter or other social media sites, thank you. It's like an avalanche that cannot be stopped. And we'd like to remain hidden from the search engines.
Chapter 4: Grumpy Mother Hen
Title: Grumpy Mother Hen
Authors' Note: Follows where MissKitsune08's All Roads Begin on Coruscant left off.
“Gilad would have never tolerated such mess aboard his own ship!” Niriz exclaimed once Admiral Parck had explained the whole situation to him.
Really, who would have ever thought?! At first, Niriz had assumed it was supposed to be a really bad joke, but apparently Parck was deadly serious: Grand Admiral Thrawn had a wife. Well, an arranged marriage but still... And he even knocked her up!
Niriz sat there, gaping like a Mon Calamari.
Until Parck got to the part where Thrawn would be sending his pregnant wife over to Parck for safe keeping. That was a like wake-up call to the reality.
“A kid aboard a Star Destroyer! That’s the real reason the Grand Admiral had to send his wife away, sir. Mark my words!”
Parck flashed him a small, playful smile. “Well, Captain Pellaeon is a little too conservative for my taste, that is true.”
Niriz snickered. “Ha! During the Clone Wars, Gilad even had the guts to tell a loosely attired teenage female Jedi apprentice to cover herself up as soon as she boarded the Leveler. Naturally he told the Grand Admiral he would have none of his baby litter making a mess aboard his precious ship!”
Parck barked an honest laugh at that, leaning back comfortably in his chair in the admiral’s office aboard the Admonitor, his eyes sparkling with internal amusement. “Well, it's true that Captain Pellaeon is a pure-blooded Corellian...”
Niriz crossed his arms. “You bet he did!” He coughed quietly and then tried his best to imitate his friend’s voice: “‘Admiral Yularen may do as he wishes on his own ship. This vessel is my domain. You'll cover up, please, Padawan Tano.’”
Parck burst into laughter. “Really, Niriz, who needs holodrama when you are around?”
Parck shook his head. “You need to loosen up a little, Captain. And in any case, it’s only a temporary solution until we establish a permanent base of operations. Which reminds me, I will have to come up with a catchy name for the fortress.”
Niriz’s brows furrowed in a disapproving frown. “I simply don’t like kids,” he admitted grudgingly. “They are loud, undisciplined, and they make a mess. I haven’t run away from the clutches of marriage only to find myself taking care of someone else’s kid. I certainly had plenty opportunities to settle down if I wanted to have kids of my own.”
Parck’s expression hardened, and Niriz suddenly realized that he had unknowingly touched the admiral’s sore spot. “I’m sorry,” he said, lowering his eyes and mentally cursing himself for his thoughtlessness. “I didn’t realize how it could have been interpreted.”
Parck shrugged it off, letting out a soft sigh. “It’s alright, Niriz.”
Then his lips marred in an evil smirk. Ah, Niriz should have known Parck wouldn’t let him get away with it so easily.
“Anyway, something tells me she will be your little princess, Captain,” Parck said teasingly, his eyes gleaming mischievously. “You will be Uncle Dagon in no time.”
Niriz winced. “Never.”
Parck’s evil smirk widened. “That’s exactly what the pale blue wonder said when I suggested letting humans call him by his core name. Never say never, Niriz.”
Niriz threw him a sour face. “You are so mean, Admiral.”
The only thing that remained would be putting a ‘baby on board’ sign on the hull. Given Parck’s impish nature, the admiral could totally pull it off. After all, he had admitted to Niriz about putting a ‘biohazard’ sign on the door to Lieutenant Thrawn and Lieutenant Bittenfeld’s shared quarters.
Parck’s evil smirk widened even further. “Oh, you have no idea, Captain,” he said mockingly. “Here is the best part: General Bittenfeld is coming over soon.”
“By the Emperor, soon there will be two clowns aboard my precious ship.”
Niriz ran his right hand through his graying hair. Commander Stent and General Bittenfeld would make him go bald in no time. What did he do to deserve such fate? Had he offended the Grand Admiral somehow?
Parck laughed out loud at his reaction. “Come on, Niriz, drop the grumpy lothcat face. It doesn’t suit you,” he said lightly, flashing him a sly wink. “You’re just giving yourself more wrinkles.”
Niriz groaned, rewarding his superior officer with a dull look.
“With all due respect, sir, I find your comments on my appearance highly inappropriate. I should have you reported for harassment when I have the chance,” Niriz grunted. But he didn’t mean it. Not really. Parck was just teasing him, and he had to admit he rather enjoyed the friendly banter with the admiral.
Parck grinned broadly, leaning forward in his chair. “Oh, come on, Niriz. Where else would you find such fabulous admiral like me?” He raised his arms in a mocked surrender. Then his expression grew deadly serious, all signs of teasing gone in an instant.
“Don’t worry about Bittenfeld, Captain,” Parck declared in voice of durasteel, leaving no room for argument. “I will make sure he doesn’t cause any problems aboard the Admonitor. I could handle him in the past; I can handle him now. Leave the gundark to me.”
Niriz sighed softly in resignation. “I wish I had your confidence, sir.”
The door chime interrupted their briefing session, making them both raise their eyebrows at the unexpected visitor. Niriz exchanged a baffled glance with Parck. It was well past the alpha shift, and there was nothing urgent that required the admiral’s attention. Niriz would have known. He was the captain, after all.
“Come in,” Parck called, pressing the release and allowing the mysterious person on the opposite side of the door to enter.
Niriz turned his head just in time to see the door open, revealing the tall, imposing figure of Commander Stent.
Of course, who else? Just what they needed right now. The comic relief.
“I am boring,” the creepy clown said in heavily accented Basic, crossing the room in a brisk stride. “What are humans do when they are boring?”
Niriz had to bite his tongue to keep himself from laughing out loud. How the admiral could keep a perfectly straight face around the Chiss was completely beyond his comprehension.
“You are anything but boring, Commander Kres’ten’tarthi,” Parck said very slowly, putting emphasis on each word to make the Chiss understand, toning down his native Corulagi accent, aiming for the standardized Core World pronunciation instead. “I believe you meant to say you are bored.”
The Chiss tilted his head to a side, letting the words slowly process through his alien brain. “Yes,” he said awkwardly, realizing he made a grammatical mistake. “That is it I am mean.”
“He really lives up the nickname you created for him, doesn’t he?”
Niriz desperately tried not to laugh too hard since in one month Stent managed to memorize enough words to be able to express himself in a completely different language, which Niriz had to admit was actually quite a feat. Too bad it all fell apart because of the entirely different grammatical structure between Basic and Cheunh.
“I don’t know, Commander Kres’ten’tarthi,” Parck said casually, "I suppose it’s different for each human.”
The Chiss stared at him for a couple of heartbeats, presumably translating the sentence in his head, and then he slowly nodded. “Makes sensual. What are you do when you are bored, Voss Parck?”
Parck only shrugged. “I watch holodrama,” he said, and then he briefly switched to Cheunh, presumably to explain the term to the Chiss, considering the bewildered expression on the Commander’s face. It was then Parck’s face transformed into his best attempt at the impassive expression of a Chiss, something Niriz noticed that Parck would subconsciously do whenever he switched to Cheunh.
He’s really good at this, Niriz thought. He’d have made an excellent actor. No wonder he likes holodrama so much.
“I see it. The Chiss has got no holodrama,” the proud Chiss said in a tone that suggested it should have been obvious. However, Niriz could see how the glowing red eyes instantly brightened up with open curiosity, something he had noticed in Thrawn as well on multiple occasions.
“Interesting sound. Show me show now. I want a watch.”
How the creepy clown was able to make it sound like a direct order even with all the broken Basic was beyond Niriz’s comprehension. The Chiss was trying his best, Niriz supposed, but there was no way Admiral Parck would let him get away with ordering him around like an ensign.
“Well, why not, I suppose?” Parck let out a small chuckle. “It’s a human custom to watch holodrama with friends or close acquaintances over a glass of fine alcohol, Kres’ten’tarthi.”
Parck’s eyes gleamed mischievously as he flashed Niriz a conspiratorial wink.
“I think it’s finally time to try the syrspirit the engineering department had made behind our backs, Niriz.”
Niriz only rolled his eyes and threw the admiral his trade mark grumpy lothcat face, but before he followed the troll and the creepy clown into the admiral’s quarters, he decided to make a brief detour.
TO BE CONTINUED
Please do not link to this fic (or reblog!) publicly on tumblr, twitter or other social media sites, thank you. It's like an avalanche that cannot be stopped. And we'd like to remain hidden from the search engines.
Chapter 5: Where No Chiss Has Gone Before
Title: Where No Chiss Has Gone Before
When Niriz entered the admiral’s quarters, Commander Stent was in the process of going through Parck’s entire holodrama collection, his glowing gaze randomly flickering from one title to another, pulling out some of the cassettes only to openly stare at the covers. Right now, the Chiss reminded him of a small child who entered a toystore for the first time.
Niriz rolled his eyes.
Well, even he had to admit that the admiral had quite an extensive collection in his quarters, no wonder it piqued the Chiss’s curiosity. Now, the real question was whether or not Stent could keep staring at the covers as long as Grand Admiral Thrawn when it came to the holographic paintings. Hopefully not.
“I thought Chiss were supposed to be a very private species,” Parck murmured under his breath as he motioned Niriz to sit down on the couch and wait before the Chiss warrior was satisfied with his thorough inspection. In the meantime, Pack poured each of them a glass of the foul-smelling syrspirit the engineering department had produced behind their backs.
I’ve got a bad feeling about this, Niriz thought as he eyed the chief engineer’s own take on an illegal drink called absynthe with growing suspicion, his brows furrowing in a disapproving frown.
Once Niriz had found out about the Admonitor’s secret source of entertainment, he wanted to put an immediate end to it but Admiral Parck only had laughed and convinced him to let the low-ranks have a little fun as long as there was no sudden onset of blindness. It seemed that tonight Niriz would finally experience for himself what it meant to ‘party like in the engineering.’
“Yes, we were,” the Chiss warrior affirmed with a curt nod, taking out another cassette and cocking up a blue-black eyebrow at the title, “but I misunderstand human. May be holodrama does me understand.”
Niriz let out a small chuckle, throwing Parck an amused glance, a corner of his mouth quirking up. “I am afraid he didn’t get the message, Admiral. Maybe you need to spell it out for him.”
Parck only shook his head. “You really think he gets the message even if I spell it out for him, Niriz?” He waved his hand dismissively. In any case, there had been no point in trying to dissuade the Grand Admiral once something had caught the interest of the glowing red gaze. And apparently, the same could be said of Commander Stent.
“What is Queer as Core Folk?” The Chiss interrupted their brief exchange, the pale blue face clouding up in confusion as he held up a cassette, pointing at its cover. “Queer is not on the dictionary off the ship. What is mean show?”
Uh oh. Queer as Core Folk? Was it anything what it sounded like? Well, given the admiral’s inclinations, it made sense Parck would have something like that stashed around somewher; it was not like anyone ever visited him in his personal quarters. And it was also highly entertaining how the man instantly stiffened, obviously embarrassed beyond words but trying his best to act casual. Parck might have been a good actor but he never saw this one coming. A perfect revenge for the comments he had made in Niriz’s presence.
Especially the one regarding Wynssa Starflare’s recent wedding; her husband’s portrait became the No#1 target practice of the whole Admonitor’s StormTrooper Corps contingent, and even some bridge officers accepted the invitation to put a blaster bolt through the husband’s heart from their Army colleagues. The goddess of holodrama broke all their Imperial hearts by marrying some hotshot TIE Fighter pilot named Soontir Fel. After such betrayal, there was no reason to return to the known galaxy anymore.
However, when Admiral Parck had accidentally come across one of these scorched portraits, he merely picked it up with an impish smile, telling Niriz in a very offhanded manner: “Well, she has an excellent taste, one must give her that. This one tops all her male leads by far, and that’s really something considering how handsome been the one from the Kybers are Forever or the one from the Pirates of the Outer Rim.”
And the Chiss even had no idea he had just decked the admiral in front of his direct subordinate. Niriz tried to wipe an evil smirk off his face but failed, a loud snort escaping him. Oh, this was pure gold. Maybe the creepy clown wasn’t so bad after all.
“Commander Kres’ten’tarthi, that is enough,” Parck snapped, his eyes narrowing dangerously. “Chiss are not the only ones who value privacy.”
The Chiss blinked. “Puzzling. Human privacy must been difference. You talk private thoughts any time at the ship. I did not know,” he bowed his head in what seemed to be an honest apology.
Niriz rolled his eyes once more and decided to take mercy with the admiral, addressing the oblivious alien, pointing at one of the titles visible even from the distance.
“Commander Kres’ten’tarthi, let’s watch the new Star Trek. It’s a show about a ship venturing into the unknown and beyond, going where no man has gone before. Pretty much what we are doing right now. You even could say it’s about us.”
Not really, of course, but it might raise the Chiss’s interest if Niriz put it that way.
“Stent,” the Chiss fumed in anger, his glowing eyes blazing with inner fire.
Uh oh, it looked like that Niriz’s Cheunh pronunciation still left much to be desired. But at the very least the alien put the cassette back and came over to sit next to them on the couch, taking the offered glass of absynthe.
“Your accent very suck at it, Captain Dagon Niriz,” Stent pouted, his expression getting as sour as if he had bitten into a very non-ripped bruallki. “Say mine Commander or Stent.”
As if your Basic was any better, Niriz thought but was prevented from saying so by the admiral who chose the moment to turn on the holoprojector, giving over the remote control to the Chiss warrior.
“Feel free to pause it whenever you need, Kres’ten’tarthi. I can interpret for you.”
Stent nodded, watching the opening sequence in silence, the red eyes widening at the sight of a gigantic Romulan ship exiting a black hole, and he leaned forward once the Romulan ship started firing on the USS Kelvin which looked miniscule in comparison.
Then the Chiss frowned. “Your machine broken?” He asked in confusion, narrowing his eyes into mere slits, muttering something intelligible in Cheunh, which caused Parck laugh out loud.
The admiral decided for an explanation in Basic for Niriz’s sake: “Oh no, Kres’ten’tarthi, there is nothing wrong with the holoprojector itself. It’s just a visual effect called lensflare. We can watch something else if it hurts the sensitive eyes of the Chiss, though.”
However, Stent only shook his head, muttering that it was hardly necessary, pursing his lips thoughtfully as he watched the ongoing battle with interest of a professional warrior assessing the capabilities of an unknown foe. Niriz expected Stent would complain that the depiction of the space battle wasn’t entirely accurate but apparently the Chiss understood that it was a mere science fiction, not an actual battlecam footage. No one cared about the laws of physics when it came to Star Trek.
Evasive pattern delta five. Return fire, full spread! Prepare to—!
“Amateurs,” the Chiss let out a derisive sound at the Federation’s hopeless attempt at retaliation, taking a tentative sip from his glass of absynthe. “Clear dead flesh. They were make escape command now after seen the big ship. None chance live.”
Hello. My commander requests the presence of your captain in order to negotiate a cease-fire. You will come aboard our ship via shuttlecraft. Your refusal would be unwise.
The glowing eyes positively gleamed at the decision of the Federation’s captain to take up the Romulan’s offer, going over to the enemy vessel alone, and giving the captaincy over to George Kirk, the father of no one else than the infamous James T. Kirk who would be born in a matter of minutes.
“Ah. I understand it.” Corners of the pale blue lips twitched in a small, playful smile. He seemed to be enjoying the movie very much. “It based on us really. This human like Admiral Voss Parck very many. Walk into his trap. Only this human dead. That human with tattoo and foreign ears do not accept surrender as I done. Torture and kill.”
Niriz exchanged a glance with the admiral. After this he’d gladly become the admiral’s partner in crime and drink the oblivious alien under the table. He appreciated the gesture but it wasn’t funny. It wasn’t funny at all.
“I can always have him thrown off the airlock, sir.”
Parck let out a small sigh, leaning back against the couch, taking a much deeper sip.
“Don’t tempt me, Niriz. Don’t tempt me.”
It will be a very, very long night, Niriz thought as he watched Parck raise his glass in encouragement in order to make the Chiss take another tentative sip of the foul-smelling syrspirit.
TO BE CONTINUED
Star Wars characters watching Star Trek in their leisure time... Deal with it 8-)
Please do not link to this fic (or reblog!) publicly on tumblr, twitter or other social media sites, thank you. It's like an avalanche that cannot be stopped. And we'd like to remain hidden from the search engines.
Chapter 6: Last Friday Night
Title: Last Friday Night
My head is about to explode, Parck thought as he slowly opened his eyes and immediately squeezed them shut; it made the colossal headache even worse. And it wasn’t only the head that hurt like the proverbial Nine Hells of Corellia, his whole body ached as if he had engaged in too much physical activity.
I’ll never touch that foul-smelling syrspirit again, I swear.
Something like this hadn’t happened to him in ages. He had never allowed himself to get even tipsy around his military colleagues, letting himself loose only in the kind of establishments he had frequented. And even there, he had never allowed it to go this far.
Drinking the pale blue wonder under the table with the illegal alcohol the engineering department had made from the reactor coolant was an epically stupid idea. His own epically stupid idea, of course. Niriz had only rolled his eyes and put on his trademark grumpy lothcat face. He should have listened to the good old captain who had wanted the chief engineer thrown in the brig for pulling such a daring stunt in the first place.
[I see you are finally awake.] Came Crahsystor Kres’ten’tarthi's deep voice from somewhere very close to him, making Parck startle and open his eyes in shock, the colossal headache forgotten for the moment.
He screeched when he realized the implication, nearly falling on the floor as he jerked away from the other occupant of the bed and covered himself hastily with the bedsheet; lying naked next to him was none other than the said Chiss, who let out a soft groan in response, massaging his his forehead with his hand, apparently also suffering from a massive headache, which must have gotten worse by the sound Parck had made. Probably too loud for the sensitive ears of the Chiss at the moment.
[Tell me it’s not how it looks like.] Parck said in a resigned tone of voice. Corulag moons, this was much worse than he had originally thought.
Well, sure explains why the whole damn body hurts, though.
There was a little room left for interpretation as to who did whom yesterday night. And considering Stent was not exactly what could be called a ‘gentlebeing,’ Parck should count himself lucky if he would be able to walk without a limp for the rest of the day.
Stent opened his mouth to say something but Parck cut him off sharply: [You know what, don’t say anything.]
The Chiss sat up cross-legged on the bed, looking down at Parck with the expression of complete bewilderment on his pale blue face. He didn’t bother to cover himself up.
[You humans are so puzzling. Why do you even ask if you do not wish to know the answer to your question?] Stent said in a low tone of voice, giving Parck an exasperated look.
Parck let out a soft whimper.
[Look, I just… I was drunk. This sort of thing happens when humans drink too much alcohol.] He made an absent minded hand gesture, and then he pointed first at himself and then at the Chiss. [This doesn’t mean anything. Can we just go back and pretend it never happened?] He said in a pleading tone. “I didn’t even know you were gay.” He added lamely in Basic since he didn’t know the proper expression in Cheunh.
[I am not,] Stent countered in a very matter of fact tone. [Captain Dagon Niriz explained the term to me yesterday. I am not what you call ‘gay.’]
Parck shouted out in horror and he sat up on the bed in one swift movement, trying his best to ignore the pain from the strained muscles.
[What. Did. You. Say?!]
Surely he must have misheard.
No. No. No.
The Chiss frowned but simply repeated what he had said. With shaking hands, Parck reached over for the datapad by his night-table and texted Niriz. He didn’t have the guts even for the audio message, feeling an impeding sense of doom.
Parck to Niriz: Niriz, what happened?!
Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait long for the reply.
Niriz to Parck: Good morning to you, too, sir.
Parck gritted his teeth and tried his best to ignore the Chiss next to him who was observing him like a specimen under a microscope. A very peculiar specimen, in fact.
Parck to Niriz: Drop the rank and stop stalling.
Niriz to Parck: Trust me … You don’t want to know.
For the second time in his life, Parck wanted to borrow a sidearm and shoot himself in the head rather than to die from the embarrassment. How was he supposed to look Niriz in the eyes from now on?
Niriz to Parck: Don’t worry, I left before the things got racy but still there are some things that, once seen, cannot be unseen. I want a day off. You two horny bull-banthas are not the only ones suffering from a headache, though mine is probably nothing compared to yours.
Parck to Niriz: Granted. Parck out.
Without waiting for a reply from the captain, Parck shut down the datapad. Well, this has certainly never, ever happened to him before. He would have to look Niriz in the eyes later. Now back to the pale blue wonder.
[What do you mean you are not gay?] Parck narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “Don’t tell me you screwed me simply out of the Chiss curiosity. I’m not some kriffing experiment,” he added frostily in Basic.
He’d have the pale blue wonder thrown off the airlock if that was the case, the captain’s privilege or not. Even if he had to explain himself to Grand Admiral Thrawn later.
Stnt blinked; he appeared to be completely at loss.
[You are behaving very irrationally. I am not gay because there is no such thing among the Chiss. Two members of the same gender can, of course, engage in a mating session,] Stent added quickly seeing Parck’s glare, [but there is no such thing as hom’ose’xual or heter’ose’xual orientation among the Chiss.]
Parck suppressed a grimace. “I’ll kill Thrawn when I see him. Don’t tell me you all swing both directions,” he said sarcastically. “Bisexual,” he supplied awkwardly since the Chiss blinked at the slang.
“I came to the realization you hold a certain kind of affection towards me after I realized that you are attracted to male gender exclusively. It took me a rather long time to figure it out, but in my defense I had very little experience in reading humans then and my knowledge of human behavior and customs was rather limited. I have observed this kind of behavior in humans as well as in other species,” Thrawn had said back then.
Stent shook his head.
[Based on the Captain’s explanation, a hom’ose’xual feels attraction and affection to the same gender. A heter’ose’xual feels attraction and affection to the opposite gender. A bise’xual then feels attraction and affection to both genders equally. You remind me of a Chiss teenager whose mind has not yet come to terms with the sudden bodily changes. How can you even function properly? No wonder humans are so different when it comes to the concept of privacy or matters of personal nature.]
[Once compatible Chiss who experience mutual bodily attraction cross, they may engage in recreation if it is socially acceptable regardless of their actual gender. It has nothing to do with affection for the spirit. It is merely a remainder of how the ancestors chose their mates in puberty in the ancient past.]
That didn’t make any sense… So they were like asexual in general but with a possibility to go either way when they met a compatible individual? Or they were truly bisexual, well, in the puberty at least, and lost most of their sexual drive upon reaching the adulthood, enough to make them seem seemingly asexual by human standards? But then, they were aliens, near-humans but not humans, therefore the human perception of sexuality did not apply to them.
What made them compatible, then? Pheromones? Scent? Physical characteristics? Something entirely different? He hoped that in this particular case, it wasn't the absynthe.
[Nowadays, for the purpose of continuation of the bloodline, there are marriage contracts between males and females which are entered upon reason based on the desired characteristics of the future descendants. Depending on the terms and the conditions of the contract, it may still be possible to keep recreational partners. Such individuals may then even be permitted into the bloodline if they are favored by both in a process not so dissimilar to the adoption by merit. Mitth’raw’nuruodo and Reli’set’harana were very lucky in their match. A contracted relationship that combines attraction and affection is rare, though affection can be learned or it can blossom on its own once the proper meeting is arranged.]
“What the kriff...” Parck muttered under his breath. This was… He cleared his throat. [Well, that is very, ehm … different.] He added awkwardly in Cheunh.
Stent rewarded him with a hard glare.
[The Chiss do not ask to be judged. Not by you, not by anyone. If it is any consolation, human behavior and customs make little sense to me as well. Especially the ones regarding humans such as you. Captain Dagon Niriz explained to me that on Corulag, the planet you originate from, people like you are treated as second-class citizens, while on Chandrila, the planet he originates from, they are generally accepted even if such behavior is not encouraged, and on a planet called Alderaan there are even marriage contracts between people of the same gender, which makes absolutely no sense to me. There is no combination of their genes involved. Two members of the same gender cannot produce descendants on their own.]
The Chiss pursed his lips thoughtfully.
[And what is even more puzzling, apparently the Alderaanians who enter such contracts are often ridiculed once they find themselves offworld. While the laws may be different from one planet to another, a law is still a law, and as such it is meant to be obeyed by those who fall under its jurisdiction and respected by those who do not. Ridicule of a law would constitute a serious criminal offense among the Chiss.]
[Looks like I need to have a word with Captain Niriz,] Parck said dryly, letting out a small whimper. [Good thing I don’t remember anything.]
[Captain Dagon Niriz mentioned he would prefer if the details of the conversation remained between him and me.] Stent said casually, as if completely oblivious to the fact that in that case he should have never brought it up in the first place.
[Still, what came as the biggest shock to me was that apparently among humans, men like you are considered to be not only soft and weak, but also feminine. How could be the mating act, attraction or affection between men seen as feminine? How is that even possible?] The Chiss asked incredulously, and there was the same ‘what the kriff’ face Parck had himself had when the pale blue wonder explained the Chiss customs to him.
Parck’s eyes narrowed into mere slits. “Yeah, looks like Niriz definitely has some serious explaining to do...”
There's a Chiss male in my bed
There's a pounding my head
Uniforms all over the room
And all the empty bottles of the lube
I smell like a minibar
Niriz's nerfed out rightaway
Queer as Core Folk's on the loop
This a love bite or a bruise?
Story of last night
Ended up online
It's a blacked out blur
But I'm pretty sure it ruled, damn
BTW #1 Captain Dagon Niriz’s actual homeworld is never mentioned officially, but we thought Chandrila (= Mon Mothma’s planet) would fit nicely with his personality and with the introduction of same-sex relationships in the new Canon.
Wookieepedia on Chandrila/Canon: Chandrilans were regarded as peaceful but slightly haughty, pedantic, and interested in politics. Chandrilans had a reputation for being tolerant of same-sex relationships.
BTW #2 What do you think of our take on Chiss sexuality? They might have evolved from humans but they have been separate long enough to become a new species, which means they must have different views on sexuality and relationships in general.
Chapter 7: That Escalated Quickly
Title: That Escalated Quickly
Parck to Niriz: Niriz, what happened?!
Captain Niriz was just drinking his morning caf when the message arrived. He let out a deep sigh before typing:
Niriz to Parck: Good morning to you, too, sir.
The reply was immediate. Obviously, the admiral was in no mood for sarcasm today.
Parck to Niriz: Drop the rank and stop stalling.
Niriz shook his head. No. Niriz considered Parck a friend, or as close to a friend as the difference in ranks would allow, and telling him the truth would only put an invisible stain on their friendship; especially considering there was an incredibly delicate person behind the mask. After yesterday, Niriz finally realized that Parck's past behavior had been merely an empty bravado.
Niriz to Parck: Trust me … You don’t want to know.
He let out another deep sigh. The man on the other end of the line was hell of a kriffing idiot.
Niriz to Parck: Don’t worry, I left before the things got racy but still there are some things that, once seen, cannot be unseen. I want a day off. You two horny bull-banthas are not the only ones suffering from a headache, though mine is probably nothing compared to yours.
Parck to Niriz: Granted. Parck out.
Niriz let out an amused chuckle. After this, Niriz was pretty sure the admiral would put an end to the crew’s illegal source of entertainment himself. Or perhaps not since Parck would have no real recollection of the events, Niriz made sure of that by spicing up the admiral’s drink with an interrogation serum which caused amnesia as one of the intended side effects. That way, the prisoners would have no idea how much they actually told to their Imperial captors. Parck had revealed enough bantha manure about himself even without the serum, it couldn’t do any more damage to his already tarnished reputation. The worst thing that could happen would be admitting to some embarrassing things he liked to do in bed.
As if the Chiss would mind.
Niriz had intended to use the drug on Commander Stent in case the situation got out of hand somehow, just a little to cloud his memories of the night, however, in the end he decided to use everything he had on Parck. It might not have worked properly otherwise. Forget the brig, the chief engineer deserved to be thrown off the airlock for having the audacity to pull such a daring stunt. No more absynthe.
Oh, the situation certainly got out of hand. Only it was much, much worse than he had feared. From watching Star Trek to explaining human sexuality to the Chiss, and then finally watching the two bull-banthas make out on the admiral’s couch.
It all started with Star Trek. By the end of the movie, Parck was already drunk, rambling about how the reboot basically flushed the entire Star Trek franchise down the ‘fresher, turning a cerebral series into an action holomovie, and then he admitted to suffering a heartbreak upon seeing Spock’s and Uhura’s kiss in the elevator for the first time. According to Parck, Spock’s heart had belonged to Captain Kirk in The Original Series.
What. The. Kriff?
Captain James T. Kirk was one of the most iconic fictional ladies men; he ended up in bed with a woman basically in every episode. What could possibly lead Parck to the conclusion that there was something going on between Captain Kirk and Commander Spock? And who in their right mind would fantasize about two fictional characters together anyway? Gay, straight, whatever... It was just a kriffing franchise, for the Sith’s sake, the admiral seriously needed to get a life. Parck wasn’t a holodrama geek, he was a damned holodrama nerd.
Niriz shook his head. Fortunately, the Chiss had absolutely no idea what the admiral was talking about, nor he looked particularly interested to find out; Commander Stent simply shrugged, telling Niriz that he would probably never understand humans.
At that, Niriz only waved his hand dismissively, telling the Chiss to pay no attention to the old drunkard, that it was probably one of the queer things only the gay men did. To which the Chiss replied that he had heard the admiral mentioning the expression ‘gay’ before, directly quoting what Parck had said (how did he even manage to memorize it without understanding?!), but considering how emotionally distressed the admiral had been, the Chiss decided not to inquire further as to what precisely Parck had meant.
“It means I like dick,” a very drunk Parck declared all of a sudden, making Niriz cup his face in his hands to hide his embarrassment, muttering an old Chandrilan curse. He knew that, of course, he realized that gay men must have liked dick as much as straight men liked women’s bosoms, but he definitely didn’t need to hear that!
Only the admiral didn’t stop there, flushing his masculinity down the ‘fresher by Corulag and Imperial standards.
“I want to get kriffed by dick, I want to suck dick, I like sucking dick,” Parck's expression grew very smug, “and I am good at it, too,” he added with a chuckle, licking his lips. Then he threw them both an evil smirk.
“That’s a direct quote from Queer as Core Folk, by the way. The main character tells that to his mother. And I figured it’d be a great thing to say to my father after he had thrown me out of the house. Oh, and later I said I’d return either as an admiral or as a military governor and screw the entire House of Citizens.”
Niriz felt his jaw drop. It was much worse than he had originally thought. Holy Sah'ot, you’ve got real issues, man. He shook his head, rolling his eyes in exasperation. Yeah, definitely no more absynthe.
He assumed that the admiral’s somewhat unorthodox explanation would be more than sufficient but apparently it made the Chiss even more confused; and thus Niriz cleared his throat and decided to give the oblivious alien a much needed talk about how it worked for humans. Sexuality and Relationships 101. He had no idea if the Chiss understood his Galactic Basic since the creepy clown simply stared, looking at Niriz as if he had grown a second head, only cocking up an eyebrow or tilting his head to a side from time to time.
Somewhere in the middle of the conversation, Parck started rambling about how attractive he had always found the glowing red eyes—another shocking revelation since before Commander Stent appeared literally out of the blue, there had been only one other Chiss male around. No wonder Parck had mentioned being very cooperative with the COMPNOR, they would have dragged him down faster than one could say 'Chiss' had they ever realized. This was a first grade blackmail material.
And then Parck placed his hand on Commander Stent’s thigh in a very inappropriate manner, leaning in seductively and whispering into the Chiss’s ear that he wanted the Commander to kriff the brain out his filthy body, and—to Niriz’s mortal embarrassment—the Chiss didn’t appear to mind at all, only muttering that such thing was anatomically impossible.
Niriz felt his jaw drop for the second time. And that was the moment when he finally decided to spice up the admiral’s drink and leave the two bull-banthas to their ultimate fates.
Oh boy, that escalated quickly.
No more kriffing absynthe. Never again.
Chapter 8: What of Friends?
Title: What of Friends?
Niriz got up and walked over to the entrance when he heard the doorchime since there was little room for interpretation as to the identity of the unexpected visitor; it was no one else than the troll whose little prank backfired on him, of course.
“Hello, Niriz,” the admiral said nervously in a greeting as he raised his eyes to meet his, his stance unnaturally stiff. Parck's lips were drawn into a thin line, there was not even a hint of the warm smile he always seemed to have.
“May I come in?”
Niriz rolled his eyes. Really, just how much of a kriffing idiot was he?!
“As long as you don’t have any more absynthe...” Niriz grunted out and made a wide gesture with his arm, motioning the admiral to come inside.
Parck’s eyes instantly brightened, corners of his lips turning up.
“Don’t worry, Niriz,” Parck's tone grew more confident, his stance relaxed a bit. “No more absynthe. I’ll never touch that foul-smelling syrspirit again, I swear.”
As soon as the door closed behind them, Parck took a deep breath to steel himself and put his hands behind his back. “Niriz, look... I am sorry. I really am. I should have never drunk so much. I don’t know what exactly happened since the pale blue wonder wouldn’t tell me no matter how hard I tried.”
Parck's expression hardened. “All I know is that I probably said … things.” Then he let out a deep sigh in resignation. “And that I did things. In short, I screwed up. Royally. And I understand if you want to put an end to our weekly discussions over the glass of Chandrilan brandy—”
Niriz suppressed an urge to shake the queer admiral by the shoulders. “Voss...” He said instead, using the first name for emphasis; they never addressed each other by their first names. “Do yourself a favor and shut the kriff up before you make a total idiot out of yourself.”
Parck blinked; stunned.
“Yes, you are a sore sight when you get drunk.” Niriz admitted grudgingly. “But I couldn’t think any less of you simply because you admitted to sucking dicks or because you made an indecent proposal to the other bull-bantha.”
So, there was a reason why no one had never seen Parck utterly wasted before. Niriz pretty much figured out that there had to be one. Only it was much worse than he had originally thought.
“Corulag moons,” the admiral exclaimed in horror, his complexion turning ashen.
“I really said that?” From the tone of his voice, the man didn’t actually want to know the answer.
Niriz would reply anyway. Otherwise the man would never stop poking around, and then he would find out just how much bantha manure he had revealed about himself. Or that there was a reason why he couldn't remember anything.
“Yes, you did.” Niriz said dryly, making the other man go deep red with embarrassment for a change. Parck's rank plates might have said Vice Admiral but the man had effectively flushed his commanding authority down the 'fresher by the Imperial standards.
“But I couldn’t care less as long as it’s not my dick you’re sucking so stop worrying for the Sith’s sake. That’s my part, you know? I’m the worrywart around here. Not you.”
The other man gaped at Niriz for a full minute before he regained his composure and transformed back into his usual self. He opened his mouth, then he closed it, swallowing whatever it was on his tongue, then he lowered his eyes. He would stop poking around. And neither of them would mention it again.
“Thank you,” Parck conceded in a low tone of voice. “I guess I really should listen to you more often.”
Niriz let out a loud snicker. “It’s about kriffing time you realized that, sir.”
Then he cleared his throat. It came out as an insubordination but it wasn't meant to be, not really; the two of them knew exactly where they stood, which was why they could afford to sit down in the Captain's Ready Room once in a week, sometimes even dropping the ranks.
“Now seriously, Admiral. That was a very foolish mistake, and I hope you realize that now. The regs are regs for a reason, and I may be a mother hen but I won’t have an illegal still on my ship. The low-ranks will have to find a different source of entertainment from now on.”
Parck flashed him a small, playful smile. “Oh, I don’t know, Captain, it’s entirely possible that once you ban absynthe they come up with something even worse...”
Niriz’s face darkened. “Let them try, and then the whole ship will finally experience what it means to invoke the wrath of Captain Dagon Niriz.”
Niriz deserves a kriffing promotion… He is the best mother-hen, grumpy-faced, father-like, golden-hearted captain ever. God, we love Niriz! And we hope you love him, too!
Chapter 9: An Alien and an Outsider
Title: An Alien and an Outsider
Humans are so puzzling , Stent thought was he silently observed the human male standing next to him in the elevator. And Voss Parck is the most puzzling of them all.
It was more than apparent that he did not wish to be here and yet he had agreed to Stent’s suggestion to visit Aristocra Reli’set’harana in her quarters aboard the Admonitor. His face and his body emanated discomfort, nervousness, and precariousness.
Voss Parck’s behavior was so erratic; it made absolutely no sense. It was him who had initiated the mating session, it was him to had started removing their clothes as soon as Captain Dagon Niriz had left, and it was him who had played the active role the entire time, expressing no shame or restraint whatsoever, telling Stent what precisely would please him. Stent had only followed Voss Parck’s instructions to the letter.
It was obvious that humans and Chiss shared a common ancestry; it was the only sensible explanation for all their similarities despite the environmental differences. Either humans had evolved from the Chiss or the Chiss had evolved from humans. More likely the latter.
Therefore, Stent had assumed their mating customs would be similar; however, they couldn’t possibly be any more different. Captain Dagon Niriz’s lecture was very helpful, indeed it helped him understand many things about the inexplicable behavior Stent had a chance to observe thus far.
When Voss Parck had initiated the mating ritual, making himself very clear that it had been meant to be human male-male version of the recreation, Stent saw no reason to refuse him in his own inebriated state; the chemical composition of the beverage interfered with the brain’s communication pathways, causing relaxation and reduced inhibitions, making him consider things that would have never occurred to him in the first place. Such as mating with an outsider. To use the words of the mankind: ‘Why not?’
It had seemed like a wonderful idea at that time.
Humans were so curious creatures driven by their impulses, and the Chiss had these impulses, too, but they laid dormant, awoken only by a compatible individual of either gender or by a direct stimulation performed by a member of the opposite gender for the purpose of procreation. They would have become extinct if they were physically incapable of the mating act.
The human male did not have the characteristics that would turn him into a recreational partner in the Chiss sense of word, but on the other hand, for a reason unbeknownst to Stent, he wasn’t incompatible either. It defied all conventions. Could their common ancestry be the answer? Was it possible all humans had the potential to become compatible recreational partners for the Chiss? The very idea was preposterous. Has it ever occurred to any other Chiss before him? Has it ever occurred to Syndic Mitth’raw’nuruodo?
All things considered, especially after such blatant display of need and want, Stent had expected the mating session to be raw and animalistic. Only it had been emotional, affectionate, and most of all, intimate.
Of all the things that had crossed his mind, Stent had never expected it to be intimate.
And what more, the human displayed a level of intimacy that could be found only among Chiss couples who have spent years in each other’s company, emanating enough affection to be noticed even by a casual observer. How came that humans were able to give themselves so freely when it took years for the Chiss?
It had shocked Stent to the core.
And now that he knew of it, he wanted it. Yes, he could easily oblige Voss Parck and pretend the accidental mating never happened. He was a Chiss adult, after all. His mind came to the terms with his own bodily changes a long time ago, it was no longer clouded like during the short period between childhood and adulthood.
However, he had to admit that subconsciously he craved the level of intimacy the human had shown him. The one he had never achvieved. And that was the real reason why he suggested seeking a counsel from Aristocra Reli’set’harana, someone who had reached such connection with her consort.
However, when Stent suggested seeking her counsel on the matter, the human male abruptly blanched, the blood from his peripheral blood vessels draining away, redistributing itself to the core, his body warmth shifting, displaying all the characteristic of a mild shock visible to the eyes of a Chiss. Perhaps even to the eyes of a human. What could be the reason for such inexplicable behavior?
Aristocra Reli’set’harana was the second most logical choice for a counsel; Syndic Mitth’raw’nuruodo would have been the first, of course, considering his many years of experience dealing with the humans, but then he was not present at the moment. Therefore, Aristocra Reli’set’harana had to do.
Stent shook his head as he watched the human male exit the elevator and press the chime at the entrance to Aristocra Reli’set’harana’s quarters. Why was Voss Parck behaving so strangely? What was it that he was afraid of? Her judgment? Considering the Aristocra’s highly unusual domestic arrangement with the Syndic, she was in no position to judge an outsider who had mated with a Chiss, let alone a Chiss who had done so.
Humans truly are so puzzling , Stent thought was he silently observed the human male standing next to him by the door. And Voss Parck definitely is the most puzzling of them all.
This is an epically stupid idea, Parck thought has he pressed the doorchime to Lisetha’s quarters. But at least this time it’s not my epically stupid idea.
When the Chiss suggested seeing Lisetha’s counsel on the matter, what was he talking about anyway? Parck just wanted to take a walk among the stars without the luxury of a vac suit; as if it wasn’t enough that Niriz knew, now the two of them would go see Thrawn’s wife of all people, and tell her … what, exactly? Why did Stent insist on coming here either with him or without him?
Parck chewed on his lower lip; the pale blue wonder was driving him crazy. Stent was trying his best at being nice, Parck supposed, but he really sucked at it… Why are you doing this to me? What have I done?
The door finally opened and Parck took a deep breath before addressing a rather disheveled-looking Lisetha. Fortunately, they didn’t disturb her from her sleep, but it was clear she was in the process of combing her long hair.
“Greetings, Lady Lisetha,” Parck gave the Chiss female a polite bow. Addressing her by the core name was as inappropriate as addressing Thrawn by his core name, possibly even more so considering her position and status among the Chiss, but it was she who suggested calling each other by their core/given names, and since Thrawn appeared not to mind, Parck had agreed to it.
“Dear Voss,” Lisetha gave him a small smile that was quite broad by the Chiss standards, “what do I owe the pleasure?” she said amicably, and then her eyes shifted over to Stent.
[Commander Kres’ten’tarthi,] she added, addressing the Chiss warrior by his rank and full name as per the social conventions.
[Aristocra Reli’set’harana,] Stent gave her a deep, respectful bow, appropriate to the difference between their respective positions, [please forgive us on intruding upon your privacy in this manner. We have come seeking your counsel on a matter of personal nature.]
TO BE CONTINUED
Chapter 10: Defying Convention
Title: Defying Convention
Lisetha invited both of them inside and offered for them to sit down by the low table. Stent, of course, settled for the floor, assuming the same uncomfortable position he had done the time he had spoken to Thrawn, kneeling on his knees and folding his legs beneath him. Lisetha, on the other hand, sat down cross-legged on one of the cushions by the table, and therefore Parck decided to ignore the overly-proud Chiss warrior and assumed a similar position to Lisetha, which earned him a playful smile from the Chiss female.
[No one expects an aristocra to sit in the humble manner,] Stent said in explanation, eyeing Parck’s position with obvious disapproval.
Parck only rolled his eyes. The humble manner—as Stent phrased it—looked downright uncomfortable, even Thrawn opted for a chair as soon as Stent had gone out of sight.
Lisetha looked from Parck to Stent, and then from Stent to Parck, confusion plainly written on her powder blue face. She gave them both a long, pondering glance, tilting her head to the side.
[What is the source of discord between the two of you, Kres’ten’tarthi? Voss?]
It seemed that Stent was not only short-tempered by Chiss standards; he was also rather blunt, certainly blunt enough to make Parck go red with embarrassment at his choice of words: [We engaged in recreation, and he has been behaving very strangely towards me since then. I cannot possibly fathom the reason why, Aristocra Reli’set’harana.]
Parck let out a deep sigh in resignation. Oh, this was surreal. [Lisetha, please, tell me at least you can fathom the reason why I am feeling awkward. Please.]
[I would very much like to tell you what you want to hear, Voss. However, I am afraid I cannot fathom the reason why, either. It happened with your consent, I presume?]
[He was the one who initiated it,] Stent supplied helpfully, making Parck bite his tongue to keep from saying anything aloud. It seemed he owed Thrawn an apology. Thrawn might have been tight-lipped as a Chiss, but he could understand humans much better than these two. Either that, or he could at least imagine what a human might find awkward or embarrassing about the whole thing, even if he didn’t understand it.
Thrawn would have told Stent to drop it and leave Parck alone for a while.
[Kres’ten’tarthi,] Parck began slowly, suppressing an urge to strangle the pale blue wonder. [Stent... Is it permissible to call you Stent in Cheunh, by the way?] he asked cautiously and was relieved when he received a curt nod in return. He really didn’t know how it worked among the Chiss but something told him that a one night stand didn’t automatically put them on core name basis.
[Well then, Stent , I have already told you. I was drunk. This kind of thing happens when humans drink too much alcohol. It doesn’t mean anything. Can’t we just go back and pretend it never happened?]
The Chiss male and the Chiss female exchanged a long, knowing glance.
[I am afraid that you are the one who is unable to go back and pretend it never happened, Voss Parck, considering your highly irrational behavior towards me.]
Lisetha slowly inclined her head in agreement.
[I am sorry, Voss, but I have to agree with Kres’ten’tarthi on this particular observation,] she said in an apologetic tone, making Parck cringe internally.
[Well, maybe I am behaving irrationally according to Chiss standards, but not according to human standards. Or, at least, I don’t believe so, ] Parck said in a self-defense, crossing his arms over his chest protectively.
[Considering how private a species the Chiss are, I just can’t believe you two would breach my privacy by discussing such deeply personal things as if you were talking about a surprise holodrama plot twist.]
Both Chiss just stared at him for a couple of heartbeats.
[Is it the human conflation of recreation with affection that confuses you?] Lisetha wondered aloud, cocking a blue-black eyebrow at him.
Parck whimpered quietly.
[Never mind.] He took a deep breath to steel himself. [This is pointless. I don’t think either of you can understand. Just say whatever is on your minds,] he added sarcastically. It seemed that arguing with a Chiss—any Chiss, not just Thrawn—was useless. The sooner they were done with it, the sooner he could go and pick up the last remaining pieces of his dignity in peace.
Stent gave him a curt nod in thanks and proceeded to address Lisetha. Corulag moons, I can’t believe it! He really doesn’t get it!
[Aristocra Reli’set’harana, it is now clear to me that you do not have much experience with human behavior, either. However, in that case, I would like to ask if you are willing to share some of Syndic Mitth’raw’nuruodo’s own reasoning.]
Lisetha grew pensive for a moment.
[I am afraid that Thrawn’s opinion may be biased, since he came to see the humans under his care as his descendants, which has inevitably led to making more and more allowances for them over the years,] she said in a very matter-of-fact tone, as if Parck wasn’t present or couldn’t understand her Cheunh.
[He even decided to let slide a serious breach of regulations by allowing a captain and his first officer to pursue such recreation, combining attraction with deep affection. He called it an experiment and hoped that at least the captain would still have enough common sense in himself to rotate their shifts accordingly, dismissing the two of them as, I quote: ‘two moactan teels in love. ’ ] She paraphrased in Basic since it seemed that the human concept of ‘love ’ did not translate well into Cheunh.
On the other hand, it seemed that the Chiss concept of ‘affection’ did not translate well into Basic either. No wonder that their sense of privacy was exclusively centered around affection.
It was one of the most complicated ideograms he had ever seen, combining the strokes for trust , care , kinship , heart , mind , soul , and contentment. He had never given it much thought before, but now it was obvious that it was not interchangeable with the word ‘love,’ or at least not with the concept of romantic love as humans understood it.
No wonder Lieutenant Thrawn had simply shrugged, saying, “Yes, this particular ideogram must seem complicated to an outsider, I suppose” without ever elaborating further.
There was so much lost in translation. It was almost a pity.
[A relationship of this kind is called ‘an affair,’ and it is considered undesirable even among humankind.] She shifted her glowing gaze to Parck. [Among the Chiss, it would be unthinkable, Voss.]
Stent stared, stunned. [Yes,] he said when he finally found his voice. [It would be for the best to tell them to cease and desist immediately. I can only imagine it must have a negative effect on their performance.]
Parck felt his jaw drop. He didn’t know what was more shocking, that Thrawn came to see his human crew as children—well, as his ‘descendants,’ as he had aptly put it, but essentially mere children , given that Thrawn had used the ‘fair haired’ derogatory expression as well—or that he let slide such a breach of regulations. It was hardly the first time it ever happened with a mixed crew, of course; but as long as no one noticed and officially reported the couple to their commanding officer...
From time to time it just happened that two officers who previously served on the same ship in a direct chain of command married each other after their contracts with the Navy ended. Parck was about to ask who were the two said morons in love when Lisetha continued:
[Not all such relationships are a detriment, Kres'ten'tarthi. After all, if they were, I would be sitting at home, keeping my father's notes and entertaining some supremely boring third cousin twice removed as a contact partner.]
Stent’s eyes widened in shock. He looked as if what Lisetha was saying made absolutely no sense.
[Or did you suppose I followed Thrawn across a galaxy, abandoned my Family, my birthright, and my place in the Ascendancy simply because it was the reasonable thing to do?]
Lisetha proudly raised her chin in a challenge.
[No, Lady Reli’set’harana,] Stent finally conceded, lowering his eyes in humility. [While the degree of affection between you two is visible even to a casual observer, I simply thought there was more to your departure than your affiliation with Syndic Mitth’raw’nuruodo.]
[There was not,] Lisetha countered in the same matter-of-fact tone, and the way she was bearing herself at the moment reminded Parck of someone who was literally born to rule. There was no mistaking her aristocratic lineage.
[I believe in Thrawn's vision for the safety of our people. But here I have no role other than that which he gives me. I have no power outside the structure he creates, and what I have within it is at his discretion. And I did not expect even that. I fled because, while I agreed with his views, far more than that I simply would not continue without him. I would have accepted any role he chose to give me, simply to have the honor of being with him.]
Stent went completely still for a few seconds. [Your domestic arrangement with Syndic Mitth’raw’nuruodo is truly ... unconventional. Once again, please forgive the breach of privacy, Aristocra Reli’set’harana.]
[To withhold information that could help my husband's warriors simply because it is personally... discomfiting to speak of it would be unworthy of his trust in me and the role he has given me. It is not only this child,] and she made a suitably-vague gesture, [whom I am expected in some ways to mother.]
Parck opened his mouth and immediately closed it. Honestly, he didn’t know how to feel about the whole exchange. He didn’t know whether to feel offended or embarrassed or shocked. His mind didn’t fully comprehend what was being said. He thought Thrawn had sent his wife for safekeeping, and instead it looked like it was the opposite way around.
[Was my counsel of any help, Kres’ten’tarthi?] Lisetha asked then, making herself very clear that it was all she was willing to say on the matter, effectively ending the discussion.
[Very much so, Aristocra Reli’set’harana.] Stent gave her a deep, respectful bow and rose to his feet in a single fluid motion. [Thank you for your time and for your insight.]
Parck gaped. Were they speaking a different language? How could this even be called a counsel? The two Chiss exchanged a few observations about love and humans, which made absolutely no sense to him even though it apparently made perfect sense to them, and thus the matter was closed.
To Parck, however, it was as if they were speaking in riddles. “Thank you, Lady Lisetha, for your time. By the way, Captain Niriz would be honored if you would accept his invitation for an informal meeting. He expressed a wish to learn Cheunh from you, but he was unsure of Chiss customs or propriety.”
Lisetha’s eyes glittered with open amusement. “Of course, dear Voss. Please tell Captain Niriz that I am admissible to the meeting and that I am willing to teach him, as well as anyone else who may be interested in Cheunh. That includes you, of course. It has been some time since we practiced calligraphy together.”
She shifted her flowing gaze over at Stent. [Or perhaps Kres’ten’tarthi would be interested in teaching you from now on? Characters from the Man’yoshu poems, perhaps?]
Stent seemed thrown off-balance. [I am afraid I have never been any good at calligraphy, Aristocra Reli’set’harana.]
Lisetha’s eyes were now openly gleaming. Nevertheless, it seemed the meeting was truly concluded. Lisetha led them to the entrance, and they exchanged one last deep bow before saying good-bye.
After the door closed between them, Parck took a deep breath and looked directly into the glowing red gaze beside him. [Stent,] he began hesitantly, taking a moment to choose his words, [I admit that I do not know what this was all about, but after our brief exchange with Reli’set’harana, it is clear to me that you were not seeking her counsel on our behalf but rather on your own. What is it—just how do you feel about me?]
The Chiss grew very still, observing him, cataloging is every reaction until he finally inclined his head.
[I am afraid I am unable to provide you with a sufficient answer, since I do not know myself. You are an outsider, Voss Parck, and please do not take it as a personal offense when I say that you are ... different. I was told that for most humans, it is disconcerting to look into the eyes of a Chiss, and I must admit for me it is disconcerting to look into the eyes of a human. Any human, not only you. The lack of glow is ... unnatural. And your behavior is highly erratic and completely puzzling. You are an enigma to me ... Voss.]
Stent shook his head, obviously feeling awkward at using Parck’s first name. [At this moment, I can tell you only that I find your company permissible, and that I would not be opposed to spending my leisure time simply talking to you and learning more about you. I am sorry I cannot provide you with a sufficient answer.]
[Oh, well...] Parck cleared his throat. [Thank you for an honest reply, I guess. And there is no need to apologize. I don’t know how I feel about you, either.]
He let out a small, amused chuckle. “You are really driving me crazy most of the time, you know that?”
The Chiss let out a deep sigh. [I know. And I cannot figure out the reason why that is.]
[Of course you can’t.] Parck chuckled again and placed a hand on the Chiss’s shoulder. “Never mind. Interested in watching more holodrama together? Something tells me a Chiss warrior like you would enjoy Game of Thrones.”
Disclaimer: First Star Trek, now Game of Thrones. Deal with it 8-) Wynssa Starflare would make perfect Daenerys...
Chapter 11: Caught in the Crossfire
Title: Caught in the Crossfire
Admiral Parck didn’t look overly enthusiastic to extend the invitation to their weekly discussions over a glass of Chandrilan brandy to Commander Stent; and while Niriz could certainly understand his reservations given what had happened the last time the three of them drunk alcohol together, one could hardly blame Niriz for being curious about their new ally, could they? He didn’t expect the Chiss to spill his life story right away, but perhaps Commander Stent could share something about his life in the Chiss Ascendancy in general...
Only apparently the Chiss wasn’t in a talkative mood today; Commander Stent only shrugged, inclined his head from time to time, ignoring all the white gauntlets Niriz threw his way until Niriz finally grew tired of the game, exchanging a brooding look with Parck.
“Told you so,” Parck muttered under his breath, swirling the glass before taking the last sip from his brandy.
“Did you at least enjoy the drink, Commander?” Niriz asked, glancing at the barely touched glass of an exquisite vintage, a famous export article of his hometown, Hanna City. It was not meant to be drunk, such a fine liquor was meant to be savored.
The Chiss stiffened, looking as uneasy as Niriz had ever seen, his eyes darting between Parck and Niriz before finally confessing: “Not very many.”
Niriz let out a small chuckle, too amused to take an offense. Sure, they could have corrected the creepy clown’s grammar every time he made a mistake but they unanimously decided against it, letting the Chiss entertain them with his broken Basic.
“I’m afraid the drink is wasted on him, Niriz,” Parck said with a faint twitch of his lips. “Mind if I finish this?” He asked the Chiss who let out small shrug in response, gladly giving the glass over to Parck. Well, Niriz tried, at least.
“But don’t worry,” Parck continued in a dismissive tone, “Lisetha will make a much better conversation partner.”
Niriz suppressed a grimace; he could understand all the secrecy but still he felt somewhat disappointed that Thrawn would not officially introduce his wife even to the ship’s captain. Did that mean it was forbidden for the human crew to interact with her? The Chiss could be so difficult at times…
Especially this one in particular.
“I heard you took a liking to our stormtrooper contingent, Commander.”
“Yes.” The Chiss affirmed. Nothing. Didn’t ring a bell. “I teached into them a Chiss martial arts.”
Niriz let out a discreet cough. “Commander, I received a copy of the chief medical officer’s official complaint addressed to you...”
“Ah, the accidental?” The Chiss tilted his head to the side. It was impossible to say whether the Chiss’s innocence was faked or genuine.
Niriz crossed his arms. “You call ten broken arms, twelve broken legs, and eight concussions an accident, Commander?”
The Chiss blinked. “An series of accident.” He threw back, dead pan. “Stormtroopers are bad at fell on the ground.”
Unbelievable. Niriz shook his head, focusing his attention on Parck instead. “You sure like to live dangerously, Admiral.”
It was not meant as a personal offense; it was a mere slip of a tongue. Venting out his frustrations on a different target. And an attempt at a joke.
Only Parck misinterpreted it as such; he drew himself into his full height, his eyes flashing dangerously, his face carved in a stone. He shot Niriz a hard glare.
“Is that what you think we are doing, Captain?” Parck asked in a frosty tone, putting an unduly emphasis on the rank, all familiarity gone in an instant. “That we’re screwing like some animals?”
Niriz’s cheeks reddened up in embarrassment. “I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t mean--”
“No, Niriz,” Parck cut him off sharply. “You face said it clearly: ‘I wouldn’t let him anywhere near my ass if I were you.’’’
Kriff. Clearly, the admiral took it very personally.
“No, I--” Niriz tried again but the admiral cut him off again.
“You’ve never done with with a woman, did you?” Parck asked with all seriousness. It was not meant to be a mere rhetorical question.
“Ehm, no,” Niriz confessed, embarrassed. Gentlemen didn’t discuss such things. “No, I didn’t. It’s really not my thing, and in any case I don’t think a proper lady would...”
“So what makes you think a man would?” Parck asked into the silence. He let out a loud, deep exhale. “You know, I’m sick and tired of you straight people thinking that gay just screw each other. The harder the better. It’s … It’s less common than you people think. What if I told you there are gay men, many, actually, who don’t do it at all, huh?”
Parck raised his chin in a challenge.
Niriz cleared his throat. “Well, I’ve never really given it much of a--”
“For some it’s too filthy, for some it’s too humiliating, and for some it’s simply too painful,” Parck continued his lecture. “And it doesn’t work like regular sex, either. If the bottom is supposed to enjoy it, then the preparation takes time. And it still makes you feel sore afterward. When it’s not done properly, it’s even worse. So I would really appreciate if you never made such stupid remark in my presence again. Because it isn’t funny. At all.”
Niriz lowered his eyes in a shame. “I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.”
“And just for your information, Niriz,” Parck finished, throwing proverbial daggers at him with his gaze, each word uncharacteristically sharp, “the pale blue wonder and I are just watching holodrama together. That’s all.”
And that’s the real deal, isn’t it? Niriz thought accusingly.
Even if Niriz didn’t hear Parck’s bold, drunken declaration, there was a little room left for interpretation as to who did whom that night. However, Niriz didn’t know whether the two bull-banthas treated it as a one night stand or whether they decided to give it a try. Parck didn’t breathe a word aloud, and the Chiss behaved as impassive as usual.
That’s why you reacted as if I stomped on your feet. I got caught in a crossfire. Just kiss and make up already, for Sith’s sake.
Niriz opened his mouth to say so aloud in more polite terms but stopped because something completely unexpected happened: The Chiss burst in laughter, guffawing with open amusement. It couldn’t have lasted more than a couple of seconds at best but it was definitely a very human-like laugh.
Niriz and Parck both gaped at the sudden loss of control; neither of them have ever seen Thrawn’s sabbac face crack so openly. Oh, they noticed Thrawn smiling from time to time, yes, but laughing out loud? Never.
Stent recovered quickly, only a faint twitch of the pale blue lips betraying him, the glowing eyes sparkling with sheer amusement. “Sorry. Very many sorry. My manners not well but you two are much quality entertainment. More better than human holodrama. I want a watch the argumenting again. At every cost come next week.”
Authors' Note: We’ve decided to shed light on the topic because this is a quite common misconception and sadly 90% slashfics only add to the stereotype. We'll address more stereotypes about gay men as the story progresses further. We know slashfics are written by women for women but…
Chapter 12: Imperial Law, Chiss Justice
Title: Imperial Law, Chiss Justice
We really love GoT but there are scenes which are just ... disturbing. OMGWTF!!!
[This is so ... uncivilized,] Stent said with scorn as he watched the holodrama, pale blue face twisted in a clear expression of disgust. [I cannot understand why he simply did not wait until she would be amenable. This is...]
Parck cleared his throat.
[Believe me, this scene is disturbing even by human standards. In real life it would be considered a serious crime punished by years of hard labor in the spice mines of Kessel. A planet with very unfavorable living conditions,] he added, since the Chiss had never heard of the Imperial prison reserved for murderers, rapists, and political prisoners. Criminals gave up their right as a sentient when they committed a crime, meaning they could be used for slave labour if the Galactic Empire so wished. They were also considered guilty until proven innocent.
Stent made a derisive sound. [Given how … sensual creatures humans are, I can only imagine such crime must be very common. And hard labor is a very mild punishment in my personal opinion.] He must have noticed Parck’s expression since he decided to elaborate further.
[A Chiss exercising violence over another Chiss would have been sentenced into a life of quiet contemplation in solitude, and, in case of a direct lineage member, they would be stripped of their allegiance with their born flesh and blood descendants contracted into servitude to the immediate family of the victim for several generations depending on the nature of the crime. While it is not the Chiss way to transfer the crimes of an individual onto the other members of the House, it is sometimes necessary to repay one’s debt with one’s own flesh and blood in the case of a particularly violent crime.]
Parck blinked. [Contract? What kind of contract are you referring to? You mean like involuntary service? A form of slavery?]
Stent’s expression darkened. [The Chiss do not condone slavery,] he spat out in a harsh tone, his eyes gleaming dangerously. [It is an honorable form of service and a way to clear one’s own name. Once the debt is paid in full, the justice is served. Sometimes it can take up to several generations,] he added as if it should have been obvious.
So essentially, it’s a form of slavery, Parck thought, but he knew better than to say so aloud. Or a form of a generational public shaming, at least.
The Chiss sure had a way with words. For example, they didn’t have civil wars, they had disagreements.
The Chiss grew hesitant for a moment.
[Coincidentally, it is also the reason why I had been contracted to the Chafs before I left the Chiss Ascendancy. I had been repaying a debt of one of my ancestors.]
Parck took a sharp intake of breath. [Ah, well, I had wondered.]
Stent was watching him back, his face unreadable, his eyes giving out a soft, dim glow. [It is of no consequence. The Chafs weren’t vengeful masters. But neither were they particularly sympathetic with my position.]
[Of course.] Parck cleared his throat. The Chiss said what he wanted to say about the topic, and now the matter was closed. Perhaps one day he would be willing to disclose more information about his past life.
[So what do you usually do in your free time, Stent?] Now that you have it. [What activities are to your liking?]
Stent’s eyes sparkled with amusement.
[I socialize with my warriors to the extent which is permissible by the Chiss code of conduct, which means mostly training or practicing martial arts with them; I study the technology and weaponry of alien species who pose a threat to the Ascendancy, and I read books in my warriors’ personal possession. And lately I have taken up studying Galactic Basic and have started socializing with humans. One human in particular. That last activity has proven to be particularly challenging.]
Parck barked out a laugh. [You are not the only one who finds it challenging,] he said lightly. Then his expression grew serious. [Though in my case, it’s mainly related to the fact that you managed to capture four star destroyers with a couple of old, battered ships and fighters, had me interrogated while being tied to a chair, aimed to torture the intel out of me, and then confessed that you were conspiring to kill everyone aboard with poisonous vapors.]
[Yes.] The Chiss actually looked guilty, or at least as guilty as the impassive face of a Chiss would ever get. [I am sorry about that part.]
Parck let out a loud snort. [Finally,] he murmured. Then he cleared his throat. Stent was still too proud for his own good, and something told Parck it was not a good idea to take a pick at Chiss pride. [Now that I think of it, I have never read an actual Chiss novel. Neither Thrawn nor Lisetha had any datapads with them.]
The Chiss blinked. [Yes, of course. It makes sense. My warriors retrieved as many personal possessions as they could before they publicly announced that they were leaving the Ascendancy. Some are private. Some are meant to be shared with each other, such as books. We turned one of our assigned rooms aboard the Admonitor into a small library.]
[Library? You mean library with actual, real leather-bound books?] Parck exclaimed in wonder. [Not only electronic books stored on your datapads?]
The Chiss threw him a confused glance. [Of course. The written form is one of the most reliable ways of storing information. Data files can easily get damaged. Or altered. You do not have a library aboard?]
Parck shook his head. [No. It’s considered too impractical in our culture. We store all data electronically. And fictional books are valued collector’s items or treasured gifts among friends and family. I want you to show me.]
TO BE CONTINUED
Chapter 13: Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves
Title: Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves
Stent took him to the part of the ship that had been given over to the Chiss. Once again, Parck had to suppress a smirk when he saw the changes the their black passengers made to their designated area of space. They had painted Chiss affiliation symbols on the walls, replacing Imperial emblems with colorful affiliation banners, and had set the thermostat several degrees lower than the other areas of the ship. Niriz put on a particularly grumpy lothcat face when he first heard about it, muttering a long string of Huttesse curses, concluding it with ‘Gilad would have never tolerated such mess aboard his precious ship.’
They entered a room with a hand-painted ‘library’ ideogram on the door, making Parck pause and briefly wonder who was the Chiss who did such amazing calligraphy work (or graffiti, according to the heartbroken captain) as Stent pressed several buttons on the side-panel to put temperature back to the pre-set standard aboard an Imperial ship.
Parck licked his lips as his eyes went over the collection of the real leather-bound books the Chiss warriors took with them before leaving the Ascendancy. He recognized none of the titles or authors, naturally, except –
Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves
[Oh, that’s the Man’yoshu Lisetha talked about, isn’t it? May I see it?] Parck pointed at a series of books in the corner which all held the same ideograms. Man’yoshu, an archaic expression that literally meant collection of ten thousand leaves.
[Man’yoshu is a collection of ancient poetry written in Old Cheunh, containing more than four thousand poems in total divided into twenty volumes. The themes include description of nature, servitude to the Chiss, Family matters, and topics of personal nature. My personal favorites are the ones describing lives of ancient Chiss warriors. However, it is my belief that Aristocra Reli’set’harana was referring to a different kind of poem.]
Stent went through several volumes before he found the one he was looking for, scanning a couple of random pages with his red eyes before he gave the book over to Parck.
Parck took the open book from the Chiss, looking at the archaic ideograms written on soft fabric; apparently, the Chiss never heard of paper. Some characters had enough similarities with their modern counterparts that Parck could at least guess the meaning. However, their arrangement made absolutely no sense, and the grammatical clauses connecting them were completely different from the ones he had been taught. What was the poem about?
Storm? Clouds? Rain? Was it about the nature? A storm coming?
[I am sorry, Stent,] Parck let out a soft sigh in disappointment. [I am unable to make sense of the poem. It’s too archaic for me to read it.] He considered himself to be quite good when it came to the modern Cheunh but he would never be able to decipher the Old Cheunh on his own.
The Chiss flashed him a playful smile.
[I would be surprised if you could. We abandoned this particular system of transcription centuries ago. It is therefore difficult to read even for an average Chiss. Let me show you.]
Stent stepped next to Parck and leaned closer, pointing at the ideograms. Parck’s brow furrowed in deep concentration as he attempted at least to read the ideograms he could recognize, but the Chiss only looked at him strangely.
[Hmmm…] Stent mused, giving him a long, pondering glance. [Perhaps later Aristocra Reli’set’harana would be able to explain the evolution of Cheunh pronunciation. Unfortunately, linguistics is not my area of expertise.]
Meaning Parck was saying it wrong, but Stent was unable to correct him or explain why his pronunciation sounded unnatural to his Chiss ears. Or perhaps Stent was unable to pronounce them himself, being able to understand the poem only thanks to the knowledge of the ideograms.
[In any case, in modern Cheunh it basically equals to this,] Stent continued.
[ A faint clap of thunder,
Perhaps rain will come.
If so, will you stay here with me?]
Parck swallowed, feeling uncomfortable standing so close to the Chiss after Stent had just read to him something so intimate by Chiss standards. He kept his eyes at the ideograms in front of him, feeling like he was under some sort of intense scrutiny. [Ah, well, that is certainly very ... emotional.]
The Chiss only shrugged and flipped a page, brushing softly against his fingers while doing so. [Yes, it is,] he said in a very matter-of-fact tone. As if there was nothing unusual about the poem.
[ A faint clap of thunder,
Even if rain comes or not,
I will stay here,
Together with you.]
Stent read the following verse in a steady tone, not even a hint of hesitation or awkwardness creeping into the smooth, cultured voice. Parck chewed on his lower lip as he slightly turned his head to look directly into the glowing red eyes.
Parck suppressed a shiver; he never felt so ... exposed under the glowing gaze. It was as if the red eyes could see right through him. Nonsense, of course. Parck knew that more than most, but the strange hypnotizing effect made him unable to lower his eyes. Unlike others, Parck had never found the glowing gaze intimidating, but at this very moment he could swear he was looking straight into the eyes of a predator.
And said predator was now running a hand along his back, tracing Parck’s spine with his long fingers, causing Parck to jerk in surprise, thus breaking the spell. Parck muttered a silent curse, his cheeks reddening in embarrassment.
The hand instantly stopped over his lower back, pressed against one of his lumbar vertebrae.
[You have voluntary control over this, don’t you?] Parck barked out accusingly, shooting him a hard glare. From the way the red eyes sparkled, he could tell the Chiss found Parck’s attempt at a death glare highly entertaining.
[To a certain extent, yes,] the Chiss confessed, the pale blue lips marring in a smirk.
[And you decided to use your little parlor trick on me because...?] Parck left the sentence hanging in the air, refusing to give in and move aside.
[To show that I mean you no harm,] the Chiss leaned in, the pale blue face now mere centimeters from his own.
The hand against his back resumed its tracing, this time going back up, brushing against the fabric of his uniform, going over each vertebra one by one. The gesture was strangely erotic and menacing at the same time.
[Stent, look, I know, I just...] Parck fell silent for a moment. [I don’t know what I want,] he admitted grudgingly
The hand stopped against the base of his neck, right below his collar.
[Yes,] the Chiss nodded in agreement, [that much is obvious. I find it curious. The other night you knew exactly what you wanted. I only followed your instructions to the letter, Voss. I did nothing out of my own initiative.]
Parck swallowed. [Are you about to do something out of your own initiative now?]
The Chiss only cocked an eyebrow. [If you wish it...]
Parck took a deep breath and closed the book. The hand against his back disappeared.
[Stent,] Parck began in a grave tone of voice. He didn’t want to offend the Chiss, but it had to be addressed. [I could give you at least ten blaster-proof reasons as to why it’s not a good idea.] He held up the book, pointing it at the Chiss. [This is what you want, isn’t it?]
The Chiss stepped away from his personal space. [Yes.] He admitted, his otherwise calm and steady voice holding uncharacteristic hesitation. [I am interested in the intimacy a relationship with a human could potentially offer. Among the Chiss, affection takes years to develop.]
Parck put the book on a shelf and crossed his arms, facing the Chiss once again. [Another reason why it’s not a good idea.] He straightened to his full height. [Well, thank you for being sincere, I guess. Are you even interested in me? You phrased it as if a relationship with any human would do.]
[I find your reasoning offensive.] The Chiss threw him a dark look, his eyes glittering in anger. [However, if you refer to the physical part, then I have to admit that the attraction I feel towards you is different from the one I would feel towards a Chiss. On the other hand, for some reason I do not find you incompatible, either. I cannot explain. It is possible that our common ancestry is the answer.]
Parck briefly closed his eyes.
[I am sorry, Stent. I didn’t mean that as an insult, but it had to be said. I’d really hate to become a mere experiment. In any case, isn’t there some sort of a cultural taboo involved with mating with an outsider? Because under the Galactic Empire, it has become a serious taboo. There are exceptions to the rule, of course.] Parck added.
Not even the most faithful followers of the New Order would refuse a night of passion with a willing Zeltron or with a Twi’lek pleasure slave. However, actual relationships with alien species were heavily frowned upon, one of the possible reasons for a dishonorable discharge of an officer or any official of the Galactic Empire.
Well. This wasn’t the Galactic Empire. Not really. This was Thrawn’s.
Stent grew pensive for a moment. [I have never heard of a Chiss who had done so.]
So Chiss considered themselves to be so superior that the thought had never even occurred to them? Interesting.
[It would probably bring shame to the entire House. However, I think we both can agree on the fact that Mitth’raw’nuruodo’s House of Humans can hardly be considered a typical Chiss Household. Therefore, there is no breaking of a taboo involved. It is us, the founding members, who set an example for future generations.]
[Oh,] Parck breathed out. That thought had never occurred to him.
Stent’s smile grew predatory. [Yes. We make our own rules, Voss. It is one of the privileges of the founding members of an entirely new House.]
TO BE CONTINUED
Disclaimer: The original poem comes from Man'yōshū, Book 11, Verses 2513-2514, and this translation was featured in the Garden of Words.
Chapter 14: Interspecies Shenanigans (NSFW)
Title: Interspecies Shenanigans (NSFW)
Stent pursed his lips thoughtfully as he observed the naked man lying down in front of him. Voss Parck’s body emanated contentment, happiness, expenditure. Just like the other night the man had been so responsive to Stent’s touches, making him briefly wonder whether humans actually preferred tactile stimulation over the sensation of feeling each other’s body warmth. Considering their physiological differences, they probably did.
[Turn over,] Stent said to the man in a neutral tone, running his hand over the fair colored thigh, his eyes on the blue colored veins that stood out against the light tone of the man’s skin. Human skin was so incredibly thin, and the flush so clearly visible to the sensitive eyes of a Chiss, heightening the thrill during private moments.
Voss Parck raised his head to look at Stent in the eyes, confusion plainly written on his exotic face, but he said nothing; instead he put his head back down and rolled over, now lying on his stomach.
Stent suppressed a sigh.
Why was the man behaving so strangely? Why did he not simply ask when the question was so obvious from his face? What do you have in mind? his expressive face said. What are you going to do now?
Humans. They asked when they did not want to hear the answer, and when they actually wanted to hear it, they remained silent. It made no sense.
Stent ran his hands over the muscles on the man’s back until he got to the stiff muscles near the man’s neck which he assumed to be the trapezoid. Human musculature was more or less similar—less pronounced in this one since Voss Parck spent most of his days on the bridge, not engaging in physical training as often as Stent.
[Ah,] the man breathed out, relaxing under his touch, clearly enjoying the massage. [This is nice. Thank you.]
[Why did you not simply ask what I was about to do?] Stent wondered aloud, moving to the muscles between the man’s scapulae.
[Why did you make it sound like a direct order?] Voss Parck countered, humming out softly in pleasure.
Stent’s hands instantly froze. [It sounded like an order?] he asked in genuine surprise. He didn’t mean it as an order. He simply wanted the man to turn around. So he said so.
Voss Parck let out an amused chuckle.
[Yes, yes it did,] the man said, and while Stent couldn’t see the man’s face right now he had no doubt Voss Parck was smiling. Humans found everything so entertaining.
[Never mind,] the man added.
It was obvious Voss Parck did not wish to answer his question, and so Stent continued in silence, running his hands over the man’s back, applying pressure where it was needed, using a technique he had been taught to keep one’s body in the proper shape.
When Stent was done, the human lazily sat up and leaned in, giving Stent a long, deep kiss on the lips. He unbuckled the belt of Stent’s uniform, removing Stent’s tunic, undressing him while kissing him. Then the man’s hand squeezed gently against Stent’s nether regions—and froze, drawing back instantly.
[You’re ... ah, not in the mood, Stent?] Voss Parck asked awkwardly, using what Stent assumed to be a common Basic phrase literally translated into Cheunh. To Stent’s ears, however, it sounded strange, unnatural. A Chiss would not have used such peculiar choice of words. He would have to teach the man proper expression later.
[Should I?] Stent replied with a question, tilting his head slightly to a side. Curious. Just how were humans even able to function properly? Compared to the Chiss, they were so sensual creatures.
[Ah...] Voss Parck faltered, running his hand over his face and through his hair. He seemed at a loss for words. [Well, that actually depends. When it’s done between sexual partners, yes, a human male would have had at least minimal response.]
There was so much hesitation in his voice, as if the man was afraid that he could offend Stent somehow.
Stent blinked. Was it some strange human taboo?
[I take it’s not the same for the Chiss?]
[No,] Stent disclosed, since there was no reason to withhold the information. [Physical touch can be as stimulating as it appears to be to humans. However, at this time there is no heat.]
From the expression on the human’s face, it was clear the man found the explanation even more confusing.
Stent let out a small sigh. So difficult. [You are already spent. You do not feel lust or a real desire at the moment. Therefore there is nothing which makes the touch stimulating for me. There is no heat. No flush which would trigger the natural response.]
Stent didn’t know how a proper coupling between two humans looked like, however, based on this and the previous experience with the man, it seemed that while human males got aroused so easily, they could engage in recreation only once, or once in a couple of hours at least, and during the intervals the flush disappeared.
[Oh.] The human appeared to be stunned. [Well, that explains great many things, actually. That’s what the words ‘compatible’ and ‘incompatible’ mean in this context, right? You guys just have a really low sex drive.]
Sex drive? Sex Drive?! While Stent could make an educated guess as to what the human was referring to, his mind wandered as to what could possibly be the origin of such an odd expression. Mating while driving could have potentially catastrophic results. It must have had a wholly different origin.
Then the man’s expression grew hesitant once more, again as if he feared he could offend Stent somehow.
[But then, if it’s permissible to ask, how do you reproduce in case two incompatible Chiss enter an arranged marriage? Using chemicals? Or artificial methods?]
Stent blinked. What kind of question was that? The answer should have been obvious. And in any case, the marriage contracts had little to do with recreation. It was a union of lives, families and houses. A compatible recreational partner often did not equal the best available socioeconomical match.
[We stimulate ourselves directly. Once the flush is present in both, then it is possible to mate. We would have gone extinct if we were physically incapable of the mating act.]
Now it was Voss Parck’s time to blink. He stared at Stent for about five seconds, his face unreadable; a series of conflicting expressions crossing his face to make any sense out of it.
[That sounds so incredibly... clinical,] Voss Parck said in a grave tone of voice. [I can’t imagine it. Well, actually I can. My parents tried to convince me to at least marry a woman, you know, any woman, but I couldn’t do it. Well, I suppose if I concentrated hard enough I could get it up, but I couldn’t possibly marry someone I didn’t find attractive at all, only to keep up the image of a respectable Corulag citizen. Not to mention it would be unfair to the lady.]
The man exhaled slowly and lay back down, fighting some sort of internal dilemma.
Stent continued observing him for a while. Then he lowered himself next to Voss Parck, supporting his head with an elbow, using the other hand to explore the man’s chest. He could understand the man not wanting to talk about the things of personal nature. After all, they barely knew each other.
And in any case, the man was wrong in his assumptions; mating for the purpose of procreation was an enjoyable activity to both Chiss, even if perhaps too exhausting for the male. It was necessary that the female reach completion more than once to ensure conception. Also, it was far from ‘clinical’ as the human had described it. Chiss couples usually had no problem producing the required number of flesh and blood descendants as per conditions of the contract.
[Do all humans have hair on their chest?] Stent asked absentmindedly, changing the topic completely.
It brought Voss Parck back to the present. [Uh, no. Most men do but there are also those who don’t. It’s related to genetics and hormones. I don’t really know. I’ve never cared much for natural sciences. The amount of hair varies from man to man as well.]
[Hmmm, interesting,] Stent mused, tracing the hair with his fingers. The Chiss did not have body hair on their chest or anywhere else, nor did they have facial hair. He supposed Voss Parck must shave his face every morning to keep it so smooth. Quite impractical.
[What about women?] Stent wondered aloud.
The man’s reaction was completely unexpected. He simply... burst in laughter, laughing so hard a tear appeared in the corner of the strange, expressive eyes, shining as bright as two supernovas to the eyes of the Chiss.
Stent blinked. Humans expressed their mirth so openly. Was the notion truly that entertaining?
[Oh dear,] Voss Parck said when he finally stopped laughing. [Human women do not have hair on their chest, Stent. It’s a male trait exclusively. And frankly, body hair is a rather sensitive topic among human women, you know. They tend to shave it all off because the ones who don’t are considered... unattractive. Undesirable. On the other hand, human men who shave body hair are considered feminine on many planets.]
Stent cocked an eyebrow.
[Curious.] It was not his place to judge their customs; after all, Chiss customs must have seemed as illogical to Voss Parck as human customs did to Stent.
[I did not know. I haven’t seen an unclothed human female. Or any other male.]
The Chiss were given their own refreshers and showers, and looking back it was probably for the best. Humans seemed to have so many taboos regarding their own bodies, separating their refreshers and showers by gender. It would have only caused a scandal if a Chiss male warrior accidentally walked into female-only showers.
The man was looking at him with a clear question in his eyes, causing the corners of Stent’s lips to twitch with a small smile. He was just about to open his mouth to ask his question when Stent put a finger on his lips.
Humans could be so ridiculous at times. No, Stent had something else in mind for the time being.
Voss Parck seemed to enjoy tactile and oral stimulation so much, so Stent lowered his head and started with a long series of kisses. It would still take some time before the man would experience the flush again, which would trigger the same physiological reaction in himself that a compatible Chiss recreational partner would naturally cause; but once it happened, then they could perhaps engage in the mating act if Voss Parck was amenable. And that could be pleasurable for both.
It had been very pleasurable the other night.
TO BE CONTINUED
Chapter 15: The True Tree (NSFW)
Title: The True Tree
Thick and fast stream my thoughts of you
Like the layers
Of endlessly falling snow
Upon the cedars.
Come to me at night, my man.
Disclaimer: From Man'yōshū, Vol. 8, Poem No.1659; featuring translation from Love Songs From The Man’yoshu. No copyright infringement intended. BTW The "cedar(s)" in the original Japanese version is maki 真木 with characters that literally mean the true 真 tree 木.
As to how Chiss see the world ... Well, in our minds, it's something like this: Bodily Maps of Emotions (scroll down to the pictures).
They decided to take a shower first, which turned out to be a very stimulating experience for itself. Human thermoregulation mechanisms were underdeveloped compared to the ones of the Chiss; a serious physiological disadvantage in unfavorable weather conditions, however, it also meant Stent could literally see the heat flowing through the man’s body as the droplets of the hot water came into the contact with the man's skin. Such response in combination with the man’s natural flush from arousal made it very stimulating, indeed; Stent had the man pressed against the wall, with the droplets of hot water falling down on them, and he had to actually hold himself back from taking the man right there.
And the man’s other responses didn’t make it any easier for him; humans were so sensual creatures compared to the Chiss. The man arched and moaned whenever Stent touched him with one hand, spreading the lubricant and stretching the muscles with the other; and he immediately tensed whenever he experienced even the slightest discomfort or pain. Like now. Stent stopped for a couple of seconds, waiting until the man relaxed under his touch, his breathing pattern returning to normal, before resuming his actions, which resulted in a shudder in pleasure under his touch.
Stent bit his lower lip. So sensual creatures, indeed. He would have added so soft, as well, but considering the word, for an inexplicable reason, had clearly triggered the man, Stent tried to remove the association with humans from his mind altogether. Less durable, then.
Finally, the man let out a deep breath, telling him in a low tone of voice that he considered himself ready; Stent released him and turned off the water flow, giving him a soft, shallow kiss on the lips. The man clearly enjoyed being manhandled while having the ultimate decisive role, which was fine with Stent; he enjoyed the man’s responsiveness to his touches.
They hastily dried themselves with a towel, rubbing against each other before putting on the barrier protection, coming to bed in a series of long, deep kisses, with the man lying down on his back. Stent knelt down and positioned the man a little further, raising his legs, securing them by placing them over his own shoulders. It meant the man’s lower back was slightly elevated, which would probably give the man lower back pain for the next couple of days, but it was also the ideal position for what Stent had in mind.
The man arched and shuddered as Stent slowly entered him, letting out a soft whimper, his face a contorted in a mixture of pleasure and discomfort. Stent patiently waited until the other grew used to the sensation, which didn’t take long as it was clear the man was far from inexperienced, and then he gave it a several slow, tentative thrusts before he managed to find the spot which had brought so much pleasure to the man the other night.
Stent’s lips marred in an evil smirk as he felt the man move into his touch as he hit the man’s prostate, his human face screaming delight to the eyes of a Chiss. Their faces were so expressive, really, it was like reading from an open book. A mature, very explicit book in this particular case. Stent’s smirk widened further. Oh yes, this was definitely the best position for what Stent had in mind; watching the man reduced into a whimpering, incoherently moaning creature under his touch.
A recreation with a Chiss male would be very different; it was a way to relieve one’s stress and tension with a partner who experienced similar lust towards the other, meaning there was more groaning, and definitely less moaning involved. It was… rawer.
This was …
Hmmm, this was like savoring a rare, a most exquisite dessert, Stent thought as he kept gently thrusting into the man, observing his facial expressions, the changes in respiration, and the body heat distribution to keep his mind occupied in an effort to prolong the session at least until the man reached the completion first.
Finally, the man’s whole body tensed, and he let out a high pitched sound, moaning in pleasure as he came; Stent groaned in response and closed his eyes, concentrating on his own pleasure, coming after several long, deep thrusts. He let out a loud exhale as he came, taking a moment to enjoy the sensation before sliding out of the man and removing the barrier protection, lowering himself onto the bed next to the other man.
[Well that was … intense,] the man breathed out softly, grinning nearly from an ear to ear, the strange, expressive human eyes shining as brightly as two supernovas to the eyes of a Chiss. “You can do me anytime you want, mister. I can’t even remember the time I got so thoroughly screwed.”
A soft chuckle escaped him. Humans had such a way with words.
[I can,] Stent replied dryly. [Your encounter with the ab’synthe.]
Voss Parck cleared his throat, slightly embarrassed.
[Ah, well, yes, that is the worst part, actually, I can’t even remember if it was any good. All I got was backpain, kneepain, and a limp.]
Stent couldn’t resist picking on the man’s pride a little further. [Oh, it was certainly worth it.] He said casually, then adding: [You were so very vocal.]
The man reacted just as Stent had expected; the infra-red glow from his facial blood vessels increased significantly.
Humans were so puzzling creatures, and Voss Parck was definitely the most puzzling of them all. No, Stent had to agree with Captain Dagon Niriz in this particular case; it was better the man did not remember his drunken ramblings, which was why Stent had played along, making sure the man had drunk down the last glass of absynthe. Stent did not know what exactly the Captain had put into the man’s drink but apparently it must have been a chemical which had caused amnesia since Voss Parck had absolutely no recollection of the events.
[Ah,] the man murmured, placing a pillow under his head, his eyes staring blankly ahead. [I don’t usually do this. The bottom role I mean.]
Stent blinked; he sat up on the bed, observing the naked human. [But you clearly enjoyed yourself.] He reasoned.
Then he remembered the dinner with the Captain.
“For some it’s too filthy, for some it’s too humiliating, and for some it’s simply too painful,” Voss Parck had said then.
[Or is it because you find it too filthy or too humiliating?] Stent wondered aloud.
It couldn’t have been too painful, Stent mused, he had made sure of that.
[Perhaps a mixture of both,] the man admitted sheepishly, [but mainly because the bottom role is associated with submission in most human cultures, and my position and status notwithstanding, I just can’t see why I should let other men s’crew me. Especially closeted military men who often have the tendency to exercise power over the bottom. I’m not some Zel’tt’ron sex’toi.] He said the unfamiliar Basic words with an obvious distaste. [I’ve had a couple of … well, a really good friends with benefits, I guess, since actual relationships are difficult to maintain if you are away for most of the year--]
A friend with benefits, what a peculiar choice of words. While it was clear that the word ‘benefit’ in this particular case referred to recreation, the expression made absolutely no sense in Cheunh.
[--but otherwise,] the man continued, [I either played the top role or we stuck to mutual blow jobs.]
A blow job. Stent’s face cringed at the literal translation. It hurt his Chiss ears, and it sounded beyond ridiculous in Cheunh. Why would anyone describe it as a job ? And there was certainly no … blowing involved. He would really have to fill the gaps in the man’s education later, Stent thought bitterly, but on the other hand one could hardly blame Mitth’raw’nuruodo for failing to teach the man proper names for recreational activities.
[You humans make absolutely no sense at times,] Stent said aloud in response, both to the man’s ludicrous reasoning and the strange choice of words, [and we do not have such ridiculous association with recreation.]
Voss Parck turned his head in his direction, looking him directly in the eyes.
[So it’s really either recreation or procreation for the Chiss? You don’t do relationships? Relationships which may not ultimately lead to one’s procreation and socioeconomical gain, I mean? No boyfriends or girlfriends?]
Again, while Stent could guess that the word boyfriend meant one’s favored a recreational partner, when literally translated into Cheunh it became ‘boy’ and ‘friend’ , as in young favored peer of a male gender. There was no connotation with the mating act, therefore it could not be used in this context.
[I think the main difference between our species is that Chiss can separate between bodily attraction and affection towards an individual more easily,] Stent speculated, recalling all the types of human interaction he has had a chance to observe.
[While we do experience lust, though much less often than you humans, the attraction itself does not lead into affection. It is therefore possible to keep engaging in recreational activities without experiencing any sort of appreciation for each other. There are, of course, times when attraction for the body and affection for the spirit cross and intertwine; the further development of such companionships depends on the circumstances.]
[For example?] Voss Parck prompted.
There was a little room for interpretation as to why he kept asking such questions. He had already mentioned he did not want to become a mere experiment.
[If it is socially unacceptable, the Chiss will simply cease and desist their recreational activities and stop seeing each other. If it is socially acceptable, then it is permissible to continue until the time for the marriage contract comes, sometimes even after the union of the Houses depending after the terms and condition of the contract. Then there are, of course, cases when the companion happens to be a suitable candidate for the union if he or she is of the opposite gender.]
Stent fell silent. He expected it to be self-explanatory enough.
Voss Parck let it slowly process through his brain, until he finally said: [You Chiss are so … practical people.]
Stent cocked up an eyebrow. [I take it is not meant as a compliment?]
[Not really.] The man admitted with a shrug.
Stent lowered himself on the bed, pulling the man into an embrace, covering them both with a sheet. The man’s body warmth lowered after the mating act; he was already exhibiting the first signs of getting cold.
[Is it permissible to ask a question of personal nature?]
A small smile escaped him. [Is it normal for humans to engage in private conversation after the recreation?]
[Actually, yes,] the man said without a trace of sarcasm in his voice. [It’s called pillow talk. I take you don’t have that either?]
Again, he understood but … pillow talk? Pillow talk?! In Cheunh it suggested the pillow itself could talk. While Stent appreciated the man’s effort, he would really have to explain to Voss Parck that he might not be as fluent in Cheunh as he probably considered himself to be.
[You may ask your question, Voss.] He said simply, briefly wondering as to what was going on in the human brain. He assumed it would be a question related to his past relationships given the topic but at times the man asked something completely different, taking him totally by surprise.
[Well, it’s something I’ve been wondering about ever since the meeting with Mitth’raw’nuruodo. You’ve known each other from before, right? He said only ‘I see’ but there was a hidden meaning behind the words, a depth of magnitude I can’t even begin to imagine. I know what had transpired between him and Aristocra Chaf’orm’bintrano of the Fifth Ruling Family but it doesn’t explain the awkward introduction. So what happened between the two of you?]
The query was so unexpected that Stent couldn’t suppress an involuntary reaction.
He flinched, remembering the fateful exchange.
[Syndic Mitth’raw’nuruodo,] Voss Parck had said respectfully, switching to Cheunh as soon as the doors to the apartment closed and locked behind them, motioning to Stent to remove the stormtrooper’s helmet. [Allow me to introduce Force Commander Kres’ten’tarthi.]
Mitth’raw’nuruodo had stared at him with a mixture of curiosity and mild bewilderment. There had been an unspoken question written on the features so very typical for a common-born Chiss. What happened?
[In the name of all who serve the Chiss, I greet you, Commander Kres’ten’tarthi, ] Mitth’raw’nuruodo had said, reciting the Chiss formal greeting without giving anything away in front of the human. [ Enter in peace, and with trust.]
Then he had given Stent a curt nod.
[I accept your greeting, and greet you in return, Mitth’raw’nuruodo,] Stent had responded in kind, bowing his head low.
Mitth’raw’nuruodo might have been born a commoner but he had ascended into the direct bloodline of the Eighth Ruling Family, and not even the exile had changed the fact. A painful remainder of all the things he had lost, perhaps, even more painful than his own, most likely, nevertheless, he was still a Nuruodo, even if in the name only, which meant he was to be addressed as one.
Especially given his past dealings with the Fifth Ruling Family.
[I wish I could say I came begging your forgiveness on behalf of all Bintrano. However, the truth is I no longer answer to the Fifth Ruling Family, or to the Defense Hierarchy for that matter. I am nothing but a rogue warrior and a servant without a master.]
[I see,] was all Mitth’raw’nuruodo had said, yet it had been obvious that the other Chiss had made a correct assumption as to Stent’s fate. He had almost gotten used to the reaction upon seeing someone he had known in the past hear his new name for the first time. Almost. The confusion in the eyes of Mitth’raw’nuruodo served as a painful reminder of all the things he had lost.
[Nothing happened between Mitth’raw’nuruodo and me, Voss,] Stent said slowly, calmly meeting the gaze of the human whose expression grew slightly worried upon seeing his involuntary reaction.
[It is simply that before I became a servant to the House Chaf, eventually entering the Chiss Defense Fleet with my master’s permission, I had been called Aristocra Kres’ten’bintrano.]
TO BE CONTINUED
Chapter 16: Looking in the Mirror
Title: Looking in the Mirror
[Aristocra Kres’ten’bintrano?] Parck repeated in a baffled tone. He stared at the Chiss next to him, his mind still recovering from the shock. He recalled the time Stent had told him about the Chiss methods of punishment, which included stripping them of their allegiance in case of direct bloodline members, and contracting the criminal’s flesh and blood descendants into servitude to the immediate family of the victim. While Parck understood Stent must have been someone of importance before he had become a servant to the House Chaf, even in his wildest dreams he wouldn’t have imagined Stent could have been an aristocra.
The Chiss shifted his position, moving away from him, supporting his head with an elbow. His whole body language changed; he proudly raised his chin, the expression on the pale blue face reminding Parck of the ones that could be found on Alderaanian or Kuati royal portraits.
[Perhaps I should start addressing you as a servant,] Stent replied in High Cheunh, or more precisely the variant the aristocras used, broadcasting to the entire universe they considered themselves to be the masters.
While the ‘I ’ Stent had used did not translate into Galactic Basic as ‘we’ as it still indicated a singular form, (Cheunh had several ways of expressing oneself: the humble/inferior, the neutral, the superior, and multiple far-superior forms the people of influence used among themselves), in fact it was not so dissimilar to the ‘royal we’ the Kuati aristocrats had used.
Stent used the superior ‘I’ when speaking to the Chiss warriors under his command, the neutral ‘I’ when he speaking to Parck, and most likely he would have used the humble ‘I’ had he ever happened to come across a Chiss from the Ascendancy.
Aristocra Stenbi must have used only the far-superior variants in the past.
The only time Parck had heard the ‘I’ variants spoken aloud was during Lisetha’s earlier exchange with Stent, with Lisetha going as far as using the strongest one when she had dared Stent to comment on her abandoning her own birthright and her place in the Ascendancy for love.
[Even your name sounds like the one of a servant,] The Chiss continued, further lowering Parck down by using the form reserved for one’s inferiors or servants.
Strangely enough, it reminded Parck of their first meeting. That time Stent had used the standard superior ‘I’ when referring to himself, perfectly in order given his rank, however, at the same he had lowered Parck down by using the inferior ‘you’ as he had considered Parck to be a mere lowly outsider, not a fellow commanding officer.
[Very well, Vice Admiral Voss Parck. I accept your formal surrender under following conditions: You shall take us aboard your vessel; you shall provide us with shelter and nourishment; and finally, you shall take us to Mitth’raw’nuruodo, for we wish to serve him, too, as members of his Household Phalanx, and through him to serve the Chiss.]
[ I accept your conditions and formally surrender my flag to you, Force Commander Kres’ten’tarthi. I hope you will be considerate with my crew in return and allow them to stay at their posts.]
Parck had even played along that time, acknowledging his inferior status by using the humble pronouns.
[Vos’parck,] The Chiss said thoughtfully, dropping the second ‘s’, thus softening it, and changing the stress to make it sound more like a Chiss name. [Yes, Vos’parck,] Stent repeated with a small smirk on his lips, [I like the sound of it.] He finished using a far-superior form of address towards himself.
Parck let out a deep sigh. He raised his hand and gently touched the pale blue face, caressing the other man softly on the cheek.
[Do you want to talk about it?] He asked using the neutral form.
The glowing eyes widened in shock; the Chiss grew still for a moment, and then jerked away as if the touch had burned him. Finally, he let out a deep sigh of his own and lowered himself back next to Parck, fighting hard to keep the impassive facade in place.
Parck pulled the Chiss into a tight embrace.
He understood why Stent had reacted the way he did; he understood perfectly because he himself had used the same strategy many times in the past, when someone who had the potential to hurt him with their words had found out about him. Parck had put on his best sabbac face and made a show of it, behaving as if it hadn’t bothered him in the slightest. Sometimes he had even cracked a joke, laughing at himself with the other person. But in reality, it was an empty bravado.
Funny, how humans and Chiss could be so alike when it came to pride.
[It had been difficult in the beginning,] the Chiss continued in an emotionless tone. Parck was familiar with that approach, too. It was like looking in the mirror.
[The aristocras are, after all, born to rule. Not every House belonging to the Ruling Family has an aristocra, the total number of the Family members is small. Most are flesh and blood descendants, inheriting the status after their own parents, but some are children of the merit adoptives. From an early age, we are raised to become the masters; we are educated in the art of diplomacy, interplanetary trade, and politics. As we get older, we are given more and more responsibilities, governing the colony worlds belonging to the Family. While the syndics are the heads of individual Households, or provincial rulers, if you will, the aristocras are basically the planetary governors. In each generation, an aristocra is chosen to serve as the High Councilor, representing the whole Family at the Council of Families.]
Stent fell silent. Parck pulled him into an even tighter embrace.
[From time to time, it happens that an aristocra starts to think too highly of themselves, falling under an impression that the rules apply only to the commoners, often leading into an internal struggle for power which ends in an assassination of their rival. Such was the case with my mother. She had become obsessed with power, seeing the former Fifth High Councilor as her ultimate rival, despising him with every fiber of her being, until finally resorted into having him poisoned at a Family dinner. While the other aristocra could be hardly described as innocent, it was my mother who had crossed the line.]
Parck run his hand through the shimmering blue black hair, kissing the Chiss softly in the forehead.
The mother was the culprit?! Well, while it was true that all female warriors under Stent’s command seemed fierce and strong, he would have expected the crime to be committed by the father. Or perhaps his assumption was a result of him coming from a patriarchal society. Women of Corulag only rarely resorted to a murder. The Kuati matriarchs, on the other hand, often used poison as their instrument of choice to get rid of their sworn enemies.
[And you know what had followed then.]
No. Parck didn’t know what had followed, but it was clear as the sky of Alderaan that the Chiss didn't want to talk about it. Parck closed his eyes for a brief moment. An assassination of one’s own High Councilor naturally called for an exemplary punishment, erasing Stent’s mother and her flesh and blood descendants from the Bintrano Family tree for good.
The Chiss were so proud as a species; what a better way to make them fall to their knees than to strike right at their pride. Cheunh might not have had the saying ‘pride before fall’ but the Ruling Council certainly knew how to dissuade Chiss from committing a crime. No wonder their crime rates had been so low.
Also, it gave a whole new meaning to Stent’s earlier exchange with Lisetha. And with Thrawn.
[Are you willing to accept me as your new master, becoming a member of the Mitth’raw’nuruodo Household Phalanx?] Thrawn had said using the neutral pronouns.
[ I live only to serve you , Syndic Mitth’raw’nuruodo, and through you to serve the Chiss. I shall dedicate the rest of my life to your cause, wearing the colors of your House with pride.] Stent had replied, lowering himself down, and at the same time elevating Thrawn far above himself, accepting him as his master.
[What are they , by the way? Still burgundy red?]
[Shouldn’t you change your name into Mitth? A Kres wearing the burgundy red color… Doesn’t staying Kres put you into a similar position as before?]
Stent took a deep breath, and then slowly let it out. [No. I had considered it, of course. As all of my warriors. But in the end we all decided to keep our original House names as a reminder of home.]
The Chiss moved his head, looking Parck directly to the eyes. [What about you? You, too, are a Mitth, in an essence.]
[To tell the truth, such a thought has never occurred to me... There is no such custom on Corulag. It is women who accept a man’s name, never men. Actually it’s quite complicated, different from a planet to planet.]
[Hmmm… I understand.] The Chiss replied. However, it was more than apparent from the tone that he didn’t, not really. He probably misinterpreted it as Parck’s own version of a reminder of home.
[But there is another aspect of staying Kres while serving Mitth’raw’nuruodo.]
The glowing eyes sparkled, the corner of the pale blue lips twitching.
[It is my way of saying ktah.]
[Excuse me?] Parck said with confusion. [I am unfamiliar with the expression.]
Stent let out a small chuckle, running his hand over Parck’s jaw; for some reason fascinated by the five o'clock shadow.
[From what I’ve had the chance to observe, the closest approximation in Galactic Basic would be: “S'crew'you, mot'he'r'kri'ffers” ] He flatly delivered the insult in an oddly accented Basic. Just because the Chiss did not swear, it didn’t mean they were deaf. They must have overheard the crew swearing a countless times by now.
[It is loosely based on the sound one makes when sneezing. Ktah.]
Parck stared, stunned speechless. [You mean to tell me that one of the worst insult the Chiss have is: ‘Sneeze on you?’]
Corulag moons, this is surreal. Even more ridiculous than the ‘fair haired’ expression.
[Sneezing on someone is considered extremely rude since there it spreads germs and bacteria. Therefore: Ktah.] Stent said in a tone which suggested it should have been obvious.
[Well then...] Parck stammered. [Please don’t take it personally if General Bittenfeld ever sneezes on you on the ground, Stent,] he said lightly, feeling glad the Chiss had told him before the gundark managed to cause an interspecies incident right after his arrival.
[The man suffers from hay fever.]
The Chiss have never heard of the gundark, naturally, but something tells us they will come to a conclusion that 'gundark' is a sneezing, swearing, red-headed monster. XD
Chapter 17: Microjump into the Future
Title: Microjump into the Future
Summary: Sequel to chapter one, set in the near future; we're playing with the idea that even the Admonitor returns to the known galaxy from time to time. But remember Yoda’s words: Always in motion, the future is. An experiment. Sort of.
Senior Captain Niriz and Vice Admiral Parck had been on their way to Imperial Palace, walking close to the main promenade of the Senate District when they noticed a uniformed man following their trail. They both stopped once they had turned round the corner, their hands on the sidearms they carried with themselves whenever they disembarked the ship; only their unknown assailant froze right in his tracks once he realized he had been caught red-handed, his eyes widening in shock.
“Oh,” the man, a young Navy ensign, exclaimed, shifting on his feet nervously, eyeing their blasters. “You’re an admiral … sir?” he added hesitantly, staring at Parck and the vice admiral’s rank plates.
Niriz took a sharp intake of breath.
“Is this how you were taught to approach and address a flag officer, ensign?” Niriz barked out in a tone not so dissimilar to the drill sergeant at the Imperial Royal Academy the ensign must have just graduated given his presence at Imperial Center at this time of the year.
The young man flinched. He drew himself into ramrod attention, clicking his heels together, giving them the most perfunctory salute. “Sir, no, sir!” He yelled out of his lungs, his eyes staring blankly ahead. “I apologize, sir!”
A greenhorn. A total greenhorn.
Parck let out a small chuckle, throwing Niriz an amused glance. “It’s all right, Niriz. Remember the incident in the Corulag Pub? Well, that’s the boy from the story.”
Parck removed the hand from his sidearm, waving it in the direction of the young man.
“Ah,” Niriz breathed out finally, giving the young man a long look over. Meanwhile the ensign watched them both with a worried expression on his face, his eyes darting between Parck and Niriz. He still stood there motionlessly, waiting for the vicious dressing down to come upon his head.
“At ease, ensign.” Niriz dismissed him with a shrug. Whatever. He would let Parck deal with the young punk. Kids these days... they had no manners whatsoever.
“Thank you, sir,” the ensign replied instantly, his attention focusing on Parck.
“I am sorry, sir,” he began awkwardly, letting out a discreet cough. “I never got your name, and...” He fell silent for a couple of seconds, tensing noticeably when he noticed the death glare coming from Niriz. He couldn’t possibly have a crush on the older man, could he? And he just… blurted it aloud? What the kriff?!
“That’s not what I...” he winced, scratching his head, “I mean, I never got a chance to say thank you, sir.”
Well, this was awkward.
Only Parck found it flattering, apparently, his eyes sparkling with sheer amusement. “The name is Voss Parck. I see you decided to join the Navy, Ensign...?”
“Ensign Jaime, sir,” the young man introduced himself.
“Well, I had nowhere to go, sir, and I wanted to prove myself to my father, so I decided for a military career, but it didn’t go exactly as planned. Neither at home,” he let out a deep sigh, “nor with the Imperial Navy,” he added in a low tone of voice. “I… Never mind.”
Parck’s expression turned grim, this was not exactly the safest topic to discuss in public. Or rather, at all. The young man must have had a lot of faith in Parck to even open his mouth.
“I see.” Parck said gravely, and then he decided to change the topic entirely. “And in any case,” he added lightly, giving the young man a sly wink. “I am afraid most commanding officers wouldn’t be like the good old captain over here, anyway.”
Parck pointed at Niriz.
The young man jerked, his eyes widening in a shock.
“Kriff, the captain is not...” He fell silent, staring at Niriz, his cheeks reddening in embarrassment. “Oh no. I’m so screwed.”
Wait … What?!
“You’re rather bold in your assumptions, Ensign,” Niriz hissed at the young man, his expression hardening. The boy’s got some nerve!
Parck snickered at Niriz’s reaction. “Oh, this is priceless,” he exclaimed, covering his mouth with a hand, trying to wipe a smirk off his face and failing.
Niriz groaned, rolling his eyes.
“No, Ensign, I am not and I’d appreciate if you kept your ridiculous assumptions to yourself, thank you. Even without them, you are way out of line.”
The young man appeared as if he wanted to evaporate into a thin air. “I’m really sorry, sir, I just... well, I assumed the admiral wouldn’t...”
Only Parck was enjoying this very much. “Don’t worry, Ensign,” he soothed the boy, ignoring Niriz’s hard glare. “I’m certain the good old captain will stomach it eventually. And actually, it’s common knowledge among the crew. The word got out. I think you can easily imagine how fast such news spread...”
Niriz could literally see the spark of hope in the young man’s eyes.
The ensign stood up to ramrod attention once more, giving them another textbook salute. “In that case, sir, I would like to respectfully apply for a transfer to your flagship for the remainder of my contract with the Imperial Navy, sir.”
“I’m afraid the Admonitor is Captain Niriz’s ship, Ensign Jaime, not mine.” Parck refrained from passing the final verdict. Unbeknownst to the young man, the Task Force Admonitor didn’t operate like the rest of the Imperial Navy. If he got on board, it would be for good. Whether he wanted it or not.
But then, maybe it would be for the best for the boy.
“I graduated at the top of my class, sir,” Ensign Jaime charged on, “with specialization in navigation science. Received A+ in mathematical physics and hyperspace computation."
“Navigation, huh?” Niriz repeated thoughtfully, stroking his chin. Did he really graduate at the top of a class of the Imperial Royal Academy? The most prestigious school for officers the Galactic Empire had to offer?
“Ever heard of the microjump?”
The young man blinked.
“Uhhh, I’ve read up on the theory, sir, but as far as I know there is no ship in the galaxy with a processing unit that would be able to calculate a safe hyperspace path within the solar system. Most who tried never made it.”
Niriz suppressed a smirk, feeling a glow of pride. The Admonitor wasn’t just any ship, it was his ship; and by now it was a true hybrid of Imperial and Chiss technology, starting with the Chiss gravitational well generators, an Imperial reactor core, Chiss processing units, Imperial shielding, and finally the brand new Nssis-class clawcrafts, combining all advantages of a TIE Defender with the firepower of the Chiss Ascendancy’s claw-like heavy fighters.
“Well, you better refresh your memory, then, Ensign Jaime, since I’m positive Chief Engineer Skotti and Specialist Leden could use a good mathematician,” he said, and when he noticed the grin plastered all over the young man’s features, he quickly added: “And if what you are saying is not true, I’ll make damn sure you are reassigned to the sanitation duty.”
The young man’s smile widened even further. “Sir, thank you, sir!”
Niriz waved him off, telling him they were about to be late for an important meeting, and that Specialist Leden would contact him later. Now the real question was whether Parck would return from the meeting as an admiral or whether he would be demoted to a commander as planned.
Niriz’s expression hardened, demotion was still a demotion, even if it was to meant to be a mere charade for the Imperial Court.
The things in the galaxy were changing, and unfortunately it wasn’t for the better. Besides Commander Parck, they would be returning with a whole shipment of officers whose loyalty was being questioned because they dared to publicly disagree with the destruction of Alderaan (“the hotbed of traitors”), many of them having relatives and/or originating from the Force-forsaken planet. Officially, they were all about to be sent to one of the many COMPNOR’s correction facilities for re-education.
On one hand, Niriz felt sorry for the poor souls who had lost their homeworld, and their will to live; many surviving Alderaanians in the Empire’s service had tried to commit suicide. On the other hand, he couldn’t help but sigh in relief that it wasn’t his homeworld which had been erased from the galactic map for good. Mon Mothma, the true leader of the Rebel Alliance, was a native of Chandrila, and Niriz would have bet his rank plates that if the Death Star hadn’t been destroyed at the battle of Yavin, Chandrila would have been its very next target.
Niriz suppressed a shudder. So many lives ... Lost. On both sides. At least the instrument of terror was no more. The Emperor surely wouldn’t build a second one. Would he?
“And now he’s got a crush on you, Niriz,” the admiral’s dry tone interrupted his train of thoughts, which was probably for the best given the circumstances. He snorted. Oh yes, he would definitely enjoy ordering Commander Parck around, even if it lasted only a couple of weeks until they arrived on Nirauan, with Parck pulling out the admiral’s rank plates once again. And a non-regulation uniform.
As would Niriz. Finally. The Imperial uniform didn’t quite fit as it had used to, he thought bitterly, shaking his head. He realized that the entire time Parck was trying to cheer him up in his own fashion but it didn’t work. Not today.
Still, he appreciated the gesture.
“Great, I’ve got myself another kid to look after.” Niriz feigned a grimace; two could play this game. “As if one wasn’t enough. Hopefully at least this one won’t try to win my affections over with finger painting. How did she even manage to sneak onboard?”
Lately, the little one’s favorite past time happened to be playing hide and seek with the gundark to much of Bittenfeld’s horror. And right now, to much of his horror, re-decorating the Admonitor. Niriz swallowed down an old Chandrilan curse.
“How come no one noticed her?”
FYI: Wookieepedia on Chandrila/Canon: Chandrila was one of the planets targeted for destruction by Emperor Sheev Palpatine's second Death Star, who planned to use the station's planet-shattering superweapon to end the Rebellion through sheer terror.
As for Alderaanians in the Empire's service, see e.g.: Nash Windrider. Next, Chief Engineer Skotti will beam us up back to the present.
Chapter 18: Spreading the Word (1/2)
Title: Spreading the Word (1/2)
“In summary, it seems like the chief engineer finally found a way to connect the Chiss gravity well projectors without overloading the Admonitor’s reactor core, sir,” Niriz finished his report, giving the admiral a wolfish smile. “He still needs to run a series of tests but if everything goes well, our enemies will be in for another surprise.”
After several unsuccessful attempts at hull repair of the battered Chiss interdictor cruiser, they decided to take out the gravity well projectors and have the ship decommissioned, using its spare parts to fix the Chiss freighters and fighters. It must have been a tough call for the Chiss warriors. After all, it was the closest thing to home they had after they had abandoned the Ascendancy. However, it seemed they genuinely took a liking to their new quarters aboard the Admonitor. Especially since they were given an entire level of the ship to do with it as they pleased, resulting in hand-painted Chiss affiliation symbols on the walls, replacing the Imperial emblems with colorful banners, and setting the thermostat several degrees lower than the other areas of the ship.
It took a couple of days before Niriz swallowed such radical changes—it was his ship after all, not anyone else’s—but in the end, he had to agree with the admiral it was probably for the best.
“That’s great news, Captain,” Parck replied with an evil smirk. Oh yes, the Admonitor would be capable of creating a gravitational anomaly, which could certainly come in handy during combat situations.
“I will ask Commander Stent whether Chiss technicians would be willing to give a helping hand to the chief engineer to avoid possible interface mix-up. Still, I’d like to oversee the procedure personally, though. There might be serious problems resulting from mistranslation. The Chiss are trying their best, but it will take a couple of months until they get from the elementary to the intermediate level in Galactic Basic.”
Niriz slowly inclined his head. While the Chiss did not have an eidetic memory, they were really, really good at memorizing. Commander Stent and his senior staff managed to memorize a significant portion of the ship’s word databank by now, spending all their free time browsing through the Galactic Basic Learner’s Dictionary; but for some inexplicable reason, they struggled with even the most elementary grammar, which often resulted in misunderstanding.
“Anything else, Niriz?” the admiral asked casually.
Niriz cleared his throat. “There was a minor dispute among our resident stormtroopers, sir,” he let out an innocent shrug, calling up the official report on the datapad and handing it over to the admiral. He didn’t know how to breach the topic to the other man but he definitely wanted Parck to handle the incident.
Parck scrolled through, his expression hardening as he read its content. “Why would you even bring it up to the admiral’s attention, Niriz? They are not even Navy.”
Niriz gave the admiral a long, contemplative look. “I thought you might be interested in handling it personally, sir.”
Hardly the first time it had ever happened, presumably, and it’d have probably been swept under the rug by the StormTrooper Corps officer if it wasn’t for the non-commissioned specialist involved, or rather the ship’s technician was the reason why the bucket heads threw themselves at each other, which made it the captain’s concern. Niriz only decided to take it a step higher.
Parck’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Niriz, I thought I made myself clear when I said that you shouldn’t expect a general announcement from me. It’s none of the crew’s business.”
Niriz let out a deep sigh. “Voss...” he began, using the admiral’s first name for emphasis. The second time he had done so.
“I am not asking you to make a general announcement. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they thought you called the two in only to throw a couple of your own insults to the mix. I just thought it’d have much bigger impact if it was you who told the bucket heads to mind their own business.”
And perhaps it’s finally time you realized that the crew wouldn’t think any differently of you if the word got out. And if they would, the airlock is right over there, Niriz thought as looked the other man directly in the eyes.
“If you think so, Niriz...” Parck murmured, tapping his fingers nervously on the desk. “Very well,” he declared firmly, coming into a decision. “Call them all in. Including the technician.”
TO BE CONTINUED
Chapter 19: Spreading the Word (2/2)
Title: Spreading the Word (2/2)
Niriz kept his gaze on the faces of the six men called to the admiral’s office as Parck recounted the official report of the incident. One of their resident stormtroopers, PL-1534, started seeing a ship’s technician, and his three bunkmates decided the man’s behavior was a disgrace to their entire squad, waiting until they caught the two in the act to remind PL-1534 of proper stormtrooper behavior. They didn’t dare to raise their hands against the specialist because an attack on a member of a different branch of service would only bring them trouble.
Which happened anyway because the specialist did something unexpected by either party; he swallowed his own pride, filing an official complaint. Technically, their relationship wasn’t against the regulations since they were both enlisted, both non-commissioned, they weren’t serving in the same branch, and it did not break the chain of command; in reality, though, Niriz supposed that most captains would have laughed at the man, telling him he should consider himself lucky to avoid the beating. And stop screwing around with men.
“Is there anything you wish to add?” Parck asked in a neural voice, his facial expression unreadable. Even Niriz couldn’t tell what was going on in the admiral’s head.
“No, sir,” the unlikely couple replied in unison.
While PL-1534 looked like a typical stormtrooper minus the armor (they were all temporarily relieved from duty), his … partner? boyfriend? – Specialist Mach Leden – wasn’t exactly the most masculine man around.
Niriz suppressed an urge to shake his head. No, it would have never occurred to him that PL-1534 could be gay, just like it never occurred to him that Voss Parck might be one. They didn’t look gay. Now, Specialist Leden on the other hand…
“PL-1534’s actions brought disgrace not only to our squad but to the entire Admonitor’s StormTrooper Corps,” the squad leader, PL-1530, replied with a scowl, throwing proverbial daggers at said stormtrooper.
“We’d have let him get away with it if he stuck to the manwhores in brothels,” PL-1531 chirped, standing in a ramrod attention, “but once we found out he’s been actually whoring himself to … to this,” he put an emphasis at the last word, pointing accusingly at Specialist Leden, looking as if he wanted to spit at the androgynous man.
Specialist Leden drew himself into his full, not-so-impressive height, clenching his fists in anger. Without a doubt he wanted to strange both macho men with his bare hands, and the only thing that stopped him was being in the admiral’s office. Which was probably for the best, since gay or straight, he would have stood no chance against the bulkier men.
No, Specialist Leden didn’t choose to serve the Empire voluntarily. Most likely he would have never chosen to serve in any capacity to the military in the first place, Imperial or otherwise; he was a conscript, just like PL-1534 and the rest of this squad.
All of them came from backwater worlds that had opposed the Galactic Empire, meaning once their governments capitulated, their teens were required to serve the Imperial war machine. Specialist Leden got away easily, being a skilled laborer; but the five other men became mere numbers. Expendable front-line soldiers with the New Order drilled into their skulls.
“P-permission to speak freely, Admiral?” PL-1534 stammered, shooting a warning glance to his partner to prevent the technician from speaking out of turn. Or from saying something stupid.
Parck cocked an eyebrow. “By all means, trooper.”
What was going on in the admiral’s head after hearing PL-1531’s hate speech? If Parck felt any sympathy for the unlikely couple, he certainly didn’t let it show.
“Kriff you, PL-1531,” the trooper snapped at his squad member. “I’ve had enough of your nerfshit, all of your nerfshits actually, and I’ll gladly take any punishment the admiral deems necessary for telling you all—”
He was about to send them all into the Sarlac pit or worse, but the specialist laid a hand on his shoulder in an effort to stop him from a possible court-martial, an action which only brought scowls to the other stormtroopers’ faces.
“No, kriff you, PL-1534,” the other trooper threw right back, his face pure disgust. “Oh wait, you’d probably enjoy that, wouldn’t you?”
“What I like is none of your damn business.”
PL-1534 looked like he was about to lose it, causing Niriz to throw a brief worried glance at the admiral, wondering whether or not he should step in to prevent another brawl.
“You bet it’s our damn business since it’s a member of our squad who likes to be kriffed in the ass like some pathetic manwhore,” shouted PL-1533 who remained silent until now but it was clear from his facial expression that he was the one who found the idea most abhorring.
“A freak of nature like you should have been permanently reassigned to trash compactor duty, which is what the admiral’s punishment will be, I’m sure.”
Several things happened at once: Niriz took a sharp intake of breath; Specialist Leden threw himself on PL-1534 in order to subdue him because the man clearly lost it and was about to get himself court-martialed; and Admiral Parck stood up, banging his fist on a table, the expression on his face the hardest and the harshest Niriz had ever seen.
Parck declared in a voice of durasteel, full of commanding authority appropriate to the man’s rank and social standing as a wealthy Core Worlder coming from a family with a long tradition of military service.
It worked like a magic spell.
All five men instantly froze and stared at him in shock. Parck rarely behaved like the commanding officer who threw insubordinate crewmen off the airlock, but apparently Parck’s patience had reached his limit.
“First: PL-1534 and Specialist Leden committed no breach of regulations,” Parck continued in a tone that could have cut the glass.
“Second: You would do well to remember the saying ‘Speech is silver, silence is golden,’ PL-1533, since you may never know when you will find yourself face-to-face with such a freak,” Parck finished frostily, and to prove his point he demonstratively crossed the room and stepped right in front of PL-1533, looking the bulkier man directly in the eyes.
PL-1533 flinched, an action completely unbecoming of a stormtrooper, and PL-1530, PL-1531, and PL-1532 simply gaped at the admiral, their expressions showing pure, unadulterated shock.
Niriz bit his tongue to stop himself from laughing out loud at their faces, secretly hoping his own reaction hadn’t been as ridiculous as theirs. It probably had.
“You’re—you’re gay, Admiral?” PL-1530, the squad leader, recovered first his shock, asking the most obvious thing aloud. Well, at least he didn’t call him a manwhore to his face.
Niriz fought hard to suppress an urge to cup his face in his hand. Oh dear. He reminded himself that the only skill the man needed was to walk around in the white armor and look scary.
“You really are a bucket head, aren’t you?” Parck decked him using the derogatory term for especially dumb stormtroopers, and then his eyes gleamed mischievously. “Therefore it’s only fitting that all four of you end up wearing real buckets on your heads for the rest of the month.”
It took all Niriz’s effort not to burst into laughter right away. The stormtroopers took a sharp intake of breath at the same time; then their jaws dropped in unison, their eyes boggling.
“And you will be standing guard on the bridge, of course, so everyone can see just how dense you are,” Parck calmly delivered his sentence. “Dismissed.”
Niriz had to admit that General Bittenfeld was right; Thrawn’s methods of punishment paled in comparison. No one could ever top Parck’s level of ingeniousness.
They might have been shocked beyond belief; however, their stormtrooper training kicked in immediately. They drew themselves up to ramrod attention, saluted, spun on their heels, and marched away in unison.
“Dismissed,” Parck repeated in much kinder tone to Specialist Leden and PL-1534, exchanging a knowing glance with them. It seemed that the stormtrooper wanted to say something, probably a thank you, but Parck only waved him off: “I imagine you may want to apply for reassignment into a different unit, though.”
Then Parck’s expression softened. “What’s your name, trooper? I doubt Specialist Leden calls you by your service number.”
“I, ah,” the stormtrooper faltered, throwing an uncertain glance at the technician.
“Snow,” the man confessed, his cheeks reddening in embarrassment. “He calls me Snow, sir, because of the white armor. My civilian name was Tiin Ghi’myre but that was … a life-time ago,” he added in a wistful voice.
Parck nodded. “Not a bad name, trooper. Perhaps it is time the stormtroopers started having names again. At least in this branch of the Galactic Empire. I am sure you both have read Grand Admiral Thrawn’s alterations to the New Order. Perhaps it’s time I added a couple of my own.”
“Sir, yes, sir,” both men returned Parck’s smile with enthusiasm and gave him a text-book salute. The admiral only waved them off again, dismissing them once more.
“Well...” Niriz said into the silence that followed once the two had left. “After this, there will be no need for a general announcement, Admiral.”
Niriz scratched his head. This definitely wasn’t what he had in mind. “This will spread faster than Twi’lek clap.”
Parck only chuckled at the comparison to the sexually transmitted disease, flashing him an evil smirk. “I’m sure there are plenty of buckets onboard in case their stupidity grows contagious, Niriz. You know the saying, Captain: Don’t mess up, dress up.”
Because Parck pwning homophobic assess is so much fun, and so is writing Niriz’s POV.
We’ve been thinking hard whether or not homosexual conduct should be against the regulations in Queer as Core Folk, and in the end we decided to make it permissible as long as it doesn’t break the chain of command (same no-fraternization rules as for straight military couples apply). It’s legal, but it’s still awkward. Nine Hells of awkward. The stormtroopers nicely summed up the Empire’s general view on gay men.
Chapter 20: Through Stormtrooper’s Eyes (NSFW)
Title: Through Stormtrooper’s Eyes (NSFW)
Let’s have a look at the brainwashing and Imperial propaganda through the eyes of a stormtrooper.
They met in the showers.
It was three in the afternoon. PL-1534 came there because he had been deemed medically unfit for duty after a mission gone wrong. The bacta treatment left an unpleasant smell and aftertaste, one that PL-1534 downright hated, so he decided for an immediate shower after the session.
It was impossible to not to notice the interest of the other man. Which was probably why he came to the shared showers at this time of the day. To avoid men—for he was a manwhore.
And PL-1534 liked manwhores. Especially such androgynous looking ones.
PL-1534 took him right there, roughly and with minimum consideration; still the manwhore did not even protest. Pathetic. They didn’t speak, just screwed. PL-1534 needed to unwind after the botched mission, and the manwhore … he didn’t know what the manwhore needed.
So PL-1534 liked screwing manwhores; his squadmates knew and didn’t care one bit. They were the closest thing he had to brothers; they fought together, they spent their free time together, they shared bunks, they slept curled next to each other on missions. They even went to brothels together. His squadmates went after the regular whores, PL-1534 went after manwhores. So what?
The next day, after his scheduled follow-up bacta treatment, PL-1534 encountered the manwhore in the showers once again. This time, PL-1534 told the manwhore to get on his knees and suck his dick. And the manwhore did, swallowing everything. Even more pathetic.
Their paths never crossed again.
Until PL-1534 received another injury, leading to another bacta treatment. So the manwhore always came to the showers at three in the afternoon, huh? PL-1534 asked the manwhore’s name, that day.
As PL-1534 came under the showerhead, Mach brushed against his backside and asked if PL-1534 didn’t want to bottom. PL-1534 slammed him roughly against the wall, growling out in anger: “I ain’t no manwhore.”
Mach looked scared to death, as if he had expected to be either beaten into oblivion or taken against his will, which only brought a scowl to PL-1534’s face. He let him go.
Mach sagged to the floor in relief.
They didn’t screw that time.
“I never said you are,” Mach croaked out, his voice shaking. “But I thought...” He faltered. “If you ever change your mind, come to my office.”
And he gave PL-1534 his full name, rank, and office number.
And exactly one month later, PL-1534 found himself knocking on the door of Specialist Mach Leden’s office. He didn’t know why he had done so. Probably out of boredom. The Admonitor spent a lot of time simply mapping the uncharted space, which meant there was nothing much to do for the front-line soldiers aboard.
Mach invited him inside with a soft smile on his lips, locking the door behind them. Just like the first time, they didn’t talk, thank whatever gods and spirits out there, because PL-1534 didn’t know what to say. Or do. And so he let Mach take the initiative, letting himself be manhandled by the frail looking man. It was completely different from any kriffing he had ever done.
They kissed; he never kissed a manwhore before. They touched; they caressed; they fondled each other. He let Mach prepare him, feeling ashamed at being touched in such private manner. Thankfully they did it from behind, otherwise PL-1534 would have just gotten up and walked away.
It was weird.
It was kriffing weird.
The other man took it slow, and still it didn’t feel pleasurable at all. Mach told him to relax, which was easier said than done, but once he did so, once he really let go, it became bearable; he touched himself as the man gently thrust into him, coming with a loud exhale, and he left the office without saying a word. Without even looking at the other man.
PL-1534 was no manwhore.
So why was he here again? He didn’t know. Probably out of boredom.
That was how it all started.
PL-1534 would come knocking on the specialist’s door, and they would … well, it couldn’t be called kriffing, for there was too much kissing, touching, and caressing involved.
And PL-1534 liked it.
And somewhere along the way, he realized what the other man had known all along, but PL-1534 didn’t want it to admit to himself. He was a kriffing manwhore, just like Mach.
They were so screwed.
But they didn’t stop. They started talking, asking about each other’s lives, and they found they had things in common. They were both Clone Wars orphans, only PL-1534 had no special skill, so after he had become too old for the Imperial orphanage, he had been sent to become a Stormtrooper. Mach, on the other hand, was great at science, so he had been sent to a high school, and then he had continued to a college, going as far as obtaining a postgraduate degree. He had a PhD in starship engineering. PL-1534’s jaw dropped at this. The man must have been so kriffing smart.
Mach showed him his work, and PL-1534 let him talk even though he couldn’t understand a word Mach was saying. The man looked so happy when he was talking about alien technology and various anomalies the Admonitor encountered in the Unknown Regions. He showed him some of his calculations, if it could be called as such, for there were aurabesh letters and weird looking symbols placed randomly among the long strings of numbers. It made no sense to PL-1534. He knew basic calculus. He could operate weapons and machines. But he had never been taught how the things worked.
It was a whole new world to him.
He had admitted so aloud, embarrassed for admitting to a lack of knowledge, but to his surprise Mach only smiled and proceeded to explain everything to him in much simpler terms. Mach taught him algebra, and he would have taught him more but PL-1534’s brain couldn’t take it. No, science was not his thing.
And PL-1534 started teaching Mach how to fight. He had received basic physical training, but he was out of practice. His body was weak. He would have died in real combat. PL-1534 wanted to make sure the man would survive if the Admonitor got boarded by enemy forces, for example. One might never know when such a thing came in handy. They were in the heart of the enemy territory.
In real combat, no one cared if the man was a scientist or a front-line soldier.
And somewhere along the way, when PL-1534 had been showing him the internal HUD of his helmet, Mach had looked at him strangely and called him Snow for the first time.
PL-1534 blinked. Snow? Why Snow? It was a regular stormtrooper’s helmet, not a snowtrooper’s. In any case, PL-1534 was a stormtrooper, and stormtroopers called each other by their service numbers; even calling each other by their former civilian names was not allowed.
However, somehow he couldn’t bring himself to rebuke the other man.
So he let Mach call him Snow. And then—he couldn’t recall the exact moment—PL-1534 started to think of himself as Snow.
It was strangely comforting to have a name again.
His squadmates noticed, of course. It was impossible not to notice when a member of their team suddenly started spending whole hours away from them. When they finally asked him what the kriff he had been doing all this time, he told them he found himself a manwhore. They left him alone. Because who cared about manwhores?
There were some manwhores among the star-gazers, technical, medical, perhaps even among the ground-pounders. But among stormtroopers?
Stormtroopers were the public face of the Galactic Empire, a symbol of its unlimited power and strength; there were no kriffing manwhores among the StormTrooper Corps.
Sure, there were some stormtroopers who liked to kriff manwhores, but the StormTrooper Corps was definitely no place for soft , weak , and feminine men like those so-called gays.
Looking back, telling his squadmates had probably been a mistake. They left him alone for a while, but since he spent more and more time away from them, naturally they got curious, following him to see what kind of manwhore he was kriffing. When they found out the truth, they got furious.
Thankfully they had enough common sense to leave Mach alone, venting out their frustrations openly only at him, but it was still humiliating beyond belief.
He was no longer a man in the eyes of his brothers. He was a woman. No, he was worse than a woman. There were women in the StormTrooper Corps, too; only one in an entire battalion perhaps, but there were some, even aboard the Admonitor. All of them strong, tomboy types, wearing the same military haircut like their male colleagues, the same unisex armor which gave nothing away. The only thing that made them different from their male colleagues was the pussy, and well, pussy was meant to be kriffed.
Snow had no pussy. That was the problem.
And now the whole Admonitor knew. On one hand, it was strangely comforting to know that the admiral was a manwhore as well (well, gay , Snow reminded himself, the polite term was gay ), and that if anyone had a problem with it, or with gay men in general, they would end up wearing a bucket on their heads. Or worse. Snow could tell the admiral had been this close from having his squadmates ordered thrown out of the airlock.
On the other hand, it also meant that everyone knew that Snow was gay. And that was what bugged him. That was the reason which brought him to the gym today, the reason why he challenged Commander Stent to physical combat in front of everyone, telling the Chiss he would like to practice martial arts with him.
Everyone knew what happened to the Admonitor’s most macho men who had challenged Commander Stent to physical combat: they all ended up fully submerged in the bacta, nursing their broken bones for weeks. No wonder when Snow told the Chiss in the mess hall, everyone within the earshot turned their heads and stared, no doubt wondering if the manwhore had a death wish.
Right to the contrary: Snow didn’t have a death wish. He had a reason to live. But first he needed to prove to everyone aboard the Admonitor that even a manwhore could face a Chiss warrior. No, he needed to prove it to himself. Then he would apply for a different squad, probably. Or maybe he could stay in the same one; maybe if he actually succeeded in defeating a Chiss warrior, they would take him back.
No matter how hard he tried to forget, Snow couldn’t let it go. They were the closest thing to brothers, even if such attachment was heavily frowned upon.
Stormtroopers lived and died at the pleasure of the Emperor. If a stormtrooper fell in a battle, his squad members would finish the mission first, and then, only then, if the fallen trooper still lived, would they tend to their wounded brother. The strong survived; the weak perished.
And the mission came first. It would always come first.
You live and die at the pleasure of the Emperor. That was the mantra drilled to their heads by the COMPNOR, so deeply ingrained that they all would be able to recite it even in the middle of the night.
The only problem was that the Emperor was half a galaxy away. There was no Galactic Empire here. There were only alien governments. Primitive. Or at least, that was the COMPNOR’s general idea. Aliens were primitive, and alien technology was inferior to that of the Galactic Empire.
Only, these Chiss were neither primitive nor inferior. If what Mach told him was true, then Chiss technology was superior to Imperial tech in many ways. Not in everything, of course; some Chiss technology was far below the Imperial level, but some was definitely superior.
But if Specialist Mach Leden said so, then it had to be true. He was so kriffing smart. When Snow told him, Mach only laughed, telling him to stop idolizing him, that he was hardly omniscient.
Omniscient. Snow never heard the word before.
Maybe it was true, maybe Snow was just stupid. But he didn’t think of himself as stupid, Mach showed him he had an ability to learn, even if it took more time than for other people.
Perhaps this Chiss warrior could teach him something. Commander Stent was not only physically stronger, he also knew a type of martial arts unknown to the Galactic Empire, and such knowledge could mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield.
Snow didn’t want to die in this hellhole. If an officer ordered him to die in the name of the Emperor, he would die, of course; but if there was anything he could do to stop himself from dying on the battlefield, he would do it. He had a reason to live on.
Even if it meant to swallow all his pride and let himself to be repeatedly struck down in front of everyone in the Admonitor’s main gym.
Damn you to the Nine Hells of Corellia, Snow thought as the Chiss pinned him down on the mat for what had to be at least the twentieth time. No, Snow would not call it a day, he would either defeat the blue-skinned alien or he would pass out trying.
Slowly, too slowly for his liking, Snow rose to his feet, panting heavily, blinking a couple of times to focus on the Chiss in front of him. The alien was watching him back with his head slightly tilted to a side, a predator playing with his prey who was about to deliver the final blow.
The Chiss would finish him with the next blow, and Snow was thankful for the mercy kill because it was far easier for him to accept being beaten into oblivion than to step down and acknowledge failure. Snow did not come here to be defeated.
Stormtroopers either accomplished their goals or they died trying. Failure was never an option.
And then he became aware that all the onlookers were suddenly whispering to each other, turning their heads in the direction of the main entrance. Snow grew still, keeping his eyes on the alien in case the Chiss decided to make use of the commotion; but Commander Stent took a step back and raised his hands, asking for a brief pause, turning his head to see what got the attention of the audience.
Snow turned his head as well.
There was Admiral Parck standing at the entrance to the gym, looking none too impressed with either of them. Next to him stood two Chiss technicians, a female and a male, the chief engineer, and Specialist Mach Leden, who looked angry enough to deliver the final blow himself.
Snow’s knees fell under him, falling down on the practice mat from sheer exhaustion. The last thing he could remember before everything went dark was Mach running to him, calling out his name aloud.
And now the whole Admonitor knew his name.
TO BE CONTINUED
Chapter 21: Intermezzo: Falling Snow (NSFW)
Title: Falling Snow (NSFW)
Why am I even here? PL-1534 thought as he knocked on the door to Specialist Mach Leden's office. Forget it. This is a mistake.
He was about to turn and go on his way, but unfortunately the door opened right after the first knock, revealing a very confused Mach staring at the unexpected visitor who dropped in unannounced at the end of alpha shift.
He doesn't know it's me, PL-1534 realized suddenly.
He came wearing his full body armor, naturally. It would have been suspicious to be seen walking around without it; and in any case, the armor felt like a second skin nowadays. Without it, PL-1534 felt insecure.
There was a flash of recognition in Mach's eyes, followed by a soft smile brightening up the boyish features. He opened the door wide, gesturing PL-1534 to quickly come inside.
He didn't speak. Fortunately.
PL-1534 swallowed hard but marched inside with a brisk stride, feeling emboldened by the anonymity of the white armor, looking around Mach's office through the internal HUD of his helmet.
There was no one else.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
PL-1534 cursed at himself. What if the man shared his office with someone? What if it wasn't Mach, but one of his colleagues opening the door? What then?
What would you have said, idiot? Just what have you been thinking?
His train of thought got interrupted by a loud thud, the sound of the door closing, and PL-1534 straightened to ramrod attention out of habit. Damn, he must have looked like a moron.
At least I'm still wearing the armor, though.
It was then that PL-1534 realized he would have to remove the body armor if they were about to continue.
He started with the weapon.
He made sure the weapon was secure before placing it on the man's desk, the action giving him valuable seconds in which to think about what to do next.
Not that he came up with anything.
PL-1534 swallowed and finally decided to remove the helmet first. It would have looked so weird if he started with the chest plate.
He took it off and was just about to place it on the desk next to the weapon when Mach reached out for the helmet with his hands.
Their hands touched.
Well. They didn't. Not really. PL-1534 wore gloves—but still, after the man had taken the helmet away, he took his gloved hands in his.
PL-1534 felt incredibly insecure without his helmet.
He kept his gaze lowered, looking at their joined hands, not having the courage to look the other man in the eyes. He shouldn't have come here. This was a mistake. The other man would definitely laugh at him.
However, to his surprise, the very next sound he heard was a deep sigh.
Ah. He doesn't know how to take the armor off. PL-1534 realized with a twitch of his lips.
Of course the scientist wouldn't know. Most likely he had never worn the stormtrooper armor in his life. On the other hand, the procedure came naturally to PL-1534. It marked the beginning and the end of every single day.
PL-1534 no longer felt like an idiot, wordlessly showing the specialist how to unstrap the chest plate and arm paddings.
Mach caught on quickly, however, and soon it was him removing PL-1534's armor, the lower half.
As he did so, he gently brushed over PL-1534's backside which made him stiffen. No, it made him downright uncomfortable.
PL-1534 fought down an urge to twist the other man's hand.
Fortunately, either Mach didn't notice his internal dilemma or he decided not to comment on the matter, for he put the last piece on the table, turning his back to him.
And now PL-1534 was without the armor. The only times PL-1534 wore no armor were when taking a shower, eating, or sleeping.
Suddenly, PL-1534 felt naked. No, he felt worse than naked: he felt exposed. Nakedness had never been an issue for PL-1534 before.
Mach turned to face him, giving him a long, measuring look, gazing at the tight-fitting black undergarment the stormtroopers wore underneath.
PL-1534 just stood there, unsure as to what to do next. Should he continue stripping down, or should he start removing the other man’s clothes now? Or would Mach prefer to remove the uniform by himself?
However, what followed came totally unexpected to PL-1534.
Mach came closer, and he ran his hands gently over the black clothing covering PL-1534’s body, his fingers trailing the muscles underneath.
PL-1534 held his breath.
Mach's hands ran over his pectoral and abdomen muscles before continuing lower, to his sides and back, once again brushing against his backside, until they finally rested against his nether regions.
PL-1534 was already hard.
Of course he was hard! Just who wouldn't be?!
PL-1534 bit his tongue to contain a soft moan as the other man touched his cock over the thin fabric, keeping his stance carefully neutral, neither at attention nor at ease.
More touching, apparently, since Mach raised his hands from PL-1534’s body and gently caressed PL-1534's face, brushing against his lips with his fingers.
PL-1534 visibly swallowed.
Their eyes met for a fraction of second, and PL-1534 tried to convince himself that his face was as expressionless as the stormtrooper’s helmet.
Nerfshit. He was blushing. He could literally feel his own cheeks burning.
Mach slowly leaned in, softly pressing his lips against his. PL-1534 released the breath he had no idea he had been holding, closed his eyes, and reciprocated the gesture.
He had never kissed a man before.
He had kissed women. Many times in the past. He tried to kiss them as passionately as he could but he still didn't feel a thing.
However, even a soft brush against a man's lips made PL-1534 want to devour Mach with his mouth.
They continued kissing for who knew how long, and it was no longer gentle. It was hungry, passionate, and there was nipping and biting involved. PL-1534 just couldn't stop, he couldn't help himself. His heart was beating so hard he thought he would collapse.
And then he felt Mach's hands on him once again, tugging at the black overall, trying to maneuver the upper part over his head.
PL-1534 opened his eyes.
He shouldn't have done that. Suddenly, he realized where he was and what he was doing. Once again, he felt vulnerable. Exposed.
Meanwhile, Mach started removing his own clothes: the jacket of his uniform first, then the boots, until finally he removed his pants, too, leaving only the standard-issue black undershirt and boxers.
Now it was PL-1534’s turn to look at the other man.
He had seen Mach before, of course. Multiple times, in fact. But he pretended to stare as if he had seen him for the first time in order to mask his own nervousness.
Only, Mach did not feel uncomfortable under his deep scrutiny. On the contrary, he removed the rest of his clothes, standing naked in front of PL-1534. Then he came closer, reaching for PL-1534's pants, pulling them down together with PL-1534's underwear.
A moan escaped him as Mach rubbed their cocks together.
He didn't know exactly when (he must have been too distracted to notice), but at one point he found himself fully naked, even without socks, with Mach kissing him passionately on the lips once again.
Another moan escaped him as Mach dropped to his knees, taking PL-1534's cock in his mouth.
PL-1534 clenched his fists and tilted his head back, savoring the sensation of feeling Mach's tongue run along the shaft of his penis. He was so hard. So, so hard. In fact, he couldn't recall feeling more aroused in his entire life.
And then, all of a sudden, Mach stopped.
PL-1534 jerked at the interruption then flinched as he realized what the other man had in mind. Mach had given him the office number in case PL-1534 ever changed his mind about bottoming.
PL-1534 stood there, completely, utterly at loss as to what to say, watching as Mach reached over to the table, grabbing the uniform’s jacket and taking something out of the inner breast pocket.
Of course. What else? PL-1534 resisted the urge to smack himself.
They kriffed raw in the showers, with the only lubricant being the body oil that was available in the showers alongside the shampoo and shower gel.
PL-1534 opened his mouth but no sound would come out, so he silently watched as Mach hastily emptied the table's drawers on the floor, until he finally found a small tube of industrial vaseline. Or whatever it was. PL-1534 doubted Mach kept a real lubricant in his office even if he shared the working space with no one.
PL-1534 swallowed. It wasn't still too late, was it?
Yeah, sure, he thought as Mach took his cock into his mouth once again, gently brushing against his backside, the fingers now slick with vaseline.
Kriff, PL-1534 thought.
Kriff, kriff, kriff, and hundred times more kriff. The fingers brushed against his opening, but damn, it felt so good to have Mach gently suck the tip of his penis.
So, so good.
PL-1534 was no manwhore. He didn't mind because Mach was distracting him by sucking his dick, that's why. Yes. That was the true reason why he didn't protest as the finger slipped inside.
Mach was the real manwhore here.
PL-1534 tensed, his muscles clenching around the man’s finger, so hard it hurt. Damn, it really hurt. But then there was the tongue again, and PL-1534 let out a soft whimper as the devil’s instrument teased the tip of his penis enough to make him forget what was going on.
Until the tongue disappeared, until the finger slipped away, and until PL-1534 opened his eyes to find out that Mach was slowly getting to his feet, approaching PL-1534 from behind.
PL-1534 didn't know what to do. If he told Mach to stop now, he would only look like a coward.
PL-1534 was a stormtrooper. There were no cowards among the Stormtrooper Corps, just like there were no manwhores among the Stormtrooper Corps.
He would prove it to the other man.
He could hear Mach whisper into his ear from behind, just as the other man took his cock with one hand, pressing against the opening with fingers of the other hand.
Let go. You're not the one with someone else’s fingers in his butt, asshole, PL-1534 thought accusingly, but he remained silent.
Let go , PL-1534 ordered himself as he felt finger s , not a finger, slip inside. Two. Two kriffing fingers!
Let go. Let go, dammit.
PL-1534 didn't know how long he kept repeating the words like a mantra. He only hoped he didn't actually blurt them aloud like some pathetic manwhore.
Eventually, the hand around his cock disappeared, only the fingers remained. They went in and out, PL-1534 lost the count just how many times, but they always returned with more vaseline.
And then he could feel Mach's cock pressed hard against the opening. He bit his tongue to prevent himself from saying the words aloud, trying his best to relax as the other man slowly entered him.
It was weird.
It was kriffing weird.
The weirdest feeling he had ever experienced in his entire life.
It didn't feel pleasurable at all.
But on the other hand, it didn't feel painful either once Mach went completely still.
Well, it looked like PL-1534 would end up getting kriffed in the ass against a table inside a paper-pusher’s office. Now, who would have ever thought of that? There was certainly first time for everything.
A soft kiss at the base of his neck broke PL-1534's train of thoughts.
Mach repeated in a low tone of voice. Somehow his hands found PL-1534's, gently tugging at him, suggesting PL-1534 touched himself.
He could do this. Hardly the first time he had ever jerked himself off. First time with an audience, though.
And so he took a deep breath and slowly let it go, touching himself as the other man gently thrust into him, distracting himself from the weird sensation. It didn't take him long to come with a loud exhale.
Not a sigh.
And it definitely wasn't a moan.
The other man didn't come, but who the kriff cared because PL-1534 came in a record time. On the spot, basically. Kriff. This was so embarrassing.
He jerked away, ignoring the pain, and picked up his clothes, getting into the stormtrooper's armor in a record time as well. The drill sergeant would have been proud.
However, now that he wore the armor, now that he put on his helmet, at least he felt safe again. Secure. Nothing short of a blaster rifle bolt at a close range could hurt him.
Still, he left without saying goodbye, without even looking at the other man.
PL-1534 was no manwhore.
So why was he here again? He didn't know. Probably out of boredom.
Chapter 22: Intermezzo: Beautiful Mind (NSFW)
Title: Beautiful Mind (NSFW)
Specialist Mach Leden was a conscript.
On the other hand, he was also one of the few men aboard the Admonitor who was perfectly content with the task of mapping the uncharted space, because outside the known galaxy was an unexplored infinity, one closed off by a labyrinth of solar storms, rogue magnetospheres, black holes, gravity wells, and things far stranger.
While Chief Engineer Skotti muttered a long string of Huttesse curses whenever the ship’s engines sustained damage from the forces of nature that discouraged any sane travelers from venturing into the unknown and beyond (many of the curses being directed at Grand Admiral Thrawn who had gotten them into the mess in the first place), Specialist Mach Leden literally jumped in joy at information gained from the strange occurrence.
Mach had never been good at working with hands, he couldn’t actually repair the ship’s damaged hyperdrive like Skotti could.
Mach was a theoretician.
A mathematician whose entire life had been centered around numbers. Therefore, it made perfect sense that he would fall for a number.
His knight in a shining white armor.
From the very beginning, the nameless man looked like a function begging to be integrated. You see, the nameless man hadn’t been the first stormtooper to kriff Mach in the shared showers; he hadn’t been even the first stormtrooper to order him to suck his dick in the cold, impersonal tone all stormtroopers seemed to have.
He was the first stormtrooper who had asked for Mach’s name.
It moved Mach so much he had asked the nameless man whether he wanted to experience more than senseless kriffing.
Only to be brutally shoved against the wall.
Thank whatever higher power in the universe for the stormtrooper training, for that was the only thing that had saved Mach from certain death. Or so he had thought at the time. He didn’t see into the man’s head.
Still, the nameless man had spared his life, no matter the reason why, and so Mach had given him his full name, rank, and officer number if he ever decided to change his mind.
And exactly one month later, he did.
It would be obvious even to a blind just how much outside of his element the nameless man had been that day, blushing like a virgin.
But then, the nameless man was a virgin.
Oh, he had kriffed other men before. Women, too. But it was always just mere kriffing, the nameless man never let any of the men touch him; he never let any of the men kiss him. It was obvious from the way he responded to Mach’s advances.
Mach did not even need substitution to crack him, all he needed to do was to touch him. A single kiss, and the nameless man practically integrated himself.
Not that the nameless man would ever admit to it aloud, not even under torture. He was that proud. But on the other hand, he was also incredibly brave. A true knight in the shining white armor.
And so Mach tended to the needs of his knight, making him feel like a person again. An individual.
Once you truly understood, mathematics became ridiculously simple. No matter how complicated the formula looked like at first, no matter how much time it took to get to the desired result.
Mach knew how the nameless man’s real first time would end, and he also knew the cycle would repeat itself; the nameless man would end up knocking on the door to Mach’s office, and they would kiss, touch, fondling each other, and then the nameless man would bottom.
And then he would call tactical retreat.
Mach didn’t blame him; he couldn’t even imagine just how much drill was necessary to completely erase one’s individuality to the point of thinking oneself as a number. A replaceable gear in the Imperial warmachine.
Or how difficult it was for the nameless man to fight against everything that had been drilled into him; there were no softies in the StromTrooper Corps, everyone knew that. However, it was an open secret that there were some stormtroopers happened to kriff androgynous looking low-ranks in the shared showers; a secret that no one dared to talk about for the fear of retaliation.
Did the nameless man hate himself for coming here, first bottoming, then running away? Mach didn’t know. He had never asked. In fact, he had never asked even for the nameless man’s service number, not until the nameless man had told him himself.
It happened the first time the nameless man did not call tactical retreat. He stayed, letting Mach reach the completion as well, then he put on the white armor, and once his expression was safely hidden behind the faceless mask, he said: “PL-1534.”
Mach had fantasied many times about the nameless man’s service number, however, much to his disappointment, 1534 wasn’t a prime number. Or perfect square. It was an even number. Plain. Ordinary. There was nothing special about the number itself. It was just a number.
On the other hand, the knight in the shining white armor was anything but plain or ordinary.
And so Mach came up with a nick name for him, a term of endearment, one that he wouldn’t dare to voice aloud until much later.
They continued, with PL-1534 slowly becoming more comfortable around him, growing more and more confident. He would explore Mach’s body, he would top sometimes, until finally came the day PL-1534 would drop to his knees and take Mach’s cock into his mouth.
It was funny, really, for gay men in denial (those who refused to admit that sex between men could be anything more than release), it was something that the women did, something below a real man's dignity.
It was then Mach realized that PL-1534, Snow, had finally started coming to terms with himself. It made Mach so happy that he offered a glass of water to the man afterward, and that he started telling him random facts about himself.
And they found they had things in common. They were both Clone Wars orphans, only PL-1534 had no special skill, so after he had become too old for the Imperial orphanage, he had been sent to become a Stormtrooper.
Mach showed him his work, and even though PL-1534 couldn’t understand a word Mach was saying, he listened to his incredibly boring lecture, going as far as asking him simple questions based on faulty observations.
PL-1534 was far from stupid. He was merely uneducated. Mach supposed Snow must have suffered from a learning disorder as a child, whether it was a short attention span or something else Mach didn’t know. It didn’t matter. The StormTrooper Corps put him in line.
And so Mach started teaching PL-1534 mathematics from the basics (oh dear, the stormtrooper had never even heard of algebra!), and PL-1534 started teaching Mach how to fight.
Mach totally sucked at hand-to-hand combat. And shooting. He couldn’t shoot straight if his life depended on it. Who was he to lecture the stormtrooper about lacking elementary knowledge?
So Mach gave up on trying to raise a mathematician out of him, accepting the ugly truth that while PL-1534 was far from stupid, science was simply not thing. It didn’t make him any less Snow.
Shavit. He had called PL-1534 by the term of endearment aloud.
And it was then Mach realized he had fallen for his knight in the shining white armor.
Chapter 23: The Stent Solution
Title: The Stent Solution
[You just had to beat him into the oblivion, didn’t you?] Parck snapped, glaring accusingly at the Chiss who even had the audacity to look offended at the rebuke, his eyes narrowing into mere slits, his face hardening.
[Yes, I did,] Stent affirmed, his voice uncharacteristically sharp, reminding him of their first encounter. For some reason, he behaved as if Parck questioned his command authority, which made Parck back down. The last thing he wanted was to argue with the Chiss when they finally started making progress.
[Why?] Parck asked, this time in much milder tone. A simple question. Why would he let the fight continue until the stormtrooper passed out from sheer exhaustion? Why didn’t he stop him? It’d only add the fuel into the rumor mill. As if the man’s dignity didn’t suffer enough.
[He wanted me to,] the Chiss explained with a shrug, turning in the direction of the couple. Meanwhile, Specialist Leden helped his boyfriend to his feet and supported him on the way to the changing room, giving him a vicious dressing down of his own.
[I could see it in his expression. He did not need to say the actual words aloud.] Stent’s face clouded in confusion. [Is this kind of behavior normal among the humans?]
Parck let out a deep sigh. [A typical stormtrooper attitude. I guess he needed to prove to himself and to the whole Admonitor that even a manwhore can face a Chiss warrior. It must have been tough for him during the last couple of days.]
They came here for Stent. The two Chiss technicians wanted to discuss integration of the reactor couplings with their commander, pestering Chief Engineer Skotti with their own suggestions how to connect the Chiss components into the Imperial core, which annoyed the man to no end.
Coincidentally, Specialist Leden, one of the scientists overseeing the procedure, came up with a daring idea of his own, one that neither the chief engineer nor the Chiss technicians liked; but somehow the man was able to come with a blaster proof argument as to why his solution to the problem was the best.
Arguing with the Chiss was pointless, and even though Specialist Leden seemed to realize that, he did not back down, tearing their arguments apart one by one with his own counter-arguments. Which was why it was necessary for Stent to step in. The Chiss technicians were too damn proud for their own good.
Instead, they found Stent beating the crap out of Specialist Leden’s boyfriend with a significant portion of the StromTrooper Corps watching. Parck ordered them to disperse immediately, of course. There was nothing to see here. And he asked the chief engineer to take the two Chiss technicians out for a cup of caf.
[A man’whore ?] Stent repeated the Basic word, putting a necessary break to make it sound like a Cheunh word, changing the stress to make it fit better into the tonal language. [ Define a man’whore.]
[Well,] Parck stammered, [According to the dictionary it would be a man who engages in recreation for financial gain, I suppose, but in some human cultures, it is also a derogatory slang term for gay men. Especially for those who enjoy being on the receiving part during the mating act, thus lowering themselves to the position of such women.]
The Chiss looked even more confused. [While your Cheunh is technically correct, your explanation makes absolutely no sense. I do not understand. I did not understand this part of Captain Dagon Niriz’s lecture, either; however, at that time I simply assumed it was a result of my insufficient knowledge of Galactic Basic. Clearly, it was not the case.]
Parck took a deep sigh. [It’s… well, it’s difficult to explain. That’s the whole problem society, especially my society, has with gay men, you know. If you are a man who kri’ffs men, you are weird but you are still considered to be a man. However, if you are a man who enjoy s being kri’ffed by other men, then you are no longer a man. And you are not a woman either, because you do not have female reproductive organs. You do not fit in.]
From the expression on the Chiss’s face, it didn’t make much sense either.
[His squadmates caught them in the middle of the human version of recreation, with the stormtrooper being on the receiving end, and they took as a threat to their own masculinity.] Parck summarized.
The Chiss blinked. [Their masculinity?] He repeated slowly. [How exactly was their masculinity threatened? Did he offer them to join in the mating session and they took it as a personal offense?]
Parck stared at the Chiss. [You are being serious, aren’t you?]
[Of course,] the Chiss defended himself.
Where is Thrawn when you need him? Playing hide and seek with the Rebels.
[I’m sorry, Stent,] Parck capitulated. [I am afraid I am unable to explain. Perhaps the understanding will come with time.]
The Chiss nodded, filing it away as another puzzling human behavior. [However, there is one more thing I find peculiar. I take the word man’whore is a combination of the words ‘male’ and a person who engages in recreation for financial gain. The basic concept aside, why is it necessary to stress out the male part? Or am I wrong and the female is called wom’n’whore?]
Parck was at a loss for words. [No, you are right, Stent. It is necessary to stress the male part because in human cultures it is usually women who engage in recreation for financial gain. I take it Cheunh does not have a word for a whore?]
[No.] The Chiss scoffed. [We are familiar with the concept, however; it can be encountered among many uncivilized societies in the Borderlands.] His face held a clear expression of distaste, then it was replaced with suspicion.
[You know what?] Parck said before the Chiss could ask his question: ‘Have you ever purchased such services?’
[Let’s go look after the two.]
The stormtrooper was leaning against the wall, wiping the sweat from his forehead with a small towel. Specialist Leden was sitting next to him, a glass of water in his hand. When they noticed Parck approaching, they were both about to leap to attention, but Parck only waved them off.
“As you were, gentlemen,” Parck dismissed them, sitting down on a bench close to them. The last thing they needed was for the stormtrooper to collapse from a sudden change of position. “You seem to attract trouble like a magnet, trooper.”
“I am sorry, sir,” came an instant reply, making Parck briefly wonder whether the apology was genuine or whether it was simply drilled into the man.
Parck cleared his throat. “Specialist Leden, this is Commander Kres’ten’tarthi. Call him Commander Stent. Commander Stent, this is Specialist Mach Leden.” He introduced the two men, then he switched into Cheunh.
[The specialist came up with a rather unconventional solution to our little reactor problem. However, it seems the Chiss technicians do not share his enthusiasm. I would like you to try to convince them to give him a helping hand.]
The chief engineer didn’t share the man’s enthusiasm, either, but he would give him the green light if he managed to shut those Chiss up.
Stent looked at Specialist Leden, his face unreadable. [I suppose you would not have come here if you did not believe the man’s suggestion to be valid. I will listen to all sides before I make decision since I am unfamiliar with the technical nature of the problem.]
Specialist Leden looked at Parck with a clear question in his eyes. He didn’t understand a thing Stent was saying, of course.
“The commander will see what he can do, Specialist,” Parck assured the man. Then he shifted his gaze to the stormtrooper. “That was not a very smart move, trooper. It’ll only add to the rumor mill.”
Parck flashed him a crooked smile. “But you’ve got guts, I give you that. He can be… Well, I think we all can agree that Commander Stent can be quite scary.”
Parck let out a small chuckle at seeing the specialist’s face. “Don’t worry, Specialist Leden. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. Unless that fly posed a threat to his people. Then he’d capture the fly, clip its wings, interrogate it, and if necessary torture all military secrets out of the poor insect, and only then he’d crush it. Am I right, Commander?”
[Is it supposed to be humorous?] Stent asked in Cheunh, frowning, ignoring the two non-Cheunh speakers.
“Like I said. Don’t make any jokes about the Chiss, or, Vader forbid, empty threats toward the Chiss Ascendancy, and you’ll get along just fine. He and his rogue warriors mean no harm to any of us. They all pledged themselves to Grand Admiral Thrawn.” Parck explained for Specialist Leden whose complexion had grown paler. Stent had that effect on people.
It seemed that the Grand Admiral’s name worked, calming the man’s fears at least a little.
“And what am I supposed to do with you, trooper? What should I tell to your commanding officer?” Parck stroked his chin thoughtfully.
Parck couldn’t keep him on a medical leave forever, sooner or later the chief medical officer would have to clear him for duty. And since the stormtrooper apparently felt well enough to challenge a Chiss warrior to physical combat, it also meant he was well enough to perform his regular duties.
[Give him to me.] Stent broke the silence in Cheunh, kneeling down on the floor in the humble manner. [He is at the crossroads. I can tell because I felt the same before though for a different reason. It was not easy to accept my life would change forever. I can teach him the Chiss martial arts. Once he puts his mind and heart at ease, he can apply for a different squad if he wishes.]
“How would you like to become more than a number, trooper?” Parck asked finally, making himself more comfortable on the bench. “We’ve been thinking about mixing the Chiss warriors with human soldiers, but so far there have been no volunteers from either side. You could be the first.”
The stormtrooper appeared to be at loss. No one asked stormtroopers what they wanted, they were given a task and the only acceptable reply was, ‘sir, yes, sir.’
Specialist Leden blanched. He didn’t want his boyfriend anywhere near the Chiss, but Parck could see the gears in his head turning, his brain slowly coming to terms that it would probably be the best option for the time being.
Integration of the Chiss warriors and the Imperial soldiers would be a slow and painful process. The Chiss were too proud for their own good and the Imperials had the New Order drilled into their heads (and it went double for the StormTrooper Corps); but if Grand Admiral Thrawn thought it was possible, then it was worth a try. Perhaps one day there would be a fully mixed crew.
They had to start from somewhere.
“I don’t know, sir,” the stormtrooper admitted, clearly so out of his element. “I think… I think I’d only slow them down. And I’m no good at languages, sir.”
Parck exchanged a long glance with Stent. The Chiss only shrugged, his face unreadable. “I wouldn’t be so sure, trooper. Commander Stent is clearly impressed with your skills, otherwise he wouldn’t offer to teach you the Chiss warrior’s way.”
Well, it was a rather liberal interpretation of the shrug but if it wasn’t the case then Stent could only blame himself for talking in Cheunh the entire time.
“And I think it wouldn’t hurt if the Chiss warriors started practicing their Galactic Basic with a living conversation partner. It may not seem so, but they are actually studying the language. They are just not a very talkative bunch.” Parck let out a small chuckle.
The stormtrooper fell silent. Specialist Leden tapped his fingers nervously against the bench; he wanted to say something but he didn’t want to influence his boyfriend in any way. And he didn’t want to speak out of turn.
All three of them might be gay, but that hardly made them equal. Parck was a flag officer; he couldn’t hang around and chit chat with the low-ranks just because they also happened to like men. That would be viewed as favoritism. And fraternization.
“In that case ... sir, yes, sir.” The stormtrooper came to a decision. He gave the Chiss warrior a curt nod. He would join the Phalanx, at least for the time being.
“Admiral Parck speaked you are the manwhore,” Stent declared all of a sudden in his broken Basic, making them all stop and stare at his utter lack of tact or any sense of propriety, “I will do you into the warrior manwhore,” he finished his bold speech, offering the stormtrooper his hand in an attempt at handshake.
You really suck at it, Stent, Parck thought, shaking his head and suppressing the urge to cup his face in his hands.
Chapter 24: Lost in Translation
Title: Lost in Translation
PL-1534 didn’t want to spend the rest of his days with these blue-skinned alien warriors. He wanted to be among his own kind. Humans. However, there was no sense in beating a dead nerf; his old squad would not take him back. Even if they had been ordered to do so, the things would have never been the same. Becoming a member of the Chiss Phalanx would be for the best, at least for the time being.
Just like the Stormtroopers, the Chiss warriors also spent all their free time together; a typical squad consisted of six warriors, further divided into two sub-groups of three who shared bunks and their personal possessions.
PL-1534’s call sign became Number Seven.
An odd number, an anomaly even among the Chiss. However, unlike humans, the Chiss did not let their feelings openly show. His three new bunk mates (two females, one male) had shaken their hands with him, telling him to call them by their core names upon realizing the human wouldn’t be able to pronounce their full names properly, and tilted their heads curiously to the side upon his request to call him by his new name.
There was an open curiosity written on the otherwise unreadable alien features but none of the three Chiss warriors had breathed a word aloud. It was fine with Snow. It would only bring up more questions, and frankly, Snow was in no mood to share his story. At least not at this time.
According to Snow’s new schedule it was time for coaching with Commander Stent; the leader of the alien warriors took him to one of the gyms which had been given over to the Chiss, with unfamiliar melee weapons attached to the walls, making Snow briefly wonder as to how exactly they would be used in action given their unusual shapes and sizes.
Would they engage in hand-to-hand combat? Would they fight with one of the strange looking weapons? Snow had no idea; Commander Stent did not make himself clear. In fact, the Chiss leader had disappeared somewhere, returning a few moments later with large scrolls of … paper?―fabric?―which he then carefully unrolled until the entire gym was covered by the soft sheet.
Snow stared. What was the meaning of this? He was about to ask when the Chiss disappeared once more, returning with a bucket, half-filled with dark liquid. Then he crossed the room and took out two long sticks that had been placed on the wall.
Only these were no sticks.
“Weapons by today,” Commander Stent said in a heavily accented Galactic Basic, handing Snow over a giant brush.
“I’m sorry, sir,” Snow said in a baffled tone, looking down at the floor first, then at the bucket, and finally at the writing instrument. “I don’t understand. I thought we were going to fight.”
“Yes,” the Chiss affirmed, raising his ‘weapon’ of choice, “much difficult will going to fight today.”
“This, most dangerous and most strong weapon than of everything.” Commander Stent pointed first at the brush, then he made a wide hand gesture in the direction of the melee weapons on the wall.
Snow was at a loss for words. If you say so, … sir.
“You has got a problem,” the Chiss then declared boldly, causing Snow to let out a soft sigh. Oh, he had a problem, all right.
“Here,” Commander Stent gestured at Snow’s chest, “and here,” pointing at Snow’s head. “This,” he raised the brush, “a goose tape for there.”
“I believe the word you are looking for is a duck tape, sir,” Snow said dryly.
Commander Stent tilted his head to a side. “Yes,” he admitted awkwardly. “A duck tape. A strange word to me. Much strange. Not done from a duck. I misunderstand.”
Snow let out a discreet cough. “Ehm, it has nothing to do with the Corellian duck, sir. It’s a brand name.” It had been such a huge hit that the brand name stuck. However, it seemed that no one in the Unknown Regions heard of the CorTech’s duck tapes.
Commander Stent slowly inclined his head. “Thank you, manwhore.”
Snow gritted his teeth, gripping the brush more firmly. It took all his self-control not to use it as a fighting stick. It would qualify as an attack at an officer, an alien or not.
Commander Stent gave him a long, pondering look. “Yes. Exactly. Your problem. Write it.”
Snow’s patience with the alien’s coaching was wearing thin and they hadn’t even started yet. Still, Commander Stent was technically his commanding officer from now, meaning he had to do as the alien said.
“You want me to write the word?” He asked just to be sure.
Snow took a deep breath, swallowing an old Imperial curse. This was like rubbing spice into the wound. “Yes, sir,” he murmured in resignation, taking the giant brush, and dipped it into the ink.
“Hmmm,” Commander Stent hummed approvingly, observing Snow as he scribbled. “Good. You see your problem now. Now I interpreting your problem in Cheunh.”
The Chiss proceeded to write the expression in … Aurabesh.
Snow blinked in confusion. “I’m sorry, sir, I don’t understand.”
“This aurabesh cannot has translation.” Commander Stent let out a small shrug. “Not onto Cheunh.”
“What you’re trying to say, sir,...” Snow speculated in a low tone of voice, still staring at the aurabesh script. “There is no such concept among the Chiss, right?”
Commander Stent’s eyes glinted. “Good.”
The Chiss dipped the brush into the dark liquid once more. “It is written down. It cannot will be eraser.” He continued in broken Basic. What was written could not be erased. The problem would not disappear.
“What can you will?”
Snow shrugged. “I don’t know,” he confessed.
Commander Stent let out a deep sigh in disappointment. “You re-write it.”
The Chiss crossed out the derogatory word. “Problem passed away.”
Now it was Snow’s time to sigh. “I believe you meant to over-write it, sir. And it’s not as simple as that.”
The Chiss cocked up an eyebrow. “No? I over-writed it. It is as simple. You do it as difficult.”
Snow’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Is this the Chiss philosophy, sir?”
Commander Stent shook his head. “No.” He proudly raised his chin. “This a part of the mine philosophy.”
Commander Stent made a derisive sound. “Fair hair.” He wrote down a series of brush strokes which resulted in a new scribble. “A bad word. Very badder. May be baddest.”
Snow stared at the scribble in amazement. “Fair haired is an insult among you people?”
“Yes.” The Chiss confirmed. “Fun, is it, for a human, no?” The pale blue lips quirked up. “You fair haired is normal,” Commander Stent gestured at Snow’s strawberry blonde hair. “I fair haired is not normal.” He pointed at his shimmering blue-black hair. “It is mean very stupid or very asshole. Fun, is it, for a human, no?”
Snow couldn’t help it, he burst in laughter at the Chiss’s flat delivery. “If I may ask, sir, who taught you the word?”
The Chiss let out a small shrug. “Vice Admiral Voss Parck. He was very many angry on me.” He frowned. “It was factual. I very sucked at it. But I it wrote today because for me a bad word, for you a fun.”
Snow cleared his throat. “I understand, sir. It sounds so silly to take an offense at being called fair haired.” He let out a soft exhale, pointing at the crossed out word. “This must seem so silly to you, then, right?”
“Yes. So silly. So fun to a Chiss.”
Commander Stent said thoughtfully, taking the giant brush once again, drawing something which reminded Snow of a complicated tattoo template.
“My problem,” the Chiss confessed once he was finished. Snow didn’t know how to react; he had absolutely no idea as to what the symbol represented.
“I’m sorry, sir,” Snow admitted, scratching his head. “I don’t understand. What does it mean?”
Commander Stent fell silent for a while. “What I was,” he breathed out softly, and he started yet another scribble. “What I am.”
Snow observed Commander Stent at work; at first it seemed as if the Chiss was drawing the same tattoo pattern but then it abruptly changed, becoming softer, fainter, more subtle. The bold, encompassing strokes were missing altogether.
“But I am.” Commander Stent then straightened to his full height, his posture reminding Snow of someone of an importance once, an admiral, a moff, or a member of the Imperial Court.
“Snow,” the Chiss addressed him by the nickname. “You made it?”
“Uh, no, sir,” Snow stammered, his cheeks reddening up, “I didn’t come up with the nickname. Specialist Leden did.”
“Hmmm… Cold,” the Chiss mused, taking the brush again, dipping it into the ink, and making a couple of long, elegant swings.
“Sky.” He made a small line that connected the two. “Fall down.”
And finished with a series of bold strokes in a seemingly random pattern that encompassed, intersected them all.
Snow stared at the scribble, at a loss for words. “Ehm...” he coughed a bit, “I may have gotten it wrong but did you just write: ‘A cold beauty falling down from the sky?’ … Sir.”
Well, this was … awkward, to say at least.
The Chiss slowly inclined his head. “Yes. Snow. A good name. Specialist Makh Leden is the very cleverer human. He did solution a difficult technical problem. And he have come up with the good nickname.”
“I, ah, is it permissible to keep it, sir?” Snow asked in a low tone of voice, embarrassed. “Makh, I mean, Specialist Leden might...” He didn’t finish the sentence for the Chiss let out a loud snort, waving his hand dismissively.
Commander Stent put a finger on his lips as if pleading for silence. Whether he had learned the gesture from humans or whether it was a Chiss gesture as well Snow didn’t know.
“My calligraphy is ugly. I suck at it. A fun to a Chiss.” The glowing eyes fell on the crossed out word. “But your... more ugly. You very suck at it.”
Snow barked out a laugh. “I’m sorry, sir,” he said lightly.
His gaze rested on the two highly complex drawings. “That’s your own name, isn’t it?” Snow asked hesitantly. It must have been, he supposed. Why else would have he drawn it and then immediately proceeded to scribble Snow’s own nickname?
Snow gulped. If the last scribble meant ‘A cold beauty falling down from the sky,’ then just what was the first one? Was it a whole paragraph?
“My problem,” Commander Stent crossed the first name out, “passed away. No problem now.”
The Chiss pointed at his own head and chest, then at the new name. “What I am,” he indicated at the center. “Ten.” He moved over to the overlapping pattern. “Tarthi.” Until finally, at the lines which encompassed it all. “Kres.”
Snow only nodded in resignation. It didn’t explain why the character turned out to be so different from the first one. Or why the stroke order changed.
If Snow remembered correctly, the ‘Kres’ part did not encompass the first drawing, it was the unknown, bold part. However, it was kyber clear the alien would not elaborate further.
“Cheunh has no phonetic alphabet, sir?” Snow wondered aloud. “You cannot possibly remember every single drawing. Especially as complex as this one. That’s just...”
The Chiss’s eyes glittered. “Ideogram. Vice Admiral Voss Parck name the drawing an ideogram.”
Ah. So that was the proper term.
“And yes. Possibly remember every single drawing we cannot do. We forget. We has need one phonetic alphabet.”
Snow sighed in relief, he couldn’t help it. If he was to join the Chiss Phalanx, he would have to learn at least elementary commands in Cheunh (fire, stand down, move etc), and the idea of memorizing these so-called ideograms made him feel nauseated. Thank whatever gods and spirits out there for the phonetic alphabet.
At the same time, however, it answered the question as to why their resident Chiss warriors were so good at memorizing things. Just how many hours they must have spent practicing Cheunh calligraphy until they were able to write it down from memory? A small shudder escaped him.
Commander Stent shrugged. “My problem. My solver. Your problem. Your solver. My only listener.”
Ah, the Chiss expected him to solve the problem by himself. So much for the coaching, then.
“Not today. Not tomorrow. Do not know when.” The Chiss continued, making a dismissive gesture. “Today. Today your practice.”
Snow blinked, feeling a creeping chill in his gut. The alien couldn’t possibly be implying that he expected Snow to keep writing ‘manwhore’ and cross it out every single time?
By the Emperor, he is!
Snow let out a deep sigh in resignation. “Sir, yes, sir,” he murmured, shaking his head. Considering the size of the room and the number of the rolls the alien had prepared, it would take a while.
THE END OF QUEER AS CORE FOLK
Also, read Queer as Chiss Folk in case you missed (it’s marked as complete, too, but who knows…).